Posts Tagged "accessibility"

16Jul

Advocating for better accessibility in Montreal | Watch News Videos Online

by admin


People living with disabilities say very little thought is given to making public and private spaces accessible. On Thursday, Global News reported on a man who was denied a permit to install a mechanical lift at his home for a wheelchair. As Phil Carpenter explains, advocates say the provincial law needs to be stronger.

15Jul

Montreal man hits brick wall in fight for accessibility | Watch News Videos Online

by admin


A 63-year-old Rosemont man is fighting with the borough in a bid to maintain his autonomy. Claude Varin has been living with Multiple Sclerosis for 15 years and needs the help of an electric wheelchair to get around. The borough, however, won’t let Varin install a mechanical lift outside his apartment, saying the “architectural qualities”…

4Jun

Halifax research group creates app to help break barriers for those living with disabilities

by admin

A research group in Halifax is trying to make the city more inclusive to residents and visitors.

PEACH Research works to promote equity, accessibility and health in urban design and planning practices. It’s part of Dalhousie University’s school of planning and consists of faculty members, students and partners developing and executing projects to help design a better place for Haligonians to live, work and play.

One of those partners is Halifax-based non-profit reachAbility. It provides support and accessible programs to individuals facing barriers to inclusion and community participation. Each year, it hosts National AccessAbility Week (NAAW) to celebrate and recognize contributions made by people living with disabilities.

“Everyone in Nova Scotia and in Canada will have had, has or will have a disability,” says Tova Sherman, CEO and co-founder of reachAbility.

“Let’s find a reason to celebrate inclusion and the incredible things that people with disabilities achieve every single day in their workplace, in their lives, with their families and with their children.”

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Read more:
Halifax-based non-profit goes digital for week-long conference on accessibility and inclusion

During NAAW, the two groups hosted a virtual event on how to build a more accessible city. CANdid Access and Research for an Accessible Environment was hosted by Melanie Goodridge, pre-employment support navigator for reachAbility, and PEACH researchers Kate Clarke and Katherine Deturbide. The panel covered accessibility standards and barriers faced in the built environment, and highlighted their latest app, the CANdid Access web map.

The app allows users to share and access photos and information about the accessibility in their community.

“Take a picture of something that’s accessible/inaccessible,” Goodridge explains. “Then you give a little blurb on why and then it’s uploaded and put onto a map.”

The photos and information submitted by users of CANdid are added to the access map and can help those living with disabilities to navigate – or even avoid – certain parts of the city. Unmarked crosswalks, paved park pathways, construction zones and sidewalk conditions are some examples of what users may find on CANdid.

“It’s just a really great way to show features that are accessible versus features that are inaccessible,” says Goodridge. “You get a visual of how we can make it better and how we can change to meet the standards by 2030 of the Accessibility Act for Nova Scotia.”

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The Accessibility Act, passed in 2017, plans to improve standards for public buildings, streets, sidewalks, shared spaces and education. The standards are expected to roll out in 2022.

Read more:
Nova Scotia announces plans to support accessibility law passed in 2017

The hope is that the information collected through CANdid will one day land on the desks of provincial government officials who can make a difference.

“Nova Scotia does have some big targets to reach by 2030,” says Goodridge. “A lot of the work that the folks are doing at PEACH Research is a great way to start and an easy way for all of us to understand and digest what needs to happen so that moving forward, we can engage in our government, we can engage on a local level to see those changes being made.”

NAAW runs from May 30 to June 5. It is free and open to everyone and is available to access any time through the reachAbility website.  CANdid Access and Research for an Accessible Environment is available to watch through the reachAbility YouTube channel.




© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

28May

Letters to The Sun, May 29, 2021: Accessibility legislation opens doors

by admin

Accessibility legislation opens doors

Article content

Re: Proposed B.C. accessibility legislation falls short

On April 28, I was honoured to introduce Bill-6, the Accessible British Columbia Act. This bill marks an important step in building an inclusive province that works for all of us.

