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Labeling Envelopes, #JusJoJan #SoCS

Pesos come in all different sizes. This is awfully helpful.

Just Jot It January/Stream of Consciousness Saturday

I used to be able to see the dark numbers on money or even feel it. Now, money here in Canada is smooth and it has braille markings on each bill, to distinguish the different currencies. This is key.

There could be cases of blind people getting ripped off because they gave the wrong dollar amount, unable to tell the difference. Coins are of all different sizes and textures, but it is often helpful having different amounts, to compare and contrast.

U.S. bills are not labeled and I don’t believe they come in multiple sizes. I don’t frankly see why it’s so difficult to put braille dots on the bills in the United States. They have the ADA don’t they (American’s With Disabilities Act) – shouldn’t they be the first to do this? One thing, of the many things, that baffles me about that country right now.

Blind people learn to come up with creative solutions for many many problems. They fold their money in specific ways and put it in places, so they know which dollar amount they might be taking out. Accidents do happen yet still.

I frighten people a little bit, when I let it slip that I enjoy the smell of things like gasoline, permanent markers, and car exhaust. To be clear…I DO NOT SEEK THESE THINGS OUT!

I used a lot of permanent markers, when I was younger, because I could see them to write. Smell is an important sense for me. I guess I just have to hope no permanent damage was done. No lasting affects on my brain.

I even enjoyed the odour of the saline solution, I believe it was, that the nurses would use to flush out my central line for dialysis. The throat and the nasal passages are connected and I would experience a strange sensation of tasting and smelling that I found to be quite pleasant, whereas most of dialysis was not.

As for scents of things I do not like, money is at the top of my list. Of course, we all use and need money. Some of us love it more than others. I appreciate having it, but not smelling it.

I hope I can hold onto it. I hope I can tell it apart. Please, let me figure out the conversion rates.

Gulp!

Please, oh please!

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Guest Blogs and Featured Spotlights, Happy Hump Day, IN THE NEWS AND ON MY MIND

Time For A Change

Who are you voting for? Who am I voting for?

Good question.

***

“Watching the news in the evening is a bit like being on an emotional Tilt-aWhirl. “Isis now sets people on fire.” “Harper Lee has a new book out!” “Some oddballs are bringing measles back because they’re scared of autism, which is a bit like saying I’m worried about birthday candles, so let’s start a forest fire.” “It’s going to be gorgeous this weekend!” “Look, a politician being deliberately rude.” “And also, look at these adorable puppies!” My limbic system does not work that fast!”
–JEG

***

From Harper Lee to Stephen Harper.

Another one of these “In The News” posts, two weeks in a row, but this one is a special edition, not my favourite topics, but definitely in the news here.

I read so many awful, nasty comments in the Facebook post from a local college. The question of refugees, Syrian and other, was being debated. It was shockingly sad to hear some of the statements people were making.

What would I do if I had a home no more and had to leave? What would I want?

I did one project, in high school, about the immigration process. I have no clue, being born a Canadian, what it takes to become one.

Is Stephen Harper pushing a cynical agenda, a lot of prejudice against any specific group of people? Could anybody be so wrong as to vilify any whole group of people for the actions of the few? Are there those living here who don’t feel safe, feel wanted, feel accepted?

I knew very little about much when 9/11 happened. I don’t see how bad it’s said to have gotten since. That’s not my experience, but I know how important it is to feel like a part of one’s country, society, treated like a real person who matters.

Fifty years in Canada, and now I feel like a second-class citizen

“It was great to be in London with hundreds of enthusiastic Conservatives last night. People here want lower taxes, balanced budgets, and more good Canadian jobs. They’re voting Conservative on October 19th. Will you be doing the same?”
–Stephen Harper

Canada’s Prime Minister, Stephen Harper, has been leading Canada for, what seems like forever to me now.

Does that mean it is time for a change?

Research. Educate. Check the facts. Pay attention to your gut. What are the facts anyway?

