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Wednesday, June 18 • 2:30pm - 3:20pm
CON2.07 – The Importance of the Faculty/Student Relationship in the Experiences of Graduate Students with Disabilities in Canadian Postsecondary Education (Room A207)

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As the number of students with disabilities entering graduate education in Canada continues to increase, faculty, instructors, graduate departments, disability service providers, and universities as a whole are having to develop new strategies to facilitate their success. There is a critical lack of research and information about issues faced by graduate students with disabilities; as such, institutions are developing policy and practice guidelines on limited, anecdotal and local experience. No significant research on this population has been undertaken within Canada or the United States, and large, national data sets are lacking. In this environment, faculty and instructors are left with no clear practices and procedures, or any substantive knowledge on graduate students with disabilities. At the same time, universities need to be responsive to new and evolving provincial legislative landscapes in Canada. Therefore, there is a significant requirement to have a detailed understanding, both quantitative and qualitative, of the experiences of disabled students in graduate studies, in order to aid faculty in understanding their roles in working with graduate students with disabilities.

To address this knowledge gap, we undertook a multi-pronged research approach, including the following: a comprehensive online national survey of graduate students with disabilities; institutional best-practices surveys; focus groups of service providers and relevant professional populations; key informant interviews; data mining of extant relevant surveys; a detailed literature review; and the empanelment of an advisory National Taskforce on the Experience of Graduate Students with Disabilities, populated with subject matter experts drawn from sectors across the Canadian post-secondary landscape.

This presentation will highlight our research findings to date, focusing on the important role faculty have in creating a welcoming and inclusive graduate environment. At this point, there is no “fully accessible graduate environment”; furthermore, off-the-shelf accommodations may not be available in all situations. While this gap certainly poses challenges for graduate administrators and policy makers, it represents an opportunity for faculty to develop their own solutions and adapt them to their particular student’s needs. Such efforts may be aided by the deployment and use of universally designed equipment, facilities, as well as research and course materials and readings that do not require active interventions to make them accessible. However, many faculty are unsure about how to meet the needs of graduate students with disabilities. Using case study scenarios, this presentation will deconstruct the major issues faced by faculty when working with graduate students with disabilities. It will also demonstrate how collaboration, creative application of resources and critical analysis of program requirements can lead to increased success rates for graduate students with disabilities. Participants will have the opportunity to work through and discuss the scenarios, in order to develop creative ways of dealing with each issue.


Wednesday June 18, 2014 2:30pm - 3:20pm
A207 McArthur Hall

Attendees (5)