Reducing barriers and fostering a culture of inclusivity at the iSchool
The Accessibility Interests Group was formed in 2019 to reduce barriers and foster a culture of inclusivity at the iSchool.
We are working with students, faculty and staff to increase Universal Design for Learning practices, amplify community voices and bring awareness to accessibility practices and design.
We recognize the social model of disability, which states that people are disabled by barriers in society, not by their own bodies. We also recognize that barriers can come in many forms: physical, technical, systemic, informational or attitudinal. While accessibility services provides individual access plans for students, in order to reduce the diverse spectrum of barriers that can arise in higher education, we must work to make the environment and culture at the iSchool more inclusive, and aware of access gaps.
To achieve this we will:
- Host educational events open to students, staff, faculty and community members on a wide range of accessibility topics.
- Reach out to students to better understand their access needs.
- Foster a relationship between iSchool faculty and the Centre for Teaching Support and Innovation to increase universal design for learning practices.
- Work to improve the accessibility of spaces and technology at the iSchool.
- Work with professors to incorporate accessibility modules within their courses.
- Give iSchool students the skills and knowledge to bring inclusive culture to their places of work and communities after graduation.
- Encourage all MI students and alumni to participate in the the Accessibility Interest Group and suggest new initiatives.
In January 2020, the Accessibility Interests Working Group created a letter to iSchool staff and faculty with recommendations on making courses and the classroom environment more accessible. Read the letter here.
Chair: Adrian Petterson
Adrian is a first year MI student focusing on User Experience Design.
As chair of the Accessibility Special Interests Group, Adrian hopes to work with students and faculty to break down barriers at the iSchool and make it a more accessible space for all students. They strongly encourage students to get in contact with her to collaborate on access projects, and to talk about any barriers they’ve noticed or accessibility opportunities they’ve thought of!
Outside of school, Adrian loves playing video games and going camping. They’re also learning sign language as a third language.
First Year Co-Chair: Amy Farrow
Amy is a first year Master of Information student in the Human-Centred Data Science and Critical Information Policy Studies concentrations. Prior to the MI program, she studied sociology and math, attended McMaster University and Queen’s University, and worked as a math tutor. Outside of coursework and AIWG, she is also an associate editor for the iJournal. Amy’s goal is to organize student efforts to increase accessibility at the iSchool.
Financial Chair: Sara Maston
Sara is a second-year MI student with a concentration in ARM and joint specialization in Environmental Studies. Her research interests are focused on sustainable, decolonial methods of archiving the knowledge of animals. Maston is also an interdisciplinary artist who explores the vantage point of more-than-human beings such as insects, single-celled organisms, domestic horses, birds and rodents. In her spare time, she enjoys making spreadsheets.
Shweta is a second year MI student in the User Experience Design Concentration. She joined the AIWG with an interest to promote inclusivity and awareness around accessibility in the hopes to make the iSchool a more welcoming place. With the AIWG, she also wishes to learn more about accessibility guidelines and find ways to incorporate them into her work as a user experience researcher. Outside of work, Shweta likes to travel, eat, watch movies or read up on random things like existentialism and how to pronounce Worcestershire.
Social Media – Maia Chapman
Maia is a second year MI student focusing on User Experience Design. She works on the Social Media and Marketing Team to promote accessibility and inclusion initiatives at the iSchool. Outside of the AIWG she has experience working in design research and accessible design, notably working for the iSchool during the abrupt shift to remote course delivery due to COVID-19. Outside of work, Maia spends most of her time hanging out with Luke, her Golden Retriever, and listening to Harry Potter audiobooks.
Amelia is in her second year of the MI; having mostly completed her UXD concentration, she’s decided to pursue ISD as well. Alongside her studies, Amelia works as a freelance graphic and web designer, so being the graphic design lead within the AIWG was a natural position for her from the group’s inception. As a member of the Outreach Design Team, she puts together posters, social media graphics, and factsheets and documents for students and staff. On the web side, Amelia works for UofT’s AODA Office as web accessibility auditor. She’s thrilled to bring this experience to the Accessibility Interests Working Group and to the digital products that she designs in the future. Outside of school, Amelia loves to spend time outdoors and travel to faraway places.
Melanie is on the Outreach Design Team for the Accessibility Interests Working Group at the iSchool. Hoping to concentrate in UXD in the Master of Information program, she continues her efforts to help promote accessibility and inclusion throughout the iSchool and beyond to try to make the world a more accepting and open place for everyone.
Outside of the iSchool, Melanie enjoys hanging out with her two cats, Yuffie and Korin, playing video and board games with friends, and going on hikes and long walks.