Recognizing National AccessAbility Week 2023

From May 28 to June 3, 2023, the University of Toronto recognizes National AccessAbility Week (NAAW).

Celebrated since 2017 and enshrined in the Accessible Canada Act (2019), NAAW can trace its origins to National Access Awareness Week, launched 35 years ago in the wake of Rick Hansen’s Man in Motion World Tour. This two-year odyssey found Hansen covering more than 40,000 km across 34 countries to champion accessibility and raise money for spinal cord research, rehabilitative research, and wheelchair sports.

Today, NAAW both celebrates the contributions of Canadians with evident and non-evident disabilities and recognizes those who work to make public and private spaces more inclusive for everyone. The urgency of these efforts is clear: as of 2017, 1 in 5 Canadians had at least one evident or non-evident disability. And the type and scope of barriers to accessibility grow dramatically when we consider that disability can be episodic, temporary, or event-situational (for example, trying to hear in a noisy environment). Making our world more open to multiple ways of perceiving, moving, and interacting expands opportunities for us all to contribute however we can at different points in our lives—and to define success in our own ways.

As the 2022 Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) Report attests, the University of Toronto is already advancing this goal. Our tri-campus community is learning how to apply principles of universal design, which encourage the creation of spaces, polices, and practices that can be accessed, understood, and used as widely as possible. We are expanding mental health supports and improving the delivery of mental health services, prioritizing timely care that recognizes the broad range of needs within our community. We are building awareness of how ableism can intersect with other forms of discrimination, including racism and discrimination based on faith and/or sexual orientation.

Ongoing conversation and collaboration centring lived experience of disability will help us build an institution where everyone in our community can participate fully in University activities, be their most creative, and experience a sense of belonging. On May 30, the University of Toronto Scarborough, in collaboration with the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) Office, celebrates NAAW with the virtual event “Addressing Ableism, Disability & Accessibility: Progress and Continued Action Plans.” Building upon a national dialogue hosted by UTSC last December, this tri-campus event invites all members of the U of T community to learn about initiatives currently underway and to share feedback about how to support the University’s efforts to become a fully accessible and inclusive institution. I encourage students, staff, faculty members, and librarians across our campuses to seize the opportunity to fully engage in this important dialogue—one that truly impacts everything we do at the University of Toronto.

Upcoming Programming

Inclusion in Action Speaker Series: Understanding Black Disability Justice: Advancing Disability Justice in Postsecondary Contexts

Date: June 12, 2023
Time: 10am – 12pm

This session will explore disability justice and its principles with a particular focus on conversations of intersectionality and Blackness. Participants will learn practical strategies within teaching and learning to embed disability justice within various environments. Dr. Sami Schalk will join a panel of U of T community members to critically analyze how ableism manifests and can be disrupted in working and learning environments.

The Inclusion in Action Speaker Series is a collaboration between the Institutional Equity Office (IEO), and the UTM Equity, Diversity & Inclusion Office (UTM EDIO).

Learn more and register

Resources

Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Report 2022
This annual report outlines the progress of the University with respect to accessibility on all three campuses; speaks to initiatives for the coming year; and demonstrates U of T’s goals and commitments to accessibility to all members working, studying or visiting the University.AODA + Universal Design Calendar
Browse the calendar to learn about (and register for) upcoming training and events offered by the AODA Office.

Materials for accessible communication
As of January 1, 2021, under the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA), all public sector organizations must ensure their Internet websites and web content adhere to Level AA standard as defined by the World Wide Web Consortium Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0.

Training & Consultation
U of T’s AODA Office provides the community with a range of trainings as well as consultation on website accessibility. Training topics include accessibility and procurement, accessibility and language, and accessibility and social media.

Commitments and Accessibility Standards
Read about employment accommodations, accommodations for students, emergency procedure, U of T’s service animals guideline, and more.