Access for Sight Impaired Consumers Board Backs Human Rights Complaint

Posted to site August 9, 2010

IN January 2008, the Access for Sight Impaired Consumers (ASIC) Board approved a motion to back the filing of a human rights complaint against the City
of Richmond. The complaint seeks to resolve the City’s unwillingness to provide access to public information in an audio format – specifically street names at controlled intersections equipped with an accessible pedestrian signalling (APS)device.

While the City is refusing to provide what amounts to public information through this audio or voice messaging format, it is also refusing to use similar
voice messaging at approximately 60 “special” crosswalks which are already equipped with pedestrian activated amber warning signals. Without an APS device at these “special” crosswalks, pedestrians who are blind or sight impaired are unable to utilize such crosswalks in a safe and independant manner. Given there is no universally recognized tone to indicate the amber pedestrian signals have ben activated (unlike the well recognized “cuckoo” or “chirp” at controlled intersections), voice messaging is emerging as the accepted standard by other Metro Vancouver municipalities. For reasons unknown, the City of Richmond is unwilling to follow the successful practice of neighbouring municipalities.

In February 2008, following several years of negotiations with the City of Richmond, Rob Sleath filed a human rights complaint against the City in his capacity as Chair of ASIC. Following early settlement meetings in October 2008 and subsequent requests for additional information from the City, the enclosed media release was distributed on August 3 2010. We have also included links to media responses to this release:

Blind Pedestrian Suing Citty of Richmond for Access

Media Release – August 3rd 2010

Richmond resident Rob Sleath has filed a complaint against the City of Richmond. Mr. Sleath is seeking an order requiring the City to provide street name information for blind pedestrians through audio way-finding messages. The City is refusing to provide this format for people who are blind or sight-impaired and will only agree to provide street names in Braille and tactile letter formats.

Mr. Sleath is Chair of Access for Sight-Impaired Consumers (ASIC). He is baffled and extremely disappointed by Richmond’s refusal to provide the audio format. His complaint will be heard by the BC Human Rights Tribunal on August 23rd.

“The focus of my complaint is to resolve our long-standing request to make basic public information such as street name signage, available to me as a blind pedestrian” said Sleath. ”Many service providers and public venues provide audio information through voice output,” he added. “What I am seeking is independent access to very basic street information.”

Richmond provides way-finding (street signage) where streets and roads intersect. This text-based signage is inaccessible to blind or sight-impaired pedestrians who are consequently unable to independently determine the name of the intersecting streets or roadways they wish to cross. “Why won’t Richmond make the same information available to me as a blind pedestrian?” asks Sleath.

The Traffic Association of Canada recently released guidelines addressing the installation of accessible pedestrian signal (APS) devices stating that “APS
sites may also identify the street to be crossed by incorporating Braille characters, tactile characters, high-contrast lettering, audio street announcements and/or tactile crosswalk mapping.”

The City’s unwillingness to provide audio messaging is a significant barrier which prevents Sleath from using several of approximately 60 “special” crosswalks located throughout the city. “Without APS devices that provide a verbal crossing message, I’m unable to use these crosswalks in a safe and independent manner,” said Sleath. “Other Metro Vancouver municipalities are employing verbal messaging at special crosswalks very successfully…why not Richmond?”

For more information please contact Rob Sleath at: Phone: 604 241-7499; E-mail:; Website:

Background on Access for Sight Impaired Consumers (ASIC):

ASIC is an independent, consumer-driven advocacy coalition that addresses issues which affect
legally blind, sight-impaired and deaf-blind residents of British Columbia. Many of ASIC’s member organizations are chapters affiliated with widely recognized provincial or national bodies that serve an even greater number than the nearly 18,000 consumers with vision loss who reside within BC.
ASIC’s primary objective is to promote equal access, independence and inclusion for persons with vision loss by offering educational opportunities to, and by increasing the awareness of, key decision makers in government, the corporate sector and the public.

Reproduced from