Eli Ridder | Report
A student with a visual impairment at the University of Guelph-Humber is being promoted for finding solutions on campus and inspiring other students in an article posted on the university website.
The student, Christopher Schiafone, shared the story on his social media on Friday, but it was not immediately clear when the Guelph-Humber article was initially posted.
Despite his impairment creating obstacles in his academic life, the third-year psychology student has “found many creative solutions that have allowed him to thrive at [Guelph-Humber] and beyond,” reads the article posted on the university website.
“He has now been invited to share those insights at the Canadian Psychological Association’s 80th annual CPA National Convention, the largest convention of its kind in Canada, taking place May 31 to June 2 in Halifax.”
Schiafone and his brother, Media Studies alumnus Brandon Schiafone, will together lead a discussion forum with educators based around their abstract, titled “Understanding the Needs of Disabled Students” — though none of the solutions are mentioned in the article.
“Our goal with this discussion is to educate faculty from across the country on ways that they can make course materials and learning more accessible to students with disabilities,” Schiafone said.
“Not everybody has had the experience of having a totally blind student in their class. They do not necessarily know the ways in which they have to adapt things. So I’ve made it my goal and my job to educate people on how best to provide an education in an adaptive way.”
The psychology student is not the only individual who has experienced accessibility struggles on campus. Monica Khosla, when initially running for president of IGNITE in 2018, campaigned on a platform largely focused on improving accessibility supports on campus.
Earlier this year, Khosla ran accessibility focus groups that were not well-attended in person — only 14 went to three across different campuses — but there was a significant response via online surveys with 558 respondents.
She ran for re-election aiming to improve campus accessibility, explaining that she had managed to add a button in a Humber College North Campus building but not much more, yet. The president explained there was more to come in improvements as she heads into an unprecedented second term.
The Guelph-Humber student and Khosla are not alone in their struggle to improve accessibility for those with impairments or disabilities on campus as last year there was a group of students that aimed to have an “accessibility day” at Guelph-Humber.
Sources, speaking on background, told The Avro Post that they attempted over the course of last year to hold the event which would bring in speakers and promote awareness for improving what they saw were poor conditions for those hindered.
The group’s plans were halted by Student Life at the university because the department would not give them the event space because they were not a sanctioned group on campus.
Image of the University of Guelph-Humber from The Avro Post.