Selfadvocatenet is in support of National Accessibility Week – May 30 to June 5, 2021
This page is intended to highlight and celebrate the achievements that people with disabilities have overcome and how far we been able to get buildings, business and non profits to think about ways that places can be more accessible for wheelchairs, rentals places and in business that take leadership role in becoming more aware of those have disabilities and witch have accessible ramps switches areas come into community.
Also to highlight those that have been included some of local community business that hired people with disabilities have taken leadership on that area. We at San like to acknowledge over the years how society has been able to develope ways for people live with dignity work and play to live best they can keep it up keep going forward that every person with disabilities will never have to struggle get around in community that accommodation are fulfilled.
This year theme is Disability Inclusion 2021: Leaving no one behind
Message from the Minister
Minister Qualtrough launches National Accessability Week 2021
What is National Accessibility Week in Canada
Each year, during the last week in May, we celebrate the contributions of persons with disabilities and highlight the work done by individuals, communities, and workplaces to remove barriers to accessibility and to foster disability inclusion in Canada.
Click on picture below
Some Quotes for National accessibility week
Supporting access to learning opportunities for students with disabilities
News release June 3, 2021, Gatineau, Quebec Employment and Social Development Canada
Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, Canada’s young people—particularly young Canadians with disabilities—have been among the most affected. During National AccessAbility Week, it is important to recognize the many contributions that Canadians with disabilities have made and continue to make in our communities and to ensure that they have the tools they need to succeed now and into the future.
Today, the Minister of Employment, Workforce Development, and Disability Inclusion, Carla Qualtrough, announced $240,000 in funding to the National Educational Association of Disabled Students (NEADS) for the Virtual Access for All program.
This program is a two-year project that will support students with disabilities so that they can successfully navigate the transition to post-secondary education. With this funding, NEADS will offer virtual mentoring and webinars on various topics related to accessibility, as well as expand their National Student Awards Program, which provides scholarship awards to post-secondary students with disabilities.
Students with disabilities often face systemic barriers to education, which make it more challenging for them to complete their studies and may cause them to graduate with more debt. Projects like this play an important role in ensuring students with disabilities can successfully complete their studies and be a part of an inclusive economic recovery for all Canadians.
This project adds to the investment made in Budget 2021 to support students with disabilities. This includes the extension of disability supports under the Canada Student Loans Program to recipients whose disabilities are persistent or prolonged, but not necessarily permanent.
The change will benefit an estimated 40,000 recipients with non-permanent disabilities each year through access to up to $30,000 in grants, in-study supports such as assistive services and equipment, and specialized repayment assistance on their loans.
Removing barriers to accessibility and inclusion gives Canadians with disabilities the opportunity to participate more fully in our communities, helping our economy prosper so that all Canadians benefit.
“Post-secondary education is an incredible opportunity that all Canadians deserve the chance to pursue. That is why it is so important that we reduce the barriers for young Canadians with disabilities as they make that transition. Our government is proud to partner with organizations such as NEADS, which ensure that students with disabilities can access the supports they need to complete their post-secondary studies. We are all equal partners in Canada’s economic recovery, and when every Canadian has a fair chance at success, we all benefit.”
– Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Disability Inclusion, Carla Qualtrough
“We would like to thank Minister Qualtrough and Employment and Social Development Canada for supporting this important two-year project. The board and staff of the National Educational Association of Disabled Students are excited to help disabled students in transition to college and university studies and in the critical early stage of their post-secondary journey. A doubling of up-front grants in the Canada Student Loans Program for disabled students this year and last and significant increases in funding and the duration of the Canada Summer Jobs Program also prove the Government of Canada is committed to accessible and affordable education and career-related employment experiences for students and graduates with disabilities.”
– Margaret Lyons-MacFarlane, Chair and New Brunswick Director, NEADS
- The Government of Canada supports students in their academic careers through a variety of supports. This includes the Canada Education Savings Program, the Canada Student Loans Program and the Supports for Student Learning Program. In addition, the Government has a number of programs targeted at persons with disabilities to help them manage the costs of completing their post-secondary studies:
- Students with a permanent disability who demonstrate financial need receive the Canada Student Grant for Students with Permanent Disabilities. The grant can be used to cover the costs of housing, tuition and books.
- Students with a permanent disability who require exceptional education-related services or equipment, such as tutors, note-takers, interpreters or technical aids, may be eligible to receive up to $20,000 through the Canada Student Grant for Services and Equipment for Students with Permanent Disabilities.
- Students with a permanent disability are also exempt from the fixed student contribution, which requires students to contribute up to $3,000 per year toward their education.
- The Repayment Assistance Plan for Borrowers with a Permanent Disability is available to Canada Student Loan borrowers who have a permanent disability. This plan can reduce or replace the recipient’s monthly student loan payment, depending on their financial situation, and ensures that the loan is fully paid off in 10 years.
- Students who have a severe permanent disability that prevents them from achieving sufficiently gainful employment may be eligible to have their student loans forgiven through the Severe Permanent Disability Benefit.
- As of October 1, 2020, Canada Student Loan borrowers who need to withdraw temporarily from studies for medical or parental reasons, including mental health reasons, can receive up to 18 months of interest- and payment-free leave.
- Budget 2021 proposes to provide $118.4 million to conduct a two-year pilot expansion of the Supports for Student Learning Program. These funds would support national and local after-school organizations who work to ensure that vulnerable children and youth can graduate high school, and do not become further marginalized because of the pandemic.
- Every year, the Canada Student Loans Program supports over 75,000 students and borrowers with permanent disabilities through enhanced grants and repayment assistance.
