Posts Tagged "accessibility"

5Feb

Report shows support for developing accessibility legislation

by admin

The accessibility consultation summary report shows strong support for government to develop legislation to make B.C. more inclusive and accessible.

The public consultation ran from Sept. 16 to Nov. 29, 2019. The Province heard that people support developing accessibility legislation as outlined in the Framework for Accessibility Legislation.

Nearly 500 people attended one of the 10 community meetings around the province, while 75 independent community consultations were held and over 50 formal submissions were received. Of the 6,352 people who filled out the online questionnaire, 3,776 identify as having a disability. There were more than 23,000 visits to the accessibility engagement website.

The input and feedback heard will help inform the development of new accessibility legislation, which will complement the federal Accessible Canada Act.

Government will continue to engage with persons with disabilities, local governments, Indigenous peoples and key stakeholder groups and organizations in developing future standards and regulations.

Quick Facts:

  • As of 2017, there are more than 926,000 British Columbians over the age of 15 with some form of disability. This represents almost 25% of the population.
  • As the population ages, the number of people with disabilities and the severity of their disabilities are likely to increase.
  • The federal government, Nova Scotia, Quebec, Ontario and Manitoba have accessibility legislation in place.

Learn More:

To view the complete accessibility legislation consultation summary report, visit: https://engage.gov.bc.ca/accessibility/read-the-what-we-heard-report/ 

Translations:

The report will be available at the link above in French, Farsi, Tagalog, Punjabi, traditional Chinese, simplified Chinese, Daisy (Digital Accessible Information System) Format and American sign language (ASL) video. To request a braille copy, email: Accessibility@gov.bc.ca

 

21Jan

Local performing arts festival strives for greater audience accessibility | CBC News

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Organizers of the PuSh International Performing Arts Festival will offer a host of accessibility-related resources and initiatives to ensure people with special needs can still enjoy the performing arts. 

“It basically means that we try to take away some barriers,” Anika Vervecken, PuSh’s accessibility co-ordinator, told Stephen Quinn, the host of CBC’s The Early Edition

The theatre, music and multimedia festival kicked off it’s 16th year on Jan. 21. Performances will run until Feb. 9. 

For deaf audience members, certain performances will feature ASL-interpretation, captions and so-called surtitles. For blind attendees, the festival has worked with VocalEye, a Canadian live descriptive arts service, to develop audio descriptions of some visual-heavy shows.

And then there are “Relaxed Performances” intended to cater to the needs of people who might not feel comfortable at a typical theatre or visual performance. 

For instance, some Relaxed Performances will take place with the house lights on to accommodate those who become distressed by sitting in the dark. Other times, artists may be asked to exclude extreme visual simulation, like strobe lights, that could disturb audience members who suffer from sensor sensitivities. 

In some cases, Relaxed Performances may even include spoilers.

“For somebody with autism, just the experience of going into a new space can be so overwhelming,” said Vervecken. “So, we actually give them a visual story that says everything that’s going to happen.”

People living with Tourette’s and verbal tics or folks who struggle to sit still and would prefer not stay in their chair are all welcome, added Vervecken. 

“That’s all OK,” she said. “I always say the only thing that’s not allowed in a Relaxed Performance is shushing. If you want to do that, then please come to an ‘uptight performance.'”

According to the festival, some of the most accessible performances this year include FRONTERA, Cuckoo and Old Stock: A Refugee Love Story.

PuSh Festival is not the first Vancouver performing arts group to promote greater audience accessibility. The Cultch, Bard on the Beach and the Arts Club Theatre Company have all featured VocalEye, Relaxed Performances and other resources.

But how do the artists feel about adjusting their work or accommodating what would typically be seen as unwanted audience disruptions? Vervecken said the response has been positive.

 “One of the shifts that I’m seeing that I’m really happy about is that people are starting to consider [accessibility] earlier and earlier in their process.”

7Dec

Broadbent pushes B.C. government for justice-based accessibility law

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Shane Simpson, Minister of Social Development and Poverty Reduction, at a community consultation session for new accessibility legislation in Vancouver on Nov. 2, 2019.


Gerry Kahrmann / Postmedia News Files

As the B.C. government develops accessibility legislation, a left-wing think-tank is calling on policy-makers to consider how historical injustices and continuing discrimination have led to a society that still excludes the deaf and disabled.

From Sept. 16 to Nov. 29 of this year, the Ministry of Social Development and Poverty Reduction collected public feedback to help develop the new legislation it says will “guide government, persons with disabilities and the broader community to work together to identify, remove and prevent barriers.”

A framework shows how the legislation could work by including standards for service delivery, employment, information, communication and transportation. Minister Shane Simpson said he wants the legislation tabled in the fall of 2020.

