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Hands Off Our Harnesses

What is “Hands Off Our Harnesses”?

The Canadian General Standards Board has drafted a set of standards which, if implemented, would impose conditions on the training and use of service dogs. The standard includes guide dogs which are dogs for the blind and visually impaired, and are therefore, by definition, not merely service dogs.

Further, the content of the standard is inconsistent with the use and training of guide dogs. Many Canadians get their guide dogs from the United States, and both American and Canadian schools find these standards at odds with standard training and use of guide dogs. American schools are concerned that, if these standards are accepted, they may stop accepting Canadian applicants.

#IAmYourCustomer Accessible Contact Information

Accessible communication is critical to enabling independence, and full participation in life.

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.

Now Imagine the Blind Business Owner...

As a founder, and now retired entrepreneur, I know all too well that growth potential for business depends on the availability of accessible information regarding regulatory and policy changes, and also may be the difference between success and failure. In the beginning, as a person who is blind, the journey of starting and growing a business was a daunting task filled with pitfalls and many information challenges. I encountered more than my fair share of people who could not believe that a blind woman could succeed. I was troubled by the attitude of many people with respect to their consistent belief that blindness prevented me from being successful, which created needless attitudinal barriers.

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.

Blind sex offender skips jail: Corrections cannot accommodate blind prisoners

The accused, blind since the age of 16 as a result of a car accident, worked with the City of Calgary as a spokesperson and presenter on issues of blindness and disability. He has represented Canada at the Paralympic Games in 1984 and 1992. (By my reckoning, he must be at least in his 40's as a result.)

The accused, who has a prior criminal record for fraud over $5000, was convicted in 2012 of assault and sexual assault involving a friend. The question of sentencing -- and whether it would be proper for the accused to "be sentenced to a period of incarceration in a correctional facility given that he is blind and requires 24 hour assistance from his guide dog" -- was considered by a judge of the Alberta Provincial Court in April of this year: [R. v.

CRTC Response to DV Working Group Results

In 2009, the CRTC established a working group to look at various matters relating to descriptive video. In particular, the working group was to look at some technical matters (such as enabling the pass-thru of DV), some practical matters (such as providing means for viewers to activate descriptive video, and ensuring that the availability of DV would be advertised in program listings).

Among other things, the DVWG was responsible for the production of the audio description public service announcement that has seen considerable air play. (The, "A woman enters a kitchen..." PSA.)

The CRTC's response to the DVWG's activities is provided below.

The changing of the leopard's spots: CNIB now and into the future

A few weeks ago, CNIB released a document which marked the beginning of a consultative strategic planning initiative taking place within CNIB. Entitled, "Your CNIB. Your future. Hearing your views on the future direction of CNIB," this document (which has been posted on the AEBC web site already) outlines what CNIB is planning on doing, how and why they are soliciting opinions from the community as to their future direction.

Hallowe'en as a "blind man": The legal perils of carrying a white cane

Yesterday, the AEBC released a press release in protest of the selling of “blind person” Hallowe’en costumes. I agree that the sale of such costumes is wholly inappropriate or at the very least insensitive. Media portrayals of blindness are often, at a minimum, misguided. The public’s conception of what it means to be blind, and what people who are blind or who have low vision can do, is typically a far cry from reality. Dressing up and acting as a blind person can only further these misconceptions.

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