For media inquiries, please contact:
Office of the Honourable Carla Qualtrough
Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Disability Inclusion
This on Govt of Canada Website go to the link here
Government of Canada launches new pilot program aimed at removing barriers to women’s employment
June 2, 2021 Gatineau, Quebec Employment and Social Development Canada
The COVID-19 pandemic has affected all Canadian workers, but some groups – including women – have been disproportionately affected and their economic recovery has been slower. The Government of Canada recognizes that a robust and inclusive recovery is necessarily a feminist recovery as well and that supports such as child care are critical to achieving that goal. Investing in new training and employment supports for women, with a focus on removing barriers to accessibility and inclusion, will ensure that no one is left further behind and that everyone takes part in Canada’s economic recovery.
Today, during National AccessAbility Week, the Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Disability Inclusion, Carla Qualtrough, announced the launch of a call for proposals for the new Women’s Employment Readiness (WER) pilot program.
Through the WER pilot program, organizations will test new approaches for helping marginalized women by providing pre-employment and training supports, including wrap-around supports such as transportation and child care, because we know that access means different things to different women. The pilot will also test ways to help employers remove barriers and improve workplace inclusion. Through funding of $50 million over two years, approved projects will serve one or more of these groups of women:
- racialized and/or Indigenous women;
- women with disabilities;
- women from the LGBTQ2 community; and
- women who have been out of the labour market for an extended period.
Eligible organizations are invited to submit their application by June 30, 2021.
As we celebrate National AccessAbility Week, we recognize the contributions of persons with disabilities and highlight the work done by individuals, communities, and workplaces to remove barriers to accessibility and to foster disability inclusion in Canada. Too often, women with disabilities face multiple barriers in life, and the WER pilot program is one way to help this group of Canadians overcome them. The Government of Canada believes that an inclusive economic recovery is one that offers the opportunity to advance gender equality and provide economic and social stability for all Canadians.
“Employment leads to independence, financial stability and inclusion. As we recover from the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, it has never been more important to support women’s economic participation, particularly racialized women, Indigenous women, women with disabilities, women from the LGBTQ2 community, and women who have been away from the workforce for an extended period. This funding is about providing women with the tools that respond to their needs, and recognizing that a diverse workforce is a stronger and more resilient workforce. A successful and prosperous economic recovery is one in which all women can participate.”
– Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Disability Inclusion, Carla Qualtrough
- In March 2021, the Government of Canada created a Task Force on Women in the Economy to help guide a robust, inclusive and feminist recovery and to help address long-standing systemic barriers. Composed of a diverse group of experts and leading voices, the task force has begun advising the government of policies and measures to support women’s employment and address issues of gender equality in the wake of the pandemic.
- Budget 2021 includes $101.4 billion over three years in proposed investments as part of the Government of Canada’s growth plan that will create good jobs and support a resilient and inclusive recovery. Key measures include:
- Establishing a Canada-wide early learning and child care system, in partnership with provincial, territorial, and Indigenous partners, which will help all families access affordable, high-quality, and flexible child care no matter where they live, and no longer shoulder the burden of high child care costs. The budget committed up to $30 billion over the next five years. Combined with previous investments, a minimum of $9.2 billion per year ongoing will be invested in childcare, starting in 2025-26.
- Moving forward on a first-ever National Action Plan to End Gender-Based Violence to ensure that anyone facing gender-based violence has reliable and timely access to protection and services, no matter where they live, through an investment of $601.3 million over five years starting in 2021-22.
- Supporting women, Black Canadians, and other underrepresented entrepreneurs who face barriers to launching and owning businesses through $300 million to enhance initiatives like the Black Entrepreneurship Program and the Women Entrepreneurship Strategy.
- Helping to build, repair, and support 35,000 affordable housing units for vulnerable Canadians through an investment of $2.5 billion and a reallocation of $1.3 billion in existing funding.
- The Government will develop the first-ever Disability Inclusion Action Plan, which includes a new Canadian disability benefit, improved processes for eligibility for federal disability programs and benefits, and a robust employment strategy for Canadians with disabilities.
- $11.9 million has been proposed to undertake extensive consultations on reforms to the eligibility process, feeding directly into the design of the new disability benefit;
- $100 million under the Enabling Accessibility Fund (EAF) has been announced to help offset the costs of renovations, retrofits and accessible technologies for not-for-profit organizations, women’s shelters, small municipalities, and businesses of all sizes; and,
- an additional $29.2 million, under the same fund, has been proposed to help support inclusive and accessible early learning and child care and make physical upgrades to child care centres that would improve accessibility.
For media enquiries, please contact:
Office of the Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Disability Inclusion, Carla Qualtrough
This on Govt of Canada website go to the link here
Helping young Canadians with disabilities learn lasting skills and keep quality jobs
June 1, 2021, Toronto, Ontario
Employment and Social Development Canada
The COVID-19 pandemic has had a tremendous impact on all Canadians, and young people—particularly young people with disabilities—have been especially affected. That is why the Government of Canada continues to make historic investments to ensure that they have the supports and opportunities needed to build long and successful careers.
As we celebrate National AccessAbility Week, it is important to recognize the many contributions that Canadians with disabilities have made and continue to make in our communities, and we need to ensure that they have the tools they need to succeed now and into the future.
Today, the Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Disability Inclusion, Carla Qualtrough, and Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Foreign Affairs and the Member of Parliament for Don Valley West, Rob Oliphant, highlighted that the Government of Canada is investing over $130 million to provide young people facing barriers with good jobs and the supports and skills training they need to join the workforce.
