One of the nice developments in the annals of democracy here on PEI is that Standing Committee meetings are now broadcast live online, with audio and video archived for later listening and watching. In addition, full written transcripts are prepared of all meetings. As a result, you can now read the transcript of the presentation that Carolyn Bateman and I made to the Standing Committee on Education and Economic Development last week.
The heart of my comments came in these two paragraphs on page 34:
I guess, I would finish off with one comment, which is that my son, Oliver and I go walking at the Holland College walking track every night. We’ve been doing that to try and get some exercise in the winter. The hallways at the Centre for Community Engagement at Holland College are not wide enough for Oliver, Oliver’s service dog and I to walk down. This precipitated a conversation between Oliver and I about whether architects, when they’re designing a building should design buildings so they work just for some people or whether they should work for everybody. Of course, his answer was that they should design buildings so they work for everybody.
Really, I think that the approach that, on a bird’s eye level, we want to be taking when we’re talking about supporting people with autism, is designing all of our systems so that they work for everybody, not just for some people. I think, maybe, what gets missed here sometimes is that Carolyn and I have both spent a lot of time raising young adults or full-fledged adults with autism and they’re our children and we love them. They are not patients. They are not broken. They’re full-fledged contributing members of society and we want to be there to support them and we want them to be supported by the community when we’re not there to do that ourselves.
It’s fumbly-bumbly because I was speaking off the cuff, but if I’d been limited to speaking two paragraphs, it’s these that I would choose.
My understanding of “accessibility” has evolved a lot in recent years, and I think “design all of our systems so that they work for everybody, not just for some people” is a pretty good place to land for now.