2010 FDR - Chapter 5: Community participation

Discussions about the full inclusion of people with disabilities often centre on certain aspects of social participation, such as workplace and classroom participation. However, community participation outside of business hours also plays an important part in the lives of Canadians. Participation in civic and political life and participation in cultural activities are also important aspects of leading fully enriched lives.

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Participation in civic life

Full inclusion for people with disabilities extends beyond full inclusion in the workplace and classroom. It also includes the ability to participate fully in volunteering, campaigning, unions and many other organizations and activities that exist in communities across Canada. This section explores the participation of people with disabilities in unpaid volunteer activities. Footnote 33

In 2005–2006, Footnote 34 34.4% of adults with disabilities participated in unpaid volunteer activities. This rate decreases with severity of disability: 39.6% of people with mild disabilities participated in volunteer activities, compared to 20.6% of people with very severe disabilities. Chart 5.1 shows that women with disabilities are typically more likely to volunteer than men and that younger adults are more likely to volunteer than older adults.

Chart 5.1: Participation in unpaid volunteer activities in 2005–2006 by age group and gender for adults with disabilities, 2006 (%)

A text description of Chart 5.1 is provided below
Chart 5.1 Text Description

This vertical bar graph represents the participation rates in unpaid volunteer activities in 2006 to 2006 by age group and gender for adults with disabilities, 2006 (percent)

This chart is divided into six age group categories from left to right along the horizontal axis:

  • 15 to 24
  • 25 to 54
  • 55 to 64
  • 65 to 74
  • 75 and up
  • Total

In each category there are two sections, women and men

The vertical axis represents the participation rate in percentages, measured in increments of 10 from 0 to 60.

For working-age women with disabilities ages 15 to 24 the participation rate in unpaid volunteer activities is 47.6 percent.

For working-age men with disabilities ages 15 to 24 the participation rate in unpaid volunteer activities is 41.2 percent.

For working-age women with disabilities ages 25 to 54 the participation rate in unpaid volunteer activities is 41.6 percent.

For working-age men with disabilities ages 25 to 54 the participation rate in unpaid volunteer activities is 37.4 percent.

For working-age women with disabilities ages 55 to 64 the participation rate in unpaid volunteer activities is 38.3 percent.

For working-age men with disabilities ages 55 to 64 the participation rate in unpaid volunteer activities is 33.5 percent.

For working-age women with disabilities ages 65 to 74 the participation rate in unpaid volunteer activities is 31.8 percent.

For working-age men with disabilities ages 65 to 74 the participation rate in unpaid volunteer activities is 31.7 percent.

For working-age women with disabilities ages 75 and up, the participation rate in unpaid volunteer activities is 24.6 percent.

For working-age men with disabilities ages 75 and up, the participation rate in unpaid volunteer activities is 23.3 percent.

The total percentage of women with disabilities participating in unpaid volunteer activities is 35.5 percent.

The total percentage of men with disabilities participating in unpaid volunteer activities is 33.1 percent.

CHART 5.2: Participation in various types of volunteering by gender for adults with disabilities who volunteered, 2006 (percent)

For women with disabilities, of those who volunteer, 35.7 percent volunteered through canvassing, campaigning or fundraising. 40.3 percent of men with disabilities who volunteer volunteered through canvassing, campaigning or fundraising.

For women with disabilities, of those who volunteer, 35.7 percent volunteered through teaching, coaching, providing care or friendly visits through an organization. 36.7 percent of men with disabilities who volunteer volunteered through teaching, coaching, providing care or friendly visits through an organization.

For women with disabilities, of those who volunteer 33.3 percent volunteered through sitting as an unpaid member of a board or committee. 39.8 percent of men with disabilities who volunteer volunteered through sitting as an unpaid member of a board or committee.

For women with disabilities, of those who volunteer 26.1 percent volunteered by collecting, serving or delivering food or other goods. 21.5 percent of men with disabilities who volunteer volunteered by collecting, serving or delivering food or other goods.