Across the country, 59 organizations funded through Employment and Social Development Canada’s (ESDC) Youth Employment and Skills Strategy (YESS) program are delivering 61 projects that will serve close to 10,000 young people, including youth with disabilities.
One such organization, the Canadian Council on Rehabilitation and Work, is providing tailored skills training and employment services to more than 400 young Canadians with disabilities through two projects called Youth the Future. Participants in St. John’s, Halifax, Moncton, Montréal and the Greater Toronto Area will receive services that will help them improve their skills and find quality work and will prepare them to obtain and keep employment.
Supporting youth and ensuring their inclusion in all aspects of Canada’s economic recovery takes a collaborative and dynamic approach. Through Budget 2021, the Government of Canada committed an additional $5.7 billion over the next five years to help young Canadians pursue and complete their education, acquire new skills and get hired. This is on top of the $7.4 billion already invested to support young Canadians during the pandemic. Thousands more young Canadians will be able to benefit from the government’s historic support for:
- 30,600 new jobs through the Youth Employment and Skills Strategy in 2021–2022;
- 220,000 jobs through Canada Summer Jobs over the next two years;
- an expected 50,000 work-integrated learning opportunities through the Student Work Placement Program in 2021–2022;
- at least 85,000 work-integrated learning placements through Mitacs over the next five years starting in 2021–2022; and
- 28,000 training and work opportunities for young Canadians through the Canada Digital Technology Adoption program.
Join us during National AccessAbility Week to celebrate the many contributions made by young Canadians with disabilities in our communities. When barriers to accessibility and inclusion are removed, it gives Canadians with disabilities the opportunity to participate more fully, helping our communities thrive and our economy prosper, so that all Canadians benefit.
“Employment is a gateway to independence, financial stability and inclusion. It has never been more important to support the need for meaningful and equitable employment for persons with disabilities, especially young Canadians with disabilities. This funding will go a long way in supporting our youth with disabilities and breaking down barriers to access and inclusion in workplaces.”
– Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Disability Inclusion, Carla Qualtrough
“During AccessAbility week, it is important that we recognize the important contributions of people with disabilities in workplaces across Canada. Getting training and jobs for people with disabilities benefits not only the workers, but businesses, organizations and institutions who hire them. Inclusive workplaces are better places for everyone to work and to do business with. Since 1976, the Canadian Council on Rehabilitation and Work has been creating opportunities for people with disabilities to gain meaningful employment. By providing substantive opportunities for people with disabilities, we can continue to build a more accessible and disability-inclusive Canada.”
–Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Member of Parliament for Don Valley West, Rob Oliphant
“We are enthusiastic to see Canada rebound with strength during the recovery from COVID-19 to ensure inclusion of all people with disabilities, by recognizing the talent that is in our communities. We are supportive of the Disability Inclusion Action Plan set forth by the federal government, and we are pleased to bring all the work from the Disability and Work in Canada initiative to help shape the federal employment strategy for people with disabilities. While it is a week of celebration, we recognize how COVID-19 has unmasked the tiered support to our communities and how much more work we need to do to ensure that meaningful and equitable employment is realized for people with disabilities in Canada. With the funding from YESS, the Canadian Council on Rehabilitation and Work is confident we will be able to continue to move the needle for employment for youth in Canada.”
– Maureen Haan, President and Chief Executive Officer, Canadian Council on Rehabilitation and Work
- Data from Statistics Canada indicates that youth with disabilities (aged 15 to 24) had an employment rate of 55% before the COVID-19 pandemic, and 39% in July 2020.
- In April 2020, the Government of Canada invested $492 million over three years, through ESDC’s YESS program, for 269 projects across Canada to help young people facing barriers to employment to successfully transition to the labour market.
- More than 150,000 Canada Summer Jobs (CSJ) opportunities have been made available to young Canadians as of April 26, 2021. CSJ offers opportunities in a wide variety of fields, including community and charity work, food industries, recreation and fitness, marketing and public relations, landscaping and farm labour, and many others.
- To support youth employment regional projects in the province of Quebec, the governments of Canada and Quebec signed a contribution agreement in August 2019, through which the Government of Quebec will receive approximately $135 million over five years from ESDC’s YESS program for projects that exclusively benefit youth in the province of Quebec. A call for proposals was launched by the Government of Quebec in February 2020 to identify projects to be supported through this and other provincial investments to support youth skills and employment.
- To support youth affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Government of Canada announced in April and June 2020 increased funding by up to $187.7 million to the YESS program to create 9,500 more work opportunities for young Canadians, particularly those facing barriers to employment. YESS projects managed by ESDC received up to $40 million for national and regional programs that are providing flexible supports and targeted job opportunities for up to 6,200 youth aged 15 to 30, which surpasses the initial target of 4,700 jobs, in the areas of social support services, transport, information technology, research and administration, and other placements that support community needs.
For media inquiries, please contact:
Office of the Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Disability Inclusion, Carla Qualtrough
This on Govt of Canada website go to the link here
Government of Canada supports new technology to make electronic payment terminals accessible to persons with visual disabilities
May 31, 2021, Gatineau, Quebec
Employment and Social Development Canada
The Government of Canada continues on the path towards a barrier-free Canada. In this modern day and age, the Government is especially focused on supporting new technologies that help Canadians with disabilities play an active role in society. This has never been more important, as we build back better from the COVID-19 pandemic.
