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Blind Canadians Blog Posts by atibbs

Human rights vs accessibility legislation: One does not equal the other

While the aims of human rights legislation such as Ontario's Human Rights Code may seem to be aligned with those of accessibility-specific legislation such as the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, the reality is that these are two very different schemes. While a violation of one may well be a violation of the other, this does not necessarily mean that complaints under both can be addressed together, or that the Human Rights Tribunal will give any credence to violations of the AODA.

A recently reported case from the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario (Clipperton-Boyer v McDonalds Restaurants of Canada Limited, 2016 HRTO 967 (CanLII)) makes two points that advocates must bear in mind when pursuing matters through the Tribunal.

Federal Legislation to Implement UN Disability Rights Convention: Nothing About Us Without Us (CCD press release)

The Council of Canadians with Disabilities has released the below press release, calling on the government to fully implement the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD). Canada is a signatory to the same, but that has not removed the barriers that Canadains with disabilities face (or prevented the introduction of new ones!).


September 9, 2015 -- Building on the ratification of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), supported by all political parties and jurisdictions, and given that Canadians with disabilities continue to experience barriers and discrimination, the Government of Canada must take new and concrete action to implement the CRPD.

Disabling Poverty, Enabling Citizenship - CCD press release on a refundable disability tax credit

The below media release from the Council of Canadians with Disabilities (CCD) calls for change in the way the Disability Tax Credit is handled, making it refundable and reimbursable.


September 1, 2015 - The Council of Canadians with Disabilities (CCD) urges all federal political parties to promise Canadians with disabilities, who as a group are among the poorest Canadians, to reform the Disability Tax Credit (DTC), making it refundable. A refundable DTC would give $2,000 to all eligible tax filers, whether or not they owe income tax.

Even after Fretz v BDO Canada LLP, people with disabilities retain the right to request accommodations that meet their needs

A decision a few months back of the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario (“HRTO”), Fretz v BDO Canada LLP, 2014 HRTO 1288, has attracted the attention of employer-focused law firms and commentators, while also raising eyebrows within organizations supporting persons with disabilities.

Election accessibility (town hall report): What to expect in the 2015 federal elections

On Saturday, February 28th, 2015, AMI, Elections Canada, and AEBC presented a town hall discussion on the accessibility of federal elections. We were joined by Marc Mayrand, Chief Electoral Officer of Canada, who is ultimately responsible to parliament for the operation of the Elections Canada regime.

The purpose of this discussion was primarily to gain an understanding of the issues that continue to face our community, and to gain an understanding of the problem from Elections Canada's perspective. There were more than 50 participants registered for the call, and AEBC was certainly well represented with many of our members having an opportunity to speak and share their point of view.

World Braille Day 2015 -- In honour of the dots!

This day (January 4th) marks the birthday of one Louis Braille who, in 1824, at the age of 15, devised the tactile code now known as braille, used by those who are blind to read and write in much the same way as the sighted use print and handwriting.

  • Braille is critical for students who are learning to read and write and who will not otherwise gain the same appreciation for spelling, grammar, and punctuation.
  • Braille is critical for those who work: research has shown that among those who are blind, the vast majority of those who are employed are also braille users.

Braille Literacy Canada's "The Big Brailler Bounce Initiative"

Braille Literacy Canada has set out to uncover all the missing and disused Perkins braillers, with a view to re-homing them to new owners who need them.

  • If you have a Perkins braille under your bed or in storage somewhere that you are not using, donate it and give it a new life! If it needs repair or servicing, BLC will see that that is taken care of before it is re-homed.
  • If you need a brailler or know someone who does, you can add your name to the list of those wanting braillers and one will be sent your way when it becomes available.

In either case, e-mail Jen Goulden (info@blc-lbc.ca) for assistance.

For more information, see http://www.brailleliteracycanada.ca/en/about-us/events.

President's Report - January 2015

Hello, AEBC!

A new year is upon us and our future is bright. While AEBC has to some extent been a bit dormant over the past year or two, a number of exciting things are happening and are in the works that will put us back on the map and get us moving in the right direction.

We will be launching some new "campaigns" over the next few months that aim to generate public attention and to get members involved.

Here's an update for you on what we've been "up to" at the national level over the past few months and what we have brewing.

Regards,
Anthony Tibbs
President, Alliance for Equality of Blind Canadians

A. Announcements and Reminders

1.

Tactalis "tactile computer"?

While monitoring the AEBC twitter feed, I noticed a tweet from @Tactalis wondering what we 'thought' of their new tactile computer project. Basic information about the tactile computer is available on the IndieGoGo fundraising page for the project, where the company behind the initiative is working to raise $40,000 toward the project, which will be used for the first production run aimed at getting "tactile computers" into classrooms.

They describe it as follows:

Our groundbreaking platform embeds an array of switchable magnets beneath any LCD panel to instantly create tangible reproductions of images that are normally displayed only as pixels of light.

Think you might be interested in blogging?

We are always looking for new, regular contributors to the AEBC blog, and you needn't be an expert to do it! While blog posts to the AEBC blog must have some connection to the organization and its objectives, there are a hundred and one different ways to achieve that goal. Perhaps a particular article or event resonates strongly with you and you want to share your perspective, or perhaps there is a theme that you'd like to regularly write about. Whatever the circumstances, we invite contributions from everyone.

