Membership Report 2006-2008

President’s Report

Dr. Mahadeo A. Sukhai
President / Open Representative

Dear reader,

This bi-annual report, presents in brief the projects, activities and work of the National Educational Association of Disabled Students (NEADS) for the 2006-2008 Board term. This report will become an ongoing feature for the Association, and will be published every two years in conjunction with the national conference.

The report includes a number of sections of interest. Members of our board have prepared summaries of their work, there are write-ups highlighting our flagship programs, the Job Search Strategies Forums and Equity Through Education Student Awards Program projects. You will also find out about our new projects, Enhancing Opportunities in Science and Technology; and Assessment of Financial Barriers and Debt Load of Post-Secondary Students with Disabilities. From 2007 to 2008 we conducted an organizational review process with Rotman NeXus consultants. Recommendations from the review, along with our plans to address them are presented.

We gratefully acknowledge the funding and partnership of the following organizations and agencies, and the critical roles they continue to play in our work:

  • The Social Development Partnerships Program, HRSDC, the Government of Canada
  • BMO Capital Markets
  • The Imperial Oil Foundation
  • The Canada Millennium Scholarship Foundation
  • The Higher Education Quality Council of Ontario
  • The Centre for the Study of Students in the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education/University of Toronto

These past two years—2006-2008 – have been exciting ones for NEADS, as we passed our 20th anniversary as an organization, and began to plan in earnest for the future. Our successes these past two years would not have been possible without the hard work and dedication of all our previous board members. Particularly, the contributions of the 2002-2004 and 2004-2006 Boards, under the leadership of Rachael Ross, Past-President need to be highlighted. Their foresight, vision, networking and extremely hard work have yielded many dividends for the organization that we continue to reap to this day.

Through various reviews and planning exercises, we re-dedicated NEADS to our goals of conducting research, providing services and empowering students and student groups in order to ensure a fully accessible and inclusive post-secondary environment. We also defined four key focus areas for the Association going forward:

  • Transition into post-secondary education
  • Academic success in post-secondary education
  • Inclusion in the student experience in post-secondary education
  • Transition to employment

As part of this review process, the NEADS Board has made several changes to our membership and organizational structures, in order to streamline our operations and better serve our membership. Specifically, we have established a new membership category for high school students, and are developing a members’-only portion of the NEADS website. We have also established the NEADS Advisory Council, which will provide additional guidance to the Board on fundraising, networking and outreach. We are also in the process of expanding our capacity by extending our volunteer base and resources.

During the past two years, we have worked to raise our profile through networking within provincial and national frameworks, with provincial access committees, other non-governmental organizations and service providers, and in the corporate and post-secondary sectors. We have participated in numerous provincial and national events and committees, and raised NEADS’ profile by presenting our work at forums and conferences across the nation.

We continue to broaden our base of funders and expand our partnerships in new and innovative ways – the Science and Technology, and Financial Barriers Projects are most emblematic of these successes. As we go forward into 2008-2010 and beyond, we will continue to work on our existing projects, while at the same time exploring new and innovative projects and partnerships that will allow us to serve the organization’s objectives.

My thanks to the 2006-2008 Board, as well as NEADS’ Staff and Consultant complement:

  • Mr. Frank Smith, National Coordinator
  • Mr. Jennison Asuncion, Senior Advisor
  • Ms. Jessica Cowan-Dewar, Project Manager, Science & Technology Project
  • Ms. Jennifer Dillon, Project Manager, Job Search Strategies Forums
  • Mr. Chris Gaulin, Website Architect and Senior Project Manager
  • Ms. Julia Munk, Project Manager, Equity Through Education Student Awards Program

The Board and Staff have all readily embraced a consensus vision for the Association, going forward, and have worked diligently toward this new direction.

We at NEADS look forward to a continuing an ever-developing partnership with you, our members, funders and community partners in all sectors over the next two years and beyond.

On behalf of the 2006-2008 NEADS Board, thank you for your support.


Dr. Mahadeo A. Sukhai
NEADS President 2006-2008

Board of Directors Reports

Jewelles Smith
British Columbia Representative

The past two years have been a busy time for members of the board of NEADS. The time has passed quickly and we have accomplished a lot. I have represented NEADS on several boards both provincial and national. These include the Council of Canadians with Disabilities, Access Technology BC, and PEADC. As well, I had the unforgettable experience of attending the 2007 End Exclusion Conference and rally at the Parliament buildings in Ottawa. I will never forget marching from the conference to the Centennial Flame where representatives from over 100 organizations gathered in a November snowstorm to read their powerful statements of support.

