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Online Learning Era Neglects Blind Students’ Needs

A year after many campuses transitioned to remote instruction, blind students continue to encounter barriers that undermine their learning. By Lindsay McKenzie
February 19, 2021

Blind students report challenges like materials arriving late after many colleges and universities transitioned to remote learning amid the pandemic.

The shift to remote learning has been extremely challenging for blind students, with some still facing unresolved accessibility issues.

The National Federation of the Blind and other organizations have warned for months that colleges are failing to provide blind students with the timely accommodations and support to which they are legally entitled.

Introducing THE 2021-2022 AEBC AND T-BASE COMMUNICATIONS SCHOLARSHIP PROGRAM

The Alliance for Equality of Blind Canadians (AEBC) is now accepting applications for the 2021-2022 academic year. This year we will be awarding two T-Base Communications Scholarships, two AEBC Scholarships and a British Columbia Scholarship, each with a value of $1,000.

The application deadline for the 2021 AEBC/T-Base Communications scholarship program is Friday, March 26th, 2021. All applications and supporting materials must be received by 11:59 p.m. Pacific Daylight Time on Friday, March 26th, 2021 in order for applications to be considered by AEBC.

The application package can be downloaded in French and English from: http://www.blindcanadians.ca/programs/scholarship.

Please pass this information along to those you feel would benefit from the program.

The Pandemic Has Made Post-Secondary students’ Mental Health Even Worse

As college and university students face a mental health crisis, faculty and institutions are looking at making structural changes By Julia Mastroianni
Now Toronto, Jan 25, 2021

Among the many negative effects of COVID-19, deteriorating mental health of post-secondary students has been one of the most serious and widespread.

Mental health stressors are a major issue for post-secondary students in particular, though the pandemic has only exacerbated a growing crisis in Canada.

“Things were going downhill in mental health for students across North America before COVID,” says Paul Ritvo, a psychology professor at York University who has been studying the effects of mindfulness on student mental health. “What COVID has done is it has put health and health science in the top headlines, and we have become a more health-oriented society.”

Online Learning Is Worsening the Already-Uneven Educational Experience for Neurodiverse Students

Jeremy Cohen
Special to The Globe and Mail
Published January 22, 2021

Jeremy Cohen is a PhD candidate and instructor at McMaster University.

I wandered the cafeteria after hours, listening in as my seventh-grade English teacher spoke to my mom at an empty lunch table. My poor academic performance was likely owing to a learning disability, she told her, and future scholastic success was unlikely. It would take 17 years and several misdiagnoses before that disability was acknowledged and given a name: ADHD.

With the Shift to Online Learning, Students With Disabilities Face New Barriers

They may not have to navigate campus, but online learning has brought new challenges By John Loeppky December 1, 2020

Shae Sackman is a University of Regina student who uses the school’s Centre for Student Accessibility to arrange the accommodations that they require for their studies (Sackman uses the they/them pronouns), including a quiet space for exams and the provision of occasional absences.

The system Sackman navigates has always expected a lot of students with disabilities. For example, to receive accommodations at most Canadian universities, a student has to have a letter from a doctor and go through a lengthy intake process. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic and the shift to online learning, the availability of disability support-as well as the needs of those with disabilities-has radically changed and, on balance, become even more challenging.

Access and Engagement to Education Survey

Note: This is from the American Foundation for the Blind but Canadians are also encouraged to take it.

We know that families of blind and low vision children are still facing major challenges as the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has forced many schools to move to online education.

As a person with low vision who received my elementary education before the first version of the Individuals with Disability Education Act (IDEA) was passed in 1975, I think of the changes my own mother created for me to receive an equitable education to my sighted peers. My mother let the school administration and teachers know what her visually impaired child needed to succeed, and amazingly, they listened.

It Took A Pandemic To Prove What Students With Disabilities Wanted For Years Is Possible

Schools’ responses to the COVID-19 pandemic shows online learning is possible – but students with disabilities still need additional support. By Sherina Harris
This story is part of Learning Curve, a HuffPost Canada series that explores the challenges and opportunities for students, faculty and post-secondary institutions amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

When universities moved online in March in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, it marked the advancement of something students with disabilities have been requesting for years: more accommodations and support.

New Coordinated Accessibility Strategy Guides Carleton’s Commitment on Campus

By Tyrone Burke

More than a quarter of first-year students at Carleton self-identify as having a disability, and about 11 per cent have registered with the Paul Menton Centre for Students with Disabilities. An additional six per cent of university staff report having some type of disability.

Ensuring that all of our students, staff, and faculty fully participate in Carleton’s life, work, and community means building on a longstanding culture of accessibility and inclusiveness.

“Accessibility is one of Carleton’s core values,” says Boris Vukovic, director of the Research, Education, Accessibility, and Design (READ) Initiative, which aims to establish Carleton as a Centre of Excellence in Accessibility.

New Student Group Seeks Mandatory Accessibility Classes for Lecturers

The group, known as the ‘Ability Co_op’, aims to promote awareness of students with disabilities on campus. Cormac Watson
Deputy Editor

The group has released a video, produced by student filmmaker Niamh Barry, with students discussing online learning and exams.

Trinity students, alongside the Disability Service, have launched a new co-operative with the aim of introducing mandatory accessibility classes for lecturers and promoting awareness of students with disabilities on campus.

The group, called the Trinity Ability Co_Op, hopes to introduce classes that would be developed by the group alongside the Disability Service, with the aim of educating lecturers on how to deal with students with disabilities.

Blind Student Files Federal Discrimination Lawsuit Against Duke University

By Melissa Boughton
June 5, 2020

Before Mary Fernandez enrolled at Duke University, she was assured she would be provided the accommodations for an equal education to her peers who aren’t blind.

Despite that assurance, Fernandez experienced barriers that permeated every aspect of her educational experience at Duke, according to a news release about a new federal lawsuit against the university.