Accessibility is about choice and opportunity

December 3, 2022 - Ottawa, Ontario - Canadian Human Rights Commission

On this International Day of Persons with Disabilities, the Interim Chief Commissioner of the Canadian Human Rights Commission, Charlotte-Anne Malischewski, together with the Accessibility Commissioner, Michael Gottheil, issues the following statement:

Today, as we mark the International Day of Persons with Disabilities, it is an opportunity for everyone in Canada to recognize and reaffirm our collective commitment to realizing the rights set out in the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. This includes committing to accessibility and to eliminating barriers that prevent access to adequate housing, healthcare, employment, education, and information.

More than six million people in Canada have a disability. Many people’s disabilities are not visible or apparent. As we work towards a more inclusive Canada, it is essential that the diverse needs, the diverse voices, and the human rights of people with disabilities — and their families and caregivers — be front and centre.

Innovation will be essential to creating an accessible Canada for all. It will underpin our efforts to create inclusive communities, workplaces and services that everyone can access and that meet everyone’s needs.

Equally as important is how we innovate. Removing barriers and making our world more accessible will take more than just adapting our existing way of doing things. We must embrace creativity and imagination and find new ways of thinking and doing. This includes eliminating stigma and paternalism towards people with disabilities.

Success will depend on people with disabilities playing a lead role in imagining and designing and realizing an altogether new world, free from barriers. At the same time, everyone in Canada has a role to play in eliminating the barriers that stand in people’s way. A truly accessible society is one where everyone has the freedom to choose when, and where, and how to participate.

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