ABILITIES Magazine began on a wing and a prayer 41 issues ago, and the organization which grew to support it, the volunteers, staff and board of the Canadian Abilities Foundation (CAF), has continued to expand the disability focus of the organization ever since.
CAF was among the first to explore the potential of the Internet for Canadians with disabilities, helping to pioneer the Integrated Network of Disability Information and Education (INDIE), going on to create Ability at Work, the disability component of Ontario’s Gateway to Diversity website and, more recently, launching the resource-rich Enablelink, usefully imbedded within CAF’s own website.
CAF is on the verge of launching the third edition of its much referenced Directory of Disability Organizations in Canada, which will serve handily alongside of the recently released first printing of the National Employment Services Directory for Employers, Employees and Job Seekers with Disabilities.
Three new products, soon to be released, include the Directory of Accessible Resources for Education and the Prevention of Violence
Against Women with Disabilities, On My Own — A Resource Guide for Living Independently, and Making a Difference, an exciting and vivid account of Canadians with Disabilities who have made a difference within their communities. We anticipate that each of these will serve the people for whom they are intended extremely well.
And through each of these developments ABILITIES Magazine has been there, doing what it can through the CAF Forum to link Canadians with Disabilities to the government departments and community organizations mandated to serve them; pointing to the products, events, champions, politicians, community leaders, and consumers who have, at various times, on various issues served as hallmarks.
The board, staff and volunteers of CAF are proud to have been a part of the exciting development of the past ten years, and our commitment is to continue to serve as we step into the twenty-first century.
Our readers can anticipate that we will continue to fulfil our mission of providing Information, Inspriration and Opportunity to
No doubt, the next century will be more than fascinating. We anticipate that greater accessibility will be created within our communities, due in no small measure to the consumers, organizations and the more enlightened leaders of this century.
As our society ages, and as increasing levels of disability become the norm, there is little doubt that the principles of universal access will somehow, become commonplace. It may even finally become clear that the old “H” word (handicap) should be applied to the environment — and not to the individuals who so often enrich it by their presence.
And wouldn’t it be grand if we could also say that people with disabilities will be able to step out of the outdated medical model which too often still prevails — and be seen in a truer light? Sadly, some people in our society seem intent on clinging to old institutions — and the terms of reference which keep them in place.
So — we must beware, and guard against losing any of the ground gained during the last part of the twentieth century. We must push with greater energy towards a permanent collective frame of mind — one which guarantees that physical dexterity and intellectual capacity will never again be the determinants of who gets a life of incarceration. It can happen again — and the relatively recent and hard won victories are too fresh and delicate to be taken for granted.
So, serve by example! Use your strengths to educate, enlist and inspire. Get involved with the issues; align yourself with the opportunities presented by organizations such as your local Independent Living Centre or affiliate of the Council of Canadians with Disabilities. Remember, there are nearly five million people with disabilities in Canada — and such a number could mean a great amount of power. Use that power — Do not forget to vote!
Ask the hard questions (what about disability support, access to public facilities, employment, economic disincentives, education and social programs?). Ask the hard questions — and conduct yourself accordingly!
In the meantime, don’t forget to feed your spirit.
The board, staff and volunteers of the Canadian Abilities Foundation wish you the very best of the season — and of the new millennium.
Stay in touch!