Accessibility rights for disabled people


University of British Columbia

Date Issued


Document Type



Master of Laws - LLM




The term “accessibility rights” refers to the right of disabled people to benefit from the provision of goods and services generally available to the public without discrimination because of physical disability caused by providing the services from a location which people cannot physically access. Historically, disabled people in Canada have been stigmatized and marginalized. This social position has been changing since the disabled consumer movement arose and placed disability rights on the political agenda. Current official policy is to integrate disabled people into all aspects of society. A major barrier to this policy is the failure to effectively implement accessibility rights. This thesis examines the nature of accessibility rights and their legal protection and offers proposals for improving the implementation of these rights. The major sources of legal protection for the rights of disabled people are human rights statutes and the Charter ofRights. For this reason these laws are considered in detail to determine how effectively they protect accessibility rights. This thesis concludes that the current protections are inadequate and fundamentally incapable of guaranteeing accessibility rights. Three proposals for improvements are made. First, legislatures should set out detailed policy directions for the implementation of these rights. Second, the agencies which impact on the implementation of accessibility rights should be required to coordinate their activities to ensure that the work of each agency complements that of the others. Third, three new implementation strategies should be adopted. First, self-regulating professions should adopt into their professional standards a duty to implement the principles of barrier free design into every aspect of their professional activities. Second, existing regulatory agencies should have their responsibilities and powers augmented so they assume a greater role in the enforcement of accessibility rights. Third, human rights legislation should be amended to add a regulatory enforcement strategy to the existing complaints based strategy. This additional strategy should be based on the concept of adaptation planning. This concept would allow for the orderly and cost-effective transformation ofthe physical structure of society so that disabled people no longer experience discrimination in the provision of services due to physical barriers.

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Law, Peter A. Allard School of