Accessibility In The News
Canada accedes to the Optional Protocol to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with DisabilitiesCNW, Employment and Social Development Canada, December 3, 2018
the Honourable Carla Qualtrough, Minister of Public Services and Procurement and Accessibility, along with the ministers of Justice, Foreign Affairs and Canadian Heritage, announced that, with the support of all provinces and territories, Canada has acceded to the Optional Protocol to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. Accession to the Optional Protocol means that Canadians will have additional recourse to make a complaint to the UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, if they believe their rights under the Convention have been violated. Along with the proposed Accessible Canada Act, which was recently adopted by the House of Commons and is now before the Senate, today's announcement shows that the Government of Canada is taking another step towards creating a barrier-free Canada.
Disability activists say Ottawa has ignored their calls to strengthen Canada's first national accessibility legislation and are urging the Senate to intervene. More than 90 groups, including the Council of Canadians with Disabilities and Ontario-based ARCH Disability Law, say the proposed Accessible Canada Act, passed by Parliament Nov. 27, is too weak to achieve its goal of making Canada barrier-free for over five million Canadians with disabilities.
On Tuesday, November 27, 2018, Canada's House of Commons unanimously voted on Third Reading to pass Bill C-81, the proposed Accessible Canada Act. A number of amendments were made to the bill while it was being debated at the House of Commons' Standing Committee that held public hearings about the bill in October. However, the federal Liberals used their majority in the House of Commons to defeat a series of important amendments that the opposition parties had commendably sought on behalf of people with disabilities in Canada. Over the past weeks, a strong and impressive consensus has emerged from the disability community on key amendments to Bill C-81 that are needed. Yet the Federal Government has largely rejected this consensus position. Before the Standing Committee began to debate amendments to the bill last month, a compelling October 30, 2018 Open Letter was sent to the Federal Government signed by 91 organizations.
An estimated one in five Canadians (or 6.2 million) aged 15 years and over had one or more disabilities that limited them in their daily activities, according to new findings from the 2017 Canadian Survey on Disability (CSD). For many of these Canadians, challenges and obstacles in their day-to-day lives may limit their full participation in society. Understanding the challenges faced by persons with disabilities in their personal, employment, or economic situations helps inform government policy. In 2017, 57% of Canadians with disabilities had a "milder" disability (classified as having a mild or moderate disability) and 43% had a "more severe" disability (classified as having a severe or very severe disability). In all cases, the disability was severe enough to limit them to some extent in their daily activities. Statistics Canada has collected data on disability for more than 30 years, starting with the 1983 Canadian Health and Disability Survey. The 2017 Canadian Survey on Disability (CSD) provides comprehensive data on persons with disabilities by province and territory and age group, as well as disability types and severity of the disability.
Committees working on provincial accessibility standards say their work's been paused for too long. Accessibility advocates say the government hasn't put several Standards Development Committees (SDCs), special groups looking at how to get rid of accessibility barriers in the province, back to work almost five months after the spring election. Their work is an essential part of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA), passed in 2005. All the parties voted to work toward making the province barrier-free by 2025. The SDCs are meant to study barriers in different sectors to make recommendations for an accessibility standard. They stopped work on May 8, 2018, when the provincial election campaign officially began.
Hundreds of colleges and universities across the country are currently under investigation by the Education Department's Office for Civil Rights for failing to make their websites accessible to people with disabilities. Universities that receive federal financial aid are required by law to make reasonable accommodations to ensure their web content is accessible to everyone, including, but not limited to, people who are blind, deaf or have limited mobility. Awareness of the importance of web accessibility has grown among university leaders in recent years partly due to numerous well-publicized lawsuits. Yet ensuring that every aspect of a university's sprawling web presence meets recommended web-accessibility standards remains a huge challenge.
Two visually-impaired Toronto women will have their complaint investigated by the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal more than three years after they were removed from a flight at Pearson airport because of their service dogs. The pilot told Peel police to remove the passengers as they weren't complying with airline policy to muzzle dogs.
An Ontario dad is calling on the government to "be honest with parents" after he says he was told this week that a provincial program for children with disabilities had run out of cash for the year. In July, Moffatt found out his son was eligible - though not officially accepted - to the program according to a letter from the Ministry of Children, Community and Social Services. And since then, Moffatt said he and his wife have been playing "voicemail phone tag" with the ministry, trying to find out the status of their son's application. The answer came in a phone call this week, when Moffatt said he was told the program had run out of money for the rest of the fiscal year, and that he'd have to wait until at least the spring to get help.
