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September 2011 Activities Report

Date: 
Saturday, September 17, 2011

 

In this month’s Activities Report:

1.    Announcements
2.    Reminders
3.    Updates
4.    Scholarship Call 2011
5.    News Releases
6.    Presentations and Correspondence

6.

1.   ANNOUNCEMENTS

 

a.    ANNUAL MEMBERSHIPS ARE DUE DEC. 31st FOR THE NEXT YEAR. Please renew early to avoid disruption in receiving materials. An annual membership is $5.00 per person per year, or you can join as a lifetime member for a one-time payment of $50.00. You can pay by: PayPal account or credit card by renewing online and completing the online membership form or one of the following:

-       Mail a cheque or money order payable to the Alliance for Equality of Blind Canadians to our Kelowna address (PO Box 20262, RPO Town Center, Kelowna BC, V1Y 9H2);

-       Pay your membership fee to your local chapter, if you are a member of the chapter;

-       Call us at 1-800-561-4774 to pay your membership via credit card over the phone, or

-       Contact us by e-mail.

b.    CCD AWARDS GRANTED DURING ACCESS AWARENESS WEEK 2010: Annually, CCD presents the CCD Award to recognize an outstanding contribution to the Canadian disability rights movement. Each CCD member group nominates a recipient of the award. At CCD's Annual General Meeting, the recipients are publicly recognized. The CCD member groups present the award to the recipients. Congratulations to Donna Jodhan who received an award on behalf of Canadians With Disabilities-Ontario and Robin East on behalf of the AEBC. These awards were presented to the recipients in June 2011. 

c.    AEBC TOLL-FREE LINE: The toll-free line for AEBC is now being answered at the office of your national president, Donna Jodhan. The way this works is that the toll-free number is automatically re-directed to Donna’s business line, and the AEBC pays only for the toll-free service. If you call toll-free line and hear the message indicating you have reached Sterling Creations and the AEBC, it is because the toll-free line has been re-directed to her business line rather than her home phone for privacy reasons.

 

2.   REMINDERS

 

a.    We are constantly updating our database. If you have an email address, please send your name, address, and email address in the body of the email, which will be forwarded to our Program Assistant, Mary. We will then send all future Activities Reports and communication to you by email.

b.    The AEBC continues to recruit members for national committees addressing these issues: (1) website accessibility, (2) access to library services, and (3) access to point-of-sale devices and household products.

If you are interested in joining one of these committees, please contact these following board members:

Website Accessibility:   Cindy Ferguson
Library Services:  Rajesh Malik 
Point of Sale: Amal Haddad  
 

c.     THE CANADIAN BLIND MONITOR is an AEBC news magazine published annually. Its purpose is to raise and discuss issues and topics of interest to blind, deaf-blind, and partially sighted persons as well as the general public. The magazine consists of original and reprinted articles, information about AEBC, and resource information. For more information, call Brenda Cooke at 1-800-561-4774 and leave a message, or email bcooke@blindcanadians.ca.

 

d.    SEEKING YOUR STORY OF SUCCESS: In the fall of 2010, the AEBC published a booklet focusing on what our members considered "success" in their own life. It was about any aspect of life, employment, community involvement, or conquering something important that has made your life better. We are still collecting stories to put into a new edition and posted on the AEBC web page; please submit your story to dsand@shaw.ca.

 

e.    Are you aware of our AEBC members’ listserv? We continue to offer a listserv where AEBC members can receive and discuss information relevant to the AEBC and blindness more generally. If you are not already a member, you can join on our website (www.blindcanadians.ca). If you are a member, and you would like to join our members’ listserv, contact info@blindcanadians.ca.

 

f.      AEBC NEEDS YOUR SUPPORT: As you are aware from our financial reports at the annual general meetings, we have been running a deficit for the past four years. We need your continued financial support, and ask that you consider becoming a regular monthly contributor to AEBC. All donations are tax deductible. For more information on giving options, see http://www.blindcanadians.ca/donations. Together, we can make a real difference, and any amount you can contribute will be highly appreciated and valued.

