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  • Brianna McMahon

Disaggregated Data Must Include Accessibility Barriers

A person gets labelled as having a physical disability when they have a malformation, disfigurement, or infirmity because of a bodily injury, congenital disability, or illness. Other cognitive disabilities involve developmental impairments, a learning disability, or a mental disorder. Marginalization occurs when a small sect of the population deviates from the standard societal expectation. The unnerving maltreatment leads to harsh discrimination. Physical and mental disabilities suffer from different set issues, yet often have overlapping similarities.

These conditions place limitations on individuals that hinder functionalities. Unfortunately, society considers these deviant social behaviors unacceptable. These mental conditions have become stigmatized in Canada. 

The societal attitudinal barriers need to change. When sufficient education becomes available, it happens. The Supreme Court weighed in on the social approach to handicaps. They proclaimed that social handicapping is society’s response to deviance or anomaly to normalcy caused by a disability, which results in discrimination. The Supreme Court of Canada said that disabilities may be temporary, sporadic, and permanent. Characteristics of disabilities present in different ways. Not all disabilities are immediately observable. The individual still requires accommodations. Other conditions are episodic. Someone may only require additional support when they experience a flare-up. 

These individuals may become able-bodied one day and disabled the next. It leads to a misunderstanding of the person’s condition. The disbelief of their health conditions leads to stigmatization. It is called ableism. Society perceives disabled individuals as less valuable. The hardened attitudes lead to disrespect. The non-disabled individual makes negative presumptions about their capabilities. It is an inaccurate assessment of the disabled individual. The stigma leads to patronizing and degrading the individual with their potential contributions. Their need for accommodations gets misconstrued as being child-like. The disheartening connotation leads them to get neglected and abused. 

It is ingrained in institutional systems within our Canadian culture. Corporations may implement exclusionary policies that, unbeknownst to them, target people with disabilities. Organizations must have a diverse team to make a conscious decision about an appropriate course of action to address someone with a disability. The government of Canada must take a definitive stance on implementing effective public policy that will decrease the accessibility barriers these individuals face daily. 

Here is a concrete breakdown of disabilities categorized into sub-sections:

  • Vision Impairment

  • Deaf or Hard of Hearing

  • Mental Health Conditions

  • Intellectual Disability

  • Acquired Brain Injury

  • Autism Spectrum Disorder

  • Physical Disability


The percentage of Canadians identifying themselves with a disability has doubled in the last ten years. Statistics Canada data analytics has reported that between the demographics of 15 and older, 27 percent of the overall population have proclaimed themselves as a disabled individual. The stark percentage of mathematically estimated equates to eight million Canadians who have labelled themselves as disabled. Statistics Canada has contributed to the increased percentage of adults identifying themselves as mentally ill. The overwhelming commonality between the disabilities is a lack of navigating life in the same way. 

This forgotten, structurally excluded community faces a plethora of issues. Overall, 72 percent have stated they experienced an accessibility barrier in 2023. Meanwhile, 60 percent proclaimed they had significant barriers maneuvering themselves in indoor and outdoor spaces. This is because 62 percent have difficulty with flexibility and mobility. 

Inclusive Programs to Implement: 

Currently, organizations have put policies and procedures in place that hinder accessibility to persons with disabilities. These corporations prioritize the concept: time is money, over human decency to those less fortunate. They may perceive the individual as a blight on efficiency. The Government of Canada must use its executive authority to protect these vulnerable individuals. 


  • Every large corporation must have a bipartisan advisory board dedicated to inclusive hiring and employment practices. The consultation company must be a separate corporation from the business they advise. One member of this board needs to be a lawyer and would need to have a specialty in mental and physical disabilities. 

  • Companies must have a digital transparent outline of their hiring practices detailing their inclusive hiring habits. It needs to detail the accommodations the interviewee would have accessibility to. People who identify as having a provable mental disability would get the right to work a lesser workload. The Government of Canada would need to compensate the company for hours of productivity lost. It is a different approach to part-time employment. It would involve full-time employment. That would enable persons with disabilities to make a livable wage. 

Inclusive Programs Underway to Implement: 

Academic institutions have examined this problem in depth. The University of Calgary took on this project and called it Mapping our Cities for All. Collectively, the students and faculty have determined that 60 percent of public areas in Calgary, Vancouver, and Ottawa are fully or partially inaccessible to persons with disabilities. Their overall purpose is to assist the federal government in removing barriers for disabled individuals by 2040. 

This ambitious plan would be instrumental for accessibility. One issue that arises is monetary funds to see this endeavor through. Bipartisan disability activists need to hold the University to account. They must provide a transparent, comprehensive chart of their plans. When an individual does not have a disability, they may have blinders to the potential accessibility barriers. The University of Calgary must consult with individuals who have disabilities. They can best speak for their accessibility barriers. 

For example, when architects construct a corporate building, they need to be aware of accessibility barriers for persons with disability. The elevators must have raised lettering or braille for the visually impaired. The passengers need to be alerted to enter the elevator by flashing lights and noise. When this accessibility element is absent, the individual cannot get up the stairs. They must design ramps for those in wheelchairs.


In conclusion, accessibility barriers put stringent restrictions on persons with disabilities. These hinder their ability to navigate the city with the same capacity that a person without a disability can. The Government of Canada needs to collaborate with the University of Calgary to implement these appropriate protocols and procedures to improve the lives of this invisible, structurally excluded community. 


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