CCD Chairperson's Update--October 2010

The Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) is a visionary document that encompasses the broad range of issues of concern to people with disabilities. This month, CCD's attention focused on advancing Canadian compliance with the objectives of the CRPD in a number of areas:

Article 28 (Adequate standard of living and social protection): States Parties recognize the right of persons with disabilities to an adequate standard of living for themselves and their families…
Article 29 (Participation in political and public life): "(i) Ensuring that voting procedures, facilities and materials are appropriate, accessible and easy to understand and use;"
Article 30 (Participation in cultural life, recreation, leisure and sport): "(b) Enjoy access to television programs…"
Article 31 (Statistics and data collection): "1. States Parties undertake to collect appropriate information, including statistical and research data, to enable them to formulate and implement policies to give effect to the present Convention."
Article 33 (National implementation and monitoring) "1. States Parties …shall designate one or more focal points within government for matters relating to implementation of the present Convention…"

CCD's Work in Support of Realizing Article 28 in Canada

Disabling Poverty/Enabling Citizenship Research Project—With this Community University Research Alliance (CURA) project, funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) CCD will be developing proposals for addressing the disproportionate level of poverty experienced by Canadians with disabilities.

CURA Project Passes Another Milestone—In the summer, the SSHRC conducted the mid-point evaluation of CCD's Disabling Poverty/Enabling Citizenship project and approved funding for the second half of the initiatives. Researchers from the social sciences participated in the evaluation.

New Information—Watch the CCD web site for new material on poverty and disability. Shortly, CCD will be releasing the research paper, "A Basic Income Plan for Canadians with Severe Disabilities", which will help to inform future discussions on poverty. This paper, which outlines a step toward addressing the poverty of people with disabilities, will be addressed at the November End Exclusion forum in Ottawa.

CCD's Work in Support of Realizing Article 29 in Canada

Accessible Voting—With assistance from CCD, Elections Canada will be testing new assistive voting devices during the upcoming Winnipeg North by-election. These devices allow voters with disabilities to mark their ballot independently. Some of the accessibility features included in the devices are: tactile controller with Braille buttons, rocker paddles, sip-and-puff attachment that allows voters to select options using their breath, audio with volume and speed control to hear choices through headphones, high-contrast screen with zoom to enlarge font size, audio and/or visual review function to confirm the candidate choice before printing. Elections Canada has contracted with CCD for this work. Accessible voting has been a CCD priority since the organization's earliest days, so this initiative is very welcome.

CCD's Work in Support of Realizing Article 30 in Canada

Access to Television Programming—Working in a coalition with other organizations, CCD encouraged the CRTC to make recommendations that would increase the availability of described video programming. Regrettably, the CRTC did not use its regulatory power to advance accessibility. The disability community has repeatedly criticized the CRTC for failing to apply an overarching human rights analysis when discharging its regulatory authority. This failure to follow a human rights model is why there is such slow progress in the achievement of television accessible to persons with vision and hearing disabilities. John Rae of the Association for the Equality of Blind Canadians stated, "The CRTC should have empowered the accessibility community to reduce the hourly costs of fully-accessible TV programming so that more broadcasters would carry more described video content every week. Suppose that in seven years, Canadians with visual disabilities receive 10 hours per week of described video. That still leaves 116 hours a week that are inaccessible: why do these Canadians have to pay as much as everyone else, when they can only benefit from 9% of the programs they pay for?"

Canadian Museum for Human Rights—There was a one-day consultation with the Canadian Museum for Human Rights to look at the accessibility of exhibit design. Participants included people who are Deaf, have a vision impairment, have a mobility impairment. CCD seeks ongoing consultation with the Museum on design and access questions.

CCD's Work in Support of Realizing Article 31 in Canada

Data Collection—HRSDC Minister Diane Finley has promised a new and improved regime for collecting data on disability issues. CCD has a contract from HRSDC to coordinate a meeting, where national disability issues will hear directly from HRSDC on their plans for data collection.

CCD's Work in Support of Realizing Article 33 in Canada

Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD)—On 21 October 2010, Jim Derksen and Laurie Beachell met with the Manitoba Disability Issues Office's David Martin to begin discussions regarding the Council of the Federation's commitment to have a provincial/territorial meeting to address the CRPD. The meeting will likely occur some time in the New Year. CCD will provide progress reports in future editions of the Update.