78 Disabled Canadian Post-Secondary Students Provided With Emergency COVID-19 Support In The First Half Of The NEADS 2022-2023 Accessibility Resilience Program

(Ottawa, August 9, 2022)

COVID-19 has placed an undue and disproportionate burden on Canadian post-secondary students with disabilities who already faced immense socio-cultural and operational accessibility barriers prior to the pandemic. Throughout the pandemic students have encountered additional barriers such as rising tuition fees, a lack of transitional support for online learning and limited affordable assistive technologies or software options for at home use. 

To help address these challenges, in 2020 the National Educational Association of Disabled Students (NEADS) launched the Accessibility Resilience Program, with generous support from the Government of Canada’s Supports for Student Learning Program through a contribution agreement. 

In its first year, the Accessibility Resilience Program put a total of more than $165,800 directly into the hands of outstanding disabled students across the country to support unmet costs as they pursue their post-secondary education. 10 $3,000 scholarships were added to the organization’s NEADS Student Awards Program and $135,800 of funding was distributed in the form of Emergency Relief Grants. A total of 93 disabled students across Canada were provided with grants of $1,000 or $5,000 in the first year of the program, to reimburse the unforeseen costs related to the transition to online/remote learning, such as tuition fees, internet bills, assistive technology, and more.

The 2020-2021 program was so successful Employment and Social Development Canada generously provided an upward amendment to support an additional year of the program through our project Virtual Access for All. Thanks to this upward amendment, an additional 174 emergency relief grants will be offered over the 2022 calendar year: 154 disabled college and university students will receive $1,000 and 20 disabled students will receive up to $5,000 to help them cover living costs, devices, cables, assistive technology, educational software and training, ergonomic desk equipment, mental health supports and/or wellness activities.

As of the end of June 2022, 70 more students have received a $1,000 grant and 8 students have received a $5,000 grant, raising the number of disabled students assisted through the program to 182 students and $275,800 of financial assistance.  The greatest percentage of this year’s recipients are completing their studies in Ontario 29.5%, Newfoundland/Labrador 21.8% and Manitoba 15.4%.  The other recipients include 9% of students in British Columbia, 10.3% in Alberta, 2.6% in Quebec, 5.1% in New Brunswick, 5.1% in Nova Scotia and 1.3% are studying at institutions outside of Canada. There have not yet been recipients in Saskatchewan, Prince Edward Island or in the three territories.  The majority of recipients, 77% are completing an undergraduate degree, 18% are completing a graduate program and 5% are enrolled in a college certificate or diploma. 2022 recipients thus far attend a total of 29 post-secondary institutions across Canada and the United States including:

• Acadia University

• University of Alberta 

• Algonquin College 

• Ambrose University  

• Athabasca University 

• University of British Columbia 

• Carleton University  

• City University 

• Concordia University of Edmonton 

• Dalhousie University  

• Fanshawe College 

• Humber College 

• University of Manitoba  

• Memorial University of Newfoundland  

• Mount Alison University 

• University of New Brunswick  

• Norquest College 

• University of Ottawa   

• Queen's University 

• Saint Francis Xavier University 

• Simon Fraser University 

• Toronto Metropolitan University

• University of Toronto 

• Université De Sherbrooke 

• Université du Québec à Trois-Rivières 

• University of Victoria 

• Western University 

• Wilfrid Laurier University 

• The New School, College of Performing Arts  

One of the ongoing priorities of the Accessibility Resilience Program has been to prioritize this funding to multi-marginalized disabled students who face even greater barriers in accessing education. As such, NEADS is pleased to report that of the 78 students who have received emergency relief grants thus far this year, 37% identify as a part of the 2SLGBTQIA+ community, 36% belong to visible minority groups, 15% are first generation Canadians and 5% are either First Nations, Inuit or Métis.

Between August and December 2022, another 12 students will be awarded a $5,000 grant and 84 students will be identified for a $1,000 grant. If you, or a student you know, is a Canadian Citizen with a permanent disability, enrolled in or accepted to a post-secondary institution you are encouraged to apply. Applications will be accepted until December 15, 2022 at 11:59pm EST. Click  to access the English application and  to access the French version of the application. 

Katja Newman (she/her/elle), Director, NEADS Student Awards Programs,

For more information:

National Educational Association of Disabled Students (NEADS), Rm. 514 Unicentre, Carleton University, Ottawa, Ontario, K1S 5B6, tel. (613) 380-8065, ext. 201

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