Bill-6 was informed by extensive consultation with over 7,000 people with disabilities, disability serving organizations, and the broader public. Our Accessibility Legislation Advisory Committee also helped ensure this bill reflects the diversity of the disability community. It has received broad support from all political parties and was celebrated by people with disabilities and disability advocates across the province.

Bill-6 provides a solid foundation to create new accessibility standards and regulations in such areas as employment, the built environment, and transportation. These standards and regulations will be created with the advice of a provincial accessibility committee. At least half of the committee’s members must be persons with disabilities or represent a disability-serving organization, and the committee will include Indigenous representation.

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While the initial focus will be on education to effect change, the bill contains effective compliance and enforcement provisions, including monetary penalties of up to $250,000.

At first, Bill-6 will apply only to government. This will allow us to build momentum, share lessons learned, and ensure that private- and public-sector organizations are supported to follow the regulations once prescribed.

We’ve committed to releasing annual reports outlining the progress made to eliminate barriers. In addition, independent progress reviews will occur at the five- and 10-year mark, and every 10 years after that.

Bringing Bill-6 into law signifies our government’s commitment to building an inclusive province, but there is more to do. In the months ahead, I look forward to continuing to work closely with the disability community to advance our work to build a barrier-free B.C.

Nicholas Simons, minister of social development and poverty reduction

B.C. behind in offering life-saving cancer therapy

In the last month, Alberta became the third province, along with Ontario and Quebec, offering a cure for lymphoma, called CAR T-cell therapy.

Lymphoma is the fifth-most common cancer in Canada, and is the leading cancer in teenagers and young adults. Close to 27,000 people are diagnosed with cancer each year in B.C., and more than 4,000 die from it.

My husband was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma in 2013. I reached out to Lymphoma Canada at the time and was told that we were lucky to be living in B.C. — that the province was a leader in treating lymphoma, and in funding access to treatments.

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The same could not be said today.

CAR T-cell therapy was approved for use in Canada in 2018. Despite an election promise to improve cancer care, there was absolutely no mention of cancer in this year’s budget. B.C. continues to deny this province’s lymphoma patients access to this revolutionary treatment here at home, and now trails behind several other provinces.

The new CAR T-cell therapy program in Alberta is for their residents only. So, in the middle of the pandemic, B.C. will fund sending patients to Seattle instead. This is not a reasonable option.

CAR-T treatment takes several trips and many weeks to administer. Travel, food and accommodation costs are not covered by the province, and a caregiver must go with them. And then there’s the fear of contracting COVID, loss of support, and family disruption. Few people have the means, health or support to make it happen. It needs to be accessible at home.

To Health Minister Adrian Dix, you committed to a cancer plan. There has never been a more important time to make the plan a reality for the people who really matter — the people of B.C. who are living with this deadly disease today.

Sharlene Smith, past chair of the board of Lymphoma Canada.

Shot, jab, or tap?

The terms “jab” and “shot” imply pain and even violence, which, I can understand, might result in some people hesitating to receive their vaccine inoculation. Why not replace those terms with “tap,” which is more accurate as the sensation, for most, feels like a light tap for a moment. “Tap” could also lead to the formation of all kinds of encouraging slogans such as : “Get tapped today”, “Be tapped in to an opening future”, “I’m on top of my tap, are you?

Also, instead of showing people while they are being inoculated, which has become trite and boring, show happy, smiling faces afterwards, or show scenes of what the future may hold after enough people are tapped and cases decline.

Theresa Reilkoff, White Rock 


Letters to the editor should be sent to sunletters@vancouversun.com

CLICK HERE to report a typo.

