Back Doors and
BY LIZ STIMPSON
The examples and comments written here have been obtained by the writer from disabled women in colleges and universities in the Toronto area and from first-hand experience.
The barriers to a disabled woman's education range from physical to attitudinal. The University of Toronto has very few accessible buildings and this is also true of the Ontario College of Art. There are buildings on the campus of the Ryerson Technical Institute which are totally inaccessible and the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (O.I.S.E.) has no ramp. The only entrance for disabled women at O.I.S.E. is through the back door; leaving after dark poses safety hazards. Barring a disabled woman from access to an educational institution is tantamount to denying her an education of her choice, which not only denies her rights under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms but denies the letter of the Ontario Human Rights Code.
It is hard for some disabled women even to finish secondary school because few are accessible and less have integrated the need of disabled people into the curriculum. On every level, disabled women are being denied the education to which most other women are entitled. There is no excuse for this since money is made available by the government of Ontario through The Office of Disabled Persons to make buildings accessible.
Disabled women are expected to jump through hoops to get into university or college and, when confronted with inaccessibility, the stress of education begins before they even get to the classroom. For instance, a disabled woman was accepted into a journalism course, which means her fees were accepted but nobody bothered to tell her the building was inaccessible. They have refused to return her fees. The lack of compassion shown this woman is nothing less than appalling.