We Can Do First Anniversary!

Posted on 24 July 2008. Filed under: Introduction to "We Can Do", News, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , |

It has now been one year since the very first We Can Do post went up a little after 9 p.m. (EST) on July 24, 2007. What has happened with this blog in that time?

In that time, thousands of individual people have browsed the pages at this blog, for a grand total of 100,000 page views. More than 200 of you subscribe to We Can Do so you know when to check the blog for the newest blog posts.

The geographical representation among the readers have fluctuated somewhat over time, but currently a little more than a quarter of you are from the United States; a little more than 10% are from India, and a little more than a quarter from East and South Asia as a whole; about 19% are from Africa; and 14% are from Europe. In other words, you come from around the globe. China and Latin America, however, are very much under-represented. I’d love to have more readers from these regions–suggestions for how to reach them are welcome!

The Most Popular We Can Do Pages
A few of the most popular blog posts and individual pages at We Can Do include the following:

Under-Rated Blog Posts
Some blog posts, at least in my humble opinion, might have been under-rated.

  • Only a few dozen people have looked at the blog post describing a resource that disability advocates can use to help schools in their country be more inclusive of students with disabilities–a publication entitled Making Schools Inclusive: How Change Can Happen. Follow the link to learn how to download the publication.
  • The United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) has a new web resource that may be helpful for actively people involved in advocating for human rights for people with disabilities. The post entitled UN Human Rights Disability Section describes, and links to, this resource.
  • One of my personal favorites is a blog post that has been read by fewer than 100 people: an essay I wrote a couple of months ago entitled “The Farmer, the Spoon, and the Plow,” an allegorical tale about why the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities is worth celebrating–and why the work of disability advocates around the world.
  • I also hope that some of you will consider using the page on Resources, Toolkits, and Funding to help you find useful materials (and a few funding sources) that you can use to improve the lives of people with disabilities in your country, or in the countries where you work. Or look for Research, reports, papers, and statistics. Some of the items that I posted months ago may still be relevant and helpful today.

What Do YOU Think?
I hope some of you will take a few minutes to add a few thoughts of your own in the comments area below this blog post. What blog posts or links at We Can Do have been the most helpful for you? What resources did you discover through this blog? How have you been using those resources to improve the lives of people with disabilities? What resources would you particularly recommend for other We Can Do readers? What kind of content do you hope I will share at this blog during its second year of existence? Do you have suggestions for how I could make We Can Do more useful for you and other disability advocates in developing countries, or for mainstream international development professionals learning how to make their programs more inclusive?

Please let me hear your thoughts!

I owe a big thank you to all the people who have given me feedback on this blog in the past year, or who have subscribed to this blog, or who simply come back to this site again and again to see the latest materials. We Can Do is entirely a volunteer effort that I work on in my free time outside of work, schooling, and volunteer activities. Your feedback helps motivate me to keep going.

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Finding Resources, Toolkits, and Funding Sources

Posted on 15 January 2008. Filed under: Case Studies, Cross-Disability, Funding, Introduction to "We Can Do", Resources | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

[Original publication at wecando.wordpress.com (We Can Do) at http://tinyurl.com/28hh6h.]

I have now created a new page, linked from the top navigation bar, entitled “Resources, Toolkits, and Funding. In this page, you can find the following types of materials:

I added this page to help readers quickly locate pragmatic resources, announced or linked from We Can Do, that you can use to help disability communities in developing countries access human rights and public services or escape poverty.

I want to continue improving this page. Please do share your feedback or suggestions in the comments area, either here or at the Resources, Toolkits, and Funding Sources page.

This new page joins other pages in the navigation bar that can help you

Still not sure how to find the materials you are looking for? See if the Navigating We Can Do page can help. I have recently revised and updated this page. I will probably continue to make further improvements in the Navigation page to make it easier to use. Please feel free to make suggestions or feedback.

Want to make sure you don’t miss any upcoming resources, toolkits, funding sources, or other informative posts at We Can Do? Consider subscribing to We Can Do so you can receive an email alert when new material is posted here.

