Sunday, August 5, 2012

New Voices

It has been 16 years since Gunnar Dybwad & Hank Bersani published New Voices . This is a book (originally published in 1996) about the self-advocacy movement by people with disabilities. The New Voices provided much needed direction across many topics. Shouldn't the people who know best lead? For people to become leaders we have to begin developing these skills in our schools. It starts in preschool and has to take flight in high school, especially during the transition years. It does not matter if the person uses spoken language, graduates with a diploma and future degrees or is totally dependent on others to meet basic needs. I still hear how "they" really do not know what is best. I hear about how we spend too much money on people who do not contribute. These are of course falsehoods which are perpetuated by society. As teachers, mentors, professionals and family members we must push much harder at facilitating the development of skills to create ongoing generations of "New Voices". Leadership can be many things. What we need to remember is to never stand in front of anyone. We must stand beside those we serve, working tirelessly each day so that a new voice will be heard tomorrow.


  1. A society is only as strong as its weakest members. There are many ways to contribute to society. We have an obligation to acknowledge and encourage the input of our most vulnerable members. Patience, perseverance, strength, commitment and unconditional love are just a few of the qualities these "non contributing" members of society can teach us. We are not necessarily the strong ones. Many times we are just the ones who can be heard.

  2. Laura,

    You make a very powerful point. I think society has forgotten that the Constitution was written for all of us. There were no exceptions made. The strength and courage that I see in the people I have had the privilege of knowing is far beyond what I have ever had to face. Even if each of us could experience what it would be like to walk in someone else's shoes for one day, I believe it would permanently change each of us. We need to be much better listeners. Most of all, we really need to believe what we are saying.