In a powerful Open Letter sent to the Federal Government, An Extraordinary Lineup of Thirty-four Disability Organizations Unite to Press for Key AmendmentsGreg Thomson, AODA Alliance, October 31, 2018
A major effort has just been unveiled by Canada's disability community to get the Federal Government to amend Bill C-81, the Federal Government's proposed Accessible Canada Act, to transform it into a strong and effective bill. Thirty-four disability organizations in Canada have united to jointly send the Federal Government an open letter. This letter, delivered to the Federal Government by the Council of Canadians with Disabilities (CCD), identifies nine "significant concerns" with the bill, where the bill must be strengthened through amendments. The timing of this open letter is pivotal. The political parties must file their proposed amendments to the bill this Friday. The House of Commons’ Standing Committee on Human Resources, Skills and Social Development and the Status of Persons with Disabilities will start to vote on proposed amendments to the bill on November 8, 2018. The Federal Government has said that this bill is designed to reflect the principle: "Nothing about us without us!" The amendments that will be made to this bill are where the Federal Government can put that pledge into action.
Former Ontario lieutenant governer David Onley, who is conducting a legislative review of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, held a town hall session in Thunder Bay on Tuesday, October 30, 2018. The Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, passed in 2005, gave the province 20 years to become fully accessible. With that target date now less than a decade away, David Onley believes it's important to figure out what exactly it means to be accessible. The act in 2005 required municipalities with a population of more than 10,000 people to have municipal accessibility advisory committees. Onley said he has heard across the province that members of those committees don't feel like they're listened to or paid attention, which is something he said should be assessed.
Advocates argue innovation is ignoring disabled Americans, denying their right to access the Internet, and leaving millions of people lost in the digital space. Eric Bridges, ACB Executive Director, is featured in this news video. It is reported that more than 800 accessibility lawsuits were launched in 2017, and it is expected more than 2,000 by the end of this year.
Agiledrop is highlighting active Drupal community members through a series of interviews. Learn who are the people behind Drupal projects. This week we talked with Mike Gifford. Read about what his company is striving to achieve, where he thinks has been a lot of movement in the last 2 years regarding Drupal and what contribution to open source is he proud of. Drupal 8 has centralized many elements of accessibility that make it easier to make and maintain an accessible site.
Nova Scotia has announced the next steps to reach its goal of making the province more accessible for those with disabilities by 2030. Justice Minister Mark Furey has released an implementation strategy for the province's Accessibility Act, passed in April 2017. When the new law was passed in 2017, Nova Scotia became the third province with accessibility legislation joining Manitoba and Ontario. the document, entitled Access by Design 2030, identifies priorities for accessibility standards, including the formation of committees that will develop standards for public buildings, streets, sidewalks and shared spaces, as well as education. The government said public consultations will continue as the standards are developed and implemented.
The Ontario Human Rights Commission (OHRC) recently released a new policy on accessible education for students with disabilities, which says students with disabilities continue to face barriers in all levels of education. The OHRC also released recommendations on how education providers can best meet legal obligations under Ontario's Human Rights Code. Statistics Canada reports that Ontarians with disabilities continue to have lower educational achievement levels, a higher unemployment rate, and are more likely to have a lower income than people without disabilities.
Breaking Down Barriers is the title and galvanizing theme of a June 2018 report from the Standing Senate Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology. It recommends urgently needed measures to improve access to underutilized federal disability supports: the disability tax credit (DTC) and the Registered Disability Savings Plan (RDSP). The recommendations are broad in scope. They include streamlining the DTC and RDSP application processes and making eligibility criteria simpler and more appropriate. The report also recommends ensuring that relevant agencies are collecting data to monitor and evaluate the effectiveness of the DTC and the RDSP, as well as undertaking effective outreach to improve uptake. It does not make sense that staff at the Canada Revenue Agency determine eligibility for complex programs that support Canadians with disabilities.
More than 600,000 people in B.C. have disabilities. Many of them encounter barriers in society that keep them from fully participating. While they are protected by human rights legislation, they must prove on a case-by-case basis that their rights have been denied. To address that — and after federal legislation was proposed last month to improve accessibility for people with disabilities — the B.C. government will begin creating a provincial disabilities act this fall. People with disabilities in B.C. are making it clear they want to play a major role in its design.
A Look at Premier Doug Ford's First Throne Speech from the Perspective of Ensuring that Ontario Becomes Accessible to 1.9 Million Ontarians with Disabilities by 2025By Greg Thomson, Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance, July 13, 2018
Ontario Premier Doug Ford's first Throne Speech, read at Queen's Park on July 12, said nothing about taking new action to ensure that Ontario becomes accessible to 1.9 million Ontarians with disabilities by 2025, the deadline which all parties set in the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act 2005. The Throne Speech is where a Government sets out, at a high level, its priorities for action.
Advocates for the disabled are praising the Ford government for appointing a cabinet minister to oversee the often-intersecting areas of accessibility and seniors’ issues. Progressive Conservative Premier Doug Ford appointed Scarborough North MPP Raymond Cho minister for seniors and accessibility on June 29.
