16 June 2013

Canamica retreat open to all, but no ramps for wheelchair-user?

Canamica is a Jewish spiritual and educational retreat whose website states is "open to all." Yet when Jim Sinclair, founder of the Autism Network International, asked whether there would be ramps so xe could access the buildings that are inaccessible, xe was told by three of the organizers not to expect ramps and that xe won't be able to get into all of the buildings.

More to come later on this, as the retreat is happening now, but here are the relevant comments from a Facebook thread posted on Canamica's public page.


June 7 at 2:04pm
"The retreat is open to all." Yet a wheelchair user was told by three different retreat organizers not to expect to be able to get into the buildings. Huh?

Technically true, as all but one of the cabins is inaccessible. But we don't hold programming in the cabins--it's all in the tent, in the dining hall, in another structure the children use, or outdoors. You can expect some grass travel and uneven surfaces, but no steps.
June 7 at 3:57pm

is there any way folks can contribute so that ramp(s) can be a possibility this and any/all other years?
June 7 at 5:33pm

a little bird told me the same, about a chair user being told there's no ramp. ...which is confusing, as I'd think a community would seek to reach all of its members. Saying "except you, you broken person" is kind of...offputting. Oh and would be illegal if this wasn't a religious thing.
June 7 at 6:56pm

This same person has participated other years, in a wheel chair. What has changed? Inconvienience isnt an excuse. We disabled are not burdens. We are not too expensive. We are not the first to be thrown under the bus.
June 7 at 7:36pm

Yes, it would seem that if someone is aware of a problem with access now, I would think there would be plenty of time to remedy the situation. There are still comments hidden?!! What is that about? Also, why are non-issues being addressed in response to concerns?
Friday at 8:01am

Response from Jim (wheelchair user told not to expect ramps) to Stan's comment: There *might* have been time to remedy it, if Sara's query about how people can help had not been hidden all this final week before Canamica.
Thursday at 9:17am

There is a permanent ramp in place at the accessible cabin. All the other non-cabin buildings are step-free. The only issue is whether we get a threshhold ramp to span the (sizeable) bump at the bottom of the permanent ramp. If Sara, Jim, or anyone else would like to bring one, they would be very welcome to do so. We on the organizing committee would very much appreciate it, as this is a matter that slipped through the cracks this year.
Thursday at 4:44pm

Justine, I've unhidden Sara's note now. We do appreciate the offer of help. We don't need a full ramp, though, just a threshhold ramp. In future years this will be part of our checklist.
Thursday at 4:51pm

It seems to me that putting the burden of accessibility only onto one or two persons attending escapes the concept of accesability. Surely this matter has been known about for years. Surely there must be some way that effort and expense might be spread around the larger community? Especially with the shortness of time matter.
Thursday at 4:54pm

Sara, everything we do comes down to one or two people actually doing it. We're not a large organization. In previous years, this has been Jim's area of expertise, in the same way that the eruv is Alan's, the food is Yael's, and so forth. Like those other components, the expense comes from general revenues, which means people submit receipts and get reimbursed, but the effort, especially for this component, is pretty much a one-person job. I'm not in a position to commit to finances, but my expectation would be that if someone did make advance arrangements to bring a threshold ramp this year then we would pay them back for any costs.
Thursday at 8:55pm

Is this what has happened in previous years?
Thursday at 10:01pm

Another reply from Jim: Seriously Kivi, I am trying hard to believe this was an honest oversight and not a deliberate decision for exclusion, but credulity is being strained more and more the longer this drags on.

You've kept Sara's comment, asking how people can help you get the threshold ramps, hidden all week. Anyone who might have been able and willing to help get those ramps, had they known they were needed, wouldn't have known they were needed because the comment was hidden.

You finally unhide it this afternoon, less than an hour before close of business on the last day before Canamica begins. And then you say you'd appreciate it if someone would bring a ramp? You've effectively made it impossible for anyone to have time to make the arrangements to do so, by waiting so long--until less than an hour before close of business on the last day before Canamica begins!--to unhide the comment.

Yes, it was right for you to unhide it at last. And yes, you should also unhide the other two that have been hidden all week. You should unhide them all because that's part of honesty and transparency, and honesty  and transparency are parts of accountability, and accountability is the beginning of teshuva, and teshuva is definitely needed here.

But the deliberate actions of hiding the comments and leaving them hidden all week have eliminated all possibility of any able and willing comment-readers being able to get the ramps this year. You can't fix that. You can only quit stonewalling and make yourselves accountable for your actions. Please quit stonewalling, unhide the comments, and make yourselves accountable.
Thursday at 11:07pm

Sara, yes it is. Although the planning is usually much earlier in the process of course.
Friday at 12:54pm

Justine and Stan, please message me directly for an explanation of our posting policy.
Friday at 12:56pm

A posting policy seems like a good thing to make public on the facebook page so everybody is aware of the standards for posts.
Yesterday at 12:56am

1 comment:

  1. This is actually strange. The Jewish Community, being so small and having a social justice mindset, would usually respond to something like this better than this b.s. They're probably going to fix it next year--I mean, I hope. Ableist privilege is probably one of the least thought about types--which is infuriating.

    It's not too strange though, because when I was nine years old or so I went to a Jewish summer camp and even though my mother had told them I was taking anti-anxiety* medication and sent me with it, the nurse had not been told this, so she refused to let me take it at first. So, in addition to being in a new, loud environment with people I mostly did not know, I wasn't medicated for about a day. My mother also attempted to educate the camp director (I believe) on what the hell sensory processing disorder and Asperger's Syndrome were, but that information did not make it through. Apparently, she did not think about it a week later. I was sent home three days later for "behavioral issues." Anyway, if it sounds like I was complaining in the second paragraph, I'm sorry. It sounded like that in my head, but it seemed a tad relevant.

    *(It functioned like that for me, but not Prozac or something like that, because Prozac makes people on the spectrum depressed.)

    Post Script:
    I love this website, and I can't wait to read more posts!


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