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The Council of Canadians with Disabilities (CCD), which was formerly known as the Coalition of Provincial Organizations of the Handicapped (COPOH), was founded in 1976 by people with disabilities. (In 1994, the organization adopted the name Council of Canadians with Disabilities, which was more in keeping with current disability terminology and the organization's new membership structure, which admitted national organizations of persons with disabilities as members.) The organization was formed because people with disabilities, facing discrimination and exclusion, wanted an accessible and inclusive society; that is, a Canada where people with disabilities have the opportunity to go to school, work, volunteer, have a family, participate in recreational, sport and cultural activities.
Over the last thirty years, there has been a shift in thinking about disability. Through the human rights work of organizations of people with disabilities, like CCD, it has been recognized that traditional medical approaches to disability have not significantly improved the social/economic position of people with disabilities in society. CCD has been encouraging Canada's decision-makers to adopt a human rights approach to disability issues that focuses on barrier removal. To this end, CCD's volunteers have worked for:
- A Canadian Human Rights Act that protects people with disabilities from discrimination
- Inclusion of people with disabilities in the Equality Rights Section of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms
- An accessible Federal transportation system, through law reform and test case litigation (i.e. the VIA Rail case and the One Person/One Fare case)
- Improved disability-related supports through increased Federal investment
- Increased knowledge on disability issues by participating in research initiatives such as the VP-Net and Dis-IT projects and most recently by developing and leading a research project focusing on poverty, funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council
- Increased public awareness about disability and support for access and inclusion through public education programs, like End Exclusion
- Accessible banking by working with the Canadian Bankers Association to develop more accessible banking machines
- Better assistive technology by participating on Industry Canada's Assistive Devices Advisory Committee
- Better access to pensions by participating on the Canada Pension Plan Disability Benefit Roundtable
This is just a sampling of the issues addressed by CCD over the years.
CCD shares its views on policy reform with Federal Ministers. For example, in January 2011, CCD, along with others in the disability community met with Minister Diane Finley and Minister Steven Fletcher. From left to right: Jim Derksen (CCD), Shelly Rattai, Rose Flaig, John Young, Minister Finley, Minister Fletcher, Ross Young and Ken Burford.