Disability rights advocates welcome long-awaited national accessibility legislation, tabled in Ottawa Wednesday, but say the law needs significant strengthening to meet its goals. The Accessible Canada Act, which covers federally regulated sectors such as banking, inter-provincial and international transportation, telecommunications and government-run services such as Canada Post, aims to “identify, remove and prevent” barriers for an estimated 4 million Canadians with a physical, sensory, mental, intellectual, learning, communication or other disabilities. The government has earmarked $290 million over six years to implement the legislation, which includes fines of up to $250,000 for violations.
Canadians with disabilities felt a surge of tempered optimism on Wednesday as they watched Canada table its first piece of federal legislation aimed at improving accessibility for people with disabilities. The Accessible Canada Act, presented hours before the house rose for the summer, fulfils a promise to have disability-related legislation on the table by spring 2018. The government pledged $290-million over six years towards supporting its implementation. The Act's stated purpose is to “identify, remove and prevent” accessibility barriers in areas that fall under federal jurisdiction. This includes built environments, federally run programs and services, banking, telecommunications and transportation that crosses provincial lines.
Today, following the most inclusive and accessible consultation with Canadians with disabilities and with the disability community, the Honourable Kirsty Duncan, Minister of Science and Minister of Sport and Persons with Disabilities, introduced the proposed Accessible Canada Act to Parliament. This historic legislation would enable the Government of Canada to take a proactive approach to end systemic discrimination of people with disabilities. The goal of the legislation is to benefit all Canadians, especially Canadians with disabilities, through the progressive realization of a barrier-free Canada. The act would establish a model to eliminate accessibility barriers and lead to more consistent accessibility in areas under federal jurisdiction across Canada.
Bill C-81 (42-1) - First Reading - Accessible Canada Act - Parliament of Canada
As Ontario gets set to elect a new government, some disabled voters say accommodations put in place to allow them to cast their ballots independently and privately are not working as intended. They say elections workers were helpful and respectful, but not always trained on accessible voting options and sometimes did not offer them or didn't readily know how to make them available.
Reflections on the occasion of the European Social Economy Day
Seven months ago the leaders of the 28 EU member states adopted in Stockholm the so-called European Pillar of Social Rights, by which they committed to a set of 20 principles and rights. Even though most of us in the disability movement believe that EU leaders should have been more ambitious and should have converted those political statements into more concrete and enforceable policy and legislative initiatives, we could not but welcome the explicit recognition that "people with disabilities have the right to income support that ensures living in dignity, services that enable them to participate in the labour market and in society, and a work environment adapted to their needs." The celebration of the European Social Economy Day on 4 June is a good occasion to reflect on the role that this sector has been playing and can play in the future to help achieve these goals, in particular as a job generator.
A new wayfinding system will help University of Guelph students who are blind or visually impaired get around campus this fall, and all students need to do to access it is download an app on their phone. A few years ago, the university wanted to do more to make signs more inclusive and accessible. The university is the first in Canada to install it on campus, and it's the first campus in the world to have all three levels (beacons, GPS and QR codes). The goal is to have the entire University of Guelph campus on the BlindSquare within five years.
Toronto's subway and train stations, including the TTC's newest, have design flaws that can make travelling difficult or dangerous for people with disabilities, according to a new video that illustrates the problems.
A 30 minute video released Tuesday
Making Progress on Disability Issues: The Agenda with Steve Paikin, TVO.org, May 21, 2018
Non-partisan community partners invite persons with disabilities, their friends and families and the public to the Province-Wide Debate on Accessibility and Disability Issues. Representatives of Ontario's political parties will be fielding questions about housing, employment, poverty reduction strategies, Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA), Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP), and more. Community Partners invite people with disabilities and their allies from across Ontario to ask questions to each party.
Date: Wednesday, May 16, 2018
Time: 6 p.m. – 8:30 p.m.
Location: Tecumseh Auditorium, Ryerson University. 55 Gould St., Toronto
LiveStreame: Event live streaming
HSBC, Metro Bank and Halifax have all admitted to failings after redesigning websites that made it hard for their blind or visually impaired customers to access full services online. In a statement, HSBC told Money Box it has just finished upgrading the site again, and saying "we apologise to those who may have experienced problems accessing the site during this update". More than two million people in the UK have vision problems that can't be corrected with prescription glasses. And over a third of a million are registered blind or partially sighted. Under the Equality Act, firms must not discriminate against anyone by failing to provide them with a service. And that includes banking services. Companies that don't comply could face a claim for damages.
Students face daunting academic and social barriers that can leave them excluded, vulnerable to bullying and set them up for low expectations for the future, said the report, a joint project by experts in disabilities law and education. Their parents are asked to keep them home from school, pick them up early and must fight hard to get them the supports they are legally entitled to. This is the reality for many students with intellectual disabilities and their families in Ontario, according to a new report released Friday, conducted by the Toronto District School Board Special Education Advisory Committee, which provides a rare look at how this vulnerable group is faring in school. To Learn More About the Disability Barriers in Ontario's Education System, read the survey results, of Parents of Students with Special Education Needs, April 2018.