For women with disabilities, of those who volunteer 25.0 percent volunteered by doing consulting, executive, office or administrative work. 24.6 percent of men with disabilities who volunteer volunteered by doing consulting, executive, office or administrative work.

Source: Statistics Canada, 2006 Participation and Activity Limitation Survey

While volunteering itself is an important activity for people with disabilities, it is also important that people with disabilities have the opportunity to help organize and supervise activities to the same degree as all Canadians.

Among adults with disabilities who participated in volunteer activities in 2005–2006, 54.5% acted in an organizational or supervisory role at least some of the time. Among those with mild to moderate disabilities, 56.4% participated in such roles, and among those with severe to very severe disabilities, this figure is 49.6%. Men with disabilities are slightly more likely to act in organizational or supervisory roles than women with disabilities, and older working-age adults with disabilities are more likely to do so than younger working-age adults or seniors with disabilities.

Chart 5.2: Participation in various types of volunteering by gender for adults with disabilities who volunteered, 2006 (%)
Type of volunteering Women Men
Canvassing, campaigning or fundraising 35.7 40.3
Teaching, coaching, providing care or friendly visits through an organization 35.7 36.7
Sitting as an unpaid member of a board or committee 33.3 39.8
Collecting, serving or delivering food or other goods 26.1 21.5
Consulting, executive, office or administrative work 25.0 24.6
Chart 5.2 Text Description

For women with disabilities, of those who volunteer, 35.7 percent volunteered through canvassing, campaigning or fundraising. 40.3 percent of men with disabilities who volunteer volunteered through canvassing, campaigning or fundraising.

For women with disabilities, of those who volunteer, 35.7 percent volunteered through teaching, coaching, providing care or friendly visits through an organization. 36.7 percent of men with disabilities who volunteer volunteered through teaching, coaching, providing care or friendly visits through an organization.

For women with disabilities, of those who volunteer 33.3 percent volunteered through sitting as an unpaid member of a board or committee. 39.8 percent of men with disabilities who volunteer volunteered through sitting as an unpaid member of a board or committee.

For women with disabilities, of those who volunteer 26.1 percent volunteered by collecting, serving or delivering food or other goods. 21.5 percent of men with disabilities who volunteer volunteered by collecting, serving or delivering food or other goods.

For women with disabilities, of those who volunteer 25.0 percent volunteered by doing consulting, executive, office or administrative work. 24.6 percent of men with disabilities who volunteer volunteered by doing consulting, executive, office or administrative work.

Source: Statistics Canada, 2006 Participation and Activity Limitation Survey

Participation in political life

In Canada, the most obvious way to participate in political life Footnote 35 is to vote. The participation rates for voting in the last federal election are displayed by age group and disability status in Chart 5.3. Within each age group, participation among people with disabilities was slightly lower than among people without disabilities.

Chart 5.3: Voter turnout for the last federal election by age group and disability status for adults ages 18 and over, 2008 (%)

A text description of Chart 5.3 is provided below
Chart 5.3 Text Description

This vertical bar graph represents the voter turnout for the last federal election by age group and disability status for adults ages 18 and over, 2008 (percent)

This chart is divided into seven age group categories along the horizontal axis:

  • 18 to 24
  • 25 to 34
  • 35 to 44
  • 45 to 54
  • 55 to 64
  • 65 to 74
  • Total

In each category there are two sections, people with disabilities and people without disabilities.

The vertical axis represents the participation rate in percentages, measured in increments of 10 from 0 to 100.

For adults 18 to 24 with disabilities the participation rate is 43.4 percent.

For adults 18 to 24 without disabilities the participation rate is 45.6 percent.

For adults 25 to 34 with disabilities the participation rate is 58.9 percent.

For adults 25 to 34 without disabilities the participation rate is 62.3 percent.

For adults 35 to 44 with disabilities the participation rate is 66.8 percent.

For adults 35 to 44 without disabilities the participation rate is 75.3 percent.

For adults 45 to 54 with disabilities the participation rate is 77.6 percent.

For adults 45 to 54 without disabilities the participation rate is 80.8 percent.

For adults 55 to 64 with disabilities the participation rate is 86.0 percent.

