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Editorial: It’s time to start talking about territorial accessibility legislation

Now that Ottawa has tabled its new accessibility law, the Yukon needs to prepare to follow suit Aug. 10, 2018

At the beginning of the year Yukon Hospital Corporation unveiled a $72-million makeover at the Whitehorse General Hospital.
For that money the territory got itself a snazzy new emergency room complete with a bunch of changes designed to streamline the process of seeing a doctor.
But officials forgot something. The new ER came with a new entrance. That entrance doesn’t have a cutout in the sidewalk directly outside the front door which is what’s needed for wheelchair users to easily get inside.

Feds Announce New Funding for Accessibility in the N.W.T.

4 organizations will divide $180K to build ramps, automatic doors CBC News · Posted: Aug 09, 2018

Automatic doors are among the improvements to accessibility that will be funded by the new money from the Enabling Accessibility Fund, a $15.6 million federal program. (Guy Quenneville/CBC )

Four local organizations will receive new funding to improve accessibility, N.W.T. MP Michael McLeod announced Thursday on behalf of the federal government.

Two churches, the Prince of Wales Northern Heritage Centre, and the Hay River Metis Government Council will receive $180,000 in new federal funding for automated doors, wheelchair ramps, and improved entryways.

Man Denied Service at Pierrefonds Tim Hortons Because of Service Dog

Police were called after the confrontation, who confirmed his dog was a service dog CTV Montreal, Sunday, August 5, 2018.

A man in Pierrefonds had the police called on him outside a Tim Hortons because of his service dog.

The incident took place on a July morning, when Craig Read was denied service.

The restaurant refused to serve him, and a confrontation ensued.

“I was asked to leave, and was told it’s because of the dog,” he said. “I said that it was a service dog, and they said they didn’t care, and I had to leave.”

Eventually, police were called.

Blind Woman Sues California Hospital for Employment Discrimination

National Federation of the Blind Assisting in Litigation

San Francisco, California (July 26, 2018): Alina Sorling worked for ten years as a food service technician at Mercy Medical Center in Redding, California until she went blind from an illness. After successful rehabilitation in which she learned to manage her home and perform the duties of her job as a blind person, she sought reasonable accommodations from her employer to return to work. Instead, she was fired.

From Trails to Exhibits, Parks Aim to Increase Accessibility

REBECCA REYNOLDS YONKER, Associated Press
July 23, 2018

CAVE CITY, Ky. (AP) David Allgood and Tom Stokes glide up a slight incline to the wooden platform overlooking the Green River at Mammoth Cave National Park. From there, they watch through a glass panel as the Kentucky park’s lone ferry carries a Jeep across the water below.

The longtime friends turn their wheelchairs and roll toward the recently improved Echo River Spring Trail, which is wide enough for them to travel side-by-side. Accompanied by the gurgling water and chirping birds, they chat quietly about the trail and the thought that went into the view unobstructed by railings.

Most Business Websites Are Sitting Ducks for ADA Suits, Experts Say

Disabled turn to courts for equal access to business, government websites By Ron Hurtibise
Contact Reporter
South Florida Sun Sentinel
July 22, 2018

Business owners who think that building a wheelchair ramp and grab bars in the restroom will ward off South Florida’s accessibility testers and their lawsuits need to fire up their computers, go to their websites and ask: “What’s missing?”

Lawsuits accusing businesses of failing to ensure that their websites are accessible to deaf, blind, or otherwise disabled customers have been on the rise in recent years and show no sign of tapering off, say attorneys who specialize in accessibility litigation.

Disability Community Struggles to Find Accessible Apartments in Rockford

Posted: Jul 19, 2018

When C.J. Campbell moved back to Rockford 8 years ago, it was an uphill battle to find a place to call home.

“There’s a two year waiting list generally and its very limited apartments and generally the apartments are quite old and not up to ADA standards,” Campbell said.

That’s a big challenge for Campbell, who’s been using a wheelchair his whole life.

“I discovered that it’s very difficult to find accessible housing not just here in the Stateline, but everywhere in the United States,” Campbell said.

“Housing really is one of the biggest barriers people with disabilities face,” Eric Brown said.

