I am so proud that Alberta currently has more post secondary options for students with disabilities than in any other, province or state in North America.
Due to the ongoing and focused efforts of individuals with disabilities, their families and organizations like the Alberta Association for Community Living and the Canadian Association for Community Living, more students with developmental disabilities are pursuing their dreams of work and career in the “Wild Rose Province”. Way to go Alberta!
I wish this was the case for students in other provinces and states. I find myself wondering why the world still seems to be so threatened by the notion that Canadians with developmental disabilities might begin to take their rightful place in society, in community schools, in neighborhoods, in university and colleges, and in productive workplaces.
Institutes of higher learning, full of thoughtful and committed professionals ought to be the first to dismiss the labels that are so easily assigned by outdated stereotypes and arbitrary and biased metrics like IQ testing.
What if we decided to value other subtler and enduring gifts, gifts that are harder to quantify, gifts like diversity, and interconnectedness, and the ability to demonstrate the transformative value of true citizenship. These are gifts our fellow citizens who have developmental disabilities often manage to bring to the human family, in the face of isolation and loneliness, because of people and places that are all to ready to exclude.
What disaster might unfold if we began to organize ourselves around the things that we care about, the issues about which we feel most passionate and the activities that bring us joy? I suppose it might become more difficult to rank oneself in order of status, if not just the most privileged of Canadians entered into our Universities and colleges. After all, how will I know how important I am if I can’t be reasonably sure that I am more important than you?
Learning, for many of us is the most glorious, and stimulating of pursuits, a delight that is best enjoyed in the company of others on their own learning journeys. Employers, academic communities and society as a whole will be better, more healthful, more vibrant, and indeed more human if we think creatively about welcoming Canadians with disabilities into post secondary settings. Universities, Colleges and Institutes of technology and trade need their contributions, we all do.