Sept. 22, 2021 The Division of Human Resources & Equity is now called the Division of People Strategy, Equity & Culture.

Reframing Disability, Embracing Difference: U of T launches inaugural National AccessAbility Week series

The University of Toronto is proud to commemorate National AccessAbility Week with a series of sessions exploring accessibility awareness and inclusion across U of T and beyond.

Officially recognized by the Government of Canada, National AccessAbility Week (NAAW) runs from May 31 to June 4 and serves as a critical opportunity for us to reframe the way we think about disability and full participation in all areas of life.

According to the 2017 Canadian Survey on Disability, more than 6 million Canadians aged 15 identify as having a disability. Disability should be interpreted broadly and viewed as the result of the interactions between persons with various kinds of conditions and environmental barriers, including attitudinal barriers, in multiple contexts. Accessibility is about inclusively designing communities, workplaces, and spaces so that all individuals can participate fully in society by proactively eliminating these barriers.

As an institution, U of T strives to center accessibility in everything that we do – from our buildings and learning spaces, to our policies and practices. Our Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) Office works to ensure that U of T is meeting the AODA standard obligations as legislated by the Province of Ontario. The Office also works to embed inclusive design across our institution, working to eliminate existing barriers and prevent new ones.

NAAW is an opportunity for us to further deepen our commitment towards an inclusive and accessible environment for all. The AODA Office and its partners have organized a week-long series of NAAW sessions and events focused on exploring inclusion across all aspects of University life and amplifying the voices of those with lived experience of disability. We hope to reframe disability and embrace difference.

“We are incredibly proud to be hosting our very first National AccessAbility Week series. The programming we have developed speaks to our commitment of creating accessible and inclusive spaces where community members with lived experience of disability feel included, respected, and valued,” said Karima Hashmani, Executive Director, Equity, Diversity & Inclusion at the University of Toronto.

“NAAW is an opportunity to think collaboratively about transforming the dialogue around disability and intentionally centering and amplifying the many diverse voices advocating for accessibility across our institution,” Karima added.

“We’ve teamed up with a broad range of incredible internal and external partners to bring this important series together,” said Ben Poynton, Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) Officer at the University of Toronto.

“Accessibility is an integral part of everyday life,” Ben added. “It was important for us to intentionally develop programming that would provide the U of T community with an opportunity to delve deeper and think differently about disability. We must reframe our understanding of accessibility and the critical role that it plays in the lives of those with lived experience of disability. We’re looking forward to sparking a critical dialogue around this important issue.”