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All Branches of Government Must Rally Together for Canadians With Disabilities

Rick Hansen Contributed to The Globe and Mail
Updated December 3, 2017

Rick Hansen is a three-time Paralympic gold medalist and founder and CEO of the Rick Hansen Foundation, an organization committed to creating a world without barriers for people with disabilities.

Dec. 3 is the United Nations-sanctioned International Day of Persons With Disabilities (IDPD), and this also marks the 30th year since I wheeled around the world creating awareness and encouraging barriers to be removed. A lot has been accomplished in that time, including the UN declaring the launch of the Decade of Disabled Persons from 1983-1992, which ended with a global conference on accessibility hosted by Canada that I had the good fortune of leading.

The Government of Canada Tables the Optional Protocol to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities

News Release
From Employment and Social Development Canada
November 30, 2017 Ottawa, Ontario Employment and Social Development Canada

The Government of Canada is taking further action to uphold and safeguard the rights of people with disabilities and further enable their inclusion and full participation in Canadian society.

Today, the Honourable Kent Hehr, Minister of Sport and Persons with Disabilities, on behalf of the Honourable Chrystia Freeland, Minister of Foreign Affairs, is proud to announce that the Government of Canada tabled in the House of Commons the Optional Protocol to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (the Optional Protocol). The Optional Protocol would allow individuals in Canada to make a complaint to the United Nations if they believe their rights under the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (the Convention) have been violated.

International Certification of Accessibility Consultants for the Built Environment launched by GAATES

November 27 2017

The Global Alliance on Accessible Technologies and Environments (GAATES), recognized as an international leader in the field of accessibility, is pleased to announce its public launch of the International Certification of Accessibility Consultants Built Environment (ICAC-BE) program.

Significant time and contributions from recognized global industry leaders has resulted in the development of the first ever international-level certification program for built environment accessibility experts.

The lack of a certification program has allowed people with little or no training or expertise to present themselves as accessibility experts. This has led to uneven and sometimes inadequate costly design solutions.

Immigration Minister Vows to Change Law That Bars Immigrants With Disabilities and Illnesses

A parliamentary committee is reviewing the law that refuses applicants who would put “excessive demand” on health or social services. By Nicholas KeungImmigration reporter
Wed., Nov. 22, 2017

Canada’s Immigration Minister says he’s committed to changing the rule that bars many people with disabilities and illnesses from immigrating to Canada.

Rights groups and individuals affected by the so-called “medical inadmissibility” rule say not only is it inhumane, but it also breaches the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, as well as the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

Section 508 Gets an Update: New Web Accessibility Guidelines for Government Sites Take Effect in January

People with hearing and sight disabilities using screen readers and other assistive tech must be able to access content on government websites, but getting and staying compliant is a challenge. by Zack Quaintance / November 20, 2017

Updates for Section 508 accessibility legislation go into effect in January, creating new specifications for how federal agencies must make websites and other digital information channels navigable for users with disabilities, and experts say these requirements are poised to become the new standard for state and local governments as well.

Uber Canada’s Service-Animal Policy Doesn’t Go Far Enough, Critics Say

By Peter GoffinThe Canadian Press
Mon., Nov. 20, 2017

The company’s policy says any drivers refusing rides to customers because of service animals will be dismissed, but it leaves room for exemptions.

Advocates say exemptions in Uber Canada’s service-animal policy could still lead to discrimination.

Uber Canada has launched a new policy on how its drivers deal with customers who have service animals, but some disability rights advocates say exemptions built into the rules could still lead to discrimination.

The company’s policy says drivers who refuse to give rides to customers with service animals will be dismissed.

Disability Rights Advocates Fight ‘Demeaning’ Immigration Criteria

Michelle McQuigge
The Canadian Press
November 19, 2017

TORONTO – A national advocacy group is pushing for the government to repeal immigration criteria that it calls discriminatory toward people with disabilities.

The Council of Canadians with Disabilities is calling for the repeal of a provision that bars disabled immigrants from settling in Canada on grounds that they could place too much demand on the country’s medical system. The group contends the practice is discriminatory and based on outdated, stereotypical ideas around disability.

The council wants the government to drop the requirement from the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act and to make sure disabled people are included in crafting a new, more inclusive procedure.

