Queen's University

Student groups open up discussion on disabilities

An information fair was held in early March as part of Disability Awareness Month. Clockwise, from left: Louise Bark, a Kingston resident and activist; Kate Irwin and Katie Charboneau, co-chairs of Accessibility Queen's; and Stephanie Cork, a Disability Awareness Month coordinator.

Student groups are promoting a cultural shift on campus through awareness campaigns and meaningful discussions, aimed at cultivating more understanding of disabilities and the physical and non-physical challenges of living with a disability.

“We need to go beyond just accommodating students,” says Stephanie Cork (Artsci ’11). “We want to get people talking. The more we speak about it, the more we get students, staff and faculty sitting down together, sharing experiences, figuring out what works and what doesn’t – that’s how we are going to change things.”

Through the group InvisAbilities, students are discussing, particularly, the impact of “invisible” disabilities, including chronic pain conditions, mental health issues and intellectual and learning disabilities. Students with these disabilities, such as arthritis, lupus and chronic migraines, often remain silent and don’t engage with the university community because they don’t know how to explain the challenges they face to their peers.

Several events, as part of Disability Awareness Month, are providing education and communication around issues of inclusion for students with disabilities. There is a movie night, a launch party for the magazine ABLE, Speaker’s Corner sessions on various topics, and a town hall to discuss the new accessibility framework for Queen’s. Earlier this month, a panel at Inquiry@Queen’s addressed innovation in the classroom for students with disabilities.

Details on Disabilities Awareness Month are available on Facebook and Twitter.


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Last updated at 5:55 am EDT, Fri August 29, 2014
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