For adults 55 to 64 without disabilities the participation rate is 87.0 percent.

For adults 65 to 74 with disabilities the participation rate is 87.8 percent.

For adults 65 to 74 without disabilities the participation rate is 90.7 percent.

The total percentage of adults with disabilities participating in the last federal election is 87.4 percent.

The total percentage of adults without disabilities participating in the last federal election is 88.9 percent.

Source: Statistics Canada, 2008 General Social Survey, Cycle 22

The overall voter participation rate in the last federal election was 75.8% for adults with disabilities, compared to 72.0% for adults without disabilities. Age plays a role in voter participation rates: older adults account for a much larger percentage of Canadians with disabilities than Canadians without disabilities, and older adults are more likely to vote than younger adults.

Provincial election participation rates for people with disabilities across Canada were almost identical to the federal election rates, and municipal voter turnout was approximately 80% of the federal and provincial rates.

Another avenue for participation in political life is joining and participating in political parties themselves. Among adults with disabilities, 7.3% are members of or participants in political parties or groups. This is slightly higher than the figure for people without disabilities (5.2%).

Although participation in political parties or groups tends to increase with age, the relative rates for people with and without disabilities remain quite similar. Men both with and without disabilities are significantly more likely than women to participate in political parties and groups: among those with disabilities, the participation rates for men and women are 8.8% and 6.0% respectively, while among those without disabilities, the participation rates are 6.3% for men and 4.0% for women.

In addition to the above-mentioned activities, many people with disabilities search for information on political issues (31.0%), boycott products or choose products for ethical reasons (30.8%), or sign petitions (28.1%).

Chart 5.4: Participation in various political activities by disability status for adults, 2008 (%)
Type of activity With Disabilities Without Disabilities
Searching for information on a political issue 31.0 30.0
Boycotting a product or choosing a product for ethical reasons 30.8 25.6
Signing a petition 28.1 24.1
Attending a public meeting 20.3 16.9
Expressing views on an issue by contacting a newspaper or politician 14.6  9.7
Speaking out at a public meeting  8.1  5.5
Participating in a demonstration or march  5.7  3.8
Volunteering for a political party  3.4  2.7
Chart 5.4 Text Description

This chart is broken down by type of activity (down the left hand side) and by participation, by those with disabilities and without disabilities in percent.

The percentage of those searching for information on a political issue is 31.0 percent for those with disabilities, and for those without disabilities it is 30.0 percent.

The percentage of those boycotting a product or choosing a product for ethical reasons is 30.8 percent for those with disabilities, and for those without disabilities it is 25.6 percent.

The percentage of those signing a petition is 28.1 percent for those with disabilities, and for those without disabilities it is 24.1 percent.

The percentage of those attending a public meeting is 20.3 percent for those with disabilities, and for those without disabilities it is 16.9 percent.

The percentage of those expressing views on an issue by contacting a newspaper or politician is 14.6 percent for those with disabilities, and for those without disabilities it is 9.7 percent.

The percentage of those speaking out at a public meeting is 8.1 percent for those with disabilities, and for those without disabilities it is 5.5 percent.

The percentage of those participating in a demonstration or march is 5.7 percent for those with disabilities, and for those without disabilities it is 3.8 percent.

The percentage of those volunteering for a political party is 3.4 percent for those with disabilities, and for those without disabilities it is 2.7 percent.

Source: Statistics Canada, 2008 General Social Survey, Cycle 22

Chart 5.4 reveals that rates of participation in activities are higher among people with disabilities than among those without disabilities. There are many activities in which people with disabilities have especially higher levels of involvement, including expressing views on an issue by contacting a newspaper or politician and boycotting a product for ethical reasons.

Participation in cultural activities

Participation in leisure and recreation Footnote 36 is an important part of a healthy lifestyle. Attending events, visiting public places and socializing, both in person and, more recently, over the Internet, are all areas in which full inclusion of people with disabilities is important. Participation in these areas is important not only for the enrichment people with disabilities themselves provide, but also because participation in cultural activities can lead to progression in other areas, such as employment and education.

