Toronto, Nov. 14, 2008 – For students with disabilities the cost of attending college or university often exceeds the price of tuition and textbooks. Sign language interpretation, alternative format course materials, adaptive software, tutors and personal support workers are just a few of the significant expenses that can stand in the way of higher education for many Canadian students.
A new research project, jointly launched today by the Canada Millennium Scholarship Foundation and the Higher Education Quality Council of Ontario, seeks to shed light on the range of financial barriers facing postsecondary students with disabilities.
“This study promises to uncover valuable information that can be used to improve access to postsecondary education for students with both physical and learning disabilities,” said Norman Riddell, executive director and CEO of the Canada Millennium Scholarship Foundation.
“Equipped with a more complete understanding of the financial realities of students with disabilities, service providers and policymakers will be able to make more informed decisions and better meet the needs of all students,” added James Downey, president and CEO of the Higher Education Quality Council of Ontario.
The multifaceted research will include an online survey, interviews, focus groups, and analysis of existing data. It is being conducted in collaboration by researchers from the University of Toronto’s Centre for Study of Students in Postsecondary Education, the National Educational Association of Disabled Students, and the Canadian Association of Disability Service Providers in Postsecondary Education.
“Of all student groups, students with disabilities incur the second-highest levels of debt. This suggests some Canadians may be kept out of higher education due to the financial burdens associated with their disabilities,” explained Tony Chambers of the University of Toronto.
“To access general student assistance and even many programs specifically for disabled students, students with disabilities must meet the same socio-economic requirements as other students, despite the considerable added costs they must incur,” added Mahadeo Sukhai, president of the National Educational Association of Disabled Students.
For more information, please contact:
Higher Education Quality Council of Ontario
Canada Millennium Scholarship Foundation