President’s Working Committee on Disability Culture, Art, and Equity


UBC’s Presidential Working Committee on Disability Culture, Art and Equity Serves President Ono a Stylish Bow Tie on a Silver Platter

Dr. Leslie G. Roman, Professor, Educational Studies, co-chairs with Dr. Neil Guppy, Professor, Sociology, the President’s Working Committee on Disability Culture, Art and Equity with several other leading scholars, graduate students, and staff who see disability culture, art and equity as interwoven threads with the potential to disrupt conventional stereotypes about disabilities and non-normative embodiments such as wheel-chair use, non-visual learning, madness, and other physical impairments. The President’s Working Committee on Disability Culture, Art and Equity has a refreshing mandate and approach. It turns away from the deficit understandings of people with disabilities or stereotypes of pity, tragedy and criminality towards an arts-based and creative understanding of disabilities as valued differences on our campus and in our lives. The question is what can be learned from people with disabilities? How can UBC support the access of students, faculty and staff to the built environment but also to the arts, culture, and creative-meaning of images that speak from the lived experiences of students, faculty and staff and other members of the diverse disability community? Disability rights are human rights and the art, culture and aesthetics of living well and gloriously with a disability also must be figured as part of the equity story. Rights’-based accessibility issues are also artful and aesthetic questions. They work together, arts and rights.

The mandate of the President’s Working Committee on Disability Culture, Art and Equity is:

  • to identify the barriers faced by people with disabilities on UBC’s campuses and seek ways of removing such barriers;
  • to develop strategies for raising awareness of disability among all members of the UBC community and beyond;
  • to support learning and research in this area;
  • to encourage development of cultural and artistic expression by people with disabilities, and solicit proposals for cultural projects; and
  • to explore ways of raising funds in support of such projects.

With this in mind, many on this committee have embarked on a cluster application exploring the a/r/tographies of Access particularly of youth to amplify and shed light on the themes of the Honorable Carla Qualtrough’s Federal Canada-wide accessibility consultation. Our proposal queries what access and inclusion mean to diverse groups of youth with disabilities in Canada as situated in the context of local and global disparities. How can a/r/tographies by youth with disabilities help all us imagine a world in which disabled people are leading active equitable lives with voices which are heard and respected– whose access to the 1) built environment, 2) education, 3) wage work, 4) health care, and 5) creative artistic practice is unfettered and 6) whose cultural contributions enter the mainstream through public pedagogies, disability arts and culture to challenge and transform misguided stereotypes, curricula, policies and legislation.


Staging Disability Culture, Art and Equity at UBC; New Presidential Working Committee Members Commended by President Ono

Committee members in photo, left to right:

  • Monica Kay, Director, Conflict Management, Equity and Inclusion Office
  • Professor William McKellin, Assistant Professor, Anthropology
  • Rumana Monzur, J.D. Candidate 2017, Peter A. Allard School of Law; Student Representative, UBC Vancouver
  • Dr. Ruth Warick, Ph.D., Senior Accessibility Advisor, Access and Diversity
  • Professor Blye Frank, Professor and Dean, Faculty of Education (not on the committee but a supporter of the Committee’s mandate and work)
  • Professor Santa J. Ono, President and Vice-Chancellor, UBC
  • Professor Leslie G. Roman, Professor, Educational Studies
  • Jessica La Rochelle, Lhkwemiya, B.A., Assistant Director, NITEP; Manager, Indigenous Education
  • Professor Kirsty Johnston, Associate Professor, Theatre and Film
  • Professor Jonas-Sébastien Beaudry, Assistant Professor, Peter A. Allard School of Law

Other vital members of the Working Committee not able to attend the photo shoot are:

  • Janet Mee, Director, Access and Diversity
  • Tom Patch, former AVP Equity, Chair, City of Vancouver Advisory Committee on Disability
  • Jon Breen, Ph.D. Candidate, Social Work
  • Professor Matthew Rader, Assistant Professor, Creative Writing and Critical Studies, UBC Okanagan
  • Professor Rachelle Hole, Associate Professor, Social Work, UBC Okanagan
  • Professor Tim Stainton, Professor, Social Work; Founder and Director, Centre for Inclusion and Citizenship
  • Jewelles Smith, CYMHSU Collaborative, Project Lead (Child & Youth Mental Health and Substance Use), Revelstoke, BC
  • Professor Tal Jarus, Professor, Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy, Faculty of Medicine