ACCESS stands for Attitude, Community Competency, Basic Elements of Academics and Social Skills. With this acronym in mind our students work towards community integrated adult life by gaining independent life skills, practicing self-care skills and learning pre-vocational skills. ACCESS students, students with moderate to severe cognitive delays, have the opportunity to develop these skills in age appropriate and enabling school environment.
The goal of the ACCESS program is to prepare students for transition to adult life in the community. The curriculum includes development of communication skills, functional language and mathematics skills, social skills, community awareness, and work skills. Integration within the community and school classes is encouraged when possible. The curriculum is implemented based on the individual needs of each student. Instructional accommodations may include the use of assistive technology, augmentative communication systems, and individual and small group instruction.
At Lester B. Pearson, ACCESS students are involved in many enriching activities. Students that are able have been integrated into Physical Education classes, Art classes and Foods classes. Integration not only helps our students to develop skills in the area of study but it also helps to develop social skills and age appropriate behavior that is modeled by the other students. In addition, our students are able to make use of the fabulous fitness centre to address both physical and occupational therapy needs as well as to increase their physical fitness levels. The ACCESS students have access to the computer lab and some adaptive technology that helps in fine-motor development, basic reading, counting math, listening and simple computer skills.
To develop vocational skills, ACCESS students are able to gain real world experience. Employment opportunities have been created within the school and enable the staff to watch over the students’ skill development as well as analyze skill level. Students are given jobs where they are able to achieve both success and independence. In many cases these are simple, real world jobs that help to develop skills that are transferable into employment in the greater community.
Opportunities to Work with the ACCESS Class
ACCESS students at Lester B. Pearson are a valued part of the community and this is never more evident than by the number of students who volunteer and participate in Work Experience in the ACCESS Class. Mainstream students have the opportunity to work with the ACCESS class to gain understanding of the diverse needs. They also have a rare glimpse of career opportunities attached to working with people with exceptional students.
Interacting with the students in the ACCESS class helps to enrich their lives while at the same time the mainstream students open their minds to the similarities between each other. Volunteers and Work Experience students develop confidence, gain a sense of accomplishment, develop work skills, are inspired, but most importantly make true friends while working in the ACCESS class.
We invite you to take on this new challenge and see for yourself the immense rewards that arise from your participation.