From the BlogSubscribe Now

Disability Group TO Call for Repeal of Discriminatory Provision in Canada’s Immigration Act

For Immediate Release November 17, 2017

When: Monday, November 20, 2017
Place: Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration
Room 415, 197 Sparks Street
Time: 6:30 pm

The Council of Canadians With Disabilities (CCD), a national, human rights organization of persons with various disabilities that is working for a more inclusive and accessible Canada, will call for repeal of the “Excessive Demands” provisions in Canada’s Immigration and Refugee Protection Act when it appears before the Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration on Monday evening, November 20, 2017.

“Disability is the last major characteristic that remains a barrier to settling and building a life in Canada, and the Council of Canadians with Disabilities believes this provision is outdated and discriminatory and must be removed from the Act,” says John Rae, 1st Vice Chair of the Council.

The medical inadmissibility provision of Canada’s Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA) contains an exclusion of persons who would create an “excessive demand” on social and health services from becoming permanent residents.

Scholars, citizen groups, including CCD, and litigants have challenged the provision on the basis that it is arbitrary and discriminates against persons with disabilities.

This provision is based on the old medical model of disability, which is especially outdated and inappropriate at a time when the federal government is in the midst of developing a federal act that Canadians with disabilities hope will bring tangible improvements in their lives. “This act should include amendment of some existing statutes, and the IRPA is a prime example,” adds Rae.

James Hicks, CCD’s National Coordinator says CCD’s office is contacted several times each year by families who are trying to immigrate to Canada, and are experiencing difficulties, usually due to a son or daughter’s disability. “Canada’s ratification of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) should have remedied this problem, but so far it hasn’t.” Article 18 of the Convention specifically covers liberty of movement and nationality.

Hicks added, “Canada’s immigration process recognizes the value of keeping a family together, and this must be extended to immigrants with disabilities.”

“CCD is delighted the Standing Committee is holding hearings focusing on the Excessive Demands portion of the IRPA and CCD and other disability rights organizations across Canada are anxious and willing to assist the Department to implement a new era for immigrants with disabilities,” added Rae.

For further information, please contact:

James Hicks
CCD National Coordinator
Tel: 343-291-1118
Email: james@ccdonline.ca

John Rae
CCD 1st Vice Chair
Tel: 416-941-1547
Email: thepenguin@rogers.com

Airbnb buys ‘Airbnb for Disabled People’ Startup Accomable in Accessibility Upgrade

Posted November 16, 2017
by Ingrid Lunden (@ingridlunden)

Airbnb, the accommodation and travel startup that is now valued at $31 billion, is today announcing an acquisition that points to how it wants to address the travel needs of more kinds of customers. It has bought Accomable, a startup based out of London that focuses on travel listings that are disabled-friendly.

Along with the announcement Airbnb is refreshing its own accessibility features as the first stage in how it hopes to develop them.

As part of the acquisition, Accomable will be winding down its business, co-founder and CEO Srin Madipalli said in an interview this week here in London, as the startups team begins work on building out both more specific features for the Airbnb platform, and a community of hosts who can accommodate disabled visitors and in turn, to attract more of those looking to book disabled-friendly travel.

This will start with accommodation for those in wheelchairs first, he said, with an invitation being extended to Accomables existing hosts to list on Airbnb as part of the transition. Accomable had amassed listings for 1,100 properties in 60 countries with details about step-free access, other accessibility adaptations and with photos to show it all to would-be visitors.

Over time, the idea will be to create communities for travellers with other accessibility needs, and potentially move into areas that are aligned with Airbnbs own expansion into Experiences once you get to your destination, which is another important area of travel where those needing special accessibility have been underserved.

Its something that has frustrated me from the start, that we werent able to do everything for everyone, Madipalli said. One of the challenges in an early startup is that you have constrained resources, but within Airbnb we can diversify.

And hopefully grow: he also added that one of Accomables biggest issues up to now has been that demand for places has far exceeded the supply of available listings.

Airbnb which has booked accommodation for 260 million guests and currently features over four million listings is coupling the news with some accessibility announcements of its own. While the company has offered the ability to search for whether a property is wheelchair accessible, the company now acknowledges that this wasnt cutting it.

Guests werent getting the information they needed to find the right homes, nor the confidence that the home they selected would actually be accessible for them, Airbnb notes in a blog post. Now, the company is updating and enhancing this with more detail, including whether there is step-free entry to rooms, and if entryways are wide enough to accommodate a wheelchair. These search features are now live on the web version of Airbnb and will soon get added to its iOS and Android apps.

