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About Neads

Editor's Note: Editor's Note: The following article has been summarized from material provided by Frank Smith, NEADS.

The National Educational Association of Disabled Students is a consumer organization with a mandate to encourage the self-empowerment of post-secondary students with disabilities. NEADS advocates for increased accessibility at all levels so that students with disabilities may gain equal access to college or university education, which is their right.

The Association provides information on services and programs for students with disabilities nationwide, publishes a regular newsletter, and conducts research on issues of importance to its members. Members include disabled students, educators, organizations and professional service providers.

Founded by an enthusiastic group of students who were members of Awareness Carleton, a campus club for students with disabilities at Carleton University, NEADS developed according to the principles of the consumer movement, and the impetus created by the International Year of Disabled Persons (1981).

NEADS is governed by a twelve person board of directors which represents each of the provinces and territories. Board members are all consumers with disabilities, with the exception of the "open" rep. position on the board, which may be filled by anyone who has expressed interest in the work of the Association and a demonstrated commitment to the objectives and goals of NEADS.

On November 9-12 1986, NEADS held its first conference, appropriately called "The Foundation." Participants ranged from students with disabilities to educators to leading members of disabled persons' organizations. When this diverse group met in Ottawa, discussion focused on ways to improve accessibility in colleges and universities for hearing, learning, mobility, and vision-impaired individuals, as well as students with other disabilities.

Goals:

-To initiate the development and expansion of a communications network for students with disabilities and those persons professionally involved in support programs for students with disabilities at colleges and universities across Canada;

-To have the capability to make timely and meaningful responses to the issues and concerns affecting the educational resources and environment of students with disabilities;

-To facilitate the collection and dissemination of information on post-secondary education and the student with a disability;

-To encourage the formation of associations of students with disabilities on the campuses so that consumers can advocate for themselves.

NEADS Encourages:

-Improvement of awareness of disabled students' needs among professionals, other students, and instructors. The raising of the quality of information and its distribution regarding programs and services for disabled students in post-secondary schools.

-Increase in access to all programs of study and courses.

-The raising of the current level of provincial and federal funding to provide students with disabilities the opportunity to take post-secondary courses regardless of length, weight or choice of program.

-Increase in accessibility to all aspects of the educational environment.

-Improvement in access to the labour market for post-secondary graduates.

NEADS is committed to representing all post-secondary students and graduates with disabilities across Canada and takes a cross-disability approach to its work. Having said that, members who are blind and vision-impaired have taken on significant leadership roles in NEADS since its inception in 1986.

NEADS' board of directors has included and continues to include solid representation of blind and vision impaired students. A number of consultants on and managing projects and the organization's website are leaders from the blind and vision-impaired community. We continue to work on issues such as available, high-quality alternative format materials in college and university programs and financial assistance programs that acknowledge the need to support adaptive computer equipment.

The Association has also a solid partnership with the National Federation of the Blind: Advocates for Equality in representing issues of mutual interest and concern. And, we are proud to join the NFB:AE at the Council table of the Council of Canadians with Disabilities.

To become a member of NEADS or to get more information on the association, please contact:

Frank Smith, National Coordinator National Educational Association of Disabled Students (NEADS) Rm 426 Unicentre, Carleton University Ottawa, ON K1S 5B6 Tel (613) 526 8008 http://www.neads.ca

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