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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.

The Mass Migration to Online Learning is Leaving Disabled Students Behind

Mythili Sampathkumar
Digital TrendsMarch 27, 2020

Rachel, an undergraduate student at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, was actually considering online classes last year before COVID-19 forced many students into online learning.

Rachel, who asked to remain anonymous for her safety, has a connective tissue disorder called Ehlers Danlos Syndrome that affects everything in her body thats made out of collagen and causes damage to her autonomic nervous system, which controls breathing and blood circulation. A flare-up of her symptoms requires her to lie down immediately to quell dizzy spells, which has happened to her during a class.

MANITOBA SUPPORTS EDUCATION ON EMPLOYMENT ACCESSIBILITY

Renewed Funding Agreement Focuses on Outreach: Stefanson
January 15, 2020

The Manitoba government is investing $120,800 with the Manitoba League of Persons with Disabilities (MLPD) to provide educational and outreach work that will help ensure organizations understand and comply with the accessible employment standard, Families Minister Heather Stefanson announced today.

“Accessibility is important to all Manitobans and a priority for our government,” said Stefanson. “We are pleased to support this work with the MLPD. This funding will help them deliver workshops, share tools and resources, and provide advice and expertise to organizations to promote the development and implementation of accessible employment practices.”

Stanford and Students with Mental Health Disabilities Reach Landmark Settlement

Settlement is most comprehensive ever to protect college students with mental health disabilities from unnecessary exclusion Palo Alto, CA, October 7, 2019

A coalition of Stanford students and Stanford University have reached a groundbreaking settlement agreement that will result in significant changes to Stanford’s leave of absence policies and practices, all of which will help ensure that students experiencing mental health crises have access to appropriate accommodations and services and are not unnecessarily excluded from campus and housing. Read the settlement agreement below.