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'Insufficient Evidence': Surveillance, Exposure, and the Medicalization of Disability Identity in Ontario Human Rights Law

Morgan Rowe – Associate Lawyer, Raven Law, Ottawa

Published April 20, 2018 by Technologies of Justice.

On January 27, 2018, Morgan Rowe presented a talk entitled 'Insufficient Evidence': Surveillance, Exposure and the Medicalization of Disability Identity in Ontario Human Rights Law. The panel took place during a session on violent custodial logics at the Technologies of Justice Conference, held at the University of Ontario Institute of Technology.



Rowe presented on human rights and labour law in disability cases, especially in terms of access to human rights in the case of a disability. She described how there has been an increase in legal cases where employers, after many years of accepting a disability, are starting to question the existence of a disability. She explained how talking about and regulating disability is often based on a case of surveillance or voyeurism, and how proving access and dealing with those with disabilities is now a question of both law and medicine. She points out the dehumanization of those with disabilities and how the social model of disability is slowly pushing back on medical and clinical terms in cases involving the rights of a person.
She demonstrated the use of 'gatekeepers' (those who can restrict access), and the struggles that can become apparent in proving the need for access. She explained how in both legal and medical fields, people tend to defer to medical experts to deal with definitions instead of defining disability within law. She showed how this can cause problems when a medical condition is hard to diagnose, or when someone is struggling to get their diagnosis. She also highlighted how a large amount of evidence is becoming the standard in many human rights and legal cases, and how this is finally coming to light as disability has come to the forefront.