Financial terms of the Accomable acquisition are not being disclosed, after the startup raised less than $500,000, mostly from angel investors. For now, Madipalli will be the only one who is relocating to San Francisco, with the rest of the small team continuing to work out of London.

Accomable was founded in 2015 by Madipalli and Martyn Sibley, who together previously had co-founded a magazine and online community called Disability Horizons. The two friends are avid travellers but found that it was a lot of work to organise trips: both have Spinal Musular Atrophy and use wheelchairs.

In the very crowded market of online resources out there for tourists of other stripes, they saw a gap: planning accommodation, travel and activities around accessibility needs should be as straightforward as planning for any other need, they thought. And thus Accomable was born.

The original idea we had was to solve a problem that Martyn and I specifically had, Madipalli recalled. We said to ourselves, we can fix this problem with tech.’

Madipalli (pictured below, scuba diving, on one of his trips) said that he and Sibley took their inspiration from Airbnb in the early days, not only in shaping their ambition to build a new travel platform from the ground up, but in how to go about doing it.

I read about Airbnbs founders staying with hosts in NYC, he said in reference to how Airbnbs early inventory came out of Brian Chesky, Joe Gebbia and Nathan Blecharczyk travelling and sourcing it themselves, since they were breaking new ground by building a network of spare rooms in private homes as a hotel alternative.

And so, this is what he did, too. For months, I travelled around Europe with my care assistant, sourcing hosts in different cities using Twitter and Facebook, taking pictures and working out what makes a accessible listing, he recalled. (Sibley left Accomable on friendly terms in 2016.)

The idea started small but gained more ground after Accomable raised a seed round of £300,000 last year from unnamed angel investors from the technology and hospitality sectors.

(Its previous funding had only been a £20,000 grant from the Skoll Centre for Social Entrepreneurship at Oxford University, where Madipalli had received an MBA, just one of a string of accomplishments: he also trained and worked as a lawyer, and before that got an undergraduate degree in genetics from Kings College in London.)

Accomables small team (seven at the time of the acquisition; five are coming to Airbnb) all either also have accessibility needs or are closely connected to people who do, Madipalli said.

The acquisition and what it will add to Airbnb underscores an interesting turn in how the company has been building its profile up to now.

Airbnbs 4 million listings in private homes puts it higher than the top four hotel chains combined in terms of room count. As it has grown, the bulk of its battles have largely been regulatory: specifically whether its being taxed and playing on the same level playing field as the hotels its aiming to disrupt and compete with.

It has also been fending off some criticism from observers that its growth is slowing in some markets. Specifically, it has slowed down in the US, UK, France and Germany, according to a recent survey from Morgan Stanley, published to demonstrate that its impact on hotels wont be as strong as originally projected.

A source close to the company confirms that Airbnb has remained profitable and broke $1 billion in revenue in the last quarter with growth at 50 percent and projected to reach 60 percent by the end of this year.

Airbnb has sought to match the criticism and regulatory pushes with attempts to demonstrate its positive impact on local economies. The shift to looking at accessibility is, in a way, in line with that.

The company has already had a policy barring discrimination against those with disabilities, but now admits that its clear that we can do more to effectively serve people with disabilities. In addition to the Accomable acquisition, Airbnb says it now has a dedicated team of engineers working on accessibility and has audited its platform to figure out what needs to be improved. Theyve focused on areas like color contrast and labels on icons for those who have visual impairments.

Original at https://techcrunch.com/2017/11/16/airbnb-buys-accomable-a-specialist-in-travel-listings-for-disabled-people/

Senators Markey and Capito Introduce Legislation to Improve Educational Opportunities for Visual and Hearing-Impaired Students

Washington, November 7, 2017

Senator Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) and Senator Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.V.) today introduced bipartisan legislation that would strengthen the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) to ensure that visual and hearing-impaired students receive the best possible education.

The Alice Cogswell and Anne Sullivan Macy Act will improve the effectiveness and personalization of education and services for students who are deaf, hard of hearing, blind, visually impaired, and deaf-blind.

The legislation would improve reporting and evaluation measures of special education in each state, increase training for teachers and other special education professionals, and reaffirm the Department of Education’s mission and responsibility to ensure an accessible and quality education for all students.

This bill is named after Alice Cogswell, the first deaf student to be formally educated in the United States, and Anne Sullivan Macy, Helen Keller’s famous teacher. Congressman Matt Cartwright (PA-17) and Congressman David McKinley (WV-1) introduced companion legislation in the House of Representatives earlier this year.