The AODA review committee has submitted their final proposed revisions to the Transportation Standards of the AODA to the Minister Responsible for Accessibility. The minister may accept the 32 proposed revisions in whole, in part, or with modifications. Any proposed changes to the transportation standards will be posted to the Regulatory Registry. Read the initial recommendations.
After five years of lax enforcement of Ontario's groundbreaking accessibility legislation, disability activists want Queen's Park to hand over enforcement responsibilities to an independent public agency. The call comes in the wake of a new report that shows a 2015 government crackdown on accessibility scofflaws never really happened and that the government has imposed just six monetary penalties despite thousands of known violations. The AODA-Alliance has asked all party leaders to commit to moving enforcement of the AODA to an independent public agency, if elected premier in June. Read more about the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance (AODA-Alliance).
Accessibility advocates are expressing cautious optimism about measures in the latest Ontario budget that fund programs for developmentally disabled people, enhance social assistance and boost mental health support. Over the next three years, the budget promises to pump $1.8 billion into services for developmentally disabled people and invest $2.3 billion into social assistance programs, which will loosen restrictions recipients have long contended keep them in poverty. Implementation of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) -- which promises full accessibility -- has fallen behind in recent years, advocates say, arguing the budget contains no plan to ensure the law is completely in place by 2025 as promised.
More than a decade after an advocate for the blind won a landmark human rights case against the TTC, a hearing-impaired transit user is calling on the agency to improve its communication with riders who have hearing loss. Leona Zultek argues that by not devising ways to provide hearing-impaired customers with the same information as other riders, the TTC is failing in its obligation to communicate with all passengers regardless of their abilities.
The Accessibility compliance and enforcement report 2017 outlines the activities undertaken by the Accessibility Directorate of Ontario in 2017 to oversee compliance with the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act and its accessibility standards. In the Second Legislative Review of the AODA, reviewer Mayo Moran made recommendations aimed to determine who enforces AODA accessibility compliance requirements. These included making an enforcement plan, building transparency into the plan, and incorporating feedback into compliance and enforcement. This report details the activities throughout the year to ensure compliance. The proactive communication and outreach strategies, as well as the verifications of compliance that the directorate performs is included. Read more articles by Greg Thomson, Author at Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA).
Is the CNIB's centennial this year really something to celebrate? The Canadian National Institute for the Blind came about directly because of the high profile of gas-blinded heroes of the First World War and survivors of the 1917 Halifax explosion. As a self-preservation policy, the institute eventually turned to influencing government to designate all blind Canadians permanent wards of a charity, but in reality, recipients of little. Although blind citizens’ treatment does somewhat mirror the First Nations experience, it does not have the same profile to generate conscious political recognition. Instead, Canada's custodial treatment of its blind citizens just continues to reinforce the public's morbid fear of blindness. In 2018, we need government to recognize and treat blind citizens as contributing, respected and worthy members of society.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's Liberal government has decided it will no longer fund the production of accessible books for blind and vision-impaired Canadians, Global News has learned. Starting April 1, the Canadian National Institute for the Blind (CNIB), which is Canada's largest producer of accessible and alternate-format books, will no longer receive government funding for converting conventional books into accessible formats. The news comes nine days before the CNIB is set to celebrate its 100th anniversary.
Accessibility advocates are questioning the Wynne government's recent appointment of former lieutenant-governor David Onley to lead the next independent review of Ontario's landmark accessibility legislation. They say Onley, a childhood polio survivor, who completed a three-year appointment last fall as the government's special adviser on accessibility, should not be reviewing the same policies and actions he so recently defended in that role.
This contribution is published as part of the UNRISD Think Piece Series, From Disruption to Transformation? Linking Technology and Human Rights for Sustainable Development. It isn't news that we live in an exciting moment for technology. From artificial intelligence and machine learning to robotics, 3D printing, virtual realities or smart environments, it seems like these so-called emerging technologies will soon become an everyday reality that could underpin progress worldwide. But are these new technologies designed for all? There are one billion persons with disabilities globally and as societies become older, more and more people will face functional limitations related to age. Will these technologies be accessible for them as well?
The TTC is participating in an innovative program, the "ShopTalk: BlindSquare Enabled" project, which features a mobile app to enhance community accessibility for those with vision loss.
On Wednesday, February 7, 2018, the Wynne Government announced that it had appointed the Honourable David Onley to conduct the next mandatory Independent Review of the implementation and enforcement of the 2005 Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA). The AODA Alliance has serious concerns about this appointment, despite Mr. Onley's deep and commendable commitment to accessibility for people with disabilities. It is essential that a person appointed to conduct an AODA Independent Review meet two equally important qualifications: First, they should have sufficient knowledge or expertise to conduct the Independent Review. There is no doubt that David Onley meets this requirement. The second requirement is that the person be fully independent and impartial, and be seen by the public as being fully independent and impartial. We regret that Mr. Onley does not meet this vital second requirement.