We have had our regular board meetings, at which we have worked on renewal/visioning exercises. You will see much of our work reflected in our recommendations for the coming years. I have personally had the pleasure of working with our board members on the Equity Through Education Awards Committee. Our Job Search Strategy Forums Committee also worked very hard over the term and I was able to help host and attend the Vancouver event.

Personally, I have now completed my Masters at Simon Fraser University and have now accepted a position with DAWN-RAFH Canada and look to continue to work at conducting research and initiating projects, thereby challenging policy that is affecting women living with disabilities in Canada.

Agnes Tomkow
Alberta Representative

During my two year term as the Alberta representative for NEADS I have served on several committees and taken part in many activities. During my first year I was chairperson of the NEADS Online Work System (NOWS) Committee and had the opportunity to attend a NOWS workshop in Calgary. I also sat on the Proposal Development Committee.

This year I serve as National Conference Chairperson and serve on several NEADS committees.

I have been the NEADS representative on the Young Adults Work Group - CCL Health and Learning Knowledge Centre for two years. This commitment involves taking part in teleconferences approximately every three months.

I was a representative for NEADS at “SADI’, an advocacy group for students at the University of Alberta when it was being formed.

During my term, I moved to Nunavut and have continued working for NEADS from there. It has been my pleasure to do presentations about NEADS for groups of teachers and professionals both in Alberta and in the North.

Lena Cook
Saskatchewan Representative

Over the last 2 years as Saskatchewan rep for NEADS I have participated on several committees. I have co-chaired the first two phases of the Equity Through Education project. I have also been on the Conference Planning Committee as well as the Job Search Strategies Forum Committee. On a provincial level, I have helped several students who were having problems with student loans as well as problems with our Disability Students Office at the University of Saskatchewan.

Tim McIsaac
Manitoba Representative / Vice-President Internal

Siince being elected as the Manitoba representative to the board of directors of the National Educational Association of Disabled Students, I have attended two board meetings, one executive meeting, and three Job Search Strategies forums.

Unfortunately I regret that I have not been able to improve the level of organization of students with disabilities in Manitoba. NEADS must develop a strategy to allow its board members to facilitate grass roots development if it is to become stronger in Manitoba.

It is my hope to continue to serve students with disabilities in Manitoba and across Canada. I would like to thank all my fellow board members for your cooperation and support during the last 2 years and I wish you all health, happiness and success in your future endeavours.

Paulo Monteagudo
Quebec Representative

I was elected in 2006 as the Quebec student representative on the NEADS board of directors and it has been an enjoyable experience.

One of my significant duties was chairing a few internal committees that deal with specific projects or tasks, such as the Job Search Strategies Forums Committee whose job was to discuss, plan and organize forums across the country. The forums are interactive employment events where students with disability can meet and network with employers, job counsellors and other professionals.

Another responsibility I had was to represent NEADS on the National Advisory Group on Student Financial Assistance (NAGSFA). As a result of our involvement with NAGSFA, there have been significant changes implemented to the Canada Student Loans and Grants Programs. Furthermore, I serve as the liaison between NEADS and our provincial partner the Association Québécoise des étudiants ayant des incapacités au post-secondaire (AQEIPS).

In conclusion, I am proud of the work we have accomplished such as the biannual conference, projects, new policies and the organizational review that will help NEADS be more sustainable in the future. Moreover, I am honoured to have worked with everyone on the board and staff because I know we all share the spirit of wanting to make a difference.

Margaret Shalma
Ontario Representative / Vice-President External

It has been a very busy and productive two years. I would like to share some of the highlights of my term of office. During this term, I was a member of the Job Search Strategies (JSS) Forums Committee, which hosts a series of employment forums across Canada designed to give students with disabilities the necessary tools and resources to successfully obtain employment. I had the privilege of attending JSS forums in Winnipeg, Sudbury, and London.

In 2007, and again in 2008, I was invited to represent NEADS on a special interest panel organized by the College Students’ Alliance (CSA). I had the opportunity to speak with student leaders about viable strategies for including disabled students into every aspect of campus life. I also had the opportunity to sit on the Equity Through Education Student Awards Committee. As a committee, we were fortunate to receive a number of incredible applications from very accomplished students and offered 11 awards in 2007 and 2008 to the most outstanding individuals.

On a number of occasions, I had the opportunity to speak about NEADS and the work we have accomplished on employment at conferences and meetings of other organizations. Along with Jennifer Dillon, Job Search Strategies Consultant, we presented to students at George Brown College on the topic of “Planning an Effective Job Search for Students with Disabilities”. We also spoke with the Canadian Association of Career Educators & Employers (CACEE) on what employers can do to improve access to the labour market for post-secondary graduates with disabilities. As a result, CACEE invited us to participate in a working group that focused on creating a manual for employers and educators. Once completed, this publication will include best practices for recruiting and retaining students with disabilities.

