Navigating Post-Secondary Institutions in Ontario with a Learning Disability: The Pursuit of Accommodations

Cameron McKenzie


Students with learning disabilities (LDs) face numerous challenges as they navigate their way through post-secondary institutions in Ontario. Through an institutional ethnographic analysis, this paper contextualizes my lived experience of having an LD within the ruling relations in post-secondary institutions in the current neoliberal environment. Institutional ethnography is both a theory and a method of interpreting everyday social interactions through analysis of the texts (broadly defined) in modern society, such as policy documents, newspapers, and electronic media. As such, this method lends itself to understanding the medicalization of LDs because it demonstrates that expert knowledge is ideological. Using a social model of disability, I compared both the documentation on attaining accommodations and my lived experience at three universities that I attended and am attending. In evaluating how students negotiate the pathways within the power relations and social organization of these institutions, I am able to offer precise and constructive recommendations that would improve the experience and academic outcomes for students with LDs.


learning disabilities, post-secondary institutions, ruling relations, accommodations

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