Cultural and leisure participation

People with disabilities are more likely to participate in activities such as visiting friends and exercising than in activities like attending community events and visiting public places. As severity of disability increases, there is a consistent decline in participation in all of these activities. Chart 5.5 outlines participation rates in various activities for adults with disabilities.

Chart 5.5: Participation in various social activities by severity of disability for adults, 2006 (%)
Type of activity Mild Disability Moderate Disability Severe Disability Very Severe Disability
Visiting family or friends 91.5 89.6 83.4 74.1
Physical activities, such as exercising, walking or playing sports 80.7 72.7 56.5 38.9
Attending sporting or cultural events, such as plays or movies 54.5 48.7 36.8 26.0
Visiting museums, libraries, or national or provincial parks 52.1 43.4 31.2 24.2
Chart 5.5 Text Description

This chart looks at the adult participation rate in various types of activity by severity of disability (mild, moderate, severe or very severe).

The participation rate for visiting family or friends, for those with mild disabilities is 91.5 percent, for those with moderate disabilities it is 89.6 percent, for those with severe disabilities it is 83.4 percent and for those with very severe disabilities it is 74.1 percent.

The participation rate for physical activities such as exercising, walking or playing sports, for those with mild disabilities is 80.7 percent, for those with moderate disabilities it is 72.7 percent, for those with severe disabilities it is 56.5 percent and for those with very severe disabilities it is 38.9 percent.

The participation rate for attending sporting or cultural events, such as plays or movies, for those with mild disabilities is 54.5 percent, for those with moderate disabilities it is 48.7 percent, for those with severe disabilities it is 36.8 percent and for those with very severe disabilities it is 26.0 percent.

The participation rate for visiting museums, libraries, or national or provincial parks, for those with mild disabilities is 52.1 percent, for those with moderate disabilities it is 43.4 percent, for those with severe disabilities it is 31.2 percent and for those with very severe disabilities it is 24.2 percent.

Source: Statistics Canada, 2006 Participation and Activity Limitation Survey

Just over half (50.6%) of people with disabilities who would like to participate in more cultural and leisure activities in their spare time are prevented from doing so by barriers. While their conditions and costs are the two largest barriers, the need for someone’s assistance, inaccessible facilities and transportation, and the need for specialized equipment are all commonly reported barriers as well.

Chart 5.6: Barriers preventing participation in more cultural and leisure activities for adults with disabilities, 2006 (%)
Barrier Percentage
Prevented from doing more by condition 65.3
Too expensive 23.6
Need someone’s assistance 12.3
Transportation services inadequate or not accessible 10.9
No facilities or programs available in community  7.4
Facilities, equipment or programs not accessible  6.0
Needed specialized equipment not available  5.4
Chart 5.6 Text Description

For adults with disabilities who would like to participate in more cultural and leisure activities, 65.3 percent are prevented by condition.

For adults with disabilities who would like to participate in more cultural and leisure activities, 23.6 percent are prevented because they are too expensive.

For adults with disabilities who would like to participate in more cultural and leisure activities, 12.3 percent are prevented because they need someone’s assistance.

For adults with disabilities who would like to participate in more cultural and leisure activities, 10.9 percent are prevented because the transportation services are inadequate or not accessible.

For adults with disabilities who would like to participate in more cultural and leisure activities, 7.4 percent are prevented because there are no facilities or programs available in the community.

For adults with disabilities who would like to participate in more cultural and leisure activities, 6.0 percent are prevented because the facilities, equipment or programs are not accessible.

For adults with disabilities who would like to participate in more cultural and leisure activities, 5.4 percent are prevented because needed specialized equipment is not available.

  1. Percentages are based on adults with disabilities who first indicated that they had a desire to do more leisure activities.

Source: Statistics Canada, 2006 Participation and Activity Limitation Survey

Among all adults with disabilities, 9.3% have difficulty participating in leisure activities due to inaccessible layout of buildings and places in their communities. People with severe to very severe disabilities are more likely to experience these difficulties than those with mild to moderate disabilities (17.8% versus 4.1%). Adults with memory disabilities are more likely than people with any other type of disability to have difficulty with the layout of buildings and places (16.2%).

