JOINT STATEMENT – Inclusion by everyone, for everyone

May 27, 2024 – Ottawa, Ontario – Canadian Human Rights Commission

To mark National AccessAbility Week from May 26 to June 1, 2024, the Interim Chief Commissioner of the Canadian Human Rights Commission, Charlotte-Anne Malischewski, together with Accessibility Commissioner Michael Gottheil, issue the following statement:

This National AccessAbility Week is an opportunity to recommit to the removal of barriers and making Canada more accessible for everyone.

Accessibility is a human right. Yet, people with disabilities continue to face barriers and discrimination. In 2023, the majority of complaints accepted by the Canadian Human Rights Commission were based on disability discrimination.

Disability discrimination impacts people’s fundamental human rights. The rights to adequate housing, to education, to access healthcare, employment, and information are enshrined in the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. When these rights are not respected, they create barriers that stand in the way of creating inclusive communities, workplaces, and services for everyone.

The Accessible Canada Act and regulations require federally regulated organizations to identify, remove and prevent barriers to accessibility. The Office of the Accessibility Commissioner helps ensure that federally regulated organizations live up to their responsibilities by promoting and enforcing compliance with the Act.

We need tangible change to make a more inclusive and accessible Canada. This means shifting the way we do things. We must focus on concrete action and practical outcomes. We must do more to ensure that people learn about the importance and the value of accessibility for all. Barriers must be removed– for everyone, everywhere. Physical spaces and workplace environments must be transformed. Attitudes must change. Policies, programs, practices and technologies must become accessible by design.

A crucial part of making these changes is consulting and talking to people with disabilities. It means taking everyone into consideration. It means meeting people where they are. Whether that is creating space at the table for the disability community, adapting physical spaces and workplace environments to be accessible, or shifting policies, programs, practices and technologies to become accessible by design – we need to make sure everyone’s needs are represented moving forward.

There is no single solution. But by thinking more broadly about accessibility and consulting people with disabilities, we can take meaningful steps towards accessibility for all.

We can all do our part in creating a barrier-free Canada, by thinking inclusively about the diverse considerations for accessibility, and by taking steps to remove barriers in all aspects of our lives. Together let’s bring about change for everyone, by including everyone.

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