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Welcoming New Members to the Communication Access Now Team

With Spring finally in the air across the entire country, we are pleased to announce new team members and new resources to further spread the message about the need for improved communication access for Canadians with speech and language disabilities.

Nationally:

The use of the information and resources on human rights and accessibility for individuals with communication disabilities available on our website is steadily increasing. In March, 2,050 visitors viewed 7,588 pages.

Our Latest Resources:

Three new videos have been added to the Emergency Medical Services (EMS), Hospital In-Patient Services and Telephone Services under Make Your Services Accessible. These videos feature Steven Wells sharing some of the barriers faced by individuals with speech and language disabilities and a few solutions. Feel free to tell people about these videos.

In Atlantic Canada:

Regional Coordinator for Atlantic Canada, Deborah Maund, had a productive meeting with the New Brunswick Premier’s Council on the Status of Disabled Persons Board. They are committed to leading by example in this province, having committed to taking the e-learning training and encouraging others to do so as well. Plans are in place for future collaborations as well.

Staff at WeCare Home Healthcare Services in Moncton are committed to increasing their awareness for the needs of persons with speech and language disabilities. Many of the team of the team have completed the e-learning modules and have received their certificates.

In Ontario:

Our heartfelt thanks goes to Tracy Shepherd who is stepping down as CAN Ontario Coordinator to take on the new role as a co-chair of the ISAAC Conference 2016. We wish her the very best of luck. As Ontario coordinator, Tracy brought the CAN message to many organizations in the province during the past year. Thank you, Tracy. You have sprinkled Ontario with communication access symbols!

Starting April 2015, we welcome Nora Rothschild as the CAN Ontario coordinator.  Nora has extensive experience as an AAC clinician and has recently retired from her clinical practices at Children’s Treatment Network of Simcoe York and Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital. Welcome, Nora!

Across the Provinces:

We are pleased to welcome Randa Tomczak, Speech-Language Pathologist who is taking on the role of CAN coordinator in Alberta and Saskatchewan. Randa will be following up on work started by Christine Beliveau in 2014. Randa has over 13 years of clinical experience in adult and child communication disorders. We are looking forward to having her on our CAN team. Tracy Shepherd will continue as regional coordinator for Manitoba.

On the West Coast:

In the Fall, BC Regional Coordinator Lois Turner met with staff in the Training Initiatives department at the Ministry of Social Development & Social Innovation, who agreed to review the e-learning modules. In January, they added the link to their Core Training intranet (internal) site, where the modules were highlighted in a “soft launch” for existing Employment & Assistance Workers and announced as mandatory for new hires. In March, a resource package was distributed to delegates at the Annual Supervisors’ Meeting. These two activities increase the probability that people know about CAN in many Ministry offices in the province.

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

Let’s connect!

We love to hear from you, so make sure you connect with us: like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter or send us an email.

We look forward to sharing and connecting with you.

On the Road with Communication Access

Communication Disabilities Access Canada (CDAC) is thrilled to announce we have added 56 new communication intermediaries to our roster. Over 200 intermediaries are now available across Canada to assist people communicating in legal and justice situations. Check out the roster.

More highlights from the past few weeks…

Our Latest Resource:

Communication Access Now (CAN) has added a new resource, outlining communication access barriers and recommendations for educational services for students with speech and language disabilities from kindergarten through post-secondary education and lifelong learning.

Nationally:

While on vacation in Dublin, Executive Director Barbara Collier presented the Communication Access Now message to 55 Speech Language Therapists. Citizens can expect to see communication access symbols around Dublin and increased initiatives to improve accessibility to goods and services for people with communication disabilities.

Barbara Collier and CAN Ambassador Colin Phillips had a productive meeting with Councillor Wong-Tam. She is committed to including communication access as part of all public services run by the City of Toronto. Keep an eye out for the communication access symbol and for communication assistance at city run public meetings.

On the West Coast:

Regional Coordinator Lois Turner and Social Media Coordinator Glenda Watson Hyatt shared the need for communication access and how people can get involved with Communication Access Now with a packed workshop of 50 people hosted by ConnecTra, an agency linking people with disabilities to activities and programs to become more active and involved in community life. http://www.connectra.org

In Ontario:

Regional Coordinator Tracy Shepherd shared the need for communication access with the Kingston Municipal Accessibility Advisory Committee and members of the Customer Service department.

Attendees were excited to learn great tips to use when communicating with the citizens who have speech and language disabilities, including individuals with a smile, talking directly to them rather than a person with them, and asking what you should do when communicating with them.

The Accessibility Compliance Project Manager stated that they will display the symbol in customer service areas and that they are already starting to incorporate the symbol in documentation.  In addition, members noted that they will use the resources and e-learning modules to train staff.

