How to Be an Advocate for Disabilities: Guest Blogger Zachary Weeks

How to Be an Advocate for Disabilities: Guest Blogger Zachary Weeks

Posted by Spoonie Threads Staff on

Hello there, I'm Zachary Weeks. As a resident of Alberta, I find myself deeply engaged in the world of disability advocacy and accessibility consulting. My own experience of living with cerebral palsy and utilizing a power wheelchair full-time has not only shaped my personal path but fundamentally intertwined my life with advocacy.

The Gritty Truth

The role of a disability advocate is filled with profound challenges. It requires constantly explaining the barriers faced by individuals with disabilities to those who may never have encountered them personally. Consider this: nearly a third of Canadians live with a disability, yet a significant number of people remain unaware of the critical issues at stake.

However, this work is extraordinarily rewarding. It's what motivates me each day (alongside my indispensable personal care attendant, who enables me to do this important work and live my life to its fullest—a heartfelt thanks to all the personal care attendants whose contributions are too often overlooked). Advocacy is my contribution back to society, ensuring others with disabilities can lead lives marked by dignity and independence.

The Balancing Act

I'll be honest—the life of an advocate can be grueling. At times, it feels like running on a hamster wheel, expending endless energy yet seemingly making little progress. But then come those breakthrough moments that reaffirm the importance of our efforts. Those are the moments that make it all worthwhile.

More Than Advocacy

Throughout this journey, I've formed incredibly meaningful friendships. These relationships, based on shared experiences, are a continuous masterclass in the diverse ways people navigate life, influenced by their unique needs and perspectives. They've enriched my understanding of the vast, intricate mosaic of human life.

Alberta’s Double-Edged Sword

Living in Alberta is an experience filled with contrasts. It’s a province known for its stunning landscapes and warm hospitality. Yet, when it comes to accessibility legislation, we find ourselves wanting. The dream is a society where everyone can easily access public spaces, secure meaningful employment, receive appropriate healthcare, and live in suitable housing. Today, that remains a goal, not a reality. Our lack of comprehensive accessibility laws often leaves us dealing with a confusing array of policies that can seem as unpredictable as a labyrinth with shifting walls.

Inspired by Giants

In the spirit of pioneers like Judy Heumann, who challenged and sought to change societal perceptions and legal frameworks, I am inspired to forge new paths toward inclusivity and accessibility here in Alberta. Judy’s historic activism, including sit-ins and protests, not only garnered rights but also lit a path for others to follow. Her legacy continues to inspire our community's efforts and fortify our determination.

Let's Keep Rolling Forward, Together

Despite the legislative shortcomings, my advocacy work continually reminds me of the resilience within our community and the transformative power of a unified voice. It's about facing adversity with a smile, valuing diverse experiences, and tirelessly advocating for a future where everyone has the opportunity to flourish. If you're navigating the world of disabilities, or if you simply share a passion for building a more inclusive society, I welcome the chance to connect. Whether you're seeking support, interested in collaboration, or just want to share your story, please reach out. I'm always eager to expand our community and explore new possibilities. Together, let's continue to advance, turning obstacles into opportunities, celebrating each victory, and making enduring changes for the better.

Learn more about Zachary Weeks, Accessibility consultant on his site:
zacharyweeks.ca 

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