Committee on Access & Disability: Call for Members

Are you a disabled student? Do you want to get involved in accessibility and disability work? Join WUSA’s Committee on Access and Disability (CAD)!

CAD's main goals are to address barriers to access, improve education around disability, and serve as a resource for stakeholders and disabled students. CAD will have meetings online three times a term and coordinate via email.

You would be a good candidate if:

  • You're interested in advocacy and education work
  • You want to support other disabled students at uWaterloo
  • You're pretty savvy or well-informed about disability at uWaterloo
  • You're eager to identify problems and collaborate on solutions!

You can find more information about CAD at wusa.ca/access and send any questions to Wren at access@wusa.ca!

Basic Information

Term: September 2021 through August 2022

Hours: variable, around 5-10 hours per month (1-2 hours weekly).

Non-voting participants do not need to commit to monthly meetings or the full duration.

This role is anticipated to be remote for its full duration.

Qualifications

  • Current undergraduate student at the University of Waterloo. (Recent alums or grad students, please email us! We would still love to hear from you.)
  • Available to meet at least once per month for the duration of the role.
  • Comfortable communicating on issues related to disability.
  • Capable of dealing with sensitive information and maintaining confidentiality as indicated.
  • Comfortable identifying as a disabled student (or using similar terms), and/or demonstrates interest in matters of access, advocacy, and disability justice.

Note: This committee prioritizes contributions from students who self-identify as disabled. Disability spans a wide range of experiences, including but not limited to, learning disabilities, developmental disabilities, psychiatric/mental health disabilities, sensory disabilities, mobility disabilities, chronic pain, and chronic illness. Participants are not required to declare specific diagnoses, health or disability status, or registration with AccessAbility Services. They will be required to draw on their own lived experience and collectively seek to represent the diversity of disabled student experiences at the University of Waterloo. Policing of participants’ disability status will not be tolerated.

Key Competencies

Note: we do not expect any individual to have all or even many of these competencies -- that's the purpose of a committee! None of these competencies is a requirement.

  • Passion and motivation to advocate alongside and for disabled students
  • Able to recognize the limitations of your own identity, experiences, and perspectives
  • Knowledgeable about disability, inclusion, and equity at the University of Waterloo
  • Flexible and creative problem-solving focus
  • Skilled at providing specific, actionable, and constructive feedback
  • Experience synthesizing and drawing themes from experiences and rich data

Responsibilities

  1. To serve as the primary forum and focus group for WUSA and campus partners who wish to gather student feedback on issues of access and disability, and for the review of draft advocacy items, papers, and trainings presented by affiliates including, but not limited to, the Equity Office, OUSA, and UCRU.
  2. To identify barriers faced by disabled students at the University of Waterloo;
  3. To provide a central point of contact for disabled students who experience impacts of inequitable or discriminatory structures, policies, or conduct.
  4. To develop centralized resources and best practices regarding disability in post-secondary institutions.
  5. To propose policy stances, from time to time, to WUSA and Students' Council on issues of major and ongoing concern to students.
  6. To inform advocacy for policy changes at all levels, from classrooms and faculties, to University and community-wide services, and at all levels of government.
  7. To collaborate with individuals and groups doing allied disability-centred work across the post-secondary education space.

Application Information

To apply, please submit a short blurb indicating your interest in joining the committee as either a voting member or non-voting participant (non-voting participants do not need to commit to monthly meetings) and your endorsement of the Norms and Policies (available at wusa.ca/access).

If you would like to join as a voting member, please indicate your faculty affiliation (i.e., what faculty are you enrolled in?) and any affiliation with a satellite or AFIW campus student society (i.e., the Colleges, GBDA, Pharmacy, or Architecture).

Blurbs should ideally be between 150 to 500 words (no longer than 750 words) and answer the following questions:

  • Why do you want to join the Committee on Access & Disability (CAD)?
  • What skills, insights, and experiences can you bring to the Committee?
  • What do you think the priorities of this Committee should be?
  • In your ideal world, what would access and disability justice look like at the University of Waterloo?

After carefully considering these questions, your blurb should be sent via email from your uWaterloo account to access@wusa.ca with the subject line "Joining Committee on Access & Disability".

We invite people to be fully themselves in this space – please share the name(s) and pronoun(s) you’d like to have used for you if you feel comfortable doing so.

Norms

The Members endorse and work to enact the Mission, Vision, Values, and Norms of the Committee.

  1. Maximize access: We will aim to be maximally inclusive in our processes, practices, and outputs, even as some access needs may conflict or not be feasible within the capabilities of this Committee. We affirm the importance of flexibility and creativity as foundations of disability work.
  2. Assume good intent: We will seek to deliver and interpret contributions as charitable and constructive, rather than argumentative or dismissive.
  3. Capabilities vary: We recognize that disability is not necessarily stable or predictable; as such, we seek to make space for participants to show up and engage in whatever ways work for them.
  4. Trauma-informed: We recognize the often traumatic or otherwise distressing nature of experiences participants may bring to their work related to disability. We seek to cultivate a space that responds to the needs of members to promote full and equitable participation without limiting difficult topics off-limits for the Committee as a whole.
  5. Epistemic humility: We recognize that our own experiences and expertise are not all-encompassing or complete, nor can they be. We seek to embrace, rather than conceal, our fallibility and take up the good-faith constructive criticism of other participants.
  6. Action orientation: We will orient motions, discussions, and action items towards practical change, as problem definition, solution generation, implementation, or evaluation & review.
  7. Solidarity: We focus on improving conditions for disabled people in all their/our embodiments and experiences. We will not tolerate discussion on who “really counts” as disabled, attempt to group or delineate disabled people based on functioning or needs, and instead consider disabled students as “a group bound by common social and political experiences.”
  8. Respect: This is a space where forms of systemic oppression and privilege will be addressed. We align ourselves together against these things. As we create a space that challenges us, we may make mistakes and cause harm. We all exist in a society that reifies historical forms of oppression, and we all have entrenched prejudices to unlearn and ignorances to correct. We will seek to address harms as soon as possible in a spirit of community and improvement. Ignorance is understandable and welcomed; intolerance will not be tolerated.