Norman Kunc was the keynote speaker for this years conference. He spoke about inclusion of children with developmental disabilities in the classroom. His humorous and poignant stories hit home for all of us. Kunc stressed that we learn by experiencing. That children with developmental disabilities learn skills for life by living and by being with their peers.
On the topic of segregating children in the school environment, Kunc stated "We segregate kids because it is administratively easy. Out of site - out of mind. Once we get them out of our site, we are doing what is easiest and we are claiming what we are doing is best. There is a simple rule when it comes to segregation.....no matter how good the swimming instructor is, you can not teach someone to swim in the parking lot of the swimming pool. We are trying to give them the skills of living outside the construct of life, the things I learned about living in the community were taught through simple interactions"
Who is Norman Kunc:
Norman Kunc and Emma Van der Klift have spent the last 25 years working to ensure that people with disabilities are able to take their rightful place in schools, workplaces, and communities. Although they are well known advocates within the disability rights community, they prefer to think of themselves as modern day storytellers, continuing the long held tradition of using humor and narrative to initiate self-reflection and social change.
Norman and Emma are co-directors of Broadreach Training and Resources Ltd. They provide in-service and training in the areas of inclusive education, employment equity, conflict resolution, and other disability rights issues. They travel extensively throughout North America and abroad working with school districts, human service agencies, employers and advocacy groups
Emma and Norman have collaborated on a number of writing projects, including one chapter discussing the underlying power dynamics in a helper/helpee relationship, and another chapter challenging the perspective of disability as a deficiency. Currently they are working on a book which contends that the field of rehabilitation tyrannizes people with disabilities in the same way that the diet industry tyrannizes women.