"So many dreams at first seem impossible. And then they seem improbable. And then when we summon the will, they soon become inevitable."
~ Christopher Reeve

Monday, October 28, 2013

How we can effectively advocate for a strong and effective Accessibility for Nova Scotians with Disabilities Act *


The new Nova Scotia provincial government has promised to pass an Accessibility for Nova Scotians with Disabilities Act. Nova Scotians now must gear up to make sure this new law is passed - and that it is strong and effective.

The Canadian Council of the Blind’s Advocacy & Awareness Chapter invites you to attend an exciting public meeting to discuss creative strategies for advocating for a strong disability accessibility law for Nova Scotia. Keynote speaker is David Lepofsky, Chair of the AODA Alliance, a disability consumer advocacy group that works to support the full and effective implementation of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act.

In 2005, Ontario became the first Canadian province to pass a disabilities Act. This was the result of a tireless, tenacious 10-year campaign by Ontarians with disabilities. David Lepofsky led that campaign. He now leads the coalition that advocates to get Ontario’s disabilities Act effectively enforced. Manitoba is now about to pass its own disability accessibility law. Nova Scotia is on the road to becoming Canada’s third province to do so.

Come discover what lessons Nova Scotians can learn from the Ontario and Manitoba experience. Find out how you can help us ensure that the promised Nova Scotia accessibility law effectively addresses all disabilities and all barriers.

Date: Sunday, November 3, 2013

Time: 10 a.m. to Noon

Location: CNIB Centre, 6136 Almon St. in Halifax

RSVP: by Thursday, October 31 by calling Peter Parsons
at 453.1480 ext. 5713 or email peter.parsons@cnib.ca

David Lepofsky is a lawyer, author, lecturer, motivator and a leading advocate for disability issues and rights; he is also blind. He successfully sued the Toronto Transit Commission to force it to audibly announce all subway and bus stops. His work with men and women with disabilities, with organizations and governments led to the Ontarians with Disabilities Act 2001 and the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act 2005. He was awarded the Order of Canada in 1995 and the Order of Ontario in 2008. He has given training to people with disabilities and their supporters across Ontario and elsewhere on how to win positive change.





We hope to see you there!

" An Email Missive

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Blog Action Day - Standing Up for Human Rights

HUMAN RIGHTS .... a BIG HUGE topic, but one that surely could not be more relevant to those in the disability community and their families.

Looking back at the topics we have discussed over the past six years on this blawg; be it education, transportation, recreation, employment, medical care or housing, bottom line, aren't we really talking about the same thing - about the right to equality, the right to have the same access to the same services and (even more importantly, the same opportunities) as everyone else?

Yes, there will always be those that have it worse than you and I, than mine and yours. Just think of what it must be like to live with a disability in a third world country or a country where you are, irrespective of your disability, of the *wrong* gender or race. Then again, come to think of it, you could be an Aboriginal child with a disability living right here in Canada. Think of how much worse your life could would be.

But that really isn't the point, is it?

Of course not - the point is that no matter where we live, no matter who we are, we are all entitled to the same basic human rights. Not because the government of the day happens to agree or because we live in relative wealth, but because of one simple, inescapable fact - male or female, old or young, no matter our race or gender identity or sexual orientation or any other difference, no matter where we happen to live on this earth ...

We.

Are.

All.

Human.

And yet, simply *having* these rights is obviously not enough. Like any other "right", such rights would be meaningless without a mechanism of enforcement.

And as I turn my mind to the legal world, to "the law", I can only sincerely and humbly thank those who had the grit, determination and drive to realize the obvious and fight to have those rights enshrined as part of our law. And, in Canada's case, not just as part of the law. but as part of the highest law of the land, our Constitution.

But, sadly, two steps forward and one step back seems to be the way of life in so many ways. For even though sec. 15 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms guarantees that every individual is "equal before and under the law and has the right to the equal protection and equal benefit of the law without discrimination and, in particular, without discrimination based on race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, sex, age or mental or physical disability" and even though Canada is a signatory to both the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, we are still forced to stand up and fight for these rights over and over, right here in Canada.

So it is that I can only offer my eternal gratitude to those, both inside and outside the disability community, who have stood up to demand that these rights be, not just recognized, but given real meaning; to those who have stood up for the rights of our parents, our siblings, our children, our friends, ourselves.

But as I write this I realize that what concerns me, personally, most of all in this matter are those in the disability community who, for whatever reason, will not stand up and be counted, not stand up and be heard, not stand up and support others in their fight for equality. For it is only if we all stand together that any one of us can be truly successful.

And so I leave you to ponder the famous words of Martin Niemöller:
First they came for the Jews
and I did not speak out
because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for the Communists
and I did not speak out
because I was not a Communist.
Then they came for the trade unionists
and I did not speak out
because I was not a trade unionist.
Then they came for me
and there was no one left
to speak out for me.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Meanwhile, in the Twilight Zone

I had the strangest experience at my youngest's school the other day.

Apparently they are somewhat new to this whole IPP thing so they thought they would have a Parent Information evening to explain the program planning process and pass some other information on to parents.

Needless to say, I am intimately familiar with IPPs - in fact, much, much more intimately familiar than I would like to be.

So I sat and listened .... blah, blah, woof, woof, yadda, yadda ... on and on it went until these Words of Blasphemy were uttered:
An IPP is a legal document.
Yep, I kid you not. Those very words were spoke.

Words of Blasphemy because, as we all know, the Dept of Education and at least my school board has been swearing up and down for years (for the past  15+ years to my personal knowledge) that
IPPs.

Are.

Not.

Legal.

Documents
After my head stopped spinning, I put up my hand to clarify that I had heard correctly. Apparently, I had.  In fact, one woman sitting in the audience (I'm thinking a parent but perhaps also a teacher from another school?) went so far as to pipe up and affirm that yes, they were indeed legal documents as they were found in the legislation.

"Yes. I know they are mandated in the Education Act," said I. "But I am just very surprised to hear you say that considering that the Dept and our school board have been telling parents for years that they are not legal documents."

Once again, I was assured that they were, in fact, legal documents. Indeed, the Department had so declared.

Feeling all eyes upon me and the need to say something, I responded, "Okay, maybe they've changed their minds or something", (with the sarcasm apparent only to myself).

But, when the headmaster responded that he didn't know why I would have heard such a thing, why it would have been said that they were not legal documents, I couldn't resist. I mean, really, could you have?

"I don't know. Perhaps they were telling parents that because they just didn't want anybody to sue based on them", I quipped.

The look on the headmaster's face?

Priceless.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Good News on the 'Special Needs' Policy

Some very good news to share on that "special needs' policy under Income Assistance that the Nova Scotia government quietly changed in August, 2011.  Remember this?

Well, I am pleased to report that as of October 1st, that policy has been changed again. This time in a good way. Check it out.



"Never doubt that a small group of committed people can change the world. 
Indeed, it's the only thing that ever has."
~Margaret Mead