Access to Academic Materials for Post-Secondary Students with Print Disabilities
The student survey, included in the appendix of this report, contained 34 questions. It was divided into four sections: Demographic, Disability, Accessibility, and General. We received completed surveys from 130 students. Males accounted for 49 (38.28%) responses, women for 78 (61.72%). Two students did not report their gender. The average of the student respondents was 27.74 years of age. The youngest respondent age was 18, and the oldest, 75. The majority of respondents came from Ontario, Alberta, Quebec and British Columbia.
Students were asked to state the nature of their disability, and they could provide more than one response. 171 responses (from 130 students) were received, and of these 81 (47.36% of 171) reported a learning disability, 36 (21.05%) were blind or visually impaired, 14 (8.19%) had a mental health disability, 10 (5.85%) a neurological disability, nine (5.26%) were mobility impaired, and nine reported a medical disability. Two (1.17%) students were deaf or hard of hearing, and finally, 10 (5.85%) students answered “other”.
By province, the number of students with disabilities (reported in question three of the service provider survey) ranges from a high of 8806 in Ontario, to a low of 15 in Newfoundland and Labrador. By province, the number of students with print disabilities ranges from a high of 1086 in Alberta, to a low of five in Newfoundland & Labrador.
Among these 130 respondents for the student survey, 73 (56.58%) attend a university, 35 (27.13%) attend community college, and for CEGEPs and technical/vocational institutions the numbers are the same, eight (6.2%). Finally, five (3.87%) student responses were received from students attending other institutions - primarily university colleges in BC. University colleges are colleges with limited degree granted ability, generally in conjunction with a university.
The two most common types of qualification sought were Bachelor of Arts, with 59 (46.09%) respondents indicating such a course of study, and certificate/diploma, which fifty-two respondents (40.62%) were pursuing. Eight students were pursuing a Masters of Arts (6.25%), and nine students (7.03%) sought a variety of other qualifications such as electrical journeyman, academic upgrading, or certification at a technical college. Ninety-seven (74.62%) were registered as full-time, 30 (23.08%) as part-time, and three (2.31%) as “other”. Seventy-four (57.18%) students received financial aid, whereas 54 (42.19%) did not. Twenty-nine (37.66%) state that this funding is sufficient to support access to academic materials in an acceptable alternate format, while the number of students who report this funding is either ‘partially’ sufficient, is ‘not’ sufficient, or who ‘do not know’ are equal – 16 (20.78%). Those who reported their funding was either ‘sufficient’ or ‘partially’ sufficient indicated that their funding supported computer technology or software, adaptive technologies in general, tutors, or specific alternate formats such as Braille or books on tape.
The most reported aids and services used were academic accommodations, adaptive technology, alternate formats, and tutors. The most common types of formats required for academic materials were E-text, audio-analogue, audio digital, MP3 and large print. The most common preferred were E-text, audio-analogue, audio digital, large print, and books on tape. The most common provided formats were E-text, audio-analogue, audio digital, PDF-text, Braille and large print. Many students mentioned Kurzweil software as a method of scanning printed materials for reading.
It should be noted here that we provided a detailed, specific list of format choices for respondents. Digital audio is an umbrella term for MP3, DAISY and other digital audio formats. Please see page 51 for definitions. The most common type of disability reported by students was a learning disability (47.36%). Of these respondents, the most common aids and services used were academic accommodations, adaptive technologies, alternate formats, and a tutor. For the second most frequent type of disability, blind or visually Impaired (21.05%), the most common aids and services were in the same order; academic accommodations, adaptive technologies, alternate formats, and a tutor. These are some of the highlights from the student survey; we turn next to the responses.