A Solutions-Based Approach to Challenges Faced by People With Disabilities

The Vancouver Disability Solutions Network (VDSN) is a group of over 200 organizations that work on behalf of people with disabilities. The goal of the VDSN is to identify actionable solutions to service barriers encountered by many people with disabilities. We do this in several ways:

  • Surveys
  • Focus groups
  • Forums

Every year we identify a major challenge faced by the disability community, conduct surveys and focus groups to gather information from folks with lived experience, and present our findings to all the major stakeholders at a forum. The information gathered from every forum leads to better collaboration amongst disability service organizations.

The VDSN focuses on addressing the specific needs of people with disabilities and the barriers we encounter when accessing services in Vancouver, North Vancouver, and Richmond, BC. The goal of the VDSN is to create recommendations that can inform government policy, support the reallocations of funding, and create a platform for establishing collaborative initiatives.

VDSN History

The Network Building Project

An image of disabled and able-bodied people working together.

The Vancouver Disability Solutions Network (VDSN) was originally known as the Network Building Project (NBP) – an initiative funded by the City of Vancouver and Vancouver Coastal Health. Co-led by the Disability Foundation and Disability Alliance BC, the goal of the Network Building Project was to connect the disability community with the project’s funders.

The NBP connects with the disability community to:

  • Discover barriers that prevent access to services and programs.
  • Identify and connect with people not being adequately supported through the current model.
  • Investigate whether any duplication of services exist.
  • Foster better collaboration between disability service organizations.

In 2023, the NBP officially changed its name to the Vancouver Disability Solutions Network (VDSN), to more accurately reflect the fact that it is a network of organizations committed to finding actionable solutions to problems faced by the disability community in Vancouver. The goals and aims of the VDSN remain unchanged.

Identifying Challenges Faced by The Disability Community

In 2022, the NBP created a report on the needs of the disability community, highlighting crucial areas which require improvement. These improvements include:

  • Improved access to long-term, personalized, heath care and medical supplies.
  • Improved access to adaptive technology (wheelchairs, lifts, etc.)
  • Creating public and private structures that are disability-accessible.
  • Assistance and accommodations for students with disabilities.
  • Support and education regarding isolation and inclusion for people with disabilities.
  • A funding pool to help cover for disability-incurred expenses.
  • Access to services such as counselling, interpreting services, income support, and assistance with navigating such services.

The NBP Summary Report

VDSN Projects

The VDSN continues to host surveys, forums, and discussions – staying true to their mission of identifying gaps in essential disability services.

Past Events

Mental Wellness for People with Disabilities

If you live in BC and have tried to access mental health services, you may have faced long waiting periods, financial barriers, lack of service coordination and continuity, and difficulty acquiring services that meet your needs. If you also live with a disability, it can be even harder to obtain quality mental health care.

In 2023, we held a forum to discover how community service organizations can positively contribute to the mental wellness of the people with disabilities that they serve.

Newcomers With Disabilities

Newcomers to Canada face many barriers when adapting to life in a new country. These barriers are much tougher for people with disabilities – who often depend on having access to medical and caregiving services.

In 2022, the NBP created a report which highlights the unique challenges newcomers with disabilities face. In the report, newcomers were defined as immigrants, refugees and migrants to Canada, whether they arrived yesterday or twenty years ago.

Identifying Challenges in the Disability Community

A report on the needs of the disability community, with the goal of discovering the major problems that people with disabilities faced, the service gaps people may be falling through, and whether any duplication of services exists.