 

3.   UPDATES

a.    CHARTER CHALLENGE UPDATE:

In July, there were three organizations that sought intervention in the court case Donna Jodhan versus the Attorney General of Canada. These were: the AEBC, the CCD, and the CNIB. To everyone's surprise, only the AEBC was granted intervener's status and we are very proud that our organization has been recognized in this manner. ARCH is representing the interests of the AEBC in this matter.

The hearing dates have just been set for Nov15/16, 2011 in Toronto.

Below you will find the Federal Court's ruling with regard to the seeking of intervener's status for the three organizations.

 

Federal Court of Appeal
Date: 2011-08-11
Docket: A 478-10 Ottawa, Ontario

August 11, 2011

Present: PELLETIER J.A.

 

BETWEEN:

 

ATTORNEY GENERAL OF CANADA

Appellant

 

and

 

DONNA JODHAN

Respondent

 

ORDER

 

WHEREAS the Proposed Intervener Council of Canadians with Disabilities seeks leave to intervene in this appeal in support of the decision rendered by the Federal Court; and

 

WHEREAS the appellant Attorney General of Canada has consented to the granting of intervener status to the Proposed Intervener; and

 

WHEREAS the appellant’s consent is not binding on this Court and

 

WHEREAS the Proposed Intervener justifies its request for intervener status by challenging the position taken by the Attorney General of Canada with respect to the definition of the benefit in issue and the type of evidence needed to prove systemic discrimination; and

 

WHEREAS the respondent's memorandum of fact and law deals with the definition of the benefit in issue and the evidence of systemic discrimination at paragraphs 86 to 109; and

 

WHEREAS the Proposed Intervener has not met the test set out in Canadian Union of Public Employees v. Canadian Airlines International Ltd., [2010) J. PER. 226, in that the issues which it proposes to raise have been adequately canvassed by the respondent, and it has not shown that the interests of justice will be better served by its intervention;

 

NOW THEREFORE the motion for an order granting Council of Canadians with Disabilities intervener status is dismissed without costs

 

“JD. Denis Pelletier"

JA

 

Federal Court of Appeal

 

Date: 2011-08-11

Docket: A-478-Ottawa, Ontario

August 11, 2011

Present: PELLETIER J.A.

 

BETWEEN:

 

ATTORNEY GENERAL OF CANADA

Appellant

 

and

 

DONNA JODHAN

Respondent

 

ORDER

 

WHEREAS the Proposed Intervener Alliance for Equality of Blind Canadians seeks leave to intervene in this appeal in support of the decision rendered by the Federal Court; and

 

WHEREAS the appellant Attorney General of Canada has consented to the granting of intervener status to the Proposed Intervener; and

 

WHEREAS the Proposed Intervener proposes to address four issues, three of which have not been canvassed by the respondent, and whose analysis may assist the Court in disposing of the appeal, namely, that the guarantee of equality rights under subsection 15(1) of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms (the Charter) cannot be conflated with justifications of government that are to be considered under section 1 of the Charter; that the proper test for equality is the test set out in Andrews v, Law Society, [1989] 1 S,C.R, 143, and that the failure to implement accessible websites constitutes a breach of Canada's obligations under the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Persons with Disabilities as well as the principles of Universal Design; and

 

WHEREAS the interests of justice will be better served by the intervention of the Proposed Intervener,

 

NOW THEREFORE IT IS HEREBY ORDERED THAT:

 

I) the Alliance for Equality of Blind Canadians is granted intervener status in this appeal on the following conditions:

a) that the Alliance accepts the Appeal Book as the full record in this appeal and will not introduce nor seek to rely upon any new evidence, and will not add to its books of authorities any material such as government reports that are effectively new evidence (this condition is not intended to apply to the "travaux préparatoires" for the United Nations Convention for the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, to be considered as law rather than evidence);

 

b) that the Alliance will confine its submissions to the following three points of argument, namely that:

i) section 15(1) of the Charter is a stand-alone test;

ii) the proper test for equality is set out in Andrews v, Law Society;

iii) barriers to online access are a violation of international law, but with these submission limited to the United Nations Convention for the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