I have felt an unease, a slide, a nagging in the pit of my stomach these last few years. I don’t think I like what’s happened to my country, the direction we’ve been led in, but perhaps I wouldn’t have been happy before that and I just wasn’t paying much attention.

I’m told Harper looks so staged when he speaks. He won’t allow for questions. He won’t answer, won’t address.

What’s going on with the environment? What is our stance on military issues, fighting, peace?

Harper’s talk is always about budgets and other boring things. Okay, so they are necessary for the running of any country, but I know very little about them. I try to educate myself, watch the news, but read a lot, honestly, on Facebook. Articles are posted there and I read about how other Canadians live and the concerns they’re having.

His threats are all fear based. I hate that. The other guys, Trudeau or Mulcair, they will screw our country up, Harper and all Conservatives keep saying.

Vote for him or they will raise taxes. Vote for him or spending will become out of control. We wouldn’t want that, right? What sane person would want that? Of course. No brainer?

I hear this again and again. I never hear him talk about the health of the environment. I never hear any feeling in his voice. Do I truly believe that he cares at all? Would anyone else, anyone, do a worse job than he’s done? Could it get any worse? How bad is it really?

Disabled Canadians Are Invisible In This Election

Promises. Promises. Promises. I am tired of broken promises. I don’t want to feel invisible anymore.

The US has the Americans With Disabilities Act. Canada has the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, but I am looking or feeling for more of this. It is a big concern for me, even if many Canadians are more worried about taxes.

The rich, middle-class, poor. Conservative, Liberal, NDP, Green Party…so much to keep up with and keep track of.

Who do I want to run Canada? Who do I vote for and do I only feel as strongly as I do because that is how I was raised? Hmmm.

How do people pick up their beliefs? I wonder all of this as the next federal election is coming in a few short days. I want to vote, make the right choice, and see it make a difference. Is this all possible?

These are some of the questions I have been pondering lately, in the run-up to October 19th.

Re-elect Stephen Harper? Vote Liberal and Justin Trudeau or NDP and Tom Mulcair?

I voted, for the first time, back in the last election. I have done it a few times only. I didn’t exercise my right to vote, as a Canadian citizen, up until recently.

I know why I didn’t vote before that. It’s the same reason many people don’t.

Oh, I can’t possibly make the slightest bit of difference. I hate politics. I don’t know who to vote fore, so why bother, casting a vote for someone I don’t even really like?

I said all of these to myself. It is true that I hate politics.

It’s rhetoric. It’s attack ads. It’s making false promises, only to not come through with them after being elected. I loath it all.

I guess I wish we didn’t have to deal with it, but there are worse things, like not having the ability to vote at all. I tell myself this now, in moments of pure annoyance, and I say to myself that I’m damn lucky to live in Canada, even with the parts I dislike. I should be grateful and thankful and I should vote, just because I can.

So that old question, that I’ve struggled with, has been resolved in my mind. The next question, after the why, is the whom?

“Nice hair though.”

This has been a favourite line of Conservative attack ads against Justin Trudeau, along with the pronouncement that he’s just not ready yet.

I don’t know how anybody could be ready to run a country.

Do I vote for the liberals? NDP?

I ask my dad what he thinks. He tries to explain about the local politician in our area, which has been Conservative for a while. I grow weary of politics, but I must become more informed.

Minority government. Majority government. And my mind begins to drift. Blah blah blah.

I wish I had more interest in these things, but I honestly begin to doze. Politics, I can’t grow up and get away from the feeling of boredom I have always felt at thinking about government and all of its proceedings.

But then I listen to my father’s passion when he speaks of the country his parents came to, all those years ago, to start a new life. They gave him one, made one for him and his brothers. I truly believe hearing the passionate tone of my father, to understand what he cares about seeing for Canada, has been good for me. It’s taught me to figure out what I feel strongly and passionately about too. He’s shown me the importance of paying attention to how I feel and what my heart tells me is right.

I wonder how much family has influenced my thinking, but at some point we must all decide for ourselves what we believe.

I know what I truly think and feel, somewhere deep down, in my gut, I know. So why then do I still question it?

