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At Lighthouse Labs, we are producing the tech professionals of the future. To ensure that all are represented in that future, we take our guiding philosophy of ensuring a quality tech education is accessible to all very seriously. We recognize that people are different and have different learning styles and needs, so we created an Accommodations and Accessibility team whose goal is to ensure that the barriers to diversity in Canada's tech workforce are kept to a minimum.

My name is Amanda Sterling, Academic Accommodations and Accessibility Specialist at Lighthouse Labs. I believe it is essential that the teams that build our tech future are representative of those who will use and be affected by it. This is how we aim to achieve that at Lighthouse Labs.

How remote learning aids diversity and representation

Remote learning reduces barriers to quality educational opportunities by giving students access to industry-leading experts without geographical constraints. In addition, remote education can be a fantastic alternative for students who struggle with a traditional classroom model. It allows them to learn in a comfortable environment and adjust their system settings according to their unique workflows. It is also helpful to students for whom travel may be more challenging and those who face sensory and processing barriers triggered or exacerbated by different environments. The autonomous nature of work sessions enables students to structure their time according to what works best for them and to self-manage breaks outside lectures.

The accommodation process at Lighthouse Labs

Prospective and current students with concerns about accessibility or accommodation can contact me directly at: Amanda.sterling@lighthouselabs.com. Students are encouraged to express their accommodation needs as early as possible during the admissions and enrollment process so that these are implemented from day one if required. This ensures that students can fully engage with the course content and get the most out of their student journey. We recognize that it may not always be possible to anticipate challenges before being exposed to the curriculum and will endeavour to address concerns that arise during the Bootcamp.

The first step in receiving accommodation is for the student to identify a need. Students must submit an Accommodation Request form before or after meeting with an Academic Accommodations and Accessibility Specialist. Meetings related to Accommodation Requests are scheduled within five business days. During this initial meeting, students can discuss their concerns and determine if an accommodation plan would be beneficial. The Academic Accommodations and Accessibility Specialist will ask about the student’s history, whether they have had accommodations in the past and what strategies have been helpful. Jointly, they will review the course structure with the student to identify potential areas where support may be required. This is a collaborative process; students are welcome to ask questions or express concerns. If applicable, the student will be asked to submit supporting documentation related to their disability.

Once the information-gathering phase is complete, the Academic Accommodations and Accessibility Specialist will create an Accommodation Plan and discuss implementation with the Education Delivery team. If the Accommodation Plan Is approved, it is then sent to the student for review and signature. Suppose there is some disagreement with the Accommodation Plan as initially presented. In that case, students should promptly communicate any concerns so that revisions can be made if possible. From here, the Academic Accommodations and Accessibility Specialist will share details of the student’s needs with the relevant staff and check in with them throughout the Bootcamp at agreed checkpoints. Still, students are encouraged to reach out with any concerns at any point in the journey. Finally, feedback will be collected from the students’ post-graduation so that Lighthouse Labs can continue improving how we support students.

Are you a current or prospective student and want to put in an accommodation request? You can fill out the Accommodations Request form here

Who will know about an accommodation request?

Lighthouse Labs adheres to the guidelines of The Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA). As such, we strive to limit the sharing of sensitive information to staff directly involved with considering and delivering an accommodation request. Accommodation requests have no impact on admission or scholarship decisions.

Why is it important that people with disabilities be represented within the tech industry?

Diverse perspectives strengthen innovation. Nearly 1 in 5 Canadians have a disability, 75% of which are considered invisible disabilities. The tech industry is the incubator for many of the products and services we interact with daily. Including diverse perspectives in building these products and services is crucial to ensuring that the user experience of all sub-sections of society is captured in the design and implementation of the product.

Finally, it makes good fiscal sense to design work environments and hiring practices to include people with diverse abilities. A 2018 Accenture study of 140 participant companies in the DEI index found that those that ranked highest in adhering to best practices for employing and supporting people with disabilities consistently outperformed their peers with as high as 30% on their profit margins.

Would you like to know more about accommodations at Lighthouse Labs?

You can find our Student Accommodation Policy and Accommodation Request form here. Prospective students can also contact me directly at Amanda.sterling@lightouselabs.com.

A bit about me and why I chose my role at Lighthouse Labs

I knew that this role and Lighthouse Labs was an excellent fit for me after reading the core beliefs because the principles resonated with my brand of quirkiness, stubbornness (determination), and curiosity. I have a career background in Operations Counselling and Program Coordination. I believe in working from a people-centred and solution-focused approach whenever possible and creating practical, inclusive, and timely policies and processes. I am passionate about lifelong learning and regularly participate in community initiatives related to equity and inclusion.

Meeting the team of talented, empathetic professionals I work with daily confirmed my feelings as everyone is passionate about supporting students throughout every step of the Bootcamp journey. I ultimately chose this role because it combines many of my interests in inclusion, technology and education while allowing me to fully utilize my skill set to support students and the organization.

Authors Bio

Amanda Sterling has a Masters Degree in Interdisciplinary Studies with a dual focus on Work, Organizations Leadership and Community Studies. She completed her diploma, undergraduate, and graduate degree through online education, which solidified her belief that remote learning is a valuable alternative to traditional classroom models.

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