Self-advocates have a special reason to celebrate! On June 6, 2016, Alberta’s Human Services Minister Irfan Sabir announced the Alberta government would no longer use the Supports Intensity Scale (SIS).
This was a test that the Alberta Government chose to decide the support needs of people funded by Persons with Developmental Disabilities (PDD). This 2 to 4-hour test asked people questions about the support needed for home and community living, employment, hygiene and building relationships. People with disabilities felt this test was long, embarrassing and asked too many personal questions that shouldn’t have been asked.
Because of this, people felt stressed about taking the test. The results were also hard to understand. Self-advocates, families and service providers across the province spent a lot of time speaking up to the government about their concerns by meeting with local and provincial officials, making presentations and writing letters.
When Minister Sabir made the announcement, advocates were pleased to find that the government listened to their concerns and stopped the SIS test. The voices of self-advocates have not always been heard; we feel empowered because we finally get to have a say in decisions that will affect our lives. We are excited and overjoyed that no one else will have to take the SIS test. We can sleep better, too!
Advocates had a great opportunity to share our ideas about better ways to decide the support needs of people on PDD. Self-advocates and service providers came together from the Medicine Hat and Lethbridge to talk about what could replace SIS through a special focus group. Read our ideas here!
Advocates also sent a letter to newspapers across the south region thanking Human Services Minister Irfan Sabir for listening.
SRSAN ‘s chairperson, Melodie Scout, sent all of this information to Minister Sabir onbehalf of self-advocates. Well, guess what? On August 3, the Minister responded to Melodie and SRSAN in a letter! Here’s what it said:
Dear Ms. Scout:
Thank you for your letters regarding replacing the Supports Intensity Scale (SIS) assessment. I appreciate the opportunity to respond.
Your comments about ending the use of the SIS are valued. I appreciate the suggestions from the focus group held by the South Region Self–Advocacy Network and will take them into consideration in future discussions about a replacement for SIS.
I am pleased that your organization helps so many people with disabilities advocate for themselves and share their ideas. I also commend you on promoting awareness of the needs of people with disabilities with your article in the newspaper and the Ripple newsletter.
Thank you again for taking the time to write and share your thoughts.
Irfan Sabir, Minister