We also presented our workshop, entitled “Transition from School to Work”, to the members of the provincial Post-Secondary Advisory Committee on Disability Issues (PACDI). This committee is was formed by the Ontario Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities (MTCU). Our presentation was very well received. As a result, we were asked to take part in regional meetings in 2007, which took place across Ontario called “Strengthening the Linkages between Post-Secondary Education and Employment for Graduates with Disabilities.”

I took part in two of government’s regional meetings in London and Sudbury and presented about NEADS and disabled students’ and graduates’ issues at workshops attended by a variety of stakeholders including students, employers, employment agencies, and disability advisors.

In early 2008, I was fortunate enough to attend a meeting of the Council of Canadians with Disabilities. In recent months, I have been involved in the planning and organizing of the 2008 national conference. It is our intent to make the national conference an informative and fun weekend for everyone involved.

Natalie Fougère
New Brunswick Representative

Since I started as New-Brunswick representative on the NEADS board in November, 2006, I have had the chance to live unforgettable experiences, learn many useful things, meet great people and accomplish much work! Being part of several committees gives me the opportunity to share opinions and ideas on how to go forward with our many projects. I can say that on the board, one of my greatest accomplishments is to have the chance to chair a few committees. It really helps me be much more confident in myself, and learn interesting tips on how to improve my leadership skills.

When it comes to work I have done outside of NEADS, I have been very active on my university campus, Université de Moncton, as well as in my community in general. Since becoming a part of NEADS’ board of directors, I have had the chance to attend local and provincial conferences and forums on education and employment for people with disabilities. Being on the board also gives me the opportunity to speak with many students and service providers, on my campus, as well as at other universities and colleges. This allows me to learn more about concerns on services that must be improved for disabled students. This past term on the NEADS board made me realize that resources are certainly growing for students with disabilities; however, there is still work to be done. That is why I find my experience with this association very enriching and it motivates me to continue advocating for people with disabilities.

Joel Miller
Nova Scotia Representative

I joined the NEADS Board of Directors in mid-2007. In 2008 I graduated from Saint Mary’s University with a BA in English and a few months later I also completed a certificate in Marine and Industrial Rigging at Nova Scotia Community College. I have since begun working with the Department of National Defense as an Apprentice Rigger.

Locally, I sit on the Board of Governors of Independent Living Resource Centre of Nova Scotia and was recently elected to the Board of Directors of the Learning Disabilities of Nova Scotia. I raised funds and awareness for people with learning disabilities through my participation in the Ironman triathlon in Newfoundland in July 2008.

My involvement with NEADS has me participating in and chairing some internal committees including the Equity Through Education Student Awards Committee, Science & Technology Project Advisory Committee, and the 2008 Conference Planning Committee.

Activity Report

The last two years have been very successful for the National Educational Association of Disabled Students (NEADS) thanks to the support of our active board and excellent, dedicated consultants. We have accomplished all that we have set out to do as an organization and more on many fronts.

The growth and development of NEADS as demonstrated by our diverse projects and activities on behalf of post-secondary students and graduates with disabilities has been significant. We have continued work on the Job Search Strategies Forums initiative, with a forum held most recently in Saskatoon on October 17th and a project workshop at the national conference. Upcoming forums in early 2009 include events in Calgary in February and Montreal in late March. To date, we have held 13 forums across Canada since October of 2005. These coast-to-coast meetings, along with the visibility of board members in the provinces at various meetings and events has shown that NEADS is a truly national group.

In May, the Imperial Oil Foundation announced that it would be supporting a two-year initiative running to the end of March 2010 for the project “Enhancing Opportunities For Post-Secondary Students and Graduates With Disabilities in Science and Technology Related Fields.” This groundbreaking project, which began in June, involves the development of a print and online resource guidebook, a workshop at the national conference and the establishment of a Science and Technology Outreach Taskforce involving key stakeholders in the private and post-secondary sectors.

In 2006/2007 and 2007/2008 we have also increased our commitment to financial assistance for disabled students through partnerships with private sector funders BMO Capital Markets and CTV Globe Media. In May, 2008 we granted another six Equity Through Education Student Awards, bringing the total to eleven university and college students who have benefited from this funding since we launched the program two years ago. Both the Job Search Strategies Forums project and the Equity Through Education Student Awards Program have been generously supported with funding from BMO Capital Markets and its Equity Through Education Program. We are continuing our partnership with CTV Globe Media and MuchMoreMusic in promoting the MuchMoreMusic AccessAbility Scholarship. This scholarship is for outstanding students with disabilities in broadcast media programs and has been offered for three years now. In the same vein, significant updates and changes have been made to our online Financial Aid Directory, ensuring that NEADS has the most comprehensive information available on funding for post-secondary study.

