Posted on June 5, 2024

Partnership for Inclusive Education and Employment: The ANTE Project

As a leader in accessible education, Vancouver Community College (VCC) is committed to supporting individuals of all abilities, backgrounds, and experiences in achieving their educational goals. And it's not just about finding a job; it's about breaking down barriers and creating opportunities for everyone.

When the Canadian Hard of Hearing Association (CHHA) secured federal funding for the Accessible Navigation to Employment (ANTE) project, VCC joined forces, drawing on its own experience delivering extensive programs and supports for Deaf and Hard of Hearing (DHH) students. The college has been a leader in the DHH community for 50 years, providing training, education, and support to this vibrant community. Thus, partnering with CHHA was a natural fit. 

“Choosing to partner with Vancouver Community College on the ANTE project was an obvious decision for the Canadian Hard of Hearing Association,” says Richard Plummer, National Executive Director of CHHA. “VCC's commitment to supporting the Deaf and Hard of Hearing community aligns well with our goal of creating inclusive opportunities.”

The ANTE project aimed to tackle the alarming unemployment rate among Deaf and Hard of Hearing Canadian adults, which is 32% higher than the national average. Currently, only 20.6% of DHH Canadians are employed full-time, and 42% are underemployed. These statistics paint a bleak picture, especially considering the high levels of education many DHH individuals possess.

The comprehensive project involved many partners including Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC), and Ontario-based Mohawk College, who delivered the online program for DHH learners. Additionally, CHHA provided comprehensive accessibility training for employers with the goal of reducing barriers and increasing accessibility within the workplace.

VCC's Partnership Development Office (PDO), in consultation with VCC's Deaf and Hard of Hearing teaching department, took on the role of one of ANTE's regional Outreach Partners. Alongside partners in Alberta, Ontario, and Nova Scotia, the PDO helped recruit learners, promoted employer diversity training, and sourced employers as work placement hosts. 

Yuko Abeyama, owner of Nikoniko Care Home was one of those workplace hosts. 

“Hosting a student work placement through the ANTE was a valuable experience for us,” says Abeyama. “Five of our staff members joined the ANTE employer training and it gave us new perceptions and opened our eyes on how we could do more to ensure that our work environment can be more accessible and set up better. Having an inclusive workplace benefits everyone including staff and clients.”

The PDO also connected the Open Door Group (ODG), a British Columbia-based, community organization dedicated to creating accessible employment opportunities to the project. 

“With our expertise in supporting people with diverse abilities, we saw the opportunity to make a real impact on a national scale,” says Nicole Allen, Director of Employment and Disability Services. “The project's focus on inclusive employment aligned with our vision and mission, and we were eager to contribute to ensure its success. Through this partnership, we were able to apply our proven strategies and innovative approaches to create tailored solutions that empower individuals to reach their full potential in the workforce.” 

With comprehensive support from all partners involved in the project, learners were given the tools and resources they needed to succeed in the workforce. 

In the end, the ANTE project wasn't just about statistics or funding; it was about people. It was about breaking down barriers, creating opportunities, and building a more inclusive society for everyone. 

To learn more about how your organization can partner with VCC, contact the Partnership Development Office at