How to Learn for Free with Students for Barrier Free Access

School is expensive, and at the end of it we might have not as much practical knowledge as we like, or that the real world requires. Given the opportunity to learn practical tools, for free, without books, scary tests and even scarier professors, would you? For those who said yes, you can take American Sign Language or First Aid and CPR courses for free. Yes, free, courtesy of Students for Barrier Free Access (this goes for all students on campus --not just for those who identify with the disability community). For those of you who said no, well, did I mention it’s FREE? American Sign Language, we often think, is only needed for those with hearing impairment, so why learn it? Getting involved in something you aren’t acquainted with is a great way to get involved with other students, learn something cool (cause ASL is the only way to speak without actually speaking) and maybe get out of that very comfortable comfort zone. And did I mention it’s FREE! Unlike the stereotypes about ASL, nearly everyone requires CPR and First Aid Training. If you plan on volunteering or getting a job, CPR is often required. If you don’t plan on doing either, it’s always good to be prepared, like if you’re friend has a little too much “fun” on a Friday night. So what’s involved in both courses? In ASL, the courses available run from ASL101, which is beginner’s, like learning the alphabet and saying simple sentences, to ASL303, an advanced level where you learn to narrate more sophisticated sentences. The courses use fun media, peer-to-peer interaction and easy lesson plans. No all-nighters here! In the CPR course (Standard First Aid with Basic Rescuer CPR level C and AED), students have the opportunity to learn about emergency situation management, choking, severe bleeding, wound care, burns, and poisons. Like the ASL courses, you get to interact with other students and gain practical knowledge. Youre commerce book can’t tell you how to clean the wound you sustain from trying to use the microwave. Yes, the microwave can burn! This is how it works. The courses are run through the Canadian Hearing Society and St John’s Ambulance. You need to sign up with SBA and tell them you plan to take a course before you sign up at CHS or with St. John’s. Once you have completed the course and training, you present your receipt to SBA and they will reimburse you in entirety. This application must be submitted no more than 1 month after course completion. Desiree

9 comments on “How to Learn for Free with Students for Barrier Free Access

  1. Hey,

    You need to contact SBA. The number is located on the website. The dates and times vary according to course.

  2. Hi Desiree,

    Taking free courses (for ASL). I’m confused; does this mean I can study the sign language for 3 or more years and get a degree? for free.Is this program similar to York Universities’ program?

    1. Hi Sara,

      Desiree is finished her job here, but I’ll do my best to answer your question!

      These ASL and CPR courses are not a part of the university here. Instead, Students for Barrier-free Access (a student group at U of T that advocates for the rights of disabled students) will reimburse U of T students who take courses on ASL through the Canadian Hearing Society or CPR through St. John’s Ambulance (see the last paragraph of Desiree’s post for links to learn more about the courses). So they are in effect free!

      The courses will teach you about ASL and can certainly be put on a resume, but they cannot be counted toward a degree program. They also are not standard university courses – no exam, and not as long (besides the fact that they are run by organizations not associated with the university). They’re kind of like workshops to teach you the necessary skills.

      From what I can tell, York offers ASL courses through their Department of Languages, Literatures, & Linguistics, so the York courses would be formal classes with an exam, assignments, etc. that can be counted toward a degree (although it doesn’t seem you can major in it).


  3. Hi Elena,

    Wondering if the free ASL classes mentioned above are still being offer in Summer/ Fall 2015?
    How can I sign up for this? Thank you!


  4. Hi! Will UofT Students for Barrier still reimburse the cost for taking ASL classes if we take them during Summer 2015?

    1. Hi Andrea,

      It looks like they won’t fully reimburse you any more, but they do offer bursaries of up to $100 for course expenses. You also have to volunteer at a couple of their events in order to be eligible.

      There are details here:

      If you have any more questions about it, you should get in touch with them directly at They’re also on twitter at @sbacentre.

      Hope this helps! 🙂

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