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Telehealth May Worsen Digital Divide for People With Disabilities(PWDs)

A recently published JAMIA paper argues that design, implementation and policy considerations must be taken into account when developing virtual care technology. By Kat Jercich
November 23, 2020

Much has been made of telehealth’s potential to bridge the accessibility gap for those who may be otherwise underserved by the healthcare systems.

But, experts said in a new paper published in the Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association this past week, telehealth may also exacerbate inequities faced by the disability community.

“There remains a pressing need to explicitly consider how changes in the prevalence and ubiquity of telehealth impact people with disabilities,” wrote the authors.

Disability Advocates Say Assisted Dying Bill Fails to Protect Vulnerable Canadians

Man suffering from neurological disorder says MAID easier to access than supports for disabled Canadians Kathleen Harris, CBC News
Posted: Nov 10, 2020

The House of Commons justice committee heard today from opponents of the federal government’s plan to change the rules for medical assistance in dying.

Advocates for Canadians with disabilities are sounding the alarm over a bill to expand medical assistance in dying, warning that it will devalue the lives of vulnerable people.

Speaking to MPs on the justice committee via Zoom from his hospital bed in London, Ont., Roger Foley pleaded with policymakers to focus on providing more assistance and home care to Canadians with disabilities. He said he has been denied proper care and was “coerced” into choosing MAID because his acute care needs were too much for hospital staff to handle.

NotAWitch Calls Out ‘The Witches’ Movie for Portrayal of Disability

The film, which stars Anne Hathaway, associates physical impairment with witches By IPC
Nov. 3, 2020

WarnerBros’ latest movie ‘The Witches’ has triggered a stir among the disability community with its negative portrayal of limb deficiencies. The film, featuring actress Anne Hathaway, heavily portrays evil witches with distinct physical impairments in their hands and feet.

With a star-studded cast that also includes Octavia Spencer, some Para athletes raised concerns that the film could further the stigma around disability.

One of the movie trailer shows the star-studded cast giving a tutorial on ‘How to Identify Witches’, highlighting claws and lack of toes as prime characteristics of the witches. The film was released on 26 October in Great Britain, and shortly afterward, the hashtag #NotAWitch began trending on social media.

Words Matter, And It’s Time To Explore The Meaning Of “Ableism.”

Andrew Pulrang
Forbes Magazine, Oct. 25, 2020

If you read more than one or two articles on disability issues, or talk to just about any disability rights activist, you will run across the word “ableism.” The word does a lot of work for disability culture. It carries the weight of the worst of what plagues disabled people the most, but can be so hard to express.

But for that reason, “ableism” can also seem like an overworked term. It often adds as much confusion and dissension to disability discourse as it does clarity and purpose. While it gives voice and substance to very real beliefs and experiences, the word “ableism” can also feel like a rhetorical weapon meant to discredit people at a stroke for an offensiveness that many people simply don’t see or agree exists.

Fewer Veterans Have Applied for Disability During COVID-19, Sparking Accessibility Concerns

By Staff, The Canadian Press
Posted October 25, 2020

The federal government is being criticized for not doing enough to help disabled veterans as new figures appear to confirm fears COVID-19 is making it more difficult for them to apply for assistance.

The figures from Veterans Affairs Canada show about 8,000 veterans applied for disability benefits during the first three full months of the pandemic, which was about half the normal number.

The sharp drop in the number of applications helped the department make a dent in the backlog of more than 40,000 requests for federal assistance waiting to be processed.

Ottawa Inventor Sees Rising Interest in Hands-Free Elevator-hailing App

By: David Sali
Published: Oct 23, 2020

Before the pandemic struck, Ke Wang had devoted the better part of the last two years to developing a smartphone app that would allow people with disabilities like himself to open doors and call elevators without touching any handles or buttons.

Little did he know his invention targeted at a niche market would capture the attention of Canadas largest airport and a global hotel chain before 2020 was out.

Once we got it done, all of a sudden COVID happened and then people realized that we can use this to avoid touching buttons, says Wang, founder of Ottawa-based ProtoDev Canada, the five-person company that created the new Contactless Access app. He adds that the company received a flood of interest from customers interested in the product for uses that extend beyond accessibility.

Voters With Disabilities Disappointed, Frustrated By B.C. Election Campaign

Accessibility legislation, poverty and children with special needs among hot-button issues largely ignored Cathy Browne , CBC News
Posted: Oct 23, 2020

Albert Ruel is tired.

