“We’re halfway on the ultramarathon of social change.” So says Canadian Rick Hansen, who has done much to advance disability rights and opportunities. I happened to catch a podcast with him on CBC (Canadian Broadcasting) in December. The fall of 2017 marked the 30-year Anniversary of his “Man in Motion World Tour” that raised $26 million and greatly advanced disability awareness. He traveled to peaks across the world with the use of a wheelchair.
But Hansen’s big goal is an inclusive society, a goal that we at The Arc share. Our goal is making our communities, our country, and our world totally inclusive. In America, one in five people have a disability; and in Canada, that number is one in seven. With the aging of baby-boomers, Hansen believes that number will rise drastically. It will require a change toward inclusive settings and technologies. You can learn more about Rick’s vision to be completely accessible here.
Handicapped ramps are vital and perhaps obvious first steps, but other accommodations for both physical and mental conditions are lagging far behind. Nowhere is this more obvious than in public transportation, where individuals with mental impairments could benefit from technological guides at stations to help them stay on track to their destination. Schools and teachers continue to struggle with accommodations in their educational techniques as well.
Given the tools and the opportunity, both children and adults with disabilities can achieve and excel. Our Gala on April 25 will feature such achievements. Soon, we will be sharing some inspiring stories with you. But the work of social change is year round, and we need you on that journey, too.
Leo V. Sarkissian