THANK YOU, CANADA for taking part in the first RED SHIRT DAY on Wednesday, May 29, 2019, to show your support for persons living with disabilities and your commitment to accessibility and inclusion of people of all abilities.
Mark your calendars to take part in next year’s Red Shirt Day on Wednesday, May 27, 2020. #RedForAccessAbility, #AccessiblityForAll, #RedShirtDayCanada.
Established in 2017, National AccessAbility Week celebrates, promotes and showcases the diversity, inclusion and accessibility in this country, and highlights some of the important initiatives aimed at creating an Accessible Canada.
Easter Seals Canada is proud to do its part to promote and celebrate National AccessAbility Week, as part of the active leadership role that it plays on accessibility and inclusivity issues, and the direct-to-client programs and services that it provides in support of Canadians who are living with disabilities/with diverse abilities across Canada, and their families.
As we celebrate the third National AccessAbility Week, Easter Seals has put together a collection of resources and activities that individuals, families, schools and workplaces can use to celebrate and further promote accessibility and inclusivity in their communities country.
“Building an inclusive and accessible Canada—creating real social change—is going to take a huge collaborative effort and a significant shift in the way we approach the physical, social and attitudinal barriers that currently exist for people living with disability in this country. Easter Seals is proud to be at the forefront of this shift, and we’re excited about the awareness that the new National AccessAbility Week will bring to these efforts.”
– Dave Starrett, President and CEO, Easter Seals Canada
GET INVOLVED: WHAT YOU CAN DO
RED SHIRT DAY (MAY 29, 2019)
Show your support for persons living with disabilities, accessibility and inclusion by wearing red on May 29, 2019.
Easter Seals is encouraging and inviting everyone to wear red on the Wednesday of National AccessAbility Week each year, as part of their activities to observe the event.
This year, National AccessAbility Week is May 26 to June 1, 2019, and Red Shirt Day is on Wednesday, May 29, 2019.
By wearing red on Red Shirt Day on May 29th, 2019, individuals can show their support and join others across Canada in creating a visible display of solidarity for persons who are living with disabilities, and the importance of creating a fully accessible and inclusive society that honours and values the contributions of people of all abilities in all aspects of life in Canada.
On Wednesday, May 29, 2019, post a selfie or a photo of you with your friends, classmates or colleagues – all wearing red – on social media with the hashtags: #easterseals, #AccessAbilityForAll, and/or #RedForAccessAbility.
Other materials and resources to enhance and promote accessibility and inclusion
Free National AccessAbility Week and Red T-Shirt Day Posters:
Help raise awareness about National AccessAbility Week and Red T-Shirt Day by putting up these free posters in your community, school and workplace, and by sharing them electronically.
Click on the images below to view a larger version and/or download a copy of the poster.
Recommended children’s books:
The following are a number of books that you can read with children in your life or in your classroom. They’re a great way to start conversations about disability, inclusion, and advocacy and engaging children on these topics at a level that they can relate to.
A Boy and a Jaguar by Alan Rabinowitz (ISBN: 978-0547875071)
Excerpt: “Alan loves animals, but the great cat house at the Bronx Zoo makes him sad. Why are they all alone in empty cages? Are they being punished? More than anything, he wants to be their champion-their voice-but he stutters uncontrollably. Except when he talks to animals… Then he is fluent.” This picture book, based on a true story, follows the life of the man Time Magazine calls, the Indiana Jones of wildlife conservation”as he searches for his voice and fulfills a promise to speak for animals, and people, who cannot speak for themselves.
Special People, Special Ways by Arlene Maguire (ISBN: 978-1885477651)
Excerpt: “Share a joke or a dream. Make someone feel good. We need laughter, hugs, and to be understood . . . Though we seem different, inside we’re the same. Our hearts are for caring, no matter our name.” The delightful rhymes combined with rich watercolor illustrations portraying positive images of children with various disabilities, promote understanding and tolerance among young readers, and show them that we each have unique gifts to share.
My Friend Isabelle by Eliza Woloson (ISBN: 978-1890627508)
Excerpt: “Isabelle and Charlie are friends. They both like to draw, dance, read, and play at the park. They both like to eat Cheerios. They both cry if their feelings are hurt. And like most friends, they are also different from each other. Isabelle has Down syndrome. Charlie doesn’t.” This charming story, based on a real person, is written by Isabelle’s mother, and encourages encourages young readers to think about what makes a friendship special.
El Deafo by Cece Bell (ISBN: 978-1419712173)
Excerpt: “Starting at a new school is scary, even more so with a giant hearing aid strapped to her chest! At her old school, everyone in Cece’s class was deaf. Here she is different. She is sure the kids are staring at her hearing aid. Then Cece makes a startling discovery. She can hear her teacher not just in the classroom, but anywhere her teacher is in school. Can this new found superpower help Cece find the thing that she wants the most – a true friend?” In this funny, poignant graphic novel memoir, author/illustrator Cece Bell chronicles her hearing loss at a young age and her subsequent experiences with the Phonic Ear, a very powerful—and very awkward—hearing aid.