The blind advocate has been fighting for improved access, inclusion and human rights protection for people with disabilities for the past 30 years. And he’s frustrated that the B.C. election campaign hasn’t shone a light on many of the issues that matter to voters with disabilities.

“There’s not a lot of appetite to actually do something meaningful about the immense discrimination that we face every day in our lives,” Ruel said.

Report Highlights Issues With Sask. Assured Income for Disabilities Program

Report raises 6 main concerns, from money to supports
Heidi Atter, CBC News
Posted: Oct 20, 2020

A new report is highlighting issues with the Saskatchewan Assured Income for Disabilities program (SAID).

The Saskatchewan Disability Income Support Coalition (DISC) interviewed 11 people on their personal experiences and had 432 respond to an online survey. The respondents included 188 people on SAID and 244 people representing organizations that help people on the program.

It issued the report a few weeks after holding an event calling for the SAID program to become an election issue.

NDP Leader Singh Accuses Liberals Of Failing to Support Canadians Living with Disabilities During Pandemic

Speaking on Newstalk 580 CFRA’s “The Goods with Dahlia Kurtz”, Singh said the Liberal government, in its effort to keep benefits such as the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) from being accessed by people who don’t need the help, designed a program that excludes the most vulnerable.

“One of the things we found during this pandemic is we’re up against a massive inertia of a Liberal government that is trying to design programs to exclude people,” Singh said. “They’re willing to miss out people who desperately need help so that they can avoid helping those who don’t need it. They want to make sure that someone who doesn’t need the help doesn’t get it but they’re willing to miss the people who are most desperate. That’s what we’re up against.”

Free Rides Offered to Winnipeg COVID-19 Test Sites, but Many Unaware of Service

Advocates for people with low incomes, disabilities say many could benefit from service if they knew about it Cameron MacLean, CBC News
Posted: Oct 15, 2020

Getting to one of the six COVID-19 testing site in Winnipeg can be a daunting task for people without access to a vehicle. Anyone who is sick is told to avoid taking public transportation, and cab fare may be too expensive for many.

For months, the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority has offered a free ride service to help people with “very unique needs” get to a site –
but many COVID-19 test patients, as well as advocates for people with disabilities and low-incomes, told CBC News they had never heard of the service.

Disability Advocates Applaud Federal Pandemic Aid, But Say Payment Should Be Higher

A one time payment of up to $600 will be sent to those who are eligible, at the end of October Kate Letterick
CBC News
Posted: Oct 07, 2020

As a disabled person, Murielle Pitre has dealt with extra costs throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.

“You have like increased fees, deliveries and deliveries for food, the price of food is going up. I mean you’re not going out so you can’t seek out the bargains as much as you used to,” she said.

Pitre is also the director of communications for the New Brunswick Coalition of People with Disabilities.

She’s heard from many people who are paying more for everything from transportation to personal care.

Promised Funds for Disabled Still Haven’t Arrived

Pandemic has laid bare systemic issues for people with disabilities Kieran Leavitt
Toronto Star, Oct. 3, 2020

Lene Andersen says it’s hard to feel optimistic about Ottawa’s plans for Canadians living with a disability after waiting months for emergency funding that was promised, but never came. That’s something Employment Minister Carla Qualtrough takes personally.

“It’s so unacceptable and it’s been so frustrating because of how quickly we identified this need,” said Qualtrough, adding that the government is only “weeks away” from having the money being dispensed.

“It has taken way too long, and it will not happen again,” she said during an interview with the Star this week.

A New Canadian Disability Benefit Modelled After the GIS? What Does That Mean?

John Stapleton
Open Policy Ontario, SEP 2020

The 2020 Speech from the Throne contained the following passage:

“COVID-19 has disproportionately affected Canadians with disabilities, and highlighted long-standing challenges. The Government will bring forward a Disability Inclusion Plan, which will have:

A new Canadian Disability Benefit modelled after the Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS) for seniors[1].”

At best, I believe that a Canadian Disability Benefit (CDB) can place a new floor underneath current programs of every sort except for social assistance programs. Social assistance programs have always successfully installed themselves as last payer.

Unless, of course, the new benefit replaces social assistance.

Deaf Politician – The Gary Malkowski Story

CWDO is pleased to present this webinar about Gary Malkowski’s life.

The biography, Deaf Politician – The Gary Malkowski Story follows Gary from being born deaf into an immigrant, working-class family in Hamilton, Ontario through his education at Gallaudet University in Washington, DC to his community activism and political career in Toronto.