“More than one hundred years after Anne Sullivan Macy worked with Helen Keller at Massachusetts’s Perkins School, we are coming together to ensure that students in the 21st century receive the best education,” said Senator Markey. “I am happy to introduce this legislation with Senator Capito to help deaf, blind, and deaf-blind students across the country by improving access to quality education and offering them the chance to work with effective educators and trained professionals. Every student should have the opportunity to maximize their God-given abilities, and our bill will help thousands of students do just that.”

“It is essential students in West Virginia and across the nation who are deaf, hard of hearing or have vision loss receive the specialized services they need to reach their fullest potential,” said Senator Capito. “The Cogswell-Macy Act would help ensure the educational needs of these students are better met.”

A copy of the legislation can be found at the link below.

Specifically, the Cogswell-Macy Act would:

  • Require states to identify and evaluate children who are visually and hearing impaired so that appropriate services can be delivered to each student, and report instances when they fall short
  • Help parents and educators stay informed and up-to-date through written policy guidance released regularly from the Department of Education
  • Encourage states to plan for and commit to specialized instruction for all deaf, hard of hearing, blind, visually impaired, and deaf-blind students, provided by trained personnel
  • Establish the Anne Sullivan Macy Center of Vision Loss and Educational Excellence within the Department of Education to function as a national resource to better support students with visual disabilities

“Since 1975, the law has worked wonders in terms of ensuring the right of every student with a disability to be included in our public education system,” said Mark Richert, Policy Director for the American Foundation for the Blind. “But what we’ve never done is to make sure that students, particularly kiddos who are blind, visually impaired, deaf, hard of hearing, or deafblind, get what they need once they get in the schoolhouse door. With Senate introduction of the Cogswell-Macy Act, we’re signaling to everyone that we’re not prepared to wait for the needs of another generation of students with sensory disabilities to be ignored before we work with our amazing champions on the Hill to change things.”

“This bill acknowledges and supports the various ways that deaf and hard of hearing children learn. There is no ‘one size fits all’ under IDEA, and the Cogswell-Macy Act will provide guidance to states as to how to tailor individualized education to these students, particularly in the areas of language and communication,” said Sandra Edwards, President of the Conference of Educational Administrators of Schools and Programs for the Deaf (CEASD) and Superintendent of the Mississippi School for the Deaf.

“We are thrilled that the Cogswell-Macy Act will be introduced in the Senate and thank Senator Markey for his leadership and passion,” said Dave Power, President and CEO of Perkins School for the Blind. “Perkins has been a fierce advocate in ensuring that blind, visually-impaired, and deafblind students have access to the highest quality services here in Massachusetts and nationally. Their ability to fulfill their unique potential requires the strongest possible IDEA and our ongoing commitment to seeing its execution.”

“When it becomes the law of the land, the Cogswell-Macy Act will empower students who are deafblind to succeed in the 21st century American classroom,” said Mussie Gebre, President of DeafBlind Citizens in Action (DBCA). “As deafblind people speaking for ourselves, we in DBCA know from personal experience how providing interveners, qualified teachers, and the whole range of instructional services and supports today will make it possible tomorrow for society to fully benefit from the brain power and drive that our community has to offer.”

Original at https://www.markey.senate.gov/news/press-releases/senators-markey-and-capito-introduce-legislation-to-improve-educational-opportunities-for-visual-and-hearing-impaired-students

West Virginia Nonprofit and its Partnership with the RightCycle Program Help People with Disabilities Find Work that Sustains Them and the Environment

PARKERSBURG, W.Va., Nov. 1, 2017 /PRNewswire

A West Virginia nonprofit organization is making a difference in the lives of people with disabilities while benefitting the environment at the same time.

The Jackson County Developmental Center (JCDC) of Millwood has embarked on a partnership with RightCycle by Kimberly-Clark Professional to provide employment for people who have survived traumatic brain injuries or have been diagnosed with autism spectrum disorders, learning disabilities and other conditions.

The JCDC employees remove zippers and other metal parts from protective garments so that the apparel can be recycled through the RightCycle Program, the first large-scale recycling program for non-hazardous lab, cleanroom and industrial waste.

“Oftentimes people with disabilities are treated as if they can’t work,” said Sara Rose, development and communications specialist for JCDC. “The RightCycle Program provides them with a job and a very clear task. It’s adaptable for lots of different ability levels whether it’s removing a snap or zipper or processing the whole garment.”

