Canadians see massive gaps in accessibility for people with disabilities

Rick By Rick On December 3, 2015 RHF News

December 3, 2015 – Canadians see massive gaps in accessibility within their own communities and believe Canada should be a leader in removing barriers, according to a new national survey that highlights the problems facing people with disabilities today. 

Released on the United Nation’s International Day of Persons with Disabilities, the survey shows respondents strongly agree that accessibility is a basic human right and not a privilege, but indicated that communities have a long way to go to reach the ideal level of access for all. 

When asked to rate the current state of their own communities versus how accessible communities should be, respondents saw vast room for improvement. 

The public also believes Canada should be a world leader in accessibility, feeling strongly that ensuring people with physical disabilities can fully participate in life should be a high priority for the country. 

This data, gathered from a randomized sample of 1,527 Canadians, is part of a national public opinion poll canvassing disability and accessibility conducted by the Angus Reid Institute, in partnership with the Rick Hansen Foundation. 

Key findings of the survey include: 

  • Canadians identified massive gaps between current and ideal levels of accessibility within their communities, with the biggest barriers being access to recreational opportunities, transportation around the community and access to private businesses 
  • 87% of survey respondents believe Canada should be a world leader in accessibility initiatives and make accessibility a high priority 
  • 90% of Canadians agree that accessibility for people with physical disabilities is a basic human right, not a privilege 
  • Nearly one-in-four Canadians (23%) surveyed say they have either a physical disability or mobility challenges, while more than half of the population (55%) has some degree of exposure to physical disability in their day-to-day life, either personally or through their family, social or work network 
  • Canadians significantly under-estimate the prevalence of disability among the national population: a full majority peg it at a fraction (1 in 25 or fewer) of the official estimate of roughly one-in-seven 

Read the full report in English or in French. Braille and Word versions of the report are also available upon request. 


“As we mark the UN’s International Day of Persons with Disabilities, the Rick Hansen Foundation wants to shine a light on accessibility and disability in Canada. This report reveals an urgent need for change, not just because it’s the right thing to do, but because more than one billion people around the world are not living to their full potential.” says Rick Hansen, CEO of the Rick Hansen Foundation.

“It’s now time for the public and private sectors, government, organizations and businesses to join together and make Canada a leader in accessibility. Join us in liberating the amazing potential of people with disabilities.” says Rick Hansen, CEO of the Rick Hansen Foundation. 

"The Angus Reid Institute was established to enhance and encourage better understanding of everyday issues that affect people in this country. This in-depth survey reveals four distinct mindsets among Canadians in terms of how they view accessibility and disability issues: the On-Side, Young Bystanders, the Older Detached and the Indifferent. Understanding these distinct groups will go a long way to furthering discussion and comprehension of how Canadians can close the accessibility gaps identified in this research.” says Shachi Kurl, Senior Vice President, Angus Reid Institute.

About the Rick Hansen Foundation:
The Rick Hansen Foundation was established in 1988, following the completion of Rick Hansen’s Man In Motion World Tour, to continue raising funds and awareness to create a world without barriers for people with disabilities. Over nearly 30 years, RHF has worked diligently to achieve real change through collaboration, partnerships and teamwork, inspired by Rick Hansen's original dream to liberate the amazing potential of people with disabilities. RHF breaks down barriers by changing attitudes, creating accessible spaces and inspiring an inclusive world.

About the Angus Reid Institute:

The Angus Reid Institute was founded in October 2014 by pollster and sociologist, Dr. Angus Reid. ARI is a national, not-for-profit, non-partisan public opinion research organization established to advance education by commissioning, conducting and disseminating to the public accessible and impartial statistical data, research and policy analysis on economics, political science, philanthropy, public administration, domestic and international affairs and other socio-economic issues of importance to Canada and its world.


Christine Tam
Public Relations Manager, Rick Hansen Foundation

Shachi Kurl
Senior Vice President, Angus Reid Institute






About the Author

Rick Hansen is founder and CEO of the Rick Hansen Foundation and Canada's Man In Motion.

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