Welcome to Citizens with Disabilities - Ontario (CWDO)

Citizens With Disabilities - Ontario (CWDO) actively promotes the rights, freedoms and responsibilities of persons with disabilities through community development, social action, and member support and referral.  Our primary activity is public education and awareness about the social and physical barriers that prevent the full inclusion of persons with disabilities in Ontario.

CWDO is proud to be a full member of the Council of Canadians with Disabilities.


Meet CWDO's Board Members 2014-15

At our Annual General Meeting on June 18, 2015, we elected a new board.

  • Michele Gardner (Toronto)
  • Tiffany Gervasi (Thunder Bay)
  • Terry Green (Ottawa)
  • Alexander Jackson (Thunder Bay)
  • Chloe Johnson (Thunder Bay)
  • Cher Monteleone (Thunder Bay)
  • Tracy Odell  (Scarborough)
  • Sam Savona (Toronto)
  • Pat Seed (Thunder Bay)
  • Jeff Stark (Kanata) 
  • Sousan Zaribaf (Toronto)

Please go to our bio page for information about our board members' interests and backgrounds.

Action Speaks Louder than Awareness

It's 2015 and National Access Awareness Week is here again. Started in 1988 at the request of Rick Hanson following his Man in Motion World Tour, the week provides an opportunity to raise awareness about the value and contributions of people with disabilities in the community, the workplace and the arts as well as the ongoing need to pay attention to and address accessibility.


After more than 25 years of raising awareness, things have certainly started to change for the better. Accessible transportation and curb cuts (ramps) are more commonplace. An increasing number of elevators have braille marked buttons and audio call-outs for floors. With accessibility legislation in Ontario (the AODA), both the public and private sectors are required to pay attention to planning, and large organizations must publish accessibility plans and follow standards for customer service, employment, information & communications, transportation and the built environment.


While these changes are encouraging, there is still much more to do before we are universally accessible for people with mobility, vision, hearing, and other disabilities. 27 years of awareness has brought us this far. But before we can become fully accessible, it will take much more than awareness.


It will take action!


We think it’s time to re-create the week as National Access ACTION Week and challenge individuals, businesses and organizations to take specific action to address accessibility barriers. That might bring us further, and faster toward full accessibility.


Let us know what YOU think. E-mail us at

Assisted Suicide Cross-Canada Webinar

CWDO hosted a cross-Canada webinar on assisted suicide on April 26, 2015, moderated by Michele Gardner, CWDO



Summary:  Scott Allardyce provided an Ontario perspective and the current position of Citizens With Disabilities Ontario.  Amy Hasbrouck, presented a global overview.  Jim Derksen gave us the Canadian context, and Catherine Frazee, spoke about the vulnerability of people with disabilities and critical factors for resilience.



Real-time captioning provided by the Council of Canadians with Disabilities (Thank you, CCD!)


  • Presentation by Amy Hasbrouck, Founder and Director of Toujours Vivant/Not Dead Yet, a project of CCD
    • Refer also to transcript pages 18 - 31
  • Presentation: Jim Derksen, CCD, Advocate, Canadian disabilities movement on life-and-death issues
    • Refer to transcript pages 31 - 40
  • Presentation: Catherine Frazee, former Chief Commissioner, Ontario Human Rights Commission
    • Refer to transcript pages 41 - 52
  • Discussion: Refer to transcript pages 52-94

Wanted: Public Education Assistant - Thunder Bay

Thanks to funding from Service Canada, CWDO will be able to hire a student in Thunder Bay for 8 weeks this summer to assist us with public education projects such as planning webinars and assessing how welcoming local businesses and organizations are for people with disabilities.


Application deadline: extended to June 22 (was May 29), 2015.


Read the job description.

CWDO Submission to the Independent Reviewer on the AODA, 2014

CWDO submitted recommendations to the Independent Reviewer on the AODA, 2014. We also enabled consultations to take place across Ontario using our online web conferencing system.  Following a survey of our members, CWDO made recommendations on municipal accessible advisory committees; AODA reporting and compliance mechanisms; suggested ways to strengthen the customer service. employment, information & communication and transportation standards. We recommended new standards in healthcare, education and elections. standard; and made recommendations regarding new legislation.  Thank you to all our members who contributed comments. A number of our recommendations found their way into the Independent Reviewer's report.

CRTC announces that Canadians who are Deaf, hard of hearing or speech impaired will have access to a new telecommunications service

 – Ottawa – Gatineau – Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC)


The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) announced April 22, 2014 that video relay service will be made available in Canada for users of American Sign Language (ASL) and Langue des signes québécoise (LSQ). When it launches, this free service will facilitate conversations between people who are Deaf, hard of hearing and speech impaired and other Canadians, and vice versa.

Source -

NEW! Members Speak Out

Read and comment on our members' blogs:

  • Mobility Plus Left Me Minus Mobility - member Fiona Watson's blog documenting her struggle to be accommodated on specialized transit.
  • "We asked CWDO's President, Terry Green, to write a blog.  "Keep it brief" we said.  Being a lawyer, he wrote a brief instead.  So we worked with him a bit. (Everyone is trainable.)   Find out what's on Terry's mindthis week."
  • Jeffrey Stark's Blog "Jeffrey's Soapbox" covers topics of technology, accessibility, adaptive technology and disability.



CWDO welcomes blogs from members.  Contact us if you are interested in writing one.

Worth Knowing...

  • CWDO became recognized as Ontario's representative on the Council of Canadians with Disabilities (CCD) in June, 2009.  We're honoured and proud to represent our members at this national table.