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Changes to the Canada Elections Act may Increase Accessibility of Federal Elections

By Lila Refaie, Bilingual Intake Lawyer and Student Programs Lead

The Canada Elections Act (“Act”) governs the rules Elections Canada must follow when there is a federal election. The Act was amended by Bill C-76 in December 2018 and is now in force. The new rules will be implemented as soon as the next general election in October 2019.

Bill C-76 introduced a great number of changes to the Act. Of the many changes, some relate to the rights of electors with disabilities.

Elections Canada must ensure that any communications, public education or other materials available to the public are accessible to persons with disabilities. This includes information about the way someone can become a candidate or how an elector can vote during the election period.

City Opens Accessible Playground

By MATTHEW REITZ mreitz@palltimes.com
Jul 12, 2019

OSWEGO Port City officials celebrated the opening of the first accessible playground Friday morning at Hamilton Park as part of an ongoing effort to make Oswego a more inclusive community.

Designed to accommodate children with disabilities, the park includes an accessible swing and a variety of other equipment for children to enjoy. Oswego Mayor Billy Barlow, along with representatives from Arise, Inc. and a number of other local advocates, hosted a ribbon cutting ceremony Friday morning.

Why Do We Fix AI Bias But Ignore Accessibility Bias?

Kalev Leetaru Contributor
AI & Big Data
I write about the broad intersection of data and society.

“As the Web has become increasingly visual, with pages of text replaced by rich high-resolution imagery and video, it has become increasingly inaccessible to those with differing physical abilities who rely on accessibility software like screen readers.”

Silicon Valley has become obsessed with addressing AI bias. As deep learning algorithms have graduated from the academic research lab into the real world, there has become a growing awareness of the implications of their innate biases as their limited Western training data has collided spectacularly with a globalized digital world.

UK.: Bikes to Give Disabled People More Freedom

Posted on Tuesday 2nd July 2019

A pilot project to introduce bicycles suitable for use by disabled youngsters and adults is being introduced into Tredegar Park, Newport.

The free initiative by Newport City Council will enhance the facilities at the popular park where an improved cycle route takes users around the park.

The specially adapted bikes will be provided by charitable organisation Pedal Power which runs a similar scheme from Bute Park in Cardiff.

Councillor Deb Harvey, cabinet member for culture and leisure, has chosen the project because it will help people of all abilities to enjoy recreation and leisure together.

FAU’s Online College Ranked One of the ‘Best’ Online Schools for Students With Disabilities

FAU’s Online College Ranked One of the ‘Best’ Online Schools for Students With Disabilities
SR Education Group, who has been helping students find online colleges since 2004, found the Florida Atlantic University[FAU] to be suitable for students with audio, visual, and learning disabilities. Kimberly Swan, Contributing Writer
July 1, 2019

FAU’s online college was rated among the top colleges in the nation for accommodating students with disabilities, according to a recent ranking.

SR Education Group, which has helped students find online colleges since 2004, released their 2019 Best Online Colleges for Student with Disabilities list last month. The organization split the rankings into best online colleges for students with audio, visual, and learning disabilities.

Bad Braille Plagues Buildings Across U.S., CBS News Radio Investigation Finds

By Steve Dorsey
June 28, 2019

The federal government, corporations, cities and even medical facilities across the country are looking past the needs of blind Americans by failing to address problems with braille signage.

CBS News has uncovered complaints to the Justice Department’s Disability Rights section about missing or incorrect braille at a number of public facilities, including Albuquerque’s bus system, restaurants in Kansas and Pennsylvania, and hospital and medical buildings in Chicago, among other locations. The records, spanning two years, were obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request.

Forty-one-year-old Vencer Cotton, who’s been blind since birth, often encounters bad braille in Washington, D.C. Cotton says he once entered the wrong restroom because of it.

Haptic-Feedback Clothing Designed to Guide Persons With Disabilities

Garment that communicates via vibrations
Imagine not seeing anything nor hearing anything. Such communication obstacles affect all aspects of life. Many people with deafblindness communicate via tactile signing and also haptic signals (touch and movement) on the body. Now, researchers are working to digitise and integrate this into a garment.

Haptic signing means that a person interprets the environment for the person with deafblindness by touching their back and other parts of the body. Halfway through the EU project “SUITCEYES,” researchers have developed several prototypes of garments that can simulate these movements.

