Access to Academic Materials for Post-Secondary Students with Print Disabilities


Disability Service Providers in Post-Secondary Education in Alberta

(August 2004)

Members of our network group provide comprehensive support services for post-secondary students with a variety of disabilities. A significant percentage of our students have print disabilities due to challenges with visual acuity, processing of print because of a learning disability, or conditions that prohibit the physical manipulation of text. Many of these students experience great difficulties in obtaining academic materials in an accessible alternate format, which creates barriers to their academic success.


  • Some institutions do not have sufficient staffing or staff expertise to assist students in the creation of the alternative format material
  • Some institutions do not have the appropriate technology to produce the materials for the students
  • Some students do not qualify for funding for services or technology for creating alternative format material
  • Students vary in their technology skill levels so some students are not very adept at converting their material themselves
  • Alberta does not have a central alternative format production service for its post-secondary students
  • Often students experience significant delays in getting their course reading material in alternative format
  • The quality of the alternative format material can vary significantly depending of who creates the material
  • Searching for the alternative format materials through resources like Recording for the Blind and Dyslexic takes time and the material may not be available
  • While some publishers will send an E-text document to the student, the file is often not a text document and cannot be used by the student
  • Many publishers will not provide textbooks in an electronic format; often textbooks produced by Canadian publishers are not available

Canada needs to address the concerns of post-secondary students with print disabilities. Not providing adequate access to post-secondary academic materials deprives a segment of our community who are otherwise capable of benefiting from such an education. It therefore deprives society of educated, contributing individuals.


  • Create universal standards for electronic text and digital audio and the conversion to the various different accessible formats.
  • Create legislation that requires Canadian publishers to a standardized, accessible text format electronic copy of all publications at the same time that the printed text is published. The existence of the electronic file will then permit the easy and accurate production of the publication in the various alternative formats. Similar legislation has been enacted in other jurisdictions.
  • Create a system for creating materials in alternative format and for cataloguing existing material. This system would save time and money.
  • Provide funding for qualified staff to produce alternate format materials, for the equipment required for digital production, and for equipment required by the students to read their materials.

The path to full accessibility of academic materials to students with print disabilities must be cleared so that all Canadians have equal access to an education.

Respectfully submitted,

Alberta College of Art and Design
Paul Roberge
1407 14th Avenue NW
Calgary, AB, T2N 4R3
Ph: (403) 284-7666
Fax: (403) 284-7636

Athabasca University
Brenda Moore
Coordinator, Access for Students with Disabilities
2nd floor, North Tower
7th Street Plaza
10030 107 Street
Edmonton, AB, T5J 3E4
Ph: (780) 497-3424
Fax: (780) 497-3411

Bow Valley College
Denise Theunissen
Learning Difficulties/Disabilities
Learning Resource Services
332 6 Avenue SE
Calgary, AB, T2G 4S6
Ph: (403) 297-4804
Fax: (403) 297-2401

Grande Prairie Regional College
Rosemary Kay
Academic Advisor & Students' Resource Coordinator
10726 106 Avenue,
Grande Prairie, AB T8V 4C4
Ph: (780) 539-2062

Grant MacEwan College
Abigail Parrish-Craig
Counsellor, Services to Students with Disabilities
Co-Chair, Student Resource Centre
7-112A, 10700-104 Avenue
Edmonton, AB, T5J 4S2
Ph: (780) 497-5811
Fax: (780) 497-4656

Lakeland College
Greg Michaud
Chair, Professional and Learner Services
Acting Director, Learning Services
5707-47 Avenue West
Vermilion, AB, T9X 1K5
Ph: (780) 853-8433
Fax: (780) 853-2955

Lethbridge Community College
Julie Deimert
Disability Counselor
3000 College Drive South
AB, Lethbridge, T1K 1L6
Phone: (403) 329-7268
Fax: (403) 320-1461

Mount Royal College
Shan Robertson
Disabilities Consultant, Disabilities Services
4825 Mount Royal Gate SW
Calgary, AB, T3E 6K6
Ph: (403) 440-6491
Fax: (403) 440-7255

Bonnie Blankert
Disabilities Consultant, Disabilities Services
4825 Mount Royal Gate SW
Calgary, AB, T3E 6K6
Ph: (403) 440-5959
Fax: (403) 440-7255

Northern Alberta Institute of Technology
Wendy Marusin
Career Advisor, Counselling and Career Services
Ph: (780) 491-1345

Portage College
Pamela Zacharias
LAC Coordinator
Box 417
Lac La Biche, AB T0A 2C0
Ph.: (780) 623-5564
Fax: (780) 623-5660

Red Deer College
Laurel Mutch
Box 5005
Red Deer, AB, T4N 5H5
Ph: (403) 342-3280
Fax: (403) 357-3660

University of Alberta
Marion Vosahlo
Director, Specialized Support and Disability Services
2-800 Students' Union Building
Edmonton, AB T6G 2J7
Ph: (780) 492-3381
TTY: (780) 492-7269
Fax: (780) 492-6701

Jean A. H. Jackson
Alternate Format Co-ordinator/Advisor
Specialized Support and Disability Services
Edmonton, AB T6G 2J7

University of Calgary
Pat Pardo
Director, Disability Resource Centre
2500 University Drive NW
Calgary, AB T2N 1N4
Ph: (403) 220-8935
Fax: (403) 210-1063

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