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Equalize – September 2019

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Welcome to the September edition of Equalize. In this issue, we learn how Bill C-81, the Accessible Canada Act, will impact Canadians who are blind or partially sighted, and how Canadians can test the accessibility tools that will be provided by Elections Canada during the federal election. We talk tips for accessible airline travel, chat with the Know Your Rights team, and highlight a professional development program for advocates. We also learn about an iOS manual for children with sight loss, guide dog handler workshops and Deafblind etiquette. Plus, we shine a spotlight on Guy Carriere, an advocate in Northern Ontario.

-CNIB Foundation Ontario Advocacy Team

Call for National Elections Advocates/ Elections Accessibility 

Canadians are expected to head to the polls on October 21, 2019, for a federal election and the CNIB Foundation wants to ensure electors who are blind, partially sighted, or Deafblind are aware of their right to accessible services.

 A woman holds a signature guide and a large grip pencil over a piece of paper. Beside her is a large print ballot and tactile voting template. We are hosting several in-person training sessions ahead of the federal election, where participants can use and test the accessibility tools (e.g. magnifying glasses with light (4x), a tactile ballot template, signature guides, etc.) that will be provided by Elections Canada. Register to participate in a session.

CNIB is also working on a bold and ambitious advocacy campaign that will coincide with the federal election in October. We are launching a call for National Elections Advocates in each of Canada’s 338 federal electoral ridings to spread the message that accessible, affordable technology levels the playing field for Canadians who are blind or partially sighted. Join us as a National Elections Advocate in your community by engaging with federal candidates, voters and community organizations.

As a National Elections Advocate, you will be creating an inclusive society. Learn more about our Election campaign and see how you can get involved as an advocate.


Bill C-81 Royal Assent

On June 21, 2019, Bill C-81, the Accessible Canada Act, received Royal Assent by the Governor General. The Accessible Canada Act legislates that all federally regulated entities must be fully accessible by January 1, 2040. 

The Accessible Canada Act will require the Government of Canada and organizations under federal jurisdiction to ensure that public spaces, workplaces, employment program services and information are accessible to everyone. 

How will this practically impact Canadians who are blind or partially sighted?

To start, the government is now legislated to proactively eliminate and prevent barriers, instead of only removing barriers once a complaint has been filed. Canadians can read accessibility plans and progress reports for any federally regulated entity and offer feedback on these reports.

Diane Bergeron, Vice President, Engagement and International Affairs, CNIB Foundation and her guide dog, Lucy, appear before the Senate Standing Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology to provide CNIB's recommendations on Bill C-81.Governments have often caused barriers to full participation in society for Canadians who are blind or partially sighted. For example, websites that are not compatible with screen readers leave many Canadians without access to important information, or federally regulated employers, such as the federal government or Crown corporations, do not have strategies for hiring and promoting employees with disabilities. 

Under the Accessible Canada Act, the Government of Canada is required to ensure that employment and access to information are universally accessible. This means previously inaccessible websites and employers are now, by law, required to be accessible at the outset.

To learn more about the Accessible Canada Act, and follow the CNIB Foundation as it contributes to the development of standards and regulations, visit our website


Read more articles from the September 2019 issue of Equalize:

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