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Where Have All the Advocates Gone???


When the NFB:AE, now the AEBC was founded, the blind community was full of advocacy. Admittedly, that was at a different time and place, when we lacked the equal rights legislation that has been achieved; lacked equality in the world of work (which we still lack); and were promised that technology would be the big equalizer (which it has been for some and a new barrier for others).

Today, despite the achievement of equal rights legislation, we still face numerous old barriers as well as the introduction of some new ones. These include lack of employers discharging their legal duty to accommodate; inability to verify how we vote, difficulties for students to obtain needed materials in readable formats, numerous inaccessible websites and software, failure of the CRTC to fully regulate the television experience, the introduction of a variety of flat screen home appliances, and numerous others.

Work does continue. Complaints about disability in general, and about disability in the area of employment remain the most common portion of complaints filed at all human rights commissions across Canada. This tells me two things. On the one hand, the disability community is learning our rights and how to use them. But it also tells me how much discrimination and marginilization remains in the year 2014.

So where are the advocates fighting for systemic and overall social change. Do today's disability activists believe in going it alone and, if so, why might this be?

I do think there is a place for individuals pursuing change, but I also think there is still a place for collective action, spearheaded by organizations. But where are the burning issues, and newcomers stepping forward to lead the call and work for change and equality??


This blog is curated by the AEBC, but welcomes contributions from members and non-members alike. The thoughts, views, and opinions expressed in the Blind Canadians Blog are those of the contributing authors and do not necessarily reflect those of the AEBC, its members, or any of its donors and partners.