Gregor Wolbring is a professor at the University of Calgary. He pursues ethical questions that affect those of us who are or will become disabled, infirmed, reliant on medical technology or are concerned about the implications of nano – tehnology, synthetic biology and other scientific pursuits that seem to grow exponentially without an ethical anchor. I believe that includes all of us. To my knowledge he is one of very few people in the world pursing these questions with scholarship and passion. Here is his response to: What would you like to become more visible in 2011? You can also Download Becoming Visible - the complete collection of 58 essays.
People with Disabilities as Problem Solvers
Disabled people are invisible in the discourses, yet highly impacted by contemporary problems such as climate change, disaster adaptation and mitigation, access to water and sanitation, access to food, and energy and so forth.
I highlighted for example in the 2009 paper: A culture of neglect: Climate discourse and disabled people that:
1. climate change will disproportionately and differently impact disabled people
2. the record of disaster adaptation and mitigation efforts towards disabled people is less than stellar
3. despite the fact that other social groups such as women, children, ʻthe poorʼ, indigenous people, farmers and displaced people are mentioned in climate related reports such as the IPCC reports and the Human Development Report 2007/2008: Fighting climate change: human solidarity in a divided world, disabled people are not mentioned in these reports although they are uniquely impacted by the problems covered and
4. the adaptation and mitigation knowledge existing among disabled people is not mainstreamed.
I highlighted in my nano water column that the first world water report ignored the different needs and insights disabled people have with respect to water and sanitation. The third edition of the world water report published in 2009 again ignored disabled peopleʼs needs and insights with regard to water despite mentioning other marginalized groups such as indigenous peoples, women in developing countries, the rural poor and their children. A memorandum for a World Water Protocol (MWWP) was recently generated. It also omits mention of people with disabilities. It states, "Place particular emphasis on the participation, especially those groups of citizens that are under privileged, notably, women, young people and workers/peasants."
In 2011, I would like people with disabilities to become more visible as problem solvers regarding the societal challenges that will impact them as significantly as other marginalized groups.
Read Gregor's article: Innovation for whom? Innovation for what? The Impact of Ableism.
Please share and distribute to your friends and through your various networks, websites etc. I think you will agree – these are too good to keep to ourselves.