Promoting disability awareness on campus
The constant ebb of students flowing through the Wilfrid Laurier University Concourse on a daily basis made it a prime location for the WLU Accessible Learning team to station themselves on Feb. 1 and 2 for their Accessibility Awareness Week event.
Held annually, the event is meant to promote disability awareness on campus.
“We want to educate the community about the supports that we provide from within the [Accessible Learning] Centre, but we invite a number of community providers to come in as well,” explained Gwen Page, the manager of accessible learning at Laurier.
A “Barrier Busting” event was held on the first day, an idea coined by David Lepofsky, the chair of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) Alliance. Accessible Learning decided to host their own as well as had representatives from different areas of the university situate themselves in the concourse to respond to questions and concerns.
Page outlined the event, saying, “You’re inviting the community to have a look at their surroundings and trying to identify barriers that would prevent a person with a disability from fully participating within the community.”
This ranges from physical disabilities to communication barriers to stigmas.
She added how they had students record all of their input on large pieces of mural paper, providing Accessible Learning with a record of the issues they were being presented with. Page has a positive outlook about the student response, admitting that many students came forward with some great ideas.
“Right now I’m at a stage of trying to compile all the feedback,” she explained. “And then I’m going to forward it to the accessibility committee to have a look at it.”
From here the committee will discuss plans to make changes.
Overall, Page said she was happy with how the event transpired.
“Our peer helper team here at Accessible Learning were instrumental in pulling together the event itself,” praised Page, as the team even engaged in a flash mob to promote it.
“I think we had so much support from the services on campus. They’re willing to hear and listen to the feedback,” she added. “And I think that speaks volumes in terms of creating an accessible form of communication.”