Council of Ontario Universities launches Accessible Campus website

Toronto, October 15, 2013—

Ontario universities have worked collaboratively to help faculty identify students in distress as a result of anxiety and other mental health issues, and provide information on removing barriers from every aspect of campus life through a resource-rich website called

The website being launched today by the Council of Ontario Universities (COU) features educational videos to raise awareness about mental health and practical tips on everything from how to plan accessible lectures and meetings to making exam time less stressful.

“I applaud COU’s new website,” says the Hon. Eric Hoskins, Minister of Economic Development, Trade and Employment. “Its comprehensive information and wide range of tools shows the Council's exemplary leadership on accessibility. I am confident the website will inspire others as we work together to build a province where everyone has the opportunity to contribute and enjoy a high quality of life."

The new website is the country’s most significant aggregation of resources for helping universities make their campuses accessible for students with disabilities and to comply with the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act.

“All universities in Ontario are focused on student success,” says Max Blouw, Chair of COU and President of Wilfrid Laurier University. “That is why our sector has worked together to develop this website of resources to help break down barriers and give faculty and staff the tools they need to ensure students can realize their goals.”

The website also provides important resources on mental health. Raising awareness about mental health among students is essential because 70 per cent of problems such as anxiety, depression, substance abuse and eating disorders have their onset during childhood or adolescence, according to the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH).

“With an increased number of students presenting with mental health issues, some of our young people face barriers that may prevent them from fulfilling their potential and following their dreams,” says COU President and CEO Bonnie M. Patterson. “Universities are working hard to connect students to the resources they need, whether in the university or in the local community.”

COU is providing a series of educational videos on mental health that will be made available to faculty. They include insights from students who found the help they needed as a result of the services available on campus, as well as advice from mental health experts and university health advisors.

The videos include tips on how to recognize signs that a student is in distress, such as withdrawal from group discussions, less eye contact, weight loss and a change in appearance.

They also suggest ways in which faculty can remove barriers for students with mental health issues by providing more time to write exams, providing a quiet room to complete tests and ensuring students aren’t facing two or three final exams in a single day.

Visit the new website.

Quick Facts:

-    One in five Canadians every year experiences some form of mental illness: CAMH.
 -   In the last decade, the number of registered students with disabilities at Ontario universities has grown. In particular, universities have seen an increase in the number of students coping with mental illness.
 -  University administrators, faculty and student groups are making increased awareness about accessibility for people with disabilities and reducing the stigma associated with mental illness key priorities.
 - Young people aged 15-25 are more likely to report mental illness than any other age group: CAMH.


COU is a membership organization of 21 publicly assisted universities in Ontario. It works closely with the provincial and federal governments to shape public policies that help universities deliver high-quality programs for students and advance the research and innovation that improves the social, cultural and economic well-being of Ontarians.

For further information, or to arrange an interview please contact:

Wendy McCann
Director, Strategic Communications and Media Relations
Telephone: 416-979-2165 x233
Cellphone: 647-271-0825
Email: Wendy McCann