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Disability and Accessibility Issues
In 2017, Statistics Canada reported that 22 per cent of Canadians (one in five) aged 15 years and over had one or more disabilities.[i] A disability can be visible or invisible and include “physical, mental, and learning disabilities, mental disorders, hearing or vision disabilities, epilepsy, mental health disabilities and addictions, environmental sensitivities, and other conditions.”[ii] Building an inclusive society for people with disability begins with understanding and challenging ableism at the individual, ideological, and systemic levels.
Ableism is based on attitudes, beliefs, and practices that limit people with disabilities, and is “often based on the view that disability is an “anomaly to normalcy,” rather than an inherent and expected variation in the human condition. Ableism may also be expressed in ongoing paternalistic and patronizing behaviour toward people with disabilities.”[iii]
People with disabilities continue to experience barriers throughout daily life, which can be attitudinal, communication, physical, or systemic in nature.[iv] Attitudinal barriers are behaviours, beliefs, and assumptions about what people with disabilities can and cannot do. Communication barriers assume that everyone can read, hear, and understand information in the same way. Physical barriers inhibit how people with disabilities can move, access, or experience built environments. Systemic barriers are the policies, procedures, and practices that impact access to resources and supports for people with disabilities to participate and thrive within society.