Accessing Ability: Making the Case for a Mental Health Promotion Approach to Inclusive Education


Post-secondary education plays an important role on societal and individual levels. The human capital developed during post-secondary education programs fosters social and economic prosperity by developing the country’s workforce. Completing higher education contributes to increased lifetime earning potential for everybody, but might be particularly beneficial for people with mental health related disabilities (MHRD). Therefore, as the number of students attending post-secondary with mental health related challenges continues to rise, it is critical that these students have access to post-secondary education that meet their needs. The purpose of this PhD study was to examine experiences of post-secondary students with MHRD in online classes in order to understand the ways in which the institution is supportive and non-supportive of them. Data from interviews with 14 university students, 15 instructors and seven student support staff members indicate that the accommodation model currently in place is problematic, potentially causing harmful and disabling effects. Adopting an accessibility model with a mental health promotion orientation has the potential to improve learning, prevent harm, and promote health for all students, particularly those with mental health related challenges studying online. Key findings from this study will be presented along with practical strategies for creating more inclusive online classes and more accessible post-secondary institutions. This presentation will be relevant to learning designers, educators and university administrators.

Author Information
Natalie Frandsen, University of Victoria and Simon Fraser University, Canada

Paper Information
Conference: IICE2023
Stream: Higher education

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Posted by James Alexander Gordon