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STEPS Forward

“It’s for anybody with developmental disabilities who wants to learn regardless of the level of their cognitive capability or other disability related support requirements,” said Inclusive Post-Secondary Education Coordinator with NVIT Lisa DeWinter Garcia.

This week Council heard a presentation on the work being done by STEPS Forward, to further the education for students with developmental disabilities.

The Program is currently partnered with various institutions across the province including UVIC, UBC, SFU and NVIT.

“The BC initiative for inclusive post-secondary education is a family driven provincial initiative created in 2001 by parents who asked, what can I do make sure that my child with developmental disabilities is able to live a full life in their community,” said DeWinter Garcia. “With this a vision was created to make it unremarkable for young adults with developmental disabilities to attend post-secondary institutions across BC. And for students to be included in the same courses and programs of studies and in the same ways as other students on campus.”

While the students are at the institutions, they're enrolled in two courses per semester as participatory auditing students.

“A participatory auditing student means there are no grades applied to the student’s transcripts. However, students are full participants in their courses and complete modified assignments and exams. After four to five years, students graduate alongside their peers with a certificate of completion in the field of their study,” said DeWinter Garcia.

To be accepted to the program students must be 19 years of age, creating a gap between high school and the program.

“Because there is a gap between high school and this age (19), we have had to be a little bit creative. And I’m very excited to share that MSS Merritt Secondary has been doing a great job about introducing education goals into the student’s year 13. That allows the student to do a full year of transitioning,” said DeWinter Garcia.


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