CALGARY, ALBERTA, September 18th, 2020 — COVID-19 has left many people with disabilities in rural and Indigenous communities isolated and voiceless regarding decisions on issues of importance to them. While many advocacy groups and support agencies have moved services and meetings online, individuals without their own computer technology have been left behind. Albertans Advocating for Change Together (AACT) has received funding through FCSS Calgary to address this barrier by giving free technology and/or training as needed to individuals with disabilities in rural and Indigenous communities. AACT is looking for individuals who would benefit from this project.
As part of the project, AACT will host a series of I-hour online meetings this fall open to the disability community. The sessions, a mixture of town halls and learning opportunities, will include topics of interest to project participants, e.g., how to ensure the re-launch is inclusive, effective self-advocacy, and universal basic income. The first session will happen on November 2, 2020 from 1-2pm with a focus on what self-advocacy is and why it is important. These summits will occur weekly until early December. Visit www.albertaact.com for more details on the summit sessions and the application form for technology and training.
“We have been gravely concerned about the impact COVID-19 has had on the mental health of adults with developmental disabilities who have been isolated for months,” said Kathleen Biersdorff, an ally with AACT. “Public health rules have stripped away choice for people whose choices were already limited by poverty and opportunity.” The AACT project will remove these barriers for a number of individuals with disabilities, as well as connecting them to the self-advocacy community to give them a stronger voice in decisions affecting them.
Albertans Advocating for Change Together is a 10-year-old network of regional self-advocacy groups for adults with developmental disabilities. Member groups share what is happening in their communities, as well as resources to give individuals with disabilities a stronger voice in public decisions and in their own lives. A Self-Advocacy Summit is held every few years, bringing together over 100 self-advocates from across Alberta. This project grew out of a concern that self-advocacy was not well supported in some parts of the province, with rural and Indigenous communities particularly at risk. The pandemic improved access to self-advocate activities for those with technology access and know-how, as selfadvocacy groups opened their online meetings to people around the province. But those without access to technology faced further exclusion in this online world. This project can make a difference for people with disabilities in our rural communities.
Contact: Project Manager – Rofiah Sarumi
Email: [email protected]