People with disabilities represent about 22% of Canada’s population. Since 2014, the Law, Disability & Social Change (LDSC) Project at Windsor Law has conducted research into current legal and policy issues to help empower people with disabilities to fully achieve their rights and, more generally, to foster and develop inclusive communities. The project focuses on listening to, incorporating, and respecting the voices of people with disabilities and aims to further the motto “nothing about us without us.”
Dec. 3 is the International Day of People with Disabilities; the LDSC Project is recognizing the day by releasing its newest resource: The Annotated Accessible Canada Act, an online resource providing free information to the public relating to the Canadian statute that aims to remove disability barriers in Canada’s federally regulated sectors — including banks, airlines, communications, and parliamentary bodies — by 2040.
The LDSC Project is releasing the first part of The Annotated Accessible Canada Act today, with the rest to follow early in the new year. The Annotated Accessible Canada Act is currently available through the LDSC Project’s website and the University of Windsor’s Scholarship Repository. The authors plan for it to be circulated further through CANLII: Canadian Legal Information Institute, a non-profit organization managed by the Federation of Law Societies of Canada.
“Annotated statutes have traditionally been very legalistic documents designed only for practising lawyers,” says LDSC Project director Laverne Jacobs, professor and associate dean at Windsor Law. “Our annotated statute provides information for many different types of knowledge-users, including members of the disability community, disability rights advocates, people interested in the history of the statute and in comparisons with other accessibility legislation (such as researchers and scholars), and the general public.”
Enacted in 2019, The Accessible Canada Act provides innovative options for promoting and enforcing compliance with accessibility standards, including an Accessibility Commissioner, which does not exist in any other Canadian jurisdictions, with powers of investigation.
The resource was spearheaded by Dr. Jacobs and co-authored by student researchers Tom Perry and Rachel Rohr (JD 2020) as well as lawyer Martin Anderson (LLB 1997). Second-year law student Nadia Shivratan provided valuable support. The full LDSC Project team consists of the director, eight law student researchers, and two University of Windsor professors: Tess Sheldon (law) and Jijian Voronka (social work), who act as affiliates. The team undertakes a variety of projects that feed grounded research and theory into policy development and legal decision-making.
Other projects include research on accessibility legislation, consent and capacity, transportation inequality, legal aid, and BIPOC and intersectional disability discrimination. The students also publish a monthly summary of human rights tribunal decisions in Canada relating to disability every summer.
For more information about the Law, Disability & Social Change Project, visit its website.