 

c) that the Alliance will serve and file a memorandum of fact and law which does not repeat or restate any of the points of argument contained in the memoranda of the existing parties to this appeal and that does not exceed 15 pages in length;

 

d) that the Alliance's memorandum of fact and law is to be served and filed by September 14, 2011;

 

e) that the length of the oral submissions of the Alliance shall not exceed 45 minutes, or such other period as may be allowed by the panel hearing the appeal; and

 

f) that the Alliance may not seek costs for its intervention in this appeal against the appellant, the Attorney General of Canada, and the appellant, in turn, may not seek costs against the Alliance unless it fails to respect these conditions.

2) THIS COURT ORDERS that the style of cause is amended as follows: BETWEEN:

 

ATTORNEY GENERAL OF CANADA

Appellant

 

and

 

DONNA JODHAN

Respondent

 

and

 

ALLIANCE FOR EQUALITY OF BLIND CANADIANS

Intervener

 

3) THIS COURT ORDERS that the Alliance is to be served with the necessary documents to participate in this appeal by each of the parties. The appellant is allowed to serve the Alliance with the 27 volume Appeal Book by means of a CD-ROM disk, as filed with the Cowl pursuant to the Order of Justice Evans dated March 25, 2011,

 

4) THIS COURT ORDERS that the appellant shall serve and file its responding memorandum of fact and law to that of the Alliance within 20 days of receipt of the Alliance's memorandum of fact and law which shall be limited to 15 pages.

 

"J.D. Denis Pelletier"

J.A

 

Federal Court of Appeal

Date: 2011-08-11

Docket: A-478-10 Ottawa, Ontario, August 11, 2011

Present: PELLETIER IA.

 

BETWEEN:

 

ATTORNEY GENERAL OF CANADA

Appellant

 

and

 

DONNA JODHAN

Respondent

 

ORDER

 

WHEREAS the Proposed Intervener the Canadian National Institute for the Blind seeks leave to intervene in this appeal in support of the decision rendered by the Federal Court; and

 

WHEREAS the appellant Attorney General of Canada has consented to the granting of intervener status to the Proposed Intervener; and

 

WHEREAS the appellant's consent is not binding on this Court; and

 

WHEREAS the Proposed Intervener has identified that its members have an interest in the outcome of the appeal, it has not identified any legal issue on which it proposes to offer a perspective which has not been canvassed by the respondent and which would be of assistance to the Court in disposing of the appeal; and

 

WHEREAS a mere interest in the outcome of an appeal is not a sufficient ground to grant a person intervener status;

 

NOW THEREFORE the motion for an order granting the Canadian National Institute for the Blind intervener status is dismissed without costs,

 

"J.D, Denis Pelletier"

 

b.    LIBRARY SERVICE UPDATE:In response to the great interest and immense passion shown by members with regard to the present state of library services in Canada as they pertain to the blind, partially sighted, and deaf/blind, the AEBC and the CWDO have teamed up to give you an opportunity to have your voices heard in a town hall style meeting on October 29. We feel that this would be an excellent opportunity for you to ask questions and make comments to John Rafferty of the CNIB. This meeting is opened to everyone and details of the invitation are as follows:

 

You are cordially Invited to a Town Hall Meeting with John Rafferty, CEO of the CNIB

Topic: Library Services in Canada

Purpose: to ask questions of, and provide input to, the CNIB on how best to move forward on issues pertaining to the future of library services for blind, partially sighted, and deaf/blind Canadians.

 

When: October 29 2011

Time: 1:00 pm Eastern Standard Time or 10:00 am Pacific Time

 

Location:

365 Bloor Street East, Suite 902, Toronto

The closest subway is at Bloor and Sherbourne

 

How Can I Participate?

-       By teleconference:

-       By phoning in:

-       In Person:

 

Please RSVP to melanie.moore@cilt.ca no later than October 01 Indicating your name, email address, and preferred format for background documents (MS word, text, or Braille)

 

Please also let us know how you would prefer to access the meeting so that we can send you the relevant Internet access instructions if you choose to attend via our conferencing system on the Internet, or the phone in number if you choose to attend via phone.

