Hello there! My name is Scott Savoy, and I am the editor of writing services at www.sterlingcreations.ca.
I am delighted to be with you this weekend and hopefully it will be the first of many to come.
This weekend, I am delighted to introduce an editorial written by our president Donna J. Jodhan. An editorial that will hopefully inspire others to put their differences aside and start working to build bridges and tall structures.
I’m Scott Savoy wishing you a great weekend.
By Donna J. Jodhan
Public perception is and continues to be one of the most difficult challenges for disabled Canadians but this is not unique and should come as no shocker or shaker. Public perception of disabled persons as a whole continues to be a challenge on a global basis and it is one that we need to find a way to change. Some of you may agree with me and others may not but here goes. Much of sighted society views disabled persons as being helpless, unable to be contributing members to society, and unable to make decisions for themselves. As long as the memory can recall, blind and visually impaired Canadians have had to deal with a general public perception that in order to live as normal a life as possible, they would need to go to the CNIB for assistance.
How well I remember so vividly a few years ago, a doctor telling me “You should go to the CNIB and they will help you to find a job” and when I told him that I already had a job he practically fell out of his chair. A few years ago as well, I visited the Priest in my new parish; having just moved from Montreal to Toronto and when I told him that I wished to get involved in some of the Church’s activities, he told me “You would be better off going to the CNIB because there you will find activities suited to you.” This response really upset me and to this day I share it with others.
This perception has really been around for too long. So many other blind and visually impaired Canadians have shared similar stories with me and it is this perception that has done much to anger our community and rightfully so. Up until now, the CNIB has not done much to refute this perception and as a matter of fact, they have somehow unwittingly encouraged this type of public opinion to flourish. Tides however seem to be turning and I along with many other blind and visually impaired Canadians are hoping that the CNIB’s new CEO John Rafferty will be allowed to steer his ship in new and unchartered waters. MR. Rafferty’s job is not going to be an easy one and we should not expect things to change overnight. However, based on certain signals that the new CNIB boss has already started to send out, we can only hope.
Having met with MR. Rafferty twice since March, I am impressed with his willingness to listen. I do believe that he knows only too well that he is in the hot seat and that the blind and visually impaired community is watching him very closely. He seems to have started out quite well; keeping the puck in the goal crease so to speak. He has signaled his intensions to tackle the very controversial library services issue and in September, he will be meeting with other stake and rights holders to start building bridges. An active voice as opposed to a passive voice so to speak from a man who seems to mean business and is more than willing to reach out.
Blind and visually impaired Canadians certainly do not need an agency to speak on their behalf. They need an agency to support their efforts and advocacies. They need an agency that will work with them to change public perception for the better. No one likes to be perceived as being helpless and valueless and no one likes to have their life run by others, especially agencies. Above all, no one likes to have things dictated to them and be told what they are allowed to have and not have. Time to change the public perception.