Court: Movie Theatres Must Accommodate Deaf-Blind Patrons

The Associated Press,, Financial Post, 10,06, 2017.

Federal disability law requires movie theatres to provide specialized interpreters to patrons who are deaf and blind, an appeals court said Friday.

The Philadelphia-based 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled against Cinemark, the nation’s third-largest movie chain, in a case involving a Pennsylvania man
who wanted to see the 2014 movie “Gone Girl” and asked a Cinemark theatre in Pittsburgh to supply a “tactile interpreter.” The theatre denied his request.

The plaintiff, Paul McGann, is a movie enthusiast who reads American Sign Language through touch. He uses a method of tactile interpretation that involves
placing his hands over the hands of an interpreter who uses sign language to describe the movie’s action, dialogue and even the audience response.

B.C. Needs Disability Act: Victoria Council

Council motion asks province to make B.C. barrier free
Lauren Boothby/
Nov. 17, 2017

The City of Victoria wants to make the city and the province barrier free.

Council passed a motion Thursday asking the provincial government to enact a strong and effective British Columbians with Disabilities Act, which was added to the consent agenda at committee of the whole. Other provinces, including Ontario and Manitoba, have provincial accessibility laws, which include such regulations as building and structural guidelines, and allowing service animals.

Coun. Jeremy Loveday, who put the motion forward, said people with disabilities need more legal protections. Currently, the provinces Human Rights Tribunal is the only body used to address accessibility issues, but the province does have a non-binding Accessibility 2024 10-year action plan.

Disability Group TO Call for Repeal of Discriminatory Provision in Canada’s Immigration Act

For Immediate Release November 17, 2017

When: Monday, November 20, 2017
Place: Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration
Room 415, 197 Sparks Street
Time: 6:30 pm

The Council of Canadians With Disabilities (CCD), a national, human rights organization of persons with various disabilities that is working for a more inclusive and accessible Canada, will call for repeal of the “Excessive Demands” provisions in Canada’s Immigration and Refugee Protection Act when it appears before the Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration on Monday evening, November 20, 2017.

Airbnb buys ‘Airbnb for Disabled People’ Startup Accomable in Accessibility Upgrade

Posted November 16, 2017
by Ingrid Lunden (@ingridlunden)

Airbnb, the accommodation and travel startup that is now valued at $31 billion, is today announcing an acquisition that points to how it wants to address the travel needs of more kinds of customers. It has bought Accomable, a startup based out of London that focuses on travel listings that are disabled-friendly.

Along with the announcement Airbnb is refreshing its own accessibility features as the first stage in how it hopes to develop them.

Senators Markey and Capito Introduce Legislation to Improve Educational Opportunities for Visual and Hearing-Impaired Students

Washington, November 7, 2017

Senator Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) and Senator Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.V.) today introduced bipartisan legislation that would strengthen the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) to ensure that visual and hearing-impaired students receive the best possible education.

The Alice Cogswell and Anne Sullivan Macy Act will improve the effectiveness and personalization of education and services for students who are deaf, hard of hearing, blind, visually impaired, and deaf-blind.

The legislation would improve reporting and evaluation measures of special education in each state, increase training for teachers and other special education professionals, and reaffirm the Department of Education’s mission and responsibility to ensure an accessible and quality education for all students.

West Virginia Nonprofit and its Partnership with the RightCycle Program Help People with Disabilities Find Work that Sustains Them and the Environment

PARKERSBURG, W.Va., Nov. 1, 2017 /PRNewswire

A West Virginia nonprofit organization is making a difference in the lives of people with disabilities while benefitting the environment at the same time.

The Jackson County Developmental Center (JCDC) of Millwood has embarked on a partnership with RightCycle by Kimberly-Clark Professional to provide employment for people who have survived traumatic brain injuries or have been diagnosed with autism spectrum disorders, learning disabilities and other conditions.

The JCDC employees remove zippers and other metal parts from protective garments so that the apparel can be recycled through the RightCycle Program, the first large-scale recycling program for non-hazardous lab, cleanroom and industrial waste.

Job Numbers Reflect Increasing Inclusion of Americans with Disabilities in the Workforce

nTIDE October 2017 Jobs Report
EAST HANOVER, N.J. (PRWEB) November 03, 2017

“For the 19th consecutive month, the proportion of people with disabilities working has continued to grow, and once again, their gains are outpacing those of people without disabilities,” according to John O’Neill, PhD, director of employment and disability research at Kessler Foundation.