 

There will be two sessions held on this date.

Session one will be for those who wish to attend in person and for those who prefer to phone in. Session two will be for those who wish to access the meeting via the Internet.

 

We would need to be able to determine the number of participants and their preferences so that we can make adequate arrangements to accommodate everyone.

 

If you have any questions or concerns then please send your queries to Melanie Moore at Melanie.moore@cilt.ca or to me at djodhan@blindcanadians.ca.

 

Thank you!

 

The AEBC and CWDO believe that this may be the best opportunity that we can create for you to have your voices heard. You are the stakeholders and rights holders and it is all up to you to help make something positive happen. We are all advocating for positive change.

 

Thank you!

 

Donna J.

Your National President

 

c.     POINT OF SALE DEVICES - PIN AND CARD:The new AEBC contact for this initiative is Amal Haddad, who may be reached by email at: amal.haddad@rogers.com.

 

 

4.   SCHOLARSHIP CALL 2011

 

The AEBC submitted its 2011 Scholarship Call to all post-secondary institutions across Canada in early June. 

See http://www.blindcanadians.ca/news/announcements/2011-06-2011-scholarship-call for full scholarship program details.

 

5.   NEWS RELEASES

There have been no news releases since the last Activities Report.

 

6.   PRESENTATIONS AND CORRESPONDENCE

 

1. Broadcasting & Telcom Notice of Consultation - CRTC 2011-344

A brief was submitted to the CRTC on June 27th in response to Notice of Consultation 2011-344. Read our brief at http://www.blindcanadians.ca/publications/briefs/2011-brief-crtc2011-344.

 

 

 

2. Touchscreen Use at McDonald's Restaurants

 

This letter was sent to McDonalds on July 5, 2011. The details of that communication may be found below. Since sending this communication, Donna Jodhan has received a phone response from McDonalds’ Customer Service Department in Vancouver advising that McDonalds has no intention of introducing these touch screens for the immediate future.

 

As president of the Alliance for Equality of Blind Canadians (AEBC), a national organization of rights holders who are blind, deaf-blind and partially sighted, I am writing to you regarding an article entitled, "McDonald's Replaces Cashiers with Touch-Screens" (reproduced below) which greatly concerns us and our independence to order food at McDonalds.

The issue of touch screens is becoming an issue of increasing concern to members of our community, as so many of them are not usable independently by blind, deaf-blind and partially sighted individuals.

We would like to know if McDonalds has plans to introduce touch screens into its Canadian operations and, if so, will these touch screens be usable independently by blind patrons, i.e. will they provide speech output.

Accessibility is mandated by both the Ontario Human Rights Commission and the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act.

We look forward to hearing back from you in the near future.

Sincerely,
Donna Jodhan
President

 

McDonald's Replaces Cashiers with Touch-Screens
European restaurants test self-checkout model

By Cynthia Wilson

Investor Place May 16, 2011

McDonald's (NYSE: MCD) is trying to make fast food even faster. The Financial Times reports that the worlds' largest fast food chain plans to replace many of the cashiers at its 7,000 European restaurants with touch screen terminals that allow customers to order and pay electronically. The move at McDonald's is similar to what many consumers experience in supermarkets, retailers and gasoline stations that have opted for self-checkout to save on labor costs. McDonald's says the move is about making its restaurants there more convenient and efficient - it's also clearly about keeping down costs. If the move proves successful, you can bet competitors like Wendy's/Arby's (NYSE:WEN) and Yum! Brands (NYSE:YUM) restaurants KFC and Taco Bell will be taking notice.

The decision is being driven by margin concerns. McDonald's is still growing sales, reporting a 5.7% increase in FY1Q11 in Europe (where the cashier-free order system is being tested) compared to the year ago period. But margins are being eaten up by higher commodity costs - beef and dairy in particular.

Also, consumers everywhere are struggling to pay bills under the weight of rising gasoline and food prices and a Big Mac or McCafe coffee is quickly becoming an expense many cannot afford as often as they may once have. That may be even more the case now that McDonald's has said it will raise menu prices to cover rising food costs. Eliminating cashiers may help McDonald's stabilize menu prices, or even cut some to help lure customers to its restaurants. It's not like most of McDonalds' customers don't know what they want when they come in to order.

