Alberta launches post-secondary prep kit for students with disabilities

The Government of Alberta’s Ministry of Advanced Education and Technology is providing multimedia resources to students with disabilities to help ease their transition into post-secondary education.

The resource kit was recently launched at the Learning Disabilities Association of Alberta conference in Calgary by the province’s Minister of Education, Ron Liepert.

There are approximately five multimedia resources available to students, according to Rose Prefontaine, project coordinator with the Ministry’s learner services branch.

The resources are designed for students from Grades 9 to 12 in the hopes of inspiring and motivating them to consider post-secondary education, said Prefontaine.

“The reason for that is because half the population, according to Statistics Canada, have a post-secondary education, and only 36 per cent of those with disabilities have a post-secondary education,” she said.

The resources include a transition planning guide for students with disabilities and their families, and a success story DVD, according to Prefontaine.

Alberta’s Minister of Advanced Education and Technology, Doug Horner, said in a statement that the new guide will bring more students with disabilities into the province’s colleges and universities.

Prefontaine said the 15-minute DVD, included in the resource kit, was created to inspire and motivate students by demonstrating success stories of five different students with disabilities from various educational institutions.

“For example, there’s a student who was told they were the most disabled student that the University of Alberta had ever seen, who was reading at the Grade 4 level,” said Prefontaine. “She graduated with a masters degree in learning disabilities studies from the University of Calgary…I think she’ll actually achieve her PhD.”

The province has also been encouraging the provision of assistive technology to students with disabilities. Prefontaine said there’s a number of software packages available for this purpose, in addition to funding assistance for students to have access to the necessary technology.

For students with learning disability like autism or Asperger’s syndrome, the University of Alberta has come up with a creative way to help these particular students learn lecture materials, said Prefontaine.

“They’re using closed captioning, which is using the services of a court reporter to deal with the sensory overload that the individual is having,” she said.

In addition to inspiring students with disabilities to pursue post-secondary education, the multimedia resources are also a product of community and learning consultations.

“We received feedback from 142 students that were attending various vocational programming at the technical schools as well as the universities,” said Prefontaine.

“These consultations provided us with the hard data to say this is what the experience has been, and what we can do to improve and address some of the gaps that the students and the delivery partners have identified.”

Related content:

Spotlight on Donna Achimov from Service Canada

Q and A with Doug Horner, Alberta Minister of Advanced Education and Technology

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