The RightCycle Program diverts previously hard-to-recycle items, such as single-use garments and gloves, from the waste stream and turns them into plastic pellets. These are then used to create consumer products and durable goods such as shelving, totes, and lawn and garden furniture. Since its launch in 2011, the program has diverted more than 450 tons of waste from landfills.

“The RightCycle Program is all about making a difference diverting used garments and gloves from the waste stream and giving them a second life,” said Lisa Morden, senior director of global sustainability for Kimberly-Clark. “Working with JCDC enables us to extend the social impact of the program by helping to provide employment opportunities that help to improve people’s lives.”

The RightCycle Program also dovetails with JCDC’s commitment to the environment and to developing “green” lines of business.

“One of our goals is to eliminate waste in landfills and reduce, reuse and recycle,” said Mark Crockett, JCDC production manager. “This is a perfect example of going that extra step and getting a high volume of apparel and other items that had been previously landfilled and finding a way to recycle them. Generally, when you think of recycling, you think of wood pallets, plastic and glass, you don’t really think of cleanroom suits as being recyclable. This is a step in the right direction that, hopefully, will expand to a point where it becomes commonplace to recycle them.”

For JCDC employees, the program benefits extend beyond the financial.

“They grow by leaps and bounds because of the quality of life gained from employment,” Rose said. “The work also provides a sense of community and belonging.”

For some, the experience has been truly life-changing. One current employee arrived at JCDC from another agency with a blunt assessment: “He can’t really do anything.”

“He’s been named employee of the year three times,” Crockett said. “He works hard here. He bales. He counts. He weighs the bales. It just shows that with some patience, understanding and a willingness to let people show you what they can do, they can do anything.”

It’s a ripple effect that is felt well beyond the JCDC production floor. JCDC works to educate the community about the importance of inclusion and giving everyone a chance to participate in work and social activities. Families know that their loved ones are in a safe environment during the day. And employees without disabilities form friendships with people they might not otherwise get to know.

“From the young woman working side-by-side with people with significant disabilities to the older gentleman who had previously been institutionalized and unable to contribute to society, the RightCycle Program adds value to a wide variety of lives,” Rose said. “People with disabilities are not defined by their disability. They’re defined by the same things the rest of us are. When you think about the big picture, we all want to have purpose. And I can’t think of a better purpose than giving someone the opportunity to find theirs.”

About JCDC

The mission of the Jackson County Developmental Center, Inc. (JCDC) is to provide quality support for life training and employment opportunities for people with disabilities.

Since 1979, JCDC’s purpose has been to assist people with disabilities with support in their lives and in employment. JCDC helps people find, obtain and retain jobs in their communities and helps families by offering individuals with disabilities a safe place to be during the day.

About Kimberly-Clark Professional

Kimberly-Clark Professional partners with businesses to create Exceptional Workplaces, helping to make them healthier, safer and more productive. Key brands in this segment include:
Kleenex, Scott, WypAll, Kimtech and Jackson Safety. To see how Kimberly-Clark Professional is helping people around the world to work better, please visit http://www.kcprofessional.com.

About Kimberly-Clark

Kimberly-Clark (NYSE: KMB) and its well-known global brands are an indispensable part of life for people in more than 175 countries. Every day, nearly a quarter of the world’s population trust Kimberly-Clark’s brands and the solutions they provide to enhance their health, hygiene and well-being. With brands such as Kleenex, Scott, Huggies, Pull-Ups, Kotex and Depend, Kimberly-Clark holds No. 1 or No. 2 share positions in 80 countries.

To keep up with the latest news and to learn more about the Company’s 145-year history of innovation, visit http://www.kimberly-clark.com

Original at https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/west-virginia-nonprofit-and-its-partnership-with-the-rightcycle-program-help-people-with-disabilities-find-work-that-sustains-them-and-the-environment-300547522.html

Job Numbers Reflect Increasing Inclusion of Americans with Disabilities in the Workforce

nTIDE October 2017 Jobs Report
EAST HANOVER, N.J. (PRWEB) November 03, 2017

“For the 19th consecutive month, the proportion of people with disabilities working has continued to grow, and once again, their gains are outpacing those of people without disabilities,” according to John O’Neill, PhD, director of employment and disability research at Kessler Foundation.

The major economic indicators continue to reflect increasing inclusion of Americans with disabilities in the workforce, according to today’s National Trends in Disability Employment Monthly Update (nTIDE), issued by Kessler Foundation and the University of New Hampshire’s Institute on Disability (UNH-IOD).