Today, as part of National AccessAbility Week 2021, the Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Disability Inclusion, Carla Qualtrough, participated in the Payments Canada 2021 Summit and in the introduction of new accessibility features for electronic payment terminals by Moneris Solutions Corporation (“Moneris”). Developed in collaboration with the CNIB and the Government of Canada, the new features unveiled by Moneris, such as enhanced font sizes, increased contrast, and bilingual audio prompts giving clear instructions, will help Canadians with visual disabilities when making a payment. Currently, payment terminals require consumers to pay with the help of visual cues creating barriers for Canadians with sight loss.
In Budget 2019, the Government of Canada committed to finding ways to improve the accessibility of electronic payment terminals to help persons with disabilities in their every day lives. This allows persons with disabilities to have greater independence and do things like pay for groceries without relying on someone’s help. A $557,725 investment from Innovation, Science and Economic Development helped Moneris and CNIB develop this new accessible terminal. Developed based on community feedback, it introduces new accessibility features that break down barriers.
The launch of these new accessibility features for payment terminals is a new milestone supporting the implementation of the Accessible Canada Act and the Government’s efforts to create a barrier-free Canada.
“As Minister responsible for Disability Inclusion, and as a person with a visual impairment, I understand the importance of these new changes. Knowing that I could go to the grocery store, to the pharmacy or to the mall with the confidence that I can make payments easily and without assistance is a game changer. This really is an issue of personal autonomy and independence. It is also a matter of financial security. I want to thank Moneris and the CNIB for working with the Government of Canada on this initiative and for thinking outside of the box when it comes to breaking down barriers for persons with disabilities.”
— Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Disability Inclusion, Carla Qualtrough
“Ensuring access to technology is fair and equitable for all Canadians is the only way we can bridge the digital divide and create a more inclusive payment experience for consumers. We are proud of our work with CNIB and the Government of Canada to create a solution that can be applied to the thousands of Moneris Core devices currently in market. We will continue to expand the availability as we migrate more merchants from legacy to Core devices over the next few years.”
— President and CEO, Moneris, Angela Brown
“As society continues to embrace contactless payment methods, business owners must not overlook providing accessible payment options for the 1.5 million Canadians living with sight loss. Imagine having to choose between disclosing your PIN with the cashier or a stranger in line behind you, or instead walking away from buying your groceries. Every day a Canadian with sight loss is forced to make this decision. These upgraded payment terminals are the first step in ensuring financial independence is maintained for everyone that completes a payment transaction.”
— President and CEO, CNIB, John M. Rafferty
- May 30 to June 5, 2021, is National AccessAbility Week (NAAW) in Canada, a time when accessibility and inclusion are promoted across Canada. It is an opportunity to highlight the contributions of Canadians with disabilities and recognize all efforts related to removing barriers, ensuring persons with disabilities participate fully in all aspects of Canadian society.
- The federal investment of $557,725 was provided to Moneris and the CNIB under Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada’s Accessible Technology Program. This program co-funds innovative projects led by research institutes, private sector companies and not-for-profit organizations to develop innovative assistive and adaptive digital devices and technologies for persons with disabilities.
- The new accessibility features will be available for no additional cost to Moneris merchants. For merchants using Moneris Core terminals today (V400c, V400m, Move/5000 and Desk/5000), a software update applied in late June 2021 will make these features available. Merchants using older terminals can contact Moneris to get their devices upgraded to newer Moneris Core terminals.
- This update will feature screen accessibility features and audio features. When activating the accessibility mode, users will have access to enhanced font sizes and increased contrast, resulting in better visibility. The audio mode (V400c and V400m only) will include voice instructions for leaving tip, confirmation of payment and even an option to receive a printed receipt.
For media enquiries, please contact:
Office of the Honourable Carla Qualtrough
This is on Govt of Canada website go to the link here
Accessibility Standards Canada hosts first public meeting
News release June 1st,2021
The principle of “Nothing without us” is at the core of Accessibility Standards Canada’s mandate.
Yesterday, the organization put that into action by hosting its first annual public meeting online, along with over 500 participants.
Under the theme “Making Canada Accessible – Join us”, the meeting was an opportunity for the public to engage with the organization on key accessibility topics. These included accessible service deliveries, emergency measures, and emerging accessibility barriers.
Canadians were invited to share thoughts and ask questions about accessibility areas related to Accessibility Standards Canada’s mandate. They also had the opportunity to learn about the organization’s achievements and plans for the future.
Accessibility Standards Canada’s mandate is to help make Canada a place without barriers to accessibility. They will do this by:
- Creating and revising accessibility standards;
- Supporting accessibility research; and
- Sharing accessibility information related to its mandate.
Their focus is to develop and revise accessibility standards for federally regulated organizations and government of Canada departments and agencies.
“With the collaboration of people with disabilities, we have begun to develop the highest level of accessibility standards to prevent and remove barriers. The expertise of people with disabilities is critical to the development of these standards. Our first annual public meeting is part of this process. We are proud of what has been accomplished this year and will continue to seek the community’s engagement and support to the benefit of us all.”
– Paul-Claude Bérubé, Chairperson, Accessibility Standards Canada
“Our second year saw us make tangible progress toward our mandate and keep our focus on engaging with Canadians. Despite the challenges of the pandemic, we were able to adapt and continue to consult with them on pressing accessibility issues. We also launched four technical committees in different priority areas. Collaborating with persons with disabilities is the only way to build a truly accessible Canada.”
– Philip Rizcallah, Chief Executive Officer, Accessibility Standards Canada
- Accessibility Standards Canada’s mandate is to help make Canada a place without barriers by creating accessibility standards for federally regulated entities.