Ontario has appointed the Honourable David C. Onley to conduct the third review of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA). The reviewer will consult with the public and will analyze accessibility progress made in other jurisdictions. The review will be completed by the end of 2018 and will consider the evolution of the current AODA and its goals for an accessible Ontario by 2025 and beyond.
The federal Conservatives have tabled a bill in the House of Commons that they say will help get more Canadians with disabilities into the workforce, arguing that right now, it can be more affordable for them to stay out of it. The private member's bill, is unlikely to pass unless the Conservatives get the Liberals on-side. If it does pass, the bill (labeled The Opportunity for Workers with Disabilities Act) would amend the Federal-Provincial Fiscal Arrangements Act to ensure that Canadians with disabilities don't lose more through taxation or the loss of benefits than they gain as a result of finding a job.
An UberAssist driver who refused to pick up a blind Paralympian last year because of her service dog has been fined $250. Victoria Nolan, who captured bronze at the 2016 Rio Games in four-mixed rowing, had finished training at the Toronto Pan Am Sports Centre when she decided to try UberAssist for the first time. The ride-hailing service is designed specifically to be accessible to people with disabilities. But when the driver arrived and saw Nolan's guide dog, he took off.
CNIB Calls for Senate of Canada to Include Strengthened Requirements to Accommodate Canadians With Sight LossAccessibility News International, Ottawa, January 30, 2018
CNIB is calling on the Senate of Canada to make amendments to strengthen requirements to accommodate Canadians with sight loss. As the Senate resumes sitting at the end of January, they will continue their study of Bill C-49, the Transportation Modernization Act. CNIB supports the passage of this important piece of legislation, specifically the creation of an airline Passenger Bill of Rights. The Senate has two options: pass the Bill as is or send it back to the House of Commons with amendments.
The new feature for Nearby Explorer — which was developed by the American Printing House for the Blind and officially launched this week — has been in road-testing since October at Louisville International Airport. But the app's developers hope to see it replicated elsewhere so that visually impaired travelers can navigate an airport with a more detailed idea of what’s around them, and without having to rely on airport personnel, inadequate signage or the kindness of strangers.
The new Accessible Technology Program will co-fund innovative projects led by the private sector, not-for-profit organizations and research institutes to develop new assistive and adaptive digital devices and technologies. It will invest $22.3 million over 5 years, starting in 2017-18 to make it easier for Canadians with disabilities to more fully participate in the digital economy.
The Government of Canada tables the Optional Protocol to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with DisabilitiesEmployment and Social Development Canada, November 30, 2017
Today, the Honourable Kent Hehr, Minister of Sport and Persons with Disabilities, on behalf of the Honourable Chrystia Freeland, Minister of Foreign Affairs, is proud to announce that the Government of Canada tabled in the House of Commons the Optional Protocol to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. The Optional Protocol establishes two procedures aimed at strengthening the implementation and monitoring of the Convention. The first is a complaint procedure that allows individuals and groups to bring petitions to the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities if they believe their rights under the Convention have been violated. The second is an inquiry procedure that allows the Committee to inquire into allegations of grave or systematic violations of the Convention by a State Party. The Optional Protocol was adopted by the UN in 2006 and entered into force in 2008. As of November 2017, there are 92 States Parties to the Optional Protocol.
An assistive technology program at Bosma Enterprises now includes an indoor navigation system that uses Bluetooth beacons and iOS' native VoiceOver feature. When Bosma Enterprises, a nonprofit organization that employs blind and visually impaired people, opened a new headquarters earlier this year, it introduced assistive technologies to help employees find their way in the 170,000-square-foot facility. The BlindSquare indoor navigation system -- ready for use when the headquarters opened -- represents a new level of commitment from the company to enable its 208-employee workforce, more than half of which are blind or visually impaired.
The Government understands that living with a disability can have significant impacts on individuals and their families. The Honourable Diane Lebouthillier, Minister of National Revenue, announced that the Disability Advisory Committee, originally formed in 2004 and disbanded in 2006, is being re-instated to provide the CRA with a formalized means of collaborating with various stakeholders. Enhancing the accessibility of the CRA's services to persons with disabilities is an ongoing effort, which will be greatly assisted by the Committee's work.
