Monday, April 29, 2013

Fuel to the Fire

This morning I read an article about how a man and his guide dog were refused entry into a Spring Rolls restaurant.  I got so upset that my blood boiled!  In this day and age you would think that everybody would know that this type of discrimination is illegal.

Unfortunately, this isn't exactly the case.  The general public, and people who own businesses especially, are ignorant of the laws regarding accessibility. Part of the problem is that the government doesn't enforce the AODA (Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act). A lot of people don't even know the act exists, which is disgusting!

As I've said so many times in my blog, having a disability makes me feel like I'm a second class citizen. People like me feel our issues aren't listened to or given a serious thought to and that's terrible!

On Saturday at the St. Lawrence Market, Helen Henderson came to see me. Helen was the journalist from the Toronto Star who helped me eight years ago to expose the abuse that goes on in attendant care agencies. We've stayed in touch and friends ever since.

So you can imagine how I felt when she told me she was in a battle with Shoppers Home Health Care, because they won't lend her a scooter while they fix her current one. She explained to them that she needs a scooter to do her daily activities like going out and buying groceries and doing her personal care at home. They said, "why don't you just stay in bed while we fix your scooter?" A person without a disability would never be given such humiliating advice. What makes it even worse is that Shoppers Home Health Care is a company that is supposed to understand the issues that people with disabilities face. They are supposed to give people support and respect not tell them to stay in bed for god knows how long! Believe me - I know! - sometimes wheelchair and scooter repairs can take 3-6 months to finish.

(Helen's experience, unfortunately, is not an unique one by any stretch of the imagination.  Daily, people with disabilities face these type of frustrations, and receive backward thinking from those who are supposed to make their lives easier, not harder.)

Eight years ago, Helen helped me expose the dark side of attendant agencies, and this eventually led to me getting Direct Funding and being able to hire my own people.  I can only hope that this blog entry can be as of much help to her in opening up people's eyes as her article was for me.

I hope this entry, past entries, and future entries will help make people see that changes need to be made in both thought and deed if there's to be any kind of positive outcome for people with disabilities.  Our concerns must be heard and taken seriously.  Supports given to us must be from those who have empathy and respect for our needs.  Laws, written specifically to ensure our inclusion must be enforced.

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