The Brock University community is invited to nominate students, faculty and staff for the annual Accessibility and Inclusion Recognition Award.
Two awards will be distributed this year — one recognizing a faculty or staff member and another recognizing a student — each for their contributions to a community free from discrimination.
Nominations will be accepted until Tuesday, Nov. 23 via an online form. Applications will be reviewed by 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. Award winners will be announced Friday, Dec. 3 during an online event celebrating International Day of Persons with Disabilities.
Maureen Connolly, Professor of Kinesiology and Chair of the AAMH, said the award has evolved over the past 15 years from when it was first introduced as the Making a Difference Award. Originally recognizing people who made a difference in the lives of learners who require accommodations, the award now recognizes efforts to make the entire Brock community an inclusive, diverse and equitable place for everyone, free from ableism and racism.
“The award is not only about who’s doing the right things for students, although that’s super important,” she said. “We have staff and faculty who experience disability and manage disability in their lives, so we have more opportunities to practise inclusion and anti-ableism in ways that go beyond the teaching environment.”
Connolly said the intention of the award is to strengthen allyship and encourage discussion of how the Brock community can remove barriers that limit access to equality.
“We need to think about ourselves as a community committed to inclusion and accessibility,” she said. “For decades, disability has been seen as a personal tragedy instead of a way of being in the world. If we all live long enough and we don’t die quickly, all of us are going to experience disablement.
“Many people do not realize they enact ableism in everyday situations. We need to be more attentive to how we think and act so we can all live more inclusive and dignified lives.”
Connolly offered several examples of how employees may demonstrate a commitment to inclusion and anti-ableism in their departments and in the ways they do their work:
- A manager including a discussion about ableism at every department meeting so their team members are more conscious of how their work may affect others.
- Talent acquisition staff asking candidates interviewing for a role if they require any accommodations, such as an interpreter or captioning.
- A staff member seeking training, even though it isn’t required of their role, so they can ensure the documents they and others produce are fully accessible.
- An individual educating others on the damaging effects of fragrances and perfume for people with chemical sensitivities.
“Small things yield big outcomes,” said Connolly. “It doesn’t have to be a massive achievement. It can be a succession of daily kindnesses that make everyone’s lives better. It can be something simple or it can be something more ornate or complex, but it’s in the service of making where we work celebratory about diversity and actively engaging in inclusion and anti-ableism.”
To learn more about the Accessibility and Inclusion Recognition Award and to nominate a Brock student, staff or faculty member, visit the Human Rights and Equity website.