Welcome to Accessibility News International (ANI)

This site is part of the Accessibility News Network.

Latest Headlines

B.C. Advocate Says Proposed Federal COVID-19 Benefit For Canadians With Disabilities Leaves Many with Nothing

One-time $600 payment would only be paid to people who claim the federal disability tax credit CBC News · Posted: Jun 16, 2020

The federal government is considering a one-time emergency benefit for people with disabilities to help them cope with the added costs imposed by the pandemic, but a B.C.-based disability advocate says even if the legislation does pass, it won’t go far enough.

Heather Walkus, first vice chair of the Council of Canadians with Disabilities, says the legislation only applies to people who currently receive a disability tax credit, which she says is only about 40 per cent of Canadians living with disability.

New Coordinated Accessibility Strategy Guides Carleton’s Commitment on Campus

By Tyrone Burke

More than a quarter of first-year students at Carleton self-identify as having a disability, and about 11 per cent have registered with the Paul Menton Centre for Students with Disabilities. An additional six per cent of university staff report having some type of disability.

Ensuring that all of our students, staff, and faculty fully participate in Carleton’s life, work, and community means building on a longstanding culture of accessibility and inclusiveness.

“Accessibility is one of Carleton’s core values,” says Boris Vukovic, director of the Research, Education, Accessibility, and Design (READ) Initiative, which aims to establish Carleton as a Centre of Excellence in Accessibility.

New Student Group Seeks Mandatory Accessibility Classes for Lecturers

The group, known as the ‘Ability Co_op’, aims to promote awareness of students with disabilities on campus. Cormac Watson
Deputy Editor

The group has released a video, produced by student filmmaker Niamh Barry, with students discussing online learning and exams.

Trinity students, alongside the Disability Service, have launched a new co-operative with the aim of introducing mandatory accessibility classes for lecturers and promoting awareness of students with disabilities on campus.

The group, called the Trinity Ability Co_Op, hopes to introduce classes that would be developed by the group alongside the Disability Service, with the aim of educating lecturers on how to deal with students with disabilities.

COVID-19 and Blindness: Why the New Touchless, Physically-Distant World Sucks for People with Visual Impairment

Nicholas A. Giudice, Ph.D.
Jun 3

As a congenitally blind person, it has become obvious to me that my reliance on touch as a primary mode of experiencing the world puts me at odds with current best practices for avoiding the coronavirus. The principle guidance for safeguarding against COVID-19 is to (1) curtail physical contact with those around us (or the things they touch), (2) limit touching of our body (especially of the face), and (3) maintain a minimum proximity bubble during social interactions (ideally of 6-feet or more). In this essay, I discuss how an unanticipated consequence of following this tri-part guidance for staying ‘safe’ is the effective demonization of touch, which has led to many unforeseen challenges for more than 12 million people in the U.S. (and over 285 million people worldwide) who are blind or visually impaired (BVI).

Council of Canadians with Disabilities Response to COVID-19 Funding Falling Through Cracks

For Immediate Release | June 11, 2020

June 10, 2020 marked a disappointing day for Canadians with disabilities. Finally, government put forward financial relief for Canadians with disabilities only to have the bill fail on the floor. Once again, Canadians with disabilities have been further marginalized in receiving necessary COVID-19 financial relief support.

When attempting to separate the bill to ensure some Canadians, at least those with the disability tax credit certificate, would receive immediate support, the opposition opposed and blocked any discussion, using this moment to push for the entire house to be called back before further discussion. The result is that Canadians with disabilities have fallen through the cracks, once again.

Blind Student Files Federal Discrimination Lawsuit Against Duke University

By Melissa Boughton
June 5, 2020

Before Mary Fernandez enrolled at Duke University, she was assured she would be provided the accommodations for an equal education to her peers who aren’t blind.

Despite that assurance, Fernandez experienced barriers that permeated every aspect of her educational experience at Duke, according to a news release about a new federal lawsuit against the university.

Masks a Concern for Hearing-Impaired Travellers

By SUZANNE MORPHET
Globe and Mail, June 3, 2020

Even now, three months into COVID-19, the picture shocks. Five uniformed airport employees wear black helmets with dark visors that shield their eyes and blue medical masks covering their mouths.

