General Information

Sousan Zaribaf - CWDO Biograpy

While in University, Sousan began advocating for increased accessibility on campus for students with disabilities. She formed a union for students with disabilities and facilitated opportunities for students to meet with faculty and administrators to secure sign language and special tutorial services for deaf students as well as negotiating wheelchair accessibility around campus. Sousan received her Bachelors in Psychology in 1987.



Later, she served on the Board of Directors of Aldebrain Attendant Care Services of Toronto and participated in negotiations with the Ontario Ministry of Housing to secure funding for construction of an apartment building with wheelchair accessible units designed by people in wheelchairs. Sousan met with the Minister of Health to discuss funding the project for attendant care services. Securing funding for supportive housing allowed many people with disabilities who were waiting in hospitals and other institutions to live in their own home, reunite with their families, and gain independence in the community.



Sousan has served on the board of directors of The Canadian Cancer Society as Chair of The Health Promotion Committee, which creates awareness on cancer prevention through healthier lifestyles. She organized a breast cancer forum to raise public awareness and fundraise. Sousan has served on many panels at events organized by her employer, Toronto Dominion Canada Trust to raise awareness for employers from many private sectors to explain the economic advantages in hiring more persons with disabilities.



Sousan served on the CWDO board from June 2012 - December 2015 including Vice-Chairperson 2014-15.

Remembering Sousan Zaribaf

Sousan Zaribaf joined CWDO's Board of Directors in June 2012. In that time, Sousan immersed herself in most of our work: saving door-to-door mail delivery for people with disabilities; protecting people with disabilities who need attendant services or who might be coerced to request assisted suicide. 



Her main passions were transportation and employment  and she took every opportunity to connect people with disabilities to jobs.



Sousan facilitated two webinars bringing CWDO members together with officials who were reviewing accessibility legislation to bring our ideas forward.  She planned Annual General Meetings for our organization and sought out new talent to join our board. 



Sousan left us too soon on December 15 when she passed away due to respiratory difficulties. All of us at CWDO thank you for your many contributionsto our board and on behalf of people with disabilities. We will miss you.




Inclusion Matters! Access and Empowerment for People of ALL Abilities

Today, December 3rd, people and organizations around the world are celebrating the International Day of Persons with Disabilities.


Celebrations of this day, with various themes, have taken place since 1992. All of the yearly themes, however, have had a universal theme within the descriptive words for the day: the inclusion of ALL peoples and the respecting of the rites and dignity for ALL Persons, enAbling them to participate fully in their communities, country, society and the world.


Instead of providing Historical or "nice to read" information, CWDO is asking you to search your own thoughts today, discovering your own answers to these questions about disability.


  • Can you name five physical disabilities?
  • Can you name five invisible disabilities?
  • If you were to become temporarily disabled for one month, what disability would you be willing to accept?
  • If you were to become permanently disabled for the rest of your life, what disability would you be willing to accept?
  • If you were to become temporarily disabled for one month, what disability do you fear the most?
  • If you were to become permanently disabled for the rest of your life, what disability do you fear the most?
  • What daily living activities would upset you to have help in doing?
  • Is there a possibility that you will ever become temporarily or permanently disabled?


There is an important positive word within the word disability. It is the word "Ability". Maybe we should be talking about Persons with disAbilities today.



What are your thoughts?


Please read our IYPD issue of our CWDO Newsletter for today. Follow the progress and get involved in working towards a Barrier-Free Canada!

CWDO Webinar on Assisted Suicide - October 4, 2015 at 2 pm (EDT)

Please join us on October 4 for our second webinar on assisted suicide. There are a number of important questions to be asked and answered as the government moves forward to create legislation. Be part of the discussion!



This time, we will be joined by an expert panel of disability rights lawyer David Baker, and health law expert Gilbert Sharpe in a webinar to be held October 4, 2015 at 2:00 pm Eastern Daylight Time.


Member Survey on Physician-assisted Dying

CWDO is preparing a submission to an independent panel on physician-assisted dying.



We want to hear from you!



Please respond to our survey by September 21st to let us know your views on what safeguards need to be in place when physician-assisted dying becomes legal in February.




For more information go to CWDO's Cross-Canada Webinar on Assisted Suicide (April 26, 2015) – notes, transcripts and presentation documents available.


Coming soon! CWDO Webinar on Assisted Suicide (April 26, 2015)

Action Speaks Louder than Awareness

It's 2015 and National Access Awareness Week is here again. Started in 1988 at the request of Rick Hanson following his Man in Motion World Tour, the week provides an opportunity to raise awareness about the value and contributions of people with disabilities in the community, the workplace and the arts as well as the ongoing need to pay attention to and address accessibility.


After more than 25 years of raising awareness, things have certainly started to change for the better. Accessible transportation and curb cuts (ramps) are more commonplace. An increasing number of elevators have braille marked buttons and audio call-outs for floors. With accessibility legislation in Ontario (the AODA), both the public and private sectors are required to pay attention to planning, and large organizations must publish accessibility plans and follow standards for customer service, employment, information & communications, transportation and the built environment.


While these changes are encouraging, there is still much more to do before we are universally accessible for people with mobility, vision, hearing, and other disabilities. 27 years of awareness has brought us this far. But before we can become fully accessible, it will take much more than awareness.


It will take action!


We think it’s time to re-create the week as National Access ACTION Week and challenge individuals, businesses and organizations to take specific action to address accessibility barriers. That might bring us further, and faster toward full accessibility.


Let us know what YOU think. E-mail us at

Assisted Suicide Cross-Canada Webinar

CWDO hosted a cross-Canada webinar on assisted suicide on April 26, 2015, moderated by Michele Gardner, CWDO



Summary:  Scott Allardyce provided an Ontario perspective and the current position of Citizens With Disabilities Ontario.  Amy Hasbrouck, presented a global overview.  Jim Derksen gave us the Canadian context, and Catherine Frazee, spoke about the vulnerability of people with disabilities and critical factors for resilience.



Real-time captioning provided by the Council of Canadians with Disabilities (Thank you, CCD!)

  • Presentation by Scott Allardyce, CWDO and Founder, Canadian Disability Alliance
    • Refer to transcript pages 8-18
  • Presentation by Amy Hasbrouck, Founder and Director of Toujours Vivant/Not Dead Yet, a project of CCD
    • Refer also to transcript pages 18 - 31

    Presentation: Jim Derksen, CCD, Advocate, Canadian disabilities movement on life-and-death issues

    • Refer to transcript pages 31 - 40

    Presentation: Catherine Frazee, former Chief Commissioner, Ontario Human Rights Commission

    • Refer to transcript pages 41 - 52

    Discussion: Refer to transcript pages 52-94

Wanted: Public Education Assistant - Thunder Bay

Thanks to funding from Service Canada, CWDO will be able to hire a student in Thunder Bay for 8 weeks this summer to assist us with public education projects such as planning webinars and assessing how welcoming local businesses and organizations are for people with disabilities.


Application deadline: extended to June 22 (was May 29), 2015.


Read the job description.