Free COVID-19 Guide for People with Disabilities from CWDO

Citizens With Disabilities – Ontario (CWDO)  is currently working on a Health Information and Support for Persons with Disabilities project with funding from the Canadian Red Cross. The purpose of this project is to improve the lives of people with disabilities by publishing and distributing a COVID-19 Guide for Persons with Disabilities.

CWDO’s COVID-19 Guide for Persons with Disabilities helps address the impacts of COVID-19 by providing information and community navigation, fostering social inclusion and learning, as well as health and hygiene tips.

If you are interested in receiving one or more CWDO COVID-19 Guides for People with Disabilities, please click here.

CWDO is a grassroots, nonprofit organization that actively promotes the rights, freedoms and responsibilities of persons with disabilities through community development, social action, and member support and referral. They’re primary activity is public education and awareness about the social and physical barriers that prevent the full inclusion of persons with disabilities in Ontario. CWDO acts on behalf of 2.6 million Ontarians who live with one or more disabilities and registered members reside in almost every electoral district in the province.

For more information, please visit the CWDO website

Statement by CILT’s Wendy Porch to Mark the International Day of People with Disabilities 2020

By Wendy Porch, Executive Director

Today is the UN’s International Day of People with Disabilities (IPDP). This is an important day to celebrate the accomplishments of disabled people, which are achieved despite living in a world that was not built for us. The theme for this year’s IDPD is “Building Back Better: toward a disability-inclusive, accessible and sustainable post COVID-19 World”.

The COVID-19 pandemic has disproportionately impacted the community of people with disabilities. We have seen the COVID-19 pandemic unearth ableist beliefs and structures. Unlike everyone else, people with disabilities in Ontario may be subject to a Triage Protocol that could see them de-prioritized for life-saving treatment in the event of a COVID-19 surge due only to having a disability.

Mobile COVID testing and flu shots for people with disabilities living in the community are not widely available. Access to PPE for people with disabilities who are not in receipt of community services remains difficult.

In the City of Toronto, many of the initiatives rolled out to address COVID-19 were implemented without consultation with the community of people with disabilities. Many were not accessible.

CILT works to amplify the voices of people with disabilities.  We believe ‘Nothing About Us Without Us’ must also be the case for Building Back Better.

Help us to envision ‘a disability-inclusive, accessible and sustainable post COVID-19 World’  together through CILT’s IDPD Campaign starting today on Twitter and Facebook.

Throughout this week, CILT’s social media channels will feature videos from people with disabilities addressing the question “What does Build Back Better look like when it includes people with disabilities?”

Each day we feature a video produced by a person with a disability on topics of relevance to our community, including poverty, housing, healthcare and resilience.  We hope these videos help to elevate our voices and show that we have a lot to say about how ‘Build Back Better’ could be more inclusive of our community.

We encourage you to view, retweet and comment on these videos in the context of the IDPD and the UN’s goal to “Build Back Better”.  Add your voice to the discussion and help the world to see what we think an inclusive and accessible world, post COVID-19, looks like. Tag your posts with #IPDP2020 and #BuildInclusion to join in the conversation.

Wishing you and yours a glimpse of a post COVID world where we are all included.

For more information about CILT, please visit


Wendy Porch, M.Ed

Executive Director

Centre for Independent Living in Toronto (CILT)


Zoom Event – Inclusion Canada and People First Canada’s 11th Annual Federal Policy Forum on Inclusion

This year’s forum will explore how we can sustain and build on the learnings and innovations that have emerged in the midst of this pandemic to create the inclusive society we want to see. All panels include a series of interactive Q&As and perspectives of lived experience from people with an intellectual disability and families, as well as research and policy expertise from both government and community. Participants are welcome to join for all or some panels.

The event will take place on December 3, 2020 at 11am EST.

To register, please click here.

Virtual CART services and ASL will be available. Please inform of any access needs by requesting the Access Form. If you require additional information or supports to register, please contact .

