Student Accessibility Services: Announcing organization changes to better support the learning, mental health & wellness needs of our students

York University provides students with a range of health and wellness resources to create a healthy, inclusive and supportive environment that fosters well-being among members of the York community and contributes to students’ academic success. Lucy Fromowitz, Vice-Provost Students, and Dr. Marc Wilchesky, Executive Director, Counselling & Disability Services, are pleased to announce the following organization changes to better serve the needs of York U students.

Image by York University
Personal Counselling Services will be renamed Student Counselling & Development (SCD).

Effective immediately, Learning Disability Services (LDS), Mental Health Disability Services (MHDS) and Physical, Sensory & Medical Disability Services (PSMDS) will be collectively renamed “Student Accessibility Services” (SAS) and Personal Counselling Services will now be called “Student Counselling & Development” (SCD). These changes will help students and the University community easily identify the appropriate support provider for students’ specific needs. Note that the Glendon campus will continue to provide health, wellness and accessibility services on that campus under the current name of The Accessibility, Well-Being & Counselling (AWC) Centre.

Maureen Barnes, current manager of Learning Disability Services, will assume the role of Director, Student Accessibility Services to ensure an efficient and effective transition of York’s three separate accessibility service units into one department that will deliver consistent and transparent services to students. Karen Swartz and Mark Mingail will continue in their current leadership roles in SAS. Polly MacFarlane, current director of Personal Counselling Services, will assume the role of Director, Student Counselling & Development.

Image by York University
York provides a range of health, wellness and academic resources to support student success.

The realignment of SAS includes developing a new communications plan to help all members of the York community differentiate between accessibility services (learning; mental health; and physical, sensory and medical) and counselling services. Although SAS will no longer use the various unit names (Learning Disability Services, Mental Health Disability Services and Physical, Sensory & Medical Disability Services), each of those teams will remain intact and will continue to support students as they do currently.

York’s decision to position the two support pillars – Student Accessibility Services (SAS) and Student Counselling & Development (SCD) – is in keeping with an ongoing transition throughout the postsecondary education sector in both Canada and the United States. Current scholarship and industry practice points to a shift away from the use of the term “disability” when describing services and resources toward the more inclusive term “accessibility.” The name change to Student Accessibility Services emphasizes the significant role of the accessibility unit in helping to make the campus more accessible for learning. The name change to Student Counselling & Development better reflects their mandate to help York students realize, develop and fulfill their personal potential in order to maximally benefit from their university experience and manage the challenges of university life.

These organization changes, in turn, support and align with the Division of Students’ vision – to be Partners in Student Success.

Changes will roll out gradually in digital and print communications over the next month and be complete by the New Year.

For more information about Student Accessibility Services visit: yorku.ca/accessibility-services

For more information about Student Counselling & Development visit: yorku.ca/student-counselling

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