Internet participation

As the first decade of the 21st century comes to a close, the Internet is becoming more and more pivotal to social and cultural participation. New forms of technology may overlook accessibility, and it is important that accessible features be discussed and addressed from the very beginning.

Approximately 49.5% of adults with disabilities used the Internet in 2005–2006. Age is strongly correlated with Internet use: 91.0% of young adults with disabilities used the Internet, compared to 13.2% of people with disabilities ages 75 and over. Disability severity also affects Internet use: 55.6% of adults with mild disabilities used the Internet, compared to 36.2% of adults with very severe disabilities.

Older children with disabilities are more likely than adults to use the Internet: 61.3% used the Internet at home sometime in 2005–2006. Severity of disability again played a role in Internet usage for older children, as 57.3% of those with severe to very severe disabilities used the Internet at home, compared to 67.3% of those with mild to moderate disabilities.

Of adults with disabilities who use the Internet, 4.0% require a special aid or device to do so. Adults with seeing disabilities are more likely than those with any other type of disability to require aids or devices (9.1%). Of those who need special aids and devices to use the Internet, 14.7% have problems because of a lack of availability of the aid in their own home. Lack of availability of aids and devices in public places such as public libraries, work, school and Internet cafés are also barriers experienced by people with disabilities.

For older children who did not use the Internet at home in 2005–2006, there are a variety of barriers that help explain why. For example, 15.8% of older children with disabilities do not have either a computer or Internet access at home, and 3.2% cannot use the Internet because of their conditions or health problems. In 6.3% of cases, parents feel their children are too young or not ready.

Conclusion

There are many venues for people with disabilities to participate in civic, political and cultural settings. The statistics presented in this chapter reveal that people with disabilities enjoy volunteer work, political activism and leisure activities. However, some people with disabilities encounter barriers when they try to become involved in their communities. In particular, built environment barriers make it difficult for many people with disabilities to participate in cultural and leisure activities. Within the home, people with disabilities face additional barriers to social participation through difficulties such as affording accessible access to the Internet. With growing recognition of the importance of full participation in society, increased accessibility within communities and increased financial supports will help eliminate barriers.

Spotlight on programs: Social Development Partnerships Program – Disability

The Disability component of the Social Development Partnerships Program (SDPP-D) provides $11 million per year in grants and contributions to not-for-profit social organizations to help improve life outcomes for people with disabilities by enabling them to participate fully in the community.

SDPP-D consists of three types of funding:

  • Grants: Grants in the amount of $5 million are provided to 18 national disability organizations to assist in building their capacity, to increase their effectiveness and/or to encourage their viability as partners in furthering the disability agenda at the national level.
  • Community Inclusion Initiative: This initiative is designed to promote the social and economic participation and full citizenship of Canadians with intellectual disabilities. Contribution funding in the amount of $3 million is provided to provincial Associations for Community Living and People First of Canada.
  • Project funding: Contribution funding supports activities that respond to the evolving needs of people with disabilities by improving services, promoting accessibility and increasing awareness about disabilities and the barriers facing people with disabilities. SDPP-D project funding promotes innovation, networks for collaboration, program and services enhancements, and dissemination of best practices that support the full participation of people with disabilities.

In 2009–2010, SDPP-D supported 57 projects of national scope. For more information about this program, please call SDPP-D toll free at 1-800-622-6232.

Spotlight on Independent Living Canada

The SDPP-D grant of $5.75 million over three years will enable Independent Living Canada (IL Canada) to continue to advance the principles of independent living for people with disabilities.

IL Canada is a national umbrella disability organization that represents and supports a network of 27 independent living centres across Canada.

Founded in 1986, IL Canada and the independent living centres advance the principles of independent living by providing support and services to help serve the needs of people with disabilities. Responding to the needs of their communities, independent living centres provide programs and services involving employment, skills development, literacy, health, recreation, accessible and adaptive technology, peer support, self-managed attendant services, disability support services and much more.

For more information on IL Canada, please visit www.ilcanada.ca.

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