By Elizabeth Kane

Anna-Karina Tabuñar is the first student to graduate with Carleton’s new Specialization in Accessibility. The Master of Arts (History) student came to Carleton with an established career – as a journalist and founder of a communications agency.

“My professional work has been steeped in disability and inclusion for the past decade,” she says. It has been informed by her experience living with a disability after she developed a rare variant of Guillain-Barre syndrome.

Anna-Karina Tabuñar is the first master’s student to graduate with Carleton’s new Specialization in Accessibility

During the pandemic, she was drawn to the emerging issue of reintegration of employees that suffered from long COVID.

“I wanted to be able to study this issue so that I could better serve my clients with a deeper understanding of an emerging cohort of employees.” says Tabuñar.

In her search for the right academic fit, Tabuñar came across Carleton’s new collaborative specialization.

“I found out that Carleton was offering this great program that would include critical disability studies and inclusive design,” she says. “I thought: This is exactly what I want to do.”

Her final research project involved the Ottawa Hospital Rehabilitation Centre, which was running one of the first long COVID rehabilitation programs in Canada. Her project documented and analyzed the evolution of the program, as well as the societal factors and medical histories that shaped its roll-out.

“It’s very important to shift the conventional notion of disability as a static, stable, visible condition,” she says. “In fact, the majority of people with disabilities have dynamic and invisible disabilities which shape the ways they work and function.”

Her studies helped to complement her work outside of academia. Tabuñar  recently concluded an independent research project commissioned by Accessibility Standards Canada exploring episodic disabilities in the federal public service.

“This final report can help inform accessibility standards and impact federal departments, organizations and federally-regulated industries,” says Tabuñar.

As she prepares to leave Carleton, she underscores the importance of everyone in the community taking an active role in accessibility—both on and off campus.

“Accessibility is not just about building a ramp,” says Tabuñar. “Accessibility is the everyday actions that show Carleton is living the values of being one of the most accessible universities in Canada.”

Monday, June 17, 2024 in , , ,
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