Charter of Rights

This Charter of Rights was made by people with developmental disabilities who use services, at the 1994 Opening Doors Conference put on by the Vocational and Rehabilitation Research Institute in Calgary. For the Guide to the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedom, please click here

As an adult with a developmental disability and as a consumer of services, I have the right to

  • Be treated as an adult human being
  • Be treated in a fair way
  • Be treated with respect
  • Not be teased, called names or hurt in other ways
  • Have friends
  • Go out and have fun
  • Have someone to love
  • Get married
  • Have children
  • Take care of my own money
  • Have control in my home

I have a right to laws that protect me

  • Get the same things as everybody else who does the same job (for example, coffee AND LUNCH breaks, medical benefits, vacation time and maternity leave)
  • Get the same medical services and care as other people
  • Not to be discriminated against for things like being male or female, the country my family comes from, my skin colour, my religious beliefs, who I choose to love or my disability
  • Get fair wages

Good Services

  • Have service providers I can count on
  • Be helped when it’s my turn in line
  • Be given the same service as everyone else
  • Ask questions if I need to know more
  • Get a different doctor if I want
  • Ask another doctor to check what my doctor said (get a second opinion)
  • Have doctors and dentists explain to me (not just to my parents, staff and others) why I need to have something done, what it will cost and what will happen if I get it done
  • Say “no” to medical care once I know what will happen if I say “no”
  • Be treated gently if I get medical care

have a right to make informed choices and decisions in my life

  • Make decisions and choices based on my feelings, beliefs and what is important to me
  • Be told enough things to help me decide (make an informed choice)
  • Take chances (risks) once I know what might happen
  • Decide what I do on my own time
  • Decide what I do with my own things
  • Decide how I plan my future (what goals I set and what I want to talk about when I plan)
  • Choose to live on my own or with others
  • Decide who comes into my home
  • Choose the services I use
  • Have choices when I use services, including where I live, who I live with, what I eat, what changes happen in my home, what work I do, when I go to the bathroom, what doctor I go to, what my doctor does to me, and many other things
  • Make mistakes
  • Change my mind
  • Decide to stop using a service
  • Choose when I need support

I also know that everyone else has rights too, so I should

  • Not do other things that take away other people’s rights
  • Treat other people as I want to be treated
  • Be a responsible adult

I have the right to support

  • Get help, if I need it, with things like finding a place to live, making a budget and learning what I need to learn
  • Have staff and other supporters (like family and friends) who treat me nice (kind, polite and with respect)
  • Have supporters who are helpful
  • Not be told off by supporters
  • Hear good things, not just bad things from my supporters
  • Have enough money from the government to buy the services and support I need
  • Get help with making decisions (from my guardian and others) if I need it
  • Have a say even if I need help making decisions


  • Spend time alone, if I want
  • Have people get my OK to go into my locker at work
  • Have people knock or get me OK before they go into my room at home
  • Use the telephone without someone listening to what I am saying
  • Have the choice of going out without telling others where I am going
  • Have things my doctor knows about me be kept between us, unless I need help to understand

Safety and Protection

  • Feel safe when I use my services
  • Feel safe when I am out in the community
  • Not to be hurt, attacked or have my things taken from me
  • Learn how to take care of myself

Speak for myself and to be listened to

  • Speak my mind and give my opinions
  • Talk about my rights
  • Show my feelings
  • Make complaints if I’m not happy
  • Say “no”
  • Disagree with people
  • Have people listen to me when I talk
  • Have people try to understand me


  • Get services in my community
  • Have good special (accessible) transportation, if I need it
  • Use seating for people with a disability on regular transportation, if I need it
  • Get around easier if I use a wheelchair (for example, ramps, curb cuts)
  • Be a part of and have access to a community (things like jobs and recreation)
  • Go to school and get the training I need to learn new things

What disabled People Can Do

By Lois G., June 22, 1947 – October 2, 2017

There is a saying that disabled people can do just as much as anyone else. Right now we are trying to stand up for ourselves. We would like to be given a chance to prove that we can make it in the world – get jobs, get married, get places of our own to live and budget our money. There are quite a lot of us out now in the community and we’re doing great!

A lot of us have some good ideas but don’t get to say them. We would like to be seen and heard at the same time for who we are. People should look at us not for what disability we have, but for who we are.

Back when I was growing up – about thirty years ago, people in society were not too sure about people with disabilities. Now people have a lot more information on people with disabilities, and are learning how to deal with it. People have come a long way in what they think and what they do.

In 1954, the Provincial Government gave the association a grant to appointan Executive Director. The Board chose their founder, Mrs. Purdy. The salary was $250 a month, but it freed her to intensify the effort to gain support for the association’s services and recognition for the rights of people with developmental disabilities. Her advocacy paid off immediately.

By 1955 there were more than 50 pupils at St. Michael’s, but parents grew dissatisfied with the idea of educating their children in makeshift church premises. To solve the problem, a four-room building at Sir Sandford Fleming Elementary School was renovated and opened with 80 students. It was meant only as a temporary solution, however, and planning immediately started for a new school to be administered by the school board.

In 1956, the Public Schools Act was amended to allow school boards to fund schools for mentally disabled students operated by associations at the same per diem rate that it cost to teach typical children.

It was an important political move, since the government formally acknowledged its responsibility to educate children with developmental disabilities.

In 1959, the government amended legislation to allow school boards to provide accommodation for special needs schools and gave them the right to establish and operate their own classes for students with disabilities. Furthermore, the higher costs of educating individuals with developmental disabilities were recognized and funding was increased to 150% of the per diem rate for typical students.

Oakridge School opened on May 12, 1961, with 113 pupils. It was Canada’s first school for students with developmental disabilities built and administered under a public school board. The activities of the association continued to introduce citizens to the needs and potential of people with developmental disabilities, generating community acceptance. By the end of the 1980s, Oakridge School was closed and all children with special needs were placed in typical classrooms, alongside other children their age.