Crusading for 24/7 Access

31 May 2012


For Immediate Release


The Council of Canadians with Disabilities (CCD), a national organization that works for an accessible and inclusive Canada, applauds the efforts of Donna Jodhan, who has waged a long, and often frustrating, legal battle against the Federal Government to convince it to make its web sites accessible to Canadians with vision impairments. 


Government web sites provide Canadians with constant access to critical government information.  Like other people, Canadians with disabilities seek to use Federal government web sites to pursue employment opportunities, interact with Employment Insurance, track their status with the Canada Pension Plan and other activities.  Canadians who are prevented from using web sites due to barriers must rely on less convenient alternative methods of acquiring information: the mail, telephone, and visits to government offices.  An example of a barrier is poor web site design which makes a web site unreadable by a screen reader used by a person with vision impairment.  Such a barrier is a form of discrimination and discrimination against people with disabilities is prohibited by the Canadian Human Rights Act and the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.


Unfortunately, the Government of Canada has waged a legal battle in retaliation to Ms. Jodhan’s case, instead of getting down to business and making its web sites accessible to people with disabilities.  


“When Canada ratified the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), the nation made a commitment to eliminate barriers, such as inaccessible web sites.  We are disappointed that it has been necessary for an individual with a disability to go to court, in a David and Goliath type struggle, to secure access to what is now a necessary service, something other Canadians take for granted,” stated Tony Dolan, CCD Chairperson.  “We expect more from the Government of Canada than legal manoeuvering to avoid its legal obligations to people with disabilities,” said Dolan.


“We should not have to resort to the courts to ensure the Federal Government fulfills its obligations to people with disabilities,” stated John Rae, CCD Vice Chair.  Yesterday, the Federal Court of Appeal released its decision in the Jodhan case.  The Federal Court of Appeal recognized that Ms. Jodhan “has been denied equal access to, and benefit from, government information and services provided online to the public … and this constitutes discrimination against her on the basis of her physical disability, namely, that she is blind.” The Court also stated that, “Treasury Board has a constitutional obligation to bring the government departments and agencies under its control into compliance with the Charter within a reasonable time period, such as 15 months;”.





For More Information Contact:


CCD Chairperson Tony Dolan, Tel: 902-569-2817

CCD Vice Chairperson John Rae, Tel:  Tel: 416-941-1547

CCD National Coordinator Laurie Beachell, Tel: 204-947-0303