Dignity and respect at the root of accessibility

In October, the annual Self Advocacy Leadership Retreat in Mission marked its 20th year of bringing self advocates together for three days of learning and connecting.

As part of the 2019 retreat, attendees created the message below about the importance of accessibility to submit for the government’s public consultation (read about this consultation here).

“Accessibility is about being treated with dignity and respect. People with diverse abilities are often bullied and made fun of when we go out to do the same things as everyone else. We want access to employment, to make our own money, and to be able to afford to live in our own home with the support we need. We want to play sports and live healthy.

This means there need to be teams and recreation programs that are inclusive and welcoming of everyone if they have a disability or not. It also means we have equal access to dentists and doctors and hospitals and that professionals are trained to work with people with diverse abilities. The waitlists are long, especially if you can’t afford to buy your own medication or equipment. Most of us rely on public transportation. Often the bus drives right by, or it’s too crowded on the SkyTrain for wheelchairs, or to feel safe to travel alone.

There needs to be more places to sit down, more benches at bus stops, more spots to take a rest. Sidewalks and washrooms especially need to work for people who have wheelchairs or other mobility aids. We need to look out for one another, so we feel safe in the community. Safety phones and people watching out and asking if everything is okay would make a difference.

Accessible information is important so we know what’s going on around us and what our options are. This means plain language and information we can access through video and not always by reading. Technology can make our lives better if someone takes the time to show us how it works.

Accessibility also means having role models to look up to so we are inspired to keep going, to work hard and to stand up and believe in ourselves.”

Information about the 2020 leadership retreat will be shared on SelfAdvocateNet.com later this year.

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