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Rick Hansen Calls for Establishing Federal Disabilities Act

Philip Raphael / Richmond News
July 31, 2015

Rick Hansen has joined the call to establish a federal law protecting the rights of disabled people.

Well-known accessibility advocate and Richmond resident Rick Hansen has added his voice calling for establishing a federal disabilities act.

Hansen, who made his mark during his Man in Motion round the world wheelchair tour in the 1980s, is supporting a non- partisan campaign to ensure accessibility, inclusion, and equal opportunity for Canadians with disabilities.

It’s part of Barrier-Free Canada’s initiative to advocate for an enactment of a strong and effective Canadians with Disabilities Act (CDA), which the organization says will enable people with disabilities to live to their full potential.

Toronto Man With Tourette’s Says He Was Kicked Out of Club Over Tic

Crews and Tangos ownership says it is seeking bouncer’s side of story CBC News, July 30, 2015

A Toronto man with Tourette syndrome says he was kicked out of a downtown nightclub after a bouncer mistook his tic for a sign that he was using drugs.

Graham Kent says he was at Crews and Tangos, a busy Church Street bar, with his girlfriend and a group of friends two weekends ago when a bouncer approached him and asked him to leave.

“I said ‘are you kicking me out?'” Kent recalls.

He said the bouncer told him he was “not comfortable” with him being in the club, and that the establishment has a “zero drug policy.”

Did Canada Break a Promise to Its Disabled Citizens?

DAVID PETTINICCHIO
The Globe and Mail, July 28, 2015

David Pettinicchio is an assistant professor of sociology at the University of Toronto.

Despite their differing approaches, both Canada and the U.S. face challenges in keeping their promise to improve the economic wellbeing of their disabled citizens.

Until recently, the U.S. had generally been regarded a world leader in disability rights, while Canadians with disabilities had to wait until the 1982 Charter of Rights and Freedoms and even there, activism was necessary in pressuring the government to include disability in the Charter. Meanwhile the U.S. government had already enacted disability rights and antidiscrimination legislation in the early 1970s.

ADA at 25: Progress and Peril

by Mark A. Riccobono
07/24/15

July 26 is the twenty-fifth anniversary of the signing of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). As President of the National Federation of the Blind, one of the oldest and largest organizations of disabled Americans, I recognize that the ADA was made possible through our self-determined action as people with disabilities, and there are many achievements we should celebrate after twenty-five years of progress.

But while I continue to be hopeful about our future, I also view this anniversary as a time to be significantly concerned about new barriers that threaten our full participation in society.

This Small Change Could Make a Big Difference for Accessible Technology

The Switch
By Hayley Tsukayama, July 23 at 10:10

Tech firms such as Yahoo, Facebook, Dropbox and LinkedIn announced Thursday that they will develop standard language that lets applicants know that having accessibility knowledge is “preferred” to land a job.

Think about how much you rely on your phone and computer every day. Now imagine having to get through your day without being able to use the mouse. Imagine not being to use a touchscreen — or maybe not being able to see the screen at all. Could you still do your job? That’s what it’s like for millions of people with disabilities that prevent them from using basic technology for work and play. And while few would argue that it’s a bad idea to build products that address those issues, a lack of awareness often means that even making products functional for people with disabilities is an afterthought.

Internet Pioneer, Tech Maven Join Forces to Support CHS Benefit

Vinton Cerf and Amber Mac announced as speakers at Get CONNECTED: The Social Interactive Event

TORONTO, July 23, 2015 /CNW/ – The Canadian Hearing Society (CHS) is thrilled to announce Vinton G. Cerf, known as one of the “Fathers of the Internet,” as the featured speaker and Amber Mac, a Canadian TV personality, as the emcee at Get CONNECTED: The Social Interactive Event at Muzik Nightclub in Toronto on Sept. 24. The fully-accessible event will celebrate the technological advancements that have broken down barriers for people with disabilities.

B.C. Transit Buys System to Announce Greater Victoria Stops

KATHERINE DEDYNA
TIMES COLONIST JULY 21, 2015

The move comes three years after a B.C. Human Rights Tribunal ruling, responding to complaints from people with impaired vision, had directed B.C. Transit to make stop announcements. The corporation responded by ordering drivers to call out stops while they drove their routes.

