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Commemorating the United Nation’s Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD): Equal Access for Blind Canadians is still needed in Canada

Date: 
Monday, December 3, 2012

On March 11, 2010, the Government of Canada ratified the United Nations Charter of Rights for Persons with Disabilities (CRPD).  The CRPD sets out 49 articles which clearly states that governments have an obligation to insure that persons with disabilities are able to, independently and with dignity, participate in the social, economic and political aspects of their nation states.

We take this day to celebrate the achievements of the past year and to express our hopes that the push towards equal access will continue.  2012 has been a land mark year for blind/visually impaired or deaf blind Canadians.  Canada's courts have affirmed our rights to equal access without restriction or caveat.  As citizens of a democratic society, our rights to full participation and equal access to government services were affirmed when the federal court of appeal reaffirmed a 2010 decision citing the government of Canada's failure to uphold their own standards in insuring that all Canadians have equal access to internet based content.

"We have made great strides re ensuring that our government continues to make their websites and by extension their services, accessible to all blind Canadians but this is just the beginning"; says Donna Jodhan litigant in a suit brought against the Government of Canada, and president of the Alliance for Equality of Blind Canadians (AEBC).  "We need to ensure that this push continues and that the recent decision is honoured and moved forward" says Jodhan.  "All jurisdictions have an equal responsibility, one that insures all citizens are served equitably and in a dignified manner.  All of us have a responsibility to insure that barriers preventing full participation by blind Canadians continue to be removed" says Jodhan.

Many other barriers facing blind Canadians include:

  • lack of access to the built environment
  • discriminatory practices as they relate to employment
  • access to social/cultural programs
  • discriminatory practices within the transportation sector.

"Despite the significant economic, social, technological and political progress witnessed over the past several years, many Canadians living with vision loss continue to encounter isolation and economic exclusion" says Lui Greco, AEBC's 1st vice president.  "Canadians who are blind, deaf blind or who have vision loss are significantly over represented amongst Canada's poor.  They complete post secondary training almost at par with other Canadians with disabilities yet represent the highest proportion of social recipient assistants across Canada" Greco says.

"Our goal is to move Canada towards a nation where blindness or low vision is characteristic of a society consisting of persons all of whom have equal opportunities to the benefits and riches inherent of a modern, democratic nation comprised of individuals who bring diverse and unique perspectives; to work, to schools, to community and to cultural institutions”.

“In a knowledge based economy, it is no longer acceptable that persons unable to read due to a visual disability have access to less than 5% of all printed matter. While the knowledge economy explodes around us, it is essential that access to alternate format materials for those of us with print disabilities no longer be an after-thought" says Greco. 

It is unacceptable that our privacy and financial security is put at risk each time we purchase goods or services using point of sale devices in-trusting strangers to verify our information.

Canadian society is rich with artistic expressions which define who we are as a people but without increased accessible content via descriptive video, blind/visually impaired and deaf blind Canadians continue to be socially marginalized.

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For more information, contact:

 

Donna Jodhan, President

1-800-561-477

djodhan@blindcanadians.ca