In addition to funding for projects, NEADS receives operational funding through a grant from the Social Development Partnerships Program (SDPP), a federal government program which supports national disability organizations. This funding allows the association to support meetings of the board of directors (four face-to-face meetings in the past two years), the operations of the national office, maintenance of our main website and job site . The SDPP grant also supports our capacity to respond to ongoing enquiries from post-secondary students with disabilities and others from across Canada.

NEADS has continued its efforts in delivering services to its stakeholders via the Internet and that, of course, means we regularly about our website content and introduce new features. The most recent of our new services is the NEADS Online Calendar, our database of disability, education, and employment events across Canada.

The last two years have seen major changes to the way we deliver information using the latest in technology and harnessing the power of the Internet. Beginning with our Thunder Bay Job Search Strategies Forum, we introduced live streaming video from our events. Those who are unable to participate in our meeting in person can login via our web site to watch live video of workshop speakers and dynamic PowerPoint content. Our system is an accessible solution that supports real-time remote captioning.

In March of 2008, we rolled out a brand new version of our job site, the NEADS Online Work System (NOWS) The new site feature enhanced features for students and graduates, as well as improved search functions for employers. NOWS has grown tremendously since 2006. We now have over 1,600 post-secondary students and graduates with disabilities and 106 employers registered to use the NEADS job site.

Over the course of the past two years, we have committed a significant amount of time and resources to modernizing and streamlining many of our internal systems. Our new management system integrates all of our databases and systems, allowing our staff to work efficiently in our virtual office environment. This system has improved our organization’s efficiency and automates many tasks, which frees our staff to focus on providing services to our stakeholders.

The NEADS office staff and members of the board of directors continue to work with other non-governmental organizations in the disability and student communities including the Council of Canadians with Disabilities, the Canadian Association of Independent Living Centres and Adaptech at Dawson College to promote full access to post-secondary education for persons with disabilities. We have been represented from coast to coast at conferences and meetings of other organizations.

As NEADS continues to grow, we have introduced a centralized telephone system that allows all our staff, consultants, and board members to be reached from one telephone number. Our office can now be reached in Ottawa at (613) 380-8065, in Toronto at (416) 848-6841, or toll-free anywhere in Canada at 1-877-670-1256.

Many changes have been implemented in the way in which we plan our bi-annual national conference and folks who attend “Learning Today, Leading Tomorrow” in Ottawa in November will experience this for themselves. Emphasis has been placed on elevating the profile of the event with local and national media. We have also sought our top-notch keynote speakers to engage in insightful dialogue with the leaders in disability that attend our events. Our corporate sponsorship program has been expanded, which has resulted in our sponsorship revenues more than doubling this year.

The last two years have been exciting ones indeed for NEADS, full of significant accomplishments. The future of NEADS is bright with much change and growth of our organization and its initiatives on the horizon! Initial planning for our next bi-annual conference in 2010 has already begun. Our next national event will take place in Winnipeg from November 12 to 14, 2010. See you in Winnipeg in 2010.

Job Search Strategies Forums Project

Successful transition from school to work is vital for Canadian post-secondary students and graduates with disabilities. NEADS believes in offering opportunities for those in our network to move from academic success to challenging and rewarding careers. The Job Search Strategies forums make a significant difference to talented, job-ready persons with disabilities.

These are interactive, panel discussion-format forums, with guest speakers, held in different geographic regions of Canada. They focus primarily on issues related to career transition for graduates and post-secondary students with disabilities such as: preparation for the job market, issues around disclosure, résumé development, conducting a job search, arranging workplace accommodations, promoting your skills set, and mentoring and networking opportunities for students and employers alike.

Invited speakers will include: employers from different sectors of the Canadian economy, employment agencies, career counselors, the NEADS Online Work System (NOWS) team, non-governmental disability organizations (national, provincial, community), representatives from government employment programs and student leaders. Each forum features an opportunity for one-on-one consultations between career counselors and student participants over the lunch break. There is also an exhibit area for private sector companies, employment agencies and non-governmental organizations.

We offer the following services at the Forums

  • Each event is held in a fully accessible, centrally located, venue.
  • American Sign Language (ASL) or LSQ interpretation, captioning or note-taking and simultaneous English/French interpretation are provided as required.
  • Materials/handouts at the forums are made available in accessible formats for participants.
  • A light breakfast and lunch are served.
  • Travel subsidies are arranged for students and graduates with disabilities who face unique equity concerns within the disability community.
  • On-site attendant services.