Results from a new national survey show that many employers have implemented practices and processes for recruiting, hiring, training, and retaining people with disabilities. The 2017 Kessler Foundation National Employment and Disability Survey: Supervisor Perspectives underscores where success is being achieved and reveals opportunities for maximizing inclusion in the workplace.

In the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) Jobs Report released Friday, November 3 , the employment-to-population ratio for working-age people with disabilities increased from 27.9 percent in October 2016 to 30.5 percent in October 2017 (up 9.3 percent; 2.6 percentage points). For working-age people without disabilities, the employment-to-population ratio also increased from 73.1 percent in October 2016 to 73.7 percent in October 2017 (up 0.8 percent; 0.6 percentage points). The employment-to-population ratio, a key indicator, reflects the percentage of people who are working relative to the total population (the number of people working divided by the number of people in the total population multiplied by 100).

“For the 19th consecutive month, the proportion of people with disabilities working has continued to grow, and once again, their gains are outpacing those of people without disabilities,” according to John O’Neill, PhD, director of employment and disability research at Kessler Foundation. “The duration of this upward trend shows that individuals with disabilities are striving to work and that the processes and practices employers are using to recruit and hire people with disabilities appear to be paying off,” he added.

The labor force participation rate for working-age people with disabilities increased from 31.3 percent in October 2016 to 33.3 percent in October 2017 (up 6.4 percent; 2 percentage points). For working-age people without disabilities, the labor force participation rate also increased from 76.5 percent in October 2016 to 76.6 percent in October 2017 (up 0.1 percent; 0.1 percentage points). The labor force participation rate is the percentage of the population that is working or actively looking for work.

“Although the job numbers remain positive, we need to remember that people with disabilities have yet to achieve their pre-Great Recession employment levels,” said Andrew Houtenville, PhD, associate professor of economics at UNH and research director of the Institute on Disability. “Kessler Foundation’s 2017 Survey, by identifying effective practices and processes for inclusion of people with disabilities in the workplace, provides new direction for efforts to narrow the employment gap between people with and without disabilities.”

On October 10, 2017, results of the Kessler Foundation National Employment and Disability Survey: Supervisor Perspectives, were released on Capitol Hill. More than 3,000 supervisors responded to the survey, sharing their views about their employers’ processes and practices for promoting success in the workplace for employees with and without disabilities. The results indicate how effective each of these processes and practices are for all employees, and provide new information on what works for individuals with disabilities, and where to focus efforts to achieve greater progress.

“Looking at the practices that work for individuals with and without disabilities is especially revealing,” noted Dr. O’Neill. “Just as universal design makes spaces usable by all, these practices can make employment more accessible for everyone. Despite being viewed as effective, however, some practices are being underutilized.”

For example, only 40% of supervisors had access to training in accessible application and interview techniques, although, in general, they viewed this as very effective and feasible to implement. Similarly, short-term outside assistance was seen as very effective for training of all employees, but used by only 19% of companies. Supervisors reported working from home, flexible scheduling and job sharing as effective accommodations for all employees, but implementation was limited in many companies.

“The survey results provide a new imperative,” said Dr. O’Neill. “Better implementation of effective practices is a pathway to greater employment opportunities for individuals with disabilities.”

The 2017 Survey was commissioned by Kessler Foundation and conducted by the University of New Hampshire Institute on Disability (UNH-IOD). This is the first survey to look at the effectiveness of these practices from the perspective of supervisors of employees with and without disabilities. Learn more at https://www.kesslerfoundation.org/kfsurvey17.

In October 2017, among workers ages 16-64, the 4,721,000 workers with disabilities represented 3.3 percent of the total 144,931,000 workers in the U.S.

The next nTIDE will be issued on Friday, December 8, 2017.

Join our nTIDE Lunch & Learn series today, November 3, at 12:00pm Eastern. This live broadcast, hosted via Zoom Webinar, offers attendees Q&A on the latest nTIDE findings, provides news and updates from the field, as well as invited panelists to discuss current disability-related findings and events. Drs. Andrew Houtenville and Kimberly Phillips of the University of New Hampshire will join Dr. O’Neill, and Denise Rozell, policy strategist at AUCD, to discuss today’s findings from the 2017 Kessler Foundation National Employment and Disability Survey: Supervisor Perspectives (KFNEDS:SP). You can join live, or watch the recordings at: http://www.ResearchonDisability.org/nTIDE.

NOTE: The statistics in the nTIDE are based on Bureau of Labor Statistics numbers, but are not identical. They are customized by UNH to combine the statistics for men and women of working age (16 to 64). NTIDE is funded, in part, by grants from the National Institute on Disability, Independent Living and Rehabilitation Research (NIDILRR) (9ORT5022 and 90RT5017) and Kessler Foundation.

