Academic ableism workshop part of Brock event celebrating International Day of Persons with Disabilities

Brock University is recognizing International Day of Persons with Disabilities with a free online event that will discuss academic ableism and recognize students and employees for their efforts to address challenges faced by people with disabilities.

International Day of Persons with Disabilities takes place on Dec. 3 each year and acknowledges the humanity, inherent value and rights of people experiencing disability.

“It reminds us that all citizens of the world have a stake and a role in authentic inclusion,” said Maureen Connolly, Kinesiology Professor and Chair of Brock’s Anti-Ableism and Mental Health Committee (AAMH), which is a working group of the President’s Advisory Committee on Human Rights, Equity and Decolonization.

AAMH is partnering with the Brock-Niagara Centre of Excellence in Inclusive & Adaptive Physical Activity to co-host an online event on Friday, Dec. 3 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

The International Day of Persons with Disabilities event will feature a discussion and workshop on ‘Academic Ableism: Policy, Process, Pandemics.’

Academic ableism is actions that contribute to barriers for, and discrimination against, members of disability communities in their experiences of teaching, learning, research, service and any other aspects of campus life.

Workshop participants will collaborate to:

  • Address the ableist attitudes, policies and practices that are built into higher education.
  • Examine the minimal and temporary means available in higher education to address inequalities, and how it affects disabled students and faculty.
  • Explore personal ableist biases, apologies and defences in an effort to build tools for a more accessible future.
  • Discuss ways to participate in anti-ableism.

The workshop will be led by Jay Dolmage, Associate Chair, Undergraduate Communication Outcome Initiative, and English Professor at the University of Waterloo, whose work brings together rhetoric, writing, disability studies and critical pedagogy. Dolmage is the Founding Editor of the Canadian Journal of Disability Studies and has written three books related to disability: Disability Rhetoric; Academic Ableism: Disability and Higher Education; and Disabled Upon Arrival: Eugenics, Immigration, and the Construction of Race and Disability.

The online event will also announce the recipients of Brock’s Accessibility and Inclusion Recognition Award and recognize Brock student submissions to the Innovative Designs for Accessibility (IDeA) competition.

Brock’s Accessibility and Inclusion Recognition Award is given annually to one student and one faculty or staff member for their contributions to a community free from discrimination and who have advanced the dialogue of how society can remove barriers that limit access to equity.

The IDeA competition is a national contest led by Universities Canada and funded by Employment and Social Development Canada’s Social Development Partnership Program that encourages university students to develop innovative, practical and cost-effective solutions to address barriers and challenges for people with disabilities. Brock students submitted applications across several categories and two groups were successful, making Brock the only Canadian university to win in two categories.

Connolly said the online event will offer participants an opportunity to ask students about their IDeA projects and to engage with disability-identified individuals, their families, allies and advocates.

“Engaging in events committed to diversity and inclusion allows attendees to support the values underpinning inclusion and diversity awareness — the acknowledgement that all humans are worthy and valuable, and all have the right to engage in societal and cultural experiences in an autonomous and participatory fashion,” she said.

Faculty, staff, students and community members interested in attending the International Day of Persons with Disabilities event are asked to register online.

To learn more about accessibility and inclusion at Brock, visit the Human Rights and Equity website. Questions can be directed to or 905-688-5550 x4859.

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