In Atlantic Canada:

Colleagues of Regional Coordinator Debbie Maud are reporting they are using the CAN materials in their communities.

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

Let’s connect!

We love to hear from you, so make sure you connect with us: like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter or send us an email.

We look forward to sharing and connecting with you.

The Message about Communication Access Continues Across Canada

Communication Disabilities Access Canada (CDAC) has been busy over the last few weeks, spreading the message about communication access for individuals with speech and language disabilities. Here are a few highlights…

Nationally:

On January 26, 2015, Barbara Collier, Executive Director of Communication Disabilities Access Canada, and India Ochs, member of the Executive Board of Directors for International Society for Augmentative and Alternative Communication (ISAAC), met with Judith Heumann, US State Department Special Advisor for International Disability Rights. They discussed the need to include accessibility requirements of people with speech and language disabilities in policy and guidelines.  Judith Heumann reported that she will do her best to raise awareness of the needs of this population.

On February 4th, fifty federal government workers representing 20 departments attended an information session given by Barbara. As a result, citizens can expect to see more communication access symbols going up around Ottawa and hopefully more accessible government services for people with speech and language disabilities, especially services typically provided over the telephone. Canadians with speech and language disabilities also should expect government services that host public events to  include communication assistance as an accessibility accommodation. Let us know your experiences.

Barbara also had a good meeting with policy analysts from the Senior Policy Unit. The group is excited about connecting the dots between communication access and supports for seniors.

Our Latest Resource:

No two individuals with speech and language disabilities are the same. We have different accessibility requirements, depending upon our unique situation and abilities. Communication Access Now (CAN) has released the new resource Communication Profiles, which describe what two individuals with speech and language disabilities need to effectively communicate. Other profiles will be added over time.

On the West Coast:

Lois Turner, CAN Regional Coordinator for BC, conducted an Ambassadors Workshop for individuals living in Victoria. The participants learned about the CAN project, what their communication rights are, how to communicate their accessibility needs and how to promote communication access. They are all interested in working with a Speech-Language Pathologist to spread the CAN message.

Last week, our Social Media Coordinator Glenda Watson Hyatt had the pleasure of sharing about the communication access symbol and the communication access card with the  Communication Assistance for Youth and Adults (CAYA) Chat Group.

It was exciting to hear that several participants with speech and language disabilities have already been using the communication access card at banks, restaurants and other places in their communities. It is quite an empowering tool!

In Ontario:

Communication Access Now was at the Riverbrink Art Museum in Queenston, Ontario. Regional Coordinator Tracy Shepherd presented to the Museums of Niagara Association (MONA) including managers from the Niagara Historical Museum, Jordan Historical Museum, Riverbrink Art Museum, Niagara Falls Museums, Grimsby Museum, and St. Catherine Museum along with some members of the community.

It was a pleasure to arrive at the Museum to see the communication access symbol already prominently displayed!

In Atlantic Canada:

Atlantic Regional Coordinator Debbie Maud has been writing a flurry of letters and emails to groups interested in learning more about communication access. Hopefully, a slew of meetings and presentation will soon follow.

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

Let’s connect!

We love to hear from you, so make sure you connect with us: like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter or send us an email.

We look forward to sharing and connecting with you.

Support for Communication Access Continues

Communication Access Now (CAN) has received a letter of support from Dave Martin, Senior Advisor on Disability Issues to Minister Irvin-Ross, Minister responsible for Persons with Disabilities, Manitoba. In the letter, Mr. Martin stated:

“I would like to commend CAN on the valuable work you are doing…your organization’s website is particularly useful, as it offers tips for service providers when interacting with someone who has a communication disability. I can assure you the Government of Manitoba supports your objectives by striving to provide accessible and respectful service to all people with disabilities, including those with communication disabilities”.

Mr. Martin requested that CAN provide input to the Manitoba Policy on Access to Government so that the specific needs of people with communication disabilities may be addressed.

A letter of support was also received from Cyde Jackman, MHA, Minister Responsible for the Status of Persons with Disabilities, Government of Newfoundland and Labrador. The Minister oversees the implementation of the Government’s Strategy for the Inclusion of Persons with Disabilities.

Mr. Jackman thanked CAN for its valuable information, which he stated will be used to inform policy directions. He has shared the information with the Disability Policy Office that coordinates the strategy across government.

Rounding out the trio of letters, CDAC was thrilled to receive one from International Society for Augmentative and Alternative Communication (ISAAC) for Communication Access Now (CAN) and our communication access symbol.

Jeff Riley, ISAAC International President, 2012-15, wrote:

“On behalf of the ISAAC Executive Board, I am pleased to advise that ISAAC, as an organization, absolutely supports the concept of communication access symbols that allow people with complex communication needs to more readily communicate and interact with the world around them. In particular, we wish to congratulate you and CDAC for your ongoing efforts in this area, and extend official support for CDAC’s Communication Access symbol.”