By adopting a swipe and go payment system, McDonalds also can gather more information about its customers, such as their ordering habits and what menu items sell best to a particular demographic. However, some customers may not like it or not have credit or debit cards. Likewise, some may sympathize with the cashiers who lose their jobs. Many customers at stores from grocer Safeway (NYSE:SWY) to big box giant Wal-Mart (NYSE: WMT) have gotten used to checking themselves out - and considering the relatively small menu at McDonald's compared to the produce section at a supermarket, they may not find the self-check-out kiosks hard to use at all.

But while the ordering experience may not change, the labor market could feel an impact. During the Great Recession many consumers had to turn to McDonalds - one of the few employers still hiring - for employment. McDonald's itself recently held a "national hiring day" to fill 50,000 jobs company-wide. There may be some risk in rolling out a cashier-free system after touting the restaurant's footprint as an employer. What's more, if there are not enough accessible employees around to complain about when folks use the self-checkout for the first time, that could really give customers the impression McDonald's is just looking to cut corners to squeeze out a few more euros.

McDonalds didn't mention any immediate plans to make touch screen ordering and payment more widespread in the United States. But if it's successful in Europe, it won't be long before the U.S. consumers find themselves reading or talking to a screen.

As of this writing, Cynthia Wilson did not own a position in any of the stocks named here.

Source: http://www.investorplace.com/41160/mcdonalds-nyse-mcd-touch-screen-menu-ordering/

 

3.    CNIB SURVEY

Earlier this summer, The AEBC was asked by Bill McKeown of the CNIB to complete their advocacy survey and our responses to their questions are below.

 

a)Does your organization provide vision rehabilitation service, advocacy, or both?

*** Advocacy.

 

b)If your organization primarily provides vision rehabilitation service, what is your relationship with organizations whose primary mandate is to advocate on behalf of blind and partially sighted people? How often do you meet?

*** N/A

 

c)If your organization primarily provides advocacy, what is your relationship with organizations whose primary mandate is to provide vision rehabilitation service to blind and partially sighted people? How often do you meet?

*** We collaborate with other organizations on an as needed basis.

 

d)Do you have written policies or procedures with respect to your organization's role in advocacy? If so, please provide me with a copy.

*** We have several resolutions on our website at www.blindcanadians.ca under governance.

 

e)Does your organization have a funding arrangement with a vision rehabilitation service organization or with an advocacy organization? If yes, please describe.

*** No.

 

f)Does your organization have distinct roles for government relations (lobbying for funding or organization supports) and advocacy (lobbying for social policy change and human rights) or are these functions performed by the same staff/volunteers?

*** These functions are performed by the same volunteers.

 

g)What are the annual budgets for your organization's government relations, advocacy, and vision rehabilitation service programs, as well as your organizational budget as a whole?

*** We do not have any fixed budgets.

 

h)Does your organization have a policy/bylaw that states your CEO and/or Board Chair must be a blind or partially sighted person? If so, please provide me with a copy.

*** Our bylaw states that all members of our board must be blind.

 

i)Does your organization believe that having a blind or partially sighted person as the CEO and/or Board Chair impacts on your organization's credibility when advocating?

*** As a member driven organization that represents blind, partially sighted, and deaf/blind rights holders, we believe that when it comes to such things as advocacy, discrimination, and barriers to accessibility, the interests of our members are best represented by a board and Chair that are of the same persuasion. We work to create an environment of equal opportunity and equal participation in Canadian society. For who else can better understand the concerns of our members than we ourselves? 

 

j)When presenting to government for changes in social policy or funding what role do blind and partially sighted people play?

*** The leading role is almost always taken by an individual who is blind, partially sighted, or deaf/blind.

 

k)Please list three areas where your organization has had success with advocacy. If you worked with a partner organization please include their name. 

