March 31, 2023

Faculty of Adaptive Arts: “You Are Not By yourself”

“You Are Not Alone” is each a course and a promise at the University of Adaptive Arts (CAA) for adults with distinctive wants. The pupils are not by yourself as they satisfy dreams of attending and graduating from college—dreams when unachievable for a lot of who really don’t match the traditional university student mildew.

“Teaching at the College of Adaptive Arts has expanded my encounter of what’s feasible for in a different way-abled people—or even for normally-abled people today. We are all diverse,” claimed Khalilah Ramirez, who heads the University of Dance. “Everything I have learned from the college students has shattered my expectations of what’s achievable.”

The “You Are Not Alone” student examine-in course was initiated by CAA pupil Brighid. She discovered an business that informed orphans and abandoned or bullied youth, “You are not by itself.”


Trying to find acceptance for these kinds of an affirming course at CAA, Brighid created and gave a PowerPoint presentation to the CAA Board of Directors. She is now an Affiliate Professor of Instruction of the hybrid (in-particular person and on line) class, which involves out-of-point out pupils.

“We’ve learned that via our applications, we can educate and essentially hire from our pool of learners for positions this sort of as Associate Professor and Teacher’s Aids,” claimed CAA Govt Director and co-founder DeAnna Pursai, named a CNN Hero in 2022. “It opens up a new entire world to what is attainable.”

Some once may perhaps have thought the School of Adaptive Arts an extremely hard desire. It began in a dance studio in San Jose. No person confirmed up for the initially class.

That was again in 2009. Close friends DeAnna Pursai and Dr. Pamela Lindsay, then exclusive schooling lecturers, had just dared to dream of put up-secondary schooling for specific wants men and women aged 22 and above, the minimize-off age for learning lodging under the federal Folks with Disabilities Instruction Act.

Now, fourteen decades later, the nonprofit CAA is housed on the campus of West Valley Higher education in Saratoga and enrolls approximately 200 pupils. It fills 850 course seats for each quarter, with college students using lessons in ten colleges of instruction. Expanding past the original arts and music target, lessons incorporate small business, science and engineering, communications and library arts.

The college’s vision is to be a Particular Olympics-type model for existence-prolonged instruction. In 2022, it introduced a Worldwide Council on Specific Adult Training and Lifelong Finding out (CAA SAELL) to collaborate and introduce its product of expanded faculty schooling to campuses of increased discovering country and throughout the world.

“We want to be a believe tank for other individuals. We want to connect, collaborate, and share methods,” explained Dr. Lindsay, who created the educational product for CAA lessons.

CAA is “moving the mountain” to bridge the hole concerning its latest once-a-year funds of $1,350,000 and the $2 million wanted for ongoing fiscal sustainability.

CAA student Saida, 26, will take general public transportation from Oakland to West Valley Faculty, transferring twice. She leaves dwelling prior to 8 a.m. to be on time for a 10:30 a.m. class.

“It [CAA] aided me turn out to be a strong female in life. I’m a more open-minded and resilient particular person in this environment with my disabilities. It served me be extra independent and come across my voice and be more free of charge from my restrictions,” claimed Saida.

“The school manufactured a large effects on me in so many approaches,” ongoing Saida. “I can proceed right here as very long as I want. It is existence-prolonged studying.”

CAA’s oldest college student is in his mid-70s.

For information and facts, stop by CAA on the web at You can volunteer to support and advocate for CAA or agenda an online or in-human being tour, as State Senator Dave Cortese did final December.