4 Areas AI Makes the World More Accessible

AI technology such as voice interaction, image recognition and real-time captioning is starting to break down barriers for people with sensory, physical and cognitive disabilities.

In today’s world, so much relies on information. But this can make navigating everyday life even more of a barrier for people with a sensory, physical or cognitive impairment. Fortunately, the advent of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and machine learning technology is helping people with disabilities both interact with the physical world and use digital devices and services.

How LED Lighting Can Help Those With Visual Impairments Navigate The City

July 13 2018

CANADA: Vision loss will increase by 30 percent within the next 10 years in Canada. People with visual impairments risk social isolation as well as less community participation, which is why it’s so important for cities to be more accessible to them. This can be alleviated with the use of LED lighting.

LED lighting is growing in popularity. In Canada alone, the phasing out of incandescent bulbs has resulted in other, more accessible lighting options. One of these is LEDs. Since they last up to 25 times longer than incandescent lights, use less energy, and work well in all weather conditions, they provide a valuable lighting system for both public and private spaces. They can also help to light the way for people with vision problems who rely on well-lit public areas in order to get around with greater ease. Here are other benefits of LEDs for those with visual impairments.

Court Orders CRA to Stop Setting Political Limits on Charities’ Activities

National Post
Canadian Press, July 17, 2018

OTTAWA – An Ontario Superior Court judge is telling federal tax authorities they can’t set limits on how much a charity devotes to political activity in a new ruling that grants a win to a national anti-poverty group.

Justice Ed Morgan said in the decision Tuesday that the Canada Revenue Agency could not justify a restriction on charities that they spend no more than 10 per cent of their time on political advocacy, calling it an unconstitutional limit on freedom of expression.

Morgan’s ruling – which begins with the philosophical question, what is political? – says all political activities are charitable activities so long as groups advocate “in pursuit of the overall charitable purpose.”

Proposed San Francisco Straw Ban May Limit Accessibility for People With Disabilities

by Kate Larsen
Sunday, July 15, 2018

Cities around the country have anti-plastic straw legislation in the works, including San Francisco. While reducing plastic waste is positive for the environment, it’s concerning for some people with disabilities.

“Anything that attempts to limit the amount of plastic waste in our environment today, is very positive,” says Nina McCullaugh, who is visiting her daughter in San Francisco from Los Angeles County, where Malibu is also working to ban plastic straws. Three years ago, video of a plastic straw stuck in a sea turtle’s nose went viral. Now, people around the world are ditching their single-use plastic straws in favor of biodegradable paper and reusable straws.

Disability Legislation to Crack Down on Public Bodies in the UK

New legislation coming into force will mean that, as early as 2020, all public-sector organisations, including all councils will need to make sure that their digital services and online information are accessible for disabled people.

In October 2016, an EU Directive came in which states all public-sector bodies must have accessible digital services by 2020. This means that they can be used by people with disabilities and additional needs, for example using screen readers or other assistive technology. Brexit has meant that this Directive is now being transferred into UK law and will come into effect in its first phase in 2020. The move will ensure that the 20% of people in the UK who have a limiting illness or disability will be able to access public sector websites, software and mobile applications.

B.C. Residents With Disabilities Demand a Say on Proposed Accessibility Law

Nick Eagland
Updated: July 13, 2018
From left, Amanda Reaume, Kent Loftsgard, Jessica Leung, and Vivian Ly are people living with varying disabilities who say they have to be involved in drafting any new accessibility legislation.

For Amanda Reaume, acquiring a disability meant awakening to a civil rights movement in a way made possible only through lived experience.

Last year, the 33-year-old writer suffered a brain injury that left her with balance problems and having to relearn how to walk and talk at the same time. She returned to work in Vancouver six months later but with a new, invisible disability.

Left In The Dark: Canadians With Disabilities Deserve Better From CRA

My colleagues and I learned that both of Canada’s Disability Tax Credit programs are failing our most vulnerable people. Sen. Jim Munson

Canadians with physical disabilities and serious mental health issues are being denied crucial tax credits due to a change in eligibility criteria.

One Ontario mother who cares for her 16-year-old son who has ADHD and a learning disability told CBC News she had been informed by the Canada Revenue Agency she was no longer eligible for the Disability Tax Credit. As a caregiver for her son, she had relied on the tax benefit for years until she was suddenly denied last year. No explanation was given.

