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By Mr. Thomas Henderson is the Director of CRISPESH, the Research Centre for the Academic and Professional Inclusion of Students with Disabilities. For more than 20 years, he worked with people with developmental disabilities, in particular autism spectrum disorders. His research interests are in autism, cognition, strength based-programming, quality of life, and self-determination.
The Research Centre for the Educational and Professional Inclusion of Students with Disabilities, CRISPESH, is a College Technology Transfer Centre in Innovative Social Practices (CCTT-PSN) born out of a long standing partnership between the Cégep du Vieux Montréal and Dawson College. Both colleges are well known for being leaders in the development and implementation of best-practices in the inclusion of students with disabilities. Also, the Cégep du Vieux Montréal has a regional mandate to support inclusion in colleges in the west of Québec. Dawson College houses Adaptech, a research network looking primarily at accessibility and the use of information and communication technologies by post-secondary students with disabilities. CRISEPSH was recognized by the Ministry of Education, Recreation and Sports (MELS) in October 2010.
The mission of CRISPESH is to contribute to the development and adoption of social practices that target the optimal integration of persons living with disabilities, be it in specific educational milieu or in workplaces where they will ultimately practice their trades or professions. Don’t let the name of the centre fool you. The centre is much more than a research centre and our mandate goes beyond simply supporting the inclusion of college students with disabilities. Its goal is to be recognized as a model and centre of excellence in the development, research and transfer of innovative social practices related to the social inclusion of all people with disabilities.
One of the primary objectives of CRISPESH is to actively participate in applied research in the areas of inclusion, accessibility and disability. Presently, the centre is doing research on the use of information technology tools for the improvement of written French for adults with learning disabilities. This is a two year PART-IS project funded by MELS. There are also other research projects being prepared for submission; one looking at quality of life indicators for adults with an autism spectrum disorder and the other looking at creating and evaluating an accessibility measurement tool based on universal design principals. The team is working hard to develop links within both colleges to maximize student and faculty implication in the centre. This includes offering student researcher internships and employment opportunities as well as supporting students in their personal and academic projects.
College Technology Transfer Centres (CCTTs) act as a bridge between the research and innovation taking place in colleges and the needs of the community. There is often a disconnect between research and the on the ground needs of community stakeholders. We therefore organize a variety of public events to help bridge that gap. For example, the centre organizes monthly meetings called “Let’s talk about research” where established researchers are invited to meet with interested members of the community to discuss the relevance and implications of specific published research projects. The next meeting held will be looking at the use of information and communication technology by students with disabilities in college. Also, CRISPESH will be hosting a full day symposium on Universal Design for Learning on November 16th at Dawson College. Information about all of these activities can be found on the website or by contacting the centre.
The centre, like all CCTTs, is focused on understanding and effectively responding to requests for transfer of knowledge, tools or expertise to user groups. This often involves the identification and application of strategies that in line with inclusive best practices which respond to the academic, social and professional needs of people with disabilities in specific community settings.
It can also take the form of the creation and application of tools, support, and technical assistance to organizations allowing for the optimal inclusion of people with disabilities. To better understand the real needs of the community, CRISPESH is currently conducting a needs assessment. Your opinion matters! , to participate.
CRISPESH is equally committed to the development and implementation of socially innovative initiatives to sensitize the public to the needs and realities of people with disabilities. One example of this is the Regarding Disabilities film festival, taking place from March 21st-28th 2013. It is the first festival of its kind in Québec and is proudly presented as a partnership between the Cinéma du parc, CRISPESH and the McGill University Joint Board Senate Subcommittee on People with Disabilities. The festival is dedicated to promoting awareness and appreciation of the perspectives, achievements and artistic expression of people with different disabilities. The project organizers strive to improve community consciousness of disabilities, inclusion, and accessibility. The organizing committee is equally committed to providing a film festival that is accessible to movie-goers with a variety of disabilities. The festival will take place at the Cinéma du parc over a full week with 11 screenings of international films and a variety of other events in conjunction with the festival including an art exhibition, a workshop for teens, and public discussions.
CRIPESH is a service offered by both Dawson College and the Cégep du Vieux Montréal, and therefore offers all of its services in both English and French. The Centre’s team is made up of dynamic and diverse individuals from both colleges, including; researchers both directly involved in CRISPESH research projects and associate researchers, educational consultants, teachers and students. Their combined expertise and experience in the field of disability and inclusion provides the centre with invaluable resources.
As a college service, the CCTT is an exceptional tool for innovation and development both for teaching and research. When this synergy between research and teaching is created, the potential benefits to both the college and the general community are immense.
With the collaboration of Mme Marie Lacoursière for the Portail du réseau collégial, 22 août 2012.