May 30, 2019. In 2010, Canada ratified the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), but no corresponding accessibility legislation was passed in Canada that specifically deals with Canadians with disabilities, other than our Canadian Human Rights Act. (See Hearing Accessibility Is A Human Right) Bill C-81 – Accessible Canada Act is meant to address this, and has been supported by all federal parties. The bill is currently in the final amendments for wording before coming into law. (For more information, see https://nupge.ca/content/national-accessability-week-starts-stall-bill-c-81 and https://ipolitics.ca/2019/05/29/accessibility-bill-set-to-become-law-as-liberals-prepare-to-use-cloture/)
What does the passage of this bill mean? Per Employment and Social Development Canada’s website, “Bill C-81 would give the Government of Canada the authority to work with stakeholders and Canadians with disabilities to create new accessibility standards and regulations that would apply to sectors in the federal jurisdiction, such as banking, telecommunications, transportation industries like air and rail, and the Government of Canada itself. These new regulated standards would set out requirements for organizations to follow in order to identify, remove, and prevent barriers to accessibility.” (See https://www.canada.ca/en/employment-social-development/programs/accessible-people-disabilities.html)
Many of you may recall that when the Federal Accessibility Act Consultation came to Charlottetown in December 2016, we were there and presented a summary of the main barriers to accessibility faced by people with hearing loss. We also gave recommendations on how to remove those barriers and how to change attitudes. (See here for a copy of our submission: FAL Submission Dec 8 2016)
Since that historic day, we have been doing our best here on Prince Edward Island to improve accessibility options, remove barriers to accessibility, and change attitudes in the perception of hearing loss. Our education and outreach activities have resulted in modest success, and perhaps it’s a good moment in time to summarize some of these accomplishments:
- A booklet on communication tips for those with hearing loss was published.
- The Aural Report blog was begun by me, followed by a Twitter account.
- A project with PEI lawyers resulted in lawyers able to recognize the signs of hearing loss and improve communications with clients. As lawyers encouraged their clients with hearing loss to try out pocket talkers, an unexpected benefit occurred. Clients began to accept that hearing loss was not the stigma they thought it was and took steps to improve their ability to hear.
- Hearing loops were installed in a few places on the Island, resulting in exceptional clarity of sound availability for those who attend events at those places.
- Media coverage on hearing related topics in newspapers and on radio.
The items listed above are in addition to ongoing meetings with guest speakers on topics related to hearing health and hearing loss, speaking engagements, and outreach at various conferences and events. The speech reading classes facilitated by Nancy MacPhee are increasingly popular. Currently we are engaged in an advocacy effort related to funding access for seniors who are having difficulty affording hearing aids.
With the passage of Bill C-81, we hope to be able to do more here on the island with regards to hearing accessibility.
Employment and Social Development Canada’s (ESDC) Accessibility Secretariat Survey
You can play a part in shaping future federal accessibility policy by participating in a survey conducted by Quorus Consulting Group on behalf of the Employment and Social Development Canada’s (ESDC) Accessibility Secretariat. The survey is open to Canadian citizens at least 18 years of age who have had a disability in the past or are currently living with a disability, and takes about 15 minutes to complete, depending on how much feedback you want to provide.
The information you provide will be managed according to the requirements of the Privacy Act. Survey submissions are accepted from May 28 to June 28, 2019. Here’s how you can participate:
- Complete the fully accessible online version of the survey by clicking on the following link: https://na1se.voxco.com/SE/85/W1309/
- Schedule a telephone interview by calling the following toll-free number: 1-866-875-5470. You will be prompted to leave a message describing when you would like to be called by an interviewer.
- Request or download a paper copy of the questionnaire by visiting: www.quorusconsultations.com or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
© Daria Valkenburg
June Chapter meeting: Tuesday, June 25, 2019 at 9:30 am at North Tryon Presbyterian Church. Guest speakers: Colin MacKenzie and Nancy MacPhee. Colin will speak about his experience as a youth with hearing loss. Nancy will give a report on the CHHA National Conference in Montreal that she attended.
Outreach Event: Invitation to have a display booth on June 26, 2019 at the National Human Rights Conference, at The Delta Prince Edward Hotel in Charlottetown. Link to the agenda: https://www.cashra2019pei.ca/programme.