December 3rd is the International Day of Persons with Disabilities and Developmental Disabilities Association stands with those who have fought hard to be seen and heard. Since 1952 DDA has been a staunch ally for those with developmental disabilities and today has grown into an organization that advocates and supports over 2000 British Columbians and their families in Vancouver and Richmond.
DDA was a pioneer in community living and supported deinstitutionalization to end the period when people with developmental disabilities were often shut away from the general public. Walls have been torn down so that we can be active and supportive in an individual’s development from birth to senior’s living in inclusive settings, what was previously called “the least restrictive environment”. For decades we advocated for an inclusive public and post-secondary educational system, and through our employment service, Jobs West, we help businesses and employees cultivate a diverse workforce. All of this is done to foster the independence of the people we support.
“We have come so far since 1952,” says DDA’s Executive Director Alanna Hendren. “Although institutions are closed, many people feel isolated in communities and feel like they don’t belong. We need to build a society where everyone can access the community, feels valued, and is welcome.”
Since the last provincial election, the B.C. NDP government has recommitted to new accessibility legislation and DDA is fully supportive of these updated standards that have been sidelined by the pandemic. The legislation will cover private and public sectors, and deal with housing, transportation, employment, and delivery of services. It will be designed to ensure people with disabilities have equitable access and care. DDA looks forward to the provincial government adopting these new measures.