Access and Empowerment: a reality case

Yesterday was the International Disability Day following the theme Inclusion matters: access and empowerment of people of all abilitiesWhat kind of stories would present through the day?   The tragic story of course was in America with 14 people at a Social Service Centre for people with disabilities killed in a seemingly pointless shooting.   The other story rolling in through the day was seeing people getting dressed up and making their way to the Attitude Awards evening in Auckland tonight.  Congratulations to all the worthy nominees and winners.

‘I wanted to ask the council so many questions but I had no idea how… am frustrated here’ a surprise message from a Deaf friend I had not talked to for a while.  Asked which council she was referring to, her next response revealed more – ‘not sure, (family member) did all the talking for us but I felt left out somehow. (family member) tries his best for us but I wanted to have a ‘say’.  Also at the bank too’.  Soon it was about the building company and the lawyer too.

So the family were building new houses.  As with any new build there’s also a building company, numerous trades people and so on.  One family member took on the role as the Project Manager and endeavoured to ensure everyone was in the know.

Hindsight is always a wonderful thing.  Up go the walls and lo and behold a window isn’t right.  Can’t be corrected.  Hence a very frustrated friend who wished she understood when decisions were being made.   It wasn’t that she was intentionally left out, nor did anyone refuse to book a sign language interpreter.   She was sensitive about putting too much pressure on the family member.  It just didn’t happen.

It was a classic example of underestimating the power of full access to information, the power of making informed decisions and the power of feeling in control over one’s own affairs.

Inclusion matters: access and empowerment of people of all abilities is therefore a very appropriate theme.  With our commitment we can empower all people through effective access.  This is what makes us citizens.