Gary’s accomplishments will inspire not only the Deaf community, disability rights advocates, Ontario political junkies, and Canadians, but also everyone who is an underdog- or roots for one. Come to this webinar and learn the secrets to his success.

Presenters: Gary Malkowski and Richard Medugno, the author of Deaf Politician

How Blind Nova Scotians Are Navigating the Strange World of COVID-19

Vernon Ramesar
CBC News, Sept. 16, 2020

Carrying on a normal life during the pandemic can be difficult for everyone, but some people with vision loss say it can be a minefield.

Darlene Wournell is blind and treasures her independence, but she says some of the measures put in place to reduce the spread of COVID-19 have proven to be especially challenging.

“Of course, not having any vision whatsoever, it’s hard to tell if people are within your six foot bubble,” said Wournell, a resident of Lake Echo, N.S., and the national secretary of the Alliance for Equality of Blind Canadians.

Advocates for Canadians With Disabilities Say the Federal Government Isn’t Doing Enough to Help People Struggling With New Barriers in the Midst of A Pandemic

Kathleen Harris
CBC News. Sept. 18, 2020

More than six months into the global pandemic, the Liberal government is being accused of failing to meet the needs of the Canadians with disabilities who number among those hardest-hit by the public health crisis.

Marie-Claude Landry, chief commissioner of the Canadian Human Rights Commission, said COVID-19 has “expanded the circle of vulnerability” in Canada but people with disabilities still aren’t getting the support they need.

“We urge the government to immediately address the unmet financial needs of people with disabilities in an equitable way,” she said in a media statement.

Opinion: As Employment in Canada Continues to Struggle, It’s Disabled Folks Who Feel It the Worst

K.J. Aiello
Special to The Globe and Mail
Published Sept. 11, 2020

K.J. Aiello is a Toronto-based freelance writer.

Because of my disability, I spent almost two decades trying to find stable, gainful employment. I never found it. Instead, I teetered between employment, underemployment and unemployment. I struggled to pay my bills, sometimes choosing between food, rent or mounting student debt payments.

But here’s the deal: I had little to no ability to cope; my meagre sick days were used up before the end of the first quarter of the year. Oftentimes, I was unable to obtain a doctor’s note or even understand what was wrong with me. I was afraid, and, let’s be honest, I was told more than once that maybe the job just wasn’t for me.

I’ve Been Paralyzed Since I Was 3. Here’s Why Kindness Toward Disabled People Is More Complicated Than You Think

By Rebekah Taussig
TIME, August 31, 2020

I am a magnet for kindness. Like the center of a black hole, my body attracts every good deed from across the universe to the foot of my wheelchair. I move through parking lots and malls, farmers’ markets and airports, bookstores and buffets, and people scramble to my aid.

O.K., so there are plenty of people who don’t seem to notice me, and some people who are actually repelled. They look down, pull their bag or their child closer to them, draw their legs up to their chest as I roll by. (Yeah, it doesn’t feel great.) But it’s the abundance of that gets me all tangled. It’s the fly that won’t stop buzzing, won’t hold still long enough for me to swat it, won’t die.

COVID-19 Taking Financial Toll on Canadians With Disabilities: Survey

The Canadian Press – Aug 27, 2020

More than half of Canadians with disabilities who participated in a crowdsourced survey are struggling to make ends meet because of the financial fallout of the COVID-19 crisis, a new report suggests.

Statistics Canada published findings on Thursday gathered from approximately 13,000 Canadians with long-term conditions or disabilities who voluntarily filled out an online questionnaire between June 3 and July 23.

Unlike most of the agency’s studies, the survey wasn’t randomly sampled and therefore isn’t statistically representative of the Canadian population.

The responses indicate the pandemic has affected the ability of 61 per cent of participants age 15 to 64 to fulfil at least one financial obligation or essential need, including housing payments, basic utilities and prescription medication.

Deaf Citizens Petition

Deaf Citizens are calling for change at the Canadian Hearing Services (formerly the Canadian Hearing Society). The petition is in ASL, LSQ, and English and it lays out some of the issues taking place in the organization.

Concerns by deaf stakeholders and their allies include:

  • Reducing the number of employees who are Deaf
  • Failing to appoint deaf board members in contravention of CHS bylaws
  • Switching its role from a major voice representing deaf people to working mainly as a provider of audiological services
  • Revising its bylaws to eliminate all memberships except for the board meaning that annual general meetings are now close to the community