It is my pleasure to introduce you to Shane and Melissa, our student partners in the UDL Project, Phase 2.

In addition to the academic and leadership skills and strengths they bring to this project, Shane and Melissa both have their own lived experiences with accessibility-related challenges at college.

Camosun Visual Arts student, Andrew Fryer, is the artist behind Shane’s and Melissa’s illustrations.

 ↓ An audio version of Shane’s Story is also available

Shane. CC BY-NC-NDMy name is Shane. I’m in the Indigenous Studies Diploma program at Camosun.

As a student with physical disabilities, I’ve faced some challenges in my classes and in accessing services around the college. I use screen-reading software to access information, but I often encounter content that is either not accessible to a screen-reader or is only available on paper – a format that is completely invisible to me.

I ask for different formats every term and any other time I need them, but sometimes those take time to produce or there isn’t anyone who knows how to give that to me when I need it. When I can’t access the content I need, I get behind in my courses or I miss out on critical information that other students can access.

I’ve worked with some staff and instructors who are really supportive, but I’d really just like to have access to the same information that other students get without having to ask for special assistance.

That’s part of my accessibility story. What’s yours?

 Audio version of Shane’s Story (MP3):

 ↓ An audio version of Melissa’s Story is also available

Melissa. CC BY-NC-NDMy name is Melissa and I am 24 years old. I have a Bachelor’s Degree in Elementary Education and I am currently working on a Master Degree in Special Education.

I’ve been diagnosed with mild cerebral palsy and epilepsy. The cerebral palsy affects my fine motor and gross motor skills, making everyday tasks somewhat difficult. My epilepsy is controlled with medication, but most days I still have several small partial seizures in my face.

Being able to interact with my classmates or buddy-up for things that require fine motor skills is a useful strategy for me. I can get tired easily, so being allowed to work at my own pace or doing work in small chunks works well for me. Also, if I am having a bad day in regards to my epilepsy, it helps a lot if I can work on my studies at alternate times or in alternate locations.

I think that one of the biggest challenges for me is that due to my disabilities, many people tend to underestimate me and prejudge what I can and cannot do. I try very hard and I have been able to excel in school when I am set up with what I need to succeed.

Outside of school, I love karate and I just have one belt left before I will earn an adapted black belt.

That’s part of my accessibility story. What’s yours?

 Audio version of Melissa’s Story (MP3):