October 23, 2000
Monday, October 16, 2000
Helping disabled people dismantle everyday barriers
It's his first week at a new job. The initial nervousness is starting to wear off and he's feeling a little more comfortable, making a few friends. He offers to do the coffee run on Friday morning. It's just around the corner, but when he gets there his wheelchair can't navigate the concrete step. He goes back to the office with a too-familiar feeling of shame and failure.
At thirty, she's looking forward to moving into her own apartment. The parents who have cared for their developmentally delayed daughter all this time are looking forward to it too. In their forty-two years of marriage, the parents have had at least one child at home for forty years. Mother and daughter go shopping together, picking out lamps and towels for the new apartment. Then comes the devastating news: the province has cut back funding yet again. There will be no apartment at this time.
Disabled Ontarians are not faceless statistics whose demands for a barrier-free province can go unheeded because their numbers are small.
They are our mothers and fathers, sisters and brothers, aunts, uncles, friends and neighbours. Caught up in our own busy lives, we can sometimes forget the challenges they confront every day.
The majority of us take for granted our ability to find the right washroom door, or the ability to walk all the way to the back of the restaurant through cramped and crowded aisles.
We don't really understand that one concrete step can be as daunting as a dozen for someone in a wheelchair, and we're lucky we don't have to rely on someone else to read us the daily newspaper.
Despite our shortcomings, David Lepofsky, chairman of the Ontarians with Disabilities Act Committee, has faith in the non-disabled residents of this province. He trusts us to show the Mike Harris government that we want the barriers that handicap us all torn down and dismantled.
It's a noble and worthy mission we should be pleased and proud to embrace. Don't do it quietly though, Call Mike Harris at 416-325-1941 and let him know you're not standing idly by.
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