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Barriers for Children with Disabilities

In the third review of the AODA, the Honourable David Onley recommends needed improvements to the Act. During the public meetings Onley held while preparing his review, attendees outlined many barriers that people with disabilities face. More improvements to the AODA would help to remove existing barriers and prevent future ones. Therefore, in addition to direct recommendations, Onley’s review also includes suggestions from attendees about how to remove these barriers. This article will explore barriers for children with disabilities and their families.

Barriers for Children with Disabilities

Many families of children with disabilities rely on services and devices that non-disabled families do not need. Families report that accessing needed services is difficult due to waiting lists or financial barriers. For instance, families must wait years for services that the government funds, such as:

  • Speech therapy through schools
  • Social services

Moreover, families report that some parts of the province have more access to social services than others. This uneven access is due to lack of a “funding formula”. The healthcare system has such a formula, and families suggest that social services should be funded in a similar way.

Financial Barriers

These and other services are available more quickly for families who pay for them directly. Moreover, families access partially-funded services and devices by sharing the cost with government, through the Ontario Assistive Devices Program (ADP). Some of the services or devices children may need to buy are:

Wheelchairs that fit children as they grow

Bicycles with adaptive pedals and training wheels

Families suggest that there should be rules limiting the amount that vendors can charge for this specialized equipment. Alternatively, families mention that Australia has implemented a national disability insurance system to fund the devices and services that citizens with disabilities need. Families suggest that Canada could implement a similar system to prevent and remove more barriers for children with disabilities.