Our Exhibits

We aim to create accessible exhibits for more inclusive learning and opportunities for collaboration. Thus far, we have curated three exhibits. Stay tuned for more to come!

Click on the title of each exhibit to enter it!

Our first exhibit is A Wheelchair History of Disability.

Our second is Envisioning Technologies.

Our third is Transnational Representation: Canada and the Founding of Disabled Peoples’ International.

We have also created a set of physical exhibits for the above. These exist in the form of cardboard panels or roll-up panels and can travel easily. Please contact us if you are interested in displaying them. It is free but for the cost of shipping.

Below, you will find a short description of three exhibits carrying each of its own unique traits and story.

1. A Wheelchair History of Disability

In order to understand the history of disability, one must look at the evolution of the wheelchair and its significance for disability stories.

This pre-1890 chair may be the oldest wheelchair in the Canadian Science and Technology Museum collection. It was found in the home of a retired employee of Payzant Hospital in Windsor, Nova Scotia. Perhaps it was built by the town carriage maker or one of the other artisans named on an 1871 map of Windsor NS. Its massive wagon wheels are very different from the commercially-manufactured wheelchairs that followed.9ed550f172e53c1ec26dfad10ba354cd

2. Envisioning Technologies

The following story of James Swail provides one with the first-hand account of far people will still go in life despite being diagnosed with a disability. James Swall is a significant example of learning how to overcome physical and sociological barriers and still achieve his goals with the utmost success.

Dr. James Swail (1924-2005) was a researcher with the Radio and Electrical Engineering Division of the National Research Council of Canada (NRC) from 1947-1985. He became blind at the age of four after an automobile accident and from thereon would navigate a multitude of obstacles to achieve his goals. Disallowed from performing the required laboratory work for chemistry as a high school student, he built his own laboratory at his parents’ home. By taking this initiative, he prepared himself to be accepted into McGill University, where he graduated from a Bachelor of Science with distinction in 1946.[1] The very next year, he was hired as a researcher with the NRC. This would begin his career with the NRC, which would last for almost forty years.


3. Transnational Representation: Canada and the Founding of Disabled People’s International, 1981

This our newest Exhibit. We aim to show the world along with the broader community that Disabled people also have a voice and are just as entitled to be granted equal legal and humanitarian rights as other individuals.

Disabled Peoples’ International (DPI) is a worldwide non-profit organization that serves as the voice of disabled people, a focal point for self-representation, and an advocate for the human right of all people to live without physical or social barriers. This exhibit will explore how, in 1981, the Mennonite Central Committee of Canada (MCCC) became pivotal to the founding of DPI and to the rise of disability rights in Canada.