Lethbridge Herald

Deaf-blind woman suing over student loan debt


A disabled woman is in an Ontario court this week seeking changes to Canada’s student loan program that she argues would level the playing field for people with disabiliti­es.

Jasmin Simpson, who is deaf and legally blind, says the program’s current rules force students who take longer to complete their studies because of their disabiliti­es to graduate with considerab­ly more student debt than their able-bodied peers.

The program currently grants loans for every year a student is enrolled in their academic program, rather than the number of courses required to complete it.

While the program refuses to fund undergradu­ate studies for non-disabled students beyond five years, no such cap exists for disabled students.

Lawyers representi­ng the federal and Ontario government­s argue the current system is appropriat­e for disabled students and contains many other accommodat­ions meant to smooth their academic paths.

But Simpson says the rules should be relaxed further for students whose studies take longer as a direct result of their disabiliti­es, adding she and others in her position should graduate with the same debt levels as ablebodied classmates and not be financiall­y penalized for factors beyond their control.

“I’m not just thinking about myself, I’m thinking about all the people with a disability,” Simpson said in an interview conducted through an American Sign Language interprete­r.

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