2007-2009 Forums

  • Winnipeg, Manitoba (February 2, 2007);
  • St. John’s, Newfoundland (March 31, 2007);
  • Thunder Bay, Ontario (October 4, 2007);
  • London, Ontario (November 3, 2007);
  • Vancouver, British Columbia (February 2, 2008);
  • Fredericton, New Brunswick (March 28, 2008);
  • Saskatoon, Saskatchewan (October 17, 2008);
  • Ottawa, Ontario (November 15, 2008) - Conference;
  • Calgary, Alberta (February, 2009)
  • Quebec City, Quebec (March, 2009)

Equity Through Education Awards Program

The Equity Through Education Awards Program commenced in 2006, and is the first of its kind, in that it is cross-disability, and the tuition awards are in multiple sectors and disciplines of post-secondary education, recognizing both excellence in academic potential as well as participation and leadership in the community. To date we have given out 11 awards to college and university students with disabilities across Canada.


The NEADS Equity Through Education Awards are being offered to encourage full access to post-secondary education for persons with disabilities who often have greater barriers to participation in higher education and extra costs because of their disabilities. Students must be registered in a post-secondary institution and provide documented proof of registration. The awards are offered to outstanding applicants, who meet the criteria of the program. The awards are paid directly to the post-secondary institution (in the students’ accounts) that the recipients are attending to defray the cost of tuition fees for post-secondary study.


  • Applicants must be Canadian citizens or permanent residents of Canada.
  • Applicants must have a permanent disability.
  • Applicants must be registered in a full-time program of study at an accredited Canadian post-secondary college or university. Full-time status is at least 40% of a full course load.

For the purpose of these awards, a permanent disability is a permanent functional limitation that affects the ability of the student to participate fully in post-secondary education.


  • Commitment to the academic discipline under study
  • Record of volunteerism and/or employment
  • Demonstrate potential to be an outstanding participant in the community

2008 Recipients

Ottawa, Ontario (May 26, 2008): The National Educational Association of Disabled Students (NEADS) and BMO Capital Markets are pleased to announce the five winners of the 2008 NEADS Equity Through Education Student Awards: Julie Bomhof, Lisa Pascal, Ashley Shaw, Tracy Teeple and Alexandre Desrosiers. This year’s Awards were given in the categories of: College/Cégep, University Undergraduate Studies, and Graduate Studies, and were selected based on commitment to an academic field and level of community involvement. All recipients will be receiving $3,000 to support the costs of their tuition and student fees.

Julie Bomhof of Camosun College in Victoria, British Colombia is this year’s winner in the College/Cégep category. She is currently in the University Transfer Program as well as working toward her diploma in Music. Ms. Bomhof is a singer, songwriter and musician. She spent five years volunteering with Youth With A Mission in Scotland organizing short term missions training and outreach to countries in need. Diagnosis and treatment of Major Clinical Depression came when she returned to her home town of Victoria, B.C. This was a turning point as it led to her discovery of Music Therapy, which combines her natural gifts in caring for people and playing music. Music Therapy is the skillful use of music as a therapeutic tool to restore, maintain, and improve mental, physical, and emotional health.

Lisa Pascal of Concordia University, Montreal, Quebec is one of this year’s winners in the Undergraduate degree category. She is finishing the second year of a B.A. program, specializing in Psychology. Lisa is a mentor in her community for young women and provides volunteer supportive counselling at a local community organization. Lisa’s goal is to continue her academic career at the post-undergraduate level and excel academically through balancing her career goals with yoga, dancing, reiki and demonstrated on-going commitment to her community.

Ashley Shaw of McGill University, Montreal, Quebec is the second of this year’s winners in the Undergraduate degree category. She is completing the third year of a B.A. program, specializing in Sociology. Ashley hopes to continue her education at the post-graduate level with the career goal of obtaining her doctorate in Sociology. Ashley is active in the academic community through her volunteer commitment to accessing and managing the provision of alternative formats for students with disabilities. In her spare time, Ashley enjoys choral music and singing in her local choir.

Tracy Teeple of Queen’s University, Kingston, Ontario (M.Sc candidate, Department of Mechanical and Materials Engineering) is this year’s winner in the category of Graduate Studies. Tracy’s long-term career objective is to draw on her professional and academic background to enhance the ergonomics field and practice. She has affiliations with the Queen’s Ergonomics Research Group, Human Mobility Research Centre, and the Advanced Design and Manufacturing Institute. She also works among a team of researchers at Niagara Orthopaedics Worldwide (N.O.W.W.) charitable organization involved in the design, testing, and product rollout of the Niagara Foot™. Tracy recently attended the 12th World Congress of the International Society for Prosthetics and Orthotics (ISPO) conference where she presented her thesis project.

