NEADS Conference 2004 - Right On!


Theme 3: Access to Academic Materials for Print-Disabled Students


  • Trent Copp, Library Assistant (Special Needs), McMaster University
  • Susan Doerksen, Coordinator for Post-Secondary Alternative Format Textbooks, Special Materials Services, Government of Manitoba
  • Kimberley Gerritsen, Graduate Student, Masters of Education in Community Rehabilitation and Disability Studies, University of Calgary
  • Gladys Loewen, Manager, Assistive Technology - BC
  • Vince Tomassetti, Vision Technology Specialist, Assistive Technology - BC
  • Carolyn Wiebe, Accessibility Advisor, Disability Services, University of Manitoba


  • Robin Drodge, Newfoundland and Labrador Representative, NEADS
  • Joby Fleming, Past-President, NEADS

Workshop Description

Access to information is a fundamental right of all Canadians. Since only three percent of the world's literature is converted into multiple formats, post-secondary students with print-disabilities are dependent on programs, service providers and librarians to obtain the information and materials they need to meet their course requirements. Program completion at the post-secondary level is the most direct way to ensure employability and integration for people with disabilities into the economic and social mainstream of Canadian society.

In December, 2003 the National Educational Association of Disabled Students began work on a new project initiative: Access to Academic Materials for Print-Disabled Post-Secondary Students: A Partnership of Users and Service Providers. This sixteen month project is funded in part by the Government of Canada's Social Development Partnerships Program.

The National Educational Association of Disabled Students (NEADS), is working on this initiative along with the Learning Disabilities Association of Canada (LDAC), and the Council on Access to Information for Print-Disabled Canadians. The overall goal is to provide French and English post-secondary students, who cannot access academic materials using conventional print formats, with the information, services and materials they need to meet their education and career goals.

This interactive conference workshop will provide delegates with an opportunity to learn about the research and preliminary findings of a survey that will be implemented across Canada in September 2004, and to contribute their insights to the issues at hand. A workshop panel will include members of the project Steering Committee, students with print-based disabilities, librarians and disability service providers.

The following key questions will be addressed in the Access to Academic Materials workshop:

  1. How are academic materials in alternate formats being delivered to Canada's post-secondary students?
  2. What are the strengths of this delivery system? What are the weaknesses?
  3. What role do different groups play in improving the delivery of these materials: students, librarians, service providers, non-governmental organizations, Library and Archives Canada, publishers?
  4. Are there model programs in this area?
  5. Does computer technology level the playing field and present opportunities for improved access in the future?
  6. How can NEADS play a role in the future in addressing access to alternate format materials as a fundamental right in post-secondary education.