Disability rights between legal discourses and policy narratives: An analysis of the European and Canadian frameworks

Julia Hoffmann, Aliaa Dakroury


Keywords: Communication Rights; Disability; Europe; Canada; Policy; Telecommunications; United Nations; Convention; Equality; Discrimination

Abstract: In 2000, 191 of the United Nations' member states adopted a number of goals to target major concerns to the global human family to be achieved by the year 2015. It was hoped that the Millennium Developmental Goals (MDGs) were to "foster collaborative action to reduce poverty, improve health and address educational and environmental concerns around the world’s most pressing development problems" (United Nations, 2010). Yet, while the MDGs tackled a variety of crucial needs at the international level (including health, poverty, maternal health, environment, gender equality, child mortality and education). Unfortunately, they have not included the monitoring and evaluation of rights of persons with disabilities; a segment of the world population that is considered to be representing the largest minority in the world. Communication scholars (Thomas, 2005; Lee, 2008) have underscored the importance of "global advocacy" concerning extending communication rights to empower these groups. Nonetheless, it was argued, the communication rights movement has so far focused mainly on debates on issues such as media ownership, regulations within cultural industries, intellectual property rights and failed to prioritize the need to assert the rights of persons with disabilities. Along these lines, and adopting in underscoring the relationship between citizenship and disability rights, this paper aims to analyze, from a communication rights perspective, the significance of underscoring the need to "include" the persons with disabilities to the enforcement and protection of their rights. Specifically, we examine the implementation of the 2006 UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in Canada and Europe. Particularly it argues that while the Convention has certainly contributed to a re-emphasis of rights of persons with disabilities and had a positive and reformative effect on disability legislation and policy narratives in both the international and national spheres, it remains to be assessed to what extent its provisions will be translated into policy at a national and regional level. After all, such enforcement is related to a great extent to the social and cultural structure in a given society.


communication rights; disability; europe; canada; policy; telecommunications; United Nations; convention; equality; discrimination

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.18061/dsq.v33i3.1778

Copyright (c) 2013 Julia Hoffmann, Aliaa Dakroury

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