The Barrier Free Canada – Canada sans Barrières September 2015 newsletter

Table of contents

  1. Special requests to our readers
  2. Summary for the month of September
  3. Next steps
  4. How you can support us
  5. Contact info

Happy early Thanksgiving to everyone and we begin with some breaking news!

On September 29, 2015, the federal New Democratic Party became the first of the three major federal parties in this election to pledge to enact a Canadians with Disabilities Act. Specifically, the NDP promised to:

“Introduce a comprehensive Canadians with Disabilities Act to eliminate barriers and to promote accessibility, effective participation, and equality of opportunity for persons living with disabilities.”

You can read more about this on our news page at http://www.barrierfreecanada.org.


Special request to our readers

We would like to start with an important appeal to our readers.

Please help us make the final push

With just over two weeks before E-Day, BFC/CSB is asking all of our supporters to help us make a final push to get commitments from federal parties to enact a Canadians with Disabilities Act.

We’re introducing a letter writing tool that makes it easier than ever to join the campaign. All you need to do is fill out a short form, and a prewritten letter will automatically be addressed to all the candidates in your riding.

You’ll have the option of changing the letter or sending it as is. And you’ll have the ability to easily share through email and social media.

The beauty of this tool is that there’s no need for you to look up candidates or to try to find their email addresses. We take care of all of that. You simply fill out the form, and you’re ready to go!

The NDP and the Green Party have both committed to introducing a Canadians with Disabilities Act. We know our efforts are having an impact. Let’s make sure that every Liberal and Conservative candidate across the country gets the message that Canadians are calling for a Canadians with Disabilities Act.

Please take two minutes to let candidates in your area know that you support the call for a Canadians with Disabilities Act. Then invite your friends and family to join the campaign. Let’s make these last couple of weeks really count!

Please visit www.barrierfreecanada.org/campaign/

From now until October 19, we are asking you to please help our cause by taking to social media.

We need as many of you as possible to start tweeting and retweeting. You can either make up your own tweets or retweet any tweet that you come across with the hashtag #canadiansdisabilitiesact. Or write to us at info@barrierfreecanada.org and we will be pleased to provide you with sample tweets.

Every voice and every tweet counts and it is only like this that we will convince our next Canadian Parliament to implement a Canadians Disabilities Act. Use Twitter and Facebook and let’s share each other’s tweets and posts!

We are counting on you!


 

Summary for September

Welcome to the Barrier Free Canada – Canada sans Barrières September newsletter and we’ll start with our summary for September.

September continued to be filled with lots of activity for us. Our efforts on social media continued at a furious pace and we have managed to attract volunteers to help us tweet and retweet. We also managed to snag a few Federal MPs and provincial MPPs to retweet our tweets.

Our list of yes supporters continued to grow at a fast clip and we are delighted to tell you that thousands of visitors have now shared our home page on Twitter as well as on Facebook.

Our Election 2015 page now contains a leaflet that you can use to help spread the word about us and we urge you to read it. Visit http://barrierfreecanada.org/election-2015/ to learn more and check back regularly as we may be including new content as we go along.

Letters from all of the supporting organizations are now posted to our website. Our five founding organizations are: 
CNIB, March of Dimes, the MS Society of Canada, the Canadian Hearing Society, and Accessible Media Inc. A list of our supporting organizations is listed below along with the date on which they signed on.

April 02
Irene Lambert
(Past president, program director)
The Low Vision Self-Help Association
West Island, Montreal Quebec

June 01
Kim White, Manager of Strategic Initiatives
On behalf of Kelly White, Executive Director
The Coalition of Persons with Disabilities – NL

June 12
Louise Gillis
National President, Canadian Council of the Blind (CCB)

June 15
Dar Wournell
National President, Alliance for Equality of Blind Canadians (AEBC)

June 16
Shane Holten
President, SPH Planning & Consulting Limited

June 21
The Rick Hansen Foundation

June 22
Lucio D’Intino
President, Quebec Federation of the blind

June 26
Barbara Collier Reg. CASLPO. F. ISAAC
Executive Director, Communication Disabilities Access Canada (CDAC)

July 14
Karen Bell
Manager Policy & Stakeholder Relations
Community Living Toronto

July 21
Roxanna Spruyt Rocks
Chief Executive Officer
Deaf Blind Ontario Services

July 31
Jerry Dias
Unifor National President

September 11
Teren Clarke, BN, MM (Mgmt)
Chief Executive Officer
Spinal Cord Injury Alberta

September 13
Luke Anderson
StopGap Foundation

September 15
Pat Seed
Chair Person
Citizens with Disabilities Ontario

Sep 22
Teren Clarke CEO
Spinal Cord Injury Alberta

In early September we were interviewed by the Association de sphina-bifida et d’hydrocéphalie du Québec. The interview was conducted by Sophie Bernard and the issue is called “Le spinnaker”.

We were also interviewed by Alan Russell of the Insight Radio Station of the RNIB; a United Kingdom based radio station.

Here are some of the questions that were asked of Donna J. Jodhan chair of BFC-CSB.

In the year that we celebrate the introduction of the Disability Discrimination Act in the UK, 20 years ago, a campaign is underway in Canada to create similar Equalities legislation. Donna Jodhan is part of a group who are battling to see an improvement in the rights of people with disabilities and in the past she has battled in the courts to get governmental websites made accessible.

