International Day of Persons with Disabilities

Indira Naidoo-Harris is the Associate Vice-President (AVP) for the Office of Diversity and Human Rights at the University of Guelph.

December 3rd was International Day of Persons with Disabilities. This is an important time for all of us, to celebrate the many remarkable contributions and achievements of persons with disabilities in our community. It’s also an opportunity for us to re-commit to identifying and addressing barriers to success for those in our lives facing challenges.

This year’s theme is “United in action to rescue and achieve the Sustainable Development Goals for, with, and by persons with disabilities.” It’s a meaningful reminder, of the importance of learning from folks with lived experiences and using those lessons, to build an accessibility lens for a strong future for everyone.

As we face unprecedented challenges stemming from the global pandemic, the inequities in our society have become glaring and prevalent. So it’s more important now, than ever before that we work tirelessly to bridge the growing gaps in supports for equity deserving communities. Conversations about equity, diversity, and inclusion have increased dynamically– with organizations, businesses, and even governments embracing and prioritizing these important principles. As a result, we’ve seen a deeper commitment to address systemic oppression and discrimination and enact real and lasting change. The time is now, to build strong pathways to success for those facing challenges in their lives

As we work to lay the strong foundation needed for recovery, we must learn from these challenging times and work to ensure our systems, communities, organizations work for everyone. According to Statistics Canada over 8 million Canadians have a disability. To build a solid path forward, we need to bring folks with lived experiences to the decision-making tables and work together to identify and address barriers to full, equal, and meaningful participation for everyone.

I want you to know, that at the University of Guelph, we work every day to create a culture of inclusion to eliminate barriers to success for our students, faculty, and staff. It’s hard work, because the challenges can be enormous. But it’s important work, because we believe that education must be accessible for everyone. As our Commitment to Accessibility Statement and our 2022-2027 Strategic Plan: Our Time outlines, U of G strives to create an accessible, accepting learning, working, and living environment so everyone in our campus community experiences a sense of belonging.

We have highlighted our commitments, accomplishments and our goals in the Multi-Year Accessibility Plan 2022-2024 and our annual Progress Reports. And to help equip our campus family with the tools and skills they need to create stron accessible learning and working environments, we have also developed and refreshed two learning modules: Accessible Service Provision and Making Education Accessible. To learn more about the important work underway at U of G when it comes to accessibility supports visit our Accessibility Landing Page. If you have any questions or concerns regarding accessibility at U of G, contact us at

So this International Day of Persons with Disabilities, take a moment to learn more about accessibility efforts at U of G, and recommit to working together to create a U of G for everyone that we can all be proud of.

- Written by Indira Naidoo-Harris