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National Educational Association of Disabled Students
December 8, 2003
We are pleased to announce that on December 8, 2003 the National Educational Association of Disabled Students began work on a new project initiative: Access to Academic Materials for Print-Disabled Post-Secondary Students: A Partnership of Users and Service Providers. This sixteen month project is funded in part by the Government of Canada's Social Development Partnerships Program.
Access to information is a fundamental right of all Canadians. Since only three percent of the world's literature is converted into multiple formats, post-secondary students with print-disabilities are dependent on programs, service providers and librarians to obtain the information and materials they need to meet their course requirements.
Program completion at the post-secondary level is the most direct way to ensure employability and integration for people with disabilities into the economic and social mainstream of Canadian society. Thus, it is critical that service delivery models in this area be enhanced to support this disadvantaged group.
Towards this end, a partnership among the National Educational Association of Disabled Students (NEADS), the Learning Disabilities Association of Canada (LDAC), and the Council on Access to Information for Print-Disabled Canadians has been formed to implement a study to improve service delivery and access to academic materials for such students. NEADS is the lead organization and the association will implement the objectives, manage the project and produce the reports. The overall goal is to provide French and English post-secondary students, who cannot access academic materials using conventional print formats, with the information, services and materials they need to meet their education and career goals.
To address this objective, NEADS will hire a research firm (a) to assist in the preparation of two surveys (one developed for students and another for librarians and disability service providers), which will identify available services and materials for this population throughout Canada; and (b) to assist in the facilitation of capacity building meetings of key stakeholders. One of these meetings will be held in conjunction with the November 2004 NEADS Conference, and will include workshops with conference delegates. The purpose of the consultations will be to review the content of the surveys; to share knowledge of effective programs, training methods and materials; and, to forge new relationships and partnerships. The forums are expected to make suggestions towards a co-ordinated plan for an efficient and effective process of service delivery and of material sharing across Canada. The research firm will be responsible for analyzing the data from the surveys, report on the results of the forums with stakeholders, and in consultation with NEADS and the project steering committee, prepare a final report.
There will be a number of deliverables of this project. A detailed report will address (a) how the services and materials may be better coordinated and used; (b) the identification of significant gaps in the process of supporting the academic materials requirements of post-secondary students with print-disabilities and (c) recommendations of next steps will be identified and put into context. Project reports and information will be made available through a Website developed by the NEADS Web team with links to the Council and LDAC websites and to many important stakeholders including publishers. An online directory will be developed featuring effective models of service delivery, categories of materials that can be shared, and best practices related to training materials and methods available in Canada.
To meet these deliverables, NEADS, in consultation with the partnering organizations, will form a steering committee of users and service providers, including frontline practitioners. Both official language communities will be represented on the committee. The steering committee's responsibility will be to ensure the fulfillment of the project's objectives. NEADS will direct and evaluate the activities of the research firm and will orchestrate a capacity-building session of key stakeholders with support and direction from the steering committee. Groups that will be invited to participate with the Council on Access and the Learning Disabilities Association of Canada will include the Canadian Association of Disability Service Providers (CADSPPE), the Adaptech Research Network (Dawson College), librarians and student representatives as selected by the NEADS board of directors.
For further information on this project contact:
Requesting Submissions for the NEADS Access to Academic Materials Project: www.neads.ca/en/about/projects/atam/submissions.php