Say That How?

Masters Paper: Say That How? Differences in accessibility guidelines for people with cognitive disabilities in Canada and Britain.

This paper built up over the first year of my masters. I was beginning to learn about new ways to share information and different ways to understand disability and neurodiversity.

As a result, I wrote three papers that all built upon one another that eventually lead to writing this paper. The whole concept of the paper was to understand two things: did organization for learning disability put information out in a format that neurodiverse people can easily understand. Was any format preferences connected with the way learning disability was understood.

Example of the tool I developed and used to look at the 6 different websites.
Example of the tool I developed and used to look at the 6 different websites.

I submitted this paper, and won 3rd place, in the Canadian Disability Studies Associations Student Paper Competitions. I am pleased to say I got to present the paper at Congress in 2014. I had submitted it for publication, but it needed reworking for that to happen.

I was against rewriting the paper because I wrote it in a narrative style. This way the reader was brought along a journey with me.  They met the barriers in the same way I did. I felt this narrative style was important to the research as a whole.

Overall, the paper highlighted three things:

  1. The term learning disability (LD) does not mean that same thing in the UK and North America. (In the UK the term LD often means a person has what in Canada is called ‘developmental disability’. This combines issues with learning with processing issues that can create more issues with learning new things. While in Canada, specifically means that the person has little processing issues, but has difficulties leaning within the specific education system).
  2. There is a different in the how information is presented in the UK and Canada.
  3. There is a difference in the how disability and neurodiversity if understood between the UK and Canada.

While the differences in how the term learning disability is understood, I still believe that the results are worth noting.

Results of the Text Tool
Results of the Text Tool. Overall findings that Canadian Organization use a medical model where as UK organizations use a social model.

The strong reliance on a medical understanding of learning disabilities in Canada mean that many organizations are run by people without neurodiversity. This is drastically different than in the UK, where organizations and projects are developed and run by neurodiverse people more often.

I believe that there needs to be a greater presence of neurodiverse people involved with these organization, which must be willing to change to support the wants and needs of the people they are suppose to uplift.

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