Rules by Cynthia Lord (ISBN: 978-0439443838)
Excerpt: “12-year-old Catherine just wants a normal life. Which is near impossible when you have a brother with autism and a family that revolves around his disability. She’s spent years trying to teach David the rules from “a peach is not a funny-looking apple” to “keep your pants on in public”—in order to head off David’s embarrassing behaviors. But the summer Catherine meets Jason, a surprising, new sort-of friend, and Kristi, the next-door friend she’s always wished for, it’s her own shocking behavior that turns everything upside down and forces her to ask: What is normal?” This sensitive and beautifully written story explores differences and acceptance. A great conversation starter.
KNOW THE FACTS
What are some of the facts, figures and statistics regarding the state of accessibility and inclusion in Canada?
Does Canada have a nation-wide federal accessibility legislation?
Canada has made huge strides as a country and society in terms of general public awareness of disability issues, enhancing inclusion and opportunities for people living with disabilities, and constructing accessible new infrastructure and retrofitting existing ones. However, this progress have not come fast enough and is not consistent across the country. Part of the reason for this is because Canada does not have federal legislation that pertain specifically to accessibility.
Most existing laws related to accessibility is part of broader legislation and policies that aim to outlaw discrimination based on various grounds such as gender, language or ethnicity. Presently, only three provinces have accessibility standards enshrined in their legislation: Ontario (with its Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, AODA), Manitoba (with its Accessibility for Manitobans Act) and Nova Scotia (with its Nova Scotia Accessibility Act).
In June 2018, the federal government tabled Bill C-81, the Accessible Canada Act, which aims to improve accessibility for people living with disabilities. As of May 1, 2019, the bill is still making its way through the legislative process, and if passed, would be a historic and landmark piece of legislation for Canada as it would enshrine standards and enforcement mechanisms including fines for violations into law. In order to become law, the Bill must pass both the House of Commons and Senate, and receive Royal Assent.
Timeline of the passage of Bill C-81, the Accessible Canada Act so far:
- June 20, 2018: Federal government tables Bill C-81 in the House of Commons
- September 26, 2018: Second reading of Bill C-81 in House of Commons, and refers bill to committee
- November 27, 2018: House of Commons passes third reading of Bill C-81 and adopts Bill C-81
- November 29, 2018: Bill C-81 is introduced to the Senate for first-reading
- March 21, 2019: Senate passes second reading of bill and refers the bill to committee
- May 13, 2019: Senate passes third reading of Bill C-81. The bill is sent back to the House of Commons with amendments.
- May 28, 2019: House of Commons considers Senate’s amendments to Bill C-81.
- May 29, 2019: House of Commons adopts Senate amendments and passes Bill C-81.
- Next step: Royal Assent
- Learn more about the legislative process for Bill C-81
More than 1 in 5 Canadians are living with some form of disability.
According to the results of the latest Canadian Survey on Disability, held in 2017, more than 1 in every 5 Canadians ages 15 and older reported having one or more disabilities that limited them in their daily activities. For many of these Canadians, challenges and obstacles in their day-to-day lives may limit their full participation in society.
The following are some of the other main findings from the survey:
- Disability levels increases with age: More than 540,000 youth (or 13% of the population between the ages of 15 and 24) reported having one or more disabilities. In contrast, 20% or 3.7 million working age adults (between 24 and 64 years old) and 38% or 2 million seniors aged 65 and above reported having a disability.
- Women were more likely to have a disability: 24% of women reported having a disability in contrast to 20% of men. This applies to all age groups.
- More than 4 in 10 Canadians with disabilities reported having a severe or very severe disability: People with more severe disabilities often have lower rates of employment, lower income even when employed, and are at a greater likelihood of living in poverty regardless of age.
- Mental health-related and learning disabilities are the most common types of disabilities among youth: Most Canadians with a disability have more than one type of disability, and the prevalence of disabilities varies at different stages of life. The prominence of pain-related disabilities is common across all age groups, but increases with age.
- Youth with disabilities are at a higher risk of not being in school or employed, and this increased with the severity of the disability: This has major repercussions in terms of their quality of life and employment opportunities in the present and in the future.
- Persons with disabilities faced lower employment rates: This increases with the severity and type of disabilities, and levels of education.
- Persons with disabilities reported having lower personal income compared to those without disabilities: Among working age adults, personal income was strongly related to the severity of disability. Almost one-third of working age adults with severe disabilities are living in poverty.