The following is the first in a series of articles highlighting National AccessAbility Week. Written by Christopher Lytle, Brock’s AODA Co-ordinator in the Office of Human Rights and Equity, the stories will appear in The Brock News from Monday, May 27 to Friday, May 31.
National AccessAbility Week (NAAW) is a time when we can all reflect on the impact people with disabilities have on our lives.
The nationwide celebration promotes accessibility and inclusion across communities and workplaces, and recognizes the contributions of Canadians with disabilities. It is also an opportunity to recognize the efforts of Canadians who are actively removing barriers and ensuring persons with disabilities have an equal chance to participate in all aspects of Canadian society.
NAAW affects people in many different ways. You might be a person with a disability; you might have a family member with a disability; you might understand disability as something external to your frame of reference; or you might be allied with the disability movement in some way, shape or form.
No matter how you have come to know what disability involves, this week represents a time when we can take our diverse understandings and re-evaluate them by thinking critically about aspects that disability issues bring to the table in a positive manner.
There is huge potential for expanding our concept of disability issues by thinking about the positive economic, social and cultural factors the inclusion of people with disabilities might bring.
To begin, take time this week to think about how your life and your interactions within your social networks might be positively impacted by the removal of barriers that exclude people with disabilities in areas that you already enjoy and have seamless access to.
Envision what it might be like to live in a country where life’s aspirations are not tempered or diminished by the fact that there are physical, attitudinal or technological barriers between you and your aspirations. Visualize a point in future where these barriers that had prevented you from enjoying the same rights as your peers have been removed.
Throughout this week the Human Rights and Equity Office will be sharing articles through The Brock News that deal with a different conversation about disability issues in order to help the community move towards an understanding that disability is a dynamic social entity that represents far more than just ramps.
Brock University has set itself on a path where we can openly dream about the type of institution we want to have, and this week gives us time to think about what removing multiple layers of barriers might conceptually look like.
A lot has changed in recent years due to the courageous work of students, staff and faculty that have an acute concept of what social justice looks like, and how to make concepts of justice a reality.
Let’s use this momentum to think about how we all can create a culture that includes people with disabilities in all aspects of life, learning and experience.