Breaking down barriers for all Canadians

Six tips to foster inclusivity for people with disabilities

KITCHENER, ON, Dec. 3, 2013 /CNW/ - In celebration of the United Nation's International Day of Persons with Disabilities, Christian Horizons encourages Canadians to help break down barriers to foster belonging and inclusion for all people living with disabilities.

"I am inspired that the international community has identified and set aside this day to advocate for inclusive communities around the world," said Janet Nolan, CEO Christian Horizons. "Christian Horizons recognizes the intrinsic worth of all people, and we encourage everyone to help break down the barriers that people with disabilities face on a daily basis."

Quick Facts

  • In Canada, 4.4 million people live with disabilities1, yet many Canadians living with disabilities face physical, social, economic and attitudinal barriers.
  • Over 1 billion people, or approximately 15 percent of the world's population, live with some form of disability.
  • In Ontario, nearly 19,000 people are currently on waiting lists to receive supports. 

Christian Horizons offers 6 tips for Canadians to foster communities of belonging and inclusion for people with disabilities.

TIP 1 - Think Inclusively
There is a difference between simply attending school, places of faith, or the workplace, and belonging there. The feeling of belonging happens through activities before and after class, service or workday. Invite children with disabilities to your child's birthday parties or play dates. For colleagues, consider an accessible location for after work socializing or dinner. There are many ways to include people with disabilities that will foster a sense of belonging.

TIP 2 - Talk to the person
Talking directly to the person with a disability demonstrates respect. Some people may find themselves talking to staff, friends or family members instead by saying, "So how is he/she doing today?" A better approach is to look directly at the person and ask, "How are you today?" or "It's nice to see you today." Most people can understand and process information much easier than they can express themselves.

TIP 3 - Be Friendly
A friendly smile, a handshake and an introduction can go a long way to helping people feel accepted.

TIP 4 - Take the first step
Take the first step in engaging in conversation and you'll see that differences are what make us all unique and interesting!

TIP 5 - Lead by example
Being inclusive and welcoming of those with disabilities will serve as an inspiration to others.

TIP 6 - Teach inclusivity
It's important for children to understand from their parents, teachers, friends and caregivers that people with disabilities are not to be feared or excluded.

"I started working in mid-June," said Jonathan, who is supported by Christian Horizons. "My co-workers are always available to help guide me. I really like my job and am thankful for the opportunity to work."

About Christian Horizons

Christian Horizons is a non-profit, faith-based charitable organization serving nearly 1,500 people with developmental disabilities and their families in Ontario, and more than 55,000 people in eight developing countries around the world. With more than 200 residences as well as respite care and independent living locations in Ontario, we offer programs and services such as community participation supports, employment supports, and supported vacation opportunities that can be tailored to meet a wide variety of needs. For more information about Christian Horizons, please visit:

1 Source: Statistics Canada. Participation and Activity Limitation Survey 2006: Tables. Ottawa: Statistics Canada, 2007 (Cat. No. 89-628-XIE - No. 003).

SOURCE: Christian Horizons

For further information:

Krista O'Brien, Manager of Communication Strategies, 226-750-5340

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