Shelley Dacoste is a self advocate who is leading a campaign to change the word “disability” to “diversability”. Here she writes about her experience presenting at the Abilities In Mind conference in March 2014.


I presented on March 5th at the Abilities in Mind conference in Vancouver with Shelley Gerber and Meaghen Taylor-Reid. We presented an afternoon session on the Community Action Employment Plan. I kicked off the afternoon with a self-advocate point of view which lead into the work that CLBC is starting and continuing on with. My power point is more focused on the abilities side of the employment for individuals and why its so important for self-advocates to work. Self-advocates want the social connection and to feel that they are part of the community.  I shared that this starts from school where we learn stuff and that it’s typical to go from school to work. Why should this be any different from everyone? We need to stop clumping people with diversabilities together!


At the end of the presentation, people were asking me about the word diversabilities. Even though my presentation didn’t include the word description exactly, the word was most intriguing to them! I feel like we were talking to the converted already but you know even if they learned about the word diversability, it changes everyone’s idea about what can be accomplished. Later on the word diversability was raised when a panel was discussing terms about disability in front of the whole conference.


Someone in the audience mentioned the word diversability and so the mic came over  to me quickly for an explanation! I think the conference was a real good thing to do. The only thing different for me was that it was more geared towards support workers. It was good and interesting and nice to hear what service providers are learning as well as what other self-advocates are teaching around the world! I look forward to presenting again next year maybe even as a keynote. That’d be cool!

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