Open Accessibility: An Illustrated Story of Disability Advocacy

@ McMaster

Image of a person standing on a university campus with a backpack with various social justice patches on it.  Above this person is text that reads Open Accessibility.

Creating an accessible university is a project of transformation. It requires that we assess and redesign campus environments and practices to eliminate the visible and invisible barriers that impact the teaching and learning experiences of students and faculty alike.

Image of a university campus, in the centre of the image is a puzzle piece with text that describes the AODA legislation’s requirements on accessibility and inclusion with regards to public space.

Creating this history involved a broad examination of accessibility policy, academic articles, historical texts, and oral history from various organizations engaging in disability work. I searched the Silhouette newspaper archive for relevant articles dating back to the 1980s, and also interviewed disability advocates, including 7 current and former students, and 4 faculty and staff. I received immense guidance and support from Alise de Bie who has been deeply involved in advocacy work on campus since 2012. This piece is a synthesis of this multimodal research process.

Image with text describing the process in creating this comic, the sources that were used from various people in the field of disability justice and organizational support.

McMaster University was originally opened in Toronto in 1890, and relocated to Hamilton in 1930 on the traditional territories of the Mississaugas and Haudenosaunee nations peoples, and within the lands protected by the “Dish With One Spoon” wampum. Traditionally seen as a space of exclusivity, access to a university education is increasingly seen as being a public good. A culture of inclusion (rather than exclusion and segregation)  was historically spurred on by grassroots movements for deinstitutionalization before the adoption of an international human rights framework.

This image has three smaller images within it.  The first image is a person reading a book entitled Contours of Ableism. The second image shows two people, one has a recording device and is interviewing the other person.  The final image shows a person on a computer.
Image has two people in it, one is holding a disability rights sign. The other person is reading a leaflet on psychiatry for the home and garden. Above both people is text with the Dish with One Spoon Wampum agreement and how access and inclusion to a university education is seen being increasingly seen as a public good.
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