Zoom Event – Alliance for Equality of Blind Canadians for International Day of Persons with Disabilities Conference

If you have been frustrated or frightened at the way the disability community has been disproportionately left behind during the pandemic, then this event is for you! The organizers have an inspiring group of leaders sharing their perspectives on inclusion and an exciting panel session with leaders sharing best practices, getting youth engaged, sharing lived experiences during the pandemic and getting government leaders to recognize and address systemic change for people with disabilities in a time of crisis. Do not miss out and count yourself in!

The event will take place virtually through Zoom on December 5, 2020 from 1:00pm – 4:00pm EST. 

To register for the event, please click here.

This is a Zoom event, and all registered attendees will be emailed meeting details 24 hours before the event.  If you require ASL or Closed Captioning, please e-mail  and they will be happy to accommodate you.

Do you have questions for the speakers or panelists? Please email  and they can ask them live during the conference. The organizers look forward to meeting you virtually!

Article – International Day of People With Disabilities: Thinking Outside the Wheelchair

This article was written by Philip Mills and Samantha Walsh and was originally posted on the Independent Living Centre for Waterloo Region (ILCWR) website here.

In the 28 years since the United Nations General Assembly proclaimed the first annual observance of the International Day of People With Disabilities, much has been done to recognize and promote the rights and well-being of persons with disabilities in all facets of our society and in our communities.

Still, the word ‘disability’ for many conjures the image of a person using a wheelchair. Despite the fact that many people with disabilities use assistive devices, this narrative leaves out a significant portion of people with invisible disabilities, including mental illness, chronic pain, seeing or hearing disabilities, and learning or cognitive disabilities.

According to 2017 Statistics Canada data, 22% of Canadians have at least one disability. That’s one in five Canadians, or 6.2 million people. The breakdown by disability shows that a significant proportion of these are invisible, including those related to pain (14.5%), mental health (7.2%), seeing or hearing (10.2%), and learning (3.9%).

Invisible disabilities highlight the immense difference between experience and stigma. It can seem like a person who uses a wheelchair is more disabled, and therefore the target of more stigma, because in a world designed for people who can walk, the barriers faced by someone using a wheelchair are evident. By contrast, someone’s experiences with dyslexia or anxiety will be less obvious to the casual observer, and are therefore viewed as less disabling.

However, disability has no hierarchy. A person’s experience with disability, regardless of complexity, is not determined by devices they may or may not use. The social model of disability looks at disability from a cultural standpoint, and focuses on the needs and experiences of people with disabilities while understanding that not every disability is going to be visible. It opposes the medicalized model that views disability as something to be diagnosed and treated. Indeed, the last institution in Ontario for people with developmental disabilities was only closed in 2009. With a history of institutionalization not far behind us, society is still working on wrapping its collective brain around looking at disability more holistically. We still cannot fathom that ‘disability’ is in fact created by a society that fails to consider that we are a diverse community of people who move through the world in different ways.

Disability is the only minority that is an open-ended category that anyone can join, and certainly the chances increase the longer we live. Yet, our discussions of accessibility and inclusion hardly go beyond the government-mandated minimum standards of installing ramps and elevators. In Canada, we still don’t have comprehensive disability legislation. Many of our public programs and policies are divisive, where only specific groups of people with disabilities are eligible for certain benefits or federal tax credits. People with invisible disabilities continue to face structural barriers to accessing programs and funding because they do not meet the strict eligibility criteria of narrow definitions of disability.

If we’re going to have meaningful conversations about inclusion, accessibility and universal design, it’s time we expanded our thinking about disability at the societal and government levels to include all people with physical, intellectual, social emotional and learning disabilities. This includes engaging people with invisible disabilities in our communities to help create a society that can include everyone. No matter how well-intentioned policies may be, we continue to build our communities in ways that ultimately exclude people from them.

We still have a long way to go. This is why the International Day of People With Disabilities on December 3rd is so important. It is the perfect opportunity for us to raise awareness of those living with invisible disabilities and to make our intentions of a more equitable, diverse and inclusive society a lived reality for those with disabilities.