- The standards they create will specifically outline how these bodies can prevent, identify and remove barriers to accessibility.
- They are also committed to sharing best practices and supporting research on the identification, removal and prevention of barriers.
- Over 500 participants joined the virtual event to hear about the organization’s accomplishments and plans.
- This is Accessibility Standards Canada’s first annual public meeting.
- Accessibility Standards Canada always looks to draw from the experience and expertise of persons with disabilities and other experts.
This on Govt of Canada website go to the link here
Disability Filibuster and What Accessibility Is and Is Not
It was thirty seconds to midnight in the life of a bill before becoming a law. Catherine Frazee – in Nova Scotia – contacted me – in British Columbia – with what she called a rough idea. Frazee’s rough ideas are most people’s keynotes.
She laid out a plan for a round the clock zoom protest in the final hours leading up to the House vote on Bill C-7. We would call it the Disability Filibuster and it would consist of whatever disabled people wanted it to, whatever they showed up with and offered.
We all knew that if it wasn’t a pandemic we would be putting our bodies on the line and potentially our hands into handcuffs but since that wasn’t feasible since many of us are among the most at risk of dying if we contracted the virus, more so because we are front of the line for being denied a ventilator under triage protocols, we could at least make sure the country knew there was no consensus of support for Bill C-7 as the Liberals were claiming.
I thought it was brilliant and more importantly necessary. The rest, as they say, is history, which it was going to be anyway. We just decided to make it more difficult to erase disabled people from this moment in history.
Earlier this year the Canadian government passed Bill C-7, amending the Criminal Code of Canada to make it legal for certain agents of the state to cause the death of certain members of the public with their ‘consent.’ It expanded the already legalized MAiD – Medical Assistance in Dying – to those who were not dying but are disabled.
The fact the agents of the state are health care professionals and the members of the public are disabled people seemed to confuse many on the Left about what constitutes autonomous consent and the circumstances necessary for it to truly exist.
The same people who can explain in detail the various circumstances that might lead someone to confess to a crime they did not commit – without the use of outright threats or physical violence – were unable to conceive a single scenario in which a disabled person might feel coerced to death inside the institutional setting of a hospital or ‘care’ facility.
The exact same people who map out the connecting path between poverty and prisons could not fathom a connection between poverty and conceding to a doctor’s advice to die rather than fight for the supports necessary to live – supports that you might not even know exist or know exist but are difficult or impossible to access due to lack of funding and/or discrimination. They saw no potential for harm even when a person’s only access to any of these supports or to housing or funding is via the doctor who is suggesting they’d be better off dead.
Nor did these people consider the way disabled people are disproportionately represented in prisons where they may select the ‘choice’ between a lengthy sentence without the proper care and supports they need for their condition or a doctor giving them a lethal injection, to be anything other than progressive freedom.
They did not think of another creation of the Canadian carceral state, the horrors of which were long known and spoken about by disabled people but were only now hitting the news enough to register with non-disabled people – long term care, nursing homes and other congregate care settings.
It is unfortunately not surprising. The Canadian left, progressives and social justice movements fail to demonstrate even the most minuscule of solidarity with disabled people’s struggle, actively exclude us from their own activism and advocate against our interests far too often.
Disabled women were ignored in #MeToo activism despite being two to four times more likely (depending on disability) to be victims of sexual assault than non-disabled women and significantly higher rates of experiencing domestic violence.
But none of these things, let alone the fact that healthcare is designed for and around the needs of non-disabled people or that every province has chosen to keep disabled people trapped in barely subsistence, below the poverty line poverty or that most housing is not accessible or…mattered.
The vast majority of disabled people however were not confused by the existential threat Bill C-7 posed and many worked together to try to prevent the bill passing despite knowing the other side had a slick and sophisticated politically connected machine behind its blend of homespun ‘merciful to shoot a suffering animal’ common sense, appeals to ableists’ fears about becoming the very people they’ve spent their entire lives regarding as subhuman, branding of dignity as independent toileting and minimalist packaging of easily consumed utilitarian ethics.
“It doesn’t have to be this way.”
Historian, harm reduction veteran activist, advocate against prohibition and for safe supply, Vancouver downtown eastside resident, policy analyst and advisor to City of Vancouver, Karen Ward reminds people regularly that ‘it doesn’t have to be this way’ as we head into the sixth year of the other public health crisis that is a striking example of leadership and policy failure that has left thousands dead and countless others in mourning.
It is an important reminder that is more demanding than it is hopeful. It means we, and especially our political leaders, are making a choice to keep things as they are. It is an assertive entreaty that leaves claims of ignorance and helplessness shattered. When I was asked by the Broadbent Institute to write their submission about the proposed BC Accessibility legislation, I asked Ward to be part of it and we included harm reduction as a component of accessibility.
The Disability Filibuster was/is a protest of ‘it doesn’t have to be this way’ as well as a window into what another way could be.
Our attempts at lobbying, public education and advocacy against Bill C-7 had tried to cross the moat between non-disabled people and disabled people. We live very different lives and our oppression is simultaneously visible and invisible. The evidence is our absence. But even when present we are rendered invisible in reality by the tropes and prejudice that fills and fuels the space we should occupy.
Our attempts to inject ourselves were hampered by fact that even non-disabled people politically inclined to be supportive were distracted by their own fearful imaginings of themselves as us. The abled gaze objectifies and dehumanizes. The abled imagination is worse.
Hate and pity share the same origin story and the latter turns into the former when the reward points aren’t sufficient.