Their faces are completely hidden. The photo is from Qatar’s Hamad International Airport, where staff now wear helmets with infrared thermal imaging to take people’s temperatures without making contact.

If security around travel used to be merely annoying, it’s become almost frightening.

Province Offering Grants to Improve Accessibility

Valerie Leung / Richmond News
May 31, 2020

The B.C. government is once again making a call for grant proposals for community projects aimed to improve accessibility.

B.C.’s third annual AccessAbility Week, from May 31 to June 6, recognizes people and organizations that help provide those with disabilities an opportunity to succeed.

This year the province is again distributing a total of $500,000 in grants for community projects focusing on improving accessibility.

“AccessAbility Week is an opportunity for everyone to celebrate diversity and inclusion, and to highlight the importance of accessibility,” said Shane Simpson, B.C. Minister of Social Development and Poverty Reduction.

United Nations Urged to Lead Action to End Discrimination Against People With Disabilities in the Response to COVID-19

By IDA
May 18, 2020

New campaign by disability rights groups calls for more leadership from the United Nations to ensure COVID-19 measures include people with disabilities.

Lack of concerted action from governments and health authorities is putting the lives of people with disabilities at greater risk during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the International Disability Alliance (IDA) and International Disability and Development Consortium (IDDC).

The two leading disability rights bodies have launched a campaign to prevent discrimination against people with disabilities and call for public health information and communications around COVID19 to be fully accessible.

Global Mental Health Crisis Looming Due to coronavirus Pandemic, UN Warns

Kate Kelland Reuters
May 14, 2020

While countries around the world continue to mobilize to contain the spread of COVID-19, mental health experts say we can’t lose sight of an equally alarming issue: The long-term mental health impact the coronavirus pandemic is going to leave on society.

A mental illness crisis is looming as millions of people worldwide are surrounded by death and disease and forced into isolation, poverty and anxiety by the pandemic of COVID-19, United Nations health experts said on Thursday.

“The isolation, the fear, the uncertainty, the economic turmoil they all cause or could cause psychological distress,” said Devora Kestel, director of the World Health Organization’s (WHO) mental health department.

Why Coronavirus May Make the World More Accessible

BBC Future

With millions under lockdown, many non-disabled people are experiencing, for the first time, how it feels to have external barriers preventing you from participating in everyday life.

But although countries around the world have put policies and practices in place to make public spaces, workplaces and other aspects of society more accessible, many barriers still exist for people with disabilities.

With disabled people making up 15% of the global population, greater accessibility has the potential to improve millions of lives of those 1.3 billion people. But it would help the non-disabled population, too.

‘I Need Help’: Coronavirus Highlights Disparities Among Canadians With Disabilities

Emerald Bensadoun GlobalNews.ca
May 6, 2020

Prior to the novel coronavirus pandemic, 27-year-old Marissa Blake was rarely ever home.

Now, Blake, who lives in Toronto supportive housing and needs assistance to walk, can only have one visitor a week for three hours and can’t see her friends in-person. An appointment to discuss surgery on her legs was cancelled, and her sleep and care schedule are in flux because her personal support workers keep changing.

“It’s difficult,” she said. “I feel like I’m in jail.”

Her exercise program with March of Dimes Canada, a rehabilitation foundation for disabled persons, was cancelled, and Blake said she’s been less physically active than usual.

People With Visual Impairments Struggling to Access Essentials During coronavirus Restrictions

By Shelley Steeves -Global News
Originally Posted May 1, 2020

According to the CNIB Foundation of New Brunswick, residents with visual impairments are struggling to navigate their communities amid coronavirus restrictions.

Christine Kennedy-Babineau, the program and resource development manager for CNIB New Brunswick, said some of the changes that have been made at grocery stores are presenting a challenge for people with vision loss.

“Now we have lines where you are supposed to go to line up and arrows directing traffic flow through stores and someone with sight loss who is blind or partially sighted isn’t able to see them,” Kennedy-Babineau said.

Hong Kong’s Visually Impaired Deprived of Covid-19 Information With Half of Chinese-Language News Apps Inaccessible, NGO Finds

Hong Kong Blind Union says 2,000 kept out of the loop over city’s infected tally, mask availability and other important updates
Five of the 10 Chinese-language media reviewed fell short in areas such as font size and screen display Victor Ting
Published: Apr, 2020

Visually impaired people in Hong Kong are struggling to get hold of crucial information about the coronavirus because half of the city’s major Chinese-language news organisations do not have accessible smartphone apps, a local disability group has said.

