› Ask yourself:
The systematic removal of people’s rights and freedoms during World War II shocked the world and so Human Rights acts were legislated in order to protect all people from discrimination. The French Revolution produced legislated human rights…. WWII directly inspired the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. In this chapter, you are given opportunities to build connections to and understandings of those with physical and mental disabilities. Activities are designed to invite you to face your assumptions about the rights of people who identify as being disabled, and to consider a human right, open, free, and unfettered access in one’s life. You have the opportunity to examine a human rights case involving a student with spinal muscular atrophy, and to investigate the life of Rick Hansen, a Canadian hero for human rights.
"15. (1) Every individual is equal before and under the law and has the right to the equal protection and equal benefit of the law without discrimination and, in particular, without discrimination based on race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, sex, age or mental or physical disability."
Canadian Human Rights Act was enacted in 1985 to extend the laws to ensure that “all individuals should have an opportunity equal with other individuals to make for themselves the lives that they are able and wish to have and to have their needs accommodated….” The Act further states that Physical and Mental Disabilities are prohibited grounds of discrimination and includes “a duty to accommodate”. This means that employers are bound by law to prevent discrimination and to provide needed access and support of people with disabilities.
Prior to legislation, before the enactment of these Acts, people with disabilities had to depend on landlords, schools, and employers to accommodate them. It was not within their rights as it is now. This legislation requires that society address the needs of people with disabilities so that they might enjoy the same rights and freedoms as all Canadians…the right to work, the right to an education, the right to practice their chosen religion. The public view of people with disabilities brought about the inclusion of their rights into this legislation. The public view is important in creating equality.
During the Holocaust, the German government used propaganda to influence the people to turn against and strip the rights of people with disabilities. The government goals to create a perfect Aryan society instituted unjust and heinous programs of sterilization and euthanasia against people with disabilities, both German and Jewish. Similarly other groups were stripped of their rights and sent to work and death camps, including Roma people, homosexuals, and Jewish people.
One of the reasons that the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, United Nations (1948) was drafted was to ensure that what happened to groups of people in the Holocaust would not happen again. The systematic removal of people’s rights and freedoms during World War II shocked the world and happened, in part, because of a lack of protection against discrimination of people based on religion, race, sexual orientation, physical and mental disability. These Acts are designed to protect all people.
In this task you will be considering a number of statements related to issues concerning the rights and freedoms of persons who identify as having a disability, or differently abled, by responding independently and with others. The following outline provides you with a way to use this assumption guide:
|Facing Our Assumptions: Thinking about the rights of those who identify as disabled|
|Circle the following whether you:|
STRONGLY AGREE (SA) /AGREE (A) /DISAGREE (D) /STRONGLY DISAGREE (SD)
|Facing Our Assumptions: Thinking about the rights of the Disabled.|
|Circle the following whether you:
STRONGLY AGREE (SA) /AGREE (A) /DISAGREE (D) /STRONGLY DISAGREE (SD)
|1. People who are deaf are less likely to succeed in life.||SA||A||D||SD|
|2. People with dyslexia have a disability.||SA||A||D||SD|
|3. People who work really hard can overcome any obstacle, including mental illness.||SA||A||D||SD|
|4. Students who use wheelchairs cannot take physical education or dance classes.||SA||A||D||SD|
|5. It is impossible to accommodate ALL students with disabilities in one school.||SA||A||D||SD|
|6. Not every student with a disability can be integrated into a regular classroom.||SA||A||D||SD|
|7. All students should be treated equally.||SA||A||D||SD|
|8. Students who identify as being disabled are not discriminated against in the school system.||SA||A||D||SD|
|9. Someone who requires a wheelchair should not teach in elementary schools.||SA||A||D||SD|
|10. More money for programming should go to Special Needs students vs. extracurricular activities.||SA||A||D||SD|
|11. All restaurants accommodate all people.||SA||A||D||SD|
A. Examine this photograph of a grade two class in British Columbia. When the parents of the seven-year-old Miles Ambridge saw their son set aside from the rest of the class they reported the incident to raise awareness of how such things could be hurtful to those who identify as disabled.