Unifor Local 333, the drivers union, spoke against the order, saying that calling the stops would be unsafe and tantamount to distracted driving. Many drivers refused to follow the order.

B.C. Transit is buying an automated, GPS-assisted stop-announcing system called Trekker Breeze+. The total cost is estimated at just under $400,000, including brackets and installation.

VCH Denies Former CEO Forced Out For Telling The Truth

by Valentine Marten
July 21, 2015

This morning the Vancouver Coastal Health Authority (VCH) denied social media reports that its former CEO Dr. David Ostrow had not voluntarily retired last year but was forced to for telling the truth.

Two days ago Wikileaks tweeted a link to a News 1130 article dated February 26, 2013 in which Dr. Ostrow stated: Pearson was never meant to handle the complex care requirements of those now living therePeople are getting their medications at the right time, and theyre getting suction and that sort of thing, but its way more than that when you are actually living there, and so there I would say that care isnt ideal, theft is an issue at every one of Vancouver Coastals long term care organizations. (Pearson is the George Pearson Centre, a 63 year old 114 bed extended care hospital for adults with disabilities who have complex needs.)

No Dogs in Shopping Carts: Service Dog Owners Hail Clarification of ADA Rules

Nanci Hutson
The Prescott Daily Courier – Prescott, Arizona

Pamela and Gregg McKinley are “absolutely thrilled” the American Disabilities Act rules this week were clarified to specify such dogs cannot be placed in shopping carts.

“This is a major step for the ADA. We’re extremely proud,” said Pamela McKinley whose husband, an Operation Desert Storm veteran, has a trained service dog, Seth, a Dutch Shepherd mix.

The U.S. Department of Justice released this week a new technical assistance document entitled “Frequently Asked Questions About Service Animals and the ADA.” It is in that document that it is made clear that service animals are not allowed in shopping carts.

Government of Canada Improves Accessibility for Canadians With Disabilities in Manotick

July 14, 2015 Manotick, Ontario Employment and Social Development Canada

Today, the Honourable Pierre Poilievre, Minister of Employment and Social Development, announced improved access for Canadians with disabilities to programs and services in Manotick.

Royal Canadian Legion Branch 314 is receiving $50,000 through the Enabling Accessibility Fund (EAF) to improve accessibility for Canadians with disabilities. Royal Canadian Legion Branch 314’s project consists of installing an accessible lift and an automated door. As a result of this project, the organization will be able to offer their programs and services to Veterans with disabilities in Manotick.

The Federation at Seventy-Five: The Determination of Value and the Reflection of Hope

An Address Delivered by Mark Riccobono
at the Banquet of the Annual Convention of the National Federation of the Blind
Orlando, Florida, July 10, 2015

Value is a broad concept used to measure the worth of a resource, product, service, or a combination of these.

Many theories have been offered through the centuries to help explain both the objective and subjective value that people place on things and on each other. The consideration of value began with the ancient philosophers attempting to apply a logical framework. In contrast, the modern investigation, broadly known as value theory, is empirical research that involves concepts from psychology, sociology, and economics.

VCH Investigation Unable To Conclude Why It Told the Truth

By Valentine Marten
July 10, 2015

The Vancouver Coastal Health Authority (VCH) is one of British Columbia’s Health Authorities. It is responsible for the delivery of $3.4 billion in community, hospital and residential care to more than one million people in communities including Richmond, Vancouver, the North Shore, Sunshine Coast, Sea to Sky corridor, Powell River, Bella Bella and Bella Coola.

On July 7, 2015 VCH released the report of an investigation into why one of their media spokespeople told the truth in 2012. The three year meticulous, exhaustive investigation was unable to conclude why the spokesperson told the truth. VCH issued a highly qualified, carefully worded safety blanket apology to their stakeholders, and made a commitment to never tell the truth again.

