In September 2013, the OSD decided to rebrand its services to students and to adopt the name myAccess in all student interface.
It was felt by many service users, and campus partners, that the name ‘Office for Students with Disabilities’ perpetuated a medical model, or deficit model, view of disability. As the social model of disability highlights, disabilities are not so much inherent qualities of an individual, as much as the result of interactions between an individual’s characteristics and the expectations of a specific environment. Nowhere is this more evident than on a higher education campus, where students with impairment can alternatively flourish, or struggle, depending on teaching style or the format of services offered to them. It therefore seems to make more sense for the name of the services to focus on access, and environmental barriers, rather than on diagnostic labelling.
A student intern from the Management faculty was hired through the summer and completed a 6 credit project which led to the production of a report. The project lead reviewed names and practices adopted on other North American campuses, obtain student and staff feedback through focus groups and surveyed users’ expectations. The ‘my’ part of the new name reflects our users’ explicit expectations when it comes to receiving personalized and holistic service from the office. The ‘Access’ part of the name represents the office’s acknowledgement that the campus environment bears the responsibility of creating either enabling or disabling situations. The arrows integrated into the letters forming the word ‘Access’ in the logo symbolize the fact that disability or ability is an interactive process between an individual and an environment.
Reactions to the new name and logo have been very positive. We surveyed user feedback in our last global service user survey, and the response was enthusiastic and in line with the brainstorming work carried out in the summer of 2013. The OSD is delighted to have adopted a name and branding for its student interface that shows a commitment to the social model and its implementation in higher education.