Brock names champions of campus inclusion

Two members of the Brock community are being recognized for their significant contributions to creating an inclusive campus environment. 

Judith Brooder, Manager, Student Accessibility Services, and Aidan Godin, a third-year Biology student, have been awarded the 2020 Accessibility and Inclusion Recognition Award (AIRA).

“Being nominated for and receiving this reward is an honour and a humbling experience,” said Brooder. “This award doesn’t belong to me alone. I have had the privilege of working with a team who share the same passion.”

Brooder’s contributions to creating an accessible campus include supporting faculty in their development and implementation of accessible assessments and inclusive classroom practices, facilitating workshops and consults with department-specific strategizing during the shift to online learning, as well as continuing to address emerging accessibility issues in online classrooms, such as captioning and linear assessment.

“It is important to Brock’s culture of caring that we continue moving forward to build a community that understands individual unique differences, and respects and encourages participation and a sense of belonging for all individuals no matter the differences,” Brooder said. “An inclusive and accessible culture is not just being invited to the party but being asked to dance. The goal is to see every dance card full.”

The award is presented annually at Brock on Dec. 3 in honour of International Day of Persons with Disabilities. The AIRA encourages strengthened allyship and acts as an invitation to discuss how barriers that limit access to equality can be removed.

“I am very honoured to receive the AIRA at Brock this year,” said Godin. “Having an accessible Brock means equal opportunities for all students, staff, faculty and visitors to the University, allowing everyone to feel welcomed and included. As a deaf student with a service dog, I face accessibility barriers every day and aim to make Brock a more inclusive space for others with disabilities.”

Godin helps to educate the Brock community on accessibility barriers by hosting awareness workshops on ableism, accessibility and inclusion for students and staff. Last year, they worked as part of the Residence Life Staff (RLS) team and helped to raise awareness about service animals on campus and living in residences.

“I hope I can continue to advocate for all at Brock,” said Godin. “Working in the residence system at Brock last year on the RLS made me proud of the work Brock has done and continues to do to improve the accessibility on campus and in residences.”

This year’s recipients were selected by the Anti-Ableism and Mental Health Committee (AAMH), which is a working group of the President’s Advisory Committee on Human Rights, Equity and Decolonization.

The AAMH said that Brooder and Godin have both exemplified the spirit of the AIRA by how both recipients address systemic institutional challenges, the numerous examples of on-campus contributions that have had wide-reaching benefits for the entire University community and their genuine commitment to improving accessibility in the many dimensions of students’ lives.

“I was gratified to receive the nominations and to work with a motivated and authentically engaged adjudication committee,” said Maureen Connolly, Professor of Kinesiology and Chair of the AAMH. “The discussions were frank, thoughtful and respectful. Committee members play an important role in how the AIRA continues to develop as a relevant and meaningful process and contribute to accessibility and inclusions, mental health and anti-ableism at Brock.”

The annual AIRA award presentation ceremony has been put on hold due to the COVID-19 pandemic; however, the Office of Human Rights and Equity is hoping to properly recognize the winners in the future when it is safe to do so.

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