August 18, 2023
OUSA releases policy paper titled “Student Accessibility and Disability Inclusion”
TORONTO, ON - The Ontario Undergraduate Student Alliance (OUSA) is proud to release the thirdpolicy paper approved by OUSA’s Spring 2023 General Assembly, Student Accessibility and Disability Inclusion. The paper was written, approved, and published by students to express their concerns and offer recommendations regarding inclusive policies and institutional practices on accessibility and inclusion of students with disabilities.
“Disability inclusion is essential to ensuring Ontatio’s post-secondary institutions are providing equitable educational opportunities to all students,” says Anthony Coulter Trent Durham Student Association’s Vice-President of External Affairs “We must continually work towards improving the accessibility of post-secondary education through centring the voices of students with disabilities and advocating for institutional practices that exceed minimum standards”
Institutional approaches towards accessibility and disability inclusion, from accessible infrastructure to honouring accommodations and employing inclusive course delivery, can have immediate and lasting impacts on students’ academic satisfaction and degree completion. However, many prevalent issues serve as barriers for students with disabilities. Specifically, students are concerned about the limited knowledge and lack of training on accessibility and disability exhibited by faculty and staff; physically inaccessible campus infrastructure; the unique financial barriers for post-secondary students with disabilities; and ineffective policies. To address these concerns, students have put forth recommendations that would improve students with disabilities' sense of belonging and strengthen policies to be more equitable.
"The past three years of remote and hybrid learning have illuminated the shortcomings of accessibility policies at post-secondary institutions and the work that can be done to ensure the success of students with disabilities,” Elizabeth Wong, Vice President of Education at the McMaster Student Union “Despite the growing awareness of how accessibility is essential to equitable education, there is still great work to be done to combat the ableism that is entrenched in institutional policy and found in the attitudes of many post-secondary community members. We are hopeful that the provincial government will demonstrate their commitment to comprehensive accessibility through tangible policy directives,”
This policy paper and its recommendations were developed by students at OUSA’s member schools. It was passed on March 5th, 2023, at OUSA's Spring General Assembly, held at Queen’s University.
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OUSA represents the interests of 160,000 professional and undergraduate, full-time and part-time university students at nine student associations across Ontario. Our vision is for an accessible, affordable, accountable, and high quality post-secondary education in Ontario.
Tiffany Li Wu
Operations & Communications Coordinator
Ontario Undergraduate Student Alliance