This month, we are excited to feature Voice of Albertans with Disabilities (VAD) as our charity spotlight. We invite you to read more about the impactful work that they do for our community and how you can help.
Voice of Albertans with Disabilities (VAD) focuses on equal and full participation in society for all Albertans with disabilities. The term disability used by VAD is a broad umbrella term that includes everything from physical, mental health, temporary and episodic (like MS and HIV) disabilities. They provide individualized support, which includes helping access income supports and benefits, liaising with workers and health professionals, and referring them to partner organizations. VAD also advocates for social and systemic change through various levels of governments while offering accessibility consultations to public and private sectors who are committed to full accessibility and inclusion.
The work VAD does could not be done without the dedication of its amazing team. Teresa Jackson, the Programs and Services Manager, manages the office and administrative work. More importantly, she offers compassionate and knowledgeable support to clients. Michelle Bissell is the Education Coordinator. She, along with her team of volunteers, spread awareness of the realities of living with a disability to schools, businesses, and governments. Sam Mason works as the Accessibility Coordinator. Committed to engaging with the private and public sectors to improve accessibility and inclusion, VAD participates in policies, procedures, and communications.
VAD’s Executive Director, Margot Brunner offers immense knowledge and expertise in a variety of fields. From healthcare to education and social services, she enables the organization to offer an elevated level of support to those facing complex societal barriers and push the province forward on removing these barriers.
This year marks VAD’s 48th anniversary in Alberta! VAD began when two organizations, whose goal was to work towards dismantling barriers for people with disabilities, came together. They are also the only provincial wide, cross disability organization in Alberta. This means that no matter the disability or disabilities, they can offer support.
The clients that VAD serve have faced significant challenges throughout the pandemic, such as increased support to meet complex needs. Those living in group homes were isolated when programs and services they rely on were closed or cut completely.
VAD has worked with other community partners to meet these needs in ways they have never faced before. Communication and collaboration across the social service sector has proved to be better than ever, with everyone working together to provide support.
Individuals and grassroots organizations quickly sprung into action to step up in redistributing resources, volunteering, and delivering care packages. Making a significant difference to those who live in isolation and were left without their normal supports. Many businesses and professionals offered discounts, and in-kind donations. Many others provided expertise to help provide necessary technologies for those who needed to make a shift online to maintain communication with health providers, family, and workers.
How can you help?
“The single best thing people can do is to continue to educate themselves on disability and accessibility. It goes far beyond wheelchairs and ramps and white canes and braille. It permeates into all aspects of life. People with disabilities make up one quarter of the Canadian population and it is the only minority group that anyone can become a part of at any time.”Sam Mason
VAD encourages people and businesses to reflect on if they are accessible and inclusive. Stay up to date on what is going on in the community, by signing up for their newsletter, or follow VAD on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Monetary donations are appreciated and can be made here.
Thank you to VAD for the work that they do, and for educating people to better understand what living with a disability is like. We appreciate you and the services you provide.