Bigger is better bias: or the knee jerk reaction

Picture this, I tell someone I like folk music. Their response, instead of saying “really”, or “what type?”  or something like that, is to say “maybe you could be part of the band”. I use this analogy to introduce the frequent responses that I hear when we say something that a person with PIMD can do. Can you guess what they might be?…

Sometimes it might be… “How could we turn that into a functional skill”. Sometimes it might be “how could we get them into the community”
Now don’t get me wrong. I don’t have a problem with the community or functional skills. What I do have a problem with is when those lines are given so immediately without first really valuing what the person is already doing. It’s almost as though what people are already doing is second best to the prospect of doing it as a functional skill or in the community.
Is bigger always better? Is the potential functional skill always better? Is doing it in the community always better? 
Perhaps what I talked about in my age appropriateness article fits here too. Are these things operating as enablers or barriers in people’s lives? I think if the question is based on an inherent devaluing of what the person is currently doing, and there will be significant challenges in the person acquiring the proposed   next step, then I do think they can be barriers: the person is left in a situation that many people see as second best and devalued (youll only be valued when your skill is functional or community based). But, if the current non functional and non community based skill is first truly valued and then the other thing is opened as an opportunity, then they can be enablers.
So next time I say I like folk music first understand why and what I like about it, not with the agenda of then modifying me to be more functional or community based. Then, after you truly understand my like you can propose making it more functional or community based.

Accessible toilets ! YAY

Getting out and about requires access to bathrooms – this is never easy for people who require an adult sized change table and hoist. In the UK, the Time For a Change campaign is leading the way with getting more REALLY ACCESSIBLE bathrooms around see http://www.changing-places.org/index.asp

Looks like Australia is moving on this too.
Somebody at an NDS session mentioned this the other day.
Today the Victoria Infoxchange posted the following.

NewsFully accessible community toilets and baby feeding room in Frankston central business district

Contributor: Kate Sommerville.
Source: Frankston City Council, Department of Community Development.
Posted: 01-04-2009

A fully accessible community facility has been set up at 5 Keys Street, Frankston, close to the central business district and the Frankston waterfront.

Jointly funded by Frankston City Council and the Department of Human Services, this facility is the first of its kind in a community setting in Australia. It is located in a shopfront style building in a clean and attractive setting in the heart of Frankston. Accessible parking is available at the site.

The Keys Street facility includes two fully accessible toilets with hoists and adult change tables, universal male and female toilets, a parent/child toilet and baby feeding room.

One of the accessible toilets is available 24 hours a day from Keys Street. The other is only available during operational hours (see the attached leaflet).

Both accessible toilets require use of an MLAK key which can be obtained from any member of the Master Locksmiths Association of Australia (MLAA) on the submission of documentation that the user has a disability. There is a charge of around $9.

Information about registered MLAA locksmiths can be obtained by ringing 03 9645 9995 or 1800 810 698 (toll free), or visiting the MLAA website.

The MLAK or universal key is a national key across Australia for disability related facilties including toilets and Liberty swings. The MLAK system was considered necessary to facilitate the ongoing safety of equipment. The toilets have no attendant but are cleaned and checked five times daily by city contractors.

More information is available at the Frankston Visitor Information Centre on the waterfront or at the Civic Centre, corner Young and Davey Streets, Frankston. MLAK keys can also be borrowed from these locations on the submission of photo identification.

Contact Name: Kate Sommerville
Contact Phone: 03 9784 1967
Contact Email: kate.sommerville@frankston.vic.gov.au