Proposed degree a Canadian first

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By Chieu Luu Luong 

After three years of planning, research and hard work, Ryerson in on the verge of making history. 

Academic council was to vote on a proposal on Tuesday evening to make Ryerson the first Canadian post-secondary intuition to offer a Bachelor of Applied Arts degree in disabilities studies.

Judith Sandys, Ryerson’s dean of community services, said the idea for the program developed after talking to people working in the disabilities field.

“There are several excellent community college programs that provide training in services-oriented areas, such as rehabilitation,” said Sandys.

“But in talking with the people who are working in the community, they’re telling us that raining in theoretical an conceptual issues are also very important.”

The part-time degree program would be geared toward professionals and community college graduates with diploma in rehabilitation and other service programs.  People with degrees in related areas such as social work and early childhood education may also qualify.

A primary review of the proposed program was conducted in September, 1998.  The three-member team — Mark Nagler from the University of Waterloo, Henry Enns, executive director of the Canadian Centre on Disability Studies and Donald McKay, an early childhood education professor at Ryerson — unanimously support it.

The program will helps students better understand disabled people, said Sandys. “They’re seen as people whoa re damaged and need to be fixed.  Their primary source of disadvantage is the way society treats them, and this program focuses on how to get communities to welcome people with disabilities.”

Other school, including MGill University and the University of Calgary are in the early stages of planning similar programs.  The University of Manitoba is working on a graduate program to supplement the one at Ryerson.

If approved by academic council, the motion will come before the next board of governors meeting at the end of November.  If approved there, Ryerson’s part-time program will begin in September, 1999.

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