Giving a voice to disabled communities

Four Toronto schools have come together to create an inter-campus conference on disability

Rachel Gorman, an assistant professor at U of T, will be opening the Reclaiming Our Bodies & Minds: Intermingling Disability Communities conference. Photo provided.

Rachel Gorman, an assistant professor at U of T, will be opening the Reclaiming Our Bodies & Minds: Intermingling Disability Communities conference. Photo provided.

“The upcoming conference Reclaiming Our Bodies & Minds: Intermingling Disability Communities, will focus on the voices of disabled communities while exploring our intersecting identities that affect how each of us embody disability,” says Siva-Jeevini Sivarajah, Community Action Centre assistant at George Brown College (GBC).

The conference will be held from Feb. 27 to March 1 at the University of Toronto’s (U of T) Hart House, the Student Centre at Ryerson University and the 519 Community Centre.

According to the conference website, Rachel Gorman, an assistant professor at U of T, will be opening the conference as the keynote speaker, followed by a roundtable discussion and performances by “mad/crip-identified poets.”

“So often, mad, crip, and the voices of those with disabilities are marginalized, or don’t have the opportunity to occupy space,” says Alfea Donato the RyeACCESS co-ordinator from Ryerson University. “When it comes to discussions on race, gender, sexuality, and poverty, too often disability isn’t included.”

The conference is a result of a collaborative effort between Ryerson University, York University, U of T and GBC.

“Harvesting this type of partnership is extremely important for our growth as a college,” said Sivarajah. “It allows our students, faculty and staff to access resources, information, and knowledge that goes beyond the George Brown community. Likewise, our partners can access the vast knowledge of GBC students and staff.”

The conference’s planning committee is committed to having equity, social justice, and diversity in all their activities and encourages participation from members of diverse communities.

Audio and video technology, along with ASL interpretation and live captioning will be available for most of the formats. Registration is free of charge and will close on Feb. 13.
For more details and to register, people can visit the conference website reclaimingourbodiesandminds.wordpress.com and organizers can be contacted at reclaimconference@gmail.com.

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Giving a voice to disabled communities