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Accessibility. The prevention and removal of barriers (physical, attitudinal, technological, or systemic) to allow equitable participation for persons with disabilities or others who experience barriers to accessibility.

Accessible BC Act. The provincial legislation enacted in 2021 to prevent and remove barriers to accessibility for people with disabilities. It has a goal of an accessible British Columbia by 2024. The Act outlines some responsibilities for municipalities, universities, and other entities, including developing accessibility plans and establishing an accessibility committee. It allows Government to develop and implement standards (regulations) in education, the built environment, the delivery and receipt of goods and services, transportation, information and communication, and employment.

Accessible Employer. Reducing and preventing barriers in hiring, retaining, career development, and advancement for employees, and addressing employee needs with individualized, flexible accommodations.

Accessible Customer Service. Ensuring all persons have the same opportunity to seek, obtain, use or benefit from the service. Accessible services are easy for all people to use, interact with, and understand and recognizes that individuals may require a slightly different accommodation.

Access-centred. Access-centred means that accessibility is a process that is forever changing versus a static state of being. Access is a constant process that changes in each space and with each individual.

Ableism. The system of oppression that disadvantages people with disabilities and advantages people who do not currently have disabilities. Like other forms of oppression, it functions on individual, institutional, and cultural levels. Ableism is not solely about the experiences of people with disabilities as targets of discrimination, but rather about the interaction of institutional structures, cultural norms, and individual beliefs and behaviors that together function to maintain the status quo and exclude people with disabilities from many areas of society.

Barrier. Anything that hinders or challenges the full and effective participation in society. Barriers can be physical, attitudinal, technological, or systemic (policy or practice). Accessibility barriers may be related to areas such as employment, education, the built environment, transportation, the delivery and receipt of goods and services, or information and communications.

Co-construction (or collaboration). Working together in strategic collaboration for mutually beneficial results. Co-construction prioritizes the involvement of the community or group most impacted and deepens relationships and understanding between all parties and creates an environment where "learners learn from one another to further expand their knowledge based on one another's ideas and contributions.

Culturally Responsive Pedagogy (CRP). A teaching method that acknowledges the cultural knowledge, prior experiences, and frames of reference of students and uses it to make learning more relevant and effective. It ensures that students from diverse cultures have equitable opportunities and supports for success within school systems and that design is reflected in pedagogy, not just additional targeted services.

Deaf. The term “hard of hearing” is both a medical and sociological term that refers to a person whose hearing loss ranges from mild to profound and whose usual means of communication is speech. As a sociological term, “deaf” refers to those individuals who are medically deaf or hard of hearing who identify with and participate in the culture, society, and language of Deaf people, which is based on Sign language. As a medical term “deaf” refers to those who have little or no functional hearing and may also be used as a collective noun (“the deaf”) to refer to people who are medically deaf but who do not identify with the Deaf community.

Disability. A physical, mental, intellectual, learning, or sensory impairment, including an episodic disability, that, in interaction with a barrier (whether attitudinal or environmental) , hinders an individual’s full and effective participation in society.

Diversity. Diversity is typically understood as the measurable representation or presence of differences in lived experience and intersections of identities (such as race, sexuality, age, gender, ability) within a group.

Employees. Administration, faculty, and staff employed at a post-secondary institution.

Equity/Equitable Equity. Fair treatment of individuals, acknowledging and making provisions for their differences by ensuring that employment and educational processes are free from systemic barriers. Equity does not mean ignoring differences and treating everyone the same. Instead, it means recognizing and valuing differences, removing systemic barriers, and accommodating individual differences, as needed.

First Voice. First Voice perspectives generally refer to the knowledge generated by persons with disabilities and others who experience barriers to accessibility that emerges from lived experience, community connections, knowledge traditions, and scholarly activities that are typically undervalued and under-represented.

Inclusion. The process of improving the terms of participation in society, particularly for individuals or groups of individuals who are disadvantaged or under-represented, through enhancing opportunities, access to resources, voice, and respect for rights. This creates a sense of belonging, promotes trust, fights exclusion and marginalization and offers the opportunity for upward mobility, and results in increased social cohesion. Inclusion is the intentional and ongoing act of creating conditions where every community member can fulfill their potential and bring their authentic selves forward. Inclusion involves and benefits everyone. A measure of inclusion is whether systemically and historically marginalized individuals and groups share power in processes, activities, and decisions.


Meaningful access. When referring to the built environment, meaningful access is the intent to meet the needs of all users of a site (a building or outdoor space) regardless of their ability. It means that not only individual features of a site, such as an entrance or washroom, must be accessible, but the entire experience throughout.

Neurodivergent. Neurodivergent means having a brain that functions in ways that diverge significantly from the dominant societal standards of “normal”. It recognizes diverse neurologies and ways of being, as variation of human experience, rather than deficiency in need of remediation or cure. It includes those who identify with autism spectrum disorder, ADHD, Tourette’s syndrome, and dyslexia, to name a few.

Neurodiversity. The concept of neurodiversity was coined by Judy Singer, a sociologist on the autism spectrum, in the 1990s. The idea behind neurodiversity is that it is acceptable for people to have brains that function differently, and that there is no "right" way to think, learn and behave. The movement calls on society to adjust to neurodivergence (differences in brain function) rather than the other way around.

Universal Design (sometimes also called inclusive design or barrier-free design). The design and structure of an environment so that it can be understood, accessed, and used to the greatest extent possible by all people regardless of their age or ability. When universal design principles are integrated into a process in a meaningful way, the result will benefit all users. Universal design is not a fringe concern or a zero-sum game, but generative and abundant.

Universal Design for Learning (UDL). An educational approach to designing instructional goals, assessments, methods and materials, and policies that work for a diversity of learners. It employs flexible approaches that can be customized and adjusted for individual student needs.