34 Articles

Bill C 81 update

Bill C-81 is scheduled for Third Reading in the Senate on Monday, May 13. The Senate meeting begins at 6 PM EDT and will be available to watch via video. If Bill C-81 is approved by the Senate at Third Reading, it goes to the House for their approval and with that, Royal Assent. Here is a link to the Senate agenda for May 13.

Here is a link to the presentation of the revised bill in the Senate Wednesday, May 8.

You will notice that the area of Communication has been amended by the Senate to include sign languages, ASL and LSQ.  While CDAC supports the recognition of sign languages, it is important to note that CDAC advocated for more inclusive language to include a range of communication methods, such as writing, typing, pictures, symbols, speech generating devices, communication assistance in addition to sign languages.

National Disability Summit

National Disability Summit

CDAC was invited to participate at the National Disability Summit, May 9 and 10, 2019 which was hosted by the Hon. Carla Qualtrough.  The focus of the Summit was to explore ways to create a barrier-free Canada as Bill C -81 moves  towards Royal Assent. CDAC shared information about accessibility for people who have speech, language and communication disabilities and how to make services communication accessible.

New Website

We hope you like our new website and resources.

Please share it with people who might be interested.

CDAC News: our new blog

This is the new CDAC blog where you can find the latest news and announcements about CDAC, accessibility, and communication rights.

Communication Access Now: Project Ends, But Work Continues

Message from Barbara Collier, Executive Director, CDAC

As the Communication Access Now (CAN) project comes to an end on March 31, 2016, I want to thank everyone for your support to increase awareness of what accessibility means for people who have speech and language disabilities. Although there is still a great deal of work to be done to ensure that people with speech and language disabilities have equal access to goods and services, we have come a long way since we started the project in 2013. Over the past 3 years, we have provided information about communication access for people with speech and language disabilities (SLDs) to:

  • Government ministers, policy makers, legislators and accessibility advisors in 9 provinces
  • 1,200 businesses and organizations
  • 8K speech language pathologists to share information with clients who have SLDs
  • 550 people took the CAN e-learning modules
  • 45K visitors used the CDAC and CAN websites to learn about communication access
  • 1.6K followers on social media
  • 10K via mainstream publications and radio interviews

Although the CAN project ends this month, our organization, CDAC will continue its work to promote social justice and accessibility for people who have speech and language disabilities. However, we need your help to keep the CAN message alive. While we managed to raise awareness of the need to include access for people with speech and language disabilities, we must all now participate at provincial and local accessibility committees; raise awareness at public consultations and have a say into the development of a Canadians with Disability Act.

At this time, I want to acknowledge and thank the Government of Canada’s Disability Component of Social Development Partnerships Program for funding the project. We could not have done the work without the tremendous efforts of our regional coordinators: Lois Turner in BC; Judy Meintzer and Christine Beliveau in Alberta; Randa Tomczak in Saskatchewan; Tracy Shepherd in Manitoba; Nora Rothschild in Ontario and Debbie Maund in Atlantic Canada.  Thanks also to Glenda Watson Hyatt our social media coordinator; Steve Roberston, our web master and to Chevanne Simpson and William Bobek for their administrative support.

The CAN project may be ending, but our work to ensure that services are accessible for people with SLDs is only beginning! Stay tuned for more.

Hold the Dates! Upcoming Webinar Series on Legal Issues and People with Communication Disabilities

Communication Disabilities Access Canada (CDAC) will be offering legal information webinars about significant issues for people with communication disabilities on May 11, 18, 25 and June 8 and 15, 2016 at 7 pm ET.

These webinars are for people with communication disabilities, family members, speech-language pathologists, AAC clinicians, legal professionals, healthcare providers and attendant service providers.

Although the webinars will address legislation in Ontario, many of the issues will be relevant in other areas.

Watch for information about webinar topics and registration coming in April.

Working Towards Improving Communication Accessibility of Toronto Transit

Communication Access Now (CAN) Ontario representatives met with Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) Wheel-Trans managers in August. It was a very positive and constructive meeting. We discussed that, although most Wheel-Trans travellers have noted great improvements over the past few years, there continue to be some barriers for people who have speech and language disabilities. One of our CAN Ambassadors identified some of these barriers, including the following:

  • Some drivers pretend they understand my speech – even when they don’t. They don’t want to say “I don’t understand” so they just agree. I always know, so it’s better to be honest.
  • Some drivers and Call Centre staff don’t seem to know how to ask me to clarify my speech if they don’t understand – like asking me to repeat, or saying back what they think they heard and get feedback from me. Even confirming how I say “yes” and “no” would help in some cases.
  • If I have to talk to the Call Centre staff, they sometimes want you to talk fast…and then it gets even harder. I need to be given time.
  • Attitudes and assumptions are a big barrier – here as with other places in life. Many people think if you have speech problems, you have cognitive problems. This is not the case.

The TTC Managers were very open and felt that this was a good time to look at these barriers and some solutions as the TTC is currently undergoing a full program review, including review of eligibility, training, technology used, etc.