Section 508 Gets an Update: New Web Accessibility Guidelines for Government Sites Take Effect in JanuaryZack Quaintance, Staff writer for Government Technology, November 20, 2017
People with hearing and sight disabilities using screen readers and other assistive tech must be able to access content on government websites, but getting and staying compliant is a challenge. Updates for Section 508 accessibility legislation go into effect in January, creating new specifications for how federal agencies must make websites and other digital information channels navigable for users with disabilities. Not being able to keep up with updates has been an ongoing problem in terms of making tech accessible for users with disabilities. There is continual discord between people who create and edit content, the massive companies that issue updates to the most common Web browsers, and the much smaller companies that make assistive tech.
Ryerson University's $112-million Student Learning Centre poses safety risks for people with disabilities, advocate David Lepofsky says. The eight-storey structure, which opened in February 2015 at the corner of Yonge and Gould Sts., provides space on campus for students to socialize and work. The building won an award from the Canadian Architect Magazine for its proposed design in 2012. Ryerson Student Centre AODA Alliance Youtube video
Grassroots Disability Coalition Unveils Powerful New Video Showing Serious Accessibility Problems at the New Ryerson University Student Learning CentreAODA Alliance, toronto, October 29, 2017
The AODA Alliance today makes public a striking 12-minute video (and a more detailed 30-minute version) revealing significant disability accessibility barriers in a new public building in the heart of downtown Toronto, built in part with public money. This video documents accessibility problems at the new Ryerson University Student Learning Centre with such things as stairs, ramps, student socializing areas, elevators, signage, an information desk and electronic kiosk. AODA Alliance Chair David Lepofsky guides you on a tour of barriers that hurt people with blindness, low vision, mobility disabilities, dyslexia, balance issues, and more.
The federal minister responsible for crafting Canada's first national accessibility legislation says the law should be ready by next spring and should benefit not only people with disabilities, but their caregivers. Minister Kent Hehr says the bill, which has been highly anticipated, will benefit both those with disabilities and their caregivers. Kent Hehr says the timeline for the new law has shifted slightly since he took over the portfolio for sport and persons with disabilities in a recent cabinet shuffle. The legislation, which is highly anticipated by Canada's disabled community, was originally set to be unveiled either late this year or early 2018.
Today, the Ontario Human Rights Commission (OHRC) released a new policy statement explaining the purpose and importance of the duty to accommodate under the Ontario Human Rights Code. Employers and unions, housing providers and service providers have a legal duty to accommodate the Code-related needs of people who are adversely affected by a requirement, rule or standard. Accommodation is necessary to address barriers in society that would otherwise prevent people from fully taking part in, and contributing to, the community.
Canadian business has struggled since 1989 to hire people with disabilities in any material numbers. This is not a uniquely Canadian phenomenon. The experience has been repeated globally by millions of companies. Stats show that the 18.7 per cent of the population that self-declares as a person with a disability (PWD) makes an average annual income of 91 per cent compared with those living without a disability. Simple math means 6.2 million Canadians with a disability control $55.4-billion in annual disposable income. When their friends and family are added to the market, disability touches 53 per cent of consumers controlling more than $366.5-billion. Globally, this market opportunity is more than $10-trillion.
The CNIB has started to install beacons in the Yonge-St. Clair area of Toronto, which will improve accessibility for those in the neighbourhood with visual impairments. Two hundred shops and restaurants are expected to come on board at no cost to them. The beacons are small battery-powered devices that silently communicate pre-programmed information about the businesses to users via the BlindSquare iPhone app.
TTC hears concerns about long waits and inaccessible stations at annual meeting. The TTC's annual accessibility meeting drew about 300 people to the Beanfield Centre at Exhibition Place. It's intended to highlight any concerns or questions people have about the accessibility of the TTC or Wheel-Trans. The TTC says it's actively working on upgrading old elevators and installing new ones. Currently 34 of the 69 stations are accessible. Activist David Lepofsky doesn't think people with disabilities should be made to use the TTC unless it's fully accessible.
CNIB pilot project plans to install 200 wayfinding beacons in Toronto stores and restaurants. If you were blind and walked into a coffee shop, how would you find the counter so you could order? The iOS BlindSquare app gives verbal directions to customers at several businesses in the Yonge and St. Clair neighbourhood, thanks to a pilot project called ShopTalk launched by the CNIB, a charity that provides community-based support for people who are blind or partially sighted.
The Discover Ability Network will showcase the business advantages of employing persons with disabilities. The Honourable David Onley, Special Advisor to the Government of Ontario's Minister Responsible for Accessibility, the Ontario Chamber of Commerce (OCC) and the Discover Ability Network partners launched a new program and online portal that will connect persons with disabilities seeking employment directly with Ontario businesses looking to meet their talent requirements. The portal is a key feature of Access Talent: Ontario's Employment Strategy for People with Disabilities, a comprehensive plan focused on connecting more people with disabilities to rewarding jobs and more employers to new talent to help grow their businesses.