The Broadbent Institute commissioned consultant Gabrielle Peters for its submission, which she said is focused on justice and rectifying decades of oppression and discrimination.

“I wrote this because we’re doing it wrong,” said Peters, a Vancouver writer with chronic health issues who uses a wheelchair.

“We have to change how we think about accessibility. We have to change who we think about in terms of accessibility, in order to start doing it right.”

The Broadbent submission first discusses the historical impacts of colonialism, eugenics, institutionalization and sterilization on deaf and disabled Canadians.

It then looks at how those experiences have led to deaf and disabled people being disproportionately represented among the poor, homeless and as victims of violence. They are excluded from education, employment and public and community life, and face barriers in the health care system, the submission says.

“Nearly half of all Human Rights complaints (49 per cent) in Canada are disability related,” Peters wrote. “Discrimination against disabled people is rampant while simultaneously being almost entirely invisible in the public discourse about discrimination.”

Broadbent makes 16 recommendations it says will help repair that damage, the first being the legislation should consider the phrase “nothing about us without us” by including “deaf and disabled British Columbians” in its name.

“Decisions about what was best for disabled people made by the province’s respected leaders resulted in the worst outcomes and a shameful period in this province’s history,” Peters wrote. “This new legislation must spell out whom it is for and what it is intended to begin to rectify and prevent.”

The second recommendation urges government to write legislation that goes beyond making B.C. “barrier-free,” and works to fight oppression. It recommends that government name ableism as the source of systemic oppression of disabled people and the cause of inaccessibility.

The third recommendation calls for the legislation to be intersectional. This would mean recognizing that class, race, religion, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender identity, and other aspects of a person’s identity and life experience are linked to various other systems of oppression that marginalize disabled people and make parts of B.C. society inaccessible to them.

The full submission can be read at broadbent.ca. Peters said she hopes it shows to readers that accessibility “isn’t a gift” to be handed to deaf and disabled people, but a human right that they’ve been denied.

The submission also features contributions from harm reduction policy specialist Karen Ward and from urban planner Amina Yasin, who write about racism, ableism and the built environment.

Maria Dobrinskaya, B.C. director for Broadbent, said the submission’s justice-based approach could guide other ministries in their approaches to housing policy, municipal bylaws, transit and other issues.

Government may choose not to implement all 16 recommendations, Dobrinskaya said. But she is pleased the submission will reach the desks of Minister Simpson and other policy-makers, adding that “it’s important that it’s on the record.”

“I think it is very broad in its scope,” she said. “I’m hopeful though, that the comprehensive nature of the approach that we took helps to inform more specific focus on policy that the ministry will be looking at.”

The federal government passed Canada’s first national accessibility legislation in May, meant to “identify, remove and prevent” accessibility barriers in areas that fall under federal jurisdiction. Those include built environments, federally run programs and services, banking, telecommunications and transportation that crosses provincial lines.

That legislation, however, doesn’t address barriers within provincial jurisdiction. Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec and Nova Scotia have passed accessibility laws, and Newfoundland and Labrador are developing their own, too.

But B.C. — where more than 926,000 people older than 15 have some form of disability — has lagged behind.

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3Dec

Accessibility consultation hears from thousands of British Columbians

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More than 6,300 people have shared their experiences and feedback on proposed accessibility legislation for B.C.

“I thank everyone who took the time to share their views and experiences,” said Shane Simpson, Minister of Social Development and Poverty Reduction. “We undertook public consultation with the United Nations principle of ‘nothing about us, without us.’ We heard overwhelmingly about the need for accessibility legislation to enhance education and awareness and the importance of creating a culture of inclusion, as well as eliminating barriers for all British Columbians.”

Dec. 3 is also the United Nations’ International Day of Persons with Disabilities. The day was first proclaimed in 1992 to promote the rights and well-being of persons with disabilities and to raise awareness. The UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities was introduced in 2006 and has been ratified by 177 countries, including Canada.

“I am also pleased to celebrate International Day of Persons with Disabilities today,” said Simpson. “As we move forward with accessibility legislation in 2020, it is fitting that this year’s theme is ‘the future is accessible.’ We are committed to making life more affordable and more accessible for all British Columbians.”

The public consultation was held from Sept. 16 to Nov. 29, 2019. Nearly 500 people attended one of the 10 community meetings around the province, while 75 independent community consultations were held and over 50 formal submissions were received. Of the 6,352 people who filled out the online questionnaire, 3,776 identify as having a disability. There were more than 23,000 visits to the accessibility engagement website.

Ministry staff will analyze all the feedback and a summary report is expected to be released early in 2020. Feedback will be used to inform the development of accessibility legislation for B.C., which will build on work by the federal government and other provinces.

