Pushing the Boundaries: Disability, Inclusion and Jewish Community is the first national conference of its kind designed for people with disabilities and their family members, self advocates, policy makers, professionals and volunteers who are dedicated to creating inclusive Jewish communities in Canada.

The inclusion of people with disabilities is a growing priority for Jewish communities across Canada. This moment presents Jewish communities with a unique opportunity to bring together individuals from across the country to focus attention and resources on inclusion, harnessing passion and leveraging communal resources to achieve a greater impact. The overall goal of the conference and the follow up work is to build the capacity of the Canadian Jewish community to, include and empower people with disabilities and their families. This includes sharing best practices, developing a network and most importantly, building the ongoing ability of each community to increase accessibility and inclusivity.  The conference will focus upon people with visible and invisible disabilities, including physical, medical, sensory, developmental, intellectual and mental health.

Under the leadership of Jewish Federations of Canada–UIA, UJA Federation of Greater Toronto, the Miles Nadal JCC and DANI, a planning process has been established that models the project goal by including individuals with disabilities, parents, community and thought leaders in developing a national approach that will push the boundaries of change. The process is built to ensure that national interests are represented, that and that content development for the conference and the follow up are representative of the most cutting edge work in this field. More specifically, the strategy has two phases: it begins with a national conference that will bring together experts, families, innovators, and advocates in a 2-3 day experience sharing best practices. It will then serve as the springboard for the second phase of focus: phase 2 will focus on enabling communities to build their inclusion practices and strategies by providing on site consultation and ongoing support and resources that will help integrate these new practices into local organizations and institutions. The work will be coordinated by Jewish Federations of Canada-UIA in collaboration with local federations, agencies, and organizations.

The conference will take place April 15-17, 2018 and will be held in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. The city has been chosen as it is where each of the key sponsoring organizations is headquartered. In addition, the city- the largest in Canada- houses many examples of projects, buildings and initiatives which exemplify best practice (within and outside of the Jewish community). Currently, the Toronto Jewish Disability Network meets regularly to collaborate and explore areas of synergy and collaboration.  In addition, Toronto has an active working group of 24 synagogues focused upon inclusion and inclusion practices, organized under the auspices of UJA. The conference plan includes site visits which will expose participants to the variety of adaptations and accommodations that transform the physical and psychological environment of their organizations, notably some leading practices that are at the forefront of field.

A full schedule, conference information and a list of speakers can be found here.