Carleton University is a place where we live, work, and play and we are committed to making it and the world more accessible for everyone. This starts with our community, a place where we can explore, discover, embrace and create a culture of accessibility and in turn, share this knowledge and passion with others.

Carleton University and the READ Initiative (Research Education Accessibility and Design) have officially launched the Coordinated Accessibility Strategy (CAS) – a first of its kind in Canada. The strategy is guided by the values of inclusivity, innovation, collaboration, commitment, and community.

READ wants to create opportunities for Student Accessibility Champions, providing real-world skills development for students, anchored in the context of social good. With guidance and direction from mentors, the Accessibility Champions will personally engage in experiences that will expand their knowledge, awareness, and understanding about accessibility which they can then apply in their future endeavours and take out to their worlds.

The Background

Social change is not sustainable unless it is informed by and with people with living/lived experience. The READ Initiative was inspired by a desire to come together as a community and advance change in accessibility. This remains our driving inspiration now and in the future and is reflected throughout the entire process of the accessibility strategy. The voices of those living with and around disability are valued, and this carries forward into the implementation of it as well.

The Rollout

Donated funds will support experiential learning experiences, as well as to provide any necessary accommodations required for participation. The Champions will play a critical role in helping support the Accessibility Action Plans associated with the strategy. These student leaders will be ambassadors for accessibility at Carleton and be provided with platforms to share their message and contribute to the necessary global dialogue about this important issue.

The Impact

Change must happen if we are to re-model how disability is understood and experienced. To truly transform society, we need to collectively co-create the conditions for a more accessible future in which disability is anticipated, welcomed, and in which disabled people thrive [1].

This requires centering the work of disabled people as expert knowers and makers [2] so we can truly transform society. Student Accessibility Champions at Carleton will be agents of that change, providing not only a sense of connection and community, but also a sense of identity for future Ravens to see themselves and to feel recognized for the contributions they can have in the world.

[1]      A. Hamraie and K. Fritsch, “Crip Technoscience Manifesto,” Catal. (San Diego, Calif.), vol. 5, no. 1, pp. 1–33, 2019, doi: 10.28968/cftt.v5i1.29607.

[2]      A. Hamraie, “Sloped Technoscience: Curb Cuts, Critical Frictions, and Disability (Maker) Cultures,” in Building Access : Universal Design and the Politics of Disability, Minneapolis, UNITED STATES: University of Minnesota Press, 2017, p. 103.

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