Disclosure means telling someone about your learning disability.

Why disclose?
  • To help you get the services you need (academic accommodations, learning strategies, etc.)
  • To educate others and reduce the stigma surrounding learning disabilities.
  • To reduce the risk of discrimination, policies are in place to prevent anyone from discriminating against a student on the basis of his/her disability. Disability services office (DSO) will advocate on your behalf if you approach them.
Who should you disclose to?
Disclose your disability to the staff at the disability services office as early as you can in the school year - they are there to help:
  • On a practical level, they will need to know about your learning disability, if you want to access academic accommodations or grants for students with disabilities.
  • They can help you think through whether you want or need to disclose to any other offices (e.g. registrar's office, student financial aid office).
  • They can also help you decide whether to disclose to your instructors and how best to do that. Some students choose to disclose to one or more of their instructors, but not to other students. Others decide to tell their peers, as they become trusted friends.
  • Your DSO can also help you role play and prepare you for your meeting with your instructor.
Letter for your Instructors
Once you have registered with the disability services office and provided documentation required to access academic accommodations, the staff will work with you to develop a letter that you can provide to your instructors. This letter will explain:
  • You are registered with DSO.
  • How your disability affects you as a student.
  • Specific accommodations you require.
Note: Some institutions do not include specific accommodation requests in the letter, and suggest you decide on them with each instructor, based on the course requirements.

Important Things to Remember
  • The letter does not include details about your diagnosis.
  • You do not need to provide information about your learning disability to anyone other than the DSO.
  • The information you provide to the DSO is confidential. The office will not share it without your consent.
How to disclose?
The following are some suggestions on how to approach your instructor:
  • At the beginning of the semester, make an appointment to meet privately with your instructor during office hours, or before or after class.

  • Introduce yourself and give your instructor the letter from the disability services office.

  • Explain your situation so that the instructor understands how your disability affects you as a student. Explain what academic accommodations or strategies you will need to do your best in the classroom, the lab, and elsewhere to meet course requirements. Discuss alternatives if the instructor cannot meet your request.
  • Come to an agreement. Before you end the meeting, you and the instructor should have a clear understanding of what he/she is willing to do, and what you, with support of the disability services office, will coordinate in the way of accommodations and services.
  • Thank the instructor. Let the instructor know that you appreciate his/her willingness to work with you and accommodate your disability.

  • If you feel an instructor has not understood your explanation of your needs, or does not agree that you should receive certain accommodations, talk with the disability services office as soon as possible. They can help resolve the issue.
What to say to your instructor about your disability:
“My disability affects my ability to _______ (name the academic activity). If I were able to _______ (name the academic accommodation), I’d be able to complete the course requirements for this course.”

What to say if your instructor asks you about your diagnosis:
“The disability services office has all the documentation. I’d rather not talk about the details of my disability, but the diagnosis means that I have trouble with _______ (name the academic activity). The academic accommodations that would help me are _______ (name the accommodations). Can we talk about how to put these into place?”

Adapted from:
Your Education - Your Future, Canadian Mental Heath Association:
Transition Planning Guide for Students with Disabilities and Their Families, Alberta Learning.
Approaching Instructors, Disability Services, Mount Royal College.
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