We hope you like our new website and resources.
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We hope you like our new website and resources.
Please share it with people who might be interested.
This is the new CDAC blog where you can find the latest news and announcements about CDAC, accessibility, and communication rights.
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:
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.
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.
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:
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.
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 (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:
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.
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:
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.
In May and June we shared the Communication Access Now message on CBC Radio’s Early Edition and gave a keynote at Inclusion BC. In addition we connected with or gave presentations at the Elder Law course, Osgoode Law School, Toronto; Vancouver’s Abilities Expo; Disability Resource Network of BC for Post-Secondary Education Conference; Saskatoon City Hospital for Rehabilitation Grand Rounds; Alberta Speech Language Pathologists and Audiologists; City of Winnipeg’s Access Advisory Committee; Manitoba’s Access Awareness Week; Accessibility Conference at the University of Guelph; Speech and Hearing Association of Nova Scotia and Community Access & Inclusion Expo in PEI.
Communication Disabilities Access Canada (CDAC) needs your help to reduce the barriers to telephone communication for people with speech and language disabilities (SLDs). It will only take you a few minutes and may have a major impact on increasing awareness of the needs of this population.
The Canadian Radio Television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) is conducting a public consultation on the use of Message Relay Services (MRS) for people who are Deaf, hard of hearing or who have a speech disability. This is an operator-assisted service for people who can type their messages. It is primarily used by people who are Deaf or hard of hearing.
Telephone access is important for everyone. However, for many people who have severe physical and communication disabilities, it is essential; being the primary way they contact their personal support service providers. These services allow people, who would otherwise live in hospitals and institutions, to live with dignity in communities and to access their support services for safety, as well as personal services such as dressing, hygiene and meal preparation. Yet, many people with physical, speech and language disabilities cannot use the existing telephones, such as RC200 and Fortissimo due to unclear speech, quiet or no speech and / or physical access issues, as well as issues relating to cost and reliability. Because of lack of access they remain in hospitals and institutions, and are denied opportunities to live in their communities. For some people who rely on ventilators to breathe at night, this lack of access can be life threatening.
Other people who can access phones, experience significant barriers that could potentially be addressed through improved message, video or speech-to-speech relay services.
At this time, we are asking the CRTC to bring a national focus to the needs of people with SLDs in terms of the provision of reliable, affordable, accessible telephones and appropriate services such as message relay services, video relay services and speech-to-speech services. Please see CDAC Executive Director Barbara Collier’s letter (as a PDF) for details about why this is important as well as our past dealings with TELUS and the CRTC.
To draw attention to these issues, we need as many people as possible to post their comments on the CRTC site before the deadline: June 29, 2015.
To post your message on the CRTC site, you will be prompted to set up a log in and password. Under “Active Conversations” choose Message Relay Services. You can choose to add your comment in a reply to one question or to all 4 question areas. The more exposure the better!
If you like you can hit reply to the comments submitted by CDAC or add your own. You can also copy and paste from suggested texts below.
People who have speech and language disabilities have the right to access telecommunication services. At this time they experience major barriers that impact on their ability to maintain social contacts; call for help in an emergency and, in many cases, it impacts on their ability to live independently in the community. We want the CRTC to address this by establishing a national focus on the needs of this population in terms of the provision of reliable, affordable, accessible telephones and the extension and development of telecommunication services such as message relay services; video relay services and speech-to-speech services. I am asking the CRTC to fund the initiative put forward by Communication Disabilities Access Canada (CDAC) to TELUS, January 2015 to address the telecommunications needs of this population.
People who have communication disabilities, not caused by hearing loss can experience significant communication barriers when using telecommunications. Some of these barriers include:
I am asking the CRTC to fund the initiative put forward by Communication Disabilities Access Canada (CDAC) to TELUS, January 2015 to address the telecommunications needs of this population.
Thank you for your participation on this important initiative.
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
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 email@example.com
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
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 email@example.com
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
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 email@example.com
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: