Disability non-profit organizations in an age of uncertainty


Critical disability scholars suggest we are all ‘temporarily able-bodied’ and the current context reflects this expanding sense of what constitutes disability. One in seven Canadians is disabled according to Statistics Canada and Canadian policy is turning towards mainstreaming with the advent of legislation such as the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act. The expanding ‘client base’ might be regarded as a boon for the Canadian non-profit sector, which includes a significant proportion of disability-related organizations that provide services and address structural disadvantages linked to disability. On the contrary, there is evidence that disability organizations are struggling within a hostile socio-political climate and have difficulty engaging a new generation of youth.

The purpose of the study is to create knowledge and tools that will help disability organizations and promote youth engagement while contributing to academic scholarship on the non-profit sector, Canadian disability movements and youth. In collaboration with the Canadian Centre on Disability Studies and involving student researchers, this project has five objectives: 1) to gather evidence on the Ottawa disability non-profit sector and account for which types of organizations are faring best in the current context; 2) to locate a diverse group of youth with disabilities and expose them to notions of disability community; 3) to mobilize the project findings in concrete ways; 4) to host a two-day knowledge mobilization event; and, 5) to plan and develop a national study on related issues.

This research is supported by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council.

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