About Kessler Foundation

Kessler Foundation, a major nonprofit organization in the field of disability, is a global leader in rehabilitation research that seeks to improve cognition, mobility, and long-term outcomes — including employment — for people with neurological disabilities caused by diseases and injuries of the brain and spinal cord. Kessler Foundation leads the nation in funding innovative programs that expand opportunities for employment for people with disabilities. For more information, visit http://www.KesslerFoundation.org.

About the Institute on Disability at the University of New Hampshire

The Institute on Disability (IOD) at the University of New Hampshire (UNH) was established in 1987 to provide a coherent university-based focus for the improvement of knowledge, policies, and practices related to the lives of persons with disabilities and their families. For information on the NIDILRR-funded Employment Policy and Measurement Rehabilitation Research and Training Center, visit http://www.ResearchonDisability.org.

Original at http://www.prweb.com/releases/2017/11/prweb14880868.htm

Manitoba: Progress on Accessibility Standard in Employment

Following public consultations and a thorough review of all public comments received, the Accessibility Advisory Council (council) submitted Recommendations for an Accessibility Employment Standard for the Minister of Families on April 5, 2017. The Honourable Scott Fielding, Minister of Families has reviewed and considered the recommendations of the council.

The Government of Manitoba is pleased to make its Proposed Accessible Employment Standards Regulation available for public comment as of November 1, 2017. (PDF) (Word, find the links at the Url below)

In acknowledgement of the holiday period in December, the deadline for your feedback is extended beyond the 60-day period required by The Accessibility for Manitobans Act to Friday, January 12, 2018. Please forward all electronic comments, submissions and briefs to http://www.access@gov.mb.ca.

http://www.accessibilitymb.ca/employment-standards.html

The Accessibility for Manitobans Act | Province of Manitoba

http://www.accessibilitymb.ca

The Accessibility for Manitobans Act became law on December 5, 2013. The purpose of the legislation is to provide a clear and proactive process for the identification ….

Original at http://www.accessibilitymb.ca/

New Accessibility Regulations for N.L. Buildings, Parking Lots

New regulations for parking lots, washrooms, wheelchair ramps and more included in amendments CBC News Posted: Oct 23, 2017

Service NL is bringing in new regulations which will bring Newfoundland and Labrador up to national standards for having accessible buildings and facilities.

The Newfoundland and Labrador government says changes are coming to accessibility regulations for buildings, parking lots and other facilities in the province.

Service NL announced Monday its intentions to amend the Buildings Accessibility Regulations and Mobility Impaired Parking Regulations.

The new rules will apply to new construction and to buildings being extensively renovated.

Service NL Minister Sherry Gambin-Walsh accessiblity
Service NL Minister Sherry Gambin-Walsh (left) announced changed to accessibility regulations for public buildings on Monday.

Washrooms

To address barriers to public washrooms, government plans to require accessible stalls to be larger no less than 1.6 metres wide (just over five feet) by 1.5 metres deep.

That’s to make sure there is enough space to allow a person with mobility issues to get from a wheelchair to the toilet, an issue identified in a CBC News series Access Denied.

Another change to washrooms would require a minimum clearance requirement of 1.5 metres by 1.5 metres (about five feet) in front of an accessible stall, allowing more room for turning a wheelchair.

Ramp grades

Another amendment to regulations will require wheelchair ramps to have a more gentle slope at 1:16 gradient level.

Currently the minimum standard is 1:12, but 1:15 has been a “preferred” slope.

Wheelchair users have complained to CBC about problems accessing public buildings such as Mile One Centre and St. Clare’s Hospital in St. John’s.

Parking

Blue-zone spaces will no longer be all blue, because paint is a slip-and-fall hazard. Instead, the spaces will be identified by vertical signs.

As well, six per cent of available parking will have to be made accessible, compared with four per cent now, and there will be a requirement for van-sized parking spaces.

Fines for illegally parking in an accessible space will also increase from a range of $100 to $400 to a new range of $400 to $700.

Accessible apartments

Apartment buildings will also be required to have a better ratio of accessible units. Currently, only 1 in 15 has to be accessible.

New regulations will require 1 in 10 to be fully accessible and there will be clearer regulations about bathrooms and interior halls in those apartments.

New and renovated buildings will also need to have power door operators.

Floors and counters

Currently small areas of up to 12 square meters are allowed to be raised in public buildings for security areas and observation.

