Access TMU is a university wide initiative with a goal of removing barriers to the full participation of all community members with disabilities. Our mandate is to transform Toronto Metropolitan University 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
The four core principles of the AODA are dignity, independence, integration and equal opportunity. In addition to the principles of the AODA, the following are values underpinning the Access TMU 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 are created, avoiding problems later on. Every individual plays a role in ensuring accessibility from the start.
We act with intention. When we are not being intentionally inclusive, we may be unintentionally exclusive. In order to avoid accidental exclusion of persons with disabilities, we are attentive to inclusive practice at all times.
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.
Intersections of identities are often unaccounted for, and barriers to accessibility and inclusion are frequently amplified for those with intersecting marginalized identities. Lived experiences of persons with disabilities may vary widely based on cultural, religious, geographic, and other variables. Accessibility and accommodation must be understood from an intersectional lens that goes beyond a dominant Western paradigm.
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 is for accommodation. Although a legal obligation may only require “accommodation as required”, we seek permanent accessible solutions.
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.
Collaboration and Shared Responsibility
We recognize that barriers are rarely the sole responsibility of a single department, faculty or individual. Successful learning and employment outcomes are the result of a shared responsibility, collaboration and commitment on the part of everyone, where all members of the community contribute to the ongoing development of an environment that is accessible and inclusive.
With creativity, energy and optimism, we set our sights on altering perceptions, behaviours and structures by inventing strategies for social change and using new and existing tools in innovative ways.
Nothing About Us Without Us
A slogan widely adopted by disability movements worldwide, “Nothing About Us Without Us” speaks to the importance of consultation and participation of persons with disabilities in any decision making that affects them.