Volume 95, Issue 78
Wednesday, February 20, 2002
Disabled students get government cash
$30 mil for new programs
By Kelly Marcella
Increased funding will soon be available for Ontario college and university students with learning disabilities.
The Ontario provincial government recently announced it will invest $30 million into the Enhanced Services Fund over a five-year period to provide colleges and universities the ability to acquire learning strategists and assistive technologists to enhance assistance for students with learning disabilities.
The changes were prompted by preliminary recommendations from the Learning Opportunities Task Force.
"The government is committed to ensuring access for students with disabilities," said Tanya Cholakov, spokeswoman for the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities, adding the government will take disability-related educational expenses into account during the eligibility assessment process for the Bursary of Students with Disabilities.
Cholakov noted that the amount of the bursary will be increased to a combined maximum of $10,000 a year from the federal and provincial governments. "This is definitely an important step," she added.
The funds will be allocated to various institutions by application process through the LOTF. According to the LOTF representative Bonnie Tiffin, packages outlining the application process have been sent to post-secondary institutions across Ontario.
"We are very dedicated to making the playing field equal," Tiffin said, adding the new funds will help students with learning disabilities make the transition to post-secondary life.
"We are not finished yet, there's still lots more to be done," Tiffin added, emphasizing the LOTF's project research will continue.
Deborah Stuart, Services for Students with Disabilities co-ordinator at Western, said the learning strategist and assistive technologist will provide specific assistance to help students understand the nature of their disability and learn to cope with it.
"Traditionally, students haven't understood a lot about the nature of their learning disabilities," Stuart said, adding this method will be presumably more effective. "It can only help to have an additional person to provide for students with learning disabilities."
According to SSD statistics, of the 725 students who used the services in the previous academic year, 279 were students with learning disabilities.
Copyright © The Gazette 2002