Quick Facts:

  • There are more than 926,000 British Columbians over the age of 15 with some form of disability. This represents almost 25% of the population.
  • As the population ages, the number of people with disabilities and the severity of their disabilities are likely to increase.
  • The federal government, Nova Scotia, Quebec, Ontario and Manitoba have accessibility legislation in place.

Learn More:

For more information about accessibility consultation, visit:
https://engage.gov.bc.ca/govtogetherbc/consultation/accessibility-through-legislation/

22Nov

Reminder: have your say on accessibility, inclusion

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Print

Social Development and Poverty Reduction

British Columbia News

Reminder: have your say on accessibility, inclusion

https://news.gov.bc.ca/21075

2Nov

British Columbians pack meeting to help develop accessibility law

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Thousands of disabled British Columbians are contributing ideas for legislation to make the province more accessible, including a large group that packed into a community meeting Saturday in Vancouver.

More than 150 people turned up for the public consultation session at a downtown hotel where Shane Simpson, Minister of Social Development and Poverty Reduction, asked them about the barriers they have experienced, what they think about framework proposed for the legislation, and how his ministry can improve it.

The province’s framework shows how the legislation could work by including standards for service delivery, employment, information and communication, and transportation, according to the document.

At Saturday’s meeting, Olive Olajide and Esther Wien, friends who live in Vancouver, said they came to hear how the legislation is progressing and what barriers it will remove.

Olajide, 78, uses a power wheelchair and said transportation is a major issue for her. She is mostly satisfied with the accessibility of public transit in Vancouver but said newer buses have been “terrible.”

She can’t use her right arm and must rotate her wheelchair to scan her Compass card, so a second scanner left of the door would help. The buses have less space, so she suggested bus drivers be given a pre-recorded announcement to play when a person using a wheelchair needs to board or disembark.

“People get on when you’re trying to get off, everybody has to be first,” she said. “Sometimes I have to fight with people.”

Olajide lamented that many public buildings in the city do not have automatic door openers, including her doctor’s office.

Wiens, 64, said people with invisible disabilities like her tend to be ignored in discussions by government about accessibility.

She suffers illnesses such as fibromyalgia, osteoarthritis and chronic fatigue syndrome, but is not allowed to move into an accessible unit, of which there are far too few in the city, she said.

“People say, ‘Look, you look totally able-bodied, therefore you can handle stairs,’” she said. “I cannot.”

Home-support services for disabled people have also been neglected, Wiens said.

“Right now, they are geared only toward frail, elderly seniors, not physically disabled (people),” she said. “That’s a big oversight, as far as I’m concerned, because we have rights under the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities which are being totally disregarded.”

Bill Conway, from Sechelt, said he even faced barriers in the hotel on his way to the meeting with his guide dog, DA Chief, including hallways packed with trolleys.

Conway said he has visited hotels with elevators which do not have Braille labels on their buttons. Grocery and drug stores have replaced human cashiers with self-checkout machines which have touchscreens he can’t use. Businesses have refused to allow DA Chief to enter, breaking the law.

Strong enforcement is key to making the legislation work, said Conway, who is the 2nd vice-president of the Canadian Council of the Blind’s B.C.-Yukon division.

“The District of Sechelt where I live has adapted an accessibility building code and we are finally getting contractors to recognize it, but to have the government enforce it, that’s the right thing to do,” he said.

B.C.’s framework says the legislation could require an accessibility directorate responsible for overseeing progress and helping organizations comply with the legislation and standards. A standards development board could be responsible for development and revision of the standards. An accessibility commissioner could be responsible for ensuring compliance and enforcement.

Those who fail to comply could face monetary penalties. In Manitoba and Nova Scotia, the maximum fine is $250,000.

The federal government passed Canada’s first national accessibility legislation in May, meant to “identify, remove and prevent” accessibility barriers in areas that fall under federal jurisdiction. Those include built environments, federally run programs and services, banking, telecommunications and transportation that crosses provincial lines.

That legislation, however, doesn’t address barriers within provincial jurisdiction. Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec and Nova Scotia have passed accessibility laws, and Newfoundland and Labrador are developing their own, too.

But B.C. — where more than 926,000 people over the age of 15 have some form of disability — has lagged behind. The government here says the legislation would help it work with disabled people and everyone else to identify, remove and prevent barriers.

Simpson’s ministry began collecting feedback by phone, online and at public meetings on Sept. 16, 2019, to guide the development of the legislation, and will continue to do so until the end of this month.

Simpson, who is attending all 10 community meetings, said his ministry began groundwork on the legislation about a year ago, in anticipation of the federal legislation passing. They’ve received thousands of surveys since consultation began and gained valuable knowledge.

“We’re starting to hear that education probably needs to have a bigger role than we had originally thought,” said Simpson, MLA for Vancouver Hastings.

