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NEADS Conference 2004

Making Extra-Curricular Activities Inclusive

An accessibility guide for campus programmers

March 2005

Written and compiled by Chris Gaulin and Jennifer Dunn

Edited by Chris Gaulin, Jennifer Dunn, Frank Smith, and Jennison Asuncion

Introduction & Acknowlegements

In 2004, the National Educational Association of Disabled Students (NEADS) launched a groundbreaking project recognizing the need for a more inclusive campus life for post-secondary students with disabilities. Funded by the Government of Canada, through the Social Development Partnerships Program, the project investigated issues of concern to students and graduates with disabilities in accessing extracurricular activities on their campuses.

This guidebook is a compilation of the findings of the project’s four research components. In the spring of 2004, fifty individuals who are responsible for the planning and organizing of extracurricular activities on college and university campuses across Canada were surveyed using a questionnaire developed by our project team. These campus programmers, who work for student unions, were asked about the manner in which they plan activities and if and how they accommodate the participation of students with disabilities in their events. In addition to the survey research, four focus groups were held with campus programmers to discuss barriers to the inclusion of persons with disabilities in out-of-classroom campus life.

In the fall, NEADS surveyed over 200 students and recent graduates with disabilities on their experiences with extracurricular activities. The questionnaire that was developed for the student phase of our research dealt with student government, elections, orientation, and student clubs and associations. One focus group was held with students with disabilities to discuss factors that affect their participation in campus activities.

In November 2004 the project team hosted a training session in Ottawa for campus activity programmers. The focus of the session was on planning extra-curricular activities that are inclusive of students with disabilities. A number of post-secondary institutions from across Canada were present to share their experiences.

NEADS also held its tenth national conference in Ottawa in November. As part of the event, a presentation on inclusion in student life took place. Some 200 conference delegates participated in this session including students, disability service providers, campus programmers, and other stakeholders.

This guidebook is intended for use by individuals on university and college campuses who are interested in making their activities inclusive to all students. The suggestions outlined are, for the most part, recommendations from students with disabilities themselves. We have also included the perspectives of campus activity programmers on what has been most effective in their experience in holding events and delivering programs. Comments from students and programmers who participated in our survey research are included in side-bars in this resource.

While this guide provides a great deal of information, it is most effective when coupled with the advice of students with disabilities on your campus.

We wish to acknowledge the contributions made to this resource by the students with disabilities and event planners who took the time to participate in our research. The expertise provided by our partners, the Canadian Federation of Students and the Canadian Organization of Campus Activities, was essential to the development of this guide.

This guide was made possible thanks to funding from the Government of Canada, through the Social Development Partnerships Program.


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