December 4th, 2019
TORONTO, ON - Today, the Ontario Undergraduate Student Alliance (OUSA) released a policy paper focusing on student accessibility disability inclusion. The paper was written, approved, and published by students with the purpose of providing recommendations for improving post-secondary experiences for students with disabilities at Ontario university campuses, including increasing accessibility and improving accommodations.
We know that students with disabilities are underrepresented on our campuses as a result of unnecessary barriers,” said Shemar Hackett, Vice President Education for the McMaster Students’ Union and OUSA Steering Committee Member. “This policy paper makes it clear that students want these barriers removed so that all students are able to succeed."
Students are concerned that current campus environments are inaccessible for many students who are forced to navigate both social and physical barriers in order to pursue their education. Social barriers, specifically a lack of knowledge or understanding about disability and campus support services mean that many students are not afforded the accommodations they require to succeed. Physical barriers prevent students from access classrooms, support services, and other campus buildings, hindering their post-secondary experience. Students are also concerned about the barriers that students face as they transition into university, and those that make it difficult to successfully transition into employment following graduation. Students also identify concerns regarding available support services and the provision of academic accommodations, the financial barriers that impact students with disabilities, and weaknesses in the province’s accessibility legislation.
Overarching recommendations made by students in this paper focus on eliminating many of the systemic, structural, social, physical, financial, and legislative barriers that students with disabilities are forced to navigate in their pursuit of post-secondary education. Research, guidelines, training, and funding are all needed to dismantle these barriers, and students are calling on the provincial government provide the resources and support institutions need to ensure all students have equitable access to an affordable, accountable, and high quality education.
"Improving access to post-secondary education for students with disabilities is crucial to ensuring equity at Ontario’s institutions,” said Shawn Cruz, Vice President University Affairs for the Wilfrid Laurier Students’ Union and OUSA Steering Committee Member. “It is vital that they are supported at all stages of their university career through effective transition models, clear documentation requirements, and adequate financial aid."
This paper was written and approved by student leaders through research and consultations with their constituents. It was passed at OUSA’s Fall General Assembly on November 3rd 2019. To read it, click here.
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OUSA represents the interests of 150,000 professional and undergraduate, full-time and part-time university students at eight student associations across Ontario. Our vision is for an accessible, affordable, accountable, and high quality post-secondary education in Ontario.
Operations & Communications Coordinator
Ontario Undergraduate Student Alliance