Monday, 12 August 2013

The Monday Camburger: Numbers can tell a story — even if we don't like it

Pure numbers alone say the petition against the Disabled Adult Transportation System to revoke the new two-hour cancellation policy is on life-support. In a Aug. 1 Edmonton Journal reporter Andrea Sands wrote there are about 10,800 DATS users in Edmonton. On Monday morning, 354 names were on the petition, representing three per cent of the DATS ridership; and all of those names are not people who take DATS. My experience as a newspaper reporter tells me this is not a story at all. And we can’t expect under media outlets to cover it with it with such numbers.

We had plans to deliver the petition to Edmonton City Hall next week and we were hoping for 1,000 names. But I am seriously re-thinking that position.  One thousand names makes a statement. Groups and causes need to carefully pick requesting time with polititians. Such numbers do not make a strong case and I would be uneasy asking to meet with the mayor or councillors.

But perhaps there’s a greater issue—one that I have seen for the past decade. People with disabilities in this province have not been very vocal. (I have cerebral palsy.) Only in the past few months have there been demonstrations at the Alberta legislature in Edmonton protesting provincial government cutbacks. It has been quite a long time since Edmonton city hall has seen a protest over services for Edmontonians with disabilities.

I am at a loss why this is. Clearly, I don’t know. There isn’t a movement for Edmontonians with disabilities. So, perhaps when an issue such as the new DATS policy needs to be challenged, people are shy. Or don’t know what to do. Or maybe even scared. And it takes time for that mindset to change.

I will re-access the position numbers Friday and will offer my thoughts. I know one thing for sure: public polls do not lie. But we can learn many things from it for a future protest.


COMING UP THIS EVENING ON TEA WITH TAIT: The first part of a series of my time with Wayne Gretzky, just before 9 p.m.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

As I said in a reply on your Facebook page I actually think you did well to get the numbers you got.

One problem you have with getting people interested in fighting is that, given the nature of the user base, you can't just do your promotion in blogs and on Facebook; while those are by far the easiest means of communication with many people, there are still those that do not use a computer very much.

Unfortunately I don't have an answer for you, other than you need to find a way to "get the word out" to the rest of the DATS user community.