Category Archives: SBA News & Events

Surviving Together; A Self-Advocacy Workshop for Disabled Students

Surviving Together; A Self-Advocacy Workshop for Disabled Students


Join Students for Barrier-free Access (SBA) for an informational workshop for disabled students and student advocates. Whether you are an undergraduate or graduate student, full-time or part-time, new or returning, an international or transfer student, this session is for you! Come meet other disabled students and SBA members, have a snack, and learn more about self-advocacy and resources for disabled students on campus.


Topics covered at the workshop:

– Brief introduction to disability justice

– Know Your Rights as a disabled student

– Navigating academic accommodations

– Self-advocacy tips generated by our student community

– Introduction to campus resources and services for disabled students

– Introduction to Students for Barrier-Free Access’ resources and services


Date: Wednesday September 19, 2017

Time: 3pm-5pm

Location: TBD


Free! Everyone welcome!

Wheelchair accessible.

Accessible and all-gender washroom located on the same floor as the event room.

Please note that this will be a scent-free space.

If you require ASL interpretation for this workshop please contact Nadia at by September 4, 2018.

This workshop is part of a series of events for DisOrientation 2018 Our Voices, Our Time held from Wednesday September 12 – Saturday September 30.

For more information about DisOrientation and the full schedule of events, please visit

Zine Making Workshop

Join RyeACCESS and Students for Barrier-free Access for a Zine-Making Workshop!

Participants in the workshop will have an opportunity to learn about zine making, as well as create their own. All materials will be provided. No previous experience necessary.

This workshop is open to members of the RyeACCESS community, the SBA community, and the wider Mad/Disabled community. QT BIPOC Mad/Disabled folks are centered.

This workshop is free to attend.
Food and drinks, including vegan and gluten free options, will be provided.
The workshop will be held in an accessible room.
Accessible multi-stall and single stall all gender washrooms are located on the same floor as the event space.
Please arrive to the event fragrance free.

55 Gould St, Toronto ON. M5B 1E9. Margaret Laurence Room, 2nd Floor.



Take a break from exams with SBA!

Join us on Friday, April 20th for an afternoon of group painting. No artistic experience is required.
Come by to unwind, make new friends and contemplate the life that awaits you post-exams!
If painting isn’t for you, feel free to stop by anyway for snacks and conversation!

This is a drop-in event, late-comers are welcome!

Friday, April 20th, 2018

SBA Centre
215 Huron Street, Room 924 (9th floor)

The SBA Centre is an accessible venue. A single-user all-gender accessible washroom is located on the same floor as the SBA Centre.

The SBA Centre is a scent-free space. Please arrive to the event fragrance-free.

Please contact Nadia at with any questions, concerns or access needs.

FB Event page

Communities of Care; DIY Care Kits

Communities of Care; DIY Care Kits

Join Students for Barrier-free Access for a low-key afternoon of snacks, conversation, and community care. We will be providing supplies, including tea, stickers, and treats, for folks to make and decorate care kitsCome by and make a care kit for yourself and/or for someone you love.

Free! Everyone is welcome!
Snacks, including vegan and gluten-free options, will be provided.

Date: Thursday, April 5th 2018
Time: 3pm-5pm
Location: SBA Centre, 215 Huron Street, Suite 924 on the 9th floor

Access Info:
The SBA Centre is an accessible venue. A single-user all-gender accessible washroom is located on the same floor as the SBA Centre.

The SBA Centre is a scent-free space. Please arrive to the event fragrance-free.

Please contact Nadia at with any questions, concerns or access needs.

READ OUR NEW OP-ED IN THE STRAND: The University-Mandated Leave of Absence is discriminatory and harmful

Students for Barrier-free Access (SBA) is an organization led by mad and disabled students at the University of Toronto, an institution located on the territories of the Huron-Wendat and Petun First Nations, the Seneca, and most recently, the Mississaugas of New Credit. SBA advocates for equity and the removal of barriers to accessing education. As a group of students located at the intersections of multiple identities, we are committed to resisting ableism and sanism, and to creating safer spaces for marginalized students on campus.

As students, community leaders, and advocates, we strongly oppose the proposed University-Mandated Leave of Absence Policy. This policy, which is informally being referred to as UofT’s new mental health policy, specifically targets students with mental health disabilities and would allow the University to place these students on a mandatory leave of absence if (1) the student’s behaviour poses “a serious risk of harm to themselves or others” or (2) if the student is deemed “unable to engage in activities required to pursue an education.” The proposed policy raises numerous concerns for disabled and mad students, and our allies.

