Campus News

Published by Communications and Public Affairs 519 824-4120, Ext. 56982 or 53338

News Release

February 22, 2006

Access for Students With Disabilities Focus of Week

Raising awareness about accessibility for students with disabilities is the focus of an upcoming events-filled week at the University of Guelph.

Accessibility Awareness Week runs March 3 to 10 and is designed to draw attention to the issue of access on campus for people with visual, hearing, mobility, learning, psychological and medical disabilities.

“Everyone is affected by disabilities at some point in their lives — whether permanent or temporary — and by opening up the channels of communication, we can share many lessons with one another,” said Barry Wheeler, an adviser in the Centre for Students With Disabilities.

The week begins March 2 with a free screening of Murder Ball at 7 p.m. in Room 1200 of the Thornbrough Building. The film, which won the 2005 Sundance Film Festival award for best documentary, is about a full-contact wheelchair rugby team that overcomes adversity to compete in the Paralympic Games in Greece.

Beginning March 3, a number of student leaders, peer helpers and residence life staff will be experiencing campus life in a wheelchair. They will spend a minimum of one day — some as many as four days — in a wheelchair and will discuss their experiences and the challenges they faced at a round-table discussion March 8 from 5 to 7 p.m. in Room 335 of the University Centre.

A resource fair runs March 3 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. in the University Centre courtyard. A number of organizations and agencies, including the Canadian Institute for the Blind, the United Way and Guelph Services for People With Disabilities, will be on hand to provide information about their services and will also be seeking new volunteers for their programs.

On March 6, a discussion about living with mental health issues will be held from 5 to 7 p.m. in Room 441 of the UC. “An estimated 20 per cent of Canadians live with mental health issues, and these disabilities are misunderstood by most people,” said Wheeler.

On March 8, a faculty workshop on designing inclusive courses to accommodate everyone — including those with disabilities — will be held in Room 335 of the UC from 10 a.m. to noon. This will be followed by a discussion about learning disabilities and a session on adaptive technology from 1 to 3 p.m.

A discussion about ableism and anti-oppression runs March 9 from 5 to 7 p.m. in Room 335 of the UC.

The week wraps up March 10 with a “Morning of Diversity: Overcoming Adversity” from 10 a.m. to noon in the Arboretum Centre. Guest speaker is Rev. Stephanie McClellan. McClellan, a 1996 U of G graduate who developed rheumatoid arthritis, a disease that causes pain, swelling and sometimes joint deformity, in her second year of studies at Guelph. She was co-founder of the U of G Recreation Equity Club, a group that promotes access to athletic programs for people with disabilities. She was also the first woman with a disability to hand-cycle from Vancouver to Halifax. She made the trip to promote awareness of people living with disabilities and to raise money to make churches physically accessible to everyone.

McClellan’s address will be followed by the presentation of the Tara Lynn Giuliani Memorial Award. Tara Lynn Giuliani was a U of G student who lost her sight a few years before dying at age 25 from juvenile diabetes. Her family established the $500 award in 1995 for students who have a disability, demonstrate financial need, have significant academic standing and are involved in extracurricular activities and volunteer work. Preference is given to students with a visual impairment.

For media questions, contact Communications and Public Affairs: Lori Bona Hunt, (519) 824-4120, Ext. 53338, or Rebecca Kendall, Ext. 56982.

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