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The Connections program developed by the Centre for Arts in Human Development is rooted in a research study looking at how adults with developmental disabilities can use digital media as a form of expression as well as to find meaningful connections with others. In September 2019 a group of 15 adults with differing developmental disabilities, ages, life experiences and support systems each set out to learn how they could express themselves through digital avenues.

With the support of 6 undergraduate students studying in Digital Design and many volunteers and staff, our participants joined the year-long course “Digital Media and Community Engagement” and set out together on a journey that none of them could have imagined.

This exhibition highlights the journey that was taken and all the lessons learned along the way.


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Israël Dupuis, DART453

This unique project between participants and students fostered community engagement, creation, all while brainstorming ways to overcome new challenges. It has been an honour to guide and witness the development of digital literacy, art, and communications of our bright participants unfold in the classroom.

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Each of the 15 participants in this program came with their own experiences and unique talents when it comes to art. Some had very limited exposure to art materials and others used art on a regular basis. Some were already using technology and others had never sat at a screen before. In the first two years of the program at CAHD, each participant had the opportunity to explore an array of media, including drawing, collage, painting, printing and sculpture. The Digital art project has provided an opportunity to extend the participant’s repertoire of creative tools to include digital media. Please enjoy the film and click the speaker icon in the video for sound.

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Throughout the year, the students and participants worked each week on developing new skills, learning new tools and getting to know each other.  The participants faced various challenges as many had never used a computer before, have visual impairments, physical and spatial challenges and learning difficulties. For the students, most had no experience teaching and had never worked alongside someone with a disability. Nonetheless, the students continued to learn how to adapt their lessons, their software, their teaching tools and to come out of their comfort zone to address the needs.  The participants persevered with enthusiasm in their projects and with the strong support from staff and dedicated volunteers that helped them to achieve their individual goals.

“We stayed together, learned together and laughed together.”

The connections that everyone made stimulated creativity and original work started to surface; music, poetry, original ideas translated into digital art! Everyone was connected- like an invisible cord linking us all.  



In the introduction to the course, the participants and students worked together to learn about the various programs they would use to create their artwork.


Once the participants learned about the programs, they began to experiment with different styles to express their ideas.


Finally, the participants combined their illustrations and personalized avatars to create a film about their experiences to share with everyone.

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The Centre for the Arts in Human Development (CAHD) at Concordia University, established in 1996, is an educational, clinical and research centre serving adults with developmental disabilities and other special needs populations. Get in touch with Centre for the Arts in Human Development to learn more about our work and how you can get involved.

Concordia University

The Centre for the Arts in Human Development

7141 Sherbrooke St W, TA Annex

Montreal, Quebec

H4B 1R6



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