Gearing up for Speech and Hearing Month in May, we would like to share a brief overview of what has been happening around the country with Communication Access Now over the last few months. We ask that you take this opportunity to promote communication access awareness in your area and we suggest some activities at the end of this post. We invite you to share what you are doing for Speech and Hearing Month on our Facebook page.

British Columbia

Communication Access Now (CAN) has connected with both the new Minister of Social Development and Social Innovation (MSDSI) and the Parliamentary Secretary for Accessibility to highlight the need to include the accessibility needs of people with speech and language disabilities (SLDs) in BC’s emerging plans for Accessibility 2024. We have provided many information sessions to provincial and municipal government policy makers and accessibility committees. MSDSI is now using the CAN e-learning modules as part of their staff training for Employment and Assistance Workers. The cities of Vancouver, Surrey, Richmond and New Westminster and many disability organizations have taken our e-learning modules and displaying the communication access symbol. People with communication disabilities are showing their individualized CAN communication cards to tell businesses and organizations what they can do to make their services accessible to them.

Contact Lois Turner, CAN Regional Coordinator at


CAN has connected with the Honorable Jim Prentice, Premier of Alberta and Honorable Naresh Bhardway, Associate Minister of Persons with Disabilities. We provided information on communication access to the Premier’s Council on Disability, Human Rights Commission, Alberta services for people with disabilities, Alberta Health Services, Calgary’s Independent Living Centre,  Calgary Police services, Alberta Children Hospital, City of Edmonton Advisory Board for Persons’ with Disabilities, City of Calgary Accessibility Advisory and Edmonton’s voting office. Several organizations across Alberta have taken the e-learning modules and are displaying the symbol.

Contact Randa Tomczak, CAN Regional Coordinator at


CAN has been in contact with the Honorable Donna Harpauer, Minister of Social Services, and Bob Whilidal, Assistant Deputy Minister of Disability Programs. We also connected with the Office for Disability Issues. To date, CAN has provided information on communication access to a number of organizations in Saskatchewan, including Pasqua Hospital, Regina General Hospital and Wascana Rehabilitation Centre and the Saskatchewan Abilities Council.

Contact Randa Tomczak, CAN Regional Coordinator at


CAN continues to work with the Disabilities Issues Office and members of the Accessibility Advisory committee to ensure that they include the needs of people with communication disabilities in their emerging legislation. We provided information sessions to the Departmental Access Coordinators who assist provincial government programs with accessibility and we met with Children’s disABILITY Services Program. We also provided input to Manitoba’s Policy on Access to Government Publications, Events and Services. More CAN events are planned for June 2015.

Contact Tracy Shepherd, CAN Regional Coordinator at


We continue to share information with the provincial government’s Accessibility Directorate on ways to embed communication access requirements that are meaningful and inclusive of all people with SLDs. We provided input to Dean Mayo Moran’s independent review of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) and are pleased that she highlighted the need for specific protocols for communication access to essential services. So far, municipal governments that have adopted the CAN message include Toronto, Windsor, Kingston and London. We are in touch with organizers of the Pan Am Games and hope to see the communication access symbol there. See our Facebook page for organizations that have received CAN information.

Contact Nora Rothschild, CAN Regional Coordinator at

Atlantic Canada

In Newfoundland, we met with members of Coalition of Persons with Disabilities and provided information on ways to include people with SLDs in the Provincial Strategy for the Inclusion of Persons with Disabilities. We received a support letter from the Honourable Clyde Jackman, Minister of Seniors, Wellness and Social Development.

In Nova Scotia, CAN represented the accessibility needs of persons with SLDs at a public consultation hosted by the Minister’s Advisory Panel on Accessibility Legislation.

In New Brunswick, CAN met with the Premier’s Council on the Status of Disabled Persons and we look forward to working in collaboration with them on the development of the provincial disability policies. In Prince Edward Island we have been pleased with the interest shown in the CAN project by the Honourable Valerie Docherty, Minster of Community Services and Seniors. We look forward to the opportunity to meet with members of her department as well as representatives of the Disability Action Council.

Contact Debbie Maund, CAN Regional Coordinator at

How you can become involved

We welcome your ideas and we value your participation on ways to increase accessibility for people with speech and language disabilities. For Speech and Hearing Month, we invite you to:

  • Write a letter to your MP, MLA or MPP, and local accessibility advisory committee.
  • Link your organization to the CAN website and blog.
  • Like our Facebook page and follow us on Twitter.
  • Show the CAN video in the place your work.
  • Display the CAN symbol in your work place and attach it to your email signature line.
  • Support your clients in learning about their communication access rights using the CAN toolkit.
  • Host a presentation on communication access using CAN powerpoint slides.
  • Tell people about the e-learning modules about ways to make their services accessible
  • Connect with your Regional Coordinator to get brochures and booklets that you can distribute in your community: