Past Scholarship Recipients

From 2009-2014, the Canadian Disability Policy Alliance, a Community-University Research Alliance (CURA) awarded 10 scholarships.

Eligibility Criteria: To be eligible to receive one of these scholarships, students must:

  • Be doing research on disability policy for thesis, specifically in one of our 5 areas. Preference will be given to students studying Canadian disability policy.
  • Be in second year of Master’s or third & fourth year of PhD program.
  • Involve at least one community partner / disability organization in their research.
  • Preference will be given to students with a disability, to Canadian students, and to students studying at a Canadian university.
  • A CURA investigator will be selected to act as a resource for scholarship recipients.

Successful candidates were asked to: acknowledge the Canadian Disability Policy Alliance and SSHRC as sources of funding, contribute to the Alliance’s knowledge translation activities, and abide by the Alliance’s guiding principles.

**This was a five year program with support from SSHRC, there will be no future calls for scholarships as the SSHRC funding cycle is now complete.

Scholarship Recipients

University of Waterloo LogoRachel Cooper (2012-13)

Rachel earned her Bachelor of Arts from Reed College in Portland, Oregon.  She is a second year MSc candidate in the Health Studies and Gerontology program from the School of Public Health and Health Systems at the University of Waterloo.  Rachel will be investigating the use and trends of PT and OT services by people with Cerebral Palsy in long term care settings and how these needs and services evolve throughout their life course.

Rachel’s thesis is a retrospective, cross-sectional analysis of the therapeutic resources accessed by and measured level of care needs of adults with Cerebral Palsy in Canadian long term care situations (Home Care, Long Term Care Homes, Complex Continuing Care, or Mental Health inpatient services).  Data was collected over ten years from care-setting specific Resident Assessment Instruments ©-widely mandated, care-provider completed assessments.  She will use statistical analysis to describe the trends in the use of physical and occupational therapy, and patient needs indicators (such as the Activities of physical and occupational therapy, and patient need indicators (such as the Activities of Daily Living scale) within and across care settings for patients with Cerebral Palsy in six adult age groups.  She will also report on trends regarding the relationship between need indicators and accessing of these therapies within care-setting-specific age groups and across care-settings.


Concordia University Logo

  Kim Desmarais (2012-13)

Kim received her Bachelor of Arts from McGill University where she majored in Psychology.  She is working towards her Masters of Arts in Child Study at Concordia University.  Kim has worked for 12 years as an educator with individuals of various ages with a wide range of disabilities.  She will be exploring evidence for a different way of teaching students math.  Current policy recommends a way of teaching that is not effective for children with learning disabilities.

Kim’s research will focus on examining the potential impact of implementing a SBI program with a group of children who have mild disabilities, and comparing the results with a group of typically developing peers.  To date, no research has compared the two groups in terms of similarities and dissimilarities on performance and strategies used to solve word problems.  She will assess if following SBI, there is an increase in the children’s ability to identify problem structures and strategies for solving problems.  Specifically, what strategies do children with developmental disabilities use to solve word problems before SBI and in what ways are they similar and different from those of typically developing children?  Also, what are the effects of SBI on problem solving performance of children with developmental disabilities.


University of Alberta Logo

  Kathy Howery (2012-14)

Kathy earned her Bachelors and Masters of Science  and is currently working toward her PhD at the University of Alberta.  She has worked for nearly 30 years in the area of special education, augmentative and alternative communication, assistive technology and more recently universal design.  She will be examining the experience of persons using a speech generating device in the classroom for students with severe speech impairments as well as what the meaning of having a voice or no voice is for persons with disabilities.

The use of assistive technologies (AT) by persons with disabilities to pursue self-­‐care, educational, vocational and recreational activities continues to increase in both quantity and quality (Cook & Polgar, 2008).  Of the various types of AT devices perhaps none has a more significant impact on the lives of persons with disabilities than Speech Generating Devices (SGDs).  Pioneered in the early 1980s, these devices allow persons with severe speech impairments to communicate with synthesized speech.  There are now scores of SGDs on the market.  Personal essays and autobiographies written by SGD users speak to the life changing impacts these devices may bring (Fried-­‐Oken & Bersani, 2000).  In her research I she asks: What is the lived experience of people with significant speech impairments of talking with a speech-­‐ generating machine?


University of Calgary Logo

 Mark Iantkow (2012-14)

Mark completed his Master of Continuing Education at University of Calgary and it is here that he is currently a PhD candidate. His goals are to impact educational policies on inclusive design and he will be examining inclusive design education of environmental designers.

