Reason #7 to use distance family mediation: Keep your “other” family members happy

According to a report by Leger Marketing, “Canadians and Their Pets”, 54% of British Columbian households have at least one pet:  33% own a dog; 32% a cat; 9% another type of pet.  An Ipsos-Reid study of pet ownership in Canada, “Paws and Claws”, concluded that: “For most urban pet owners, dogs and cats are no longer strictly functional animals that protect us from danger or rodents. Eight in ten of the pet owners in Paws & Claws (83%) consider their pet to be a family member.”

Given these statistics, the prevalence and importance of pets in British Columbian households is not to be taken lightly.  In fact, chances are that you, the reader, have at least one family member who is furry, feathered or scaly.  Chances are also, if your pets are anything like mine, that they do not fare well being left alone for any length of time, and that this is an important consideration for you when it comes to the scheduling of your activities.  You may even be among those British Columbians – a few of whom I know personally – who are so passionate about their pets that they refrain, whenever possible, from participating in activities that separate them from their furry family members.

Regardless of your level of attachment to your pets, being in a position to give them more time and attention may well appeal to you.  Participating in mediation using technology, in your home, allows you to do this.  Not only does distance mediation allow you to attend the sessions with your pets by your side, it can also free you from the worries that go with leaving them alone.  The possibility of them getting into your stash of chocolate bars included.

Photo: “Warren home alone” by Jeff Liot.  All rights reserved.

A Page from our Practice Notes: Success is no excuse for forgetting to plan for failure

I’m going to interrupt my series of posts on good reasons to use distance mediation to share, with those of you who are mediators, a technology lesson that came my way late yesterday afternoon.

Our team of distance mediation practitioners, who I’ve already referred to in an earlier post, meets regularly.  The meetings always take place “from a distance” using some type of web or videoconferencing platform.  These technologies have improved tremendously over the past few years, and many of the problems which initially plagued us when using the platforms have been ironed out.  In fact, they have been ironed out so well that the organizer for these meetings (yours truly) has recently started forgetting to apply a key rule that our team established in an earlier phase of our services:  When relying on technology to communicate, ALWAYS have a backup plan. 

By now you’ve likely guessed where this is going.  Almost as if by design – to remind me of the need to plan for technology failure – at yesterday’s team meeting the platform’s audio did not work for two of our mediators.  With only an hour available to us and no backup plan in place, we were limited to two equally unacceptable options:  Abandon our agenda and waste the valuable time of the other team members while we tried to figure out the audio problem; or, leave the two mediators on their own to resolve the issue and proceed meeting without them. Continue reading “A Page from our Practice Notes: Success is no excuse for forgetting to plan for failure”

Reason #6 to use distance family mediation: It takes advantage of the “great equalizer”

There are a lot of articles on the Internet about how technology is the “great equalizer” when it comes to disabilities.  I didn’t fully understand the degree to which this is actually the case until reading Norman Doidge, M.D.’s book, The Brain That Changes Itself (Penguin Books, 2007).

The book, for those of you have not read it, explores a variety of inspiring human stories about the brain’s plasticity, along with the results of some pretty extraordinary scientific research. As a case in point, on page 207, Doidge refers to a 26 year old paralyzed man who had a special silicone chip implanted into his brain and attached to a computer:

After four days of practice, he was able to move a computer cursor on a screen, open e-mail, adjust the channel and volume control on a television, play a computer game, and control a robotic arm using his thoughts.  (This amazing story also appears in an article in the New York Times.)

While I would imagine most people with disabilities do not have access to such radical, experimental technologies, the communication technologies that are readily available are quite remarkable in their own right. From voice activated typing software to videoconferencing services which make closed captioning available, today’s technologies provide people with a range of disabilities with many effective ways to communicate.

Because it uses technology, distance mediation – even in its simplest form (for example, using the telephone to mediate) – takes advantage of the “great equalizer’s” capabilities by allowing people to participate in mediation with the communication technology that best suits their particular needs.

Photo credit:  “computer i” by Redworm