Continuing Our Work During COVID-19

By Jutta Treviranus

We are fortunate that our team members are able to work from home during this pandemic. We want to extend our enormous gratitude to the front-line workers.

During the pandemic, the demand for the services of the IDRC has only increased and our collective mission of inclusivity has become even more relevant. Given the new reality, we are working hard to find additional ways to inclusively connect, collaborate, co-design and learn. We hope to find alternative strategies for offering our Assistive Devices Program, workshops and other previously in-person services. Many of our team members have children or elders who require our care. Some of us are vulnerable or live with people who are vulnerable. The IDRC is grateful for the patience and understanding we have been shown while we adjust.

The IDRC has found that we are benefiting from everything that we have done to be more inclusive, now that we face this crisis. Among these inclusive practices is recognizing failure and mistakes as a valuable learning opportunity. This is not a time to judge, compete or compare how we are each coping. Shaming and blaming at the expense of social cohesion will only cause more chaos. There are significant wrongs and problems to address.

People experiencing disability are at the very vulnerable edge right now. Our society’s value systems are so broken that there are actually people who believe, or can be persuaded, that disability makes a life less worthy. This is incredibly cruel and unjust. It is also completely misguided. In these times, we need people who know how to live a more difficult life. We need help creating a new normal that is kind to us when we are vulnerable. People with experience of disability are among the valuable “vital few” our global society needs to get through this.

We need a survival plan that doesn’t assume we are all like the planners; we need a plan that recognizes our differences. Through our work with communities around the world we have heard what it is like to live without water, a home to shelter in, room for physical distancing, or resources to wait this out.

While we are compelled to rethink our systems of education, we have an opportunity to adopt more inclusive practices that optimize each learner’s unique potential. This will also prepare our students better for the future of work.

The workers in our communities, that have been taken for granted, are being recognized for their true value. It is time to recalibrate and recognize the importance of the labour that we have devalued and made invisible. Let’s find an economic system that rewards generosity and contributions to the commons, not popularity and greed.

We desperately need decision systems that attend to, and work for, our diversity, variability and complexity, during a time when our leaders are making hard decisions. We can’t ignore the small minorities and outliers. People who we dismiss as outliers and minority communities are also the first to notice the weak signals that we don’t expect and the disruptive events for which we are not prepared.

The IDRC is lucky to have an amazing global community network. If you feel socially isolated or alone, please come join us, we have a remote “table” that can stretch, and you can help us iteratively co-design it to fit your needs.

Thank you for your support and continued commitment to this shared mission as we work together to build a better future for us all.

On behalf of the IDRC and our global community,

Jutta Treviranus