Joel Dembe

Accessibility and Diversity Expert, 5-time Canadian National Wheelchair Tennis Champion, Paralympian

Joel Dembe

Joel Dembe is a Paralympian, public speaker and global advocate for accessibility and inclusion.

He was Canada’s top-ranked wheelchair tennis player, winning over 30 international singles and doubles titles. Internationally, he has been ranked as high as #29. In 2012, he represented Canada at the London Paralympics.

Joel won Canada’s first international medal in wheelchair tennis at the 2015 Toronto Pan-American Games. After retiring from competition, he obtained his Tennis Canada national coaching certification, becoming part of a select group of wheelchair-users to net this designation.

In addition to his pursuits on the tennis court, Joel is a highly sought-after accessibility advisor, public relations consultant and speaker, highlighting how organizations can become even more inclusive. In 2017, Joel delivered a highly rated TED talk on independence and inclusion for people with disabilities. He’s also Co-Chair of RBC REACH, Royal Bank of Canada’s advisory group for clients and employees with disabilities.

Joel is a frequent media contributor, appearing on CBC’s The National and Metro Morning, CTV News, Global National News and most recently on Peter Mansbridge’s podcast, The Bridge Daily. He’s also been featured in the Canadian Press, Globe and Mail, Toronto Star and Toronto Sun. He was a senior contributor for CBC’s coverage of the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Paralympic Games.

He serves as a Patron for the Canadian Abilities Foundation and writes a regular column in Abilities magazine serving a cross-disability network from youth to seniors, advocating for accommodation, diversity and inclusion. He’s also an ambassador for the Rick Hansen Foundation, helping teachers and students change their perspectives on disabilities and to help build a more inclusive and accessible Canada.

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  1. It's Time to "Push Forward" on DEIA Inclusion

    The disability market is massive, untapped, underserved and growing due to 1 in 7 Canadians having a disability.  While the public and private sector have made major efforts to address barriers towards diversity and inclusion, disability is often left out of the same conversation.

    In his keynote, Joel offers practical advice on how to include clients and employees living with disabilities, whether through accommodation, communication or universal design principles. With humour and lived-experience, Joel will share tactics to remove bias and stigma associated with physical disabilities, including those living with “invisible disabilities” such as chronic pain, illness or mental health conditions. Joel will also highlight best practices in Accessibility, going above and beyond compliance measures.

    Having spent over thirty years living in a wheelchair, Joel integrates thought-provoking stories from his life, from his adventures as a globe-trotting Paralympian, to his illuminating experiences advancing through the corporate sector. Joel is engaging, upbeat and will help to address barriers that many organizations simply aren’t even aware of yet.

  2. A Paralympian’s Journey

    This program is perfect for businesses, schools, camps, retreats and town halls:

    In this motivational presentation, Joel will share his personal journey to the Paralympics. He will speak about growing up with a physical disability and continually adapting to challenges using a positive ‘can-do’ attitude. Joel will also discuss why physical activity and healthy lifestyle choices can benefit anyone– no matter what abilities you have.

An inspiring speaker with wonderful stories to tell, Joel's messages of inclusion, "can-do" and resourcefulness, set the tone for motivating a variety of audiences.
Caroline Tapp-Macdougall
Vice President BCS Group, Editor-in-Chief Homefront Magazine
Joel is a well-spoken, personable and enthusiastic representative for wheelchair tennis and Paralympic sport. It has been a pleasure to work with him over the past several years at major Games and events for the Canadian Paralympic Committee. Anytime one has a chance to hear the first-hand story of an athlete and their journey, it's a special treat - always inspiring, compelling and thought-provoking. I would recommend Joel as an impactful speaker and accomplished ambassador representing the best in Canadian sport.
Alison Korn, Senior Manager, Media Relations & Communications
Canadian Paralympic Committee, 2X Olympic medalist, rowing
On behalf myself and the Royal LePage brokers we partner with, we wanted to thank Joel for coming to speak at our Royal LePage kickoff this morning. Your story was very inspiring and you had the audience really engaged (which can sometimes be difficult at these types of events).
Kate Robinson
RBC Mortgage Services and Waterloo-Region Royal LePage Brokers
I’m so honored that Joel came to speak at our RBC annual REACH (dis)ABILITY Learning Expo. Our theme this year was Overcoming Barriers; we wanted the audience to feel inspired and motivated. Joel’s presentation was engaging and humorous and relatable. I believe that we all came away feeling inspired by his story, hearing the importance of family support and the key role that a mentor plays in our lives. I would love to have Joel come back again one day.
Emma Carter
RBC Insurance

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