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B.C. Communities Urged to Improve Access for Disabled People

One in four B.C. residents has disability, most want to work Tom Fletcher/
Sep. 16, 2019 1:20 p.m./

The unemployment rate for people with disabilities is close to 50 per cent, and B.C. needs them as much as they want to work, the president of the B.C. Chamber of Commerce says.

Val Litwin spoke Monday at an announcement by the B.C. government on its plan to help people with disabilities find jobs, in an economy with a million job openings ahead and a labour shortage already being felt.

Residents at Calgary Apartment Building Frustrated Over Lack of Accessible Door

CTV Calgary
Kathy Le, Video Journalist
@CTVKathyLe
Published Friday, September 13, 2019

For a handful of wheelchair-dependent, southeast Calgary apartment residents, getting into and out of their building is proving to be a very difficult task.

Robin Cummings says she and at least five or six other residents rely on a wheelchair or scooter to get around, but there isn’t an automatic door opener at the two entrance doors to help facilitate the process.

“We have to use our hands. One hand to hold the door open and one hand to try and operate a scooter to get in two sets of doors,” said Cummings.

In a Tight Labor Market, a Disability May Not Be a Barrier

To expand the pool of workers, companies are recruiting stay-at-home parents, retirees and people with disabilities. Will they keep it up if the economy sours? By Ben Casselman
NY Times, Sept. 5, 2019

ROUND ROCK, Tex. When Kate Cosway completed her masters degree in 2014, her résumé drew plenty of interest, but she rarely advanced far in the hiring process. She was pretty sure she knew why: She is on the autism spectrum and struggles in traditional interviews.

Her luck finally turned this summer when she landed a 12-week internship at Dell Technologies, which this month will turn into a full-time job working on automation in the companys audit department.

Government of Canada Announces New Accessible Technology Program Funding Recipients

From: Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada
$7.78 million investment will help boost participation of Canadians with disabilities in the digital economy September 4, 2019 Ottawa, Ontario

Canadians with disabilities deserve the same opportunities to find good jobs, contribute to their communities, and build a better life for themselves and their families. Yet many Canadians with disabilities still face barriers to full participation in the digital economy.

Today, the Honourable Navdeep Bains, Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development, announced that 12 new projects from across the country will receive funding through the Accessible Technology Program. This is in addition to the three projects funded under the program that were announced earlier this year.

Disabled Passengers Say New Canada Transportation Act Rules Increase Air Travel Barriers

By Christopher Reynolds The Canadian Press

Tracy Odell recalls with a mix of pride and pain the sunny spring day two years ago that her daughter got married in California.

Pride in the milestone. Pain at having to miss it.

Airlines, she said, effectively failed to accommodate her disability, a problem that thousands of Canadians continue to face despite new rules designed in theory to open the skies to disabled travellers.

As seating space shrank and cargo doors were often too small for customized wheelchairs, Odell cut back on the flights she once took routinely for her work with a non-profit.

Disenfranchised and Disillusioned: Little Progress Made for Voters With Disabilities

Despite suggestions to make voting more accessible, people with disabilities still face barriers. Megan Linton · for CBC News · Posted: Sep 01, 2019

A man arrives at a polling station on the first day of advance voting for a federal byelection in Burnaby South on Feb. 15, 2019. Despite recommendations from an advisory group on disability issues formed by Elections Canada in 2014, little has changed for voters with disabilities as Manitobans prepare to vote in both a provincial and federal election in the coming weeks, says Megan Linton.

‘It’s a Basic Human Right:’ High School Should Prioritize Accessibility, Saanich Mother Says

Maya Bosdet, 14, uses a wheelchair and wants to attend the same high school her father did Adam van der Zwan · CBC News · Posted: Aug 29, 2019

Maya Bosdet and her mother Lisa say they were disappointed to find Claremont Secondary, the school near Maya’s home, is not accessible for the 14-year-old, who uses a wheelchair.

Maya Bosdet says she’s excited for the beginning of classes next week because it means continuing a family tradition of attending high school at Claremont Secondary, in Saanich, B.C.

But a tour of the school this week has her concerned the building won’t be accessible enough to meet her needs as a wheelchair user.