Is there more to this story? We’d like to hear from you about this or any other stories you think we should know about. Email vantips@postmedia.com

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19May

Andrew Robb and Isabel Grant: Proposed B.C. accessibility legislation falls short

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Opinion: Under Bill 6, accessibility standards may only apply to provincial government offices and services.  The government will not be required to extend these standards to stores or businesses, or the non-profit sector

Article content

The COVID 19 pandemic has laid bare the barriers and inequalities facing people with disabilities across all sectors of society. It is beyond time for B.C. to fulfil a long-standing promise to introduce an accessibility law to create a framework for the development of standards provincewide.

However, Bill 6, the proposed Accessible British Columbia Act introduced in April, has disappointed the disability community.

Bill 6 would allow the government to create accessibility standards — rules that governments and other organizations must follow — in order to remove and prevent barriers to accessibility, including policies and practices, attitudes, environments, or almost anything else that makes it difficult for people with disabilities to participate equally in society.

For example, Ontario’s accessibility standards require employers to create individual accommodation plans for employees with disabilities, and account for accessibility needs when evaluating potential or current employees. They also require transportation and indoor and outdoor spaces to be more accessible, including requirements for ramps, depressed curbs, accessible parking, and paths to playgrounds, beaches, trails, and other amenities.

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Bill 6 is, in many important ways, weaker than other Canadian accessibility laws such as those in Ontario, Manitoba, and Nova Scotia because of its limited application, its lack of timelines, and its weak enforcement processes. B.C. should pause the planned legislation and listen to the concerns of people with disabilities, and the organizations that represent them.

Under Bill 6, accessibility standards may only apply to provincial government offices and services. The government will not be required to extend these standards to stores or businesses, or the non-profit sector.

Other Canadian accessibility laws are mandatory in both the public and private sectors. Laws may give some sectors more time to implement accessibility standards, but they will eventually be applied to all employers, businesses, and service-providers.

Under Bill 6, the government may decide to make private sector or other organizations create accessibility plans, but is not required to do so. Even if the government makes private sector organizations create accessibility plans, the bill would allow future governments to reverse this decision by simply changing the regulations.

Real accessibility for people with disabilities requires an unequivocal commitment. Standards should not be subject to the shifting priorities of changing governments.

Bill 6 includes no deadline or timeline for the creation of accessibility standards or the elimination of barriers. Other Canadian accessibility laws include specific timelines that bind future governments to live up to that commitment.

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Timelines are important for accountability. Without a timeline, it is difficult to measure progress and to hold the government accountable. Independent reviews can also ensure accountability. But Bill 6 calls for reviews of the government’s progress only once every 10 years. By contrast, Ontario’s accessibility law calls for reviews every three years. Ten-year intervals could allow governments to abdicate their responsibility without accountability.

The biggest problem with Bill 6 is its lack of enforcement. There is no complaint mechanism requiring the government to respond to violations of standards. Impacted individuals may complain to the organization responsible for the violation, but there is no process for independent investigation. The government may hire inspectors to monitor compliance with accessibility standards, but without a complaint mechanism, how will inspectors know what to inspect?

The federal government’s Accessible Canada Act creates a commissioner to independently investigate complaints. The Accessibility Commissioner has the power to compel changes and, in some cases, to make organizations pay compensation to complainants. The British Columbia government had promised B.C.’s accessibility law would be modelled on the federal law, but B.C.’s enforcement provisions are far weaker. Without a more effective way to enforce compliance, Bill 6 may end up as little more than an aspirational statement of principles.

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The introduction of an accessibility law should have been a landmark day for people with disabilities in B.C. The enactment of such legislation is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to make a meaningful difference in the lives of thousands of British Columbians. But once legislation is enacted, it is very difficult to change.

The government needs to pause the legislative process and consult with people with disabilities, and the organizations that represent them, about ways to improve this Bill. We have waited a long time for this legislation but we would rather wait a bit longer and get it done right.

Andrew Robb is a staff lawyer at Disability Alliance B.C. Isabel Grant is a professor at the Peter A. Allard School of Law, at UBC.


