According to research with visually impaired learners enrolled in post-secondary study, one of the strongest predictors of graduation is the student’s perception of control over their academic success (Fichten et al., 2016). Therefore, a student’s perceptions and attitudes about how “in control” she feels about her academic success may impact her prospects for graduation. The transition programming and planning process should empower students to be the architects of their own post-secondary success.
The outreach team at PRCVI has assembled a transition resource guide to assist teachers of students with visual impairments in framing the conversation with students and their families around key issues related to post-secondary transition. While this resource guide is not exhaustive, it emphasizes organizations and resources specific to post-secondary studies in British Columbia.
National Educational Association of Disabled Students (NEADS) is a good starting place for students with disabilities. NEADS offers resources and programs for post-secondary students across Canada, including webinars, local workshops, leadership development opportunities, and research related to post-secondary studies and students with disabilities.
Questions to consider:
- What will it cost for me to complete my post-secondary program?
- How will I pay for my tuition and student fees?
- How will I pay for my living expenses?
- Are there other expenses I need to consider (e.g., transportation, technology, entertainment)?
- Where can I obtain information about financial aid programs or scholarships?
- Employment and Social Development Canada
The Government of Canada has several grant programs for disabled students pursuing post-secondary studies:
- Canada Student Grant for Services and Equipment for Students with Permanent Disabilities (CSGP-SEPD): The CSGP-SEPD program provides up to $4,000 in funding per year to qualifying students with permanent disabilities. Eligibility includes eligibility for a federal student loan, attend an eligible post-secondary program, and have a permanent disability that require education-related costs for services or equipment.
- Canada Student Grant for Services and Equipment for Students with Permanent Disabilities: Students may be eligible for up to $20,000 in grant funds for education-related services or equipment.
- StudentAid BC
Students who are BC residents and are pursuing part-time or full-time studies at an eligible post-secondary institution may apply for student loans and grants through StudentAid BC.
- BC Supplemental Bursary for Students with a Permanent Disability (SBSD) - Students who are eligible for federal student grants are eligible for SBSD. Between $400-800 is available.
- BC Access Grant for Students with a Permanent Disability (BCAG): BCAG supports full-time students with a permanent disability by replacing $1,000 of Canada Student Loan funding. Qualifying students must be eligible for a federal student loan, attending an eligible post-secondary program on a full-time basis, and have a permanent disability as defined by the Canada Student Financial Assistance Program.
- Assistance Program for Students with Permanent Disabilities: This program is available to students with permanent disabilities in British Columbia who are in eligible full-time post-secondary programs or have exhausted CSGP-SEPD funding.
- Scholarships and Funds
- PRCVI Scholarships Page: The PRCVI website lists several scholarship and bursary opportunities that are specific to students with visual impairment who are pursuing post-secondary studies. Please note that each specific program has its own application deadline.
- Military Police Fund for Blind Children (MPFBC): The Military Police Fund provides financial assistance for children and youth up to the age of 21 across Canada. Categories of funding include medical items requiring a prescription, educational and skill development items, non-prescription lifestyle enhancement items, recreational activities, and other items that benefit children and youth who are blind or low vision.
- DisabilityAwards: This resource from the National Educational Association of Disabled Students (NEADS) provides a database of hundreds of scholarships across a range of disabilities and Canadian post-secondary institutions.
Questions to consider:
- Where will I find a program that best matches my interests and career goals?
- Do I have the correct prerequisite courses from secondary school to apply to my programs of interest?
- If I have a particular career goal in mind, what programs/credentials/qualifications will I need to complete to enter my field of interest?
- How will I apply to my programs of interest?
- If I transfer between post-secondary institutions, will my coursework be recognized by my incoming school?
- Program Planning
There are online resources from the Province of British Columbia that are available to all current and prospective post-secondary students to assist in the process of planning, applying for, and managing their programs of study.
- EducationPlannerBC is a government-funded online resource that allows students to compare post-secondary programs in BC and to locate programs by institution, subject area, program length, and program credential. Students can also apply to some British Columbia post-secondary institutions through EducationPlannerBC.
- BC Transfer Guide: Many post-secondary institutions in BC accept transfer credits from other institutions. The BC Transfer Guide allows students to check how individual courses transfer from one institution to another.
