Accessibility and support in higher education

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Find out about the supports that are available to you to help you succeed in higher education.

Key points

  • Depending on your needs, you may need accessibility support such as extra time for tests or access to supportive equipment.
  • Some schools may have counsellors who can help you clarify your goals and check in with you to help you stay on track.
  • Financial support may be available through scholarships or grants that you can find with help from your guidance counsellor or searching online.
  • If you move away from your home town, ask you health-care provider to help you find a new family doctor in your new town.

There are a number of supports and options available to help you succeed in higher education. Make sure you explore all of your options—don’t just give up at the first hurdle. You never know what you can achieve with a bit of support and creativity.


Depending on how your cancer and treatment has affected you, you may need some extra support. This might include help with note taking, extra time for tests and evaluations, or access to supportive equipment. You may also have options for a reduced work load and a lengthened term of study. In Canada, the law states that students with health conditions have a right to reasonable changes in classrooms, to modified test or exam formats, and to access to learning aids that make learning easier. These types of supports are called accommodations.

Accommodations are set up through the accessibility office at most schools. This is a confidential service that can help you be successful. Register with accessibility services early because setting up accommodations can take time. You will need a note from your health-care provider to register. Be sure to check the school’s website, and call for more information about what services are available and how to register.

People may need accommodations for either physical, emotional or learning challenges. It’s a good idea to register, even if you aren’t sure you will need the service. You never know what might come up during the school year.

Note: Accommodations in higher education are different from the ones you may have experienced in high school. In high school, the supports usually focus on changing the program or the expectations of students. In higher education, the program expectations usually stay the same, and the focus is put on helping you achieve those expectations.

Personalized guidance

In some areas of Canada, special programs exist to offer counselling and guidance to young people with health issues. Some even have counsellors that work specifically with cancer survivors. These counsellors have special training and experience, so they understand the specific issues—like late effects—that some young cancer survivors deal with. They can help you clarify your goals and may check in with you to help you stay on track. One program available in Ontario is called SAVTI, and it provides counselling, resources and financial assistance to cancer survivors during the transition from high school to higher education.

Ask your health-care team if they can recommend a counsellor in your area. Your school may also offer guidance and counselling through the accessibility office.

Financial support

Higher education can be expensive. Some scholarships are available in Canada to help young cancer survivors achieve their educational goals. You may find information about scholarships at your cancer centre or by doing a search online.

Health care away from home

If you are moving away from your home town, be sure to locate appropriate health services in your new city. This means that you should (at minimum) find a family doctor. You will still need follow-up care and/or regular check-ups when you are away! Your health-care provider from home may be able to refer you somewhere or, if your school has a health clinic, ask about a health-care provider who can meet your specific needs.

Last updated: September 3rd 2019