Perspectives on Disability in 3 Cultural Communities: Downtown Toronto, Canada

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Org: Scadding Court Community Centre (SCCC)
Date: 2005

This report discusses the commonalities and differences in the perception of disability in the Vietnamese, Chinese and Portuguese communities in Toronto.

This project was developed to assist Scadding Court Community Centre (SCCC) in achieving its goal of creating a community in which a community centre with programming that is targeted to and at the same time contribute to the very small body of literature on the intersection of disability and specific cultures that is currently available to frontline service providers. Perspectives on Disability was a community-based participatory research project.

The research objectives included:

  • learning about the perceptions of disability in the Chinese, Portuguese and Vietnamese communities in Scadding Court Community Centre's catchment area (downtown, inner-City Toronto)
  • identifying barriers to the acceptance and success of a community centre that integrates people with disabilities
  • identifying a minimum of five concrete strategies to reduce these barriers

Summary of findings:

  • This study was very successful in shedding light on the perceptions of disability in all three communities, and in the cultural groups they represent.
  • The study succeeded in identifying a number of barriers with respect to the target groups willingness to accept people living with disabilities (PLWD) in their community.
  • An interesting distinction to emerge is that overall, more negative views were expressed about disability when asked conceptual or theoretical questions (eg. origins of disability, perception of PLWD in culture of origin) than practical questions (eg. participation in programs).
  • A strong, historic and ongoing fear of people with mental illness was clearly and consistently articulated by all three groups.
  • Many participants' perspectives on disability appear to change by simply “seeing” how PLWD live and are treated in Canada.
This study is available for download in Adobe Acrobat PDF format (315 KB, 22 pages).