Philip Mills is the Executive Director of the Independent Living Centre of Waterloo Region (ILCWR) and Samantha Walsh is ILCWR’s Director of Service and the Second Vice Chair of Independent Living Canada. 

Read this Op-Ed in the Waterloo Region Record (November 27 issue)

Zoom Event – Origins of the Independent Living Movement on December 3, 2020

As part of International Day for Persons with Disabilities 2020, the Independent Living Centre of Waterloo Region is hosting a Zoom event titled, “The Origins of the Independent Living Movement.”

The event will take place on Thursday, December 3, 2020 at 2:00pm EST. Join for a presentation and discussion about the Independent Living movement, its origins, and how it has shaped the services offered by IL Canada and the Independent Living Centre of Waterloo Region.

You can register for the event by emailing for the Zoom link.

New COVID-19 Public Education Posters & Translations Now Available

As part of its COVID-19 response, the City of Toronto has simplified, redesigned and translated a number of key COVID-19 educational materials for your use and to share with your community, to help spread the messages about how to stay safe during COVID-19.

COVID-19 educational posters and graphics are available for download on the City website at, with the following new items:

In the Face Masks & Coverings section of the web page:

  • New “How to Wear a Mask” poster in English as well as in 28 additional languages.
  • New “Dos and Don’ts of Wearing a Mask” poster in English with translations to 28 languages to be posted by tomorrow.

In the Protect Yourself & Others section of the web page:

  • Updated “How Does COVID-19 Spread?” Infographic with more than a dozen translations available for download.
  • New “Download the COVID Alert App” poster in English as well as in 28 additional languages.

In the Screening Posters & Checklists section of the web page:

  • Screening Posters & Checklists: translations are now available for all COVID-19 screening posters and checklists, including for Staff, Schools, and Child Care Centres.

Webinar – Self-Advocating for Accessible Mental Health Supports for People with Disabilities During COVID-19

CILT invites you to “Self-Advocating for Accessible Mental Health Supports for People with Disabilities During COVID-19.” This is a Zoom webinar that will focus on building self-advocacy skills for accessing mental health supports, responding to ableist attitudes and policies, and inequitable access historically experienced by people with disabilities in Ontario.

This webinar will expand awareness of potential challenges to accessing mental health care and will develop skills for self-identifying support needs and self-advocating to have those needs met during and beyond the pandemic.

When: Thursday December 10, 2020 from 1:00-2:30 PM Eastern Time (Canada)

To register for this virtual webinar event, please click here.

This workshop will have following objectives:
1) Includes knowing when to seek mental health support
2) How to determine a provider’s disability lens
3) How to ensure your access needs are being met
4) Question and Answers
5) Resources

Workshop Presenters:
Samantha Abel, PhD, RSW, Social Worker, Flemingdon Health Centre
Janet Rodriguez, Lived Experience Advisor; Health Mentor for Inter professional education

Workshop Facilitators:
John Mossa, Independent Living Skills Coordinator, Centre for Independent Living in Toronto (CILT)
Rebecca Wood, Peer and Parenting Program Coordinator, Centre for Independent Living in Toronto (CILT)

If you need assistance with registering please e-mail or call 416-599-2458 ext 291.

Please note, you will not be able to join the session without registering first. After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.


Webinar – The Second Wave: Infection Prevention and Control (IPAC) for COVID-19 and People with Disabilities

CILT will be providing a workshop on IPAC education to empower people with disabilities in making informed choices about COVID-19, PPE use, and infection control measures. This will help people with disabilities to reduce their transmission risk so they can live more independently during the second wave of this pandemic. Chose one date, November 23 or 27, and register here.

Interview – Food Access and Insecurity in Adults with Mobility Disabilities

You are invited to listen to CILT’s interview with Meagan Gillmore at AMI about Food Access and Insecurity in Adults with Mobility Disabilities, this Wednesday November 11 at 9:27am eastern on “Now with Dave Brown”. You can listen live at