Read the full letter from ISAAC.

The support for communication access continued with the Ontario Association of Speech-Language Pathologists and Audiologists kindly naming the Toronto Star’s article “Ontarians with communication disabilities struggle to be heard” as #6 in their top 20 articles from 2014! Their support is appreciated.

These gestures are encouraging as they indicate that Canadians with speech and language disabilities are being noticed and acknowledged. Finally.

Let’s connect!

We love to hear from you, so make sure you connect with us: like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter or send us an email.

We look forward to sharing and connecting with you.

Communication Access on International Day for Persons with Disabilities and Much More!

Communication Disabilities Access Canada (CDAC) continues to promote the need for communication access for Canadians with speech and language disabilities.  Here are a few highlights from the last few weeks…

Nationally: CDAC added 41 new communication intermediaries to our national roster.

It also released an accessibility checklist for businesses and organizations to gauge their communication access to individuals with speech and language disabilities.

On the West Coast: BC Regional Coordinator Lois Turner and Social Media Coordinator Glenda Watson Hyatt took the message about Communication Access Now to the International Day for Persons with Disabilities expo held in Vancouver. Many people showed an interest in the information and in the need for communication access.

Recently, Lois presented to the Seniors Advisory Committee for the City of New Westminster, and to the Richmond Centre for Disabilities’ Board, which advises the City of Richmond on accessibility issues. Both groups gave favourable feedback about the presentations and indicated that they would display the communication access symbol.

In Ontario: Regional Coordinator Tracy Shepherd spent the International Day of Persons with Disabilities sharing the Communication Access Now message at the Ability Fair in Ottawa’s Library and Archives Building, where over 100,000 public servants had been invited to browse and learn about available information and resources.

In Atlantic Canada:In early December, Debbie Maund, Atlantic Canada Regional Coordinator, along with CAN Ambassador Kalika Webb shared the Communication Access Now message at the Nova Scotia Minister’s Advisory Panel on Accessibility Legislation Public Consultation in Amherst, Nova Scotia. Panel members were pleased to learn of the CAN project and are taking the information back to their committee. We look forward to future dialogues with them.

Earlier this week, Debbie and Kalika shared the Communication Access Now message with two groups of frontline municipal staff in the City of Dieppe, New Brunswick. Attendes peppered Debbie and Kalika with questions and then left planning the various locations around municipal buildings that would display the communication access symbol.

Debbie is looking forward to following up with them in the New Year to continue our work together spreading the CAN message. She is hoping their enthusiasm will spark the interest of other municipalities in the region.

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

Let’s connect!

We love to hear from you, so make sure you connect with us: like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter or send us an email.

We look forward to sharing and connecting with you.

 

Continuing to Spread the Message about Communication Access

Communication Disabilities Access Canada (CDAC) has been busy over the past two weeks.  Here are a few highlights…

Nationally: On Monday, Barbara Collier, Executive Director of CDAC presented at the national forum on ensuring equality in the justice system for people with intellectual disabilities.  Barbara shared info6rmation about CDAC’s trainings and national roster of communication intermediaries.

On the West Coast: Last week, BC Regional Coordinator Lois Turner and Social Media Coordinator Glenda Watson Hyatt shared the Communication Access Now message with the Inter-Agency Committee, hosted by City of Surrey. The presentation was enthusiastically received by this group representing several Lower Mainland cities and various disability-related organizations.

All attending members reported that they intend to display the Communication Access Symbol in their department or agency; some showed an interest in implementing the online learning course within their workplaces.

In Ontario: Regional Coordinator Tracy Shepherd along with Communication Access Now (CAN) Ambassador Nola Millin presented to the City of Windsor; Toni Southern, a Communication Intermediary from the area, also attended. This group was very interested and receptive to using the Communication Access Symbols and strategies in their work with the public.

Tracy and Nola also presented to the Windsor Police.  The Police station already displays the Communication Access Symbol prominently in their lobby and reception area.

In a letter from appreciation, Lori Powers, Director of E911 Centre, wrote, “This was an excellent presentation that was well received.”

Lori is dedicated to using the CAN materials to train staff as well as using the Communication Intermediary Services from the Access to Justice project.

In the Maritimes: Debbie Maund, Atlantic Canada Regional Coordinator along with Kalika Webb shared the CAN message at the Nova Scotia Minister’s Advisory Panel on Accessibility Legislation Public Consultation in Amherst, Nova Scotia. Panel members were pleased to learn of the CAN project and are taking the information back to their committee. We look forward to future dialogues with them.

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

Let’s connect!

We love to hear from you, so make sure you connect with us: like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter or send us an email.

We look forward to sharing and connecting with you.

