We’re listening to what your community is saying.

Welcome students, parents and educators to Project Accessful’s Symposia. Below you will find up-to-date information for your event. Any rescheduled events or cancellations due to weather will be found here. To contact a member of the Accessful team, e-mail us at inquiries@​accessful.​org.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can anyone participate in Accessful?

Accessful was a pilot project managed by Accessful staff and Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation (OSSTF) within selected high schools in the Peel District School Board from September 2018 to June 2021. These schools were identified by the school board and invited 15 students, their parents and teachers from each school to participate. Employers and community agencies within the PDSB area were asked to engage in this pilot.

Why only 15 students from each school?

The pilot project operated thanks to funding from an Enabling Change Grant through the Ministry for Seniors and Accessibility. The project budget supported a sample of youth with a variety of disabilities from 15 high schools.

How will students be selected to participate?

Special Education, Guidance, Civics and Co-op teachers nominated participants from their student body. A variety of disabilities were represented but not limited to Learning Disabilities, Physical and Mobility, Autism Spectrum Disorder, ADHD and other mental health needs such as anxiety, Blind or Low Vision or Deaf and Hard of Hearing, etc.

What is a symposium”?

Multi-day conferences, called Symposia, were held for each of the Accessful groups: students, parents, educators, employers and community agencies.

Students attended their symposium during the school day, similar to a field trip, and were supervised by school staff; Parents were invited to attend an evening meeting to accommodate work schedules; Teachers had their own meetings based on school locations; and employers and community agencies also attended their own symposium.

Accessful staff used a method called Open Space Technology” (OST) to organize and run the multi-day conferences. For many, this was a new experience. OST is a participant-driven process. Attendees were invited to focus on identifying Barriers to Employment for youth with disabilities.

Each Symposia started with a brief introduction from the main facilitator to explain the purpose of the day and the process. The facilitator helped participants to self-organize, rather than manage or direct conversations around important issues.

Interactive icebreakers” began each day so participants felt more comfortable engaging in challenging, sometimes personal topics. These activities helped move people away from judgment and into a space where every individual is celebrated and viewed as a valuable member of the group.

Why is it so important I participate?

After each Symposium, a document is created summarizing the work of the group to guide further conferences, to collect important data, and the create valuable resources for all participants.

Since each group will have different perspectives about the issue, your voice needs to be heard. Organizers want to help youth with disabilities be empowered to find summer employment opportunities. By collecting important information from the different groups, resources can be created to help all youth with disabilities — not just those participating in the pilot project.

Will I have to talk about my disability?

Talking about disabilities can be difficult for anyone.

However, when individuals with accessibility needs are willing to share the challenges they face on a daily basis, it can help people without disabilities understand the those barriers.

We need people with disabilities to act as leaders in our community just as much as we need acceptance of disabilities in our society.

Participating in the Accessful program has helped students develop self advocacy skills; ultimately, talking about your disability help you emphasize your abilities – and ensure you access the support you need and deserve to be successful.

Without the ability to self-advocate, no one will know what you can or can’t do, or what your employment goals are.

Is there a cost to participate?

Some students participating in the Accessful program paid a nominal fee to cover transportation costs from their school to the Symposia. There were no other costs associated with the program.

How many people in Ontario have a disability?

About 1.85 million people in Ontario have a disability. That’s one in seven people. Over the next 20 years, as the population ages, the number will rise to one in five Ontarians.

How do education rates differ between people with and without a disability?

Based on data from the 2012 Canadian Survey of Disability (CSD), people with disabilities are less likely to be high school or university graduates compared to people without a disability. Less than a high school diploma or equivalent– people with disabilities: 20%; people without disabilities: 11%.

University certificate, diploma or degree at a bachelor’s level or higher– people with disabilities: 14%; people without disabilities 27%

Are employers aware of disability rates?

In the same survey, just over a quarter (27%) of workers with disabilities indicated their employer was not aware of any limitations due to a disability.

Among those with current or recent work experience, 43% considered themselves to be disadvantaged in employment and 44% felt their current employer would likely consider them disadvantaged in employment because of their disability.