Accessibility Advocacy Report

Submitted by Julia Oliver
Urna Semper
Instructor’s Name
January 12, 2019

Accessibility Advocacy Report
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Accessibility rights and policies for all Canadians need to be defined in a Canadian federal disability legislation. The Government of Canada is currently working on consultations to find out what Canadians want to see in a federal disabilities act. Several Accessibility organizations have contributed letters of support for the implementation of the act. There are several countries which already have accessibility legislation, as well as some Canadian provinces. These include British Columbia Accessibility 2024, the Nova Scotia Accessibility Act, Accessibility for Ontarian’s Disability Act (AODA), and the Manitoba Disability Act, as well as the U.K. Disabilities Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act, and the New Zealand Disabilities Act, as well as in several European countries.

There are several key factors which are in line with the realm of social work. Some examples include lack of access and participation in communities, barriers to education, employment and other essential services, lack of public accessibility, and lack of social and income supports. Each province should have check-ins to ensure all aspects of legislation are being met and followed correctly under the law. Canada can follow the AODA to gauge guidelines, policies and procedures that may fall into place as a result of creation and implementation of this legislation. There is a huge lack of understanding when it comes to disabilities and travel.

There are many aspects of oppression which can be factors that affect accessibility for persons with disabilities. Structural oppression comes in various forms and plays a significant role in the way that disability issues are viewed, handled, and dealt with. People often assume that because people with disabilities may be not mobile, in one way they are perceived as being incapable, or they become stuck in their careers doing something they do not like, or they have trouble dealing effectively with issues. This results in a society level of oppression of a very interesting group of people who have lots to offer the world. There are a lot of methods of combating oppression such as accessibility of public environments, attitudes, values, and overall openness when it comes to disability issues. The creation of legislation and policy at the Canadian national level is a good starting place for Canada.

Public Policy Environment

As part of the public policy environment it is important to understand previous disability legislation as well as the human rights code. The AODA states that Ontario will be fully accessible by 2025 and it was launched in 2005. It governs Ontario’s accessibility and ensures that people in Ontario get, or have access to, the same goods services and facilities as able-bodied people. The Canadian Disability Policy Alliance is an organization that has helped align some of the values and beliefs of the legislation. It is also important to have an understanding of the human rights code, accessibility policy, products, services, goods and facilities available and accessible to the public. The Canadian Disability Policy Alliance’s mission statement is the following: “Our vision for Canada is a place where people with disabilities enjoy full participation and citizenship, supported by a coherent framework of legislation, regulation and programs.” (Canadian Disability Policy Alliance, July 2016) http://www.disabilitypolicyalliance.ca/. For policy and legislation like this to be successful there are a few key aspects to keep in mind. Inclusiveness is a really important concept when considering the creation of legislation like this because society needs to ensure that everyone is included without discrimination. The policy-makers need to be extremely open-minded and conducive to the change that is to be made in order for this legislation to work. Public opinion supports the need for change to make things better for persons with disabilities and consultations would ensure that Canadians get what they want in the act.

Target Audience and Key Messages

The target audience for this advocacy are federal, provincial, and municipal government officials such as the Prime Minister, Premiers, Mayors and the country as a whole. This advocacy would also be targeted towards the Minister of Sport and Persons with Disabilities, local Members of Parliament as well as Canadians who are being directly impacted by the accessibility issues faced by many people in today’s modern society.

There are several key messages: that everyone should have equal and equitable opportunities; the duty to accommodate those with disabilities under the Human Rights Code is a legal obligation for employers and other service providers.. These guiding principles should be enforced and everyone should have the opportunity for meaningful community participation. The definition, creation, and implementation of the new legislation should include the enforcement of equity, and social justice rules and support and aid future social change initiatives.

Objectives

The goals, aims, and objectives of my advocacy initiatives are to support the implementation of the act by providing input into the act and allowing for collaboration and resource management for the act. The objective of the act is to improve accessibility and empower people with disabilities to live full and independent lives. Shining the spotlight on Canadians with disabilities and showcasing and promoting their abilities helps Canada to understand the many challenges people face when affected by any kind of different ability. Promoting abilities helps people see the potential that people have despite their disabilities and challenges. Taking a disability positive approach is a very effective way to approach anything. “A disability positive approach is a way of doing business that celebrates different perspectives. The approach focuses on bringing the lessons learned from living with a disability to business, and capitalizing on those lessons for success”. (Rose, T. 2017) Monthly accessibility meetings will be important to ensure that continuous improvements are being made in accordance with policies, procedures and other key documentation needed to process the creation and implementation of the legislation. Personal and professional development programs and services are key aspects of any field of work. It is important to increase awareness of disability issues through programs and services like professional development workshops and seminars. In this way it allows for proper allocation of resources and development of outreach programs in order to suit the needs of people wanting to support the implementation and creation of the disability legislation in Canada. It is also really important to read and research current trends in accessibility in order to make the best possible and informed decisions about the act and proper implementation techniques. Another aspect, that is at the forefront, is to enhance access to physical environments, public transportation, knowledge and awareness as well as information and communication in Canada.

Proposed Activities

Some of the activities to support the development and creation and implementation of the Canadians with Disabilities Act include outreach, community engagement, online petitions, a National Accessibility Convention, advertising and promotion of different types of accessibility, Multi-Media Materials showcasing inclusion, communications using mailing lists and electronic newsletters and to increase overall understanding. As well, letters of support need to be written. These activities allow for the collection of information to be used as input for the legislation as well as provide increased awareness of the needs of people with disabilities.

Key Allies/Partners

Allies and partners of this project would include Variety Village in Toronto, Abilities Centre in Whitby, Ottawa Community Support Coalition, Disability Positive Consulting and Made It Today employment services. All of these organizations have had an important role to play in the disability community. This is why I think they will be great allies for a project like the Canadians with Disabilities Act. The Easter Seals Canada “Unstoppable”campaign supports children and youth with physical disabilities to become unstoppable in whatever their passion is. Easter Seals is a great organization that supports children with physical disabilities to achieve their full potential and will be a key partner. These partners and allies have many years of experience, and direct first hand experience helping people with disabilities, and running social programs and will be a great source of information and advocacy allies.

Evaluating Success

There are several factors which can be used in the evaluation of success for this project. This includes that the policy and legislation was implemented and carried out successfully, services from all across Canada are showcased at the National Accessibility Convention, meetings are held regularly to help boost knowledge and information collection, surveys are being taken in order to boost awareness and boosts analytical power of the acts overall usefulness, in person meetings are being held to ensure that the right services are in place to meet the needs of individuals with disabilities in Canada. The use of evaluation forms and surveys will help to gather more analytical information for evaluation and monitoring purposes and use by the Government of Canada and for those supporters, and developers of this act.

This advocacy will result in legislation and policy that is informed, researched, and reviewed by interest groups and parties, that best supports Canadians with disabilities, and reflects the needs of Canadian society.

The successful creation of legislation supporting Canadians with disabilities, the creation of programs to increase awareness of the legislation, and the implementation of programs to provide services will indicate the success of the advocacy.

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