This past week, I attended the University of Guelph’s Accessibility Conference. This conference was one in an increasingly long line of intersections/points of rupture between my work life and my academic pursuits.
The Keynote, Noëlle Richardson, Chief Diversity Officer, Ministry of the Attorney General spoke about accessibility and diversity, and the “need to shift our perspective from a medical model of disability to a social model of disability”. She challenged attendees (and through the attendees, all of us) to “shift our perspective from fixing the individual to fixing the environment”. Poignantly, she stated, “Accessibility is not just about providing access for people with disabilities, it’s about providing access to people with disabilities”.
Richardson’s talk quickly got me thinking about the power structures of space and place, and in a very tangible way prompted me to consider the how our spaces are structured to include and exclude, as well as mediate relationships and interactions.