Accessibility award recognizes those helping to build a more inclusive environment
December 18, 2013
This article is one in a series highlighting the Employment Equity Award, the Human Rights Initiative Award and the Accessibility Award. Nominations are now open for all three awards. More information and links to application forms.
By Wanda Praamsma, Communications Officer
Julie Harmgardt says winning the Steve Cutway Accessibility Award in 2011 has made her work running InvisAbilities, an organization she started that helps break down barriers and misconceptions around hidden or non-visible disabilities, more powerful.
“The award was entirely unexpected. In any kind of advocacy work, you don’t do it for recognition. It comes from the heart,” says Ms. Harmgardt (Law’16). “The award gave us more leverage on campus, and also helped propel me forward to keep doing the work I do.”
Each year the Steve Cutway Accessibility Award recognizes the outstanding efforts of faculty, staff and students who demonstrate creativity, enthusiasm, innovation and commitment to creating a learning and working environment in which persons with disabilities enjoy full participation. Nominations are now open for the 2013 award.
In the past, the award has been given to many deserving individuals, including Kathy Jackson, Undergraduate Coordinator in the School of Kinesiology and Health Studies, Leela Viswanathan in the School of Urban and Regional Planning, and Michele Chittenden in the Adaptive Technology Centre.
“Everyone at Queen’s has a role to play in building a more inclusive university community,” says Alan Harrison, Provost and Vice-Principal (Academic). “The Steve Cutway Award is an important recognition of the outstanding contributions of staff, faculty and students towards the promotion of accessibility and the reduction of barriers to access.”
When Ms. Harmgardt started InvisAbilities in 2009, she felt fully supported by the university and is impressed with how proactive Queen’s is about disability issues. “The university is really good about recognizing when people are putting in the effort,” she says.
Since its inception, InvisAbilities has grown to become a national charity with satellite offices at universities across Canada. The work supporting others with chronic illnesses and other hidden disabilities has also influenced Ms. Harmgardt’s path into law school, facilitating her pursuit of a career based in advocacy.