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Communication Access: Spreading the Message Coast to Coast

The beginning of Fall has been busy for Communication Disabilities Access Canada (CDAC) and its various projects. Here’s what has been happening across the country…

Nationally: With much input from the Communication Access Now (CAN) Committee, resources are now available on how to make services accessible. These resources are designed for various sectors, including Emergency Medical Services (EMS), Hospital In-Patient Services, Financial Services, Legal Services, Government Services, Attendant Services and more.  These resources provide information on barriers facing people with communication disabilities, suggestions for improving access within the sector, and suggestions for people with speech and language disabilities to empower ourselves when utilizing such services.

Final touches are being put on the Communication Intermediary webinars that begin on November 4th for registered Speech-Language Pathologists (SLPs) in Canada. The webinars are free and aim to prepare SLPs to work within legal and justice settings. Register today!

On the West Coast: BC Regional Coordinator Lois Turner met with Community Manager Marco Pasqua at Planat, an innovation of the Rick Hansen Foundation, which is a web platform that provides venue-specific information on accessibility. Lois and Marco discussed adding the Communication Access Symbol to the other accessibility symbols on the site, and adding a Communication section – weighted equally with the Mobility, Vision and Hearing sections – to the accessibility ratings app.  This initial meeting was positive. Next steps include getting the other involved people on board and, eventually, working with the programmers to create that section of the app.

Lois also had a meeting at Richmond’s City Hall with Cultural Diversity Coordinator’s Allan Hill. He was very impressed with the website and is going to share it with various departments in the City.

Across the Prairies: The CAN communication symbol should be seen around town in Regina after Chris Beliveau, CAN Coordinator for the Prairies, visited speech language pathologists who work for the Regina Qu-Appelle Health Region.  This includes the Pasqua Hospital, Regina General Hospital and Wascana Rehabilitation Centre.  CAN materials were shared with the Executive Director of Saskatchewan Abilities Council for distribution to staff and clients in Regina, Saskatoon, Swift Current and Yorkton.  In Moose Jaw speech language pathologists in the Prairie South School District have been using CAN materials as a guide to working with local businesses and organizations to help them make their services more accessible to everyone.

Communication Access Now has submitted a brief to the Saskatchewan Disability Strategy as part of their public consultation process. CAN is working with the Disability Issues Office to raise awareness about the needs of people in Saskatchewan who have speech and language difficulties.

Also in the prairies, CAN Regional Coordinator Tracy Shepherd met recently with the Disabilities Issues Office of the Manitoba Provincial Government.  Manitoba has new accessibility legislation and is working on the customer service standards.  The Disability Access Coordinators where impressed with the project and are interested in using the CAN materials to share with their programs and will share the message within their newsletters.  Further plans are underway to spread the information and resources in Manitoba.

Additionally, CAN team members met with members of the Provincial Accessibility Advisory Committee and brainstormed other ways to spread the message within the City of Winnipeg.

In Ontario: Tracy Shepherd delivered a CAN presentation at the Thames Valley Children’s Centre (TVCC) in London. Attendees included staff and community members from various neighbouring agencies. Many ideas emerged about how to further engage the community in raising awareness fro communication access.

Windsor Police is using CDAC trained Communication Intermediaries to assist people communicating when using their services. They are now posting the Communication Access Symbol in their Police Services to make the public aware of the ability of two way communication for all citizens.

In the Maritimes: CAN’s Atlantic Regional Coordinator Debbie Maund has had numerous meetings while on the road. While in Newfoundland, Debbie

  • delivered a presentation to representatives from local disability groups in St. John’s, organized by Kelly White, Executive Director, Coalition of Persons with Disabilities.
  • met with Ruth North, Manager at the Glenn Roy Blunden Centre for Students with Disabilities. She was very positive about the project and, in particular, liked the e-learning tools and resources available on the website.
  • presented at the Newfoundland and Labrador Association of Speech-Language Pathologists and Audiologists conference with 120 colleagues in attendance. Debbie is looking forward to seeing how her SLP colleagues in Newfoundland and Labrador spread the CAN message.

While in Halifax, Debbie presented to 80 Students, Faculty and Community Therapists. The participation was lively and excellent questions were asked.

Debbie is also working hard to spread the word about the Communication Intermediary training coming up next month for SLPs in the four Atlantic provinces. Click for more information and to register.

To have someone speak to your city, business or organization about communication access, please contact your regional coordinator.

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