Young adults with disabilities discriminated against based on age, human rights commission says

People with disabilities lose necessary supports upon turning 18, complainants argued.

The Manitoba government systematically discriminated against two young adults with disabilities who lost support services upon graduating from high school, the Manitoba Human Rights Commission says.

In two new reports released Tuesday, the commission found that Tyson Sylvester and Amy Hampton, along with other adults with severe lifelong disabilities, are discriminated against based on their age.

That finding is based on the fact that when they turn 18, they cease to be eligible for a wide range of supports available to them when they were children.

Sylvester, 22, and Hampton, 21, both have cerebral palsy and require assistance with everyday activities like dressing and feeding themselves. They filed their complaint against the Manitoba government and Winnipeg Regional Health authority in 2016.

Sylvester drew public attention to his case earlier this summer when he locked himself in a cage in Old Market Square as a way of representing the feeling of being trapped by his disability.

The young man, who wants to study law or computer science, is visually impaired and needs a screen reader, one piece of technology that was provided to him in high school but taken away when he graduated.

In Manitoba, young people with physical disabilities have access to a number of supports that aim to foster their social inclusion while they’re in school — things like special equipment, one-on-one support, occupational therapy and transportation.

But the supports dry up when they graduate from high school.

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Credits photo: Austin Grabish/CBC