Disability Alliance BC (DABC) is seeking passionate and motivated volunteers to support our front-desk reception as we work to bring back our advocacy work in-person at our office in downtown Vancouver. DABC is a provincial, cross-disability non-profit, charitable organization that champions issues impacting the lives of people with disabilities through our direct services, community partnerships, advocacy, research and publications.
Our reception volunteers are often the first face or voice that a client interacts with when connecting with DABC. They exhibit an empathetic and professional attitude and respond to inquiries about our services. DABC provides a variety of services that assist clients with applying for provincial and federal disability benefits, Disability Tax Credit, Registered Disability Savings Plan, tax filings and tax credits, legal aid, and wheelchair accessible housing. Reception volunteers will be trained and mentored on an ongoing basis through regular supervision from the Advocacy Access Administrative Assistant, Advocacy Access Program Manager and the Access RDSP Program Manager. All of our current reception volunteers have lived experience with a disability.
Our Reception Volunteers:
Respond to client inquiries over the phone, email and in-person
Screen clients for eligibility of our services and conduct intake of client contact information for our waitlists
Keep detailed and accurate records of visitor requests/calls
Reception Volunteers should have the following skills and qualifications:
Be computer literate and proficient with Microsoft Office software, specifically Excel, Word and Outlook
Have strong verbal and written communication skills and the ability to communicate complex concepts in plain language
Have excellent interpersonal skills and the ability to work effectively with clients and staff across many diverse backgrounds
Be self-motivated, adaptable, and able to work effectively with a team as well as independently
Maintain a professional, respectful and empathetic demeanor with clients and have the ability to manage client expectations as it relates to the capacity and scope of DABC’s services
The following are strong assets for this position:
Lived experience with disability
Lived experience with provincial disability benefits (PWD/PPMB)
Experience in the non-profit sector
Experience supporting people with disabilities
Knowledge and understanding of community resources available to people with disabilities
Volunteers will receive a small monthly honourarium for their contribution to DABC’s advocacy work.
Hours Per Week: 1-2 shifts per week (each shift is 4 hours)
100% of DABC’s staff and volunteers are fully vaccinated against COVID-19. Many of the clients that DABC serves have medical conditions which make them vulnerable and more susceptible to severe symptoms of COVID-19, and so it is vital that DABC strives to protect our clients from risk of transmission. It is DABC’s policy to request that all volunteers be fully vaccinated.
DABC is an open and diverse organization that promotes inclusive hiring practices. We encourage applications from qualified applicants who identify as visible minorities, Indigenous persons, and of all sexual orientations, gender expressions and identities. People with disabilities are especially encouraged to apply.
To Apply: Please send an email expressing your interest with the subject line “Volunteer Application”, along with a resume to email@example.com. No phone calls or faxes please.
This article was written by Rowan Burdge, and originally appeared in DABC’s Transition magazine on Respecting Disability Language and Identity. (Summer 2022). Read the issue here.
When it comes to talking about bodies, I’ve found that language is challenging and nuanced.
As someone living with a chronic illness, the line between disabled and non-disabled is not always clear. I’ve struggled with how to identify and describe myself, and it’s changed over time.
When I first became disabled, I absolutely did not use disability language because it did not seem appropriate, even though I was on life-sustaining therapy. I assumed “disabled” referred only to specific disabilities, not illness, or any kind of cultural or political identity.
I was worried I wasn’t “disabled enough.”
Trying to navigate jobs, school, friendships and communities as someone who has a chronic illness is not easy. We tend to think of disability as a static, unchanging, binary category, but to me it just isn’t.
My disability, and the way the external world treats it (and me) is dynamic. It’s ever-transforming and in movement on a spectrum of wellness far more subtle than “disabled” vs. “non-disabled.”
A Disabling World
My experiences of ableism, and the stigma around illness and disability, have taught me that trying to express the challenges of chronically ill life is sometimes as complex as the actual medical challenges themselves.
My body is not a problem. The way the world treats and defines me and my disability, and the ridiculously expensive medical bills, are the actively disabling parts of my disease. I experience ableism that disables me which is why I now claim the word “disabled.”
One of the terms I use for myself is “spoonie.” For lots of us spoonies, disability is interwoven into our lives. Spoon theory (coined by Christine Miserandino) is a less binary way of understanding disability.
It’s a shorthand way to say I’m having a bad day or need extra support, without having to medically explain.
