A newly announced CERIC-funded research project aims to positively influence the practice of career educators by enabling them to work better with post-secondary students with disabilities in assisting them through their career transitions. Led by the National Educational Association of Disabled Students (NEADS), the project seeks to determine the unique barriers and career transition issues for students with disabilities. It will also identify existing innovative career education practices and what professional development resources would allow career educators to maximize the impact of their interventions with this underserved population.

Entitled “Accessibility and Universal Design in Career Transitions Programming and Services,” the project allows NEADS to expand on post-secondary accessibility research already underway to include career education and explore this important aspect of student experience and graduate success. The additional research will help to map the current landscape of accessibility, accommodation and the application of universal design principles in the career education space within post-secondary education.

NEADS has been a national and international leader in higher education policy and practice research as it relates to students with disabilities over the past decade. The project is headed by Dr Mahadeo Sukhai, NEADS’ Director of Research. NEADS is a cross-disability charitable organization with a mandate that includes supporting full access to education and employment for post-secondary students and graduates with disabilities across Canada. Dr Sukhai is also currently the Head of Research and Chief Accessibility Officer at the Canadian National Institute for the Blind (CNIB).

The research will consist of an analysis of large publicly available Canadian datasets as well as bilingual nationwide surveys of campus career educators and students in post-secondary education programs, in addition to focus groups and key informant interviews. Collaborating institutions – University of Toronto, BC’s Simon Fraser University, Memorial University of Newfoundland, and Manitoba’s Assiniboine College are providing additional support.

Recommendations from this study are expected by fall 2018 and will help colleges and universities to shape new programs and practices in support of disabled students successfully transitioning from education to the workforce or moving into new careers. New service delivery resources and models and professional development initiatives, which take advantage of the learnings from this project, will begin to be developed throughout the national collaborative network NEADS maintains.

CERIC provides funding and other support to develop innovative career development resources. Individuals and organizations are welcome to submit project proposals for career counselling-related research or learning projects. This project aligns with one of CERIC’s five priority funding areas: Career practitioning with social and economic impact.