Learn how to receive an email alert when new material is posted at We Can Do.

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Finding What You Want at We Can Do

Posted on 28 December 2007. Filed under: Announcements, Introduction to "We Can Do" | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , |

We Can Do has a growing collection of information on resources, funding sources, academic papers and research, case studies, conferences and other events, call for papers, education and training opportunities, job and internship opportunities, and volunteer opportunities. But how do you find everything that might be helpful to you in the work you do with disability communities in developing countries?

I have now created a new page to help guide you. Click on Navigating We Can Do in the top navigation bar for some quick tips on:

  • finding particular types of information
  • finding information by theme or topic
  • consulting an overview of all We Can Do posts
  • finding announcements for upcoming (or on-going) conferences, events, call for papers, education, and training opportunities
  • making sure you haven’t overlooked any recent posts at We Can Do
  • browsing all past posts in the We Can Do Archives; finding the most popular–and the most under-rated–We Can Do posts
  • finding information and resources elsewhere; making sure you don’t miss future information posted at We Can Do

Please do share any ideas you may have for how I can make it easier for you to “navigate” We Can Do. I want you to be able to quickly find the information you need to help you fight poverty among disabled people in developing countries and advocate for human rights. I also welcome feedback on making We Can Do more accessible to readers with disabilities, including people who use screen readers or screen magnifiers.

Learn how to receive an email alert when new material is posted at We Can Do.

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Why “We Can Do”?

Posted on 26 August 2007. Filed under: Introduction to "We Can Do" | Tags: |

[Note: this text has also just now been published as a new, permanent “Page” for this blog–see the top navigation bar, or the navigation bar at the right hand side of this page.]

After I came up with the basic concept for this blog, one of the first things I had to decide was: What to name it?

So: Why “We Can Do”?

“We” Means …

All of us combined–you, me, and the other people reading this blog–have the knowledge and skills to ensure that disabled people are not left behind when decision makers meet to figure out how to put all children in school, or end poverty, or bring water and electricity to isolated communities. Together, we have the skills and passion to create a world in which poor people with disabilities in developing countries have the power to choose: to choose independence, to choose self-determination, to choose life.

The trouble is, “We” isn’t “We” yet. Or at least, it’s not a single, unified “We.”

We have people in both large and small mainstream organizations dedicated to ending poverty in developing countries for all people. Unfortunately, many of these organizations have inadvertently left disabled people out–not because they mean to, but because they don’t know enough about how to include them. Some people in these organizations are working to change that.

We have people in disability advocacy organizations who bring both passion and first-hand knowledge to the fight for human rights. For some, that includes the right for disabled people to be free of poverty.

We have people in local, national, and international organizations who might not identify as “disabled” at all. They might simply identify as “Deaf”, and view themselves as members of a cultural or linguistic community. Or perhaps they identify as “Autistic” or some other label, and view that as simply a form of neurodiversity. What they do share is the desire to ensure that Deaf, Autistic, and other people, too have access to education, health services, and the opportunities they need to escape poverty.

We have people who work in the intersection of the dual fields of development and disability. Some work in organizations that focus on disability in the context of international development. Others work in mainstream development organizations, perhaps within a unit dedicated to disability issues.

And we have enthusiastic younger people who have not yet started their careers. Young people who care about the fate of people with disabilities in developing countries and want to learn more.

We all have something to offer each other. But disability experts and development experts often don’t know how to find each other. People with one disability might have limited contact with people with a different disability–even though some of the solutions to their shared challenges may be the same. Young people would love to talk to anyone who is willing to give them the time–but they might not know where to find them.

The word “We” in “We Can Do” means: it is time for all of us to share our ideas and resources and become one, stronger, more unified “We.”

“We” means that anyone and everyone who cares about removing barriers that make it harder for disabled people in developing countries to lift themselves out of poverty is welcome to this blog.

“Can” means …

Have you ever had the experience of being underestimated, ignored, or overlooked?

