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How can I, as a first year university student with a disability, learn to be an effective self-advocate with professors, tutors and other students at my school?

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Since its founding in 1986, the National Educational Association of Disabled Students (NEADS), has had the mandate to support full access to education and employment for post-secondary students and graduates with disabilities across Canada.

NEADS is a consumer-controlled, cross-disability charitable organization (corporation # 1007761975RR0001). We represent our constituents through specific projects, resources, research, publications and partnerships. NEADS is governed by a national Board of Directors representative of all of the provinces and territories. 

Our work as an organization focuses on three core Strategic Program areas:

  1. Student debt reduction
  2. Student experience in class and on campus
  3. Student and graduate employment

The organization functions collaboratively with post-secondary stakeholders, other non-governmental organizations, employers, disability service providers (on college and university campuses) and communities that can improve opportunities in higher education and the labour market for persons with disabilities in Canada. NEADS also provides ongoing expert advice to Employment and Social Development Canada and provincial/territorial governments. We have been a stakeholder group of the Government of Canada's National Advisory Group on Student Financial Assistance -- Chaired by the Director General of the Canada Student Loans Program -- since 1987. Our work includes promoting government programs and services that support higher education for Canadians with disabilities. The Association is a member organization of the Council of Canadians With Disabilities (CCD).

National Office Support and Services:
The Association effectively delivers a number of core programs. Our primary activities include: maintaining a comprehensive, unique Web site and financial aid portal; developing skill training resources relevant to students with disabilities in post-secondary education and employment; conducting relevant research on access to post-secondary education and employment opportunities; and, holding regular regional events across Canada to provide resources and skill development to students with disabilities. Our main website has over 120,000 unique visitors each year and an average of over 3,500,000 page downloads. The website houses numerous online resources and publications that are unique to NEADS and were developed by the organization.
Our financial aid portal,  includes comprehensive information on national, provincial and territorial government funding programs, along with around 350 disability specific, bursaries, scholarships and awards offered through colleges and universities, private sector funders and non-governmental organizations. The database is fully searchable and accessible. was developed with grant funding from the Social Development Partnerships Program and a contract with the Canada Student Loans Program. It is prominently featured and linked on the Government of Canadas CanLearn website:

The Association provides information and referrals to hundreds of post-secondary students with disabilities through its national office. It also responds to requests for information and advice from: employers, provincial and federal government departments, service providers and faculty members/teachers on college and university campuses, the offices of federal members of parliament and provincial and territorial members of parliament/legislature, and other non-profit organizations. We currently have over 9,000 individual e-mail contacts within our database, which allows the organization to communicate immediately and to a huge network.

NEADS National Student Awards Program and the Holly Bartlett Memorial Award:
NEADS runs two scholarship programs: the $3,000 NEADS National Student Awards Program and the $1,000 Holly Bartlett Memorial Award. These programs support students with disabilities in undergraduate university, graduate university and college and cegep level programs.

These awards provide funding to students in all fields of study and are the only programs of their kind in the country that recognize the academic and community achievements of post-secondary students with disabilities. The National Student Awards Program, currently in its seventh year, has received more than 1,000 applications, and has awarded 63 scholarships to date to outstanding applicants across the country. The NEADS National Student Awards Program supports disabled students, who often need additional financial assistance to be successful in their studies due in part to accommodating their needs in the campus setting. The scholarships in the NEADS National Student Awards Program are valued at $3,000 each, and are tuition awards, payable directly to the students school. The program has been generously supported by private sector funders including: BMO Capital Markets, Enbridge Liquid Pipelines, Scotiabank and the Industrial Alliance Insurance and Financial Services, however, we need greater support to grow and sustain the program.

The Holly Bartlett Memorial Award was established in memory of former NEADS board member Holly Bartlett, who passed away in March, 2010. The award was created the following year and is a $1,000 scholarship awarded each year by the Association, with the same criteria as the NEADS Student Awards Program.

Donate now to help NEADS Continue Its Work on Behalf of Post-Secondary Students and Graduates with Disabilities:
The National Educational Association of Disabled Students (NEADS) is a registered charity. Donations are tax deductible and you will receive a charitable tax receipt for 100% of your gift(s) to the National Educational Association of Disabled Students.

To minimize administrative costs, NEADS uses the services of CanadaHelps for our on-line donation transactions. Canada Helps is a secure and easy way to give. To donate to our organization through please visit their website at:


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Association of Disabled Students. All rights reserved.