Students for Barrier-Free Access and a Game-Making Deathmatch

I’ve got two things for you that pertain to this, oh yes, this week. First, Students for Barrier-Free Access! Second, the Game Design and Development Club‘s yearly contest… thing!

A failed* Robarts run last Thursday caused me to be a little tardy for class, so I cut through Sid Smith. Lo, I came across a table. People, with cookies, were seated behind said table, and I told said kind people with said cookies seated behind said table that I would tell you about their organization, Students for Barrier-Free Access!

So, Students for Barrier-Free Access is a student-run organization that represents U of T students with disabilities. They deal with accessibility issues, raise awareness regarding the conditions and issues facing disabled students on campus, as well as provide resources for them and education for all.

Public spaces generally – and unconsciously – cater to people without disabilities, so constant vigilance** is needed to ensure all of our students can function at school (“function” sounds robotic, but to me it just means “do things with headaches”). SBA also holds student events and workshops (e.g., they recently had a movie night), and hey, they’ve got a couple of cool ones coming up that you should check out.

Often, when it comes to disabled persons, abled persons such as myself sometimes only see the obvious physical accessibility problems they face, if we even see that. The need for accessibility goes beyond ramps and bigger washrooms. Barrier-free doesn’t just mean the physical barriers. We also have to consider the needs of students who are hearing, visually or speech impaired; who have illnesses or injuries that can be an impediment; who have a mental impairment or developmental disability; or who have a learning disability.

When it comes to groups like SBA, I think there is also the issue of meeting and communicating with other students who are in a similar position, or who at least understand what it is like to face issues of accessibility everyday. Other students that… well, the only phrase I can think of it, “get it”. I can’t really speak for students with disabilities (although I’d love to write more about this issue, I just… have to finish this post in 20 minutes!), but that is what I imagine the social aspect would address in some way, to some extent. In any case, there is still a lot of work to be done in order for individuals who happen to be part of “minority groups” that “deviate” from the “norm” to go through a day without getting a group-based headache.

If you are interested in this group, go to their pub night this Friday (the 12th)! It’s at 8 pm, at the Fox and the Fiddle (280 Bloor St W). During Reading Week, they will be offering a free St. John’s Ambulance CPR course (for the winter term). It’s free, it’s life-saving, and for another financial incentive, knowing CPR can open up a few job opportunities. That and it’s life-saving.

The SBA’s office is located at 215 Huron St (office 924), and hours are on Thursdays, from 9 am to 5 pm. They have a large variety of assistive hardware and software, as well as a lounge area, study room and peer mentors, among other things.

That’s the first thing. Hopefully that wasn’t too obtuse; in all likelihood I’ll write about it again.


Yes. The Game Design and Development Club is starting its Game Making Deathmatch this week. The official start date is Feb 11 and it ends March 4. Make a playable video/computer game based on a given theme and you could win wonderful things that may or may not be video games. It’s 10 bucks to participate (only so the group can afford said prizes), and the last day to enter is this Thursday! All the rules and the entry form are here. However, to enter, you have to be, or at least have in your group-of-people-entering, a registered U of T student. Programming knowledge is not required. There are plenty of (free!) game-making tools available on the glorious internet (for free!).

If you are, by for some miraculous reason, unfettered by readings and assignments you are “going to catch up on,” this is one way to be creative for no reason during Reading Week. Video/computer games are fairly… comprehensive projects; you code it (or pseudo-code it with a game-maker program), you add the images, you add the sounds, you fix everything that breaks during programming (because it will break during programming), you fix all the images because they aren’t the proper resolution, you run it a thousand times, the game itself has to make sense…  If you can plan one out and see it to completion, your thousands of tuition dollars spent on “critical thinking skills” are paying off. I’m serious.

The theme for this year will be unveiled at this Thursday’s meeting! It will be a non-sequitur. At least, it will be from our perspective, because it could literally be anything. So, come if you’re interested! If you can’t attend, you can leave your registration form at the CSSU office.

(Since we were just discussing accessibility, I dare someone to make a game that only requires one sense. That is not vision. Or taste. Or smell. It is clear where this is going. How do video games relate to equity? That would be the tangent of the century.

That’s all. I should really add something to make this post… timeless. But, Mom told me to live in the present. Terrible advice.

So, there’s some stuff for this week. If you don’t like it, find something else that’s cool to do… this week. DO IT UP, CHILDREN.

– Liesl

*Although I found this on the floor.

** [insert witty Harry Potter joke]

1 comment on “Students for Barrier-Free Access and a Game-Making Deathmatch

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *