Representatives from post-secondary institutions are taking part in a panel discussion on campus accessibility as part of the National AccessAbility Week Digital Conference, hosted by Halifax-based organization reachAbility.
Accessibility & Inclusion in a Post-Secondary Environment is a two-part speaker series featuring representatives from some of Nova Scotia’s foremost post-secondary universities and colleges: Nova Scotia College of Art and Design (NSCAD), Dalhousie University, Cape Breton University, Acadia University, Nova Scotia Community College (NSCC), Mount Saint Vincent University and Saint Mary’s University.
Speaker series moderator and reachAbility program facilitator Debra Wells-Hopey sees it as a great opportunity to learn what it’s like to attend post-secondary schools for those who identify as living with a disability and what questions to ask if planning to attend.
“It was the first time in all the years that we’ve been holding events for NAAW that we had one dedicated specifically towards post-secondary education access and inclusion,” says Wells-Hopey. “It was originally only going to be one panel but the interest was so great (and the number of people that wanted to participate) that we split it into two.”
Both parts will include a student representative who identifies as living with a disability to shine a light on what it’s like from their perspective being enrolled at a post-secondary institution. Members of the panel will also highlight services and assistive technologies available at their schools, as well as how students with disabilities can better look after themselves and find the right people to lean on for support.
“There are a lot of people at each of these post-secondary institutions that are specifically there to assist you in navigating and help you answer questions and to advocate on your behalf,” Wells-Hopey says. “But so often a lot of the barriers are people don’t know that the resources are there… or that some of the resources need to be improved.”
Finding a good support system is something Nova Scotia 2020 NAAW ambassador and disability advocate April Hubbard encourages – not only for those living with a disability, but for everybody.
Hubbard told Global News she wants to challenge the community to take NAAW as an example of this.
“Especially with COVID happening right now, everybody’s kind of feeling this… isolation that folks living with disabilities feel all the time. Think about your own privilege and find people in your community; talk to them, ask about their experience and make sure that they know they are part of the community and you see their value and think about their experience moving on after COVID.”
The Nova Scotia National AccessAbility Week Digital Conference is free and open to everyone. Accessibility & Inclusion in a Post-Secondary Environment parts 1 and 2 will broadcast through the reachAbility Facebook page. It will be recorded and available to watch any time. Visit the reachAbility website to learn more about NAAW.