I know I want protection of our resources, our wild life, our oceans. Just the word “oil” has begun to leave a bad, you might even say an oily taste in my mouth.

🙂

I know I want freedom, to remain the welcoming people we Canadians like to think we are…to feel like we are accepting of all races, cultures, and religions.

People are going on about their discomfort with the niqab. It doesn’t affect me. I wonder what it matters to anyone else. I can’t see the coverings Muslims wear. Why do we fear this? We do not understand. It’s a sign of oppression, as we’ve been told, hear about in extreme cases that make the news.

Can we sit down and talk to those people, those women, to find out if they are happy. Do they have good lives? Are they afraid?

Islam and the Muslim religion are the targets in our world today, not only here in Canada, as we all know.

Culture and belief systems are powerful things. I don’t see to judge. Being blind helps me with that.

“This is Canada. If they don’t like it, they can go back to where they came from.”

This is something said repeatedly, at nauseam. I want us all to live our lives how we want, as long as that doesn’t include harming others. Why is that so complicated?

Instead, again there’s only more separation, more division, more one side against another. I want to feel like this isn’t always the case in Canada.

Fear of terrorism is real, but how much? How afraid should I really be that my safe home could ever see the kind of danger other parts of the world see? Do I fear or do I remain rational, find compassion, believing in a just and peaceful world?

Most people are good, only want to be left alone, to live their lives. Why must we make it more than that?

Okay, so after talking about all these things, what answers have I really found? What conclusions have I actually reached? Where do I stand?

I must go now and stop reading the upsetting things being said, the nasty back-and-forth comments on Facebook posts about who should run Canada after Monday, and move no to more important things, things that feel hopeful and positive. This afternoon’s game, the Toronto Blue Jays against the Texas Rangers. It’s all up to Toronto now.

This is their shot. Can they do it?

#ComeTogether

All I know is I feel better when I hear how hyped people around here are. The impassioned back-and-forth of politics giving way to the pride in our only MLB team.

What is it about sports, a baseball team, a game that makes us all feel so energized?

I wonder, as I’m watching. I feel the excited tension in the pit of my stomach, a nervous energy, but a quickening of my pulse, my heartbeat. It’s just a game of course, but the feeling is contagious.

Of course there are those little funny things that make the game extra fun.

US broadcaster’s comments anger all of Canada

Not such a big deal. He didn’t know. He didn’t know I spent more time, as a child, not playing baseball because of my visual impairment, but playing around a baseball diamond. My sister, my brother, my parents all played. He didn’t know. Made a silly comment and suddenly Twitter was buzzing.

I focus on the positivity I get from my mom. They can win this. It’s possible.

As Scarlet O’Hara mused, in Gone with the Wind: I will go back to thinking about politics and the important issues of the day, in the news, tomorrow.

Indeed Sheryl, indeed.

Oh no! Will she sue me for using this song in my post, if she doesn’t agree with my political views? Hope she doesn’t see this.

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1000 Voices Speak For Compassion, Guest Blogs and Featured Spotlights, Kerry's Causes, Memoir Monday, Piece of Cake, The Redefining Disability Awareness Challenge

Patience With Public Perception

Last time, on the

Redefining Disability Awareness Challenge,http://rosebfischer.com/2014/07/15/the-redefining-disability-awareness-challenge/

I wrote about my diagnosis of kidney disease:

The D Word!

Here’s today’s question.

***

Q: How has public perception of disability changed in your lifetime?

A: Okay, so I will try my best to look at this question with an optimistic viewpoint, as much as possible – because although progression doesn’t happen as quickly as I’d like it to, it does happen.

I don’t know if so-called “public perception” has changed all that much really.

Yeah, the optimism is coming…just wait for it.

🙂

All I mean by that is that although conditions are hopefully improving, the question of what the public thinks, feels, or knows logically or through education are all different questions.

I was born in the 1980s and so not that long ago, in the grand scheme of things. In that time, in the US there was the introduction of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which came on the scene six years after I was born.

