In addition to the student’s home academic program, there are five elements in the READi training program that all READi students are required to complete. There is an additional sixth element for PhD students, plus, PhD students may serve as mentors/facilitators for new READi cohorts, particularly for the Action Team Projects. The READi program runs concurrently with the student’s degree program and should not extend time to completion.
1. Accessibility and Inclusive Design graduate course
This compulsory course provides foundational knowledge, exploring interdisciplinary approaches for incorporating accessible, inclusive, and human-centered design principles into the research, design, and development of products, information, and environments that can be used by all people, regardless of ability. The course introduces a range of current and evolving perspectives on disability and accessibility that are relevant to taking a lead in bringing accessibility to the forefront in the areas of engineering, ICT, and design.
This course is held at Carleton University. Students will be able to participate in this course via video conferencing. However, at times, the course requires students to travel between Ottawa and Kingston.
2. Action Team Project (ATP)
Action Teams engage in an 8-month interdisciplinary learning experience, through a project focused on real-world accessibility issues, identified by an external READi partner. Members from READi partners actively participate in the ATPs; employing co-design rather than a traditional designer-client relationship. Action Teams are not expected to fully solve complex accessibility issues (these are often “wicked problems”); rather, Action Team ideas and concept ideas will help “move the needle forward” narrowing the gap presented by accessibility issues.
Action Teams will present their work at the READi Symposium (September). Presentation will outline their learning journey (e.g., what they have learned about accessibility, personal revelations, issues and opportunities) and their ideas/concepts.
Action Teams members are anticipated to work on the ATPs approximately 4 hours/week. Actions Teams should meet approximately 2 times/month or more if they see fit, with a face-to-face meeting every month or so.
3. READi Retreat
A two-day (one overnight) intensive learning experience for each cohort, with ATP partners and end-users. This retreat occurs mid-way through the ATP. Formal elements include an interim ATP progress report and workshops on leadership and innovation. Informal elements include social interactions between students, ATP partners, and end-users, which is important to promote affective learning (enhancing understanding, empathy, and collaborative work process).
4. READi Workshops
Interactive workshops (1.5 to 3 hours in length) offered on a variety of topics including: web and document accessibility; design thinking; assistive and adaptive technologies; attitudinal barriers to accessibility; entrepreneurship; networking with industry and accessibility experts (government representatives, disability advocacy groups, and researchers); disability in art, sports and leisure; and knowledge mobilization.
READi offers a minimum of six workshops a year. READi students will complete a minimum of six workshops before the completion of their degree program. Students are encouraged to complete the minimum number of work in their first year and to continue to participate in workshops beyond this minimum number.
5. READi Symposium
Action Teams deliver a presentation that describes the accessibility issue that was tackled, the knowledge and ideas that were developed, and their learning journey. For the new cohort of READi students, the symposium enables them to immediately integrate and participate in the READi network. A keynote speaker is invited to participate at the symposium and provide a unique insight to current national/global pictures of accessibility.
6. Immersive Experience (PhD Students)
A one-week immersive experience with an external READi partner to develop a better appreciation of the complexities, challenges, and opportunities in accessibility. Students may be passively observing the day-to-day operations, or actively contributing.
7. Mentoring (PhD Students)
READi PhD students will receive additional training to increase their leadership and communication capacity, and deepen their understanding in accessibility. After participating as an ATP member, they will subsequently serve as facilitators and mentors to new READi cohorts, which will reinforce their skills and knowledge, as well as build teaching and leadership capacity (optional).