Caring Citizen —
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:
- 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
For more information on
the power of language, click here.
- 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.
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
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