OHDA Blog 4: November 2021:

Early steps in Public Education, Teaching and Exhibition

We are happy to update you on how we have been using the interviews of disability activists collected in early 2021 for the Oral Histories of the Disability Rights Movement1970-2020 project

Margaret Janse van Rensburg, one of three doctoral candidates in Social Work assisting in the research, used the interviews with three activists, Traci Walters, Dr. Roy Hanes, and Dr. Nancy Hansen, to create a public presentation. These interviewees were previewed in our last blog. Traci Walters was the previous National Director of Independent Living Canada from 1993 – 2010 and is a celebrated disability activist, Dr. Roy Hanes recently retired from a long career as a scholar of social work and disability rights at Carleton University, and Dr. Nancy Hansen is an active academic in the field of disability studies at the University of Manitoba. 

The presentation highlighted five important themes uncovered by the project: viewing disability from a largely social perspective; changing society; inclusion; being an activists/advocate; and using history to inform future social change. 

You can watch the presentation here:  

Margaret gave one presentation on August 2021 the Chartwell Rockliffe Retirement Residence, as part of their current events series. The members of the attendance asked questions about reasons to record history using oral histories. They were able to connect many of the stories of accessibility and social justice to their own experiences witnessing societal changes as a result of disability activism in Canada and identify ways that contemporary society can continue to work towards disability rights: such as creating universally accessible door entrances within their residence. 

The Chartwell Rockliffe Retirement Residence

First Slide of Presentation 
Margaret finishing the presentation

Another member of the team, doctoral candidate in Social Work, Alicia Kalmanovitch, joined Margaret to give the second presentation , in  September 2021, this time to the students of the Research and Education in Accessibility, Design, and Innovation (READi) program. The READi program is an interdisciplinary post-secondary accessibility-training program for students engaged in research at Carleton University, University of Ottawa, and Queen’s University. It is funded by NSERC, The presentation invited students to think about the meaning of activism, barriers to activism, creating accessible environments, shifts in inclusion, as well as opportunities to promote disability rights societally and personally. Students shared stories of allyship, advocacy, and activism. 

Slide from READi presentation asking students: What are some of the opportunities to be more inclusive in regards to people with disabilities within the University community
Slide from READi presentation asking students: What is one thing you can do within your own sphere of influence to support disability rights?

We will continue to analyze and use the stories of the disability activists interviewed thus far for public education and engagement. Clips have been used in the course  SOWK2001: Structural Analysis to Social Work course to support guest lectures on “Ability and Disability”,  and on “Empowerment Approaches to Social Work”. 

We will also be sharing all stories in a virtual exhibit, which is scheduled to launch in mid 2022. 

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