New supports for students with disabilities make education more accessible

Released: Monday, May 31, 2021 9:00 AM

Students with disabilities enrolled at public post-secondary institutions are receiving more supports to help them succeed in their studies and train for a range of in-demand careers.

“Every British Columbian deserves the opportunity to achieve their career dreams and goals,” said Anne Kang, Minister of Advanced Education and Skills Training. “We’re empowering students with accessibility challenges to pursue post-secondary training and education to reach their goals, get good-paying jobs and fully participate in B.C.’s strong, resilient economy.”

The Province is providing additional support to three programs that facilitate accessible education across public post-secondary institutions. The Academic Communication Equity (ACE), Centre for Accessible Post-Secondary Education Resources (CAPER) and Program for Institutional Loan of Adaptive Technology (PILAT) help students with accessibility challenges train for in-demand jobs, including those in the technology and trades sectors.

“Almost 25% of adults in B.C. identify as living with a disability. That means a potentially large number of people struggle with unnecessary barriers to training and education,” said Dan Coulter, Parliamentary Secretary for Accessibility. “We remain committed to building a more accessible and inclusive B.C., and these three new programs are a great step towards that goal.”

The ACE program supports accessible post-secondary education for students who are deaf, hard of hearing or deaf-blind and attending, or planning to attend, college or university in B.C.

The CAPER program provides alternative-learning-format resource materials, such as digital audio books, large print texts, electronic texts and other suitable formats to students and instructors.

The PILAT program supports post-secondary students that require specialized adaptive technology and/or software, such as TypeWell Transcriber and XamBox computer technology.

The $250,000 in additional funding towards these three programs will support approximately 3,000 students with disabilities at public post-secondary institutions. This additional support addresses an increase in demand and will help these students succeed throughout the COVID-19 pandemic recovery.

Prior to the pandemic, B.C.’s Labour Market Outlook estimated 861,000 jobs will need to be filled over the next 10 years. These ranged from trades, technology and tourism, to health care, management and business. Some level of post-secondary education or training will be required for about 80% of those job openings.

Approximately 71,000 students received federal/provincial student financial assistance through StudentAid BC in 2019-20, totalling $768 million. This included 4,800 students with disabilities.

The Province has proclaimed May 30 to June 5, 2021, as B.C.’s fourth AccessAbility Week, to promote inclusion and accessibility, while also celebrating the people in the disability community who are working to identify, remove and prevent barriers to accessibility. AccessAbility Week is also nationally recognized.