167 Disabled Canadian Post-Secondary Students Provided With Emergency COVID-19 Support In Year 2 of the NEADS Accessibility Resilience Program

(Ottawa, March 10, 2023)

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 104 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 167 emergency relief grants were offered over the 2022 calendar year: 147 disabled college and university students received $1,000 and 20 disabled students received 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.

“We are very proud to have distributed a total of $412,800 of much needed financial support to 271 students through this program” says Katja Newman, NEADS Financial Assistance Programs Director.

The greatest percentage of the 2022 recipients are completing their studies in Ontario 44 students, Newfoundland/Labrador 30 students and Manitoba 24 students. The other recipients include 17 students in British Columbia, 20 students in Alberta, 4 students in Quebec, 11 students in New Brunswick, 14 students in Nova Scotia, 2 students in Prince Edward Island and 1 Canadian student who is studying at an institution outside of Canada. There have not been recipients in Saskatchewan or in the three territories. The majority of recipients, 68.3% are completing an undergraduate degree, 23.4% are completing a graduate program and 8.4% are enrolled in a certificate or diploma program. 2022 recipients attend a total of 51 post-secondary institutions across Canada and the United States including:

· Acadia University

· University of Alberta

· Algonquin College

· Ambrose University

· Athabasca University

· Université De Saint-Boniface

· Brandon University

· University of British Columbia

· University of Calgary

· Carleton University

· City University

· Concordia University of Edmonton

· Conestoga College

· Dalhousie University

· Douglas College

· Emily Carr University of Art & Design

· Fanshawe College

· George Brown College

· University of Guelph

· Humber College

· University of Manitoba

· McGill University

· Memorial University of Newfoundland

· Michener Institute of Education

· Mount Alison University

· Mount Royal University

· University of New Brunswick

· Niagara College

· Norquest College

· Ontario Tech University

· University of Ottawa

· University of Prince Edward Island

· Université du Québec à Trois-Rivières

· Queen's University

· Red Deer Polytechnic

· Redeemer University

· Saint Francis Xavier University

· Saint Lawrence College

· Université De Sherbrooke

· Simon Fraser University

· Southern Alberta Institute of Technology

· Thompson Rivers University

· Toronto Metropolitan University

· University of Toronto

· Vancouver Island University

· University of Victoria

· University of Western Ontario

· Wilfrid Laurier University

· York University

· Yorkville 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 167 students who have received emergency relief grants in 2022, 39% identify as a part of the 2SLGBTQIA+ community, 30% belong to visible minority groups, 10.2% are first generation Canadians and 10.2% are either First Nations, Inuit or Métis.

Applications to the Accessibility Resilience Program closed back on December 15, 2022. We are presently exploring funding opportunities that might allow us to resume this critical program.

Katja Newman, Director, NEADS Student Awards Programs

National Educational Association of Disabled Students (NEADS)
Rm. 514 Unicentre, Carleton University
Ottawa, Ontario, K1S 5B6

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