Letters to the editor should be sent to sunletters@vancouversun.com. The editorial pages editor is Hardip Johal, who can be reached at hjohal@postmedia.com.

CLICK HERE to report a typo.

Is there more to this story? We’d like to hear from you about this or any other stories you think we should know about. Email vantips@postmedia.com.

Comments

Postmedia is committed to maintaining a lively but civil forum for discussion and encourage all readers to share their views on our articles. Comments may take up to an hour for moderation before appearing on the site. We ask you to keep your comments relevant and respectful. We have enabled email notifications—you will now receive an email if you receive a reply to your comment, there is an update to a comment thread you follow or if a user you follow comments. Visit our Community Guidelines for more information and details on how to adjust your email settings.

19May

Changes at Parlee Beach means improved access for people with disabilities

by admin

New Brunswick’s largest beach will once again be open to the public starting Friday and visitors to Parlee Beach Provincial Park will notice some changes that include improved access for those with disabilities.

“We have been lobbying for years now to make the entire province accessible,” said Mathieu Stever, the manager of the ParaNB program with Ability New Brunswick

The provincial park is getting a $2-million facelift in advance of its second season in operation amid the pandemic. According to the province, funding for the upgrades is being applied from the capital improvement budgets from 2020 to 2022.

Read more:
New Brunswick mom says son’s human rights have been violated, hires lawyer

The work includes upgrades to roads, entrances, the canteen, restaurant bar and patio area as well as improved access to the beach, according to the park’s manager, Michel Mallet, who said they partnered with Ability NB on the project starting in 2019.

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“We call it a comfort station, which is basically an accessible washroom and accessible charging room and shower outside,” said Mallet.

Improved sidewalks and beach-friendly wheelchairs will also be available for visitors, said Mallet.

He said an accessible playground is also being installed in the coming weeks. The hope is to have the upgrades ready by the end of the school year, he said.


Click to play video: 'Program helping Moncton youth with disabilities find work'







Program helping Moncton youth with disabilities find work


Program helping Moncton youth with disabilities find work – Mar 18, 2021

“I think it is great having Parlee Beach set the example of how you can renovate the beach and make it accessible for everyone because our motto is that everyone plays,” said Stever.

Stever said he hopes the initiative will encourage other provincial parks in the province to do similar upgrades.

“It is everyone’s right to be able to access all recreation activities in the province”, he said.

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Parlee Beach opens on Friday with COVID-19 protocols similar to last year, said Mallet.

All washrooms and changing rooms, even the accessible ones, will remain closed for now, he said.

Access to the provincial beach for vacationers from outside of the province will also depend on the loosening of COVID-19 restrictions.





© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

13May

Disability Alliance B.C. worried pending accessibility legislation lacks teeth | CBC News

by admin

A bill aimed at improving the lives of British Columbians with disabilities is before lawmakers in Victoria this week but a provincial advocacy group is calling on the government to pause the process and consult some more with the individuals it will effect.

The Accessible British Columbia Act, also known as Bill 6, is currently scheduled for a second reading in the the B.C. Legislative Assembly. If passed, it will remove barriers and create accessibility standards throughout the province, which according to the B.C. government, would help 900,000 British Columbians.

But Disability Alliance B.C. is speaking out against the act, saying that it’s weaker than legislation in other parts of the country, and that crucial aspects of promoting accessibility have been left out of the bill.

“This bill, compared to some others across the country, doesn’t seem to have many teeth,” said Andrew Robb, staff lawyer for the organization.

No enforcement, no timeline

Robb, speaking Thursday on CBC’s The Early Edition, said the alliance has sent letters to every B.C MLA outlining its concerns, which include no timeline for creating and implementing accessibility standards and no enforcement mechanism to make sure they are being followed.

Individuals who feel a business or organization has not met accessibility standards will only be able to complain to the violator, as the bill in its current form has no formal complaint process, according to Robb.