Quebec Superior Court Assumes Jurisdiction Over Accessibility Class Action

July 08 2015

The Quebec Superior Court recently rejected a motion brought by WestJet seeking to have a previously certified class action dismissed on the basis that the Canadian Transportation Agency (CTA) had exclusive jurisdiction over the subject matter of the suit.(1)

Background

In October 2013 the Quebec court certified a class action in that province for the recovery of compensatory, moral and punitive damages against WestJet. The class was composed of:

  • persons residing in Quebec who were functionally disabled by reason of their obesity or otherwise and who were required to pay additional fees for an extra seat for an attendant and/or for a seat adapted to their condition on a WestJet flight; and

Blind Transit Riders Deserve Safe Callout System

Ben Williams / Times Colonist
July 4, 2015 12:08 AM

How can a serious problem affecting people with disabilities in Victoria persist for seven years when everyone involved agrees on the obvious solution?

That’s the question that has perplexed Greater Victoria transit operators, their union, the Canadian Federation of the Blind, the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal and now the B.C. Supreme Court.

Because everyone agrees that an automated call-out system for bus stops in Greater Victoria is the only safe, effective way to ensure the rights of the blind are respected on our transit system.

Public Servants With Visual Impairments Say Government Failing Them

Federal government could face legal battle over inaccessible, internal websites says Toronto lawyer
By Julie Ireton, CBC News Posted: Jul 02, 2015 5:00 AM ET| Last Updated: Jul 02, 2015 12:37 PM ET

Former federal government electrician Dan Mooney said the computer he was using at his desk job was constantly failing. “It was not unusual to go a month, month and a half without a properly working computer.”

Public servants who are blind or have visual impairments say the federal government is failing them when it comes to making sure they have the proper tools to do their jobs.

DOJ Shifts Position on Web Access

Stating in Court Filings That Public Accommodations Have a Pre-Existing Obligation to Make Websites Accessible Seyfarth Shaw LLP
USA June 29 2015

What a difference five years makes. In September 2010, the Justice Department (DOJ) announced in an Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPRM) that it would issue new regulations under Title III of the ADA to address the accessibility of public accommodations websites.

At that time, it made a number of statements that reasonably led public accommodations to conclude that their websites did not necessarily have to be accessible as long as the public accommodation offered an equivalent alternative way to access the goods and services that were provided on the website.

The Life-Changing Impact of Autism Service Dogs

By Elisabeth Geier

A boy walks through the crowded halls of his school tethered to a dog who helps him remain calm in the crowd, find the correct classroom, and get settled in his seat before class starts.

A family enjoys dinner at a busy restaurant with a dog laying patiently at their childs feet.

A young woman sits in a chair with her head in her hands, rocking back and forth; her dog puts his front paws on her lap and applies deep pressure until her body releases tension and she is able to carry on with her day. These are autism assistance dogs in action.

Students Design a Facial Recognition Cane for Blind People

by Edgar Alvarez, @abcdedgar

Facial recognition technology has many use cases, but none nearly as significant as this next one might be.

A group of students at Birmingham City University are developing a smart cane, dubbed XploR, which uses a combination of hardware and software to help the visually impaired easily identify family and friends.

The device is powered by a smartphone’s face recognition features, GPS and Bluetooth, allowing blind people who use it to detect faces up to roughly 33ft away.
If the cane does recognize someone, it then sends a vibrating signal to the person and guides them via an ear piece,
for reference, the images of loved ones can be stored on an SD card.

People with Disabilities Have Lousy Access at State Websites, Including Covered California

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

California law has required state government websites to be accessible by people with disabilities since 2003. According to the California State Auditor, that’s also how long state websites have not followed the law.

A report (pdf) this month from State Auditor Elaine Howle looked at four big agencies and found they all had multiple critical violations that would prevent disabled people from completing critical communications with government.

The worst was Covered California, but Community Colleges, the Department of Human Resources (CalHR) and the Franchise Tax Board were all found to be profoundly deficient.

Deafblind Australian Makes Historic Call with Breakthrough Braille Phone

May 19, 2015, – Australia

Hundreds of thousands of deafblind Australians will now be able to make phone calls easily with a world first trial of a caption-braille phone

Victorian woman Michelle Stevens was born with vision impairment and lost her hearing years ago due to chronic ear infections.

She’s been unable to call people over the telephone using her own voice since.

“It can be really isolating for deaf blind people,” said Michelle.

The 58-year-old has now become the first deafblind Australian to make a telephone call with the assistance of caption-to-Braille technology.