About Us

The Centre for Students with Disabilities (CSD) is a centre for education and advocacy, as well as a drop-in space. The CSD offers events, services, and campaigns throughout the year focused on disability and accessibility. Our space and services are open to all identities and abilities who wish to work together in challenging ableism on campus and in our community.

Our Understanding of Disability

At the CSD, we recognize the huge scope of conditions that fall under the category disability, including, but not limited to, learning disabilities, physical disabilities, developmental disabilities, mental health, invisible illnesses, and chronic pain. We recognize that disabilities and the way individuals perceive their own abilities or disabilities are fluid and can change from day to day.

Safe(r) Spaces Practices

At the CSD, we strive to create as safe a space as possible for our staff, volunteers, and centre users. We also acknowledge that ableism is not a siloed issue, but one that affects a variety of communities and individuals. In working to dismantle ableism, we also work to challenge all forms of oppression including, but not limited to, heterosexism, cissexism, homophobia, transphobia, biphobia, queerphobia, HIV-phobia, sex negativity, fatphobia, femme-phobia, misogyny, transmisogyny, racism, classism, ableism, xenophobia, sexism, and linguistic discrimination.

Self-Identification

At the CSD, we recognize that it is important for individuals to label their own experiences. Therefore, we will never impose the label of “disability” onto a person, or assume that a person does or does not identify as having a disability. We recognize and respect that a person may identify as having a disability despite not having any medical or academic record of it.

Language

Language that works to perpetuate any form of oppression should expect to be challenged within the CSD. Unlearning hurtful language, which historically has, and continues to, marginalize various groups of people, is an important way in which the CSD encourages people to strive to foster safe(r) spaces.

Allergies

If an individual wishes to eat fish or nuts while at the CSD office, we ask that they please leave the room to do so, and then wash their hands.

We also ask that no one use any form of spray within CSD. This includes any products that have perfume, paint, etc.

FAQs

Access Services is a service of the University of Ottawa, whereas the CSD is a service of your student union, the Student Federation of the University of Ottawa (SFUO). The Differences between the CSD and Access Services Chart outlines some of the main differences between the two services.

In summary, Access Services works to provide academic accommodations for students, whereas the CSD is an education and advocacy service that offers campaigns and programming around disability and accessibility throughout the year.

The CSD is also available to help students navigate Access Services, whether it be through helping to fill out forms, helping to explain the process, or for other concerns.

At the CSD, you don’t need to share your diagnosis or to share whether or not you identify as having a disability unless you want to.

Working on issues around accessibility and ableism is a constant learning process for everyone, including the CSD staff. We welcome peoples’ diverse experiences as contributions. If you’re interested in learning about these issues, but do not feel you’ve experienced them yourself, you are more than welcome in our centre.

The CSD has four paid staff positions working in our office. When a position does become available at the CSD, we strongly encourage students with disabilities to apply.

Yes! We have many options to ensure private and confidential active listening can take place while people are in the CSD.

Accessibility is what we work toward at the CSD – access to services, spaces, and social programming for persons of all abilities. Accessibility means that anyone who wants to use a service, use a space, or attend an event is able to without needing to make special requests for changes in order to be able to participate. Focusing on accessibility is a way to be critical of our services, spaces and events, to work toward reducing any possible barriers there may be to persons with disabilities.

Accommodations are changes made to a service space, or event on an ad hoc basis in order to allow the participation of an individual who has made a request. Although accommodations are helpful, they force individuals to disclose the barriers they are facing to participate with your service, space, or event, where they might prefer to be able to participate without needing to make special requests. Additionally, accommodations cannot always be made on the spot (for example, ASL or LSQ interpretation requires booking several weeks in advance), whereas accessibility can be accounted for ahead of time.

Ableism is a system of discrimination and oppression that works against persons with disabilities and creates barriers against them. Features of ableism include, but are not limited to, myths about disabilities (which create attitudinal barriers to persons with disabilities), discrimination in the workplace, high rates of physical, financial, and emotional abuse of persons with disabilities, the inaccessibility of many services, spaces, and events, and the institutionalization of persons with disabilities. Language is a tool that has been used historically, and is still used in the present day, to support the marginalization of certain groups of people. Many words that are used in our everyday language, such as “crazy”, “insane”, and “lame” have a history of marginalizing persons with disabilities. Today, language is still a tool that stigmatizes mental health. Often, someone who is labelled “crazy” is treated as inferior.

Ableist language (or other hurtful language) will be challenged at the CSD. This means that someone may engage in a conversation with you about why a word you used was ableist. We encourage staff, volunteers, and centre users to challenge each other on ableist language or attitudes. That being said, challenging language is to be done respectfully, and will not be done when an individual is accessing our support services (for example, while using our active listening service).