Access Ryerson is a university wide initiative with a goal of removing barriers to the full participation of all community members with disabilities. Built on a principle of shared responsibility, Access Ryerson is comprised of four components. These include an advisory group representing students, staff and faculty from all areas of the university; a variety of working groups focused on barrier removal in specific areas; a coordinating group consisting of working group chairs and advisory group co-chairs addressing common issues, and a steering committee providing senior leadership. Together, we are committed to the transformation of Ryerson into a barrier-free leader in accessibility.
To transform Ryerson into a leader of excellence in accessibility and inclusion of persons with disabilities, and in so doing, fulfill and exceed the requirements of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act.
Foundational Principles and Values
In addition to the principles of the AODA, the following are values underpinning the Access Ryerson initiative as the basis to our overall approach:
Accessibility at the Start
By providing the highest degree of accessibility possible at the outset, we ensure no new barriers will be created, avoiding problems later on. Every individual plays a role in ensuring accessibility from the start.
Accessibility, not Disability
By recognizing the relationship between social and physical barriers and disability, our focus is shifted to the environment and solutions to remove barriers, rather than to any perceived deficit of the person.
Disability as Diversity, not Deficit
The experience of disability is typically and historically perceived negatively as a deficit. Instead we consider the perspectives of persons with a disability beneficial to a wider and more inclusive perspective.
We need to act with intention. When we are not being actively inclusive, we may be unintentionally exclusive. In order to avoid accidental exclusion of persons with disabilities, we need to be attentive to inclusive practice at all times.
Accessibility and Accommodation as Distinct Approaches
Individual accommodation is an essential component of accessibility, however these are distinct approaches. The more accessible an environment/ organization/process is from the start, the less need there will be for accommodation. Although a legal obligation may only require “accommodation as required”, ideally permanent accessibility solutions will be sought, reducing the need for individual accommodation.
Fairness and Equitable Treatment
We understand that equitable treatment does not necessarily mean treating everyone the same. Treating people fairly may require different approaches that do not imply a lesser standard of performance.
Senior leaders are in a unique position to ensure accessibility is at the core of decision making. As champions of accessibility, senior leaders promote the accountability and advancement of accessibility in their areas of responsibility
Successful learning and employment outcomes are the result of a shared responsibility and commitment on the part of students, staff and faculty. There is the expectation that all members of the community will advance and contribute to the ongoing development of an environment that is accessible and inclusive, while actively working to identify, remove and prevent barriers to persons with disabilities.
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