Have people ever “forgotten” to invite you to a meeting that affects your entire neighborhood, community, or village because they were sure you “wouldn’t be interested”? Or because they thought it would be too “difficult” to include you?

Have people ever not bothered to ask you for YOUR ideas how to solve problems that affect your entire neighborhood, community, or village because they assumed you would have little or nothing to suggest? Or because they assume that people who RECEIVE help–like you–are never able to GIVE help in return?

Have you ever had a decision made ABOUT you WITHOUT you because people thought you weren’t “competent” enough to make your own choices about your own life?

Have you ever had people try to solve your problems for you without even asking what you believe are your most urgent needs? Or without allowing you to come up with ideas for solutions yourself? Or without allowing you to simply ask for the specific resources, skills training, funding, and other assistance you need to solve your own problems yourself?

If you have a disability, or if you are poor, or if you are from a developing country, then most, if not all, of the above experiences will likely seem very familiar to you.

Many non-disabled people, or middle-income and rich people, and people from high-income countries want to “help.” And most have the very best intentions. But even good people with good intentions sometimes forget that poor disabled people in developing countries are their own most important allies for change. Sometimes good people with good intentions forget to work WITH people who are disabled, or poor, or from developing countries–not FOR them.

The word “CAN” in the name of this blog is a reminder not to underestimate what people with disabilities can do. Or what poor people can do. Or what people from developing countries can do. Frequently, the real barrier isn’t the disability, and sometimes not even the poverty or the geography. The real barrier is that poor disabled people are denied access to the things they need to solve their own problems. Most of the time, when we say, “They can’t do it,” what we really mean is, “We haven’t yet asked them what they need to turn ‘can’t’ into ‘can.'”

They may need support and tools and resources. They may need skills training and expert advice. And, yes, they nearly always need funding. (Don’t we all?) But if you ask poor disabled people from developing countries, “Can you do it?” the answer you receive often will be, “Yes, we can.”

“DO” means …

What does the word “Do” mean in the name “We Can Do”?

That depends partly on YOU, and the other people reading this blog.

I expect this blog will include many kinds of posts. Some will simply announce an upcoming conference, training opportunity, or other event. Others will deal with concepts and ideas that might be useful for people new to disability or development to think about. Or, I might arrange “pro” and “con” essays (and rebuttals) among experts who hold opposing opinions on issues important to disabled people in developing countries.

But I don’t want this blog to be all in the abstract. If you’re reading this blog, that’s because you care about real people who have real problems who need real solutions–NOW. You care about people who don’t have time to sit around and wait while “experts” talk at each other through the Internet. You work with people who are starving–for food, for water, for shelter, for health services, for education, for vocational training, for jobs, for microfinance services, and for a path out of poverty. And because of that, you want to DO–not just talk.

Talking about ideas and concepts and sharing information still have their place. Bringing together people who have very different personal and professional backgrounds also has a place. And I hope to do both of these things here. But I would also very much like to include purely pragmatic materials in this blog. In other words, resources that can be put to immediate use by people out in the field so they can start making a tangible difference in the lives of real people. Resources that can be used by people who DO, not by people who talk.

And for that, I am counting on YOU.

Do you have resources or materials that could be helpful to people who are working hard to make a difference in the lives of poor people with disabilities in developing countries? Perhaps you have a check list that can be used by educators in poor, rural areas to make their schools a little more accessible to disabled students without spending money or consuming time that they just don’t have. Or maybe you have been running a successful project that you think could be replicated elsewhere. And you’re willing to write up a case study that would help people figure out how to emulate your efforts. Or maybe you have done exactly the opposite: you have allowed a failed project to collapse because you realized that it just wasn’t accomplishing what it was supposed to do. And you think you know where you went wrong. You, too, could write up a case study that could help other people avoid repeating the mistakes you have already made.

If you have a pragmatic resource to share with people who DO, please send it my way. I’d love to post it right here at this blog.

