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Launch of Report: Understanding Accessibility in Graduate Education for Students With Disabilities in Canada

(Toronto, June 22, 2016) The National Educational Association of Disabled Students (NEADS) is launching the final report and recommendations of its National Taskforce on the Experience of Graduate Students with Disabilities in Toronto on Friday, June 24th. The report, “Understanding Accessibility in Graduate Education for Students With Disabilities in Canada” highlights findings and systemic recommendations of the four years of research and consultations conducted by the Taskforce. The event is hosted by the University of Toronto.

“This landmark research effort is the first time in Canada that any organization or group has tackled the specific issues and concerns of graduate students with disabilities and we are very excited to share the ground-breaking work of our multi-stakeholder task force,” said Dr. Mahadeo Sukhai, Taskforce Chair, who went on to note that the work of the Taskforce was in fact the first of its kind worldwide.

As the number of students with disabilities entering graduate education in Canada continues to increase, disability service providers, financial aid administrators, student life professionals, students themselves, graduate departments, deans and student services directors, and universities as a whole are having to develop new strategies to facilitate their success. This effort is also driven in part by the need to be responsive to new and evolving provincial legislative landscapes in Canada. There is to date a critical lack of research and information about issues faced by graduate students with disabilities; as such, institutions are drafting policy and practice guidelines based on limited, anecdotal and local experience. No significant research on this population has been undertaken within Canada or the United States, and data are lacking. In this environment, a number of myths and misperceptions have arisen, which can move policy and practice in potentially inappropriate directions.

Therefore, there is a significant need for a detailed understanding, both quantitative and qualitative, of the experiences of students with disabilities in graduate studies. To address this knowledge gap, NEADS empanelled the National Taskforce on the Experience of Graduate Students with Disabilities in 2012, populated with content and subject matter experts drawn from multiple sectors across the Canadian post-secondary landscape.

The Taskforce’s findings and recommendations, when implemented and integrated into the fabric of graduate education, will lead to changes in professional development and continuing education for faculty and service providers; alter the nature of student preparation for graduate education; significantly impact institutional, provincial and national policy and practice; and, enhance the potential for success of graduate students with disabilities in their programs of study and chosen careers.

“The work of the Taskforce has been a wonderful collaboration among stakeholders across the post-secondary sector. It is our hope that this project, defined by such extensive community involvement, will have a lasting impact on the experience of graduate students with disabilities in their programs of study, and on higher education in Canada,” said Emily Duffett, NEADS Board Chair and Taskforce member.

For further information on the study and/or to register to attend the launch event at the University in Toronto contact, the National Educational Association of Disabled Students, tel. (613) 380-8065, Ext. 201, www.neads.ca

“Understanding Accessibility in Graduate Education for Students With Disabilities in Canada” report launch: Friday June 24, 2016 3 p.m. – 5 p.m. University of Toronto Career Centre, 214 College Street, Toronto (Main Level) R.S.V.P. by Registration at: http://www.neads.ca/en/about/media/index.php?id=379#sthash.StZktPoe.dpuf

Read the report and related documents here:

http://www.neads.ca/en/about/projects/graduate-taskforce/index.php


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