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Caring Citizen—Stramp
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Caring Citizen — Stramp

In order to be a caring citizen, individuals with disabilities must be in community. How can we be part of the solution if we are not present? If we cannot show up, then we cannot participate or contribute. It is that simple.

There are obvious barriers to the effective participation of citizens with disabilities in society. Physical access to buildings is a must. Accessible transportation is another. And of course when accessibility is improved everyone benefits. A good example are the stairs at Robson Square a major downtown complex in the centre of Vancouver. These stairs, leading up from a below ground skating rink and complex of stores and restaurants are enhanced by a ramp which cuts diagonally through the wide cement stairs. The whole structure is called a ‘stramp’ which could be the motto for the Philia Dialogue. The ‘stramp’ as you might imagine is popular with everyone, moms’ with strollers, children running and playing, others who like a moderate incline or a leisurely stroll rather than a grinding ascent. The ‘stramp’ is of course essential to those of us who use wheelchairs or other assists for getting around.

Less obvious, but just as important barriers to be removed include:

  1. Language - written language can be a barrier if the words and phrasing are complex or complicated. The same holds true for the spoken language. The speed by which people speak can become a barrier as can the volume of the words. Most of us would benefit from written or spoken language which is plainer and clearer. Many of us would appreciate the opportunity to digest the words and thoughts of others before we reply. Instead we are caught in a speed trap, simply trying to keep up. Respectful communication is slower leaving enough time for thoughtful responses from everyone.
  2. For more information on the power of language, click here.

  3. Believing – Each of us without exception has a deep longing to give, to contribute, to offer and share what is meaningful to us. In other words to contribute to the Common Good. Unfortunately this is often an experience denied to individuals with disabilities. There are at least two basic reasons for this. One is believing each of us has something to contribute and wants to contribute to community life. The other is creating opportunities for their contributions to be made. It is our hope and belief that once society appreciates that everyone has a ‘gift’ and wants to contribute their ‘gifts’, they will ensure everyone fulfills their obligations as citizens. And therefore removes any barriers to participation and contribution. For a further discussion about Contribution, click here.

The Philia Dialogue is committed to promoting ‘Disability Literacy’ and ‘Dynamic Communication".

Disability Literacy means that both individually and collectively we have more to learn about providing necessary supports and welcoming individuals with disabilities into the heart of community life.

Dynamic Communication ensures that the pace of dialogue allows time for everyone to understand what is being said and for everyone to get a chance to respond and contribute.

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