Accessibility Awareness Celebrates its Fourth Year

Roughly 60 people, students and faculty alike attended the keynote during Accessibility Awareness Day Mar. 10 at the Ambassador Auditorium. [Photo by // Hani Yassine]

by Hani Yassine
The Lance – Arts Editor

It’s an area which some people may take for granted, while others are set to deal with an unleveled playing field.

“Accessibility” was the word being expanded to a wide degree during the fourth annual Accessibility Awareness Day Mar. 10. It was then where the Ambassador Auditorium was occupied throughout much of the morning and afternoon, with discussions touching upon physical and mental disabilities within a professional environment.

With the idea of raising awareness a given, it also encouraged others to try and establish a genuine sense of equity, reminding us how everyone is human at the end of the day.

“Through our variety of presentations, especially with Fiona’s, it’s really just encouraging people to go out there and create a fair and equitable environment and atmosphere for everyone,” said student coordinator Meghan Walton.

Kicking off the day was the keynote from Fiona Crean, the first ombudsman of the city of Toronto who will soon reprise this position as a representative of Hydro One. Upon taking the podium, one of the key subjects Crean touched upon was the matter of flexibility, and how seeking professional benefits within a highly specific group can lead to a divided community.

“We’re in a better position to achieve equity for ourselves if our advocating for improvements are not limited to our own particular interests,” Crean said.

The Ambassador Auditorium was divided in thirds as breakout discussions were occurring in tandem with each other. By walking into one of three salon rooms, each led to a different subject, among which being “Disability in the Arts.” Upon contending with the issue of accessibility, the discussion featured established artists who spoke about their personal drawbacks and how they were able to employ their strengths in an artistic environment.

Martin Ouellette was one of the speakers, a stage actor and director who said at an early age was diagnosed with Attention Deficit Disorder. An invisible disability, Ouellete noted how he used to be deeply and independently fixated on a single subject or topic. While it’s something, which could lead for a cause for concern, Ouellette says he was able to channel it into a strong artistic contribution.

“I discovered theatre, which kind of gave me an excuse to fixate on something, whether it was character or production, so I was able to shoehorn my difficulty into what became a positive for me,” Ouellette said.

Walton said the registration goal for this year stood at a solid hundred, which was exceeded at 125. With the event continuously growing, she already looks forward to the fifth year.

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