Bike-Lane Bus Stops Dangerous for Blind: Suit

Bill Cleverley / Times Colonist
July 6, 2018

The City of Victoria and B.C. Transit have put the lives of blind pedestrians at risk by moving bus stops away from the curb to accommodate bike lanes, claims the Canadian Federation of the Blind.

“It’s a Russian Roulette game,” said Oriano Belusic, 56, who is named in the complaint that the federation is making with the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal against the city and transit, claiming discrimination against the visually impaired.

He cited a close call he had in a bike lane in March.

New Canadian Accessibility Standard for Buildings Benefits Everyone, Disability Advocates Say

By Wanyee LiStarMetro Vancouver

VANCOUVERPeople with disabilities often get their own cashier line, their own bathroom stall, their own entrance and that type of building design amounts to segregation, disability advocates say.

Part of the problem is that Canada did not have a standard for accessibility design in buildings, said Brad McCannell, vice-president of access and inclusion with the Rick Hansen Foundation.

(left) Brad McCannell, vice president of access and inclusion with the Rick Hansen Foundation, (centre) Kirsten Sutton, vice president of and managing director at SAP Labs Canada, and Rick Hansen, founder of the Rick Hansen Foundation, celebrate a ‘Accessibility Certified Gold’ rating at SAP Labs’ Yaletown office.

‘I’m Just Amazed’: Inverness Beach Becomes Accessibility Leader

Organizers hope to make beach the most inclusive in Atlantic Canada Kayla Hounsell · CBC News
Posted: Jul 02, 2018

The Inverness Development Association and the Inverness County Accessibility Committee partnered to purchase two of the beach-friendly wheelchairs, mats that make it easier to walk on the sand and two floating chairs that allow people to go in the water.

Christine Hannigan’s delight is evident as she sits at the water’s edge watching the waves crash on Inverness Beach in Cape Breton.

“You never thought you’d ever do this?” says the woman pushing her along the sand in what looks like a lawn chair with large rubber wheels and a Velcro strap for safety.

‘Disappointing and Frustrating’: Air Travel Accessibility Highlighted at Winnipeg Passenger Rights Meeting

CBC News · Posted: Jun 25, 2018

Jesse Turner, who uses a wheelchair, says she loves to travel but hasn’t flown for months because of concern following severe damage to her chair during a flight last summer.

A national forum on air travel passenger rights in Canada heard from Winnipeggers on Monday, including a presentation from one woman who said she hasn’t flown for months following serious damage to her wheelchair on a flight last summer.

Jesse Turner, who works as an accessibility advisor in Winnipeg, told the Canadian Transportation Agency that even before the incident 10 months ago, her wheelchair has been damaged regularly during loading and unloading for air travel.

‘Handicapped’ Removed From P.E.I. Legislation, Thanks to Hannah MacLellan

Island also teen inspired changes in 2016 around accessible parking Nancy Russell
CBC News, June 25, 2018

The P.E.I. government has removed the word handicapped from five major pieces of legislation, as a result of lobbying by former Easter Seals ambassador, Hannah MacLellan.

“I was so grateful that our provincial government saw the need to amend the acts to include up to date terminology,” said MacLellan, 19. “Language is very important ? to not have negative terminology. It’s really great to see these changes.”

‘Pretty exciting’

The Miscellaneous Statutes Amendment Act (Persons with Disabilities) changes the wording in five major pieces of legislation: the Employment Standards Act, the Engineering Profession Act, the Labour Act, the Mental Health Act and the Public Health Act.

Funding is Available to Improve Accessibility and Safety in Your Workplace

June 19 2018

A new funding opportunity under the Government of Canada’s Enabling Accessibility Fund (EAF) has been announced. Your business or organization could receive a grant of up to $100,000 through the EAF program to improve accessibility and safety in your workplace for current or future employees with disabilities.

The EAF program funds workplace projects which help remove barriers to accessibility through:

  • the construction, renovation or retrofit of workplaces, which could include the construction of access ramps and accessible offices and washrooms and the installation of elevators; and
  • the provision of accessible information and communication technologies for work use such as braille printers, accessible computer software, and visual alarm systems.