Publication aims to reduce stereotypes

Able magazine will launch this month to coincide with Disability Awareness Week

Justin Barath, ArtSci '11, is the co-creator of Able, a campus publication that focuses on disability issues.
Justin Barath, ArtSci '11, is the co-creator of Able, a campus publication that focuses on disability issues.

Correcting assumptions about accessibility on campus is just one aim of Disability Awareness Month.

“You just assume there’s a wheel chair ramp or an elevator but there are a lot of accessibility issues on campus,” Justin Barath, ArtSci ’11, said.

March is the fourth-annual Disability Awareness Month at Queen’s.

Barath, who has Cerebral Palsy, is a founding member of the AMS-funded publication Able that focuses on disability issues.

He was prompted to create Able last March with three other students.

Although the publication was available for pick up from the Social Issues Commission office last year, it’s not being officially launched until this month. The event will be part of Disability Awareness Month. Barath has lived in residence since enrolling at Queen’s and is currently a don.

“I’ve never experienced any sort of prejudice or judgment from other students,” he said.

Unlike some of his friends with disabilities, Barath said he’s not as limited when it comes to mobility.

“In the winter, it’s more difficult,” he said.

Disability Awareness Month aims to highlight what services are offered at Queen’s for students with disabilities, but Barath said awareness continues to be an issue.

“Even students with disabilities are not always aware of what’s available to them,” he said. “Hopefully more people will critically engage with these issues. Sure you can have an accessible washroom but if you have to go all the way across the building, that hinders accessibility.”

In October, the Journal reported that CFRC volunteer Louise Bark was unable to return to her position at the campus radio station because it wasn’t wheelchair accessible.

An accessible lift paid for by the University has since been ordered but has yet to arrive.

Barath said events for Disability Awareness Month, such as a movie night or an information fair, also help disabled students connect to a community. Without this they can sometimes feel isolated from social activities or campus clubs, he said.

“You assume you’re the only one going through these experiences,” Barath said. “The best thing you can do is reach out and find another person who deals with these issues.” Barath said personally it was a challenge.

“For me, Able was the first time I ever interacted with other students who had disabilities or experiences with disabilities and talking about disabilities. Finding a community is one of the most important things this month and these events can do.”

The upcoming awareness campaign features two new events: the Red Apple Gala, which will raise money for the Adaptive Technology Lab, an academic resource for students with disabilities; and the launch of Able.

— With files from Katherine Fernandez-Blance

For a full list of Disability Awareness Month events, see the Disability Awareness Month at Queen’s Facebook page.

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