Alexandre Desrosiers is the first professional student to win a NEADS Equity Through Education Award. Last year, Alexandre completed a B.Sc. in Microbiology with great distinction from the Macdonald Campus of McGill University and is currently finishing the first year of his medical doctorate (M.D.) at the Université de Montréal. He is really enjoying the early contact with patients that the program allows and after attaining his M.D., he is thinking of specializing in General Internal Medicine. Helping others in need has always been a priority for Alexandre. Outside school, Alexandre likes spending time with his family, pets, and friends, and trains regularly in martial arts.

The funding for these awards was provided by BMO Capital Markets Equity Through Education Program, a charitable initiative aimed at creating a more diverse workplace by offering educational opportunities to people who are most in need of support. In May, 2006 NEADS became one of four Canadian recipients of donations from the second Equity Through Education trading day. At that time, NEADS announced the Equity Through Education Student Awards.

“Each of our five 2008 Equity through Education Award winners exemplifies the spirit and goals of the NEADS ETE Awards Program,” said Dr. Mahadeo Sukhai, NEADS President. “They are involved in their communities, committed to their studies, and are working toward careers in which they will contribute significantly to society and the lives of people around them. We recognize their achievements and potential with these Awards, and look forward to great things from them in the future.”

“On behalf of BMO, I would like to congratulate all of this year’s NEADS scholars,” said Lisa Foote, Managing Director and Head of the Diversity Council for BMO Capital Markets. “They are role models for those who will follow behind them through their actions and academic achievements. They also help open doors and remove barriers. NEADS is an invaluable organization because of the work it does to help college and university graduates with disabilities in Canada transition from school to the employment market. This aligns with BMO’s own values and philosophies, which is to create and sustain a supportive and equitable workplace environment.”

2007 Recipients

TORONTO, May 8, 2007 – NEADS and BMO Capital Markets are pleased to announce the winners of the inaugural NEADS Equity Through Education Scholarships.

The scholarships were awarded based on each of the recipients’ outstanding commitment to an academic field and level of community involvement. Each recipient will be receiving a scholarship of $3,000 to support the costs of their tuition and student fees.

"Congratulations to all scholarship winners,” said Mahadeo Sukhai, President of NEADS. “This scholarship program is the first of its kind in Canada, created to celebrate overall excellence among students with disabilities in all aspects of post-secondary education. We are particularly proud of our first group of six scholarship recipients, as we feel they embody the very best qualities of academic and community involvement." This year’s scholars are:

Scott St. Louis of Sir Sanford Fleming College in Peterborough, Ontario, is this year’s winner in the College/Cégep category. He is currently working toward a Human Nutrition degree as well as his diploma in Massage Therapy. In terms of his community involvement, St. Louis says, “I have made my services available as a role model/mentor for other blind individuals whose confidence have been affected and are not sure what they can and/or are able to achieve both academically and occupationally.”

Michael Jensen (Bachelor of Science) and Allan Kehler (Bachelor of Physical Education/Bachelor of Education) of the University of Alberta, as well as Stephanie Spooner (Honours Kinesiology) from the University of Waterloo were awarded this year’s undergraduate scholarships. All of these students were able to overcome personal and systemic barriers, while maintaining academic excellence and remaining active within their communities.

J. Paige MacDougall and Carolina Pineda of McGill University are both undertaking PhDs in Anthropology. Due to their dedication and passion for the betterment of the disabled community, both on a national and international scale, they have been awarded the graduate scholarships this year.

The funding for these awards was provided by BMO Capital Markets’ Equity Through Education Program, a charitable program launched to support the belief that gaining an education is a means of improving lives. Since the launch of the program, a total of $4.9 million has been raised of which $687,500 has been donated to NEADS.

“I want to extend our best wishes to each of this year’s NEADS’ scholars on their fine achievements,” said Eric Tripp, Co-President, BMO Capital Markets and Campaign Chair of the Equity Through Education Program. “NEADS is an important national organization and we are pleased to be involved with supporting their mission.”

NEADS Begins Science and Technology Project

The National Educational Association of Disabled Students (NEADS) is proud to announce a new two-year initiative, developed through a funding partnership with the Imperial Oil Foundation. “Enhancing Opportunities for Post-Secondary Students and Graduates with Disabilities in Science and Technology Related Fields” will launch in April, 2008 and conclude in March, 2010. NEADS will receive $120,000 from the Foundation for the project.

