Open Accessibility: An Illustrated Story of Disability Advocacy

Closing Section: Recommendations

Text discussing accessibility and inclusion at McMaster.

Looking forward, there are many innovative projects that could be introduced to expand the inclusivity and accessibility of education at McMaster.

Image of a person smiling, with text beside them.

“What I’d like to see is more students with intellectual and developmental disabilities welcomed into the university. We need to recognize that people bring different types of knowledge and ways of knowing to the table that can enrich everyone’s experience. There have been successful programs for folks with developmental disabilities in the UK, Australia, and the University of Alberta that have welcomed students of different ability levels. Re-introducing these programs and programmatic changes to the university that encourage broader access would really be valuable.

Image of a person looking towards text that talks about the lack of inclusion of persons with disabilities in McMaster’s marketing.

“Students with disabilities are all over campus. Why aren’t we more visible in the university’s branding and marketing materials?”

Image of a person using an assistive device, with text beside them.

“If we created more tunnels to connect more campus buildings underground, students wouldn’t have to navigate poor weather and inaccessible entryways to get to class. This would be a benefit for all students. At Carleton University in Ottawa, some students don’t have to go out all winter thanks to their tunnel system.”

Image of a person looking towards text that discusses requiring more student led/peer support workers.

“We need to question what ‘help’ looks like. We could hire more student workers to provide peer support, and make resources like the Wellness Recovery Action Plan (WRAP) more available to all students.”

Image of a person looking towards text that discusses AODA and ensuring that staff, volunteers and students are involved in the strategic planning towards access and inclusion.

“We must ensure that students and staff with disabilities are intimately involved with related decision making, whether that’s program reviews, infrastructure development, union organizing, or university policy. The university should be hiring more faculty and senior leadership with disabilities too. We have an accessibility plan that emphasizes compliance with AODA standards, which can be seen as minimum compliance. What we really need is an accessibility strategy that pulls together all of the accessibility work that is currently happening on-campus under one umbrella and then goes beyond what we currently have to fulfill our larger ethical and political responsibility to ensure access.

Image of text that discusses this comic as a historical resource and other resources that can be accessed on access and disability.

There is currently no archive of this history on campus, but this project is a step towards establishing links between some of the threads of policy and activism that have brought accessibility to McMaster. The following is a list of our resources and further readings on disability and access.

Works Cited (tentative)

  • Contours of Ableism by Fiona Kumari Campbell
  • Disability and Social Change: A Progressive Canadian Approach edited by Jeanette Robertson & Grant Larson

Acronyms Used:

  • SAS: Student Accessibility Services
  • HMSC: Hamilton Mad Students Collective

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