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Education SystemStudying In Canada As A Student with Disabilities

Studying In Canada As A Student with Disabilities

With the right high-quality student services and investments in the field of education, studying in Canada as a student with disabilities has become easier than ever. Universities have invested in their student service centers and there are various organizations that dedicate their time solely to student with disabilities in Canada, making sure they have the right accommodations inside and outside of university, creating a welcoming environment, and ensuring all their needs are met.

These organizations and student services within universities were created to make studying in Canada as a student with disabilities overcome the barriers it might have had before, and they work on providing services that aim to remove the remaining barriers nowadays. The priority is to make the post-secondary experience the same for everyone. However, since the possibility of obstacles exists for student with disabilities, these organizations devote their attention in noting the privileges students with disabilities have and do their best to provide each student with what they need during their post-secondary education, but not only.

Below, you will get the needed information on hard-working organizations for students with disabilities, the services Canada offers (such as grants and equipment for the disabled), as well as disabled student services in some of the highest ranked universities in Canada.

NEADS – National Educational Association of Disabled Students

This organization was founded in 1986 in order to support full access to education as well as employment for post-secondary students and graduates all around Canada. It’s a “consumer-controlled, cross-disability charitable organization” governed by a national Board of Directors that are representative of all territories and provinces across Canada.

What Does NEADS Offer For Disabled Students?

As was previously mentioned, this organization offers full support to student with disabilities and graduates in Canada. However, to be more specific, it focuses on three essential areas: 

  • Student Debt Reduction
  • Student Experience Within University/Campus
  • Student & Graduate Employment

How Can Post-Secondary Institutions Accommodate Students With Disabilities in Canada?

There are a variety of ways the post-secondary education institutions in Canada can accommodate students with disabilities. Some of these accommodations include:


Some students with disabilities might find it difficult to take clear notes. This way, the PSE institutions offer the possibilities of recording lectures, or have professors create podcasts of their lectures. Alternatively, when available, professors offer copies of lecture notes or PowerPoint presentations. Students with disabilities should submit a request form for the classes they need the notes for. Afterwards, the instructor can ask the class for volunteers by email, who can use non-carbonized two-ply paper to take notes, or create electronic/photocopied notes and deliver them to the students with disabilities.

Visual Language Interpreting

Interpreting services should be available for deaf students or students with difficulties in hearing. These interpreters would be asked to interpret the lecture/questions/comments during a class lecture in sign-language. Additionally, they can be given the lecture notes earlier by the professor so they can prepare beforehand.


When Deaf of Hard Hearing students do not use sign-language, they might request captioning services. These services should be offered to these students through Communication Access Realtime Translation (CART). When real-time captioning services are not available on campus, local providers should be contacted. Students with disabilities should be offered assistance in securing funding for these services.


Classroom Features Accommodation

Students should be able to request for a classroom relocation in case the classroom in inaccessible for the student. They have priority in the seating (front, near the speakers, near the electrical outlets, etc). Classrooms and labs should have wheelchair accessible tables and computer stations.

Testing and Exam Accommodations

Testing and exam accommodations should be made, depending on the disability. For example, the student may ask for more time to complete an exam, therefore, depending on the disability, the instructor should provide the student with the extra time they need. Accommodations could include other formats such as Braille, large print, or digital format.

Disability Services for Students by Province in Canada

Disability services are available in many post-secondary schools in Canada, in order to be as accessible as possible for students across the country. As mentioned before, the services for students with disabilities tend to be quite helpful in universities in Canada. More specifically, the larger schools have a department of these services that are often in collaboration with equity services or human rights. The universities in each province in Canada have their services for students with disabilities.

Disability Services in Some of the Best Universities in Canada

Many universities in Canada cover the most common needs such as vision impairments, mobility difficulties, medical disabilities, hearing impairments, learning disabilities, as well as attention deficit disorder.

What is also important to note is that each fall in the majority of schools, a peer student orientation program is held, for the new or returning students. Informing the students for the accommodations, note-taking, and tutoring programs that are available for student with disabilities in Canada, this orientation aims to create a welcoming, comfortable, and accessible environment for students with disabilities.


University of Toronto

The University of Toronto is one of the highest-ranked universities in Canada. There are over 2,000 students with disabilities registered in the three campus offices at the University of Toronto.