Spreading the Message about Communication Access, One Meeting at a Time

Even though temperatures are dropping across the country, the Communication Disabilities Access Canada (CDAC) is still abuzz with activity, promoting human rights, accessibility and inclusion for people who have speech and language disabilities that are not primarily caused by hearing loss.

Nationally: CDAC’s Executive Director Barbara Collier and Board member Hazel Self presented on the Communication Access Now (CAN) project to the federal Office for Disability Issues on October 22, 2014. Unfortunately, their presentation to federal government employees has to be rescheduled due to the tragic event that day on Parliament Hill.

This month CDAC is hosting Communication Intermediary webinars for over 60 Speech-Language Pathologists to prepare them to work in legal and justice settings.

On the West Coast: Last week BC Regional Coordinator Lois Turner had a good meeting with Ella Haung, the Executive Director of the Richmond Centre for Disability. The Communication Access Symbol is now prominently displayed around the Centre.

Ella is also an accessibility advisor to the City of Richmond and does accessibility training for taxi cab companies in Richmond. She had many ideas for sharing CAN resources, the e-learning modules and the communication access symbol.

On the Prairies: CAN Regional Coordinator Tracy Shepherd met with the Disability Issues Office and the Accessibility Advisory Committee in Winnipeg, Manitoba, in October. They were very receptive to the CAN project and are interested in using our materials in their training and helping to spread the word in Manitoba.

While in Winnipeg, the CAN message was also spread to Speech Language Pathologists at the St. Amant Centre and the Open Access Resource Centre.

In Ontario: Tracy also met with the City of London, Ontario, and will be meeting with the City of Kitchener and the City of Windsor in November.

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

Let’s connect!

We love to hear from you, so make sure you connect with us: like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter or send us an email.

We look forward to sharing and connecting with you.

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.

Let’s connect!

We love to hear from you, so make sure you connect with us: like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter or send us an email.

We look forward to sharing and connecting with you.

Hazel Self Honoured for Being a Guiding Light

Our heartfelt congratulations to Hazel Self on receiving the 2014 Founder’s Award from the Centre of Independent Living in Toronto.

Hazel is a founding member and chair of our board of directors.

She received her award at the Centre’s Annual General Meeting on October 3rd, 2014, recognizing her significant contribution to the advancement of the Independent Living philosophy. In his presentation, Ian Parker said that Hazel is an incredible inspiration to so many people – likely to the point of truly saving people’s lives by showing what is possible. She is well loved and cherished.

We second that and are honoured that Hazel has been a guiding light for CDAC for the past 13 years.

Congratulations, Hazel!

Exciting Times in Communication Access in Canada

Welcome to the newly launched blog for Communication Disabilities Access Canada (CDAC)!

CDAC is a national, not for profit organization that promotes human rights, accessibility and inclusion for all people who have speech and language disabilities, not caused by hearing loss.

I am Glenda Watson Hyatt, CDAC’s Social Media Coordinator and, along with fellow team members, I will be sharing CDAC updates here on a regular basis. As a brief introduction about myself, I have a significant speech impairment due to my cerebral palsy. My speech is understandable with ease by those familiar with my unique dialect and with some effort by others. When I am out and about, I keep handy my iPad with a text-to-speech app. After spending much of my life silenced, social media in the form of blogs, Facebook, Twitter and other such tools has opened the world to me. Using those tools to share about an issue close to my heart – communication access – is exciting.

Without further ado, here’s what has been happening at CDAC:

We sent our September newsletter to 1,000 people across Canada and internationally. Our archived newsletters are also available for your reading pleasure.

We have been out and about with our communication access message…

On the West Coast: In early September, BC Regional Coordinator Lois Turner and I had a great meeting with staff from Accessibility and Inclusion, Healthy Communities, City of Surrey. It is extremely encouraging to have a city support and implement the work of Communication Access Now (CAN)!

In Ontario: In September, CAN’s Ontario Regional Coordinator Tracy Shepherd and team met with Toronto 2015 Pan Am and Parapan Am Games to explore how to make these games accessible to people with communication disabilities. The team presented a number of options and will be following up with Game staff.

Tracy, along with Jess Weber and Krsytine Donato, also presented an informative session to the City of Toronto about how to make city services more accessible for people with communication disabilities. Many divisions of city programming were present, including Human Resources, Parks and Recreation, Equity and Diversity and many more. They discussed how to further roll out communication access initiatives within the city.

In Atlantic Canada: Last week, Atlantic Coordinator Debbie Maund was on the road at the New Brunswick Association of Speech-Language Pathologists and Audiologists’ AGM. It was a great turn out for an early morning breakfast presentation on a Saturday. Thanks to the New Brunswick speech-language pathologists and audiologists for your participation, great questions and ideas!

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

Let’s connect!

We love to hear from you, so make sure you connect with us: like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter or send us an email.

We look forward to sharing and connecting with you.