The Filibuster’s side benefit for those who decided to watch, was a glimpse into the world of crip culture and politics. We were in no way motivated by the abled gaze but if it looked it wasn’t going to have any influence or control. The Filibuster was crip space. In order for this to happen it had to be accessible; accessibility was necessary because we are. The Filibuster was necessary because we are.
Accessibility is “it doesn’t have to be this way” writ large. It says that what you think of as ‘natural’ or ‘the right way’ or, too often, ‘the only way’ is in fact a reflection and source of discrimination. Ableism built the cities. Ableism designed housing. Ableism decided how people learn and at what speed and in what setting. All the things that can’t be questioned not only can be questioned through the lens and analysis of accessibility, but they must be.
I hadn’t read his book yet at the time I was working on the submission but much of my own approach to accessibility is expressed in AJ Whithers description of Radical Access, “Access needs to be addressed collectively, across bodies, boundaries and borders. Radical access means acknowledging systemic barriers that exclude people, particularly certain kinds of people with certain kinds of minds and/or bodies, and working to ensure not only the presence of those who have been left out, but also their comfort, participation and leadership.”
I would add that accessibility also means acknowledging that the thing people are participating in or aspiring to be in leadership of, may also be something that is fundamentally inaccessible. For me accessibility is less about trying to renovate and more about creating. As I’ve said before, accessibility is what happens when dreamers pick up tools to carve justice.
In a similar way that neoliberals have laid claim on the words dignity, choice and autonomy and trademarked and branded them to align with their own political views and goals, accessibility was deprived of its fullness of meaning and transformative potential.
In a blog called, Stims, Stammers and Winks: A Catalogue of Awkward Gestures, Queer Writer defines what they call ableliberalism, a neologism that captures the “purely aesthetic nature of neoliberal commitments to accessibility and universal design.” The blogger argues that in the context of ableliberalism, accessibility’s “function is not actually to support disabled people but often either to make money from disabled people and…to make it look like the government is supporting disabled people or to normalize disabled people. Proof of this is everywhere. In many places, one can see ramps that do not actually lead directly to the ground but leave space between the street and the sidewalk, effectively negating the actual use of a ramp for wheel chair users, but making it look to, the privileged unaware abled citizen, as if access has been achieved.”
The aesthetic of accessibility is unconcerned with carving justice and therefore ignores the barriers created by poverty, racism, colonialism, trauma, gender and other axis of oppression. It sets whiteness (a word with very particular meaning) as the ideal and assumes disability to be the only variation from ideal ‘norm’ identity – such a white, middle class man with a spinal cord injury, which just so happens to be most people’s image of disability.
A simple example of this is the placement of elevators at some of Vancouver’s older SkyTrain stations. Located away from the main public area and down dead end hallways this accessibility is not something I would want to use as a non-disabled or disabled woman.
Ableliberalism’s accessibility is often unpleasant to look at and difficult to use and only considers a very limited range of accessibility needs in the most minimal and unimaginative way – intentionally or otherwise designed to stick out and be noticed and noted. The effect of this is, in addition to the above noted appearance of providing accessibility, serves to reinforce non-disabled people’s perspective that accessibility is an intrusion into “their” space and that it is ugly and not meant to be there. Tolerance – which is not inclusion – leads to resentment. A quota is reached early and the gate is slammed shut.
‘Inclusion’ in a society with whiteness and abledness set as criteria for full humanness is both limited and conditional.
It is inclusion at the expense of what Robert McRuer calls “compulsory able-bodiness which assumes the “able-bodied identities, able-bodied perspectives, are preferable and what we all, collectively, are aiming for.” Thus you hear of the disabled people who have successfully “overcome” or who “don’t allow their disability to define them.”
David Mitchell with Sharon Snyder call the “tactic of integrating a privileged minority at the expense of the further abjection of the many” ablenationalism in The Biopolitics of Disability: Neoliberalism, Ablenationalism and Peripheral Embodiment: “Within neoliberalism’s inclusionism those occupying peripheral embodiments cannot be adequately accommodated even under the most liberal, fluid, and flexible diversity doctrine given the in-built limits of community infrastructure, reasonable tolerance, limited economic resources, and traditional historical expectations about who will share the rapidly dwindling commonwealth represented by public and private spaces.”
You may notice accessibility is so often located at places of wealth. In my city, Vancouver, BC, a former mayor is a wheelchair user. Access to and around City Hall is terrible. I asked a City Hall security guard about it one day when I was attending a meeting there. Surely the former mayor would have attended to the accessibility of the building and site while he was in office. The security guard laughed and explained that the mayor would never have used that entrance. His car was parked underground in his VIP spot and from there he took the elevator right up to his office. I always thought this was a good metaphor for accessibility. I heard the former mayor once on a radio show with our country’s most famous “inspirational” disabled person (rich, white, athletic supercrip) saying he didn’t think there were six restaurants in all of Vancouver that were not accessible. I am a wheelchair user and there are six restaurants within six blocks of where I live that I cannot get into. But I suspect the former mayor and I wouldn’t hang at the same spots. I live on disability benefits, which means I live in poverty. I don’t have a VIP parking spot. I don’t own a car. I used to skip a day or two of meals in order to pay for my transportation to volunteer on one of the City’s advisory councils. My poverty was a consequence of disability rates being frozen for a decade by the provincial government he was part of at the time. His accessibility and mine have precious little in common. Last year his reelection campaign centred around his campaign against the homeless (often/mostly disabled) people in his neighbourhood. Thankfully he lost. The defeat of this disabled man was actually more of a victory for inclusion than his reelection would have been.
