Conference paper

Hi there everyone!

I am excited! A friend has sold me their CCTV (digital magnifier), it is a tabletop, which means it is most stronger, and more powerful than Shannon, which is smaller, portable.

One of my goals of this new (to me) CCTV, Shannon XL, is to type out old papers and such. That way I can get rid of them!

Sooo… to start things off…

In 2001, I attended the 7th Helen Keller World Conference, in Auckland, New Zealand. This was my second, and so far, last HKWC. I also attended the one before, in 1997, in Bogotá, Colombia. I was asked to present a workshop, at both conferences in fact! Of course I said YES! The 1997 workshop is lost, I can’t even remember my topic!

For your reading pleasure, here my workshop that I presented in Auckland! I am typing it as I see it, no changes at all. I will add occasional notes here or there… Enjoy!

Human rights for Deaf-Blind People

The Right to Dream

Human Rights is a tricky subject, this morning Lex summarized it beautifully. (Craig here, I know I wrote this speech BEFORE the workshop, so I am assuming Lex did a great job! Also, it is Lex Gaurdia, President of World Federation of the Deafblind. Sadly he passed away a few years ago; remarkable man.) It is not my intention to explain again what he discussed in different words. I do not want to confuse or overlap. The goal of this workshop is for us to help each other, to learn from each other, to be inspired by others in the room. I want everyone to learn something new that they can try within their community that will help the human rights of those who are deaf-blind. We are the experts to help and support others. (Craig here, by others, I am pretty sure I meant “other Deaf-Blind persons”)

But before we get to that, I would like to explain my title “the Right to Dream”, we are Deaf-Blind people of the world, all have one thing common, we have a vision and hearing loss. How much, depends on the person. There are no two deaf-blind people who have exactly the same vision and hearing loss. We are still normal, and because we are normal we have dreams for our selves, dreams to improve our lives. These dreams are the most important part of human rights, without dreams we are (Craig here: …we are or we can become…) dependent on others. Sometimes people say to us: “no, you cannot do that” or “You are deaf-blind, let me do that for you”, these barriers should and can be overcome, overcoming these barriers is now we achieve out human rights. Our rights as deaf-blind persons are not given to us, we must go out and get them!

The right Lex outline this morning are all connected to the right to dream, we have the right to be self-reliant, this means we are dependent on ourselves (underline added) not on others. We have the right to be educated and the right to be employed, we have the right for independence. We do not and should not be limited because of our deaf-blindness. We also have another right that I think is very important, we have the right to have intervenors, support service providers, guides, tutors or whatever you with to call them, they are the eyes and ears for a deaf-blind person and will improve independence by supporting our acquisition of knowledge and information that is not readily available to us. (Craig here, I think I was trying to imply that because of our vision and hearing losses, we miss much information, because our eyes not see everything, and our ears not hear anything… or something like that.)

The right to an intervenor is, of course, dependent on a countries (that should be country’s) assets, some countries will have more intervenors than others. For example, USA and Canada have a good support of intervenors, whereas third world countries might not have a big resource. However, Deaf-blind persons must use what they have, and use their resources, intervenors, wisely. Please do not abuse your intervenors. They are human too and have rights just the same as we do!

I want to give two examples of how Deaf-Blind people achieved their dreams, or are working on their dreams. The first example is my Deaf-Blind friend, he is a brown belt in judo, and he is now training to attend the 2004 Paralympics in Athens, Greece. He has not competed in a Paralympics since 1988, so he is really focused on relearning the strategies and techniques. I envision him to win a gold medal! He is training to achieve his dream!

The second example is me, in 1988 I spoke with a government official because I wanted funding from that program (Craig here, which program? I have no idea!) to attend college. She looked at my (high school) transcript and said that I could not go to college. My grades were really bad. I was not given funding. However, I went ahead and got funding myself (which means Student Loans) and went on to graduate from college, goo on to university and now I am graduated from university with a Bachelors of Arts, major Psychology,, minor Learning disabilities. I am still searching for work! <smiles>

Now, the goal of this workshop is to be listen to people from the audience, their human rights struggles, triumphs and problems. We will then offer ideas or suggestions on how to help support that person. Triumphs or success stories are also important because they inspire others!

But, most importantly, it is important to inspire yourself!

Pretty breathtaking, yes?

If I recall, I had many people talking about their issues and frustrations, there was a lot of crying and sharing of tissue-boxes. Many negative stories and first hand experiences. Sorry, I can’t recall what they said.

Oh, the friend who wanted to go to Athens, sadly, he was not successful. He was not qualified to attend!

And I am still unemployed! Through, now I do not want work, but instead, I want to publish my work!

After think about this presentation, I feel I did not do justice; I don’t seem to answer the question: “what is the right to dream” and I give two examples that are not wholly connected at all.

So, in the next blog, I will do a new “Right to Dream” presentation! Make sure you click it so you can read the updated version!


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