Publishers, Universities Struggle to Provide Timely Access to Accessible Textbooks

For visually impaired students, a lack of accessible learning materials creates enormous barriers to success. By MATTHEW HALLIDAY | AUG 27 2019

When Alycia Pottie was a teenager, she lost most of her sight to a combination of glaucoma and uveitis, a form of ocular inflammation. Shes been legally blind ever since, and for the past four years, as a psychology student at Mount Saint Vincent University, shes relied on the accommodations that many visually impaired Canadian students use: large-print course materials, extra time on exams and, critically, accessible electronic textbooks.

The Robson Square Steps are Beautiful but are They Safe?

Accessibility advocates in Vancouver call for upgrades to wheelchair ramp and steps Jesse Johnston · CBC News · Posted: Aug 22, 2019

The path at Robson Square in Vancouver, which zigzags across the stairwell like a switchback trail on a mountainside, is a crown jewel in the late architect Arthur Erickson’s portfolio.

Arnold Cheng doesn’t like it.

“There are two competing camps people who think it’s beautiful and wonderful and people who don’t think it’s beautiful and wonderful,” Cheng said.

“Quite often, one [camp] is people without disabilities and the other is people with disabilities.”

Cheng, who works as an accessibility consultant, says it’s dangerous to travel down the steep ramp in his wheelchair.

Accessible Playground in Cornwall, P.E.I., Getting Positive Reaction

‘The kids love it and it’s certainly a great feature to this facility’ Tom Steepe · CBC News · Posted: Aug 19, 2019

An accessible playground in Cornwall, P.E.I., has been getting positive feedback since it opened.

The playground, located at the Cornwall Civic Centre next to the curling club, includes a wide variety of structures designed to be fully accessible and inclusive through the use of stairs, climbers and slides.

“Everything has been positive, the kids love it and it’s certainly a great feature to this facility and to the programming that happens here,” said recreation manager Kim Meunier.

Meunier said the playground gets “upwards of 100 kids” visiting each day.

Dad’s Invention for Disabled Daughter Gets Recognition at National Contest

by: Glacier Media
August 21, 2019

A device developed by a Saanich father to keep his disabled daughter’s diaper dry has taken second prize in a Canadian national contest.

The CareChanger, a sensory device that monitors for moisture and alerts caregivers to the need for a diaper change, took second place in its category at Innovative Design for Accessibility, a competition of Universities Canada, an organization that includes the University of Victoria.

Jim McDermott said he is meeting with a technology and design firm to discuss taking the device further, possibly to market.

“It might be a little easier now that I actually have an award-winning device to sell,” said McDermott, a retired maintenance engineer.

UW Student Helps to Develop Online Accessibility Tool

Prototype eases web navigation for those with visual impairments Aug. 20, 2019
by Brent Davis
Waterloo Region Record

A University of Waterloo student has helped develop a new tool to make online navigation easier for people with visual impairments.

The prototype, dubbed VERSE Voice Exploration, Retrieval, and Search merges voice-based virtual assistants on devices like phones and smart speakers with screen readers, which can read out the contents of a web page to the user.

Alexandra Vtyurina, a PhD candidate at UW’s David R. Cheriton School of Computer Science, collaborated with researchers at Microsoft and University of Washington assistant professor Leah Findlater during an internship at Microsoft Research in Redmond, Wash. last summer.

Carleton to Lead Canadian Accessibility Network

The new network of regional centers of excellence comes on the heels of Canada’s first national accessibility law. By SPARROW MCGOWAN | AUG 20 2019

Carleton University aims to draw on the power of partnerships to advance accessibility for people with disabilities through the recently announced Canadian Accessibility Network.

“We are pursuing to establish Carleton as a centre of excellence in accessibility,” said Dr. Boris Vukovic, director of Carleton’s READ (Research, Education, Accessibility and Design) Initiative, where the network will be headquartered. Dr. Vukovic said they plan to create a network of regional centers of excellence across the country, drawing on “Carleton’s history of collaborating with partners within and outside of Carleton, locally, nationally and even internationally on accessibility related projects.”

Canadian Transportation Agency Launches a New Confidential Toll-Free Accessibility Help Line

News provided by
Canadian Transportation Agency

GATINEAU, QC, Aug. 20, 2019 /CNW/ – The disability community and persons with disabilities now have new tools available to help them exercise their right to an accessible transportation network.

In support of the implementation of the new Accessible Transportation for Persons with Disabilities Regulations, the Canadian Transportation Agency (CTA) has launched a new confidential toll-free Accessibility Help Line to provide information, and guidance about dispute resolution services relating to accessible travel.

