CM . . .
. Volume XII Number 17 . . . . April 28, 2006
Between Myself and Them is a collection of stories and discussions involving people who are living life to the fullest despite their own or a family member's disability. The reader who has normal eye-sight will be treated to stories enhanced by some exceptional black and white photographs. All readers can expect to find that great care has been taken by the editor to present a wide selection of personalities, life-experiences, cultures and reflections. Like the accompanying photographs, the stories and dialogues of those who converse in the book reveal individuals who are so much more than their disability.
Identity, Work and School, Community, and Living are the four main sections of the book. The majority of the 23 stories are written in the first person by young adults who offer the reader unique accounts of their lives with a disability, and in a couple instances, their lives with a disability and another difference. The rest of the stories take the form of dialogues. Mental, physical, sensory and cognitive disabilities all figure into these discussions. Each one sheds much light on some of the psychosocial aspects of life with a disability. We hear just enough practical detail about coping with the actual disabilities.
"It is my wish that this book will show you that each person in this collection is enough." This statement in Carol Krause's introduction is reminiscent of Jean Vanier's attitude and example towards people with disabilities who are marginalized. In a recent newspaper story, Vanier was described by a journalist as "one who recognizes the inherent value in each person, regardless of their abilities, social or economic status, or achievements." The voices in this book include those of ambitious people who could be described as representative of a new generation's 'disability stereo-type busters'. Scientists, students, activists, entrepreneurs and several relatives of people with disabilities all share the pages of this book.
Krause makes brief mention of David Lepofsky in her introduction. For those unacquainted with this lawyer, political barrier-buster and disability rights activist, Lepofsky is perhaps best-known for his ground-breaking volunteer work as leader of the Ontarians with Disabilities Act (ODA) Committee. This non-partisan coalition of individuals with and without disabilities and their organizations was responsible for spearheading the push for the law called the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, 2005. Many of the people in the book were part -- in some way or another -- of this disability rights movement. As well, several of the authors, including the editor, have connections to Can-WAPSS which is the acronym for Canada-Wide Accessibility for Post-Secondary Students.
Public libraries should lose no time in acquiring multiple copies of this book and preparing to lend this book in a range of alternate formats, such as tape, compact disk, Braille, audio-book and ebook, where possible.
All Canadian student teachers and journalists in-training should read this inspiring book, as should those who are preparing to enter professions such as occupational therapy, social work, psychology or psychiatry and theology. Young people -- with or without a disability -- in search of information about careers would find a wealth of motivational material in the pages of this book. Others who are exploring the meanings of challenge and personal success in the world of work, whether it is in Ontario or beyond, should get this book. Support groups and book clubs alike would find much of value here, as would parents of young people with disabilities.
Cathy Vincent-Linderoos is a retired teacher living with multiple sclerosis in London, ON.
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Copyright © the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.