Mitchell argues “a neoliberal bait-and-switch with disabled lives is at stakes. The paradox of support for living in the community while simultaneously gutting the very social service systems needed to accomplish this kind of integration sits at the heart of the weakened strain of inclusionism extant in neoliberalism.”
The Lower Mainland is also home to the Rick Hansen Foundation and yet when I sat as a volunteer on the City’s Active Transportation Advisory Council I discovered 8,000 of 27,000 corners were not ramped and they were installing new curb cuts where none existed at a rate of 40 per year making the projected date of completion two centuries away. Curb cuts are among the most basic of accessibility and in this city of the country’s most famous disabled person they still either don’t exist or are installed improperly or not maintained. The City continues to install curb cuts that put wheelchair user outside of the crossing lines and into traffic. For comparison other smaller Canadian cities I contacted were installing up to 350 a year at the time.
Our cities are inaccessible, not just a building or a sidewalk, the very nature of how we conceive cities as places of ‘commerce’ and design them for ‘commuting’ to and from work. Our sidewalks are designed like car lanes only smaller. Room for one (slender non-disabled person with no pets, children or bags) going in one direction and room for one going in the other. There are precious few parking spots near sidewalk lanes though.
Who is the public in public space defines how we design public space. Containing and controlling the public use of public space extends the tentacles of exclusion further.
The majority of people killed by police are living with mental illness or are people who use drugs. Some are killed during wellness checks for mental health crisis. The victims are disproportionately Black and Indigenous. I have friends who live with mental illness. They are a danger to no one including themselves but they tell me they are often hesitant to go out in public for fear of behaving in a way that causes someone to call the police. One homeless man in my neighbourhood would give me the change he managed to accumulate and ask me to buy him food at the store. He didn’t want to go in because he was afraid of the people inside and how they would respond to him being “in their space.”
In his chapter about Toronto’s Queen West in Madness, Violence and Power, Ben Losman analyzed the exclusion and inaccessibility created by gentrification. “In their interviews with the tenant population, Mazer and Rankin discovered that, “in relation to new commercial establishments, most rooming-house tenants experienced this subtle form of exclusion rooted in the dynamics of shaming.”
Inaccessibility is fundamentally about causing, enforcing and providing justification for exclusion. Capitalism is a system of exclusion and ableism is the rebar it pours ‘reason’ on.
Marta Russell wrote in Capitalism and Disability, “exclusion was rationalized by Social Darwinists…Just as the inferior weren’t meant to survive in nature, they weren’t meant to survive in a competitive society. For nineteenth-century tycoons, Social Darwinism proved a marvelous rationale for leaving the surplus population to die in poverty.“
I don’t care dog-eared your Das Kapital is, you don’t understand capitalism if you don’t understand ableism and you don’t understand ableism if you don’t understand capitalism. And yet the two are so rarely discussed together.
Ableism is the never satisfied efficiency and productivity in capitalism and ready on standby ‘rational, scientific’ cover for exclusion and oppression. Period. Not just of disabled people.
None of this is accidental, natural or rational. Fortunately it doesn’t have to be this way.
An injury (inaccessibility) to one is an injury (inaccessibility) to all!
“You wanna know how you’ll know if you’re doing disability justice? You’ll know you’re doing it because people will show up late, someone will vomit, someone will have a panic attack, and nothing will happen on time because the ramp is broken on the supposedly “accessible” building.” Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha, Care Work
The Disability Filibuster was inspired by crip rage – that would soon become grief – but it was built by crip love, run with crip care and fueled by crip power.
It was intentional. The topics were serious and silly, the age range was young adult to elder, it was racially diverse, there was a range of disabilities represented – not just the usual suspects – it was educational, it was protest, it was pleasure, it was art, it was academic, it was music and memories and discussions. It was our space and nothing was polished or hidden from view.
Was it accessible? To a degree yes. It had accessibility built in – which is different than saying it is accessible.
We had captions, ASL, people stopped and did periodic visual descriptions of themselves and their surroundings which turned out to be among my favourite moments even though I don’t require them for accessibility reasons. We were on crip time. If someone cancelled at the last minute no explanation was necessary – we all know of hundreds of possibilities without prying into someone’s privacy. Catherine moved her chair into different positions and her partner moved around behind her periodically doing whatever it was she was doing. Some people reclined. Some had echoes. None of it is remarkable to us but us being us in public is always remarkable.
But I will not call it accessible. You required a computer and Internet to participate or watch. That was the first barrier.
Hate is always a barrier to accessibility.
On the first day we were zoom bombed. We came back. There was a repeat. The images and sounds were disturbing and while we resolved to not stop we also knew harm had occurred and we needed to take measures to deserve the trust of our community to provide them with safety. We took a break and regrouped and determined that unfortunately we would have to sacrifice the closeness and solidarity we had felt in that virtual room together. We had wanted to make it possible for everyone to actively participate and chat together but we had to set it up as a webinar.
Sometimes there are competing accessibility needs between disabled people but in this case the competing need was within accessibility itself. Creating safe space is part of accessibility and in this case so was openness and ability to communicate without a sense of hierarchy of audience and presenter. We had to pick and we picked safety. It was one of the few tradeoffs we had to make.
We would not have moved forward with the Filbuster if we could not have arranged what we regard as basic accessibility. This was not something any of us even needed to articulate. It is just a given.
