Accessibility town hall yields vital information
Thoughtful and constructive feedback from students, faculty, staff and Kingston community members at a town hall meeting is serving as a resource to guide and inform the university’s future work on accessibility.
“The collaboration and engagement exhibited at the town hall is an important step as the university works to achieve access, equity and meaningful inclusion for individuals living with disabilities,” says Irène Bujara, Director, Equity Office.
Town hall participants broke into five groups based on the priority working groups established under the new Accessibility Framework. For their particular focus area, they identified barriers, brainstormed ideas for preventing or eliminating the barriers, and suggested communication strategies to enable the university to incorporate advice and recommendations.
Group leaders include Julie Mekarski, Customer Service; Heather Shields, Employment; Martha Whitehead, Information and Communications; Jo-Anne Brady, Built Environment; and Rebecca Luce-Kapler, Education, Training and Awareness.
Equity Office staff members examined the submissions from the town hall and identified several themes:
• Attitude is the barrier likely most difficult to overcome
• Different departments working separately on similar accessibility issues should communicate better and work together
• There is a need to go beyond training and educate people about what they can do on a day-to-day basis to make Queen’s more accessible
• A formalized feedback system is required to allow people to report issues of general inaccessibility
• Accessibility needs to be emphasized from the moment individuals join the Queen’s community.
Members of the priority working groups will assess the current situation in their respective areas and propose action items to meet short- and long-term accessibility compliance. The priority working groups will consult persons with disabilities and other disability stakeholder groups outside of the Queen’s community.
The commitment of faculty, staff, administration and students is critical to the success of the priority working groups. The accessibility working group application form is available online.