A Social Innovation Approach to
Transforming Communities – Local to
Institute for Research and Development on Inclusion
and Society’s (IRIS) and the Canadian Association for
Presenter Doris Rajan,
Director of Social Development - IRIS
1. The Problem: social change is slow
3. Example – education attainment of people with
disabilities in Canada
5. A Strategy - The local to national community
development strategy – can it work for
7. How about in your country?
Research - people with disabilities and
educational attainment nature and prevalence
of exclusion and promising practices.
Impressive models of inclusive education in
But the statistics are not changing...
People with disabilities experience a
shortfall in education because they
have not, and continue not to be,
adequately included and
accommodated in the educational
The example of children/adults with
52% of young adults with an intellectual
disability (aged 20 – 29 years) are neither
working nor attending school, compared with
12% of those without a disability.
Young adults with intellectual disabilities are
five times more likely than those without
disabilities to have no formal education
No education No job No money!
Canadians with disabilities have lower
levels of educational attainment than
25% of non-disabled Canadians are
without a high school diploma compared
to 37% of those with a disability
Children in exclusive schools ...
Research demonstrates that if proper supports
are in place to have children with disabilities
included in regular classrooms, all students
Yet schools and classrooms are inadequately
supported and the system generally resists
a truly inclusive school environment.
More inclusion means more students get to
know children with disabilities = less bullying…
Recent study - 41% children with
disabilities felt threatened at school or on
the school bus within the past year and
more than a third (36%) were assaulted at
school or on the school bus.
Reason for lack of progress complex
How funding is given out
Competing priorities of advocacy groups
Absence of a sense of solidarity and common
Tight fiscal realities.
Successful Community Development
Involves all key sectors, i.e. schools, relevant
government bodies, disability organizations
Leadership comes from families and self-
Equal attention is paid to process and outcome.
UN Millennium Project Report - 2005
The need to scale up arises from the
limited impact of pilot projects, or “islands
of excellence” amidst a sea of inertia –
small projects aimed at local or district
levels without a measurable impact on
Scaling up ...
National scale-up is the process of bringing
essential services to most or all the population
quickly, equitably, and lastingly… Equality and
non-discrimination, ensuring the services reach
all of the population, especially the most
disadvantaged, are central.
The Approach ...
Needs a national framework
Rooted in local communities
Intentional attempts to build the capacity of local
People with disabilities lead
Work with key local sectors
At the same time leveraging
multi-level support and influencing
broader level policy change.
A community development strategy –
rooted in the local community...
What does this really mean?
Bring people together from all levels,
diverse sectors to have
conversations that they typically
would not have.
Does child walk
or prefer to run?
A child with a disability has
difficulties going to school
due to the attitudes of
teachers, school boards and
possibly parents who are
unable to adapt to students
with different needs and
On the individual level
People with disabilities and families from that same
community are supported in developing self identified,
realistic short and long term plans.
The framework for these plans matches individual
needs and wants with what is actually available or could
be made available in the community.
Plans are built around individual’s needs and wants
On the community level
Disability sensitivity training for educators and
Teachers, local school boards are given tools to
help them support individuals.
Inclusive youth programs in schools
On the broader provincial /territorial/
National advisory groups made up of
provincial/territorial organizations who bring
local learnings to a national forum
Customize learnings to each P/T
Provincial/territorial/national investments are
Why will this strategy work?
It is specific to a local community – the process
develops community-specific inventories of resources,
programs, policies, and community information that
would support people’s dreams
Children/adults with disabilities and their families are
supported to be the leaders of this process
Outreach process that identifies isolated people
More on outreach
The outreach process really understands where
people are located and how to communicate/reach
them, i.e. immigrant families
The outreach process is delivered by organizations
and partners that have relationships in local
communities and are thus trusted
The outreach process understood diversity and how
to make the process sensitive and accessible to all
segments of the target population.
Why will this strategy work?
Supports/services in both the education sector
and disability sectors are brought together.
Information on supports will be presented in
an accessible, straight forward, uncomplicated
manner and context specific manner.
Successful because it works on many
Identifies individual solutions;
Identifies collective group solutions;
Identifies and engages the broader local
community to examine themselves and respond
to those specific individual and group needs;
Identifies broader policy & program solutions
for advocates/relevant advocacy groups to
Based on a similar CACL project -
positive evaluation results
Gains in knowledge about their rights and
Exposed to the range of options and brought all
service/support info together
Stress the need for individual plans/building of
support circles around individuals
Acquired a better sense of what people need,
rather than having to fit into what the system
Importance of a collective identity for social
Questions to guide the work...
What is the role of a national coordinating body in a local
to national strategy?
What is needed to establish a national infrastructure with
the capacity to support local communities to organize
around the issue?
What partnerships need to be in place and what types of
social and economic investments need to be committed at
the national level?
More questions ...
What is needed to establish a local infrastructure
that supports a community to organize around the
What partnerships need to be in place and what
types of social and economic investments need to
be committed at the local level?
What is the best way to convene local level community
dialogue around the issue? Who needs to be involved and
What are the socio-environmental and historical
determinants of marginalization experienced by the
What are the key components of an inclusive consultation
process that recognizes the barriers to communication and
the articulation of needs for the affected population?
What are the key characteristics of a social problem that
are critical to understand in order to address it?
What is the past and present policy and program
framework related to the social issue?
What characteristics of the local geographic community
can be seen as assets or liabilities in addressing the social
Still coming at you with questions!
What are the kinds of tools and resources that
would best support that strategy?
What ways can local level results have an impact
and influence national policy and broad scale
What needs to be in place to support the sustainability of local work in
order to ensure curative short term outcomes and positive long term
quality of life results?
The most important question...
How can the people with
empowered and supported to be
leaders of the local level process?
The Concept of Inclusion
The strategy empowers the group
who has been marginalized to self facilitate
towards better articulation of their needs and
the development of strategies that will
mobilize and also empower the various sectors
towards an effective community and broader
How about where you live? Would this
Could you establish a local infrastructure that
works within a national framework to ensure that
positive outcomes at the local level are shared
towards promising practises reflected in policies?