While research has been conducted on factors affecting the inclusion of the general student population in science and technology-related programs, very little work has been done to highlight the issues and challenges faced by students and employees with disabilities within this sector. Furthermore, the identification of role models or success stories in science and technology is not encouraged – every student and educator, or every employer and employee, facing these issues may well believe that they are the first, ever, to do so.

NEADS is in a unique position to remove these barriers, and address issues specific to persons with disabilities in science and technology, by leveraging our extensive network of college and university service providers, and students and recent graduates with disabilities. It is not our goal to “re-invent the wheel” and re-tread research that has already been conducted. Instead, with a specific focus on students and employees with disabilities in the science and technology sector, and with the establishment of partnerships – including organizations who are already conducting science and technology outreach – we hope to contribute in a novel and unique way to the inclusion of students with disabilities in science and technology-related programs and employment.

There are four aspects to the project:

  1. The development of a guidebook “Promoting Careers in Canada’s Science and Technology Sectors to Students and Recent Graduates with Disabilities: Success Stories, Best Practices and Resources”;
  2. The hosting of national conference workshop on “Education and Employment in Science and Technology for People with Disabilities" at the 2008 NEADS National Conference in Ottawa;
  3. Research and development of the concept of national science and technology fair for students with disabilities as an outreach tool to encourage participation and visibility of students with disabilities in the science and technology sector;
  4. The establishment of a network of stakeholders and existing organizations to examine the research findings in the guidebook and develop strategies for communication, dissemination and implementation of strategies to counter barriers faced by students with disabilities in the science and technology fields.

The National Educational Association of Disabled Students (NEADS) is a consumer-controlled, registered charitable organization with a mandate to encourage the self-empowerment of post-secondary students and graduates with disabilities in Canada. NEADS advocates for increased accessibility at all levels so that students with disabilities may gain equal access to a college or university education, which is the right of everyone. The Association also supports the successful transition of students and graduates with disabilities into employment within their chosen field.

Imperial Oil Limited has been contributing to communities across Canada for the past 126 years. Imperial Oil contributed more than $12 million to enhance the well-being of communities across Canada in 2006, building on a tradition of corporate giving that began with the company's inception in 1880. Supporting organizations where we live and work, the company emphasizes investment in education of math and sciences, environment, and civic and community programs where we have employees or business operations.

NEADS Partners to Study Financial Barriers

The University of Toronto’s Centre for the Study of Students in Postsecondary Education (CSS) and the National Educational Association of Disabled Students (NEADS) are proud to announce the creation of an innovative new initiative through a funding partnership with the Canada Millennium Scholarship Foundation and the Higher Education Quality Council of Ontario. This project, “Assessment of Debt Load and Financial Barriers Affecting Students with Disabilities in Post-Secondary Education,” is a year-long initiative, concluding in 2009.

Students with disabilities incur the second highest amount of debt associated with attending postsecondary education in Canada of any student group. Data available on student debt load currently provides limited information distinguishing the type of debt (i.e., costs specifically associated with post-secondary education vs. housing, transportation or credit card debt). Information specific to students with disabilities is also very limited. If more fully available and comprehensive, these data would greatly enhance the ability of disability service providers, financial aid officers and accommodations specialists to ensure that the needs of students with disabilities in post-secondary education are appropriately met. Information on debt loads and financial barriers for students with disabilities in postsecondary education would also assist policy makers in their attempts to support access and success of this student population.

To that end, NEADS and CSS, in collaboration with the Canadian Association of Disability Service Providers in Post-Secondary Education (CADSPPE), are undertaking an assessment of the academic/educational debt load and financial barriers of students with disabilities, in comparison to the overall student population. Our interest is in understanding, through various sources, the relative debt incurred by students who report disabilities in postsecondary education, the financial barriers to their education that they experience, and the related impact their relative debt and financial barriers have on their educational experience and decisions.

The objectives of the project are:

  1. To develop and implement an online survey tool to assess the academic debt load of students with disabilities in post-secondary education, in comparison to the non-disabled population.
  2. To analyze existing data sets to glean additional information regarding debt and financial barriers for PSE students with disabilities.
  3. To engage in institution-level interviews and focus groups with current and former PSE students with disabilities regarding their debt and financial barrier dynamics related to their education and disability.
  4. To develop a report identifying key financial issues faced by students with disabilities in postsecondary education, based upon the survey findings, interviews and focus-groups, analyses of current data sets, and on literature searches of the appropriate scope.
  5. To broadly and freely disseminate the finished report throughout the post-secondary and disability communities in Canada.

