Access to Academic Materials for Post-Secondary Students with Print Disabilities
Student Survey Details
Section A: Demographic Information
The first section of the student survey contains 11 questions, concerning demographic data such as age, gender, province, institution type, academic program and standing.
1. What is your year of birth?
The average age of respondents (accurate to within one year) is 27.7 years of age.
The range of ages for students is great. Student respondents gave birth years from 1930 to 1987, with the majority in the 1983-1985 period. The highest numbers by year are 18 (1984), 16 (1983), and 15 (1985).
The following columns list the years of birth and ages of the respondents.
The oldest student respondent was 75 and the youngest 18. The average age of female respondents is 27, and of men 28.
The gender breakdown of respondents to the student survey is as follows: males 49 (38.28%), females 79 (61.72%).
It has been demonstrated in various surveys that women respond to surveys more frequently than men do.
It is also the case that women outnumber men in terms of a) general population, b) student population, and c) students with disabilities enrolled in Canadian post-secondary institutions. The 1999 NEADS survey revealed a response rate of 59.7% for women (207/349). Therefore some difference in gender response was to be expected. Nonetheless, that 61.72% of the student respondents should be female is still a surprisingly high number. Further research may elucidate a gender difference in terms of those students who regularly communicate with the disability service office on campus, and therefore are exposed to surveys that are advertised and distributed. Enrolment at universities and community colleges is almost twice as high as males. There are seven females from CEGEPs and one male, but there were six males in technical vocational and two females. The females who attend university, however, make up 60% of all female respondents, whereas for males this figure is 48%. Furthermore, community college females are 28% of all females, while males attending community college account for 26%.
Students seeking a BA make up 46.46% of the respondents. Those seeking a certificate comprise 40.94%, and MA students are equal to 5.5%. The other category accounts for 7.08%.
Of the 128 responses to the question relating to gender as compared to disability type blind or visually impaired our sample showed the following representations:
These are quite similar numbers in total, but when compared to the overall gender breakdown the 16 males represent 32.65% of all male responses. The 18 females reporting a blind/visually-impaired disability represent a lower overall percentage of female participants – 22.78%.
3. Do you require or use academic materials in alternate formats to pursue your studies?
This question was required to be answered in the affirmative for the respondent to continue the survey; thus the results are 100%.
4. What type of post-secondary educational institution do you attend?
In response to question four, the representation by type of school was as follows, by number of students and percentages: university 73 (56.59%), community college 35 (27.13%), CEGEP 8 (6.2%), technical/vocational 8 (6.2%), other 5 (3.8%). Over twice as many students are attending university compared to community college amongst the respondents to our survey. This reveals that the majority of students are accessing materials in alternate formats as provided by university disability service centres or libraries, which are the main organizations used to support this community.
“Other” is comprised of 5 respondents who chose not to select the categories provided in the survey and who report that their institution is: college of applied arts and technology, institute of technology and advanced learning, college, university/college collaborative program, college.
The gender breakdown of respondents by type of institution attended is expressed in Table four.
 PSEI stands for Post-Secondary Educational Institution.
5. What is the province/territory of the post-secondary educational institution that you attend?
Student respondents were represented from across Canada. The breakdown by number is the following: Manitoba - 5, BC - 12, Ontario - 63, New Brunswick - 6, Quebec - 14, Nova Scotia - 9, Saskatchewan - 1, Alberta - 17, Newfoundland and Labrador – 3.
Ontario alone accounts for 48.46% of all respondents. The other larger responses were: Alberta – 13.08%, Quebec – 10.77%, and BC – 9.23%. Between the four largest responding provinces, students account for 81.54% of all survey participants.
6. What province are you a permanent resident of?
Again, there is a broad range. Students were permanent residents of: Manitoba - 5, BC - 13, Ontario - 67, New Brunswick - 5, Quebec - 11, Nova Scotia - 8, Saskatchewan - 1, Alberta - 15, Newfoundland and Labrador – 5. Open-ended responses provided for this question indicate that one respondent is a permanent resident of New Hampshire, United States, and another is a permanent resident of France.
7. What type of educational qualification are you currently pursuing?
The question reveals a majority of those are planning to complete a B.A. (46.09%). That is only a slight majority however, as 40.62% are currently seeking a certificate or diploma. Those in Masters programs represent 6.25% of the respondents.
Under the category of “other”, two respondents wrote that they are currently pursuing ‘academic upgrading’. Two students are pursuing electrical journeymen certification at technical college; one student indicated they were unable to gain admission to a program and were therefore taking general courses “to help with my future goal”, one student is pursuing qualifications to become a teacher; and another indicated pursuit of a concurrent double major Bachelor’s degree, in education and humanities.
8. As of September 1st, 2004, what year of your program have you completed?
Year of program:
Those students enrolled less than one year, one year, and two years account for 72.3% of all respondents. This is an important statistic, as it may impact on the extent of knowledge regarding adaptive technology and academic access issues. It may be argued that students become more aware of services and programs available to them as they advance in their field of study. For example, as expected, students in their earlier years rely more on family support for programs and services outside of their institution than do those enrolled in later years of their program.
Furthermore, a higher rate (despite the higher enrolment numbers) of those students in their earlier years indicate they are not receiving their academic materials in a timely manner. The responses to this question in the survey, and the data we have generated, highlight the crucial role of information transmission and the central part that must be played in this process by the various disability service centres in Canada’s post-secondary institutions. This question raises issues of effectiveness and assertiveness; that is, whether students with print disabilities in the early stages of their studies know how to request the formats they require.
9. What is your field of study?
There was no single dominant field of study reported by the participants. A range of fields of study was provided. Categories listed on the chart include: Social Sciences - 5 (3.94%), Psychology - 11 (8.66%), Women's Studies - 1 (.79), Human Relations - 1 (.79) Political Science - 4 (3.15%), General - 9 (7.09%), Sociology - 5 (3.94). The category “other” is not included in the chart, as it accounted for 79 (62.2%) of the responses. Survey respondents who chose “other” listed the following courses of study. (Bracketed numbers beside a program/course indicate multiple respondents identifying with that classification).
Business administration (5)
The following courses of study were listed once:
10. Are you enrolled as a:
When answering this question, student respondents indicated their enrolment type as: 97 (74.62%) Full-time student, 30 (23.08%) Part-time student, 3 (2.31%) Other.
It should be noted here that students with disabilities are often considered to be studying full-time if they are taking 60% of a full course load. In fact, this is the criterion applied to students with permanent disabilities under the Canada Student Loans Program.
The breakdown for enrolment by province is as follows:
11. Did you choose this school on the basis of:
This question solicited multiple responses – the students could check more than one box. From the responses, location was the most common (68), followed by academic programs offered (48), accessibility (of services offered) (44), then reputation (24), scholarship or grant (funding) (10), and finally other (12).
Among the open-ended responses given, two students wrote that they chose their school based on its size. One said it was because of lower living and course costs, one chose the school based on proximity to friends and family, and one said, “Started with a placement.” Finally, one respondent noted that the school they chose was the “only school that could provide equipment and services.” It is interesting to note that while location of the college or university was most important to our student respondents, accessibility and programs offered scored very well. Clearly, our respondents require an accessible education with programs of study which meet their interests and aptitudes. One can surmise that many students with disabilities still live at home and have limited opportunity to move, making location a priority.
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