Businesses and local governments are showing that they will commit to the legislation and want it done right, he said.

“I think that the time is right to make these changes that will create an opportunity for people to have a better life, both in terms of their standard of living but also their opportunity to take advantage of all the things that you and I take advantage of every day, in our day-to-day lives, that aren’t necessarily available to people with disabilities,” Simpson said.

Simpson said he wants the legislation to be tabled in the fall of 2020.

The next in-person community meeting is in Kamloops on Nov. 12. Public consultation is open until 4:00 p.m. on Nov. 29, 2019, and details about providing feedback can be found at engage.gov.bc.ca/accessibility.

— With files from The Canadian Press

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1Nov

Location changed for Nelson conversation on accessibility, inclusion

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The location for the accessibility consultation meeting in Nelson has been changed to the Prestige Lakeside Resort and Convention Centre.

On Thursday, Nov. 14, 2019, Shane Simpson, Minister of Social Development and Poverty Reduction, will host an in-person session for people with disabilities, their friends and families, accessibility advocates and self-advocates, as well as organizations, experts, businesses and individuals to help define what future legislation to make B.C. a more accessible and inclusive province could look like.

The meeting will be held at the Prestige Lakeside Resort and Convention Centre, 701 Lakeside Dr., Nelson, from 5 to 7:30 p.m.

All are welcome to attend, participate and offer feedback about their experiences with accessibility, inclusion, barriers and what matters most in the development of accessibility legislation.

To register for a meeting or to learn more about the proposed legislation, visit: engage.gov.bc.ca/accessibility

People can also provide their feedback through an online questionnaire at the above link until Friday Nov. 29, 2019, at 4 p.m. (Pacific time).

31Oct

Nelson joins the conversation on accessibility, inclusion

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People in Nelson are invited to participate in a consultation meeting to discuss the development of accessibility legislation for British Columbia.

On Thursday, Nov. 14, 2019, Shane Simpson, Minister of Social Development and Poverty Reduction, will host an in-person session for people with disabilities, their friends and families, accessibility advocates and self-advocates, as well as organizations, experts, businesses and individuals to help define what future legislation to make B.C. a more accessible and inclusive province could look like.

The meeting will be held at the Nelson Curling Centre, 302 Cedar St., Nelson, from 5 to 7:30 p.m.

All are welcome to attend, participate and offer feedback about their experiences with accessibility, inclusion, barriers and what matters most in the development of accessibility legislation.

To register for a meeting or to learn more about the proposed legislation, visit: engage.gov.bc.ca/accessibility

People can also provide their feedback through an online questionnaire at the above link until Friday Nov. 29, 2019, at 4 p.m. (Pacific time).

30Oct

Penticton joins the conversation on accessibility, inclusion

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People in Penticton are invited to participate in a consultation meeting to discuss the development of accessibility legislation for British Columbia.

On Wednesday, Nov. 13, 2019, Shane Simpson, Minister of Social Development and Poverty Reduction, will host an in-person session for people with disabilities, their friends and families, accessibility advocates and self-advocates, as well as organizations, experts, businesses and individuals to help define what future legislation to make B.C. a more accessible and inclusive province could look like.

The meeting will be held at Ooknakane Friendship Centre, 146 Ellis St., Penticton, from 6 to 8:30 p.m. All are welcome to attend, participate and offer feedback about their experiences with accessibility, inclusion, barriers and what matters most in the development of accessibility legislation.

To register for a meeting or to learn more about the proposed legislation, visit: engage.gov.bc.ca/accessibility

People can also provide their feedback through an online questionnaire at the above link until Friday, Nov. 29, 2019, at 4 p.m. (Pacific time).

29Oct

Kamloops joins the conversation on accessibility, inclusion

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People in Kamloops are invited to participate in a consultation meeting to discuss the development of accessibility legislation for British Columbia.

On Tuesday, Nov. 12, 2019, Shane Simpson, Minister of Social Development and Poverty Reduction, will host an in-person session for people with disabilities, their friends and families, accessibility advocates and self-advocates, as well as organizations, experts, businesses and individuals to help define what future legislation to make B.C. a more accessible and inclusive province could look like.

The meeting will be held at Lii Michif Otipemisiwak Family and Community Services, 707 Tranquille Rd., Kamloops, from 6 to 8:30 p.m. All are welcome to attend, participate and offer feedback about their experiences with accessibility, inclusion, barriers and what matters most in the development of accessibility legislation.

To register for a meeting or to learn more about the proposed legislation, visit: engage.gov.bc.ca/accessibility

People can also provide their feedback through an online questionnaire at the above link until Friday, Nov. 29, 2019, at 4 p.m. (Pacific time).

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