With more than 2.9 million people infected worldwide, including 1,037 locally, an investigation by Hong Kong Blind Union revealed Covid-19’s “disproportionate” impact on the 2,000 visually challenged residents the non-governmental organisation represents.

B.C. Woman With Disability Dies Alone in Hospital Due to COVID-19 Visitor Restrictions

By John Hua
Global News, April 24, 2020

The family of a B.C. woman with a disability is calling for an investigation after she died alone at the Peace Arch Hospital.

In life, Ariis Knight’s family says she defied limitations.

The 40-year-old had cerebral palsy and was non-verbal, but found her own way to communicate with her family and support workers.

“She had a full range of facial expressions,” her brother David Knight told Global News.

“She was able to answer yes or no questions not with her voice but with her eyes.”

Ariis was admitted to hospital April 15 with symptoms of congestion, fever and vomiting but did not have COVID-19.

Innovative Masks to Help Persons with Visual Impairment

Middle East, News
April 24 2020

ISRAEL: For the hearing impaired, this is no easy task, as it adds an extra layer of difficulty to their ability to communicate, often times with various service providers such as doctors and nurses. As face masks have become an inseparable part of the lives of millions of Israelis there are those who may have more trouble with the new law requiring to wear them.

“Masks of this type improve the accessibility and communication of handicapped people who use lip reading, as well as people with an intellectual disability,” said Yuval Wagner, CEO of the “Access Israel.”

Provincial government Responds to the CNIB Foundation About Accessibility Issues with Ontario Health Card Renewal Process

Over the last few months, the CNIB Foundation has been asking the Ontario government to ensure Ontarians who are blind, partially sighted or Deafblind have equal access to renewing their health card online. As it stands, a person needs a valid Ontario driver’s licence, which is unacceptable because it prevents Ontarians with sight loss from using the same process.

At the end of March, we received a response from Lisa Thompson, Minister of Government and Consumer Services. In her letter, Minister Thompson states:

“Renewing the Ontario health card online has been a government pilot project, and currently, Ontarians need a driver’s licence to renew their health card online. But we realize this approach does not work for everyone.

Morning Show Now with Dave Brown Puts News in the Lens of Disability

Melissa Hank
Updated: April 13, 2020

Back in February, when protesters fighting the Coastal GasLink pipeline project erected blockades on Via Rail routes across Canada, at least 42,000 passengers in the Montreal-Toronto-Ottawa triangle were stranded.

News outlets jumped on the shutdown and its related issues ” Indigenous land rights, environmental costs and government intervention. But, says morning show host Dave Brown, the coverage was missing something.

“Not one show talked about how it impacted the blind curling team coming back from the national championship in Ottawa. There’s a way that disability and accessibility played into that story that a lot of people were blind to,” he says.

The Live-Streaming Boom Proves That Accessibility in Live Music Can – and Should – Be a Priority

‘As soon as live music was taken away from everyone, suddenly it was made accessible to everyone’ Luke Ottenhof · CBC Arts · Posted: Apr 14, 2020

The COVID-19 pandemic has been disastrous for the music industry, but in the absence of corporeal gatherings, musicians and fans have adapted to communing online. This trend has transcended class boundaries in an explicitly tiered industry: everyone from Coldplay to your old university roommate who plays free jazz improv is streaming their live performances online for people to watch from home. It’s a newly popular workaround for an industry traditionally reliant on physical proximity.

Federal Government names group to ensure disabled Canadians included in COVID-19 response

The Canadian Press
April 10, 2020

The COVID-19 pandemic takes a particularly heavy toll on Canadians with disabilities and more efforts are needed to ensure they’re included in national efforts to respond to the crisis, the minister overseeing accessibility issues said Friday as she appointed an advisory group to take on the task.

Disability Inclusion Minister Carla Qualtrough said disabled residents have been sounding alarms about a host of concerns related to the outbreak, which has already killed at least 550 Canadians and sickened a minimum of 22,000 others. In a statement announcing the advisory group, Qualtrough said greater efforts are needed to ensure disabled voices are heard during a troubling time.