December 3 is the United Nations’ International Day of Persons with Disabilities. In honour of this annual observance, which aims to promote the rights and well-being of persons with disabilities, the Reporter looks the past year’s milestones marking McGill’s own progress towards becoming a more inclusive and accessible university.
“Reflecting on the past years’ accomplishments, I am proud of the advancements we have been able to make as a community,” says Rachel Desjourdy, Accessibility Advisor in the Office of the Provost and Vice Principal (Academic). Desjourdy is part of McGill’s Equity Team, which won a Principal’s Award for Administrative and Support Staff last month.
“I look forward to more units, faculties and individuals adding their energies to move the needle on accessibility. While there is still a long way to go, I can’t wait to look back at the end of next year, and see how far we have come together.
Some key moments from the past year:
- Desjourdy joins the Provost’s office as McGill’s first Accessibility Advisor. Her role is dedicated to supporting staff and faculty members with disabilities access workplace accommodations, as well as advising senior leadership on issues related to disability and accessibility
- Launch of McGill’s digital standards, including web accessibility requirements for McGill’s websites.
- Ongoing Web accessibility training becomes available to staff who build and manage McGill websites as part of McGill Web Services training curriculum.
- The Office of the Deputy Provost, Student Life and Learning, launches a revision of the Policy Concerning the Rights of Students with Disabilities, seeking community feedback throughout 2020.
- A Web accessibility evaluation is completed on McGill’s main platform for hosting public websites, the Web Management System (WMS)
- Enhanced Learning Strategy supports and materials are made available on the Tutorial Services website, enhancing access for all learners
- Updates to Human Resources’ Guidelines for Accommodating Employees with Disabilities. These updates include the establishment of the Central Accommodation Fund, clearer procedures, and explicit instructions for applicants invited to interview
- The Office for Students with Disabilities hosts a Summer Webinar series for students and faculty to get better oriented to OSD services and supports and be more prepared for the remote Fall semester.
- OSD launches a detailed Faculty Guidebook for instructors outlining its services and processes for both on-campus and remote learning contexts.
- The Joint Board Senate Committee on Equity and the Subcommittee on Persons with Disabilities co-host a virtual welcome event for new faculty members
- Student Services equips all front-line staff with clear masks in order to ensure accessible service during COVID-19.
- Online appointment booking at the OSD goes live, creating easier access and quicker booking for students
- IT Accessibility Working Group is initiated
- A clear mask initiative provides accommodations for staff working on campus during COVID-19 restrictions
- Employee Resource Group for Staff with Disabilities goes live on Microsoft Teams, accompanied by a series of events throughout the Fall semester
- OSD and Teaching & Learning Services partner to launch an Accessibility Enhancement Project for the Winter 2021 semester, which will see faculty and course instructors supported to ensure accessible course materials are produced and available in the remote learning context. More information to be announced soon.
“A big thank you to those who push accessibility to the forefront of their work, and for the continued efforts on the part of McGillians with disabilities who show up and make this university a more inclusive place for the rest of us,” adds Desjourdy.