In 2010, Canada ratified the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD). Recognition that people with disabilities enjoy legal capacity on an equal basis is at the core of Article 12 of the CRPD. Article 12 clarifies that this requires that people have access to the supports they may need to communicate and/or make decisions. Canada is now obligated to implement Article 12.
With funding from Employment Social Development Canada, CDAC has developed an online resource that describes implications of Article 12 for people who have disabilities that affect communication when revealing and exercising their capacity to communicate and/or make decisions that matter to them. The resource provides recommendations for practices, policies and procedures to guide healthcare, legal, justice, financial, and social services in identifying and providing the supports people may require to communicate and/or make decisions.
CDAC believes that communication is the foundation for implementing Article 12, regardless of whether an individual makes decisions independently, with assistance from trusted people or relies on a substitute decision-maker to make decisions on their behalf, based on their known will and preferences.
We encourage our colleagues in the communication disability sector to play an active role in promoting how this legislation can be used to protect the rights of people to exercise choice, decisions and autonomy in their lives by:
- Learning about Article 12 in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities
- Knowing the key concepts related to CDAC’s interpretation on how Article 12 protects an individual’s right to exercise capacity, make choices and communicate decisions that affect them.
- Watching and sharing CDAC’s webinars to promote awareness of the barriers and communication supports that people may need in healthcare, legal, justice, financial, supportive housing, independent living and community services.
- Supporting people who have communication disabilities to know about, document and communicate about the communication supports they may require when using services.
- Providing the communication tools/systems they need to communicate in decision-making contexts.
- Documenting the communication supports that an individual may require in formal communication reports.
- Supporting healthcare, legal, justice and social services in developing policies and procedures to identify and provide communication supports.
- Training support people to assist an individual with communication and / or decision making.
- Assisting substitute decision makers in interpreting non-symbolic communication of preferences for individuals with significant cognitive disabilities.
- Providing direct communication assistance and communication tools in critical capacity assessments and decision-making situations if the individual has no obvious way of communicating; if capacity to provide informed consent is questionable; if there is evidence of a conflict of interest, undue persuasion or coercion from support person(s) and in high risk situations such as medical assistance in dying.
- Providing communication intermediary support to victims, witnesses and accused persons in police and justice settings.
Supporting CDAC Webinars and Resources
- Communication and Capacity: Context and Guiding Principles (Barbara Collier)
- Communication Disabilities: Barriers and Impact on Choice and Control (Barbara Collier)
- Legal Context for Exercising Capacity and Provision of Communication Supports (Lana Kerzner)
- Communication Supports: Formal, Symbolic Communicators (Barbara Collier)
- Communication Supports: Informal, Non-Symbolic Communicators (Jo Watson)
- Identify a number of people in your organization to take on a leadership role in developing policies, procedures and practices to ensure people have the communication supports they need for effective communication and decision making.
- Watch and share the CDAC communication support webinars.
- Check CDAC’s recommendations for different service sectors.
- Use or adapt the communication support forms:
- Email your questions to us on ways to ensure people can effectively communicate and make informed decisions when using your services.
Barbara Collier Reg. CASLPO, F. ISAAC