Consumer Movement of the Blind Targets Canadian Government and Regulated Organizations Over Consumer Access

Kelowna, BC – June 1, 2015 – Far too often, blind, deaf-blind and partially sighted Canadians ask for documents in accessible formats and these requests remain inaccessible, unheard or unmet. The Alliance for Equality of Blind Canadians (AEBC) is spearheading a national awareness campaign leading up to Canada Day called ‘I Am Your Customer’ that will highlight the need for accessibility solutions for blind, deaf-blind and partially sighted Canadians so that we may participate fully as informed customers in the marketplace throughout Canada.

Targeting Canadian government and regulated organizations, The AEBC is asking all blind, deaf-blind, and partially sighted Canadians to reach out to government departments, banks, telecom companies, credit card companies from June 23, 2015 through June 30, 2015 and ask for documents in accessible formats of their choice.

The AEBC is hopeful the ‘I Am Your Customer’ campaign, will impact the lives of many and make a difference, giving blind, deaf-blind and partially sighted Canadians a louder voice and in return, bring accessibility awareness to Canadian government departments and regulated organizations so that they reassess their accessibility strategies and provide their information in various formats that we can read independently.

“Although Canadians have a right to information under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, and Human Rights Legislation, there are still barriers to obtaining information about products, programs and services within the marketplace in accessible formats and across channels”, says Dar Wournell, President of the Alliance for Equality of Blind Canadians.

With the tagline ‘One Voice. More Choice’, the AEBC campaign is already taking off on social media. The AEBC is asking blind, deaf-blind and partially sighted Canadians to take the pledge by tweeting and updating Facebook statuses with ‘I just took the @blindcanadians #IAmYourCustomer #AEBCpledge #CanadaDay. Join me!‘.

Open to all blind, deaf-blind and partially sighted people and our supporters, the organization highlights the importance to have as many Canadians engaged in our campaign as possible. Dar Wournell explains, “It’s not only for those of us who are blind, but we want the Canadian government and other organizations to understand the importance of accessibility of information, communications and technology that ensures greater choice in the digital market. Having accessible documents and other information in large print or Braille, at the touch of your fingertips, gives you independence and the ability to access your personal information without having to give it away to a total stranger who could take your information and use it without your knowledge and put us and organizations at risk of identity theft and fraud.”

“I’d even go further to state that Point of Sale (POS) devices at stores with touch screens are not accessible without speech for someone who is blind, deaf-blind or partially sighted, as we must divulge personal information to a total stranger by handing them over your pin code to your bank or credit card; it certainly is not safe when you can’t verify the total amount of your purchase,” adds Wournell.

Providing access to products, programs, services and technology such as point of sale devices, ATMs and other digital systems should be seen as a “win win” situation for both our community and for merchants,” said Sharlyn Ayotte, AEBC’s 1st Vice President and a successful entrepreneur , “as it will make it easier for us to participate fully and independently in the marketplace as informed customers. But it is even bigger than that, as it opens up new opportunities for innovation for affordable and accessible products and services which work for all of us as mainstream solutions. Just ask Apple Corporation”!

About AEBC

The Alliance for Equality of Blind Canadians is a national not for profit organization, founded in 1992, that is dedicated to promoting the increased inclusion of blind, deaf-blind and partially sighted Canadians in all aspects of social life, from employment to participation in elections. Our members, comprised of blind, deaf-blind and partially sighted consumers and supporters nation-wide, participate in working groups and committees, engage local city-based chapters and engage in public awareness and education activities on a daily basis. Our mission is to increase awareness of rights and responsibilities, so blind, deaf-blind and partially sighted individuals can have equal access to the benefits and opportunities of society.

National Media Contacts

Dar Wournell
National President
Alliance for Equality of Blind Canadians (AEBC)
Toll free: 1-800-561-4774

Sharlyn Ayotte
National 1st Vice-President
Alliance for Equality of Blind Canadians (AEBC)
Tel: 613-291-9632