We used to start speculative design exercises with radical what-ifs: What if social service buildings closed for the day, but social supports thrived? What if routines were flipped? What if roles were turned upside-down?
Without a ready reference point, frontline workers and managers often struggled to enter this imaginative world. It was too far out there. Buildings were too concrete. Routines were too important. Roles were too fixed.
And then, a worldwide pandemic hit.
The speculative world became the real world.
Seemingly overnight, so many of the assumptions by which we were bound unraveled. Could we start to re-invent what a day looked like for an individual with a developmental disability?
CoMakeDo is an event host and social broker for Covid (and we hope, beyond Covid) times. Right now, we’re doing five things:
- Actively finding and shaping live online gatherings
- Signposting anytime experiences
- Running tech support and troubleshooting equipment
- Alerting staff and families to take part with newsletters and text message reminders
- Creating a safe space for individuals to host their own events and discussions
At 10am, you might visit your closet and dress-up for a funky fashion show, co-hosted by a fashion blogger. At 1pm, you might take 30-minutes for a soothing sound meditation, hosted by a psychotherapist. At 5pm, you might meet-up with old and new friends from across Canada, and watch Phyllis and Meredith, the hedgehogs, tussle and tumble. Each day offers fresh content and points of connection, but with some predictable building blocks (a host will introduce themselves, participants will say hi, etc.). Content is produced by our Kudoz, Real Talk, and Meraki teams, with an open invitation to any staff or community member to create and share their own event.
In, around and between live online gatherings, individuals and families can check out anytime digital experiences. Now that the entire world has shifted to the digital space, there’s so much cool content out there: virtual museum visits, concerts, science experiments, drawing classes, sing-alongs, storybooks, etc. We’re culling the best activities and organizing them in categories — and inviting you to share your favourite finds with us so we can make them accessible to more folks.
Tech support and tech advocacy
Digital engagement is new for many folks with disabilities, their families and staff. For too many, the online world reproduces the same patterns of exclusion and marginalization as the offline world. The long-term durability of initiatives like CoMakeDo hinges on our capacity to knock down barriers and make digital environments truly inclusive. We’re taking on the challenge by offering tech coaching, sourcing equipment for those without, and advocating that government and funders treat Internet access like water. We’ve got some ways to go — but if this pandemic can be a spark to close digital divides, so many more opportunities open-up.
Space to convene
This is Vicki’s yummy pancake experience. We offered the Zoom account, some light coaching, and helped to package and spread the word about her experience. Vicki enjoyed hosting so much, she’s just offered her second experience. That’s what we love: enabling neurodiverse folks to find their voice, share their passions, and forge new friendships!
Got something you love? Consider hosting!