The Centre for the Study of Students in Postsecondary Education (CSS) at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (University of Toronto) was established in April 2007 with a mission to design, implement, and disseminate quality, relevant scholarship and programs that advance a broader understanding of student learning, development and success at the University of Toronto and in Canadian postsecondary education. Through the generation of meaningful research and programs, CSS aims to provide a response to the growing demand for empirically derived usable data and analysis that informs policy and practice related to students’ experiences and outcomes in postsecondary education.

NEADS Undertakes Organizational Review

Rotman Nexus

Rotman NeXus is student run organization aimed at offering management consulting services to assist not-for-profits and social enterprises achieve greater self-sufficiency by providing business expertise and by developing innovative ways to measure social impact. Rotman NeXus consultants are trained in planning, launching, operating, and expanding businesses. Clients gain access to an exceptional talent pool, supported and guided by experienced mentors, and best management practices at affordable rates to help build capacity, explore new revenue streams, and broaden their networks for financial and community support.

The Rotman Nexus team consists of four Rotman MBA students who possess a broad set of professional experiences and diverse cultural backgrounds. The Nexus team is aware of the value of the social impact that its clients provide and strives to work closely with them to address any gaps in service offerings and to improve organizational efficiency. In addition to its unique approach, Rotman Nexus also relies heavily upon its diverse support network which consists of Rotman faculty as well as industry professionals in both the not-for-profit and for-profit sectors.

Project Goals

NEADS has identified three key areas it wants to focus on: (a) Building its capacity to allow NEADS to reach more people by undertaking more projects and diversifying its revenue streams to allow NEADS more flexibility and less reliance on external funding sources; (b) Developing a media strategy to ensure its message reaches a broader range of audience; and (c) Conducting an organizational review with a focus on analyzing the board structure and developing a sound membership system. The team of consultants at Rotman NeXus have been engaged to address the first of these three areas of focus. In sum, the goal of the project undertaken by the team of consultants at Rotman NeXus is to help NEADS build its capacity, broaden its reach, and diversify its revenue stream so that it can undertake more projects.


Together, the team identified four key areas to focus on: (a) Building capacity to allow NEADS to reach more people by undertaking additional projects; (b) Diversifying NEADS’ revenue streams to allow the organization increased flexibility and reduced reliance on external funding sources; (c) Developing a media strategy to ensure NEADS’ message reaches a broader audience; and (d) Conducting an organizational review of NEADS, with a focus on analyzing the board structure and developing a sound membership system.

In June 2008, Rotman NeXus presented to NEADS’ Board of Directors and staff recommendations for capacity building and revenue diversification. NEADS is currently working on implementing several of the proposed initiatives.

2008 Council of Canadians with Disabilities Award

We are proud to announce that Stephen McDonnell is the recipient of the 2008 Council of Canadians with Disabilities (CCD) Award. Stephen is being honoured for his years of outstanding support of hiring and accommodating persons with disabilities in the workplace. Stephen is also being recognized for his exemplary contribution to NEADS and its project work. He has been a speaker and active participant in the Job Search Strategies (JSS) Forums Project since 2005, attending events held across Canada. The JSS Forums, funded by BMO Capital Markets' Equity Through Education Program, support the transition of persons with disabilities from post-secondary education into the employment market.

"NEADS is proud to recognize Stephen's individual contributions toward the Job Search Strategy Forums project," said Dr. Mahadeo Sukhai, NEADS President. "It is important for us to recognize our friends and partners in the community and the private sector. As Stephen moves on in his work, we wish him well and offer this measure of thanks for all he has done in support of NEADS' mission."

Stephen is currently the Senior Advisor of External Communications for BMO Financial Group. Over a 22 year career with the bank, Stephen has worked tirelessly in the recruitment and accommodation of persons with disabilities. He is a native Torontonian who has been a community volunteer close to 20 years. Stephen is former Chair of LOFT Community Services in Toronto, offering housing, outreach, and community support to vulnerable and homeless people, seniors, youth at risk and people with disabilities. His volunteer activities have been recognized by the Toronto Chapter of the CFRA and the Canadian Red Cross Society for supporting their national strategy to provide emergency support to the homeless.

Stephen McDonnell has served on the board of directors of the AIDS Committee of Toronto, Canada's largest AIDS service organization and has consulted with them on issues relevant to workplace accommodation and employment. He also served a term on the board of the Ontario HIV Treatment Network, an initiative of the Ministry of Health, supporting their diversity initiatives. Stephen's background is in pastoral care and theology and he has worked in Ottawa, Toronto, and the nine northern counties of Mississippi in the United States.