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Ableism: A system of social power that both creates the social category of disability and discriminates against disabled people. Talila “TL” Lewis (2022) defines ableism as: “A system of assigning value to people’s bodies and minds based on societally constructed ideas of normalcy, productivity, desirability, intelligence, excellence, and fitness. These constructed ideas are deeply rooted in eugenics, anti-Blackness, misogyny, colonialism, imperialism, and capitalism” (para. 1). Ableism is therefore a product and a function of white supremacy and many other forms of social oppression.

Accessibility: Accessibility refers to the design of products, devices, services, or environments for people who experience disabilities. Ontario has laws to improve accessibility for people with disabilities, including the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA), the Ontario Human Rights Code, and the Ontario Building Code.

Accommodation: The inclusion of a support, device, system, or method to level the playing field and improve access for people who experience barriers (see the Duty to Accommodate section of the OHRC).

Colonialism: The historical and contemporary process of a nation or people extending their power by establishing control over another territory and/or its people. Canada is an example of settler-colonialism, which involves large-scale immigration from the dominating nation(s) to occupy the land and displace or eradicate the peoples of the colonized one.

Cisheteropatriarchy: A system of socially reproduced power in which particular masculinities are valued over and against femininities and gender deviance. Gender is presumed to follow unambiguously from biology: there are only two binary and opposed genders, and heterosexuality is perceived as the normal and natural state of being.

Cultural humility: According to First Nations Health Authority, cultural humility is “process of self-reflection to understand personal and systemic biases and to develop and maintain respectful processes and relationships based on mutual trust.” As opposed to the paradigm of cultural competence, which presumes that an outsider to a cultural reality can become an expert in it, cultural humility “involves humbly acknowledging oneself as a learner when it comes to understanding another’s experience.” In practical terms, it expects educators to include diverse cultural experiences and perspectives into their learning material, while remaining clear and transparent about their own identities and access points. 

D/deaf: A term used to include both people who identify as culturally Deaf, and those who experience hearing loss who do not necessarily identify with Deaf culture. 

Equity: Equity means supports and resources are adjusted based on learner variability (Posey & Novak, 2020). “Equity is hearing someone’s voice about what they need and providing them with that” (Emdin in Chardin & Novak, 2021, p. 61).

Racism: Individual and/or institutional actions, policies or laws that reinforce white supremacy by devaluing, discrediting, damaging, dispossessing, erasing, or destroying the languages, cultures and/or lives of Indigenous people, Black people, and other racialized people. Racism can be overt or covert, intended or unintended, and systemic regardless of the beliefs or best intentions of people participating in those systems.

Social Identity: Social identity is a part of an individual’s self-image. The term was first coined in 1979 by Henri Tajfel who described three interconnected processes associated with social identity. First is the category, which is a social definition versus a personal or individual characteristic. This is generally the way that humans organize themselves into groups, enabling an understanding of the social world. Second is the experience of identifying with things in common, although there may be several sub-identities nestled within a larger identity. Third is comparison, whereby the experience of social identity is impacted by perceived prestige and social status relative to other categories. This third process is strongly determined by society and reinforced by the ways that prestige and social status are systematized in that society.

White supremacy: A social, economic, cultural, and political system that empowers, privileges, and deputizes white people to benefit from the marginalization, exploitation, suffering, and death of Black people, Indigenous people, and other racialized people. White supremacy is central to the colonial settlement of nation-states such as Canada and continues to shape daily life in Canada in active ways.