Citation: Fichten, C.S. (1999, May). Computers and students with disabilities in the Cegeps: Dawson's ITAC project. Web Support Line, No. 5, 5-6. Retrieved April 20, 1999 from the World Wide Web:

  May 1999
Web Support Line A publication to inform the Dawson Community about the potential of the Internet and the World Wide Web. 

Computers and Students With Disabilities In The Cegeps: Dawson's ITAC Project

Contributed by Catherine Fichten, Psychology Department

An exciting research project is currently under way at Dawson.  We call it ITAC - an acronym for "informatique et technologies adaptées dans les cégeps." 

As Cegeps continue to prepare for the full integration of computers into the curriculum we believe it imperative that new college-wide policies on software and hardware include the perspectives of: (1) Cegep students with disabilities, (2) the instructors who teach them, and (3) the disability service providers and other professionals who make technological supports available. The goal of the ITAC research is to provide empirically based information to assist in decision making. The research is funded by the PAREA and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council.

This project recently went into high gear as Montreal area Cegep instructors, students with disabilities and disability service providers participated in 6 focus groups: separate groups for each constituency and for anglophones and francophones. The goal was to discuss information and computer technologies in the Cegeps for students with disabilities. We have also met with groups of students in Quebec city and Trois Rivières and will soon be meeting with disability service providers in Quebec city. 

After looking at the focus group findings we will design questionnaires for distribution to all Cegep disability service providers and students with disabilities in the province. Results of the study will be widely disseminated. The goal is to ensure that the needs and concerns of students with disabilities are taken into consideration as computer and information systems are being designed, rather than after the fact as expensive, and often poor quality "retrofits."

The ITAC research is conducted by Dawson's Adaptech Project in partnership with both the Quebec and the Canada wide disabled student groups (AQEHPS and NEADS) and with both the western (SAIDE) and eastern Quebec (Service aux étudiants handicapés de Cégep de Ste-Foy) groups of service providers. 

Who is involved with the research from Dawson? The Adaptech Project, which includes the ITAC research, is directed by psychology teacher Catherine Fichten. Co-director of the Adaptech team and project coordinator for the ITAC research is social worker, disability activist, and former Dawson teacher Maria Barile. Other team members actively involved in the project are Jean-Pierre Guimont and research assistants Iris Alapin, Jennison Asuncion, Myrtis Fossey, Darlene Judd, Jason Lavers, Evelyn Reid, and Chantal Robillard. It is noteworthy that 3 of these assistants are Dawson graduates! Resource persons actively affiliated with the project are Sylvia d'Apollonia, Jean-Claude Duval, Jeff Grummett, Alice Havel, Vince Maggiore, and Terry Sinchak.

The Adaptech Project runs a moderated listserv (e-mail Jennison Asuncion at and we have a web page which we invite you to visit If you have an interest in the project or if you have questions, ideas, or suggestions, please contact me at extension 1546 or by e-mail: