Consumers, patients, service recipients, clients. We have different ways of talking about people with disabilities and most of these terms reflect the different individual relationships they form and interactions they engage in, however brief those interactions may be. But there’s a term we neglect too often in conversations about disability: citizen. This is a core guiding principle of the Citizen-Centered Leadership Development (CCLD) Community of Practice, Carol Blessing’s innovative 15-week course for service providers that work with people with disabilities.
For this episode, I invited Carol to talk to me about her CCLD program and her concept of radicalized citizenship. So many disability service organizations are now required by law to adopt a person-centred approach to their programming, but so few of them actually have real person-centred strategy built into their program design. Systemic change won’t make any difference until we can get service providers to start thinking about people with disabilities as citizens first, and working to build real relationships with them. Reframing disability service as drawing from social participatory citizenship needs to be foregrounded as social programs innovate.
Carol Blessing, LMSW, has over 30 years in the field of disability services in both direct practice and management capacities. In 2000, she joined the faculty at the Yang-Tan Institute on Employment and Disability (YTI) in the ILR School at Cornell University where she leads system’s impact projects aimed at supporting the full inclusion of people with disabilities to be recognized and respected as contributing citizens in typical community life. In 2010, Carol created the landmark CCLD, a compendium of information and resources spanning six inter-connected core topics critical to ending the systemic inequality that marginalizes people because of difference.Carol is doing real groundbreaking work in trying to help service providers reframe the way they think about people with disabilities—the way we want our children to be thought about. I was honoured to have her on the podcast and I hope you enjoy listening!
Thanks for Listening!
Resources & Links Mentioned:
- The “dissent from consensus” article
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Special thanks to Carol Blessing for joining me this week. Until next time!