First and foremost, the logic framing this policy seems to indicate that the University has been providing appropriate accommodations to students with mental health disabilities. The policy itself is represented as one of last resort for the University, and it claims that it would only be applicable in a small number of student cases where accommodations are not successful or feasible. However, as the 2015-2016 Report of the University of Toronto Ombudsperson clearly illustrates, appropriate accommodations are not being provided to students. In fact, the Report states that the Ontario Human Rights Guidelines on Disability and the Duty to Accommodate have been unevenly and inconsistently followed across University departments. Some academic programs were found to refuse to implement all but the most minimal accommodations for students with mental health disabilities.

Although the number of students with mental health disabilities enrolling at UofT has been rising significantly, due in large part to the advocacy work done in the disability community, the University has not matched this rise in enrolment with an increase in Disability Counsellors, Counsellors, or traditional healers. This has meant longer wait times for intake appointments at Accessibility Services and for meetings with Disability Counsellors, and unacceptable waitlists to see Counsellors for support. Given this and the findings of the Ombudsperson, the University’s proposal to place students on a mandatory and non-consensual leave without having met its obligations with respect to the Duty to Accommodate is appalling.

Another glaring problem with the proposed policy is that, contrary to the findings of numerous studies, it perpetuates the stereotype that people with mental health disabilities are prone to violence and thereby pose a risk to their communities. This perception, and its irresponsible reproduction by the University administration through a policy that targets people with mental health disabilities as a known and identifiable group, is an act of discrimination. As history and current events have repeatedly shown, it is particularly people located at the intersections of marginalized identities—racialized, queer, and trans people with mental health disabilities—who bear the brunt of these unfounded stereotypes, institutionalized discrimination, and violence. Furthermore, research has shown that people with mental health disabilities are more likely to be victims of violence than perpetrators, and that gender and age are more reliable predictors of violent behaviour than mental health disabilities.

Equally troubling is the callous approach to students with mental health disabilities should they be in distress or experiencing crisis and at risk of harming themselves. How can the University, which purports to be a community that “embraces the broadest range of people, that helps them achieve their full potential” justify evicting members who are in need of urgent support and care, who need to be embraced by their chosen community? Rather than holding space for its community members that are in crisis, the proposed policy would enable the UofT administration to remove students from their classes, their colleagues, and their student community.

Other potential impacts of this mandated leave of absence include the removal of students from campus housing and the revocation of financial assistance through programs like OSAP and the Bursary for Students with Disabilities and Canada Student Grant for Services and Equipment for Persons with Permanent Disabilities (BSWD/CSG-PDSE), as maintaining one’s student status is a condition of access to student funding and housing. Graduate students who are often employed by the University could also lose their jobs and primary source of income if placed on a mandated leave of absence. Removing financial supports for students experiencing crisis will only exacerbate their distress and increase the barriers to access that they will be facing. For international students with mental health disabilities, the policy is especially concerning, as being placed on a mandated leave could put their study permit in jeopardy.

Returning to studies after being placed on a university-mandated leave presents its own indignities. In order to be able to return to their studies, students must apply to the Vice Provost Students in writing and are encouraged to provide documentation from a healthcare practitioner attesting that they are able to return “safely” to their studies. At the discretion of the Vice Provost Students, students may be subject to a psychiatric risk-assessment or behavioural assessment, and reacceptance is in no way guaranteed.

Given the enormity of the consequences of this policy on students with mental health disabilities, the Office of the Vice-President and Provost should be concerned that it will deter students from seeking the support and guidance they may need, leaving them increasingly more isolated. Faculty and staff wanting to refer students to mental health supports may hesitate to do so for fear of reprisal on the student.

On Friday November 10th, SBA released a letter in resistance to the University-Mandated Leave Policy. As of the time of writing this Op-Ed, over 400 students, staff, and faculty have signed on, and two of five University of Toronto student unions, APUS and UTGSU, have endorsed the petition. We collectively call on the Office of the Vice-President and Provost to immediately revoke the proposed policy, to do their due diligence by engaging in a broad and in-depth consultation with disabled students and the wider disability community, to increase the mental health supports available on campus, to hire additional counsellors and traditional healers, and to increase funding and staff at Accessibility Services. The University is obligated to meet its Duty to Accommodate, and we call on UofT to do so before instituting punitive and harmful policies.

