Navigating Post-Secondary Education as an Invisibly Disabled Student - October 27, 2PM ET

Join the National Educational Association of Disabled Students (NEADS) on October 27, 2023, from 2:00pm to 3:00pm ET on Zoom for a panel discussing the lived reality of navigating post-secondary education with an invisible disability. This panel is part of our Virtual Access for All Webinar.

Many disabilities are invisible, meaning they may not often or ever be apparent to others. Living with an invisible disability can involve unique considerations and experiences which differ from the experiences of those living with visible disabilities. Speakers on this panel will discuss their lived experiences as invisibly disabled post-secondary students. Topics discussed throughout the panel will include, but are not limited to, requesting and receiving accommodations, identifying as disabled, and the impact of diagnosis on the post-secondary experience. 

Closed captioning and ASL interpretation will be provided. Registration is required - please register here. This event is a feature of our Virtual Access for All webinar series, which is generously supported by Employment and Social Development Canada's Supports for Student Learning Program. 

For further information and/or to discuss access needs, please contact Sarah Szumlanski at 

Meet the Speakers 

Alan Jeans (he/him) 

Alan Jeans has been connected with disability communities across Canada for over 20 years – predominantly in the Tourette Syndrome community as well as the D/deaf community. In addition to working toward the completion of his PhD in Education, with a focus on Critical Disability Studies and Disability Justice, Alan also manages Queen’s Student Accessibility Services (QSAS) at Queen’s University. Alan Identifies as a member of the neurodiverse community. Having been diagnosed with Tourette Syndrome Plus in adulthood, Alan has worked with organizations such as Tourette Canada to provide in-service presentations, connect with parents of newly diagnosed children, and present at National Conferences about his experience as well as his research in the area of Tourette Syndrome.

Anna Samson (they/she) 

Anna Samson is a 24-year-old desi, queer, disabled person living near Toronto, Canada. They are a writer, poet, and an advocate for disability and mental health. They have ankylosing spondylitis, fibromyalgia, and more. They have experienced symptoms since they were a child but it worsened during their teens. Anna now uses a cane full time and frequently uses a walker. They are passionate about using their intersectional lived experiences to raise awareness for chronic illnesses, disabilities, and mental health. 

Cayley Hodgson (she/her) 

Cayley is a health policy analyst with the Government of Alberta with a lifelong passion for helping others at the systemic level. She has a Master of Public Policy from the University of Calgary as well as a Bachelor of Community Rehabilitation Disability Studies from the same institution. She is a co-founder of the Invisible Disability Education and Advocacy Association at the University of Calgary, where she worked to reduce some of the stigma surrounding invisible disabilities. Cayley has had OCD and anxiety from a very young age and was diagnosed with ADHD at 17 years old. She has been struggling with chronic pain her whole life, and has recently been trying to get a diagnosis so she can keep up with her newborn nephew and continue at her Shotokan karate dojo where she is training for her second-degree black belt and instructs as an assistant sensei. 

Meet the Facilitator 

Sarah Szumlanski (she/her/elle) is a researcher for the National Educational Association of Disabled Students (NEADS). She is currently finishing an undergraduate degree in Applied Linguistics and Discourse Studies at Carleton University, with a minor in Disability Studies. Sarah was diagnosed with Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome in her first semester of university, an event which significantly impacted her post-secondary experience. As a disabled, queer, neurodivergent woman, Sarah is passionate about topics of disability, accessibility, advocacy, and intersectionality, with a specific research interest in rare and invisible disabilities. In 2020, Sarah conducted a research study on the experiences of Canadian women diagnosed with rare, invisible, physical chronic illnesses, and the ways in which gender, age, (dis)ability, invisibility, and rareness impacted their experiences within the Canadian healthcare system. In her spare time, she enjoys reading, writing, and spending time with her cat. 

About NEADS’ Virtual Access for All Project 

NEADS' Virtual Access for All Project provides educational support and awareness aimed at students with disabilities transitioning into post-secondary education. Accessibility and accommodations resources are provided through our quarterly State of the Schools publications, while our regular webinar series addresses topics such as self-advocacy, accessing accommodations at work and school, and transitioning into the workforce. Further, financial support is available through NEADS' Student Awards Program and Accessibility Resilience Program. Virtual Access for All is generously supported by Employment and Social Development Canada's Goal Getters Program and has recently received an upward amendment in response to positive reception. 

Sarah Szumlanski (she/her), Researcher, National Educational Association of Disabled Students,  Rm. 514 Unicentre, Carleton University
Ottawa, Ontario, K1S 5B6

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