"There is nothing more difficult to take in hand, more perilous to conduct, or more uncertain in its success, than to take the lead in the introduction of a new order of things."

~ Niccolo Machiavelli, historian and writer

Friday, April 25, 2014

Very, Very Interesting

Dear Parents,

HRM Community Recreation & Culture (CR&C) staff would like to invite you to attend a Parent/Caregiver/ First Voice engagement session regarding recreation, social and cultural services, for people with disabilities. 
CR&C staff have started to develop a community recreation service delivery model for people with disabilities that is community oriented, provides choice, is person focussed, responsive, safe and accessible.

We are creating a model by researching what other Canadian municipalities are providing, working with Dalhousie University faculty on a literature review piece, studying legislation and using the related philosophies on the SPD Transformation Plan and Roadmap. The additional development phases include Recreation/Social Service Providers Engagement, nurturing partnerships with post-secondary schools, engaging Therapeutic Recreation professionals and caregiver/first voice engagement. 
This session will be the second of three engagement sessions which include:, Recreation/Social Service Providers; Parents/Caregivers/First Voice; and lastly, Recreation/ Therapeutic Recreation/ Child & Youth Professionals.

We would like to bring parents of children who have special needs to the table to share our research, share our proposed model, do an asset mapping exercise, insure we are filling service gaps in the community, not duplicating or competing with already existing programs and finally to see where we can build partnerships.

We hope that you will join and share your feedback. Here is the session information.

Caregiver/First Voice Engagement Session
Wednesday May 7, 2014
7:00 – 9:00 pm
St. Andrew’s Recreation Centre
3380 Barnstead Lane (off of Bayers Rd.)
Light refreshments will be served.

Please RSVP to stapled@halifax.ca by May 2, 2014, 4:00 pm. Please let us know if you have any dietary restrictions and/or anything you need on site in order to fully participate.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Stuttering as a Disability

UPDATE: Apparently we now have some US lawyers agreeing that yes, yes indeed, stuttering can indeed be a disability under the terms of the American with Disabilities Act (ADA). Good to know. 

What says you? Is stuttering a disability? And, if so, should it be "legally protected"?

It seems to me that this should have a fairly easy common sense answer. And if it doesn't, it should.

Of course, stuttering is a disability from a legal point of view.
Section 10 (1) of the Code defines “disability” as follows:
“because of disability” means for the reason that the person has or has had, or is believed to have or have had,
  1. any degree of physical disability, infirmity, malformation or disfigurement that is caused by bodily injury, birth defect or illness and, without limiting the generality of the foregoing, includes diabetes mellitus, epilepsy, a brain injury, any degree of paralysis, amputation, lack of physical co-ordination, blindness or visual impediment, deafness or hearing impediment, muteness or speech impediment, or physical reliance on a guide dog or other animal or on a wheelchair or other remedial appliance or device,
But I think worrying about a potential "widespread backlash against all persons with disabilities" is a bit of fear mongering an over-reaction. Why?

All you need do is check out the comments at the end of the article to find a very common sense response.
Of course it's a disability, but not one that should ever override a common sense BFOQ. [Ed. I believe that is meant to read BFOR - "bona fide occupational requirement**.] But if a person is denied a position they could handle because a stutter "isn't pretty" then that's discrimination. 



** We've discussed this very same issue many years ago and although I didn't use the commonly-accepted terminology at the time, this is exactly what I was talking about. 

Duty to accommodate meet bona fide occupational requirements.
The duty to accommodate can include things like altering the physical workplace, redefining a job description or altering the work schedule. If a driver's license is a job requirement, for example, and the interviewee doesn't have one, there is a duty on the employer to enquire why, to see if a disability is behind it ie) epilepsy. In which case the employer would have to consider what alternations he might make so that driving would not be necessary or whether he could change the job description to give the driving portion to another employee.

And it's important to realize that it would be a lot harder to accommodate certain disabilities in some jobs than in others. For example, is it possible to accommodate a blind person who seeks to be an editor? In all honesty, even with technology, I don't know. Maybe it is, maybe it isn't.

What about a person in a wheelchair, with no use of her arms or legs, who dreams of being a firefigher? There might be some job back at the fire station that she could conceivably perform but it would be a little hard to picture her actually out there fighting a fire, wouldn't it?

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Whazzup With That Roadmap, Anyhow?

Everybody needs a hero, right? I think I may have found (one) of mine.
This guy right here. He impresses me.

