The National Educational Association of Disabled Students (NEADS) is a consumer-controlled, registered charitable organization with a mandate to encourage the self-empowerment of post-secondary students and graduates with disabilities in Canada. NEADS recognizes and advocates for the right of every student with a disability to attend post-secondary education, by:
- Advocating for increased accessibility at all levels;
- Advocating for equal access to and participation in a college or university education for students with disabilities; and
- Supporting the successful transition of students and graduates with disabilities from high school to post-secondary education.
Students with disabilities often incur “extra” costs associated with their pursuit of higher education (e.g., costs for academic accommodations, adaptive technology, personal assistance, tutoring, etc.). In order to fully participate in college and university study, disabled persons must have access to funding that covers these added costs. It can also take longer for a disabled student to complete an academic program because of a disability. Such extra time to complete their studies may lead to increased disability-related costs. Taken together, these lines of evidence suggest that students with disabilities incur the highest expenses and debt associated with attending post-secondary education in Canada of any student group.
Lack of access to financial aid and lack of awareness of available financial aid opportunities are cited as the top two financially-related barriers to the completion of post-secondary education by students with disabilities. There is therefore a strong and significant need for a national, bilingual, and dynamic online repository of financial aid resources and information, which will act directly to help remove the second barrier, and indirectly ameliorate the first.
Through this project, NEADS seeks to develop a fully accessible comprehensive online portal containing information on financial assistance for post-secondary students in Canada. The searchable portal will provide disabled students with relevant disability-related financial aid information. This resource will be complementary to, and will use as models, existing sites such as www.studentawards.com, and www.scholarshipscanada.com. The portal will contain information on all disability-based scholarships, awards, bursaries offered through: Canadian students from Canadian colleges and universities, non-governmental and charitable organizations, the private sector, as well as complete information on grant and loan programs available from federal and provincial/territorial governments. This will include programs that support direct education costs, as well as those that assist with supplemental disability costs (support services, adaptive technology, etc.). In addition to this information, frequently asked questions (FAQs) will be integrated throughout the portal, many of which our members often ask us.
In order to ensure this resource remains current and therefore useful to future students pursuing higher education, the portal will be community- driven. Content will be updatable by contributors (e.g., not-for-profit and charitable organizations, government representatives, post-secondary disability service providers and financial aid administrators, and students themselves). The involvement of the community will allow the site to grow and be sustainable beyond the project.
This project is funded by the Government of Canada's Social Development Partnerships Program - Disability component.