“SUITCEYES” stands for: Smart, User-friendly, Interactive, Tactual, Cognition-Enhancer that Yields Extended Sensosphere.

Government Launches Consultation to Make New Homes More Accessible

26th June 2019 UK

Higher accessibility standards for new housing are to be introduced in the UK as part of a wider plan to make sure disabled people are not facing discrimination.

Prime Minister Theresa May said that it is widely recognising that too many disabled people still live in unsuitable homes and she announced a consultation on mandating higher accessibility standards for new homes.

The aim is to deliver up to 300,000 new accessible and adaptable homes every year and guidance will also be published to help councils meet current standards for accessible housing in England.

Accessible Air Travel Survey

Share Your Accessible (Or Not) Air Travel Stories

Large North American airline seeking feedback from people with disabilities that have had good and bad accommodation experiences on any airline. The survey results will be used in the development of an online training program for airline staff supporting travelers with disabilities. Please click the link below to participate. Thank you for your time and consideration. https://tinyurl.com/AccessibleAirTravelSurvey

TRISH ROBICHAUD
trish@changingpaces.com

Canadian Transportation Agency Announces Plans to Enhance Accessibility of Canada’s National Transportation System

PR NewswireJune 21, 2019

GATINEAU, QC, June 21, 2019 /CNW/ – Bill C-81, the Accessible Canada Act , which received Royal Assent today, will provide the Canadian Transportation Agency (CTA) with new tools to help advance the accessibility of the national transportation system.

Once in force, this legislation will provide the CTA with:

  • own motion powers to initiate investigations, upon approval of the Minister of Transport, regardless of whether a formal complaint has been made;
  • new power to award compensation for lost wages, pain and suffering, and willful or reckless practice when an adjudication finds that there was an undue barrier to the mobility of persons with disabilities. This power to award compensation aligns with that of the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal;

How Charities Can Meet the New Digital Accessibility Standards

Charities are legally responsible for meeting accessibility standards online, but most don’t. Digital accessibility expert Carlos Eriksson of Studio 24 explains what they can do to fix it, starting now. Guest Writer | 20th Jun 19

Carlos Eriksson is Accessibility Lead Developer at Studio 24. Eriksson was named ‘Champion of Change’ in the 2019 BIMA 100 which recognises the top 100 digital movers and shakers, thanks to his decade-long work making the web better for everyone.

In the past couple of years, accessibility has gone from being an afterthought at best, to an often spoken about subject at conferences and water coolers alike.

Digital Accessibility Improving, but People with Disabilities Still Seek More Inclusive Access

Published on June 18, 2019 in Broadband’s Impact/Digital Inclusion/FCC/Innovation by Masha Abarinova

ARLINGTON, Virginia – June 18, 2019 Comprehensive legislation addressing accessibility is necessary to ensure that information technology is available to a wider group of people, particularly to people with disabilities, said panelists speaking at the M-Enabling Summit here on Tuesday.

Innovations involving wireless 5G technologies, for example, use multiple bandwidths including mid-band and low-band, which are more available in rural areas. But some of 5G’s functions will be more available than others, as the gaps in rural coverage present a “real problem” for which a “massive funding effort will be necessary,” said Paul Schroeder, vice president of public policy at Aira. The company offers wearable smart glasses and an integrated mobile app helping people with limited visibility.

Nominations Open for 2019 Henry Viscardi Achievement Awards

June 3, 2019

The Viscardi Center has opened a call for nominations for the 2019 Henry Viscardi Achievement Awards, an international award series honoring extraordinary men and women with disabilities.

The Henry Viscardi Achievements Awards commemorate the vision of The Viscardi Center’s founder, Dr. Henry Viscardi, Jr., who himself wore prosthetic legs. A premier disability advocate, Dr. Viscardi served as a disability advisor to eight U.S. presidents and implemented groundbreaking employment and education programs that continue to improve the quality of life for people with disabilities.

Launched in 2013, the Awards are bestowed upon leaders in the global disability community who carry on Dr. Viscardi’s legacy through their professional accomplishments and advocacy efforts.

‘Super Power’ Artwork On Display at Heathrow Airport

Chief Assignment EditorJune 13, 2019

A canopy of brightly coloured umbrellas has appeared at Heathrow as part of an initiative to raise awareness of neuro-developmental disorders, including Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), autism, Dyslexia, Dyscalculia and Dyspraxia.