Here in Canada, we have:

**The Charter of Rights and Freedoms

and

**The Canadian Human Rights Act

http://www.ccdonline.ca/en/about/

Disability is such a broad and all-encompassing term. It isn’t easy to lobby for every single disability out there.

http://www.ccdonline.ca/en/about/history

There’s a little thing called equal opportunities, which is becoming more commonly known in workplaces, but I still sense a lot of ignorance and discrimination, whether meaning it or not, by employers toward anyone with a disability:

I want to know my obligations. – Canadian Human Rights Commission

Right there!

The fact that the word “obligation” is used feels ugly. I read that and I already feel like I’m an obligation or a burden, just something mandated by the government and forced upon every unsuspecting company.

If so, well what’s wrong with that then?

I should be happy with that, right? The government is taking the necessary steps toward inclusion.

Laws may be the first step, but in many ways, they aren’t the most important one that will make the world a more inclusive place for everyone.

I believe terms such as “obligation” keep things just as focused on the negatives and downsides as my own negative tone of which I promise to keep adjusting.

I may come off sounding demanding and I am, but I am willing to do my part.

I am the first to admit that I am not always a patient person, like with this issue, but I also need to work on speaking up for myself and hopefully I can make it better for someone with a disability, thirty or fifty years from now.

Accommodations must be made, but until our world opens their minds and hearts and sees less differences, I fear this will never lead to the inclusion I dream of.

So what will it take to change the public’s perceptions fully?

Here’s a blog post my friend Steph, fashion and lifestyle blogger for women who are visually impaired wrote about that:

Observing 25 Years of the ADA – Bold Blind Beauty

I think Steph says something very wise in this post. She basically says that discrimination is everywhere, from people who don’t live with disabilities, but disability does not discriminate.

Sure, it’s easy to live in fear and denial. Believe me, I am extremely familiar with these things in my own life.

Fear keeps the public from wanting to take too close a look. If society keeps people with disabilities kept separate in their own schools and clubs and then, even worse, hidden away at home, they won’t have to deal with the fact that we do exist and deserve to have all the same opportunities for work and life.

However, the denial that goes along with this won’t protect them when disability comes into their own lives.

Laws are important and all well and good, but perceptions are a little more difficult to control this way.

You’d have to really get out there, to ask people what their true feelings are on disability, to follow them through their daily lives to see how they might react to certain situations.

I perceive myself one way, but I can’t control how other people will perceive me.

I will still continue trying to make strides in this arena though because it matters.

I do believe things have improved, in the thirty years since I was born – don’t get me wrong.

See, I can be optimistic. It’s just a little more complicated than that.

Sure, I get angry. I grow frustrated that the public just doesn’t understand, but I am very willing to keep the dialogue going.

Anger can work for you. It has propelled some of us in positive ways.

We do progress, as a species, even if we backslide now and again.

I do not downplay or discount all I have mentioned above, all that has been put in place since I was born thirty-one years ago. I even like to think it was, partly thanks to my appearance on the scene, that these leaps forward were made.

🙂

Too presumptuous? Okay, perhaps.

But in and amongst the frustration and the fear, I do have hope. Most people in the public are curious and kind. They don’t purposefully go out of their way to put up roadblocks for those of us with disabilities. It’s just that we need more than pity or good intentions. We need awareness and action.

I will admit, I’m not the first person to know all about public policies and government initiatives, but I do know about what it’s really like to live with a disability, in a world where I am in the minority.

The public does want to move beyond the fear and the denial; or at least, that is what I tell myself.

We must focus on what we can do, disabled or not, instead of what we can’t.

***

What can I do to help this process along? I ask you, the public!

Public…are you there?

(Crickets.)

🙂

Hmmm. Awkward!

Well, in the meantime…check out:

The Redefining Disability Awareness Challenge on Facebook

And maybe fifty years from now we won’t need to have a Facebook page at all. Maybe disability won’t be such a big deal any longer. Or, maybe, awareness will always be a necessary and an important thing? What do you think?

Next week’s question is a variation on this weeks’:

How has your perception of disability changed in your lifetime?

Oh, how indeed.

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