If you are a regular writer, we can set you up with your own account and provide instructions on how to directly write and post blogs. For more occasional writers, or for those who aren't very comfortable with the web site, there's an easier way.

Important announcements and requests for feedback!

Hello, AEBC!

This report is coming to you a little earlier than usual, and not long after my last one, because quite frankly, there is a lot going on and I think it is important that everyone know what is happening and the opportunities that you have to participate!

1.

The UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities - Are we making progress?

As many of you know, a few years ago Canada signed on to, and ratified, the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities -- abbreviated as the CRPD or the UNCRPD. The purpose of the UNCRPD has been described as follows: "To promote, protect and ensure the full and equal enjoyment of all human rights and fundamental freedoms by all persons with disabilities, and to promote respect for their inherent dignity." It has been seen by some to be something of a watershed moment, giving international and legal recognition to what is often referred to as the social model of disability -- the notion that people with disabilities are not hampered by their disability, but rather by the social construction in which they live which does not adequately accommodate their differences.

Presidential highlights from the 2014 conference and AGM in Ottawa

This past weekend, 30 AEBC members -- some of them new members, some of them recent members, some of them members from 20 years ago -- gathered in Ottawa for the 2014 conference and annual general meeting.  In this blog post, I will touch on some of the highlights of the conference, for those who were not in attendance and who were not listening to the live stream.  (We had as many as 20 listeners to the stream, a record since we began offering this service a few years ago.) 

President's Report - February 11th, 2014

Hello, AEBC!

2014 is upon us, and we're getting geared up for the conference and annual general meeting in Ottawa, this April 25th to 27th. Because of the importance of that event, and because there is so much information to be communicated to you, details about the AGM will have been sent in a separate message. See http://www.blindcanadians.ca/programs/conf/2014 for all the details, including the registration form.

As we start looking toward the AGM, we must now also begin looking toward the next year, and next two years. More information will be coming your way about the strategic planning process, and the recommendations that will be flowing from that.

Can a blind person fly a plane?

The answer to this bizarre question would seem to be rather self-evident. Being a pilot is an inherently visual activity and there isn't a whole heck of a lot that anyone can do to really accommodate or adapt that. But there is a fellow in Abbotsford, BC who has come up with an ingenious way to give people who are blind at least a semblance of the experience of doing just that.

For years, Microsoft marketed a "game" called Microsoft Flight Simulator. The last edition (version 10, also known as Flight Simulator X) was released in 2006 and Microsoft has since discontinued the product. I put "game" in quotes because this is not your typical "game" -- there are, by and large, no enemies to kill, and specific objectives or missions are limited.

President's Report - December 4th, 2013

Hello, AEBC!

How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world. - Anne Frank

The holiday season and a Canadian winter has descended upon us, and while this might be a time of hibernation for many, I am excited to bring to you this very positive President's Report. I hope it will inspire you to continue the great work of AEBC between now and the conference in Ottawa!

First, a technical note. This newsletter has headings throughout to make navigation easy and so that you can skip over content that you find irrelevant. If you're reading this on the web site and using JAWS, the H key should help you skip to the next heading. If you're reading this in your email that might or might not work.

A Community Venue Creates a Hands on Experience for Persons who are Blind and Partially Sighted

The Kelowna Art Gallery has been very proactive to make their art displays accessible to blind and partially sighted individuals. At least three times a year, Rene, Program Director for the gallery, organizes customized tours for us. On November 9, 2013, several members of our Kelowna AEBC Chapter attended the current display.

Photo

Rene, started out by giving us background information on the artist and his works then we moved to the gallery and watched short films.

Solo-DX: Audio description for TV and theatre via your smartphone

The following message was forwarded to me, announcing the release of a new app (currently available on the Apple platform and soon to be available on Android) that is intended to make audio description available in movie theatres that are not directly equipped to provide description. In effect, it is an app that will "listen" to the movie soundtrack and synchronize its own descriptive track for the listener.

It appears that only one upcoming movie is currently supported by this app, but perhaps more will be forthcoming. This seems like it is intended to work not only in theatres but also for regular TV shows. The actual descriptive tracks appear to be produced independently from the movies themselves, though.

Your mileage may vary.

Safety and accessibility at sea: Concerns from the BC Coastal Transportation Society

I received the following message from Captain William Cursiter, President of the British Columbia Coastal Transportation Society. In it, he raises concerns about the safety protocols used aboard ferries (in BC and elsewhere) and the potential problems that this presents for people with disabilities in an emergency situation.

We're accustomed to worrying about accessibility on busses; on trains; on planes; and on the road, but let's not forget that there are also thousands of people who rely on ferries (in one form or another) to get around, too.

President's Report - November 2013

Hello, AEBC!

I want to ask each and every one of you a question, and I want each and every one of you to reply to this message and, if you say nothing else, at least answer this. My question is simple. Can you name one thing, just one thing, that you did, or were involved in doing, in the past two months, that you believe improved or could potentially improve the lives of blind, deaf-blind or partially sighted Canadians? Did you explain low vision to a clerk in a supermarket? Did you ask a restaurant whether they had a braille menu for you? Did you file a human rights complaint? We all must have done something. What did you do? More importantly, what are you going to do in the next month? How about simply donating $5 to a worthy cause? I think we can come up with a few.

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