steven fletcher in new mobility

If anyone is interested in reading my profile of Canadian MP Steven Fletcher, which ran in the September issue of New Mobility magazine, here it is.

I'm not thrilled with some of the editing - I think the piece I turned in was a bit livelier - but other than that, I'm happy with it. I very much enjoyed interviewing Fletcher. Although I don't agree with his politics, I fully admire the man.

I very rarely feel sorry for the people with disabilities I interview. They lead full lives, and their burdens are not necessarily greater than those of non-disabled people, just different. I've gone beyond disability rights; I subscribe to disability pride.

Fletcher, however - like Brooke Ellison, who I've written about several times - evokes different feelings for me.

Being unable to walk does not seem particularly tragic to me, and to many wheelchair-users. The circumstances that result in disability are often traumatic, but life itself may be very ordinary. In a fully accessible world, wheeling is a perfectly good way to get around. (That's a central tenet of the independent living movement: it's the barriers that need fixing, not us.)

But imagine not being able to move any part of your body - not an arm, not a hand, not a finger. Imagine being a fully functioning head on an inert body. Someone like Rick Hansen - or even Sam Sullivan, who is fully independent - is in a very different position than Fletcher or Ellison. But Fletcher and Ellison have forged rich and meaningful lives for themselves, and they want to help others do the same. I deeply admire them both.

So here it is. You might be interested in how a profile like this is written for a disability audience. NM is written for - and mostly by, but not in my case - people who use wheelchairs.


Jen said...

Hi L-girl,

Are you okay with my emailing this article out en masse to my nursing classmates?


L-girl said...

Jen, I am honoured. Go right ahead.

Scott M. said...

Great article. The pre-edited version would be interesting to see...?

I can say that the last few weeks in a manual wheelchair have been quite revealing for me. Home was challenging, but Montreal is *not* wheelchair friendly. I could go on, but it's all been said before I'm sure.

L-girl said...

Scott, why have you been using a wheelchair?

And thank you, I'm glad you enjoyed the story.

Scott M. said...

Oh! I thought I had mentioned. Sorry.

Dawn and I went hiking up near Tobermory on the Bruce Trail on our anniversary (Aug 20) and I fell down the cliff. I managed to bruise my fibula, which is mostly healed, but I also managed to wrench my patella and the tendons attached waay out of whack.

I had to walk out after the fall, and that week I tried to walk gingerly, though I just made things worse. The next week I was at home in immense pain and barely moving. The next two weeks I was in a wheelchair when not at home and on crutches at home.

The next two weeks I was only on crutches while we were on vacation and things were getting better but then they got much worse. I had to go back to a wheelchair and, coincidentally, I had to go to Montreal for work (which is where I am now).

Hopefully I'll be back out of the chair next week.

impudent strumpet said...

OMG, you asked my question! Awesome!

The one thing that really surprised me in that article was how he was assigned scribes who didn't know mathematical notation (and weren't given enough warning/info/time/whatever to learn). Coming from a languages/music/math background, that's a nightmare scenario - never mind grad school, I wouldn't have been able to finish high school if my academic success were dependent on everything being written down by someone who isn't necessarily trained in the notation required for the subject.

L-girl said...

Scott, omg, awful. I hope the rest of your recovery goes well.

ImpStrump, of course I asked your question! It was great, because he said he gets asked that all the time, and that led us to what else he is frequently asked.

From the people I've interviewed, I have the impression that scribes are poorly paid and largely untrained.

Scott M. said...

I know I wouldn't take much of the untrained scribes if they were provided by the university... the first time I ran into the trouble I'd ask the scribe to get the proctor and have the proctor explain how to write what I'm saying.

It's irresponsible for the institution to provide someone who can't help.

And if it had to be arranged by Fletcher himself, not to be too harsh but he should interviewed better.

L-girl said...

People usually don't meet their scribes until they're in the classroom. Disability Services - or some similar agency or dept - arranges scribes, notetakers and the like. The student has no choice and is not involved.

Scott M. said...

Then the school should be ashamed. And you bet your booties that I would be asking the Proctor to translate for the scribe!

L-girl said...

Scott, I've never heard of any school anywhere operating any differently.

In my brief experience as a notetaker, for example, I met my student/client in the classroom. My supervisor and all my fellow notetakers said that this was the case 100% of the time.

Resources are scarce, staff overworked, and everyone's just supposed to be glad these accommodations exist at all.