Callers to the Accessibility Help Line can have access to a staff member if they have questions relating to accessible transportation, or if they wish to file a transportation-related accessibility complaint. This is a confidential service. Staff are available Monday to Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Eastern Time.

In Japan, Gyms for People With Disabilities Gain Traction

The Japan News/Asia News Network
August 04, 2019

TOKYO A little more than a year remains before the start of the Tokyo Paralympics, and sports facilities for persons with disabilities are being built across Japan and competitions being held for para athletes.

The Paralympics are expected to enhance the visibility of sports for persons with disabilities and help improve their business viability.

In March, i-Self Workout, a training gym for wheelchair users, opened in Koto Ward, Tokyo. J-Workout, the company that operates the gym, imported five kinds of equipment from South Korea designed to help users train their upper body and trunk while seated in a wheelchair.

How Actors With Disabilities are Changing the Narrative in Hollywood

‘We just keep trucking along and defying the odds,’ says Emmy nominee Ryan O’Connell Tashauna Reid · CBC News
Posted: Aug 11, 2019

When Ryan O’Connell created his Netflix series Special, he knew it was good. But he didn’t imagine the comedy would earn four Emmy nominations, including best comedy, in its first season.

“I always believed in the show,” said O’Connell. “But having that validated is sort of incredible.”

Special is about a millennial gay man living with cerebral palsy while trying to make it as a writer. But when he gets hit by a car just before starting his new job, he decides to hide his disability from his co-workers, citing the accident as the reason for his limp and dexterity issues.

National Federation of the Blind Applauds Introduction of Greater Access and Independence through Nonvisual Access Technology (GAIN) Act

Urges Swift Passage of Legislation to Preserve Independence of Blind People in their Homes Baltimore, Maryland (July 31, 2019)

The National Federation of the Blind, the oldest and largest nationwide organization of blind Americans, today applauded the introduction of the Greater Access and Independence through Nonvisual Access Technology (GAIN) Act of 2019 (H.R. 3929) in the House of Representatives.

The bill was introduced by Representatives Jan Schakowsky (D-IL), Lisa Blunt Rochester (D-DE), and Mark DeSaulnier (D-CA). This legislation directs the Architectural and Transportation Barriers Compliance Board (the “Access Board”) to develop a minimum nonvisual access standard for home-use medical devices, exercise equipment, and home appliances, and provide for the enforcement of the standard.

Biomedical Engineering Students Design Life-Changing Technology

July 29, 2019

The University of Manitoba Biomedical Engineering Design Team (BMED) brings together students with a passion for the biomedical field to foster design experience, device building, public speaking and networking opportunities.

Throughout their first year as a team, BMED organized events, tours and outreach programs to distribute knowledge about biomedical engineering. The team focused on completing autonomous design projects that aim to improve the quality of life of clients. Within these projects, students designed, prototyped and tested their devices before taking them to competitions and conferences. BMED worked on three projects: Wheelchair Transfer, Wheelchair Handwarmer, and EMG Muscle Rehabilitation.

Feeling Waves for First Time: Floating Wheelchairs Big Hit on P.E.I. Beaches

‘It’s about inclusion and enjoying the beach’
Pat Martel · CBC News · Posted: Aug 05, 2019

‘You know she’s happy when she hits the water,’ says Maryann LaFlamme as her daughter Meghan Hughes uses a floating wheelchair while vacationing on P.E.I.

For the first time in her life, 26-year-old Meghan Hughes has been able to feel what it’s like to have waves wash over her, thanks to a floating wheelchair at Cedar Dunes provincial park.

The floating chairs are provided at four P.E.I. provincial park beaches including the park at West Point, P.E.I. That’s where Hughes, who’s visiting from Windsor, Ont., recently took her first ride into the ocean.

Could Assistive Tech Transform the Social Care Sector?

Originally posted 17th July 2019

Learning disability charity Hft has partnered with Tunstall Healthcare, a specialist in connected healthcare solutions, to release a new report on how assistive technology can support and transform the social care sector.

The report looks at the untapped potential of assistive technology and how it can support disabled people, increase independence and free up carers to focus on more meaningful support. It also highlights how assistive technology could help bridge the disability employment gap and get more disabled people into work.

Hft says that with social care funding in crisis and with care needs and demands growing, the realisation of the potential of assistive technology could revolutionise the way care is delivered, bringing about helpful changes for healthcare professionals and users alike.