 The original article has been published in The Strand and can be found here.

The SBA’s “Re: University-Mandated Leave Policy” letter can be accessed on The Strand’s Facebook and Twitter pages, as well as at the following link.

Statement of Solidarity with UTSU Staff, Vita Carlino and Maria Galvez

Students for Barrier-Free Access at The University of Toronto- STATEMENT OF SOLIDARITY WITH UTSU Staff, Vita Carlino and Maria Galvez

The staff and board at Students for Barrier-Free Access (SBA) at The University of Toronto extend our solidarity and support with the staff of UTSU, and in particular, Vita Carlino, Previous Clubs and Service Groups’ Coordinator, and Maria Galvez, Previous Health and Dental Plan Coordinator who were unjustly laid off Tuesday May 30, 2017. The dismissal of Maria and Vita did not follow due process as outlined in the Collective Agreement between the UTSU and CUPE 1281. UTSU failed to compile with their duties as employer. We ask that Vita and Maria be reinstated into their role.

SBA stands for the right of workers to a safe working environment free of discrimination and unjust dismissal. As an organization located within the University of Toronto, fighting to remove student barriers to education we recognize that workers rights are central to sustainability and growth of the student movement. These cuts that the UTSU had made to staff positions have been ongoing (the financial coordinator position was cut and has been vacant since August 2016) and negatively affects students, particularly marginalized students (that SBA serves).

Student have a right to organize. Creating inclusive, diverse community through clubs and service groups fosters a sense of belonging which is crucial for student success at U of T. Vita’s role ensured that students had access to the information and support required to create such spaces. Clubs provide students with the possibility to create enriched/meaningful relationships with other like-minded students fostering community and collective care.

Increased cuts to student services further contributes to student poverty. By cutting Maria’s role and not having a designated person for students to navigate the health and dental plan, the UTSU has created additional barriers, particularly for low-income, disabled students in accessing proper and necessary health care during their tenure as students at the University of Toronto. The loss of Vita’s role as club’s and service group coordinator  results in a lack of transparency and coordination in the communication between the UTSU and the student service groups as the Clubs and Service Group Coordinator, through their work as a liaison and advocate, ensured that service groups like SBA were well supported and resourced in our work with marginalized students.

For more information on CUPE 1281’s Save our Staff Save our Services (SOS) campaign please visit:

In solidarity,

Students for Barrier-free Access

TRACX 2017 – What’s Left? Confronting the Alt Right

TRACX 2017 – What’s Left? Confronting the Alt Right

This year’s symposium is titled “What’s Left? Coalition-Building and Countering the Alt-Right” and will be co-hosted by the Toronto Research and Action Community Exchange collective along with Opirg Toronto and Sba Centre. The symposium portion is organized to showcase research with a community organizing focus from students, non-students and community groups. We want to problematize and challenge perspectives on research, and build networks between socially-conscious students and grassroots community organizations to develop research proposals led by the community group’s needs and priorities. We hope you can join us in helping facilitate this process as we focus on how we resist fascism, racism and oppression in our relationships, in our workplaces, and in the institutions and systems that govern our daily lives.

ASL, TTC Tokens, childminding lunch provided and gender neutral accessible washrooms available

Schedule and Location:
Sept 30 Day 1: OISE Library

11am – 1pm
Lspirg Waterloo: Fascism and the Rise of the Alt-Right; Organizing Tactics with LSPIRG

1pm – 2pm Lunch + Social

2:15pm – 3:45pm Feminist Perspectives on Resisting Infiltration: Building a Strong Security Culture by Building Strong Relationships MISN: Mining Injustice Solidarity Network

15min Break

4pm – 6pm Countering Transphobia at the University of Toronto

Oct 1 Day 2: 11am – 3pm OISE Library – 3pm – 7pm OISE Room 2214

11am – 12:30pm “Migrant Justice, Canadian Liberalism, and the Rise of Fascism” hosted by No One Is Illegal | Personne n’est illégal | Nadie es ilegal / No One Is Illegal – Toronto

12:30pm – 1:30pm Lunch + Social

1:30pm – 3pm Tkaronto Organizing Committee: “Bearing Witness” – Inside the Detention Review, A TOC intervention

