High School Outreach Project
In 2001/2002 the National Educational Association of Disabled Students (NEADS) developed a project that would respond to the consistent interest of its members to reach out to students with disabilities in the high school sector. With funding support from the Social Development Partnerships Program of Human Resources Development Canada, the NEADS High School Outreach Project was initiated to have three main components:
- The development of a transition guide for high school students with disabilities.
- The capacity to help connect these students to NEADS on the Internet.
- Focus groups with youth with disabilities to advise the development of the transition guide and specific resources on the NEADS Web site.
NEADS sees the High School Outreach Project as a vital new direction for the Association, one that will advance its mandate to promote equal access to post-secondary education for disabled Canadians. Through consultation with high school students, post-secondary service providers and the community of guidance counselors, we worked to identify the main issues facing students in the transition to post-secondary education. For nearly four years, NEADS has been conducting Student Leadership Forums in different parts of Canada. Students with disabilities who have participated in these meetings have identified a need for the Association to develop an outreach strategy that would connect with youth with disabilities who are making critical decisions about their post-secondary education. In addition, the findings of the report Working Towards A Coordinated National Approach to Services, Accommodations and Policies For Post-Secondary Students With Disabilities (NEADS, 1999) demonstrated that many students are not made sufficiently aware of services and supports before they enroll in programs of study.
High school outreach and assisting students with disabilities in transition to post-secondary education was an issue discussed in great detail by delegates who attended the NEADS 2000 Conference: “Networking, Educating, Advocating: Delivering Success in the New Millennium.” Delegates made a number of recommendations during the conference workshops that informed the development of the project and its resources.
Clearly, it is incumbent upon colleges and universities to do a better job of promoting their disability services to high school students. At the same time, there is a role for our organization to make these connections, and help these institutions increase their effectiveness in service delivery. The NEADS High School Outreach Project and this guide book can assist youth with disabilities in making informed decisions when pursuing higher education with respect to academic options, available financial aid and accommodations that support their studies. The book also provides excellent descriptions of model transition programs and non-governmental organizations that can provide assistance. Our goal with the project is to support a group of students who may face significant obstacles when it comes to full participation in post-secondary education and employment opportunities after graduation.
This transition guide has been developed by a project team representing the NEADS Board of Directors, partner organizations and our two project consultants Brenda Whaley and Neil Faba. A Project Advisory Committee established early in the project’s formation included the following members of the NEADS board: Jennison Asuncion (Advisor to the Board), Alison Beattie (Alberta Rep.), Roger Bursey (Prince Edward Island Rep.), Jennifer Finlay (Nova Scotia Rep.), Joby Fleming (President, Newfoundland Rep.), Rachael Ross (British Columbia Rep.), Catherine McGowan (Manitoba Rep.) and Chris Gaulin (Website Architect). We would also like to thank two partner organizations for advice and support: the Canadian Counselling Association (CCA) and the Canadian Association of Disability Service Providers in Post-Secondary Education (CADSPPE). Doris Lavoie, Executive Director of the CCA, and Lynne Owen of CADSPPE provided support and feedback to the project team.
This book was researched and written by Neil Faba and Brenda Whaley. We would like to offer our thanks to the students and graduates with disabilities who agreed to be interviewed and profiled in this guide and the youth with disabilities who took part in focus groups in Toronto, Calgary and Montreal.