MacPherson zine project seeks to create a vibrant space for students and alumni with disabilities

A piece of magnetic poetry with the word

Image from: LQ – from This Insane Life: MadStudents zine, 2014

The MacPherson Institute is looking for student and alumni submissions for a zine about disability, accessibility, teaching and learning at McMaster.

Current and past students with lived experiences of disability are invited to respond to one or more prompts using written or visual formats that can be printed. These include creative arts, like drawing, painting, collage or graphic design, written pieces, or other submissions such as puzzles, games or recipes.

“This project seeks to create a vibrant space for diverse current and former McMaster University students with disabilities to express and share their powerful perspectives and experiences in a range of creative and literary formats,” says Alise de Bie, one member of MacPherson zine team. “The zine will amplify this wisdom and knowledge to inform teaching and learning practices.”

“Disability” is a broad umbrella term, organizers say, and can include people who:

  • Live with a physical, learning, sensory or developmental disability, or with chronic pain
  • Experience mental health concerns or identify as Mad
  • Are disabled, chronically ill, sick or immunocompromised
  • Are Deaf (sign language users), deaf (those who use English as their first language) or hard of hearing
  • Are in recovery
  • Are neurodivergent

“The presence of students with disabilities, chronic illness, mental health concerns, and/or facing other accessibility barriers is not new at McMaster University,” says Dani Pryke, another organizer. “However, students can be made to feel this way when we are isolated from each other and from past generations of students like us.”

Organizers hope the project, which is being led by disabled students and alumni (some now working as staff), will help build community among disabled students and alumni as well as recognize students’ past and present advocacy work. They’re also planning for the zine to support professional development around accessible teaching and learning.

The zine, which builds on 50-plus years of student advocacy for greater accessibility at McMaster, aligns with other projects marking the 50th anniversary of the university’s teaching and learning centre, now called the Paul R. MacPherson Institute for Leadership, Innovation and Excellence in Teaching.

The zine will be shared widely across campus and with campus partners.

“We anticipate this project will impact contemporary disabled students’ feelings of recognition, belonging, and community on campus,” organizer Tanisha Warrier explains. “We also hope that it will validate and value the work of disabled alumni and former students, and further encourage work to enhance accessibility and disability inclusion on campus, particularly with respects to teaching and learning.”

Zine submissions are due by March 31, 2021. For more information and the submission link, go to the MacPherson Institute website.