The Occupy Movement

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we see beyond them a seashore and a bridge]”id=”BLOGGER_PHOTO_ID_5692410139998556066″ />

After participating in last month’s Disability blog Carnival, I decided to take part again. This round is being hosted by Sharon of After Gadget, and the topic is Occupy – as in the Occupy Movement.

When the Occupy Movement first began, I thought it was kind of an interesting concept. People joining together to “take back our democracy and build a new economy”.

As time has passed though…

I have found myself more and more skeptical of its effectiveness and continue to wonder if the ‘99%’ includes people like myself.

If the Movement were successful, would I benefit? Would the world become more accepting and accommodating of people with disabilities?

Or would we be pushed aside, and left to fend for ourselves in an even more undemocratic and economically unbalanced society.

I’ve given these questions a lot of thought. Though I do not feel my life is where I’d like it to be, I’m not sure I want to support a Movement that lacks clear direction and that has not explicitly told me how my life will be any better without the corrupt politicians and money-hungry corporations.

I wonder if Canadians realize that in order for the Occupy Movement to truly succeed we would have to agree to reduce our standard of living…

Maybe I’m wrong, but I really do not see that happening.

I have friends who are huge supporters of the Occupy Movement and feel that this is the beginning of something better, but I do not fully agree.

If we didn’t have the multinational companies such as Apple and Microsoft for example, people like me would not be able to be independent, participate in social media or even work in some cases. Do you really think a “Mom and Pop” shop would choose to invest in creating accessible products for people with disabilities? The products made by the multinationals are already expensive because the target user group is small, so why would a “Mom and Pop” shop choose to take such a risk?

When Steve Jobs passed away in October of this year, many disabled bloggers wrote posts on how he had changed their lives. Without companies like Apple, who have made accessibility out of the box a priority, many of us would not be able to enjoy cell phones that connect us with the world, or even communicate with others independently outside the home.

I couldn’t imagine a world without screen readers, Braille displays and accessible cell phones – could you?

Even though I think it’s wonderful to see people from all walks of life joining together for a ‘united’ cause, I’m not sure, a single person has stopped to think about the repercussions of such a movement succeeding.

I have, and this is why, I am not willing to support The Occupy Movement.

Independent Woman

I’ve never taken part in the Disability Blog Carnival, but after reading this round’s topic, I was inspired.

I lost my sight in the summer of 1993. I had just finished grade 8 and was excited to begin grade 9 at a new school. It was a total shock. My parents weren’t sure where to turn. I spent my summer indoors, trying to adapt to a life without 20/20 vision.

September arrived and students returned to school. My mom didn’t know what to do with me. She kept me home the first day, and called our region’s Board of Education. She talked to a woman in charge of organizing special services and was relieved to learn that there was a department of sorts designed to help visually impaired and blind students.

That afternoon, I met a woman who would forever change my life.

Stephanie Sommer arrived around noon. She sat with my mom and I, at the kitchen table and asked questions. She had come to assess whether I truly required her assistance. The phone rang at some point during our meeting and after watching me reach past the phone, she took my hand and placed it onto the receiver with a smile.

After mom was finished with the call, Stephanie told us she would start working with me the following day.

Over the next five years, Stephanie would teach me not only the usual lessons of Braille and getting around safely with a cane, but she would inspire me to be an independent woman.

Stephanie never once treated me like I had a disability.

She expected me to act appropriately and study just as hard as every other student in my high school.

She always expected me to give eye contact.

She wouldn’t help me unless I said please or thank you.

And if I got frustrated and attempted to give up, she’d walk away and wait for me to get over it.

Stephanie and I developed more than just a student-teacher bond, we became friends. She told me about her own vision problems and told me how she embarked on an educational journey that led her to working with students like me.

I remember the feeling of comfort that would come over me each time I smelled her perfume, and the smile that would sprout on my face, no matter how bad the day, when I heard her voice. Stephanie was my navigator, guiding me through a world I now found scary and full of unknowns.

She taught me how to read Braille and how to fully utilize the vision I still had.

She showed me how to travel safely throughout my community with a cane, and then when I told her I wanted to apply for a guide dog, she challenged me to first move outside of my comfort zone. I learned how to take the bus to a neighbouring town to attend movies and shop alone in their mall. Then, she gave me the biggest test of all, she asked me to learn how to take the bus to Toronto and then learn to take the subway to the largest mall of all (at the time) – the Eatons Centre.

Once I entered my final year of high school, Stephanie was there to help me reach my goal of attending university. She read through university brochures and program descriptions. Then she helped me fill out application, after application because I couldn’t decide on which one to attend. She was there when I received each of my letters of acceptance and then took it upon herself to arrange campus tours so that I could better decide upon the school for me.

After I began university, Stephanie and I talked a couple times a year, but after she attended my wedding in 2006, we sadly lost touch.

I still think about the lessons she taught me. She inspired me how to be the woman I am today, because when no one else did, she believed I could be better.