Who Are We?
In this chapter, we give you some information about the people involved in this study: the practitioner researchers, the people we interviewed and the research friends who worked with us on this project.
When our group came together to begin the research project, we launched the process by, among other things, reflecting on our own practice. We all wrote autobiographical selections describing our unique work and life journeys. It was affirming and grounding. In the sections that follow, each practitioner researcher has excerpted some parts of her autobiographical writing and commented on the process.
Writing the autobiography was a fascinating process for me - not easy or comfortable, but so many things appeared on the page that wanted to be said, that came from my centre. An ABE/Literacy instructor is so much of who I am and who I have learned to be. For this chapter, I had to sieve through all those voices and hear the underlying ones - the ones that must be said in order to represent me to you.
The first voice is the one that tells where "I" started. I started in relationship to my sister Jeanie. My political education began when I was growing up. I had a sister who lived in a wheelchair all her life. She was bright and capable, but couldn't care for herself or walk more than a few steps. From the time she came home from the hospital to live, when I was in Grade 5, I was her locomotion and closest companion.
Finding out how and when the world was prepared to accommodate Jeanie, how and when she was taken seriously in spite of being in a wheelchair, shaped all my early years. We encountered discrimination in terms of physical access, patronizing attitudes that assumed she was mentally handicapped as well, financial restraints because her condition and the necessary accommodations were costly, and distorted tales of what was possible and available for "everyone." I learned very early to distrust the media and government claims. Soon I knew that our society wasn't "fair" around all kinds of people, not just the physically handicapped.
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