Government invests in supports for students with disabilities
LONDON, ON, Feb. 7 /CNW/ - The Ontario government will invest up to $5 million to provide supports to postsecondary students who have disabilities, Dianne Cunningham, Minister of Training, Colleges and Universities announced today.
The government will establish the Enhanced Services Fund to help college and university students with learning disabilities get help from learning strategists, assistive technologists and related technology. All colleges and universities will be eligible to apply for funding.
Funding will also be used to set up a mobile assessment team on a one- year trial basis, which colleges and universities could call upon as needed.
In addition, the government will allow disability-related educational expenses in the Ontario Student Assistance Program (OSAP) needs assessment when determining eligibility for the provincial component of the Bursary for Students with Disabilities.
The Bursary for Students with Disabilities is funded by the provincial and federal governments to provide assistance to students with disabilities in meeting disability-related costs associated with their postsecondary education. Eligible students can receive up to $7,000 annually from the combined provincial and federal components of the bursary. Beginning in 2002- 03, this amount will increase to $10,000.
"I would like to thank the members of the Learning Opportunities Task Force (LOTF) for their hard work on behalf of learning disabled students in this province," Cunningham said. "By responding to preliminary recommendations from the task force, we are ensuring that students with learning disabilities will receive the help they need to succeed in their studies at colleges and universities."
The LOTF was announced in the 1997 Budget. The government committed $30 million over five years for task force initiatives including eight pilot projects at 13 colleges and universities across the province.
"The dedicated, innovative efforts of the staff of each pilot project, in support of their hundreds of successful students, have directed us to these recommendations which form the cornerstones of enhanced postsecondary programs for all learning disabled students in Ontario," said Bette Stephenson, LOTF chair.
"The Ontarians with Disabilities Act, together with other legislative and non-legislative measures, is moving Ontario toward full accessibility for persons with disabilities," said Minister of Citizenship Cam Jackson. "This initiative reinforces this government's commitment to a province in which old barriers are removed and no new ones are created."
"The majority of students who participated in our learning disabilities pilot projects said that the supports they received helped them to be more successful in their postsecondary studies," said Cunningham. "We are acting quickly to help to extend these supports to students across the province."
In 2001-02, the Ontario government has allocated approximately $35 million to support postsecondary students with disabilities, including students with learning disabilities, the largest investment in the past 10 years.
February 7, 2002
GOVERNMENT RESPONDS TO PRELIMINARY RECOMMENDATIONS
OF LEARNING OPPORTUNITIES TASK FORCE
Information provided by the Learning Disabilities Association of Ontario and colleges and universities shows that learning disabilities represent the highest incidence of disability within the school system.
The Learning Opportunities Task Force (LOTF) was announced in the 1997 Budget to help students with learning disabilities get the assistance they need to make the transition to college or university and to receive supports necessary to be successful.
The government committed $30 million over five years for task force initiatives including eight pilot projects at 13 colleges and universities across the province. During the pilots, students with learning disabilities reported that access to learning strategists, assistive technologists and related technology services were the most helpful services as they worked to gain a degree or diploma.
The LOTF submitted preliminary recommendations to the Ontario government last fall. Final recommendations are expected by Fall 2002.
In addition to establishing the Enhanced Services Fund and extending eligibility for the Bursary for Students with Disabilities, the government has directed up to $1.35 million of current funding to help pilot institutions with the transition beyond the pilot project phase.
Students will receive additional services and supports through the office for students with disabilities at their institution. The LOTF will develop eligibility and accountability criteria and administer the fund.
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For more information visit www.edu.gov.on.ca
For further information: Dave Ross, Minister's Office, (416) 326-1625; Tanya Cholokov, Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities, (416) 325-7526; Bonnie Tiffin, Learning Opportunities Task Force, (905) 773-5948