Did you know?
- Of the one billion population of persons with disabilities, 80% live in developing countries.
- An estimated 46% of older people aged 60 years and over are people with disabilities.
- One in every five women is likely to experience disability in her life, while one in every ten children is a child with a disability.
- Persons with disabilities in the world are among the hardest hit by COVID-19.
Closer to home:
- The ‘2017 Canadian Survey on Disability, more than 6 million Canadians aged 15 and over (22% of the population) identify as having a disability, and it is expected actual numbers are likely higher.
- Only 59% of Canadians with disabilities aged 25 to 64 are employed compared to 80% of Canadians without disabilities.
- Persons with disabilities earn less than Canadians without disabilities (12% less for those with milder disabilities and 51% less for those with more severe disabilities) and are more likely to live in poverty.’
My work with differently abled individuals started after graduating with a Master’s degree in Social Work in 1983. Do you remember the ‘Vocational Rehabilitation Services (VRS)’ within the Ontario Ministry of Community and Social Services? It was a very robust program designed to assist those with an impairment to be trained (as needed) towards a goal of employment- whether it be competitive, home bound or sheltered. I then spent many years working with those who had either a congenital or acquired injury, focussing on those who had sustained a traumatic brain injury (TBI). All this to say that things have changed a lot since the early 80’s and yet, some things haven’t changed at all.
1.Age and disability are not synonymous. I use the example of my father who passed away at age 69 after a lengthy period of decline and disability and my mother in law who passed at age 96, who was sharp and relatively healthy- until the end. Growing older does not mean one becomes disabled. Growing older with a disability is however something different.
2. There are also many hidden or invisible disabilities. As a result of living in a restricted environment, such as was experienced during COVID, we certainly saw an increase in mental illness amongst many of us- at all ages and walks of life.
3. Having a disability impacts one’s entire family. In fact, supporting an individual living with a dementia takes more than just family support but requires support from the entire community.
4. December 3rd was ‘International Day of Persons With Disabilities’, however every day we need to be aware of challenges and inequalities that continue to be experienced by differently abled individuals by thoughtlessness and ignorance by those at both the macro (government) and micro levels (other people).
Please support an accessible Canada.