Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder is an invisible disability, says drama student Nadia Gill. Her three-pronged approach to destigmatize ADHD earned her an award in the Innovative Designs for Accessibility (IDeA) competition.
Sponsored by Universities Canada, the competition encourages university students to develop innovative, practical, and cost-effective solutions to address barriers and challenges for people with disabilities.
Gill’s project took third place in the category “Attitudinal/Systemic Barriers.” She proposed to drive dialogue on the issue by means of:
- a social media campaign to spread awareness about ADHD;
- a seminar series for students, educators, and staff to enhance their knowledge; and
- a permanent resource hosted by a university on a web platform to act as an information hub for anyone looking to learn more.
Diagnosed with ADHD herself after she began post-secondary studies, Gill learned about the IDeA contest through a post on the UWindsor Instagram account.
“I thought it would be a great opportunity to bring awareness to the university level,” she says. “And I do have the lived experience.”
She believes the project has the potential to foster a more inclusive campus environment.
“The neurotypical brain and the neurodivergent brain are two different things,” Gill says. “Providing a platform for awareness will help to build that understanding and appreciation for the unique traits they possess.”
Her hope that it can be implemented finds support from Cherie Gagnon, accessibility manager in the UWindsor Office of Human Rights, Equity and Accessibility.
“What I liked about the project is that it deals with attitudinal barriers that prevent full participation for people who are neurodiverse,” Gagnon says. “As the University thinks more about EDI, neurodiversity needs to be part of the conversation.”
She says she likes that the project calls for leadership by people with lived experience, and is practicable in the near term.
“We are looking at a couple of options to implement elements of the project in the upcoming academic year,” says Gagnon. “When the project wraps up in the spring, we will have some permanent resources to continue supporting the campus community for years to come.”
Carla Qualtrough, federal minister of employment, workforce development, and disability inclusion, congratulated all the competition winners.
“The commitment to create more inclusive and accessible communities is impressive and inspiring as we witness what can be accomplished when we work for and with persons with disabilities,” she said. “Addressing physical, systemic and attitudinal barriers is critical as we pursue a truly accessible Canada.”