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DAWN Canada has been contracted by the Justice Department to carry out qualitative research examining the experiences of persons with physical and mental disabilities with respect to their legal experiences. Specifically, we are looking to engage persons with disabilities who have encountered serious legal problems in the past three years. Serious legal problems are defined here as legal issues that were difficult for them to resolve.
Legal problems are problems that can be resolved through the legal system.

Serious legal problems are any legal issue you may have encountered that were hard to solve.
The question here will help us explore three key aspects of legal issues that include:

Experience with legal problems in the last three years.

Resolution (or not) for these legal issues.
Impacts of the process.

Who Should Take Part?

Individuals with Lived Experience

For individual participants, the following is required of participants: 

Self-identify as a person with a mental and/or physical disability.

Take part in this online survey OR request to participate via telephone interview

Please note: If you would prefer to participate through a one-on-one telephone survey please contact:

This survey is for Ontario and Quebec only.

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* 1. Have you experienced a serious legal problem in the past three years?

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* 2. How do you identify?

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* 3. What is your age?

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* 4. Do you identify as a racialized person?

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* 5. If yes, how do you identify?

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* 6. Do you consider yourself as a member of the LGBTQQIP2SA ( Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans, Queer, Questioning, Intersex, Pansexual, 2-spirit, Asexual) communities?

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* 7. How would you rate your knowledge of legal issues?

Theme One - Experience of Legal Problems in the Last 3 Years

Legal problems are problems that can be resolved through the legal system. 

Serious legal problems are any legal issue you may have encountered that were hard to solve.

Examples of legal problems can include:

-Being fired by your employer without a reason.

-Dealing with the police, either if you are a victim of a crime or threats or if they have been called on you.

-Being sued and/or suing someone.

-Going through a divorce or child custody dispute.

-Being evicted from where you live and seeking legal support.

-Trouble accessing disability supports, social assistance, or housing support.

-Purchasing a service and not receiving what you’ve paid for (a contractor working on your house who takes the money but doesn’t finish the job).

-Being fired from a job without cause and seeking legal support because you think you were discriminated against. 

-Receiving poor medical treatment and/or being harmed by a medical professional.

-Being harassed or discriminated against.

-Not being believed or supported in making a complaint.

Note: At this stage we are only identifying the problem, we will talk about how you dealt with these and the impacts in the next sections.

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* 8. Have you experienced any of these legal problems (or others not listed) in the last three years?

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* 9. Can you explain, using as much detail as you are comfortable with, what this problem was (what was the issues, where did this happen, who was involved?)

Theme Two - Seeking Resolution

Now that we know what kinds of legal problems have been encountered we will shift to learning about how you either resolved these or tried to resolve them.

Examples of seeking resolution could include:

-Reaching out or complaining to a business that did not give you a service you paid for.

-Asking friends, family, or your support network to help you.

-Launching a complaint (on your own).

-Having a formal complaint made on your behalf (someone else assists you or does this for you with your permission).

-Seeking legal advice (reaching out to a lawyer, government agency for clarification etc.).

-Hiring a lawyer to represent you.

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* 10. Did you understand what you should do or was the process unclear?

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* 11. How did you resolve your legal problem and who else was involved (in as much detail as you feel comfortable sharing)?

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* 12. What shaped the decisions you made about seeking resolution. Be as specific as you can and include if money was a factor in your decision (being able to afford a lawyer), what advice did you receive and from who, were you concerned if your problem involved someone in a position of power, what was the resolution process like (formal, informal, did you go to court or mediation etc.), your knowledge of the law, did you feel you would be believed?

Theme Three - Impacts

Examples of impacts can include:  

-Financial - the process may have cost a lot of money.

-Emotional - these legal issues can be stressful.

-Social - did this legal problem lead to other relationship problems (break-ups, family fighting, losing friends etc.)

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* 13. In your own words, please share what the impacts of this legal issue were for you. Share as much as you feel comfortable sharing.

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* 14. Thinking about all we have talked about today, are there other things you think those who want to understand legal problems for people with disabilities should know?

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