3pm – 5pm The Anti-fascists – Film Launch and Panel
(Please note that this session will be held in OISE 2214)

5pm – 6pm Closing Social

Saturday and Sunday OISE Room 2205 Quiet Space and Community Fair

Hashtags: #tracx2017 #whatsleft

For inquiries around accessibility, schedules, how to propose a session and how to get involved (volunteer or join the organizing committee) email TorontoResearchActionCommunityeXchange(at)

Sponsored / Endorsed by:
APUS – Association of Part-Time Undergraduate Students
Arts and Science Students’ Union
CUPE 3903
CUPE Local 3907
OISE Graduate Students’ Association
Opirg Toronto
Opirg York
Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU)
PM Press
Sba Centre
York University Faculty Association

Peer Support Group for Graduate Students with Disabilities

The Peer Support Group for Graduate Students with Disabilities has been created to build a community for students with disabilities. Through this Peer Support Group we hope to create space for students to:

  1. meet old friends/colleagues and make new friends

  2. de-stress

  3. engage in group discussions

  4. share skills and learn new ones

  5. learn from each other’s experiences navigating grad school

  6. socialize

Peer support is a way for us to build community, share knowledge and experiences, and provide support to and connect with others who share similar struggles. Peer support extends the opportunity to take on a mentorship role, if desired. Coming together in support of each other. We hope you will join us.


Our first meeting will be Tuesday October 3rd, 2017

Location: SBA Centre Meeting Room

Time: 2:30pm-4:30pm


Please note that the SBA Centre is an accessible venue.

This peer support group is a collaboration of Disability Visibility and Students for Barrier-free Access.

Disability Visibility is an accessible, graduate student-run mentorship program. The program centres around peer mentoring with new and returning graduate students at the University of Toronto.

Students for Barrier-free Access is a student-led non-profit that centres the leadership of disabled people. We work from a Disability Justice framework and advocate for the removal of barriers to accessing postsecondary education.

QT2SBIPOC Fall Social

QT2SBIPOC Fall Social (with snacks!)
Join Students for Barrier-free Access (SBA) for a fall social for Queer, Trans and Two-Spirit, Black, Indigenous and People of Colour (QT2SBIPOC).

There will also be activities, including games, colouring and crafting. We will have snacks (including vegan and gluten free options).

Join us for the treats, stay for the amazing people!

Date: Tuesday September 26, 2017

Time: 6:30pm-8:30pm

Location: Room 207 (MultiPurpose Hall), MultiFaith Centre. The MultiFaith Centre is located at 569 Spadina Avenue. The accessible entrance to the building is off of Bancroft Avenue.

Please arrive to the event fragrance fee.

Wheelchair accessible. Accessible and all-gender washroom located on the same floor as the event room.

If you require ASL or have any other access needs, please contact Nadia at by September 11th, 2017.

***This is a QT2SBIPOC only space.***
**As always, we appreciate the support we receive from our white allies by respecting this space and by sharing this event information with their networks.**


[Image Description: Image is a white banner with pink lettering. The banner reads 'University of Toronto, Queer Orientation, September 25-30, 2017'. On the left of the text is an image of a music note, a flower and a microphone. On the right of the text is a bowtie.]


Resisting Ableism in Activism; Working Towards Inclusive Community Organizing

Resisting Ableism in Activism; Working Towards Inclusive Community Organizing

In a social justice culture where individualism and independence are privileged, and where attending lengthy or late-night meetings and participating in marches and rallies are seen as the the ultimate way of showing your support or commitment to the struggle, conversations around accessibility as a community organizing practice are rare. The failure to to take up accessibility as a practice in our activist communities reproduces the structural ableism that is prevalent in our society. This not only marginalizes disabled activists but limits our capacity as organizers to engage fully and meaningfully with our communities.

This workshop will discuss how practices of accessibility can be brought into community organizing spaces.  We will discuss the following topics:

  1. organizing accessible meetings and strategic planning sessions
  2. adopting a survivor-centred practice
  3. strategies for making protests, rallies and marches more inclusive

Time: 10:30am-12:30pm

Date: Tuesday September 19, 2017

Location: To be confirmed

Wheelchair accessible.  Accessible and all-gender washroom located on the same floor as the event room.

Please arrive to the event fragrance-free.

If you have any questions, or access needs please contact Nadia at