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Highlights of Recent AEBC Activities

  • AEBC Intervenes at Supreme Court

The AEBC, Transportation Action Now (TAN), the Canadian Hard of Hearing Association (CHHA) and the Canadian Association for Community Living (CACL) retained ARCH Disability Law Centre to seek intervener status in the Via Rail case at the Supreme Court of Canada. This application was granted, and the case was heard on May 19, 2006.

The AEBC raised transportation issues affecting blind, deaf-blind and partially sighted Canadians, and additional "equality rights issues" before the Court.

Justices reserved their decision.

  • BC Assistive Devices Update

AEBC Victoria Chapter President, Linda Bartram, co-chairs a Government/Community Working Group, which has agreed in principle on a Vision for an Equipment and Assistive Devices Program for British Columbians, along with Values and Principles upon which it may be based and administered.

Vision: British Columbians have access to the personal supports that they need in order to achieve their goals and have the opportunity to participate fully in the life of the province.

Accessibility: Access to personal supports is based on need and is not tied to other factors such as individual or family income/assets, eligibility for other services, geographic location or age.

For further details, contact Linda Bartram: labartram@shaw.ca

  • The Future of Human Rights in Ontario

On February 20, 2006, Ontario's Attorney General, Michael Bryant, announced plans to revamp the Ontario Human Rights Commission's complaints process and move to a "direct access" system, where complaints of discrimination would go directly to a tribunal.

While most support streamlining the OHRC, a growing number of community organizations, unions and some legal clinics are deeply concerned over how such a system would operate, and who would support complainants at the Tribunal.

For further information, visit the AODA Alliance's website at: www.aodaalliance.org (opens in a new window)

  • Making Canada's Electoral System More Accessible

On April 5, 2006, Penny Leclair, Robin East and John Rae met with Canada's Chief Electoral Officer, Jean-Pierre Kingsley, on a number of proposed improvements to Canada's electoral system. These included: developing an electronic voting system; adding braille and large print numbers to the voting template; improving lighting at polls; making Election Canada's website more accessible and usable, in conformance with the W3C standards; ensuring that all radio and television ads contain an audible announcement of phone numbers; and training for poll staff.

AEBC members must now determine what should be our focus--the political route, to convince Members of Parliament to amend the Canada Elections Act; the legal, to encourage more electors to file complaints with the Canadian Human Rights Commission; or the constitutional, to seek Case Development Funding from the Court Challenges Program, to determine if mounting a challenge under Canada's Charter of Rights and Freedoms is a viable option.

We will likely pursue more than one of these options, as they are by no means mutually exclusive.

  • AEBC Supports Expanded Core Curriculum

There is currently no standard curriculum to which Teachers of Students who are vision-impaired can refer, which results in inconsistency of services offered. In Ontario, a group has developed a proposal for the Province to adopt the Expanded Core Curriculum (ECC), and the AEBC has added its support.

The ECC will provide Teachers of Students who are vision-impaired with a standard curriculum to ensure that they are providing their students with the skills that are necessary for success in life. These skills include compensatory or functional academic skills, such as communication modes like braille, orientation and mobility, social interaction, independent living, technology, career education, and recreation and leisure skills.

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