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OCAD U researcher explores drawing as a way to process change after brain injury

Josephine Guan’s 2022 graduate thesis in the Inclusive Design program at OCAD University focuses on the use of drawing as a healing form of expression following a brain injury.  

Prompted by her own experience after a bike accident at a busy intersection in Toronto’s Chinatown neighbourhood, Guan’s research is, in part, a way to reshape her own identity after being diagnosed with post-concussive syndrome.  

“After a few years of recovery, I am in no way back to before, but I am not limited by my impairments either. Where does this leave me? How can I process what I went through to move forward?” asks Guan in the introduction of her thesis document, which can be read online.  

“Through the lens of the Inclusive Design program I came to realize that although I had impairments, much of the internal struggle I had experienced was due to society’s inability to accommodate. I had always felt like I needed to fully recover or return to my previous self in order for life to continue. Why do I have to adjust to fit my environment, instead of the other way around?” she continues.  
 
These questions are also at the centre of National AccessAbility Week, which runs in Canada from May 29 to June 4 this year. The event highlights the work of individuals like Guan, organizations and communities who are removing barriers for people with disabilities while reflecting on Canada’s ongoing efforts to become a better, more accessible and disability inclusive country. 

One in five Canadians have a disability. Brain injury is often an invisible disability in that its effects are not obviously manifested on the physical body. Injuries to the brain have the potential to affect cognition, sensory processing, communication, social behaviour, as well as overall social, mental and physical wellbeing. 

“Brain injury impacts our communication, specifically our ability to verbalize things so drawing was a good way to supplement traditional one-on-one interviews. By mailing blank postcards to participants and asking them to respond to certain prompts I got a really good understanding of how different people experience a change in their identity and relationship after brain injury,” Guan explains. Participants' drawings can be viewed on a website Guan has created.

The use of artistic methods including storytelling, dance and drawing in health as a therapeutic intervention has become increasingly popular in the past 20 years, especially where patients experience conditions that threaten or alter their lives. For Guan’s research, she asked participants to use drawing as a way to express and reflect on their experiences.  

“It is prudent that disability is not only dealt with by the individual, but by all levels of the system. This is not to discount the importance of medical research to innovate on treatments to improve quality of life for people, but our shared meaning around disability and identity need to be challenged as our society is shifting to embrace diverse human ability.” 

Guan was recognized with a 2022 OCAD University Medal in the Inclusive Design program for her research. Since completing her graduate degree Guan continues her practice as a researcher, illustrator and designer. She is currently working as a research assistant in the Department of Aging, Health, and Society at McMaster University. 

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During National AccessAbility Week we look at Josephine Guan’s thesis that applies the arts in health research.
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Work SMARTER, not HARDER

At Session 1, learn about strategies and techniques to up your academic gains

We will be joined by D.J. Cunningham, the CEO of LEARNstyle, to share his learning journey and how he gained confidence and experienced success using assistive technology. This session will provide you with an introduction to the role assistive technology can play in your learning journey and set you up to attend our future sessions on assistive technology as it relates to specific academic tasks, such as organization and time management and idea generation.

Student Accessibility Services (SAS) is excited to invite you to the kickoff of a series of workshops we will be presenting over the Fall 2021 and Winter 2022 terms presented in partnership with LEARNstyle (https://learnstyle.com). The goal of these sessions is to introduce you to assistive technology and how it can support you in meeting your academic goals.

When: Tuesday, October 5th, 2:00PM-3:00PM
Where: MS Teams Meeting

Email sas@ocadu.ca to RSVP. Once you RSVP you will receive a MS Teams meeting link. We look forward to having you join us!

Please email sas@ocadu.ca if you have any questions, or accommodation or access requests.

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Teams Meeting
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sas@ocadu.ca
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Digital Screen
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Student Accessibility Services (SAS) is excited to invite you to the kickoff of a series of workshops we will be presenting over the Fall 2021 and Winter 2022 terms presented in partnership with LEARNstyle (https://learnstyle.com). The goal of these sessions is to introduce you to assistive technology and how it can support you in meeting your academic goals.

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Work SMARTER, not HARDER
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SAS is starting up Live Chat with your Accessibility Advisor.  On Tuesdays and Thursdays from 1 to 2pm, your Accessibility Advisor will be available on Microsoft Teams for a drop-in chat to answer any brief questions you may have.   

In the private Chat section, select the New Chat icon, and add the name of your Accessibility Advisor (Chelsea Good, Moira Ruthralingam, or Victoria Bacnis) to begin chatting with them.  If your advisor feels that the discussion would be better suited for a longer dedicated meeting, or if they are already at capacity during the session, they will arrange an alternative date/time to support you. 

Your Teams messages will only be responded to during the drop-in period of Tuesdays and Thursdays from 1 to 2pm.  For inquiries outside of this time, please contact your Accessibility Advisor via e-mail.

If you are unsure who your Accessibility Advisor is, you can contact sas@ocadu.ca to ask. 

We hope to chat with you soon!

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Tuesdays and Thursdays from 1pm to 2pm, Accessibility Advisors are available for a drop-in live chat.
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Join us for this free webinar that examines inclusion risks and opportunities of AI, Smart Systems and Automation in Employment. Panelists include:

  • Chancey Fleet, Data Society
  • Anhong Guo, U Michigan
  • Ben Tamblyn, Microsoft
  • Shari Trewin, IBM
  • Future of Work Study Group Member

This is a free, accessible webinar. Registration is required. Register now to save your spot!

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Zoom Online Webinar
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Free
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wecount@inclusivedesign.ca
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Don't miss out on the free accessible webinar, "Risks and Opportunities of AI, Smart Systems and Automation for Employment of Persons with Disabilities" on Tuesday, Nov 3, at 1:30-3 PM (EST), and participate in this timely discussion with our fantastic panelists:

  • Chancey Fleet, Data Society
  • Anhong Guo, U Michigan
  • Ben Tamblyn, Microsoft
  • Shari Trewin, IBM
  • Future of Work Study Group Members

Register now for this free, accessible webinar!

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