Disability Advocacy Network of Eastern Ontario continues to play a key role in representing individual and family voices in the developmental services sector in our region. As a family network, we strive to ensure that families stayed informed of new developments and information sources in the community. We also work with other advocacy and family organizations to ensure that families connect with each other – to share challenges and successes – and to build confidence. As a member of Family Alliance Ontario, we have brought new ideas from beyond our region, using lessons learned and success stories from family organizations and agencies who have moved beyond the parameters of “the system” to innovate and empower.
Over the past year we have worked with local agencies and organizations, such as Service Coordination, Citizen Advocacy, Families Matter Coop, Total Communication Environment, Algonquin College, Coalition des familles francophones d’Ottawa and Personnes d’abord d’Ottawa to extend our voice in support of rights-based reform and “transformation” in the developmental services sector.
We have learned that transformation needs to be rooted in the recognition of the rights of individuals with disabilities to be treated as citizens and that supports/services should be provided that respect their citizenship and individuality. We applaud the recognition of individual rights in decisions around funding and supports, we also recognize the need to continue to push for change with a strong, collective, united voice.
DANEO/RAIPHEO grew out of United Families of Eastern Ontario (UFEO), which started in 2008 to unite families and organizations in the Eastern Region of Ontario to act as “one voice” to advise on upcoming changes in Developmental Services.
UFEO is still viewed as a key input vehicle for service delivery agencies and transformation consultations in the region. The signing of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Individuals with Disabilities by Canada in 2010 strengthened the conceptual and philosophical underpinnings of our advocacy work.
While UFEO often incorporated the broader view of disability rights into their advocacy efforts, the current steering committee decided that with unity comes strength, and it is time for a stronger alignment with disability rights and the work of self-advocates (people labelled with intellectual disabilities) as the basis for policy revision and direction in Canada.
Advocacy for inclusion and the right to meaningfully participate as a full citizen in society – that is our ultimate goal.
Our advocacy aims not only at this objective but also at the various mechanisms for enabling this objective. These include the policies, programs, and service delivery mechanisms that allow access to financial and legal resources, not just within the developmental services ‘sector’ but across all government agencies supporting Canadian citizens.
So, in 2016, we changed our name – we wanted to reach out and make our message clear so that we can provide a united, coherent, and strong community voice for change.