Federal minister of sport and persons with disabilities Carla Qualtrough heard from local and international disability experts on Tuesday as Canada prepares to introduce its first national accessibility legislation. Although the prospective act would govern only those areas under federal authority, such as banks, telecommunications and interprovincial transportation, Qualtrough believes it will also show leadership beyond this jurisdiction and inspire provinces to create similar laws. Currently, seven provinces do not have accessibility legislation.
August 21 2017 cbc radio here and now lepofsky on CDA conference.mp3
August 22, 2017, three-hour online Policy Experts Conference.
Disability advocate David Lepofsky has worked tirelessly since the McGuinty Liberals passed the landmark Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act in 2005, holding the government to account as it moves toward its goal of a fully accessible Ontario by 2025. David Lepofsky just wants to make sure the province is doing what it promised to do. Too often, however, what he has found is failure – and too often the province has tried to keep him from discovering the frequently disappointing truth. The government should stop fighting disability advocates and start working alongside them.
The Alliance is proud to be hosting our pioneering conference, called "What Should Canada's Promised National Accessibility Law Include? Cutting-edge ideas from Experts from Around the World". Hosted by David Lepofsky, the event will be lived streamed on August 22nd, 2017 from 10:00 am-1:00 pm ET. The Government of Canada has committed to adopting a strong federal accessibility law to remove and prevent barriers facing people with disabilities. The Alliance is consulting Canadians to collect their comments, concerns and suggestions about this new law. We want to know what your main accessibility issues are and how they could be addressed through the law. visit The Alliance's YouTube Channel to watch the live stream.
Former federal worker Abigail Shorter is taking the government to task in a human rights case. After her position was made redundant, she was not able to find a new one in the public service. Because of her disability, she claims she is not able to use much of the software required in government jobs. There are international standards for building accessibility into the online experience: The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines. The rules for who is required to adhere to these standards vary from province to province.
Ontario's privacy commission says the provincial government significantly overcharged an advocacy group fighting for information on accessibility law compliance in the province and must now hand over the material. The commission's decision says the government tried to charge the Access for Ontarians with Disabilities Alliance $4,200 for a sweeping access to information request seeking details on many issues, including plans to make sure private businesses are complying with accessibility laws. Commission knocked $4,200 price tag for accessibility group's request down to $750. The Information and Privacy Commission 67-page ruling
The Canadian National Institute for the Blind (CNIB) is putting small battery powered beacons in 200 restaurants and shops. The beacons will transmit to an app called BlindSquare, to verbally guide people around indoor buildings. The program is funded through a grant from the the Rick Hansen Foundation.
Thousands of federal public servants across Canada are unable to utilize internal government software programs and websites because they're inaccessible to people with a range of disabilities. The problem has led to job losses, grievances, a human rights complaint and, as one lawyer suggests, opens the door to a potential court challenge under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
On June 12, a judge in the federal District Court in South Florida made history. That history came in the form of a court order in a lawsuit filed by blind Florida resident Juan Carlos Gil against regional grocer Winn-Dixie. After a two-day trial the court ruled in favor of the plaintiff (Mr. Gil). That order is historic because it is believed that this is the very first trial in an ADA case about website accessibility against a private company, known legally as a public accommodation.
David Lepofsky is in Winnipeg this week to speak during Manitoba Access Awareness Week. He spoke on Wednesday at the Canadian Museum for Human Rights about accessibility rights legislation.
The world has been designed as if the only people living in it successfully are people without disabilities. The buildings around us, public transit, stores, education systems, are all designed like people said, "Let's design things so people with disabilities can't use them." What we're trying to do is fix society. There are four million-plus Canadians with disabilities.
The province's new strategy to address the high unemployment rate among Ontarians with disabilities was panned by advocates who said it lacks specifics and will take "months if not years" to have an impact. Plan focuses on students and youth, and aims to connect employers with potential workers. But advocate David Lepofsky says it is not the "immediate, practical" strategy that was needed. Tracy MacCharles, the minister responsible for accessibility, told the Star in an interview that the strategy will particularly focus on helping students and youth better plan and prepare for employment, as well as try to connect employers with potential workers.
Through the consultations, Canadians from across the country shared their personal stories, their challenges, successes, hopes and aspirations. This consultation process was a very important step forward towards inclusion, but it is only the beginning of a journey to reach our goal of a truly inclusive Canada. Thank you to all who participated. Moving forward, we're going to take what we learned through this historic consultation process to develop new federal accessibility legislation that will provide all Canadians a better chance to succeed in their local communities and workplaces. As Canadians, we all benefit from accessibility when we and our family members, friends, neighbours, classmates and co-workers are able to fully participate and contribute in our communities and workplaces without barriers. Currently, one in seven Canadians has a disability, and that number is expected to grow with an aging population. It is clear that these barriers to accessibility can no longer be ignored. This is why the Government of Canada is working towards new legislation to help address these barriers and strive towards a more accessible Canada.
