Guest Blog: This blog entry was contributed by the Developmental Disabilities Association’s Director of Community Programs, Deanne Ziebart.
At each of our DDA programs and sites hangs a copy of Canada’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms. It declares that there will be no discrimination based on gender, religion etc. and includes people with disabilities. This guarantees that our clients can access public spaces, gather as a group and protest or access generic government services like all Canadians. We teach our clients that they have the right to their own privacy, choices and feelings. They can be employed and open bank accounts, get married, divorced or enter a same sex relationship. They can access their community centres and libraries and attend public events with their neighbours. December 10, International Human Rights Day, is a day to celebrate those things. But we still have work to do! Unfortunately, neither our Charter nor other legislation provides a guarantee of access to programs and specialized services that enable people to reach their full potential, which is the mission of our Association. Rights and Freedoms are a very important first step, but programs and services that lead to meaningful inclusion are also necessary.