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Conference kicks off

200 delegates from around the North converge for historical gathering

Kirsten Murphy
Northern News Services

Yellowknife (Jan 26/01) - They're 200 people first. Their disabilities are second.

Count Me In conference attendees are voicing their right to equitable housing, eduction and health at the NWT's largest, most representative gathering of disabled persons this week.

"I'm fighting for people with invisible disabilities," said Lynn Dancer.

The former Calgarian with grown children recently moved to Yellowknife because the dark winters and low tech surroundings make her epilepsy tolerable.

"I need soft light, no flashing lights or vibrating noises," Dancer said above the drone of conversations at the Explorer Hotel. At one time a graphic designer, Dancer is fighting for accessible housing -- a largely soundproof and light-tight home. Adapted housing for people in wheelchairs exist, so should homes for people with environmental sensitivities, she said.

The conference, organized by the NWT Council for Disabled Persons, follows on the heels of a comprehensive needs assessment study released last year.

Conference co-organizer Aggie Brockman said the three-day meeting is an awareness generating mechanism.

"Having attended the conference, I hope people will speak up for the rights and respect entitled to them," Brockman said.

Council board member Julie Flumerfelt attended the meeting with her husband and daughter.

Pointing to the needs assessment study, Flumerfelt is excited by the opportunity to meet with parents, grandmothers and care workers from around the North.

"We're hoping to get guidance from other communities as to where to focus our energy in response to the needs assessment study."