“I’m worried that without some mechanism to enforce compliance, Bill 6 may end up as not much more than a statement of principles,” he said.

Robb said similar legislation in Ontario, Manitoba and Nova Scotia is more comprehensive, as is the national Accessible Canada Act.

According to Robb, the national act is reviewed every three years and the plan in B.C. is to check in every decade. This 10-year time frame, he said, could allow multiple governments to come and go without accountability.

The alliance is asking the province to pause the legislative process for Bill 6 and consult further with groups and individuals representative of the lives it is intended to improve.

“This is a once in a generation opportunity … but once the law is passed, it is very difficult to change,” said Robb.

The Early Edition8:29Why some advocates are speaking out against the Accessible BC Act

Andrew Robb speaks with Stephen Quinn about how the province’s new legislation falls short. 8:29

12May

How B.C.’s accessibility act will change life for the deaf, hard of hearing community | CBC News

by admin

This week, a new piece of legislation in B.C. aimed at improving accessibility for those with disabilities will go through a second reading.

If passed, the accessible British Columbia Act will remove barriers and create accessibility standards throughout the province, which according to the B.C. government, would help 900,000 British Columbians.

Lisa Anderson, who is part of the B.C. Deaf Accessibility Caucus and helped work on the legislation, said the deaf community doesn’t identify as disabled, but would like to be recognized as a cultural linguistic group. 

“We don’t refer to ourselves as people with a disability, but people with a specific linguistic and cultural identity,” she told All Points West host Kathryn Marlow, with the help of an American Sign Language interpreter. 

Accessibility, Anderson said, means having interpretation services to allow for communication. 

Anderson, 50, was born deaf. To illustrate her case, she points to a situation that arose when she was 18 years old, after she broke her teeth in a skiing accident. She had to go to several dental appointments, none of which made an interpreter available. As a result, she says she was unaware of her dental issues and other factors that affected her well-being.

“For mental health and for health, access to interpretation is absolutely essential,” she explained.

Pandemic shines light on challenges

The COVID-19 pandemic has shone a light on some of the challenges faced by the deaf, deaf and blind, and hard of hearing community, particularly when it comes to wearing masks and trying to communicate through plexiglass.

Sign language interpreter Kristi Falconer hopes that will encourage lawmakers to push the legislation through.

“What it has done is allowed people to, if you will, sort of have a slight moment of immersion into the barriers that many hard of hearing and deaf individuals have every day,” said Falconer, who is also the manager of communication services at Island Deaf and Hard of Hearing Centre. 

ASL interpreter Nigel Howard, right, is seen at a coronavirus press conference alongside B.C.’s Provincial Medical Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Adrian Dix, the province’s health minister, on March 17, 2020. (CPAC)

Seeing interpreters as part of COVID-19 briefings has also made people more aware of those communication barriers, Falconer said, adding that making interpretation services commonplace is key in creating inclusion.

‘Scarce’ employment opportunities

Until recently, Anderson was living and working in Ottawa. She lost her job due to COVID-19, and moved home to Victoria to be with her parents. 

“As a deaf person, it is really not easy to find employment,” Anderson said. 

“The opportunities are very, very scarce. And it’s about do people understand what deaf people can do? Are they willing to give us a chance to hire us? Typically not.”

When she lost her job, she had to access CERB, which, while helpful, she found difficult to navigate as a deaf person; she described the video relay service as “cumbersome” and “frustrating.”

Eventually, Anderson did find work, but she had to move to Vancouver. 

“It’s very challenging to try to sell yourself to employers as a good employee. And we, like everybody else, we have to earn money. We have to pay our bills. We have to survive.”

Education

Anderson said education is key, especially for non-deaf parents who have a deaf child. 

“Those parents need the right information right from the start, they need to get on board with providing accessible language acquisition for their deaf children,” she said.  

That means making sure they have strong sign language skills from a young age. 

