On Tuesday, 18 September 2018, the Ron Short Centre held its first accessibility afternoon to raise awareness about the work that happens there and the reasons it is so important to so many. Although the emphasis on the equal dignity of all people was serious, the tone of the event was light-hearted. Rob Harnish, the manager of the Centre, pointed out that he couldn’t fly and needed a machine to help him. He felt that, as long as society didn’t make it impossible for him to board aircraft, he could fly just as well as anyone else! Most people seemed to get the point.
Another approach to getting the message out there was the “accessible cake”. It had no sugar, and was fit for diabetics. It had no dairy products, and was fit for those with lactose intolerance. It had no nuts, and was fit for those with nut allergies. It had no wheat flour and was fit for those with gluten intolerance. It had no eggs, and was fit not only for vegetarians, but also for vegans. It did have water, and it was fit for everyone who was there! Big thanks go to Fran Browning, who had to do a lot of experimenting to produce a recipe that worked, made an important point, and was delicious, too!
Forget the 4 Rs. Around the Centre, groups of members demonstrated activities that show how the Centre meets the demands of the 6 Es; that is, to Engage, Encourage, Enable, Educate, Empower, and Employ. They threw in a couple of extras just for the occasion, ensuring that everyone was Enlivened and Entertained!
One of the key events was a demonstration of the three new computers added to the internet café, all with either specialist hardware or specialist software to make them usable by people with a wide range of physical impairments, from cerebral palsy to blindness (and, of course, the new coffee machine – what’s a café without coffee?). The Ron Short Centre was full of praise for all those businesses that had stepped up to provide furniture, hardware, software, time and expertise. These devices have made the virtual world accessible for the first time to the members of the Centre, and are available for the use of the general public.
The Ron Short Centre had on display preliminary architectural plans for the development of the property. It looks like they have a lot of work to do. Let’s hope the wider community continues to give them the support they need to help Guernsey to become a more enabling society.