Heidi Janz   

  1. Heidi’s interest in Disability and Ethics is personal as well as professional. As someone who has what are generally considered “severe” disabilities, she often finds herself concerned and troubled by the tendency among much of the general public to automatically assume that having “severe” disabilities means having a drastically reduced “quality of life.” Such an assumption often leads to a belief that people with “severe” disabilities are constantly suffering in ways that are generally associated with end-of-life. This line of thought often leads people to draw the conclusion that a person with severe disabilities are better off dead than suffering from/with their disabilities.

  2. A central focus of Heidi’s work in disability ethics and end-of-life issues affecting people with disabilities is therefore to seek to identify and analyze the commonly-held social values that often lead to the devaluation of the lives of people with disabilities. Heidi often conducts and/or transmits this social-ethical analysis through the medium of drama. Her 2001 Fringe play, Returned to Sender, examined the lives of two teenaged girls disabled by severe forms of Cerebral Palsy and living in a post-Tracy-Latimer society. In a more analytical vein, her 2006 play, Voices at Dying, Dying to be Heard, offers viewers a unique insight into some of the areas of contention and opportunities for alliance-building that currently exist between the palliative care community and the disability community when it comes to end-of-life issues affecting people with disabilities. The use of drama to engage and educate people around disability ethics and end-of-life issues affecting people with disabilities continues to be one of the primary focuses of Heidi’s work.

Heidi Janz is currently a visiting scholar with John Dossetor Health Ethics Centre at the University of Alberta. She is also a Post-Doctoral Fellow with the Vulnerable Persons and End-of-Life Care New Emerging Team (VP-NET) project, which is based at the University of Manitoba  Her current research focuses on end-of-life issues affecting people with disabilities.

More info on VP-Net
VP-Net is a five year research project that brings together a team of investigators to explore the availability and accessibility of end-of-life care for people who experience socially-constructed vulnerability. This project, funded by the Canadian Institute for Health Research (CIHR), investigates four key themes: clinical, policy, ethics and social/cultural issues in end of life care. VP-Net brings together research collaborators from various disciplines, a VP-Net post-doctoral fellow and graduate students.

e-mail Heidi  
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About Heidi...