You can reach me by email at ashettle & patriot.net but replace the &ampersand with the @ at sign. And of course type my email address as all one word. (I’m presenting my email address in this way to help protect it from spam harvesters.) Or, if you have trouble reaching me by email (for example, if my spam filter mistakes your email for spam), post a comment at this blog and I’ll get in touch with you.

Please be patient. I will try to respond to emails promptly. But please understand that I work on this blog as a labor of love in my free time, which is often limited. Please DO send follow-up emails (or comments) to help me remember to respond.

I’m working on a set of guidelines for “Guest Bloggers” (which you would be, if you submit something that I post!). It’s not ready yet. But don’t wait for me to finish it before offering your help or submitting something for me to publish.

For more information on the “We Can Do” blog, also see the About the “We Can Do” Blog” page.

Learn how to receive an email alert when new material is posted at We Can Do.

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Welcome to the “We Can Do” Blog!

Posted on 25 July 2007. Filed under: Introduction to "We Can Do", Uncategorized | Tags: , , |

What is this blog about?
This blog is for anyone who wants to end poverty and oppression for poor disabled people in developing countries.

I plan to cover a wide range of topics.

Often I may simply point to a resource or web site that might be of interest to you.

Other times, I might invite a “guest blogger” to write an essay about something related to disability and poverty in developing countries. (Or disability and education … or health … or microfinance … or water and sanitation … or civil and human rights … or … the list goes on, as long as it relates to people with disabilities in developing countries).

Or I might interview someone who has interesting information, knowledge, or experiences to share about disabilities and poverty or human rights in developing countries.

Or sometimes I might simply express an opinion of my own.

One of my hopes for this blog is that it might become a way to bring together people from around the world from a wide range of backgrounds and interests. In other words:

This blog is for: People with and without disabilities. People in developing countries and in industrialized countries. People who grew up poor (or who are poor now), and people who grew up with all the food, water, clothing, education, health care, and other basic services that they needed.

This includes culturally Deaf, signing people who may not identify as “disabled” at all. As well as deaf or hard of hearing people who do.

This blog is for: People who might know a great deal about international development, but who are still learning about disabilities. I hope this blog can become a resource to you in figuring out how to more actively include people with disabilities (and Deaf/deaf people, “disabled” or not) in your mainstream program activities.

This blog is ALSO for: People who know a great deal about disabilities and disability rights, but who maybe don’t know much about this strange field called “international development” and wonder why they should.

(For now, let me just say two quick things: 1. No, it is NOT just “something to do with economics”! It includes that, yes. But that’s only one dimension of the development field. 2. If you care about disability rights in developing countries, then understanding a little about “international development” and development organizations could still be helpful to your work even if you think you will never do “international development” yourself.)

This blog is for: People who know about disabilities, but who maybe are not yet familiar with the “social model” or the human rights perspective of disability.

I think this is an important concept that anyone working with, or on behalf of, disabled people should be familiar with. And, ideally, live by. I plan to talk a bit about this topic from time to time. But this philosophy will permeate the whole blog even when I don’t refer to it directly.

This blog is for: People who are still new both to disabilities and to development or to developing countries.

This blog is for: People who are already experts in disability and development but who want to learn about best practices being done at other organizations or in other countries. Or who hope to learn about the occasional unfamiliar resource.

This blog is for: Professionals who work in the field of development, particularly professionals in disability and development.

This blog is for: Advocates and activists who volunteer their free time in a non-government organization (NGO) run by (or on behalf of) people with disabilities in developing countries.

This blog is for: Volunteers working with disabled people in developing countries. For example: Peace Corps, VSO, etc.

This blog is for: People who are not yet actively involved in improving the lives of people with disabilities in developing countries, but who would like to be.

This blog is for: People who want to learn from the perspectives of people who come from a different professional or personal background from yours.

I look forward to learning from your own perspectives and ideas in the comments area of this blog site, or in the essays you submit as a guest blogger. I hope you will find this blog to be helpful to you in turn.

Learn how to receive an email alert when new material is posted at We Can Do.

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