Catching up – a day at the legislature

It’s been a long winter, with lots happening in our personal life, and not much time – or inclination – to blog. I’m hoping to catch up with a number of things now, though.

Let’s start off with my latest long blog post about a day spent advocating at the Legislature as part of an MS Society team. Click on the blog menu item or go straight to it, with this link

The Disability Diaries in The Guardian

What a great read the Disability Diaries are! I find myself amazed that there were so many experiences that were exactly the same as mine, and disappointed that so many of us have the same experiences, at the same time.

Sasha’s post from September 9th made me laugh! What is it with people offering advice that you never asked for and is highly inappropriate?!? I too have had a complete stranger tell me that stopping eating whole grains would lead to me leaving my wheelchair behind and walking again – and I also bite down on “oh bugger off”, and instead offer a withering “thanks”!

This had been on my reading list for far too long, and now I’ll be looking for more entries.

Federal Consultation on Transportation Accessibility

In Spring 2018, the federal government is expected to table  Canada’s first federal disability legislation, aimed at improving accessibility and inclusion for the 17% of Canadians who are disabled.

In 2017 I was invited to take part in the in-depth consultation on transportation. There were 4 people interviewed specifically relating to air travel for those who use mobility equipment. There were two parts to the constellation  – an in-depth questionnaire and a phone interview that took off from where the written submission had finished. In December, 2017, I received a copy of the results of this process. I invite you to read them at this link – it’s not hard to work out which participant I am! – and we will see if the recommendations make it into the legislation.

Technology is making huge changes

Stories like this one on CBC about a Nova Scotia woman who is now able to communicate independently for the first time in 21 years show the improvements that are being made in the lives of disabled people.  I am sure that many people who were previously thought to be unresponsive will now be shown that they were only waiting for technology to catch them up.

An excellent example of this is my friend Glenda Watson Hyatt. Glenda’s story shows great resilience in finding ways to communicate in a verbal world – check out her website and her blog to learn more about her, in her own words. Using Proloquo4Text as the sound of her voice, Glenda is now a motivational speaker – all from someone whose parents were told to have her institutionalized because she was mentally disabled. (Yep. Lots to think about there). See Glenda for yourself:

I know that my life would be considerably different without technology. It’s my gateway to the world. While I don’t use Proloquo4Text as often as Glenda, knowing that it is always with me means that I’m prepared for the increasingly regular times my speech leaves me. And, of course, it’s always there as a back-up for any presentations I have to do. The ease with which I can advocate from my bed changes the face of advocacy too – it’s not just face-to-face, verbal actions that make change. It’s open to us all.

Our #JustAsk video is a good example of all of these ideas – Glenda and I collaborated over miles, and demonstrated that we are not silent and that we can be heard.

 

Assistive Technology in the news

Two articles popped up today, both about assistive technology.

The March of Dimes has a competition in BC and another one in Calgary, offering the chance for 8 disabled people to win a tablet set up to support them. While it would be better for people to just get the technology they need for their life, this is a start.

Today, the Government of Canada launched their Accessible Technology Program. Hopefully this will lead to more technology being available to people who need it. It’s a start – I just hope that there are organizations out there that can take part in this.

The coincidence is large that this comes in the same week that Glenda and I shared our #JustAsk video, with both of us using the Proloquo4Text app on our iPads. If you haven’t seen the video yet, check us out here:

“Everyone has a sob story”

Widely reported in the Canadian media today, Minister Kent Hehr’s meeting with a group of thalidomide activists certainly didn’t go well. While the exact words Hehr used are under dispute, the campaigners certainly came away with a negative impression.

Follow this link to the CBC story to read more.