Enhancing Accessibility in Post-Secondary Education Institutions
Funding post-secondary education can be difficult for many individuals; however, students with disabilities can incur higher costs than students without disabilities owing to the costs associated with their disability (such as accommodations) and the fact that many students with disabilities take an extended period to complete their education. It is therefore imperative that students with disabilities have access to additional funding opportunities to help reach their educational goals.
The following are some best practices that PSE institutions have used to provide financial support to students with disabilities.
- Hard copies of information on financial aid for students with disabilities should be readily available both in disability offices and financial aid offices. Information on disability funding should also be made available in high-school guidance offices.
- Provide a page on the disability services website as well as on the financial aid website that outlines current opportunities specific to students with disabilities.
- Remind students with disabilities that they should apply for scholarships and bursaries that are not disability specific.
- As many funding opportunities have strict deadlines and/or lengthy application processes, it is important to provide students with timely information. Provide a timetable or calendar with important deadlines on relevant websites. Allow students to sign up for an email list and send out reminders of upcoming deadlines.
- Hold seminars on financial opportunities for students with disabilities which could cover available funding, eligibility and the application process. Seminars could be open to current college and university students, high school students, parents/caregivers and/or the general public.
- Provide information on and assistance with applications for external funding including Federal and Provincial Government funding.
- Provide support to students who are ineligible or unsuccessful in obtaining funding to find alternative solutions to achieve reasonable accommodation of their needs.
- Encourage student unions or student groups to allocate some funding towards a bursary or scholarship for students with disabilities.
- Encourage local disability organizations, charitable donors or private corporations to support a yearly bursary or scholarship.
- As many students with disabilities study part-time, consider implementing a bursary or scholarship for part-time students or allowing students with disabilities to be considered for full-time funding with a reduced course load.
- For students who must study with a reduced course load due to a permanent disability, consider a reduced tuition fee.
- Provide flexible, on-campus employment opportunities for students with disabilities – this will provide extra funding and an opportunity to gain work experience.
- Develop innovative funding opportunities, within the limits of available resources, for activities that promote inclusion, awareness and accessibility and to support extra-curricular activities..
- Increase awareness while providing funding through disability awards which can be given to volunteers or caregivers of people with disabilities, those studying in disability studies, or special education, etc.