I was recently put to the challenge of writing a post about the history of disability rights in Canada. Well, I haven’t been lucky enough yet to find some good information about this online, so for the time being, I write abour other good news that has come out of Canada fairly recently.
As most of you probably remember, the Olympics took place in Vancouver in 2010. They also hosted the Paralympics the same year, and Canadian disability activists didn’t waste that opportunity, which proved useful. Canada took a major step that year.
On the eve of the Paralympics, Canada ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. This meant quite a few things for those who suffer with an impairment or disability of any kind, whether permanent or temporary. First, this passage carried an important message: Canada is committed to people with disabilities.
The convention’s aim was to make people with disabilities into independent persons. Most countries and societies around the world have seen the disabled population as being dependent, weak and helpless. But these folks will no longer be perceived as needing charitable help in Canada. They are now equal citizens of their country.
However, since this time, it's become clear that quite a few updates and implementations are going to be required by each of Canada's provinces’ own governments, in order to fully make this a reality. For one, schools need to become fully accessible and inclusive. Usually, those who wish to attend a school that is not ready to accept them, are sent off to the closest special needs schools. In the future, that will no longer be the case. All schools must now hire the needed personnel, including assistant teachers, interpreters, and various other aids, and administrators must make the necessary building additions in order to accommodate those with physical limitations.
The purpose of all of this is to make disabled persons feel welcome. While some students thrive better in environments where they can be with those who are like themselves, those who choose to be "mainstreamed" in regular schools often do not have the option to do so. The new rules will enable all parents and children to decide what the best choice is for themselves, instead of having to accept institutionalization, simply because the current systems aren't ready to take the necessary steps.
There is a bit of irony in this situation in more ways than one. For exmple, when the Canadian representatives arrived at the UN to sign the convention, they had to make a last-minute change to the location of the news conference because it was not wheelchair accessible.
My question is: Who booked the room?
Please vote for this article if you like it!