New regulations would put and to that, making the entire floor space accessible for customers and staff.

Counters will also have to be barrier free.

Service NL says existing regulations are open to interpretation.

Outdated wording

Current legislation will also be changed to get rid of outdated terms such as “physically disabled persons,” instead using “persons with disabilities.”

The changes will bring the province in line with the National Building Code of Canada and Canadian Standards Association design rules for buildings and public spaces.

According to Monday’s announcement, the Mobility Impaired Parking Regulations will be brought in within two months of being written and the new Buildings Accessibility Regulations will be brought in within six months of being written.

With files from Jen White

Original at http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/newfoundland-labrador/accessibility-regulation-ammendments-1.4366899

Canadian Universities Sign Off on Pledge to Greater Diversity, Accessibility

Data on diversity on Canadian campuses is limited
The Canadian Press/
Oct. 26, 2017 9:35 a.m./

Canadian universities have done a great job making their campuses more accessible for students with disabilities, but now have to turn more attention to helping those students get jobs, one of Canada’s leading disability advocates told a room full of university presidents Wednesday.

Rick Hansen, a former paralympian whose foundation is devoted to making the world a more accessible place, spoke to the presidents in Ottawa on Wednesday, just before they voted to make a public commitment to seven principles of diversity.

Presidents of about 60 schools that are members of Universities Canada voted to adopt the principles which include a commitment to identify and remove barriers for women, visible minorities, Indigenous peoples and people with disabilities when it comes to university hiring practices, leadership roles and the student body.

Dawn Russell, president of St. Thomas University in Fredericton and a board member of Universities Canada, said that includes conducting surveys of member schools to collect data on how universities are currently doing on diversity issues and setting benchmarks that will be updated and reported on regularly.

Data on diversity on Canadian campuses is limited, with many schools choosing not to collect data at all on the gender or race of their students and employees.

Hansen said universities are one of the best places to take the lead on making Canada a country where accommodating disabilities is not just seen as the charitable thing to do but as an initiative with massive economic and social benefits.

He said universities have done a lot of work to help admit and ensure students with disabilities graduate, but they can now step that effort up with help to give those students jobs.

“One of the great successes of universities is that a lot of young students with disabilities are graduating from universities but these students have a 50 per cent unemployment rate, which is significantly different than their able-bodied counterparts,” Hansen said in an interview.

“So universities can turn their attention to the very students that they’re actually educating and see them as potential employees, faculty or staff members. That’s a big opportunity.”

Hansen said universities can also ensure barriers are removed for employees as the workforce ages, can include accessibility in the curriculum in programs like architecture and engineering and can prioritize research on social policy and technical innovations “that can change the world for people with disabilities and drive new economies people couldn’t have imagined before.”

Russell said one of the ways her university has attempted to break down barriers to employment for people from disadvantaged or under-represented groups is to ensure a member of their equity committee is part of every faculty hiring process. Other schools require hiring committees to show how many candidates from under-represented groups were interviewed and if they weren’t hired, to say why someone not from one of those groups had the better qualifications.

Earlier this year Science Minister Kirsty Duncan laid down an edict that universities had two years to show progress at recruiting more researchers from under-represented groups when awarding federally funded research grants, or risk losing their grants.

Russell said that edict was one of several “strands” that led to the decision to write and vote on the seven principles.

“It’s an important milestone,” Russell said. “It’s recognizing Canada is a country that prides itself on multiculturalism and openness to diversity and equity and we need to operationalize that in our universities to really make sure that Canada is a land of equal opportunity.”

follow @mrabson on Twitter

Original at https://www.surreynowleader.com/news/canadian-universities-sign-off-on-pledge-to-greater-diversity-accessibility/

People With Disabilities Around B.C. to Benefit From New Accessibility Programs

News Release
Victoria
Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Accessible, inclusive communities for people with disabilities are the main goals behind two provincially funded programs designed to improve universal access in British Columbia.

Through $9 million in provincial funding, the Rick Hansen Foundation (RHF) has launched two new programs to improve accessibility for British Columbians.

“When we remove the physical barriers, we create communities where everyone feels welcome. We are pleased to support the Rick Hansen Foundation with this initiative where together we can build a better B.C. for people of all abilities to be able to live, work and play,” said Shane Simpson, Minister of Social Development and Poverty Reduction.

With the provincial funding, the Rick Hansen Foundation has developed the Rick Hansen Foundation Accessibility Certification (RHFAC) and the BC Accessibility Grants Program. RHFAC is a LEED-style system to rate accessibility for retail, commercial, institutional and multi-family residential buildings. Provincial funding is enabling approximately 1,100 free accessibility ratings within British Columbia, until March 2019.

