Interview via ZOOM with Judy Noonan
By Nicole Flynn, Associate Consultant
Recently, I had the opportunity to interview a fellow Council member, Judy Noonan, who resides in Guelph, Ontario. We discussed positive changes to accessibility. I was also interested to learn about the experience Judy, and members from People 4 People, had using the WITHology method. This experience was facilitated by People Minded Business.
In our discussion about accessibility, Judy shared some examples of accessibility in her life that have made a positive difference. For example, Judy said, “ZOOM, I would not be able to meet, like with you today, if it wasn’t for ZOOM.” She also mentioned her “hospital bed, my hospital bed helps me for sleeping, and for my feet to be elevated, so the fluid in my feet goes back to my heart.” Judy exclaimed about her mobility aides, such as her wheelchair and walker, that make life easier.
Another powerful point that Judy made, was about Alexa. Judy said “Alexa is accessibility for me. Anything that makes my life easier is winning for me. If I didn’t have that (Alexa), I wouldn’t be organized. Technology has come so far for accessibility. Everything is a tool and that’s accessibility.”
Judy further explained the use of passport funding and how it “has played a huge role in accessibility, because I need money to do things, like buying Alexa. Passport has given me access to things that I want to do.”
When we began to reflect on accessibility in the community, Judy remarked that “the city buses are accessible now, they have ramps. The buses ‘talk’ and tell you what the next stop is. This helps people who have low vision or can not read.”
In summary, Judy stated, “To me, accessibility means to make things easier, without any barriers.” I must agree, anything that removes barriers, increases inclusion, and that is a big deal for equity in our communities.
I reminded Judy about her participation in a Community Living Guelph Wellington and People Minded Business (PMB) WITHology project. Judy explained that this connection led to the development of the Accessible Little Libraries (ALL).
I was intrigued and wanted to know more about her experience. Judy said, “Working with PMB and the ALL project was exciting. I love being part of a team, to have the same idea, so everyone could participate. After the sheltered workshops stopped, we were missing each other. It was fun coming together, brainstorming, and coming up with different ideas. It felt really good being part of the bigger picture, being with people, working on something together.
When I asked Judy about her interaction with the PMB facilitators, Judy remarked, “I loved the people. I loved that job, because they are talking about YOU, what you want, not what they think is good for you. I like that WITHology is accessible too. When one person has an idea then other people take it and expand even more. The WITHology project was so rewarding, so much fun. I looked forward to every meeting. I really like other people’s ideas. I adopt the ideas and make them mine. Once there is a will to share ideas, then you can make them fly.”
I asked Judy what was happening now, with the ALL project. Judy happily responded, “We are excited. We have found a location for the first ALL. There’s a lot of people who were involved making something great come together. It started as a small group, but now it is so much bigger. The idea has grown so big. We started with a bench, where people would gather around the bench. We could talk about stories. We could tell each other stories and exchange books. We decided to put them together, have a library, where people could borrow books, and have a bench.”
I loved hearing about this, they started with one idea, then another idea came along, and they put that together. Now they have a place where they can sit together, read, share ideas and stories, and have a discussion.
I was ecstatic to talk to Judy about the ALL project and accessibility. I couldn’t help myself, I had to ask her, what would she do if she had an enchantment key.
Judy immediately responded saying, “If I had an enchantment key, I would open people’s minds. I would make people more empathetic. If they could walk in your shoes for one minute, they could experience, they could open their eyes, and see life through your eyes. If they could see, what you go through, then they would make a change. When you don’t experience it, you don’t know, so you don’t change. I would make people more empathetic. Once we understand how someone feels, then we can make change. And grace. Always be kind, we should be kind to each other. To be more understanding, put their own biases aside and realize what is accessible to one person is not accessible to another person. I really believe an open mind would make a difference. I feel this world will always be broken, if we can keep trying our best, that’s a good thing, at least we’re trying to make it better. We have come so far in accessibility. Things are getting better.”
I couldn’t agree more with this statement from Judy, in her poetic voice, she shared my thoughts too. I was speechless, and in awe of her heroic experience, and how she never gives up. She keeps going, trusting that things will get better. Judy is a role model, demonstrating her leadership in advocating for accessibility, and not letting barriers hold her back. In my opinion, Judy Noonan does hold the enchantment key of accessibility.
Nicole Flynn is from the rural area of Centre Hastings, Ontario. She is a graduate of the Loyalist College General Arts and Science diploma program (not modified). Nicole is an entrepreneur, an Associate Consultant with People Minded Business Inc. (PMB), and an international medalist in three sports. She is a global citizen who believes in freedom, power, and prosperity for everyone.
Nicole’s goal is to experience and learn more about what is happening around the world and to share her knowledge with others. It is her hope that by reading Nicole’s Notes, people will broaden their perspective, re-evaluate their assumptions and attitudes, and bring their creative ideas and inputs to the table.