*** The AEBC is extremely proud that despite not having had the backing of funding from either government or other organizations, it has managed to achieve several major accomplishments over its 20 year history. Some of these include:

-        The AEBC played a leading role in helping to bring about the creation of a non-drivers driver's license in Ontario.

-        The securing of adequate space for guide dogs on domestic flights. 

-        The granting of intervener's status in the landmark case of Jodhan versus the Government of Canada with regard to website accessibility.

 

4.    ACCESS TO WEBSITES

In July, the CCD asked Donna Jodhan to submit a document concerning access to websites for a new booklet they plan to publish. Please find the text of the request below.

Memo: Seeking Your Help with a New CCD Publication
Date: 5 July 2011


CCD is planning to publish a booklet which will be a collection of personal reflections on the accomplishments which have been achieved over the last 30 years by the disability rights movement. CCD will be distributing this booklet at End Exclusion and it will also be published on the CCD web site. End Exclusion has become a yearly gathering of the disability community where we celebrate achievements and examine new initiatives.

CCD has brainstormed a list of accomplishments to give people some ideas of possible topics to write about. Please see CCD’s flyer calling for submissions.

I am writing to you to invite you to submit a piece to this forthcoming publication. CCD is also making a public call for submissions.

Due to your long involvement with CCD and the disability community, there is undoubtedly any number of topics that you could address. I was hoping that you would be willing to take responsibility for writing a one-page piece on access to web sites. Of course, you may have another topic that you wish to write about for this publication and I would be appreciative of any submission that you choose to share with CCD for publication. I hope that you will take the time over the summer to make a contribution to this booklet which will be a significant part of our End Exclusion 2011 program.

The attached flyer provides some suggestions of questions that you might want to address in your piece.

The deadline for submissions is 15 September 2011. This deadline has been established to give CCD sufficient time to translate and print the booklet.

Below is Donna Jodhan’s submission to the CCD on August 28, 2011.

Access to Websites: The Golden Key to Communicating

It can easily be said that access to websites has and continues to be one of the most important keys to communications on the Internet and as the technological landscape continues to evolve, it is only reasonable to expect that blind and partially sighted persons would want to be and remain a part of this world.

We are living in an information society and a knowledge based economy and the importance of accessible websites is becoming more vital because of the need to be able to access and respond to information on a timely basis. Websites give us the opportunity to do such things as: Request and respond to information, complete online forms and applications, go online shopping, do our online banking, plus much more.

It is one thing to have websites where we can do all of this but it is quite another if these websites are not accessible. Accessible websites benefits everyone; from the mainstream person to the one who is afflicted with a disability that would range from being blind or partially sighted, to the one that is print disabled, and to the one who has either a physical or learning disability.

What makes a website accessible? In a nutshell; an accessible website is one that gives the visitor the opportunity to find whatever they seek in relatively quick time and they can do this easily and without having to ask for assistance.

What can we do as a community to ensure that more websites are made accessible to all persons? We can lobby our Federal Government to take the lead by mandating all companies that provide services to make their websites fully accessible. The Federal Government needs to lead by example. We can work to create awareness among IT professionals re the benefits of designing and developing accessible websites and we can help the mainstream person to understand how accessible websites can help to improve communication and why inaccessible websites can be a definite drawback to everyone’s ability to communicate effectively.

Accessible websites are the bridges to our online world and without them we are lost. We need them if we have any hope of being able to keep up with technology and information on a daily basis. They are our life line to a world in which the Internet dominates and will continue to do so for way past our time. We need to keep all of this in mind as we continue our efforts to lobby for greater access to more websites.

We have come a long way with regard to raising awareness but there is much more for us to do. We need to keep up and increase the pressure for more websites to be made accessible. Electronic communication has made it possible for us to play a more significant role; much more than say a decade ago. Let us not waste our efforts.

5.    STRENTHENING SOCIAL ASSISTANCE IN ONTARIO

The AEBC submitted a brief to the Commission for the Review of Social Assistance in Ontario on August 31st, which is available at http://www.blindcanadians.ca/publications/briefs/2011-strengthening-social-assistance-ontario.

 

END of September 2011 Activity Report

           

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