Class of grade 2 students in British Columbia with student Miles Ambridge in a wheelchair off to the side rather than being included with the group
Credit: Lifetouch Canada
In small groups, discuss:
B. When the father of this boy saw this picture he was ‘disgusted and appalled’ that his son with spinal muscular atrophy was ostracized in this class photo. The following is an excerpt of an article that appeared in Canadian newspapers in June 2013:
"It’s wrong, but it doesn’t mean it was intentional. It just means that somebody dropped the ball for a moment and that can be incredibly hurtful."
Readers are encouraged to leave a comment to share their reaction. Imagine that you had a chance to respond in one hundred words or less to this story, what might you say? What suggestions would you make to the school for dealing with the situation? What advice might you offer to the parents to protect their son’s human rights? Do you think this picture should be retaken and if so, how should Miles Ambridge be placed in the photo to give him dignity? Share your comment by posting it on a class website.
In small groups, discuss:
Canadian playwright, Dennis Foon has written the play Rick: The Rick Hansen Story, that tells the story of Rick Hansen’s accident and subsequent adjustment to his paralysis. In the following excerpt, Rick has just returned to school and shares his frustration with a friend.
Don: You okay?
Rick: This is all wrong. It shouldn’t be like this.
Don: What do you mean?
Rick: I can’t get up the stairs to get into school. I can’t get into stores or restaurants. I can’t even get my chair across the street because of the curbs.
Don: Your dad built you a ramp.
Rick: It was that or he’d have to buy me a tent to live in…except they don’t make any a wheelchair can fit.
Don: Anyhow—the coach wants to see you in the gym.
Don: Don’t ask me. I’m just the messenger. You coming?
Rick: Sure let’s go.
(Don and Rick move together, both facing the audience. As if staring in through the doors of the gym. Rick stops at the sound of a practice, balls bouncing, shouting, the coach’s voice barking instructions. Rick freezes, overwhelmed.)
Don: The volleyball team is hopeless without you.
Rick: They’re doing fine.
Don: Well, the coach is waiting.
Rick: (distraught): I can’t go in there. I can’t. (Rick wheels away)
Don: What’s wrong?
Rick: I gotta go -
Permission granted, Playwrights Canada Press
A. Reading and Responding to the Script Excerpt
Read the script independently, then work with a partner to discuss the following:
B. Interpreting the script
With a partner, choose a role to read out loud from this script. Repeat the activity, switching roles. To rehearse this script, actors might play their roles in different ways. Once you have decided upon a role to practice, choose one of these ‘attitudes / emotions’ to interpret the lines (e.g., Rick could be calm and Don could be angry; both characters could be angry etc.)
C. Rehearsing the script
As an actor rehearses, he or she explores a variety of emotions to inform how to best convey the meaning of the texts. Experiment with a few different ways to read these lines and with your partner, discuss which way seemed the most authentic theatre presentation (i.e., How would each character feel as they continue the conversation?).
Once you have rehearsed the scene, present it to another pair and compare different interpretations.
D. Writing a new scene
David Onley, Lieutenant Governor of Canada, battled polio in his childhood that resulted in partial paralysis. Today he is able to walk using leg braces, crutches or canes but he prefers to move around in his electric scooter.
In 2013, Onley challenged Canadian secondary students to submit designs for a more inclusive accessible symbol of the world. Onley notes that even though 97 per cent of the population of persons with disabilities in North America don’t use wheelchairs or electric scooters, they have a definite disability. The traditional symbol that features a stick figure is not, according to the Lieutenant Governor, inclusive.
Though thousands of designs were submitted, a ‘winner’ was not declared. The Lieutenant Governor claimed that designs fell short of conveying the complex needs of people with disabilities. The challenge with a design is to ensure that people are not left out and that recognition is given beyond just those in a wheelchair. An honourable mention was given to the design below.
A. This activity requires you to rethink a symbol that has been valuable and transformed access for disability, but limits how disabilities are represented in many ways. Working alone or with a partner, create a new symbol design using an art medium of your choice. Consider:
(Search for an example of another symbol. (e.g. Beijing Paralympics symbol))
Further images: http://bit.ly/disabilitysymbols
B. Once you have completed a design, meet with your classmates to discuss submissions. For your discussion, you can imagine that you are members of a jury making choices for a symbol that effectively captures disabilities and that could be understood across cultures.
Where in the school and local community might these designs be displayed?
Source: Permission received by author: Credit: Copyright 2013 Tom Pokinko
Every effort has been made to copyright holders for permission to reproduce borrowed material. The publishers apologize for such omissions and will be pleased to rectify them in subsequent reprints and website programming.