The purpose of this study is to examine the educational potentials of environmental designers to learn about – and become more sensitive to and proficient in the nuances of – inclusive design.  A vital associated purpose is to derive a theory for such an educational practice through interviewing a range of professionals and people with lived experience (a person or persons with physical and/or visual disabilities).


York University Logo

 Jeannette Kobelka (2011-12)

Jeannette holds undergraduate degrees in Political Science from Queen’s University and Disability Studies from Ryerson University. She is currently Master’s candidate in the Critical Disability Studies program at York University. Jeannette’s research interests include children with disabilities, social policy, spaces of leisure and recreation and citizenship. Under the supervision of Dr. Marcia Rioux and Dr. Audrey Kobayashi, Jeannette’s Major Research Project (MRP) will use an arts-informed, photographic approach to examine spaces of leisure as indicators of citizenship for children with physical disabilities.

Playgrounds and leisure spaces are excellent indicators of how people and children with disabilities are viewed by society. The physical structures of society are literally concrete manifestations of our ideas on how society was, is and should be. With this premise, playgrounds are an excellent indicator of equal citizenship because the lack of physically accessible playgrounds suggests that children with physical impairments are not viewed as equal members of society. One research project will be an arts-informed critical discourse analysis of how the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) has or has not impacted the recreation spaces for children with physical and developmental disabilities. Using a rights-based framework, this work will seek to examine how the rights set forth in the UNCRPD and the UNCRC have not been realized in Ontario. It will further propose policy recommendations to ensure that these rights are realized and that every child in Ontario has a safe, welcoming and physically accessible place to play.


Simon Fraser University Logo

 Jeanette Moss (2011-12)

Jeanette Moss is from Vancouver, BC and is currently pursuing a Masters in Public Policy at Simon Fraser University (SFU). She has a BA in Communications and Graduate Certificate in Community Economic Development from SFU. Before beginning her graduate studies, she worked at Vancouver Foundation as Manager of the Giving in Action Society (individual disability-related funding). Jeanette is a Director on the Salsbury Community Society Board, a non-profit that provides support for people in East Vancouver, and has also volunteered as a leadership trainer, summer camp director, and community support worker.

The federal government is currently undertaking a 3-year review of the Registered Disability Savings Plan (RDSP). Planned Lifetime Advocacy Network (PLAN) collaborated with the Canadian Federal Government to develop the RDSP, and PLAN which is a non-profit family-founded organization, is currently gathering data that will inform their position to take forward to the review. This past summer, I worked at PLAN gathering data related to the facilitators and barriers to RDSP as well as the changes families would like to see to improve the plan.  Based on this data, my research will focus why only 9% of the eligible population have opened an RDSP and other issues surrounding the uptake of the RDSP. The objectives of the project are to: 1) identify the key barriers and facilitators in accessing the RDSP 2) identify the reasons why people who are eligible have not accessed the plan 3) explore the role of financial literacy in influencing access to the RDSP. The methodology used in this project has three major components: document analysis of the RDSP policy and related documents, online surveys, and interviews.


University of New Brunswick LogoBeata Chledowski (2010-11)

Beata earned her Bachelor of Science from the University of Witwatersrand in South Africa. She is currently enrolled in a Master’s program through the Atlantic Training Centre for Applied Health Research at the University of New Brunswick. This program has enabled her to gain valuable knowledge in research and health policy. Her thesis work, under Dr Edmund Biden’s supervision, is titled “The Provision of and Access to Mobility and Prosthetic Devices in Atlantic Canada.” Dr. Biden is a faculty member of the Department of Mechanical Engineering at UNB.

This project involves quantitative research which aims to bring awareness of the types of technologies available to persons with physical disabilities who require access to mobility devices and artificial limbs in the Atlantic Provinces, and determine the obstacles faced by them in accessing these supports. The objective is to establish a descriptive profile of this region in terms of how these devices are funded; the eligibility criteria to access these devices; the availability of services across the provinces, and the government legislation that is available to support such initiatives in each province.  The research aims to: Identify availability of Assistive Technology (AT) provisions across Atlantic Canada; evaluate the requirement for services and supports; and formulate action for the development of legislation for the improvement of AT services and funding.  The main hypothesis is that nationally regulated policies of the Canadian Forces / Department of National Defense for mobility devices and artificial limbs provide a system of services across Canada that is much more comprehensive and accessible than the services provided from Provincial governments in Atlantic Canada. The geography of urban to rural end-users as well as their socio-economic status will be critical information in terms of confirming or disproving this hypothesis.