Once rated, organizations will be eligible to apply for B.C. accessibility grants of up to $20,000 to use toward accessibility improvements, such as ramps, automatic doors, and visual and audio emergency warning systems. All projects will provide people with disabilities increased access and opportunities related to workspaces, health and fitness, arts and culture, and education. The upcoming round of B.C. accessibility grant applications must be submitted by Feb. 1, 2018.

“Cities today must anticipate the needs of citizens of all ages, life stages and abilities, including children, parents, older adults, and seniors. The RHF Accessibility Certification and B.C. Accessibility Grants Program will help organizations create accessible communities of the future,” said Brad McCannell, vice-president, access and inclusion, Rick Hansen Foundation.

Twelve accessibility assessors have completed training and are ready to conduct ratings. British Columbia Institute of Technology (BCIT) is an early adopter of the program, recognizing the benefits to making the campus accessible.

“BCIT is committed to ensuring our campuses are accessible and inclusive for everyone. As we embark on the renewal of our Burnaby campus, we are excited to participate in the innovative Rick Hansen Foundation Accessibility Certification program,” said Kathy Kinloch, BCIT president.

Learn More:

Building owners and managers can learn more and book a rating through the Rick Hansen Foundation website: http://www.RickHansen.com/RHFAC

To learn more about accessibility in B.C., visit: http://www.gov.bc.ca/accessibility

To learn more about the RHF Accessibility Certification, visit: https://www.rickhansen.com/Our-Work/Accessibility-Certification-Program

Contacts

Carla Wormald
Government Communications and Public Engagement
Ministry of Social Development and Poverty Reduction
250 387-6490

Jollean Willington
Publicist
Rick Hansen Foundation
778 229-7532
jwillington@rickhansen.com

Original at https://news.gov.bc.ca/releases/2017SDPR0062-001760

FDNY Violates ADA by Pre-judging Veteran Applicants as Unfit

New York, New YorkDisability Rights Advocates (DRA), a national nonprofit legal center, filed a Charge of Discrimination for Julio Andrade, a former Marine, after the Fire Department of the City of New York (FDNY) denied him a job as a Fire Fighter because of a diagnosis of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) he received at the time of his honorable discharge from service in the Iraq war, approximately 8 years earlier.

The Charge, filed with the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, alleges that the FDNY illegally discriminated against Andrade because of the disability diagnosis. It also says that veterans’ groups report that the FDNY is disqualifying veterans from FDNY Fire Fighter jobs without individual evaluation of whether they are qualified for the job.

Julio Andrade served in the Marine Corps from 2005 to 2009. He completed two tours in Iraq, including active combat duty. He was honorably discharged. He was coded as eligible for reenlistment, despite the pre-discharge diagnosis.

The final disqualification of Andrade, signed by the FDNY’s Chief Medical Officer, included statements that demonstrate a rejection based on stereotypes of PTSD rather than an evaluation of his current mental health or capabilities. The FDNY concluded after two approximately 15-minute interviews: “His history of PTSD does predispose him to relapse in a setting of firefighting.” Under the Americans with Disabilities Act, it is illegal to discriminate against someone based on a record of having a disability.

The Charge asks the EEOC to investigate the discrimination against Andrade and the class of others like him. “I care about my situation, but I also care about fixing the system for other veterans,” says Andrade. Disability Rights Advocates is awaiting a response to an August freedom of information request about numbers of veterans disqualified from FDNY jobs because of PTSD in recent years.

Maia Goodell, Senior Staff Attorney at Disability Rights Advocates, says: “The law requires the FDNY to give veterans like Julio Andrade a fair evaluation of their ability to do the job.”

About Disability Rights Advocates

Founded in 1993, Disability Rights Advocates (DRA) is the leading national nonprofit disability rights legal center. Its mission is to advance equal rights and opportunity for people with all types of disabilities nationwide. DRA represents people with the full spectrum of disabilities in complex, system-changing, class action cases. Thanks to DRA’s precedent-setting work, people with disabilities across the country have dramatically improved access to health care, employment, transportation, education, disaster preparedness planning, voting and housing. For more information, visit http://www.dralegal.org.

Contacts

Maia Goodell, Disability Rights Advocates, Senior Staff Attorney: (212) 644-8644

Original at http://dralegal.org/featured/fdny-violates-ada-pre-judging-veteran-applicants-unfit/