About Us

 

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There are three of us who initiated Kilometres for Communication:  Kerr Wattie, Skye Wattie and Gail Fisher-Taylor.

Kerr is at the heart of what we’re doing.  He’s an artist, activist and presenter who speaks with AAC—that’s short for Augmentative and Alternative Communication. Kerr knows from personal experience that the misconceptions about people without speech are as harmful as they are rampant. He knows about the lack of funding for communication devices and about the impossibly long waiting lists for AAC services, resulting in his living for years without a voice.  He unfortunately also knows about the exclusion and isolation that result.

What do we do to change this?  Skye, Kerr’s proactive younger brother, came up with the best suggestion yet.  His idea:  cycle across Canada to meet with alternative communicators, raise awareness and funds.  It was decided:  from May through August, 2011, Skye cycled from coast to coast, accompanied by Kerr in a bike trailer for some parts of the journey. Skye’s and Kerr’s mother, Gail Fisher-Taylor, and dad, Burns Wattie, traveled on different wheels.  

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Photo is courtesy of Willy Waterton/The Sun Times 

From B.C. to Newfoundland, we wheeled into communities large and small to meet with people who are communicating in all kinds of creative ways: by blinking, nodding or raising their eyes to indicate the word or letter they want, by using head pointers, switches or eye gazes on sensitive computers to speak or write. With the help of local and national media, Canadians heard the stories of people who speak with AAC. People who write plays and books, artists who paint with their index fingers, men and women who earn their master’s degrees one slow letter at a time. Social activists.  Entrepreneurs. Filmmakers.  And the people whose potential was never rewarded with opportunity. We asked each of them to tell their stories because our goal is for no one in Canada to ever again equate not being able to talk with not having anything to say. 

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As we traveled across the country we invited people to wheel, walk, run and cycle with us to help raise awareness and funds for vital AAC services, supports and technology. Everyone without speech deserves ready access to the AAC services and technology they need to communicate. The problem is that too many Canadians cannot easily access these services. Funding for communication devices is unavailable in a number of provinces, or else dependent on services which have long waiting lists.  

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We partnered with the Canadian Chapter of the International Society for Augmentative and Alternative Communication (ISAAC), an NGO in Special Consultative Status with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations. Together we're continuing to conduct a public education, information and awareness campaign to change provincial policies so that vital AAC services, supports and technology are consistently available in all provinces.  We're campaigning for the people who must have these services in order to fully participate in Canadian society, and our goal is for accessibility and inclusion--for the more than 3 million Canadians with disabilities--to become a national priority.  

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The cycling journey is over, but there is a long way to travel on our journey to ensure voice, accessibility and inclusion. We are continuing to fundraise for important AAC supports, technology and opportunities.  And we are networking so that many organizations can work together to empower voices and lives.   If you’re an individual, organization, business, small group of friends, school, classroom, neighbourhood, service club, place of worship, or community, we invite you to participate.

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Please join us. Register to Start Your Own Event or to Fundraise.  Or you can still Sponsor a Team Member. Let's work together to ensure that voice, accessibility and inclusion become reality.

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