A Greater Victoria student is being honoured for his dedication to helping others and making the world a more accessible place for all.
Shane Baker’s work to engage students through sharing circles and his help in creating a citation guide for students with visual impairments, all while completing Camosun College’s Indigenous studies diploma program, has earned him this year’s B.C. Lieutenant Governor’s Medal for Inclusion, Democracy and Reconciliation.
Legally blind due to a previous brain injury, Baker self-advocated for full inclusion throughout his course work at Camosun. Over the past two years, he has worked with faculty and support staff in the college’s Centre for Accessible Learning on several projects to understand, identify and remedy accessibility-related barriers some students face on campus.
Before his time at Camosun, Baker was working at local Indigenous youth conferences, speaking to addiction, mental health, identity and the importance of culture.
“I knew for my career that I wanted to continue working with youth and walk with them on their path,” Baker said in a statement.
He started at Camosun in September 2017, taking the two-year program over three years.
“My first year was really challenging. I didn’t know anyone on campus, the college felt huge, I was feeling sensory overload and having accessibility issues with my course documents,” he explained.
In his second year, he started making connections with Indigenous education advisors and instructors as well as staff in the library and the Centre for Accessible Learning. “I worked with them to make student course packs OCR (optical character recognition) recognizable, to help future students with visual impairments. My mom always taught me to ‘speak up and use my voice.’”
Invited to be a speaker at Camosun’s 2019 Walls Optional education conference, he shared stories of his daily experiences, such as having to carry his garbage home because the difference between recycling and garbage bins wasn’t clear.
As a result of his experiences, he worked with library staff to create an American Psychological Association (APA) citation guide for people with visual disabilities.
In 2019, Baker was also hired as part of Camosun’s research team to work on the school’s universal design for learning project. He suggested students be engaged in sharing circles instead of traditional focus groups, and under his guidance, the project effectively ran dozens of sharing circles with students.
“I’m proud of the changes I helped make and of the role I played in affecting diversity and inclusivity on campus,” he said.
Camosun president Sherri Bell congratulated Baker for receiving this prestigious medal. “Baker is an outstanding Camosun student and his rich contributions to the college community make him a most worthy recipient of the B.C. Lieutenant Governor’s Medal for Inclusion, Democracy and Reconciliation … We congratulate Shane on all of his accomplishments and are excited to stay in touch with him as his future unfolds.”
Baker plans to continue his studies at the University of Victoria and hopes to eventually return to Camosun as an instructor.
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