See details re: disabled students conference in latter part of article
Accessibility makes strides on campus
>Julia Munk has had quite a ticket to ride lately. When I spoke with her
>on Tuesday, she was scheduled to become the first person to ride the new
>elevator at University of Toronto's Hart House. On Monday, she will
>celebrate the opening of the university's first student-funded and
>student-operated access centre in Hart House's east common room.
>Membership is open to all students, disabled and able-bodied.
>And next weekend, with fellow accessibility advocates Mahadeo Sukhai and
>Uzma Khan, she will be front and centre at the second annual conference
>on breaking down barriers, hosted by Canada-Wide Accessibility for
>Post-Secondary Students' (CanWAPSS) at the Toronto Marriott Hotel.
>Munk, founder of U of T's Students For Barrier-Free Access, Sukhai, a
>Ph.D. student in medical biophysics at the U of T, and Khan, a graduate
>of Ryerson University's information technology management program, are
>co-founders of CanWAPSS, a non-profit group committed to increasing
>accessibility and inclusion across the country for post-secondary
>students with disabilities.
>The ivy-covered walls too often house physical barriers for students who
>use wheelchairs, crutches or canes. But it is the attitudes on campus
>that present the biggest stumbling blocks to those who move, communicate
>or process information differently from what society decrees to be the
>With that in mind, one of the highlights of the weekend conference is
>expected to be a Saturday evening debate between students and professors
>from Ryerson and U of T, with plenty of opportunity for the audience to
>get involved. The statement to be debated: "In order to fully access
>equitable education, all accessibility requirements asked for by
>post-secondary students with disabilities should be provided, regardless
>of any concerns or issues raised by professors."
>Professors who refuse to recognize learning disabilities and those who
>refuse to accommodate students who are blind or have low vision are
>among the most common barrier builders on campuses across the country.
>Among other things, many don't release lists of required reading until
>very close to the start of a course, making it difficult for blind
>students to arrange for transcription into an alternative format.
>In this province, Terri Hulett, a graduate student working toward a
>Master's degree in women's studies, has filed a formal complaint against
>York University with the Ontario Human Rights Commission, which had
>released a consultation paper on barrier-free education for students
>Hulett, who has very low vision, says the university's failure to
>provide course material in an alternate format in a timely fashion
>prolonged the completion of her degree and thus burdened her with extra
>"These are systemic issues," says Hulett, a passionate advocate for
>accessibility who will be among participants at another conference on
>barriers to education scheduled for Nov, 12 to 14 in Ottawa. That
>conference, called Right On! and presented by the National Educational
>Association of Disabled Students (NEADS), will look at human rights,
>access rights, equality rights, education rights and employment rights.
>Next weekend's Toronto conference on breaking down education barriers
>will feature as keynote speakers CityTV's David Onley and Rabia Khedr,
>founder of DiversityWorx, which helps governments, companies and
>communities work toward inclusion.
>In addition to the debate between students and professors, it will
>include sessions on exclusion and recreation, how to encourage inclusive
>practices, self-advocacy and universal design.
>Everyone is welcome at all these fall conferences and events. For more
>information, check http://www.canwapss.com, http://www.neads.ca and
>Anyone wishing to support Terri Hulett in her human rights case can
>contact her at [log in to unmask]
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