What is an intellectual disability?
Intellectual disability is a term used to refer to the challenges that some people face in learning and communication. These challenges are usually present from the time they are born or from an early age. Often the most serious challenges people with an intellectual disability face are the stereotypes, negative perceptions, and discrimination by others in response to unique and different ways of learning and communicating. An intellectual disability is something someone can be born with or it can be acquired later in life due to an accident.
  • About 755,000 Canadians live with an intellectual disability, and millions more are family members.
  • 70% of people with an intellectual disability live below the poverty line.
  • 75% of working aged adults with an intellectual disability are unemployed.
  • 60% of children with an intellectual disability do not receive quality education in their neighborhood schools.
  • Young adults with an intellectual disability are five times more likely than those without disabilities to have no formal education certificate.
  • People with an intellectual disability are four times more likely to be victims or violence or abuse.
  • CACL is the only national organization that works solely on behalf of people with an intellectual disability and their families.

Over 755,000 Canadians live with an intellectual disability, and millions more are family members, friends, and advocates. With the potential for inclusion more visible on the horizon than ever before, individuals, families and community leaders are trail blazing. We are beginning to see new pathways to quality inclusive education, employment, participation and belonging in communities across Canada.

Yet even now, isolation, exclusion, poverty and victimization remain the norm for far too many, indeed for the majority of people with an intellectual disability. Human rights violations and systemic discrimination against people with an intellectual disability persist in Canada and around the world – despite Canada and over 150 other State Parties having ratified the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

In fact, in a number of areas there is concern that advances in education, deinstitutionalization, and community supports are now threatened and slippage is evident. With a growing sense among families and our member associations across Canada that possibilities for an inclusive life in community are increasingly at risk, CACL intends to lead the way in helping Canadians to confront the threat and to build a fully inclusive Canada.