“We don’t hear, but our lives are very similar to yours,” Anderson said. 

“The only time we encounter barriers to what we can do is when it’s about communication and language, and so that is what we’re asking for when it comes to accessibility, interpreting services, intervenor services and just to see more and more aspects of society offered and made accessible through interpreting and intervening.

“Please include us.”

Read a transcription of the All Points West interview with Lisa Anderson and Kristi Falconer below: 

31Mar

Accessibility advocates raise serious concerns with new policy allowing dogs on Nova Scotia patios

by admin

One day after the Nova Scotia government announced a new policy allowing dogs on outdoor patios, some accessibility advocates and guide dog users are raising concerns that the presence of pets could compromise their safety.

While service animals are well-trained, any barking or play from dogs at other tables may still distract them, interfering with their ability to keep their owner safe, said guide dog user Shelley Adams.

“I’m just worried about the extra distraction it’s going to bring,” said Adams, sitting next to her own guide dog, Rookie.

“I don’t want to have to be sitting there worrying that another dog is going to try and engage with him, or I don’t know, hurt him in any way … He is my mobility aid.”

Read more:
Bone appetit! Dogs now allowed on Nova Scotia restaurant and cafe patios

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Adams said she is not opposed to the policy, and would still attend an outdoor patio but ask to be seated away from other dogs.

In the event someone else’s dog were to start misbehaving, however, the Canadian National Institute for the Blind (CNIB) said the desire of the service dog user to sit on the patio must be prioritized.

“If there are going to be other animals on a patio, there’s potential for the other animals to negatively interfere with the work of a guide dog. I think the behaviour of the animals needs to be held to the same high standards that we as guide dog users have our dogs following,” said CNIB guide dog program president Diane Bergeron.

It’s important to distinguish between the rights and needs of a service dog user and the preference of a pet owner, she added.


Click to play video: 'Dogs now allowed on N.S. Restaurant and café patios'







Dogs now allowed on N.S. Restaurant and café patios


Dogs now allowed on N.S. Restaurant and café patios – Mar 30, 2021

Read more:
Halifax woman who is blind says sidewalk barricade putting ‘lives at risk’

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The provincial change came into effect on Tuesday, answering a longstanding request from the restaurant industry to remove barriers for dog owners, who may be more likely to stop for a meal or a drink if their dogs can accompany them.

In a Wednesday statement, Environment Department spokesperson Barbara MacLean it’s important for Nova Scotians to do their part not to distract service dogs or interfere with their ability to do their job, but ultimately, establishments are responsible for enforcing the policy properly.

“It’s up to restaurant owners to ensure that dogs on patios are not impeding their customers, including those from the accessibility community and service dogs,” she wrote.

Read more:
Halifax restaurants calling on province to change food safety rules following warnings about dogs

Businesses that choose to allow pets must also follow certain rules, she added, including keeping their dogs leashed, on the ground and away from the aisles. Pet dogs are still prohibited from entering bars and restaurants, while service dogs are not.

Luc Erjavec, vice-president of the Restaurants Canada Atlantic chapter, emphasized that the new patio provision is voluntary and not every restaurant will choose to adopt it.

Restaurant owners who do choose to allow pets, he added, will do their utmost to accommodate all customers.

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“I don’t think any operator wants 10 dogs on a small patio. I think they’re going to look at each individual situation, the time of day, what’s going on and respond accordingly,” he said. “Our goal is to keep our customers happy.”


Click to play video: 'Letting the dogs out through Canicross'







Letting the dogs out through Canicross


Letting the dogs out through Canicross – Mar 25, 2021

Read more:
Accessibility advocates say Peggy’s Cove viewing deck will ensure safe access for all

Accessibility advocate Paul Vienneau, who helped win the case for accessible washrooms in Nova Scotia restaurants, said he shares the concerns of guide dog users.

