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Disability Planks

Does your favourite political party have any planks on disability issues in its platform? Probably.

But do you know what they are? Probably not, and that's the problem!

Before each election, community groups challenge parties to develop planks on issues they feel are important to their particular group, and the disabled community is no exception. For years, the Council of Canadians With Disabilities, of which the AEBC is a member, has mounted "election challenges" where lists of issues are developed, political parties are asked to provide their policies, and then...

Our issues are rarely discussed on the hustings, and I cannot recall even one question during a federal party leaders' television debate, and we must ask "why?" After all, the disabled community comprises almost 15% of Canada's prospective electors, so wouldn't you think political parties would be anxious to seek our votes? ... Apparently not, and again, we must ask "why?"

We do care about the future of our province and country, and we do have views on various political issues--not just disability issues. And most "big ticket" issues have a disability component.

As parents, we should be interested in the future of our education system, and as persons with disabilities we should be concerned that students with disabilities have access to the needed support to enable them to compete equally in the classroom.

Similarly, we are concerned about our health-care system, but are issues such as coverage for eye tests or preventative services, like chiropractic services or physiotherapy, even discussed?

As travellers, we should be concerned about Canada's transportation system, but is the issue of accessibility discussed?

And as citizens, when issues of unemployment are considered, are the barriers that continue to leave so many of us on the sidelines even considered?

Have you ever received any campaign literature in a format you can read independently? I have, but not often!

Are party websites fully accessible? Are candidates meetings held in fully accessible locations?

During the next election, get involved and challenge all candidates in your riding or city to confront some of the aspects of issues that are of direct concern to persons with disabilities.