Project PEER: Postsecondary Education, Employment and Research

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The PEER Project at Utah State University offers students with significant intellectual and developmental disabilities the opportunity to participate in postsecondary education on a university campus. PEER brings young adults with significant disabilities together with their age peers and others involved in higher education, enriching the experience for all.

Postsecondary Education, Employment and Research (PEER) is a program for young adults with developmental disabilities aged 18-21 who participate in special education services of two local education agencies. The Center for Persons with Disabilities (CPD) hosts the program on the Utah State University campus to facilitate students' participation in social, recreational and employment opportunities with their age peers. The students' education, based upon their Individual Education Plans (IEPs), is facilitated by participation with peers in the campus student community and by job training leading to employment upon post high school graduation. The PEER program is funded by the local education agencies.

PEER offers young adults with developmental disabilities the opportunity to prepare for employment and independence in campus settings and the community. It places students in an inclusive setting along with their age peers who are enrolled in academic programs at USU. PEER students are engaged in activities located in various campus and community locations. Students' programs are supported by teachers and paraeducators who are employed by the Cache County and Logan City school districts.

PEER mentors--including university students, participants in the CPD's Interdisciplinary and Service Learning program, and others--participate in a variety of activities.

PEER also offers opportunities for researchers to study transition issues such as ways to teach employment, social, recreation and leisure skills to young adults with disabilities. Additionally, PEER serves as a site for practicum and student teacher placements at USU. The project also employs students in positions as paraeducators and liaisons to student organizations on campus.

PEER began operating in January, 2007 and continues to address its goal to develop the array of activities that expand participation in postsecondary education.