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May 05
Shambhala News Service
First Annual Report on Accessibility and Disability

Is your Shambhala Center accessible? The “First Annual Report on Accessibility and Disability in Shambhala” is now online. The full report, available for download in PDF here, includes reports from 52 centers, mostly in North America, but also including Europe and Latin America.

If you don’t see your center listed, and it does have accessibility initiatives happening, please contact Hamish Maclaren, chair of the Accessibility and Disability Working Group, at [email protected]

There is excellent news to report. A great deal is happening in Shambhala to accommodate individuals with disabilities. This became apparent recently when all the North American Shambhala Center directors were contacted about handicapped accessibility at their centers, what solutions they had found to obstacles, what help they could use, etc.

Many centers are now fully accessible. Many more centers either have plans to move to an accessible location or are working on ways to improve their present location. Many also either have or are looking into appointing an accessibility contact person. All the center directors are very aware of the need to accommodate individuals with disabilities. And despite often very difficult structural obstacles, almost all centers seem to have found some way to improve accessibility and are using an impressive variety of approaches.

The report shows that 22 North American Shambhala urban centers are now either fully or mostly handicapped accessible: Albany, Albuquerque, Atlanta, Austin, Baltimore, Berkeley, Birmingham, Boulder, Davis, Halifax, Madison, Minneapolis, Montreal, New York, San Antonio, San Diego, Silicon Valley, Sky Lake Lodge, Sonoma, Vancouver, Victoria and Washington, DC. In Europe the centers in Bussum (the Netherlands), Marburg (Germany), and Zurich (Switzerland) are fully or mostly accessible.

In addition, as of December 2008, a further five Shambhala centers were expecting to be accessible within the next few weeks or months: Denver, Durham, Kailua, Philadelphia and Pioneer Valley.

Our major practice centers are very much aware of accessibility and disability issues, particularly as their rural conditions present additional challenges for visitors. All of them are taking steps to make their accommodations more accessible. Shambhala Mountain Center, Karme Choling, Dorje Denma Ling and Dechen Choling all have wheelchair-accessible accommodations, bathrooms and practice areas.

The full report’s summary of accessibility in Shambhala covers general issues, funding assistance, chairs and footrests, hearing and visual issues, chemical sensitivities, other disabilities and the international mandala. It also describes the accessibility initiatives of individual Shambhala Centers in North America, Europe and other regions of the international Shambhala community and presents Shambhala aspirations on diversity, accessibility and compassionate conduct, including Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche’s Letter on the Aspirations.

For more information on these issues, visit the Shambhala Accessibility and Disability website and the diversity and accessibility best practices website.

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