Post-secondary education: Barriers for students with disabilities, Canada

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What barriers do persons with disabilities experience when it comes to admissions to, and accommodations within, post-secondary institutions in Canada? What improvements can be made to proactively support accessibility for students with disabilities? In this peer-reviewed open-access article, Laverne Jacobs examines these questions and more in the context of Ontario. Check out the abstract below, and then click through to the main article to learn more: 

Access to post-secondary Education in Canada for students with disabilities

Peer-reviewed research by: Laverne Jacobs

In Canada, access to post-secondary education is guaranteed by a number of domestic instruments. These instruments are: statutory human rights legislation, constitutional law, and accessibility legislation. These guarantees are further bolstered by Article 24 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD). Statutory human rights legislation (or anti-discrimination law) plays the most extensive role in controlling the discretionary power that colleges and universities exercise with respect to the admission of prospective students and the reasonable accommodation of matriculated students with disabilities. This article presents the findings of a review of decisions by human rights tribunals in Canada over the 7-year period of 2014–2021. With respect to both admissions cases and in-program reasonable accommodations cases, it identifies the main types of barriers experienced by persons with disabilities. It also examines the ways in which accessibility legislation, a proactive standard-setting form of legislation in Canada, has sought to improve access to post-secondary students with disabilities, focusing on Ontario’s post-secondary education accessibility standards as an example. Finally, it argues that changes to policies and practices on the ground that draw more inspiration from Article 24 of the CRPD will help to ensure that the equality right to post-secondary education for students with disabilities is fulfilled in letter and spirit.

Click here to read the full open-access article, published in 2023 in the International Journal of Discrimination and the Law.

Full Reference //

Jacobs, L. (2023). Access to post-secondary Education in Canada for students with disabilities. International Journal of Discrimination and the Law, 23(1–2), 7–28.

This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0).

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