Innovations for an Accessible World: International Day of Persons with Disabilities

This year marks the 30th anniversary of the United Nations’ International Day of Persons with Disabilities, which was first recognized in 1992 following a gathering in Montreal of the International Conference of Ministers Responsible for the Status of Persons with Disabilities.

This year’s theme is transformative solutions for inclusive development: the role of innovation in fuelling an accessible and equitable world, with a focus on places of employment and available tools to better the experience of workers and patrons.

In our health-care environments, we are no stranger to valuing innovation in our work. However, it’s important to ensure that our plans to develop new technologies consider the perspectives of people with disabilities. In creating new processes, we should seek out best practices that do not create disabling barriers for our community members.

Disability is a diverse experience, with physical, mental, temporary, chronic, visible and invisible manifestations. A 2017 Statistics Canada survey showed that 22 per cent of Canadians aged 15 or older have one or more disabilities. That translates to over six million people — including the patients, learners, teachers, physicians, and colleagues we interact with daily.

Temerty Medicine is committed to a barrier-free environment for those who learn, teach, and work here. The Office of Inclusion & Diversity supports the Faculty’s work to establish accessibility as a cornerstone of health equity and social justice, which includes building awareness of how disability can be compounded by other forms of systemic discrimination. 

These are key ideas within the Faculty’s Disability Justice Working Group, who collaborates with departments, hospitals, community groups and members of Temerty Medicine with lived experience to identify barriers that prevent equitable accessibility and full, dignified participation. Several subgroups are exploring barriers in education, curriculum, infrastructure, accessible data, system navigation and off-site locations.

December 3rd offers us a moment to pause and reflect on the work each of us can do to enhance inclusion for those with lived experience of disability. Further resources are included below to learn about how accessibility and disability justice impacts your life.  

Accessibility and disability justice are everyone’s work, and we must leave no one behind.

Janet Rodriguez
Co-Chair, Disability Justice Working Group
Temerty Faculty of Medicine

Julie Maggi
Co-Chair, Disability Justice Working Group
Director, Faculty Wellness
Temerty Faculty of Medicine

Lisa Robinson
Vice Dean, Strategy & Operations
Temerty Faculty of Medicine