I have worked to create accessibility and inclusion at professional events in the past. I did a lot of the same things we did with the Filibuster – arrange for ASL, captions, ask speakers to give visual descriptions…At one professional event I toyed with the idea of calling my position an accessibility concierge because it better describes my approach than manager. For example, I called the hotel where disabled people were staying, the week before, day before and day of to make sure they had put unscented products and used scent-free detergent and cleaning supplies. I stocked the accessibility room with juice boxes, maxi pads, tampons, Depends, heating pads, cushions, blankets, chargers…I ran orange tape along edges of glass shelves, moved containers to the base of diagonal pillars, put toilet risers on some of the toilets, printed off larger font signage, similar in braille, wrote scripts for announcements to let people know they could move, stand, sit in chairs, recline on the floor however they wished…My goal was to create the conditions for the disabled people who were coming to have their needs predicted and planned for as much as possible- the way non-disabled people’s generally are (though capitalism doesn’t ever embrace the full humanity of non-disabled people either). My models were good hostesses and exceptional neighbours more than any philosophers or theorists I studied in university.
But I realized that while I was a concierge to disabled people I had to maintain a title of authority (though not one that is highly respected) with the non-disabled organizers. Though the title did little to offset the lack of value placed on accessibility and therefore me.
For this reason the most accessible thing about the Disability Filibuster for me was not fighting for and about accessibility. There were frustrations and venting but just about usual things – like tech. It is remarkable how different those frustrations feel than arguments that fundamentally question your claim to human. Tired is not stomped on. In fact I often felt replenished and tired at the same time.
At one point when I was communicating with someone on the Disability Filibuster team and when I finished I felt as if I must have missed something. The exchange was over far too quickly. It seemed incomplete. I realized what was missing were the hours of arguing about why something was necessary, why an inaccessible alternative wouldn’t work, why it didn’t matter how many people require it and why yes it was worth the cost and no it would not be understandable if that part of the event wasn’t accessible to everyone and on it goes.
Accessibility is/accessibility should be…
James I. Charlton said of accessibility “It is the likelihood of receiving the support, services, and devices necessary for a reasonable quality of life. It involves the totality of life for people with disabilities. Access is then a social construct, not simply an architectural one.”
Accessibility as a concept does not get the respect it deserves. Part of the reason for that is it was kettled by capitalism into products and brands. The economic or market model of disability has done at least as much damage as the medical and charity model ever has. Believing that the source and cause of your exclusion can be the source of your liberation is a hell of spin.
Capitalism is an intrinsically inaccessible system. Inaccessibility is as much a part of capitalism as profit. As we work to build accessibility within it so that we can exist, we must also not have illusions about the limitations of what we can achieve without being seen as a threat to the system itself. We must survive to fight and fight to survive but with the view that full accessibility is necessarily anti-capitalist.
Accessibility is about time and space and the humanity that fills it.
As a fat wheelchair user I am scorned by design for not being smaller. I am frequently told to be quieter. Giving me a shower took too long for hospital staff to bother.
If I don’t feel fully human and especially if I am made to feel less human then the place or space or thing or policy or system or attitude is not accessible to me. At a very core and fundamental level it means I fall outside your definition of human.
Accessibility is about the ability to be. Without explanation.
Accessibility is about belonging without earning. You belong because you are.
Accessibility is about connection to others, to life and to our own selves.
Accessibility is acceptance.
This is what we worked towards with the Disability Filibuster. To occupy space and time in ways that honoured our humanity individually and collectively.
Accessibility is many things but above all else it is precious and profound. It is necessarily a community and collective creation and to truly do it properly demands mutual communication and respect.
Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha has suggested accessibility is a act of love and the difference is tangible. “When disabled people get free, everyone gets free. More access makes everything more accessible for everybody. And once you’ve tasted that freedom space, it makes inaccessible spaces just seem very lacking that kind of life-saving, life-affirming love.”
The line between other and me is not as strong or solid as the one that binds us. Exclusion cannot be contained in one person or one moment. There are ripples. Accessibility also creates ripples and the more accessibility we create the more ripples it causes. We make waves and in the process we are not only making changes now but we are shaping the dreams and plans for the future.
I asked the disability community to share what they think accessibility is. I love my crip community and so I would just like to end this with their words and challenge the left to realize what they are missing.
This on website called mssinenomineblog go to the link here
Making the Accessible Canada Regulations work for people with an intellectual disability
The Accessible Canada Act (ACA) is a new federal law that passed in 2019. The law plans to make the Government of Canada, federal businesses, and organizations more accessible for people with disabilities. It wants to make Canada barrier-free by 2040.
The law applies to programs and services that the federal government controls. It includes these areas:
- access to buildings and spaces
- information and communication technology
- getting goods and services
- providing programs and services
- delivery of programs and services
The law will create a Canada without barriers by:
- Identifying and removing barriers that already exist, and
- Preventing new barriers from being created.
The law gives the Government of Canada the power to make regulations. Regulations are rules about how the law will be carried out.
The Government of Canada has written a first version of a regulation. This regulation is called the Accessible Canada Regulations. It tells federal government offices, organizations, and businesses about some of the things they need to do to make their services more accessible. The government did consultations to get feedback and comments about the suggested regulations.
To see the full draft regulations, please click here.
Inclusion Canada reviewed the regulations and sent its comments to the government on April 18, 2021. We were concerned about several things in the regulations. Some of the things we commented on were:
- planning and reporting requirements
- publication of annual reports
- use of plain language
- required alternate formats, and
- fine and penalties requirements
We will keep working to make sure this law and its regulations meet the accessibility needs of people with an intellectual disability. To learn more, please read Inclusion Canada’s full submission here.
This on Inclusion Canada website go to the link here