 Chris Riddle (2010-12)

Chris is a 4th year PhD candidate in the Philosophy Department at Queen’s University. He specializes in social and political philosophy with an emphasis on contemporary egalitarian theory and the accommodation of people with disabilities. Other areas of interest include biomedicine, the philosophy of law, health policy, and research methodologies. He has published in several journals and has given talks at the University of California at Berkeley, the University of St. Andrews, and the Universität Tübingen. His thesis work, under the direction of Dr. Jerome Bickenbach of the Department of Philosophy at Queen’s University, is titled “Disability and Justice: The Practice of Egalitarian Thought”.

Recent discussions surrounding the conceptualizing of disability has resulted in a stalemate between British Sociologists and Philosophers. The stagnation of theorizing that has occurred threatens not only the advancement of theoretical interpretations within the Disability Studies community, but also how we educate and advocate politically, legally, and socially.  Chris will attempt to trace how the concept of equality has been applied in the context of Section 15 of Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. A critical analysis of the historical application of this concept across various social groups will be performed to illuminate essential aspects of a notion of equality designed to promote justice for people with disabilities. By distinguishing the differences in the application of the principle of equality in reference to the treatment of marginalized social groups, he hopes to better uncover precisely what it is that is required of social policy and law when applying the equality provision in relation to health.


 University of Toronto LogoSara Guilcher (2009-11)

Sara Guilcher is a physical therapist and fourth year Ph.D. student in the Department of Health Policy, Management and Evaluation at the University of Toronto. Sara is also completing two Collaborative programs – the Collaborative Graduate Program in Women’s Health at Women’s College Research Institute, as well as the Ontario Training Collaborative Program in Health Services and Policy Research. Sara has a MSc. in Psychology (Clinical) from the University of Western Ontario. Her research interests relate to women’s health and disability, informal and formal social networks of care, health services research and policy, evidence-based rehabilitation, and knowledge translation.

Traumatic spinal cord injury (SCI) involves an insult to the spinal cord resulting in numerous change(s) with motor, sensory and/or autonomic functioning. An increase in the incidence of traumatic SCI has been observed in recent years, based in part on an increase in SCI among elderly women due to falls. Advances in medical therapy have lead SCI to become a lifelong chronic complex condition and more individuals are living in the community. This population has extremely high utilization rates of health care services and readmissions which are likely related to preventable secondary complications; furthermore, these adverse events may be partly due to fragmented community care management, as it is difficult for vulnerable populations with SCI, especially women of lower income and the elderly, to navigate and negotiate the health care system. Despite the high costs both to the SCI patient and health care system, there is a paucity of literature investigating care-giving networks (both formal and informal), utilization patterns of care, and integration of health services for these individuals. The study aims to address these gaps in the literature by using gender-based analyses to examine care-giving networks, the process/journey of care provision, and associated adverse outcomes (i.e., secondary complications, emergency department (ED) visits, and readmissions).


University of Leeds Logo

 David Shannon (2009-10)

David Shannon has been in a wheelchair for the past 25 years, as a result of spinal cord injury at 18,. Since then he has been committed to policy development and advocacy for bettering health care and community integration for persons with a disability. David holds degrees from Lakehead University (BA), Dalhousie University (LL.B.) and the London School of Economics (LL.M.). He was the founding president of the Canadian Network of Entrepreneurs with a Disability, and sits on numerous boards including the Canadian Association of Independent Living Centres, and the Council of Canadians with Disabilities. David practices Law in Thunder Bay. His thesis work is described below:

This study is designed to improve the rights of persons with disabilities, hence the psycho-social and medical potential of this same population. The development of an even more progressive model of rights for persons with disabilities fits well in many jurisdictions. Although not measurable in all instances, certain rights are a known factor in improving health, longevity and socio-economic development. This project will also contribute to the critical assessment of existing knowledge on disability rights promotion and social inclusion of PWDs in order to identify directions for future research, and advance a close working relationship between disabled persons organizations, researchers, academics, lawyers and jurists.  Through the framework for rights promotion established by The United Nations Convention on the Rights of Disabled Persons, a comparative analysis of how these rights are made normative in Ontario and other jurisdictions will be explored. The purpose is to identify “best practices” to be put forward as a model for consideration on the most effective means of enforcing and promoting disability rights.