On Thursday, April 27, 2017, the Nova Scotia Legislature passed a new accessibility law, the Accessibility Act, following the lead of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act. Nova Scotia becomes the third Canadian province to enact a comprehensive accessibility law. The Nova Scotia law has the goal of Nova Scotia reaching full accessibility by 2030.
When the Region of Durham puts out a new tender for its electronic agenda system, it will ensure the winning company knows what its doing. the company that previously held the contract, the American-based Accela, couldnt make a system that worked within the province's legal requirements. The contract was first terminated in late January because Accela could not make the system work with the province's Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA), which says that web pages and other online documents belonging to government entities must be accessible for those with disabilities, including the ability to resize text, audio description for pre-recorded video content and captioning for live video. The Region says it will ensure next winner has local references.
The Bill 59 Community Alliance is only a few months old, and has already become a powerful player in any discussion around the future of the Accessibility Act. Last week the legislature saw a remarkable example of effective citizen action. The alliance has been working from the moment the McNeil government hit the pause button on Bill 59 last November. When the four alliance spokespersons appeared before the Law Amendments Committee last Thursday, they carried the endorsement of 35 organizations serving Nova Scotians with disabilities. That's remarkable. That's the power of numbers.
Federal minister of sport and persons with disabilities wraps up cross-country consultations on proposed accessibility legislationBy LAURIE MONSEBRAATEN, Social justice reporter, Toronto Star, February 9, 2017
Cost can no longer be a barrier to creating an accessible Canada, says Carla Qualtrough, federal minister of sport and persons with disabilities. Qualtrough hopes the new law will spark a culture shift away from the "fallacy" that making the country fully accessible for more than2.3 million Canadians with a disability would be financially ruinous.
Carla Qualtrough, Minister of Sport and Persons with Disabilities, says removing accessibility barriers will be crucial to tackling long-standing high jobless rates among the country's disabled population. Data has long shown that Canadians with disabilities are greatly under-employed compared to their non-disabled counterparts, with multiple studies finding that only half of disabled Canadians have found work. Qualtrough said the federal act has to be written to work alongside existing provincial laws without encroaching on their areas of jurisdiction.
The Wynne government is denying Ontarians the right to know the details behind its promised 2015 crack-down on businesses that ignore their responsibilities under the province's landmark accessibility legislation, an accessibility activist says. In documents filed in advance of Tuesday's hearing, government lawyers argue the fee is being charged to offset costs to the public. David Lepofsky, Lawyer, appeals $4,250 fee to access information on how Ontario's accessibility law is being enforced.
For most of us, location-based augmented reality apps might be considered "nice to have", entertaining technology that conjures up images of last summer's PokaMon Go craze. But for blind and visually impaired people, the use of augmented reality technology in audio-based navigation apps can provide a safer and often liberating way to travel through unfamiliar streets and especially inside buildings. That's the idea behind BlindSquare.
A committee has been organized through the Canadian Institute of Transportation Engineers that has been tasked with reviewing accessibility guidelines published by various levels of government across Canada. Your participation and feedback will assist with the development of uniform accessibility guidelines across Canada.
Government of Canada improves accessibility for Canadians with disabilities within their workplaces and communitiesEmployment and Social Development Canada, SURREY, BC, Jan. 17, 2017
the Honourable Carla Qualtrough, Minister of Sport and Persons with Disabilities, visited the Centre for Child Development of the Lower Mainland to announce the approval of 573 Enabling Accessibility Fund (EAF) projects. The Minister highlighted how these projects will help strengthen the Government of Canada's commitment to ensuring greater accessibility and opportunity for Canadians with disabilities in their communities and workplaces.
A new poll suggests that employment conditions remain dismal for Canadians with disabilities. The survey commissioned by CIBC and conducted by Angus Reid found that only half of respondents living with a disability have a full or part-time job. The unemployed respondents overwhelmingly said they were out of work as a direct result of their disability, with 67 per cent citing it as the reason for their current circumstances.
More than 80% of U.S. Americans with disabilities are unemployed according to the U.S. Department of Labor, while the World Bank reports an 80 - 90 percent unemployment rate for persons with disabilities across Latin America, and the Caribbean. Despite 25 years of the Americans with Disabilities Act, disability rights law has mostly failed, not led to more jobs, and the employment rate for the disabled remains basically unchanged after a quarter-century. The 40 year old rhetoric about empathy, the acknowledgement, and acceptance of differences, and a stinging mantra of "disability matters," is deeply rooted in the problem-solving mentality that we've all become so accustomed to. Unfortunately, the problem-solving mentality produces deficit-based thinking. Employees are trained to always be on the lookout for deficits, or weaknesses, anomalies in the workplace. Once discovered, problem-solving teaches us to uncover the root of that problem, and fix, or eliminate, it. Any way you look at it, disability translates into a problem to be solved. After all, the legal definition is an impairment due to a medical condition that limits one or more major life function.