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A majority of students who register for accommodations for this university have invisible disabilities like mental health difficulties, chronic health conditions, learning disabilities, or attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder. Depending on their disability, students may ask to withdraw from their program for a while. Others might feel a lack of energy due to medication side effects, fatigue, or pain. These are all taken into consideration by the disability student services of the university.

The University of British Columbia

The Centre for Accessibility at The University of British Columbia provides the support needed to remove the obstacles for students with a disability or ongoing medical condition. The services they offer are academic accommodations like exam adaptations or alternative-format material. Non-academic services such as mobility training and priority placement for on-campus housing are also provided! 

University of Alberta

The University of Alberta is traditionally known in encouraging students with disabilities to apply to its courses. It is also known for the support services it provides for these students in order to ensure their best accommodation and full access to university facilities.

The university ensures the students with disabilities are considered for admission in the programs for which they are academically qualified. It will make the necessary changes to the program course loads, exam procedures, and other academic requirements in concordance with the student’s disability-related factors. The university will also seek ways to provide housing units that are adapted to be used by student with disabilities. The Accessibility Resources of the university will also provide the following:

  • Orientation to the University
  • Personal and Academic Advice
  • Program Planning
  • Registration Assistance
  • Interpreting Arrangements
  • Advocacy
  • Loan of Available Specialized Equipment
  • Permission to Tape Lectures
  • Volunteer Assistance 

Canada Student Grant for Students with Permanent Disabilities 

This grant for students with permanent disabilities is available for each year of studies, for as long as the student still qualifies. Acquiring this grant would mean you could receive $2,000 each school year of your studies, both undergraduate and graduate levels. If you qualify for the grant with an assessed need of $1,400, for example, you will receive a sum of $2,000 that would cover your assessed need and you would not need a student loan.

How do you qualify for the Canada Student Grant for Students with Permanent Disabilities? 

To qualify for this grant, you should: 

  • Be a student with a permanent disability.
  • Apply and qualify for a full-time or part-time student financial assistance and have at least $1 of assessed financial need.
  • Be enrolled in a full-time or part-time program at a designated post-secondary institution.
  • Include a proof of your disability in the loan application, such as a medical certificate, a psycho-educational assessment, or documents proving you have received either federal or provincial permanent disability assistance.


Disability Scholarships for Students in Post-Secondary Education

Various scholarships for students with disabilities are available in Canada. Below you will find some of the scholarships  available for students with disabilities in Canada which are both merit and need based:

McGill University Financial Aid

  1. Bussandri Foundation Bursary

This bursary was established in the year 2010 by the Bussandri Foundation for undergraduate or graduate students who have a disability. It’s awarded by the Scholarships and Student Aid Office and it prioritizes both academic standing as well as demonstrated financial need.

  1. G. Allen Ross Bursary 

This one was established in 1990 by the Board of Unlimited Skills Inc., which is a company that focuses on providing employment for the disabled. The bursary is awarded to a physically disabled student in any faculty in the basis of academic success and financial need.

  1. Jaclyn Lea Fisher Bursary

The Jaclyn Lea Fisher Bursary is awarded by the Scholarships and Student Aid Office to those with demonstrated financial need and good academic standing to in-course students of McGill University. Scholarship

The Scholarship is a national scholarship awarded to students of any disability. This scholarship fund was established in 2009, and it now offers two $500 awards each year. The applicants must meet certain guidelines such as be enrolled at an accredited high school, college, or university in Canada, they should be aged 16 or older, and carry a ‘good-standing’ academic status, among others. It asks its applicants to explore different issues, such as mobility issues on campus, overcoming personal challenges, and more.

Education for Life Bursary 

Created to help students with disabilities achieve their academic goals, this bursary is awarded based on financial need and, apart from the application requirements, the student should also meet the following requirements:

  • Have a disability
  • Live in Alberta
  • Be registered in a post-secondary program
  • Use the bursary for tuition fees


These are only a few of the many scholarships that are offered for students with disabilities in Canada. Namely, many organizations and services in Canada have focused their attention to making education accessible to everyone, regardless of their disabilities. Their aim for a better future and accessible education is surely an inspiration.

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