Accessibility resources for co-operative education programs

The Waterloo Co-op Accessibility Team (WatCAT), with support from the Government of Ontario, engaged in a project to create toolkits and online resources for co-op students, staff and employers. The focus of the project was on enhancing access to and participation in Co-op’s competitive employment process and work terms. The project aimed to build student capacity and readiness to enter a co-op experience and support the University and co-op employers in strengthening an inclusive co-op experience. The goal is to create a culture of accessibility, allowing students to more comfortably access resources and supports that will build their capacity and leverage their existing skill sets and knowledge in a dignified and systemic manner.

To meet the needs of a diverse and changing student population, Waterloo needed a systemic approach to meeting the needs of 20,000+ students and 7,000+ employers. In designing these resources, attention was paid to adopting universal design features to ensure that students could access resources easily and with dignity. Although these resources are designed for a large-scale program, they are scalable and adaptable for most co-op programs.

Objectives

  • Develop a screening tool that will direct students, including students with disabilities, to targeted supports that address gaps in these foundational competencies (e.g., AccessAbility Services) by using a baseline set of foundational competencies that strongly influence a student's experience and success in a co-op program of study
  • Encourage more students with disabilities to access services that will enable them to be more successful in co-op
  • Enhance access to, and participation in, Co-op’s competitive employment process and work term support for students with disabilities in a dignified and meaningful way
  • Support students with disabilities in building their capacity and readiness to enter a co-op experience by developing an experiential learning accommodation plan
  • Support employers in providing an inclusive co-op experience for students with disabilities

Learn more and download the resources and toolkits below. Have any thoughts or feedback? Contact Andrew Brunet to share your suggestions and experiences.