- Disability Resource Centres
Post-secondary institutions task disability resource centres on campus to provide support to students with disabilities. Linked above is a listing of all disability resource centres at post-secondary institutions in BC. Students are encouraged to contact the disability resource centre at their prospective post-secondary institution to make the connection and to enquire about the supports available on campus for students with visual impairment.
- NEADS EdLink: The National Educational Association of Disabled Students (NEADS) maintains an online directory of contact information for disability resource centres at colleges and universities across Canada. Please note: The naming of these programs (e.g., Access & Diversity, Accessibility Services) varies between institutions.
Questions to consider:
- What access technology will I have to obtain to be able to study at the post-secondary level? What supports exist to help connect with this AT?
- Where are the digital alternate format versions of my learning materials going to come from? What timelines will I need to follow to make sure that I get these when I need them?
- What formats (e.g., braille, large print, e-Text, PDF) are the best fit for my access requirements?
- What features and functionality within digital format documents (e.g. handouts, presentations) are required so that I can make effective use of my access technology for reading, studying, etc?
- Learning Materials and Access Technology
- Centre for Accessible Post-Secondary Education Resources (CAPER-BC): CAPER-BC provides accessible teaching and learning materials to students with visual impairment enrolled at qualifying post-secondary institutions.
- Assistive Technology BC (AT-BC): AT-BC provides assistive technology through loans and grants to post-secondary students and employees with disabilities in British Columbia.
- Accessible Design
- Universal Design for Learning Materials (UDLM) from ARC-BC: ARC-BC’s UDLM portal contains easy step-by-step guides for educators to create and curate with accessibility in mind. Content is focused on document accessibility.
- Accessibility Toolkit – 2nd Edition from OpenBook BC: Resources for content creators and curators at the post-secondary level, including librarians, instructors, and teaching assistants. Provides guidance using disability personas to represent learners’ diverse access requirements.
- FLOE Project – Inclusive Learning Design Handbook: Created with and for educators, content creators, web developers and learners to develop or re-develop open education resources or other forms of digital curriculum.
Questions to consider:
- Are there any skills I need to develop before entering a post-secondary program?
- Are there auxiliary skills that I will need to develop or refine to be successful?
- Where can I find resources or programs to further develop my skills?
- Youth Programming
Organizations based in BC who deliver programming to youth. Check with individual organizations for specific information on target age/stage for programming.
- Blind Beginnings: Blind Beginnings is a non-profit organization that runs a variety of programs for children and youth with visual impairments in BC. A focus of many of Blind Beginning’s youth programs is development of leadership, communication, exploration, and self-determination skills.
- CNIB Foundation BC/Yukon: Youth-focused programming offered across a range of topics and formats.
- Adult Programming
Virtual and in-person programs to learn new skills and brush up on established skills with visually impaired instructors with lived experience.
- VCC Visually Impaired Adult Program: The Vancouver Community College Visually Impaired Adult program is designed to provide adults with visual impairments with the skills needed to pursue other post-secondary programs. Courses cover a range of topic areas, from high school upgrading and ESL to braille and access technology.
- Get Together with Technology (GTT): The Canadian Council of the Blind (CCB) runs Get Together with Technology groups in communities across Canada. These groups are designed to help people who are blind or partially sighted explore and integrate assistive technologies into their lives.
Volunteering and Employment
Questions to consider:
- Will I need any specific work or volunteer experience to qualify for my program/field of interest?
- Do I need to seek work or volunteer experience that will help clarify my career goals or the type of work environment that best meets my skills and goals?
- Where can I seek out mentors or others to answer my questions about the field(s) I’m interested in?
- National Resources
- Project Aspiro: Project Aspiro is a Canadian career-planning resource for people with visual impairments. It includes success stories and profiles of blind and low vision employees, resources for career planning from education through to work experience, and resources for families and service providers.
- CareerConnect: CareerConnect is an employment information resource offered by the American Printing House for the Blind, providing information, career exploration tools, and job seeking guidance for visually impaired job seekers and those who support them.
- Provincial Resources
- Volunteer BC: Volunteer BC offers resources and training for both volunteers and organizations, including a database to search for volunteer opportunities that meet your interests and needs.
- WorkBC: WorkBC provides information, programs, and resources to people seeking employment in British Columbia, including services specifically for people with disabilities.