Friday, June 18, 2010

Living in 3D: Diversity, Difference and Disability

We at Vita Community Living Services have been busily looking for a means to develop an atmosphere of 'Disability Pride' throughout the organization. We have found precious few images that we can use and as such we have set about creating something to fill the void. I've been wanting to address the subject of 'Pride in Disability' throughout the organization and have been working diligently to create a year long curriculum. I imagine doing an event throughout the organization once every month. The idea is to give us the opportunity to give positive messages about diversity, difference and disability.

Our Self Esteem teachers have told me that the individuals that take their classes WANT to learn about their disability, they want to understand what their disability means, they want to understand and talk about the stares and the sometimes hostile treatment they experience in the community. It became clear in these classes that people with disabilities 'see' the everyday social acts of discrimination and need a forum to learn how to interpret them and react to them.

As an organization we have committed to the concept of safety. So we need to encourage safety in the larger community but then there is the radical concept of safety in the small inner community of self. Those voices that we use when we speak to ourselves can either be kind or cruel. Those voices can echo negative words about disability or they can learn to speak the kinder words of truth - that we are all different but worthy.

Safety within. Safety without.

So, here is the image that we have created. I present this to you with a great sense of pride - is that irony or coincidence - I've never known the difference.



To explain some of what you are seeing. The sign at the heart of the image is 'together' ... now look in the image itself, on the young boy's tee shirt you will see the braille symbol for people, again ... look ... you will see that a woman is signing 'love'. Any of the ways that you combine these words, they say something important.

What's best for me, in looking at this image, is remembering the discussions in the creation of it. The idea came from artwork that I saw in Edmonton and then grew and changed becoming more and more inclusive with each version.

Hope you like it.

No.

Hope you love it.

18 comments:

theknapper said...

Love the image

Janet said...

If other organizations wanted to implement the year long disability pride program, would Vita be willing to partner. I'd like to see if this is something that we could do here with our consumers. It seems like we shy away from any mention of disability, I think that may be a diservice to them and may be transmitting a subtle atmosphere of shame. What you are suggesting here is radical.

Adelaide Dupont said...

What a great picture and message!

wendy said...

Absolutely LOVE the image.

Susan said...

It's incredible! I love it, all right! Congratulations!

Manuela said...

Janet: We would be pleased to share anything that furthers the safety, pride or for that matter skills of people with disabilities. Feel free to contact either Dave or myself directly. For those that don't know Dave is Director of Clinical and Educational Services and I am the Executive Director at Vita. You can reach me at mdallanora@vitacls.org

OhWheely . . said...

Love it!

Are Vita thinking of bringing out a t-shirt or sweater with this logo? I'd buy one.

liz said...

I love it.

Kristin said...

That is incredible!

Anonymous said...

I do love it but I'm wondering what the symbol is on the boy's T-Shirt? It looks like an "R"?

Dave Hingsburger said...

Anon,

Thanks for your question about the boy's tee shirt. I've clarified on the post itself that that symbol is Braille for 'people'.

Princeton Posse said...

I second Wheeely's request. T-shirts? I'd put in an order.

Tamara said...

Love it - nice job ---

Moose said...

WAY cool!

Cynthia F. said...

LOVED it, and just printed it out to post in my office, maybe as a way of sparking conversations or making people feel welcome. My husband is an educator, and he and some colleagues have little stickers posted on their doors with the pink triangle and the words "Safe Zone." I want to try to create that kind of space and this image is perfect!

brilliantmindbrokenbody said...

I like the image as a whole, but there was one little thing that bothered me, and that's from my experience as a service dog partner.

Most of the people in the picture are holding hands, are interacting with other people, but the person with the service dog stands unconnected to the others. I have found that when I am out and about, people respond to me as 'woman attached to dog' instead of as a person. The comments and questions and interactions I have with strangers are always about the dog. Even chit-chat with people checking me out of stores, which is usually about the weather or other inconsequential things, is about the dog.

It makes you feel very much like you only matter in the world because you're partnered with a dog, and even then, only that relationship matters - not the rest of you.

~Kali

cribs said...

That is one of the greatest picture I ever saw. Looking in that picture you can easily get the message that they want to say. Thank you for sharing it.

Kinjal Doshi said...

Hi,

My supervisor, Susie Kisber, and I really like the image your created and posted your blog. We facilitate a group here at UC Davis for students who have a chronic illness, visible or invisible disability, and we would very much like to use this image for our flyers with your permission. We do intend to identify you as the proprietor of this image.

Please feel free to contact me at doshi@ucdavis.edu to let me know if we do or do not have your permission, and I will also be happy to answer any questions you may have.