If I’m drained, I’m low spoons. I can say, “sorry, out of spoons” or “my spoons are low, so I’ll be leaving early” to help navigate my access needs and quickly explain my wellness/energy levels. I’ve noticed even non-disabled people who have low capacity for other explanations can identify with and easily understand this language.
Are Our Needs “Special”?
I see a lot of people use terms like “special needs” or “special abilities.” In my opinion, these expressions add a layer of confusion.
My pancreas doesn’t work. It means that one of my regular needs is to inject insulin–that’s just a part of my norm. It’s not “special.”
When we frame needs as special, it makes it seem exceptional to require different needs from other bodies, even though all bodies are unique and require different supports.
Disability is a normal part of life, but ableism has undermined that normality.
Finding Your Unique Identity
There is a lot of debate about person-first (person with a disability) vs. identity first (disabled person) language.
One part of the debate is how ableism teaches us to be ashamed of disability. I’ve spent a lot of time unpacking this and unlearning that shame.
For me, person-first language locates the disability in the individual, whereas I see disability as a cultural, shared experience of lives which are valuable, unique, brilliant and a part of diverse human experiences. Disability has also become a part of my political identity and how I move through the world. I’m proud of my disabled experiences and identity.
Now, I use the word disabled to indicate this pride in the collective experience of non-normative ways of being in the world.
Other language I love and am growing into more is “crip.” I see cripping as a verb — a way of cripping things up, unsettling, de-norming and adding that extra flair that only disabled folks can pull off. Crip and mad folks (see the box on this page) that I know are creative and resourceful, and some are downright hilarious.
There is a softness, tenderness, and solidarity in the community care I feel with other spoonies, crips, mad folks, disabled folks and wider disability (justice) spaces.
I’m also growing into the language of cyborg, but I’m still grappling with that. One of my human organs (pancreas) is replaced by a beeping plastic machine (my insulin pump). I find it fascinating to think about the implications of having a mechanical body part. What a wild thing–that a small part of me is robotic.
It’s an Important Conversation
Everyone’s experience is different and individuals have their own creative language for how they describe themselves. For me, it isn’t insulting to be called disabled, it’s just a fact.
My illness is part of my everyday life and my identity. It is always a relief to spend time with other people with non-normative body-minds, be it sick/disabled/spoonie folks, trans and gender non-conforming people, people who live with chronic pain or poor folks who understand there are complicated barriers that people can’t see until you are in a position where you require access.
People deserve to be humanized, respected and cared for, regardless of disabilities. Using the appropriate and chosen language of each person is such a simple way of doing this. If you don’t know, ask what words people prefer!
Disability, illness and impairments are part of human life — and most of us at some point will grapple with them, whether in temporary form, acquired disability, age-related changes or as ongoing integrated parts of our lives.
De-stigmatizing disabled language helps de-stigmatize disability itself and gives us more tools to talk about it.
The Mad Pride movement began in 1993 in Toronto.
Mad Pride believes and advocates that people with mental illness should be proud of their “mad” identity. “Mad folks” is used by some to self-identify with pride.
Activists want to reclaim this term and others, and use them in a positive, empowering way.
Rowan (she/they) is a white settler on traditional, ancestral and unceded xʷməθkʷiy̓əm (Musqueam), Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish), and səlilwətaʔɬ (Tsleil-Waututh) territories, home of the Hul’q’umi’num’ speaking peoples. A queer, chronically ill and disabled advocate and organizer, Rowan is passionate about disability justice, equity, land back and queer liberation. They currently work as the Provincial Director with the BC Poverty Reduction Coalition.
COVID-19/DABC OFFICE UPDATE
After much discussion and consideration of the risks associated with COVID-19 as well as the needs of clients who require in-person support, DABC’s office will re-open soon to some clients. We will be re-opening using a staggered approach to lessen risk and allow us to adjust to welcoming clients to a new space.Click here for more info.
Since 1977, Disability Alliance BC has been a provincial, cross-disability voice in British Columbia. Our mission is to support people, with all disabilities, to live with dignity, independence and as equal and full participants in the community. We champion issues impacting the lives of people with disabilities through our direct services, community partnerships, advocacy, research and publications.
We acknowledge and have deep gratitude to work together on the unceded traditional territories of the xʷməθkʷəy̓ əm (Musqueam), Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish), and Selíl̓witulh (Tsleil-Waututh) Nations of the Coast Salish people. We honour the many territorial keepers of the lands.