Interview with Scott Bremner, author of Durability: Braving the non-disabled world
We recently had an interview with Scott Bremner, the author of Durability: Braving the non-disabled world. Read what he had to say about his book, the writing process and his inspirations.
What inspired you to write this book about your life?
I believe it was the anniversary of the Ontarians with Disabilities Act, the first of two legislative bills to increase accessibility in this province. All these people who had been involved in advocating for the disabled community were in one room. Former Lieutenant Governor of Ontario, the late David Onley, and David Lepofsky, lawyer and advocate, were there, along with current and former politicians and members of the disabled community.
While there, I met Marie Bountrogianni, who wrote the follow-up legislation: the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, passed in 2005. That was the final push I needed to write the book hearing the unique perspective of this woman—the one who put pen to paper on significant legislation. The idea of writing a book had been in my head for years, but seeing those people all gathered showed me that people cared and still cared. An entire community had been working on getting the idea of accessibility out there in the public eye for years. I knew from that day the book would happen in some way. That was inspiring for me. I saw a path forward, a way to do this.
What was one of the most surprising things that you learned when creating your book?
It wasn’t the book or the writing itself, but everything after it was written. Answering questions like, “how are you getting the book out there?” and figuring out whether to publish the book traditionally versus self-publishing or thinking about how to design the cover. It was all very much trial and error. Durability was written for a specific purpose, so I want as many people as possible to read it.
What does the title mean to you? Why did you choose it?
It was the name of the show I hosted on Rogers TV for five years. I like it because it’s always had two meanings: Durham ability (I live in Durham Region) and Durability, which means strength. People with disabilities go through a lot. We’ve been put through a lot and have had to handle a lot, personally and professionally.
Durability might as well be the motto for the disabled community. But that doesn’t mean those challenges don’t affect us because we face barriers constantly. We get through the day and meet challenges at any age. That doesn’t mean we don’t need help. That we don’t need more people to get involved in the accessibility movement. We do. To progress, to gain traction, readers of all kinds benefit from knowing the adversities we face and have faced in the past.
Can you tell me a little bit about the book? How will individuals (with or without disabilities) benefit or learn from your book? What do you hope readers will gain from reading your book?
The book was written in three sections: the first part is a memoir, the second is an advice guide for people with disabilities and parents with children with disabilities, and the third part is a political history of disability and accessibility legislation throughout the province, the country and North America. As a journalist, who went to school and had a career in journalism, it was important for me to talk with experts about topics important to persons with disabilities.
There are things I didn’t know myself, but I learned from researching while writing my book. That is part of the joy of writing and journalism for me, finding out something you didn’t know and getting clarity for people, especially those who were there, and that was an interesting experience.
I’ve had a lot of great conversations with politicians and stakeholders. I asked them not to hold back. It was the same talking with my friends and family about how they saw things. These people were real with me. Even though I’ve made mistakes, looking back at the time, I thought I was making the right decision because when you’re 10, you don’t think about how those decisions will affect your 30s or beyond. I’ve grown as a person, and I matured while writing Durability. You learn just as much from failing as you do from succeeding. If I can make things easier for people by writing a book where you can understand other people’s points of view, it benefits the readers.
Scott Bremner received the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee Medal in 2022.
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