Disability Awareness Week: Making it virtual and accessible

McGill’s third Disability Awareness Week will be held March 24-28, and this year's theme is ‘Making it virtual and accessible.’

final_third_disability_awareness_week_poster_for_web_20140306McGill’s third Disability Awareness Week will be held March 24-28, and this year’s theme is ‘Making it virtual and accessible.’

The Office for Students with Disabilities (OSD) promotes awareness and implementation of Universal Design (UD) as a sustainable and socially just model to address Disability issues and widen access to learning. The three core principles of UD (multiple means of representation, multiple means of expression and multiple means of engagement) allow learning and service provision to be tailored to students’ needs, but it is undeniable that the rapid development of technology brings unique ease and endless opportunities to their application.

Web based portals, IT tools, and synchronous and asynchronous virtual means of interactions are all examples of the way technology is making us rethink our notion of Access. The theme of this year’s Disability Awareness Week celebrates the varied and creative ways our two campuses are embracing technological innovations to widen access.

Frederic Fovet, Director of the OSD / Photo: Owen Egan
Frederic Fovet, Director of the OSD / Photo: Owen Egan

“We are encouraging individual course instructors, faculties and services to highlight the diverse and creative ways they are embracing technology to widen access,” says Frederic Fovet, Director of the OSD. “We will be releasing information, tools and resources every day of the week on our website, but is important for the McGill community, on our two campuses, to understand we don’t claim ownership over this event. Please join us in your individual and personalized ways, in examining the huge beneficial impact of technological use can have on student life and learning.”

The themes of the week will highlight two distinct dimensions related to access and IT: (i) the extent to which technological use has the potential to widen access to learning in unprecedented ways; and (ii) the simple user-friendly guidelines we all need to integrate in order to guarantee that our use of IT does not exclude anyone.

Each day will see the release, on the OSD website, of a tool or feature highlighting a dimension of virtual access which contributes to widen access through the application of one of the three principles of Universal Design. Follow the new releases and explore access & technology through the week by going here.