He loves dogs and sympathizes with the restaurant industry, he told Global News, but he fears the policy decision was taken without consultation from the disability community, casting a shadow over years of accessibility progress.

“There are other ways to make money than doing this,” said Vienneau. “For the government to just wave their hand and basically wipe away decades of hard work by disabled and blind folks that they’ve done is pretty disrespectful to these people.”

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David Fraser, a privacy lawyer who represented wheelchair users in the 2018 challenge for accessible restaurant washrooms, also wondered whether the new policy was “thought through.”

“My concern is by allowing dogs access to patios, you might be reducing the access to those patios that are otherwise accessible to individuals who use service animals, and I think that’s a real concern,” he said.




© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

17Sep

B.C. senior who was called a ‘loser’ for demanding accessibility in condo building wins $35K | CBC News

by admin

A Vancouver Island wheelchair user who has spent years asking her strata for changes to make it possible to go to and from her condo safely and without help from friends has won $35,000 in damages and an order for action on her complaints.

Last week, the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal ordered the owners at the Eagle Point Bayview complex in Nanaimo to begin the process of making their building wheelchair accessible, and to pay a penalty to 76-year-old Ada Jacobsen for injury to her dignity, feelings and self‐respect.

“She has essentially been a prisoner in her own home … Each time Ms. Jacobsen wants to go somewhere, she has to plan ahead with one of her friends so they can assist her,” tribunal member Grace Chen wrote in a Sept. 11 decision.

“No one should have to spend their golden years fighting with their strata to get their accommodation requests addressed.”

Chen said the strata didn’t make any serious attempts to deal with Jacobsen’s concerns about accessibility until she filed her human rights complaint.

Ahead of hearings on the complaint, one strata council member told another that Jacobsen was a “loser” who was just going to cost the owners more money, the tribunal found.

That council member, Melissa Austin, testified before the tribunal and argued that only three people in the 32-unit building have mobility issues — a point of view that Chen described as problematic.

“It suggests accommodation should be assessed against the number of people who need accommodation. The duty to accommodate is not focused on what is best for the majority,” Chen wrote.

No way in or out without help from friends

According to the decision, Jacobsen did not have mobility problems when she moved into the building in 2003, but her health has gradually declined and she was using a wheelchair by 2016.

The decision highlights how simple design decisions in a residential building can make it nearly impossible for people with disabilities to go about their daily lives.

Standing in the hall between the elevator and Jacobsen’s unit on the second floor are three steps, which she can only navigate with the help of friends who boost her out of the wheelchair and support her as she slowly walks up and down.

“This is required every time Ms. Jacobsen comes and goes from her unit,” Chen wrote.

Ada Jacobsen has lived in this Nanaimo condo complex since 2003. (Google Maps)

At the entrance to the building, a platform slopes down from the front door to the parking lot, but it’s too steep for Jacobsen to go up on her own or to safely coast down. Jacobsen has lost control before and slammed into a car, scraping her leg, and she worries about tipping out of her chair, according to the decision.

The pathway to a community centre where the strata holds its meetings is also too steep for her to use safely.

The tribunal heard that Jacobsen first began requesting accessibility improvements in 2014, when she was not yet using a wheelchair but was having difficulty walking. Jacobsen wrote an email in 2017 laying out all of her accessibility concerns, and filed her human rights complaint soon after.

Since then, the strata has taken some measures, including installing an automatic front door button and railings beside the hallway steps, giving Jacobsen an accessible parking spot and paying for an accessibility assessment by the Rick Hansen Foundation.

But the more fundamental problems with the hallway steps and the steep pathways remain, while the strata argues it has made all reasonable accommodations.

Chen disagreed.

“The strata has not shown that it satisfied its duty to accommodate Ms. Jacobsen to the point of undue hardship,” she wrote.

The tribunal ordered the strata to hire experts and seek approval for solutions to the hallway stairs, the front entrance and the path to the community centre.

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