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Transformational, not transactional

Memorial, Blundon Centre celebrates 30 years of accessibility services

Student Life

By Jennifer Batten and Cameron Bennett

Supporters and partners of the Glenn Roy Blundon Centre (Accessibility Services) came together recently to honour the recipients of this year’s Blundon Awards and the centre itself as it marks its 30th anniversary.

An ASL interpreter signing and a woman at a microphone and podium.
At right, Hannah Blundon reflects on her great uncle Glenn Roy Blundon’s legacy at the 2022 Blundon Awards event on Nov. 2.
Photo: Rich Blenkinsopp

Founded in 1992, the Blundon Centre on Memorial’s St. John’s campus is named after alumnus Glenn Roy Blundon of Bay de Verde, N.L., a tireless advocate and leader who was committed to equality and correcting accessibility issues.

Mr. Blundon passed away in 1984. The Blundon Centre has continued his legacy by providing services and programs that enable all students with disabilities to maximize their educational potential.

Among those in attendance at the celebration were members of the Blundon family, community partners, faculty, members of the leadership team, staff and students.

Mr. Blundon’s great niece, Hannah, reflected on her uncle’s legacy and his unwavering commitment to addressing accessibility needs on campus three decades ago.

“My first memory of Uncle Glenn was through a photo from a campaign he developed to show how inaccessible Memorial used to be,” said Ms. Blundon. “In the image, he was sitting in his wheelchair at the bottom of a set of stairs. The photo was captioned ‘What would you do now?’ Whenever I’d visit my great nan’s house, the home he grew up in, I’d admire this photo … it spoke volumes.”

The Blundon Centre grew out of Mr. Blundon’s commitment to addressing the barriers he faced so that other students could learn in an accessible and safe environment.

“[Uncle Glenn] gave his whole heart and soul to the development of this project.” — Hannah Blundon

When the centre opened, it served just 32 students.

Today, the centre is on track to support more than 1,900 students this fall.

“With the help of his peers and some administrators, Glenn created MOD 2, the second coming of Memorial’s Organization for the Disabled,” said Ms. Blundon. “Through MOD 2, Glenn and his team advocated for accessibility services for students, such as wheelchair-accessible dorms, the taping and transcription of lectures, and so much more. He gave his whole heart and soul to the development of this project.”

Awards

The Blundon Awards are awarded to an individual or group who has demonstrated commitment to disability inclusion, equity and accessibility at Memorial’s St. John’s campus.

Three people stand in front of a grey and felt panelled wall, with the middle person holding a glass award.
From left are Drs. Donna Hardy Cox, Paul De Decker and President Vianne Timmons.
Photo: Rich Blenkinsopp

Dr. Paul De Decker of the Department of Linguistics, Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, is the recipient of the Glenn Roy Blundon Award; the School of Graduate Studies is the recipient of the Blundon Teaching and Learning Award; and the Centre for Innovation in Teaching and Learning is the recipient of the Blundon Leadership in Institutional Change Award.

Evolution of the Blundon Centre

The Blundon Centre has transformed greatly over the past several years.

The philosophy and practice at the Glenn Roy Blundon Centre constantly aims to provide a transformational experience as opposed to simply a transactional one.

The centre’s shift has included promoting practices related to universal design in education and the social model of disability. The centre was also renovated in 2018 to better accommodate students with all kinds of needs.

“Memorial is dedicated to providing education to all students, regardless of any barriers they may face, and the incredible work being done at Blundon is a testament to that,” said President Vianne Timmons. “I would like to thank all current and past employees who help meet the complex needs of people in various circumstances. Congratulations to the Glenn Roy Blundon Centre on 30 years of supporting accessibility for students with disabilities at Memorial.”


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