We asked that TTC include us in their consultations and plans for drafting policies and procedures, for staff training, and for the review of all types of communication – for the Call Centre staff and for drivers. It was enlightening to hear that the website and alternate ways of accessing the Call Centre, as well as computer systems will likely be included in this plan to achieve improved accessibility for all. Hopefully TTC will ask the program review consultants to call upon us at Communication Disabilities Access Canada (CDAC) while they are in the review process, prior to making any decisions in these areas. They have contacted us following the meeting and we are discussing incorporating some of the CAN e-learning modules into regular staff trainings.

How you can help?

The TTC is holding a public forum to discuss accessibility of conventional TTC and door-to-door (Wheel-Trans) public transit services in Toronto.
Date: Wednesday, September 16, 2015
Location: Allstream Centre, Exhibition Place – 105 Princes’ Boulevard, Toronto
One-on-One Discussions: 6 p.m. to 7 p.m.
Open Public Forum: 7 p.m. to 9 p.m.

For more information, please visit 2015 TTC Public Forum on Accessible Transit.
CDAC encourages individuals with speech and language disabilities and their supporters to attend the forum and to voice the accessibility concerns facing this population. Feel free to share the information available in our resources Make Your Telephone Services Accessible and Make Your Transportation Services Accessible when discussing accessibility with TTC.

Working together, we can improve accessibility of transit for all individuals, including those with speech and language disabilities.

Communication Disabilities Access Canada Supports a Federal Disabilities Act

Communication Disabilities Access Canada (CDAC) supports Barrier-Free Canada’s initiative to call upon the Canadian Parliament to enact a strong and effective Canadians with Disabilities Act (CDA) to achieve a barrier-free Canada for all persons with disabilities.

There are half a million Canadians who have speech and language disabilities not caused by hearing loss that significantly impact on their ability to access goods, services and opportunities. There is ample research that attests to the significant communication barriers experienced by this population.

People who have speech and language disabilities face major barriers accessing services because most people:

  • assume they are hard of hearing,
  • underestimate their abilities,
  • do not know how to communicate with them, and
  • do not know or do simple things to provide access to services.

Many of these barriers can be addressed through stronger, more inclusive legislation, clearer guidelines and educational resources that support businesses and organizations to communicate effectively with people who have speech and language disabilities.

In her letter of support to Barrier-Free Canada, CDAC Executive Director Barbara Collier writes, “The accessibility requirements of people with speech and language disabilities, not caused by hearing loss, are currently omitted or inadequately represented in existing provincial accessibility legislation. We support the need for a national Canadian with Disabilities Act that mandates the inclusion of all people with disabilities, including people with speech and language disabilities to equal access to goods, services and opportunities. Such an Act must address not only the removal of barriers, but the provision of appropriate supports that people with speech and language disabilities need in order to effectively communicate in critical situations such as healthcare, emergencies, education, legal and justice services.”

CDAC supports Barrier-Free Canada in making Canada accessible for all people with disabilities, including those with speech and language disabilities.

How the Edmonton Fringe Festival Can Champion Communication Access in its Community

Earlier this month the National Post reported that the Edmonton Fringe Festival rejected the volunteer application of Daniel Hughes, who volunteered as a FriendRaiser several times in the past. According to the newspaper article, Daniel is “non-verbal” and is well-known for his smile. (Disabled man not welcome to volunteer at Edmonton Fringe Festival after years of involvement, July 2, 2015)

The rejection letter sent to Daniel’s primary support person, rather than to him directly, stated, in part: “…due to the nature of the current demands on our Festival, we are now obligated to engage only those volunteers whose skill sets match those of the job. For instance, all volunteers on the FriendRaisers Team must now be able to actively communicate and engage with Festival Patrons, both asking for donations and explaining how the Festival benefits from this support.”

As an organization that promotes human rights, accessibility and inclusion for people who have speech and language disabilities that are not primarily caused by hearing loss, Communication Disabilities Access Canada (CDAC) applauds Daniel for sharing his experience with the public. All too often discriminatory actions against Canadians with speech and language disabilities remain silenced.

Following a public apology to Daniel and other volunteer applicants with various disabilities who had received a similar letter, the Fringe Festival shared on its Facebook page that festival organizers had a positive discussion with Daniel and his family, and subsequently asked them to advise organizers along the way..

CDAC views this as a step in the right direction and offers further suggestions to the Edmonton Fringe Festival:

  • Review the communication tips; many of which are applicable to festival staff when interacting with volunteers, and volunteers interacting with festival attendees.
  • Check out the resource for employers to gain an understanding of the barriers facing individuals with speech and language disabilities when they are seeking employment, whether it be paid or volunteer positions.
  • Complete the free e-learning modules designed to help businesses and organizations make their services communication accessible.
  • Connect with a local organization that works with people with disabilities to find out more about employment opportunities for people with speech and language disabilities.

We ask that Edmonton Fringe Festival bear in mind the inability to speak is not a reflection of individuals’ ability to work or the contribution they can bring to your festival and community.