The Universality of the Human Condition: Theorizing Transportation Inequality Claims by Persons with Disabilities in Canada, 1976-2016

Laverne Jacobs, University of Windsor, Faculty of Law

Forthcoming in the Canadian Journal of Human Rights


Transportation is the lifeline that connects persons with disabilities with the community, facilitating greater opportunities for work, social inclusion and overall independence. Adequate accessible transportation has long been a concern of persons with disabilities. Yet, there is a dearth of sustained research on the law and society implications of transportation inequality for persons with disabilities. This paper contributes to the research on both transportation inequality and equality theory by providing an empirical and theoretical analysis of all the human rights tribunal decisions on disability discrimination and transportation in Canada. The article studies all the statutory human rights decisions on disability discrimination and transportation services rendered since discrimination was first added to a human rights code in Canada in 1976. In doing so, it examines the issues from the perspective of the voices of persons with disabilities by focusing on the substance of the legal claims made. Ultimately, the author argues that narrow interpretations of prevailing applicable law and doctrine have resulted in missed opportunities for achieving transportation equality on the ground for persons with disabilities. These opportunities may be captured by the application of a new theory of equality which addresses disability discrimination through the lens of what the author terms the universality of the human condition.