The major economic indicators continue to reflect increasing inclusion of Americans with disabilities in the workforce, according to today’s National Trends in Disability Employment Monthly Update (nTIDE), issued by Kessler Foundation and the University of New Hampshire’s Institute on Disability (UNH-IOD).

Manitoba: Progress on Accessibility Standard in Employment

Following public consultations and a thorough review of all public comments received, the Accessibility Advisory Council (council) submitted Recommendations for an Accessibility Employment Standard for the Minister of Families on April 5, 2017. The Honourable Scott Fielding, Minister of Families has reviewed and considered the recommendations of the council.

The Government of Manitoba is pleased to make its Proposed Accessible Employment Standards Regulation available for public comment as of November 1, 2017. (PDF) (Word, find the links at the Url below)

In acknowledgement of the holiday period in December, the deadline for your feedback is extended beyond the 60-day period required by The Accessibility for Manitobans Act to Friday, January 12, 2018. Please forward all electronic comments, submissions and briefs to http://www.access@gov.mb.ca.

New Accessibility Regulations for N.L. Buildings, Parking Lots

New regulations for parking lots, washrooms, wheelchair ramps and more included in amendments CBC News Posted: Oct 23, 2017

Service NL is bringing in new regulations which will bring Newfoundland and Labrador up to national standards for having accessible buildings and facilities.

The Newfoundland and Labrador government says changes are coming to accessibility regulations for buildings, parking lots and other facilities in the province.

Service NL announced Monday its intentions to amend the Buildings Accessibility Regulations and Mobility Impaired Parking Regulations.

The new rules will apply to new construction and to buildings being extensively renovated.

Canadian Universities Sign Off on Pledge to Greater Diversity, Accessibility

Data on diversity on Canadian campuses is limited
The Canadian Press/
Oct. 26, 2017 9:35 a.m./

Canadian universities have done a great job making their campuses more accessible for students with disabilities, but now have to turn more attention to helping those students get jobs, one of Canada’s leading disability advocates told a room full of university presidents Wednesday.

Rick Hansen, a former paralympian whose foundation is devoted to making the world a more accessible place, spoke to the presidents in Ottawa on Wednesday, just before they voted to make a public commitment to seven principles of diversity.

People With Disabilities Around B.C. to Benefit From New Accessibility Programs

News Release
Victoria
Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Accessible, inclusive communities for people with disabilities are the main goals behind two provincially funded programs designed to improve universal access in British Columbia.

Through $9 million in provincial funding, the Rick Hansen Foundation (RHF) has launched two new programs to improve accessibility for British Columbians.

“When we remove the physical barriers, we create communities where everyone feels welcome. We are pleased to support the Rick Hansen Foundation with this initiative where together we can build a better B.C. for people of all abilities to be able to live, work and play,” said Shane Simpson, Minister of Social Development and Poverty Reduction.

FDNY Violates ADA by Pre-judging Veteran Applicants as Unfit

New York, New YorkDisability Rights Advocates (DRA), a national nonprofit legal center, filed a Charge of Discrimination for Julio Andrade, a former Marine, after the Fire Department of the City of New York (FDNY) denied him a job as a Fire Fighter because of a diagnosis of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) he received at the time of his honorable discharge from service in the Iraq war, approximately 8 years earlier.

The Charge, filed with the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, alleges that the FDNY illegally discriminated against Andrade because of the disability diagnosis. It also says that veterans’ groups report that the FDNY is disqualifying veterans from FDNY Fire Fighter jobs without individual evaluation of whether they are qualified for the job.

Are Self-Driving Cars the Future of Mobility for Disabled People?

Srikanth Saripalli, Texas A&M University
SFGate, October 5, 2017

Self-driving cars could revolutionize how disabled people get around their communities and even travel far from home. People who can’t see well or with physical or mental difficulties that prevent them from driving safely often rely on others or local government or nonprofit agencies to help them get around.

Autonomous vehicle technology on its own is not enough to help these people become more independent, but simultaneous advances in machine learning and artificial intelligence can enable these vehicles to understand spoken instructions, observe nearby surroundings and communicate with people. Together, these technologies can provide independent mobility with practical assistance that is specialized for each user’s abilities and needs.