Devised by ADHD Foundation, the hugely popular ‘Umbrella Project’ has launched at arrivals in Heathrow’s Terminal 5 the first time this artwork has been available to view in London or at an airport. Celebrating the gifts, talents and employability of those with neuro-developmental disorders, the project name stems from the use of ADHD and autism as ‘umbrella terms’ for many neurological conditions and reframes them for children as unique ‘Super Powers’. The installation forms part of a wider education programme with participating local schools including Heathrow Primary, William Byrd and Harmondsworth Primary to raise awareness about ADHD and autism.

Global Apex Body of Airline Operators Passes Key Resolutions to Make Travel More Accessible

Originally posted June 4 2019

Improving airline infrastructure and facilities for people with disabilities, global deployment of Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) for baggage tracking and facilitating implementation of biometrics based One ID process were some of the key resolutions passed on Sunday at the annual general meeting of the International Air Transport Association (IATA), the global apex body of airline operators, in Seoul.

The resolution means that global airlines and airports will work together to ensure that wheelchair assistance to passengers increases. Airlines will also work with passenger associations, airports, ground handlers, and regulators to ensure that there is no damage to the mobility aids of passengers who travel with their own aids.

Canada: New Accessibility Standard For Employment

Last Updated: June 5 2019
Article by Melissa Beaumont
Thompson Dorfman Sweatman LLP

The Accessibility for Manitobans Act (AMA) was created to achieve an accessible society for all Manitobans disabled by a barrier. Over time, a number of standards will be enacted under the AMA to create accessibility obligations for organizations in areas such as customer service, employment, information & communications, the built environment and transportation.

On May 1, 2019, the Accessible Employment Standard Regulation came into force. It creates a general obligation on all employers to implement policies and practices to reasonably accommodate employees who are disabled by a barrier in the workplace.

Japan Struggling to Ramp Up Accessibility Efforts Ahead of Paralympics

KYODO NEWS – Jun 2, 2019

TOKYO – A shortage of wheelchair-accessible hotel rooms remains an issue for Tokyo 2020 organizers who say they are committed to using the Paralympic Games to make Japan a more inclusive place.

As the clock ticks down to the Aug. 25, 2020, Paralympic opening ceremony, the Tokyo metropolitan government admits that by its own estimations it is still about 300 rooms short of the projected 850 accessible rooms needed each night during the two-week sporting festival.

“We’re nowhere near the number. There’s no denying that we’re behind schedule,” said a representative of a Japanese disability organization.

Province in British Columbia, Canada to Develop Online Tool to Track Accessible Parking Spaces

May 28, 2019

An online tool to track accessible parking spaces is being developed by Richmond Centre for Disability (RCD), thanks to a $28,000 provincial grant they received last year.

The province is once again calling for grant proposals for community projects that improve accessibility for the second year running, the province is giving out a total of $500,000 in grants.

“Every day, people with disabilities overcome barriers that could otherwise impact their lives,” said Shane Simpson, Minister of Social Development and Poverty Reduction, in a press release. “Organizations across B.C. are working to embrace diversity, create equal opportunities and improve social inclusion.”

Lyft Fights to Avoid Americans with Disabilities Act in Federal Court

By SAMANTHA MALDONADO
May 2, 2019 06:16 PM EDT

Lyft argues it should not be subject to the Americans with Disabilities Act and is fighting a federal class action lawsuit filed in Westchester County on the grounds that “it is not in the transportation business.”

It’s an argument long employed by app-based companies like Lyft and Uber, and it’s one that experts in the field continue to scoff at.

According to their public filings their mission is to improve people’s lives with the world’s best transportation,” said former New York City Taxi Commissioner Meera Joshi. “Or maybe it should be improving some people’s lives because throughout the country most passengers that use a wheelchair still can’t get a Lyft.”

Disabled Musicians are Being ‘Failed by Venues’

By Mark Savage
BBC Music reporter
9 May 2019

Last year, Ruth Patterson’s band Holy Moly and the Crackers tried to book a tour of the UK.

But one venue wrote back, refusing to host them because Patterson, who has arthritis and Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, uses a wheelchair.

“They said they wouldn’t book us because I was a fire hazard,” she says. “That’s absolutely horrendous.”

The singer is not alone. A new survey suggests disabled musicians face significant barriers in UK venues.

Of the nearly 100 deaf and disabled performers surveyed by Attitude Is Everything, two-thirds said they had to “compromise their health or wellbeing” in order to play live.