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March 25, 2017

Awareness

I had two emails recently, announcing initiatives of OneNS and EngageNS, one inviting me to a webinar on March 27 and the other about a "dashboard" to measure progress. I have trouble remembering which group is which, but I believe OneNS is the descendent of the Ivany Commission and EngageNS is an NGO that has Ramona Lumpkin and Danny Graham on board.

I wrote about the organizations last spring. Of the 32 board members, zero were people with impairments (my new favorite word, as the UN Convention of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities so accurately describes us.)  8 were women.

The Ivany Report, as you may recall, mentions people with disabilities only in the context of 'at risk' groups.  The dashboard of OneNS doesn't seem to have any reference to people with impairments. There could be something on the inactive tab on employment rates.

The upcoming webinar, about the 'Art of Hosting', is coming live from Mahone Bay and is meant introduce "a type of engagement that allows all kinds of people to “step up” and create the change they want to see"

I wrote to EngageNS and heard back right away from Jeff Overmars, who has a new job at Engage NS:

Warren Reed
11:14 AM (1 hour ago)

Dear Ms Randall,

Can you tell me if there will be services for people with disabilities at Monday's Webinar? Things like ASL interpreters, closed captioning or CART services? If there is a live location, is it wheelchair accessible?

Many thanks,

Gus Reed


Jeff Overmars 11:26 AM (40 minutes ago)

Hi Gus,

We met at the 2015 Human Rights Awards. I’m at Engage now and this is our first foray into the webinar format.

Monday’s webinar will only be broadcast online. There’s no in-person attendance.

The recorded webinar will be posted online via YouTube within 24-48 hours and will be captioned. This recording will live on our website permanently and be shared widely via social media.

There had been no requests for adaptive tech/ASL prior to today.

Between now and our Aprill webinar I will look into the integration of CART into a live-stremaining webinar using the Zoom. platform.

If you’d like to discuss this further, I’d welcome a phone call at anytime. You can reach me at 902-719-8534.
I hope all’s well. Are you still south of the boarder?

Kindly,
Jeff

Warren Reed
12:06 PM (8 minutes ago) to Jeff

Thanks Jeff,

It does seem odd that a organization that is largely government funded (76%, 2015 CRA return) embarks on a program "that allows all kinds of people to “step up” and create the change they want to see" would not include deaf folks as "all kinds of people". 24-48 hours delay takes the thrill out of immediate participation. I've been helping arrange ASL for people and it's cheap. No need to wait for a request - it should be the policy of ENS that all events are completely accessible.

Remember Field of Dreams "If you build it, they will come". And even if they don't, you won't have to explain this kind of oversight to taxpayers.

Let me know if the policy changes.

Gus

Finally, I just heard from Jeff:

Hi Gus,

We’ll have ASL for Monday for sure.
Working on CART.
All webinars will have a registration component asking if CART or ASL is required and we will be vigilant to ensure we don’t exclude anyone from participating live. All recorded webinars will be posted to YouTube and captions edited for anyone wishing to view the material following the live events.

Thanks again for your inquiry. If you are available at sometime in the coming weeks in person or remotely via phone or a video chat, I’d like to talk to you about opportunities for further engagement.

Have a nice weekend.

Kindly,
Jeff

All credit to Jeff, who acted with uncommon speed.  It took a couple of hours.

When people with disabilities participate in a group discussion, the subject often turns to 'awareness'.  The UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities makes a big deal of awareness in Article 8.  The Access for Ontarians with Disabilities Act promotes awareness.  3 of 4 'Objects' of our own Disabled Persons Commission have to do with 'awareness'.  'Awareness' is a general provision of Bill 59,  the draft Accessibility act in Nova Scotia.

Based on the example of EngageNS, 'awareness' is a synonym for 'huh?'.  Rather than promoting awareness let's promote 'return the money'.  The idea that our government doesn't require beneficiaries of taxpayer largesse to adhere to some diversity standard is just plain irresponsible.

Gerry Post would call this 'low-hanging fruit'.  Government grant recipients have to agree to some rules of equitable treatment.

Gus Reed

ps
What got me started on awareness is this picture of US lawmakers sitting around this week discussing the future of women's healthcare:
Notice anything?

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