While education has many barriers for access for many students, students with disabilities face even more barriers says Matt barter, MUN Students’ Union representative for students with disabilities.
“This week is very significant. It is the first of its kind and if it all goes well then hopefully it will be a regularly scheduled week each year, similar to the Pride on Campus week each year.” Said Barter.
Though practices have been changing and policies have been progressing toward being more accepting and understanding of those who face challenges brought on my disabilities, Barter said that MUN could improve some of it’s services that it current provides for students with disabilities. Suggesting, “Hiring more staff for the Blundon Centre that could help with a number of tasks. For example, education around accessibility is really important but there’s no specific office tasked with an educational role when it comes to accessibility, and that’s a problem. The staff at the Blundon Centre do a great job with the resources that they have, it’s the university’s fault that the centre is under-resourced and also doesn’t have the resources or mandate to play an education role. So the university really needs to be more pro-active when it comes to accessibility and educate faculty, staff and students about accessibility issues.”
While many students experience these issues, Barter says that allyship is also important. Suggesting that students who want to imrove their allyship by, “Students can be allies to students with disabilities by being supportive and understanding. This means both providing support personally and also supporting improvements such as hiring more staff at the Blundon Centre. And being supportive by being understanding about the ways in which their peers face difficulty when their accessibility needs aren’t met.”
While disabilities justice week will be filled with events such as a community resource fair, lunch and learn, and others events, Barter encourages anyone to attend all events, but especially the Key Note address by Katarina Roxon, a gold medalist paralympic olympian from Kippens, NL.
While this weeks events are officially over, this event is intended to happen every year during this week.
Students who are interested in this week’s events can find more information on disabilities justice week can email firstname.lastname@example.org .
Article By Emily Bonia