Donna, our listeners may find it unusual that Canada does not already have legislation like this on a national level already, why is this?

  • Does the political structure in Canada make it difficult to improve these rights?
  • What is it like for a blind person growing up in Canada?
  • What difficulties have you faced personally?
  • What about support from local and national charities?
  • Has this topic not come up before in terms of a national Act?
  • Does the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities have any bearing on this campaign?
  • Where do you begin with this campaign?
  • What stage are you at now?
  • Can individuals get involved to help?
  • Contact details?

On September 24, 2015, Barrier-Free Canada issued a news release to all major media outlets. Set out below, it announces that a series of major disability organizations in Canada have endorsed the call for the next Government of Canada to pass a strong and effective Canadians with Disabilities Act. That law would add to and not replace provincial accessibility laws like the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act.

So far, only the Green party has committed to support a Canadians with Disabilities Act. This non-partisan grassroots campaign seeks to get all parties to make this pledge. You can read more about this news release by visiting our news link at http://www.barrierfreecanada.org

Toronto city Councillor Jim Karygiannis, seconded by Councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam, has introduced a motion before Toronto City Council. It calls on the City of Toronto to support Barrier-Free Canada’s call for enactment of the Canadians with Disabilities Act. You can read more about this news release by visiting our news link at http://www.barrierfreecanada.org

The Durham Region of Ontario recently asked What help can our political parties give persons with disabilities to live comfortable and inclusionary lives in Canada? You can read more about this news release by visiting our news link at http://www.barrierfreecanada.org

And this is what Debra Scott of the Green Party wrote in support of Barrier Free Canada – Canada sans Barrières:

“Thank you for the good work you are doing.

This is an issue that so many of us do not think about because it doesn’t affect us directly and so strong voices like your are imperative to ensure accessibility (in all senses of the word) to all Canadians.

Personally, I am happy to represent the Green Party because we are an inclusive party who believe it’s our job to represent all Canadians, not just the ones who think and look like us. I have been to conferences and gatherings with my fellow Green Party members and candidates and know that accessibility has been a topic of discussion within the party for some time and our inclusive policies reflect that.

Thank you for taking the time to make your voice heard.

Debra”

We continued to work hard to increase our presence on Facebook and on Twitter and our efforts are continuing to pay off as more visitors are coming to us on Facebook and the number of our followers on Twitter are steadily climbing.

We thank everyone for their support and ask that you continue to help us by spreading the word.


 

Next steps

Our efforts to attract more media attention will continue along with our efforts to encourage others to spread the word through social media. It is our hope that all federal parties will start noticing our efforts and that this will soon translate into promises to work with us to enact a Canadians Disabilities Act when the new Canadian Parliament convenes after the Federal election.

If you would like to join our growing band of volunteers who have taken to social media to tweet and post to Facebook on our behalf, then please send us an email to info@barrierfreecanada.org and we will provide you with samples of tweets and twitter handles that you can include in your posts and tweets.

In like manner; If you would like to receive our election action kit which you can use to help you spread the word then please send your email to info@barrierfreecanada.org and we would be delighted to send you a copy. Or you can also access our election action kit at http://barrierfreecanada.org/election-2015/

We are also looking for volunteers who can help us to translate our newsletter from English to French. Please, email us at info@barrierfreecanada.org if you can be of assistance.

Also in October, we will be making an appearance on the Welcome to my World program of the 93.1 Ottawa based radio station CKCU www.ckcufm.com.

We are calling on everyone to circulate our election action kit far and wide and we will be emailing this kit to all of our founding and supporting organizations as well as to those who have requested updates from us.

We will be calling on all Canadians to lobby the next Canadian Parliament to enact a Canadians Disabilities Act and would it not be a great and wonderful present for Canadians to receive a present in the form of a CDA on Canada’s 150th birthday in 2017?

 


How you can support us

You can support us in several ways.

First visit us at www.barrierfreecanada.org and read our founding principles.

Next visit our support us page and sign up as a supporter. You can also choose to have your name published on our website, receive updates such as these, or simply register your support by completing our online form.

If you represent an organization and you wish to register your organization’s support, you can send an email to us at info@barrierfreecanada.org and we will be delighted to post the name of your organization on our website.

We will even post your letter of support to our website if you give us permission and you will be able to see your letter of support by visiting http://barrierfreecanada.org/support/from-other-supporting-organizations/

You can also spread the message by word of mouth, write to or visit your MP, your MPP, and even write to your provincial Premier or provincial party leaders.


Contact info

To contact us, please send an email to info@barrierfreecanada.org.

To keep abreast of our updates visit http://www.barrierfreecanada.org/category/general

Visit us at www.barrierfreecanada.org
Follow us on Twitter @barrierfreeca
And like us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/barrierfreeca

Yours sincerely
Donna J. Jodhan
Chair; Barrier Free Canada – Canada sans Barrières

On behalf of
David Lepofsky, Robert Pearson, Steven Christianson, Marc Workman, Jutta Treviranus (Barrier Free Canada – Canada sans Barrières steering committee)
Leo Bissonnette; admin support

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