Accessibility Day Aims to Educate About Disabilities

February 27, 2008 - News Release

Sandy Naiman, a successful journalist living with biopolar disorder, will be the keynote speaker on Accessibility Awareness Day on March 4 at the University of Guelph.

The day is aimed at drawing attention to the issue of access on campus for people with disabilities.

"Accessibility is an ongoing issue, and we are always taking steps forward towards improvement by identifying and responding to barriers, but we haven't achieved universal accessibility yet," said Denise De La Franier, chair of Accessibility Awareness Day and an assistant adviser in the Centre for Students With Disabilities. "It's important to educate the public about the variety of disabilities, both visible and invisible, and that we have to accommodate them all."

The day kicks off at 10 a.m. with a resource fair in the University Centre courtyard featuring information booths by campus and community organizations that provide services to assist with accessibility issues.

A wheelchair challenge will also be set up to promote the upcoming Rick Hansen Wheels in Motion, a national campaign to raise money and awareness for people with spinal cord injuries. Participants will be invited to make a donation for a chance to manoeuvre a wheelchair through a timed obstacle course. The winner of the competition will receive a gift card to the Campus Bookstore.

"People are often surprised to find out how hard it is to actually get around in a wheelchair while also trying to complete the course quickly and safely," said De La Franier.

Folk-rock singer and songwriter Mark Wilson, who uses a wheelchair and is a strong advocate of accessibility issues, will perform in the UC from 11 a.m. to noon.

The day wraps up with Naiman's lecture at 7 p.m. in Room 442 of the UC. She will discuss "The Power of Language and Mental Health." The evening event will also make the presentation of the Tara Lynn Giuliani Award and the Gonder Family Scholarship.

Ashley Tindall is this year's recipient of the Tara Lynn Giuliani Award, which recognizes a student who is visually impaired and has achieved academic success while balancing volunteer work. David Donelan will receive the Gonder Family Scholarship, which is awarded annually to a student with a diagnosed learning disability.

For media questions, contact Communications and Public Affairs: Lori Bona Hunt, 519-824-4120, Ext. 53338, or Deirdre Healey, Ext. 56982,

University of Guelph
50 Stone Road East
Guelph, Ontario, N1G 2W1