Why, you ask?

Because, in the midst of all his other work, he has written repeatedly on some very important issues for the disability community. And he's not showing any signs of letting it go. You have to like that.


And that raises a very important question - what is up with the Department of Community Services Transition Roadmap (aka The Roadmap)?
The report, written by a joint group of civil servants and representatives of community organizations, calls for the phasing out of large institutions, a more individualized approach in terms of care and funding, and altogether a new emphasis on changing services to better accommodate people with disabilities.
The short answer ... Hell if I know.

The sad reality is that the best information I have comes from Robert's article. Much like Sgt. Schultz, I see nothing, I hear nothing, I know nothing.

But fear not, for others know much, much more than I. Let's see what Robert has to say:
At the time the department, right in the introduction to the report committed to "implementing these recommendations over a five-year time frame, with major action steps for each of the ten recommendations being plotted over 2013-14 through 2017-18."
.  .  .
That was September of last year.

Now it appears things are moving ahead, but not at the pace that the report suggested.

Of the thirty or so action steps scheduled for the previous fiscal year 2013-14, not one has been completed. But work has started on all of them, Elizabeth MacDonald, departmental spokesperson, tells the Halifax Media Co-op.

Stakeholder provincial advisory groups, which according to the report should have been in place by now, have not yet been announced.
 Guess who else apparently knows something? Wendy Lill.
Wendy Lill, playwright and former Member of Parliament, has been advocating on behalf of people with intellectual disabilities for a very long time. She was co-chair of the team that helped shape the transition roadmap.

Just two weeks ago she attended a roadmap progress update for stakeholders organized by Community Services. That was also the first update provided by the department since the roadmap was launched seven months ago.

"After that meeting I am hopeful that there is some real movement happening and that there is good faith there," Lill tells the Halifax Media Co-op.
Apparently, we are to hear more about a series of pilot projects "in the spring" [wait, isn't that, like, now?] and the membership of advisory groups will be revealed some time after March 31st [so, again, that would be, like, any time now, right?]. But not just that - "a training program" for "care coordinators and service delivery people" is on the way. Thank God for that. Just, please, don't ask me what it means - I'm not entirely sure.

But, hey, know what I do (think I) know? Politics. I can talk politics. Let's try that.

The Roadmap was originally brought forward by the NDP government. The very same NDP government that a lot of people, myself included, were pretty frustrated with. We were frustrated because we expected CHANGE with our first NDP government, real CHANGE. And we didn't get it, or, at least not as fast as we wanted. It was that very frustration that caused played a large part in the NDP's defeat in the last election.

So now we have a new government. A Liberal government. And I have to wonder if people will be as hard on them, expect as much change as quickly from them, as they did our last government. Because, if so, I am pretty sure we will have another epic fail.

In the words of Wendy Lill:
"Things are dreadful now, [the Department is] spending a lot of money and they are getting very poor results," says Lill. "Strong arguments have been made that [the new way] can be sustainable, and they have leadership that is mounting that argument in a very strong way."
Yeah, they are. And how much (and how fast), if at all, that changes will be up me you and me. That's right, you. And you. And you. And me.

And that takes me back to why I am so grateful for Robert Devet's continued writing on these subjects, for his efforts to hold our government accountable for what was promised. But that you and you and you and I can do half as good of a job in that regard.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

For What It's Worth

I'm not sure exactly what to make of this but ...
March 25, 2014) BOYNECLARKE LLP, one of Atlantic Canada’s largest law firms, will be offering free legal consultations over a three-day period in celebration of Law Day 2014
On April 8, 9 and 10, BOYNECLARKE LLP will be inviting pre-approved applicants to their office in Dartmouth for a free legal consultation. The initiative, spearheaded by Partner Gordon F. Proudfoot QC, is intended to give residents in the HRM access to justice. 
“Law Day is all about making sure everyone understands the law, has access to justice and can have their legal questions answered,” says Gordon. “This is our first year with the project, so we’re hoping to see lots of people during the three days.” 
Over 25 lawyers at the firm have volunteered their services to meet with approved applicants and discuss their legal issues in various areas of law. 
“Community service is one of things we try to make a priority here at BOYNECLARKE,” adds Gordon. “This is a way for us to give back.” 
Applications can be obtained online or by calling 1 902 460 3444.
So go on. Get out there. Get out pre-approved.

What do you have to lose?