Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Citizenship!

We voted yesterday.

And I had a thought.

As we arrived at the 519 Church Street Community Centre we saw signs indicating that this was indeed a polling station. Even though we've been there several times and knew where the accessible entrance was (thankfully not through the back door) it was cool to see that there were really clear directions for wheelchair users and others who needed a ramp placed strategically to catch those coming from either north or south. Once into the building, again there was clear signage fro both those who walked and those who rolled. Further there were those there to help out anyone who was even slightly confused about where to go.

Inside I was given clear directions, in plain language, for how to fill out the ballot. As it turned out I was glad of the instructions because I'd never seen a ballot like the one I'd been given and it needed to be marked in a way I've never done before. I'd have figured it out, but the explanation was clear, quick and easy to understand. They had a voting both for people with disabilities who needed adaptive equipment (I didn't see what the equipment was or what it did) but as I just needed a bit of space they simply pulled one of the tables out a bit further from the wall.

I voted.

I handed it in.

I saw it processed.

My civic duty had been done.

But, what I thought about, was that everything that was there for me, every single adaption, from the ramp to the building, to the door openers, to the disability signage, to the use of plain language, to the adapted booth, to the quick and ready assistance to move a table - every single thing represented a victory, represented a battle won for access and equal citizenship for people with disabilities. I was there voting because others fought, not for the right to vote but for the right to be able to vote - to access the electoral process.

I voted because others made that possible.

My citizenship and full participation, as a wheelchair user, was not granted to me by the simple fact I was born Canadian.

My citizenship is hard won.
My citizenship was established by battle not gifted by government.
My citizenship isn't to be taken lightly.

I owe a debt to those who fought for and won the ramp that takes me from passive recipient to active participant.

I owe a promise to those yet to come that what we have we will not loose and what we need we will continue to fight for - and voting is a helluva good place to start.

3 comments:

Colleen said...

I remember talking to an MPP who told me that disability issues were not important because "they don't vote".

Thank you to all the trailblazers who are making that statement untrue!

Andrea S. said...

In the United States, they recently did a poll which found that, in some of the more closely contested states for Senator races, people with disabilities make a voting block that could help swing some of these elections:

http://bit.ly/DisabilityPoll2014

Now, I'm waiting to see if Senators take note of the poll and do anything to reach out to voters with disabilities!

B. said...

Yes, this is progress and it feels good. Thanks, Dave.