In July 2014, two ACCD staff members attended the first International Accessibility Summit in Ottawa hosted by Carleton University. This event featured hundreds of people from around the world who are working on a common goal: to remove barriers that prevent people with disabilities from accessing the world. Improving the accessibility of various physical spaces, education tools, documents, media, technology and employment processes are some of the many topics that were discussed. The following is a snapshot of some of the presentations:
Planat is a website that provides information about the accessibility of many different venues around the world. Venue owners can complete a free questionnaire to measure the accessibility of their building in only fifteen minutes. This service is growing every day as more business owners are submitting their accessibility features in an effort to attract more customers and demonstrate a commitment to being accessible to all people.
Planat also has a search feature that allows users to look up a variety of venues, such as restaurants, hotels, offices, parks and retail stores. Users are then able to see if the buildings will be accessible to them before ever leaving their homes. Planat also provides an opportunity for people with disabilities to rate and comment on the accessibility of venues. Learn more at www.planat.com.
Accessible Media Inc. (AMI) is a non-profit broadcasting service that provides audio and television media that is accessible to people with a variety of disabilities. AMI has been working with the Canadian Association of Broadcasters (CAB) and the Canadian Radio-Television & Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) to develop Described Video Best Practices for the Canadian broadcasting industry. Described video is a feature that explains what is happening in a video for those who have visual impairments. AMI recently released best practices for described video during live video programs as well. To learn more visit www.ami.ca.
The city of Vancouver is setting the bar for accessible transportation with their new strategy: Transportation 2040: Building an Accessible and Inclusive City through Vancouver. Community consultations and research found that universal design features ensure that all citizens have access to services, which prompted the strategy to focus on the principles of universal design: equitable use, flexibility in use, simple and intuitive use, perceptible information, tolerance for error, low physical effort, size and space for approach and use. With these concepts in mind, Vancouver will be transforming its transportation system by 2040. Learn more at http://vancouver.ca/streets-transportation/transportation-2040.aspx.
If you are interested in learning about the other presentations at the International Accessibility Summit, visit www.carleton.ca/accessibilitysummit.
Information is Power – Inspire Democracy
ACCD recently attended an Inspire Democracy workshop held by Elections Canada that focused on engaging youth in the voting process. This workshop was held in thirteen cities across Canada to explore barriers that are preventing youth from voting, investigate what is being done to improve voter turnout and brainstorm how organizations from across the country can help inspire youth to participate.
Canadian youth represent a diverse group of eligible voters that face many barriers throughout the voting process, such as not knowing where or how to vote and lacking the motivation to take an interest in politics. With provincial and federal elections just around the corner, it is more important than ever for organizations to actively encourage young Canadians to become involved in the voting process.
What can you do to help? One way is to encourage youth to actively participate in promoting quality of life in their communities. In doing so, they will develop knowledge of how the decisions being made by elected officials directly affect them and their community members, which may spark their interest to actively engage in electing future political representatives.
Of course, motivating youth to take an interest in elections won’t get them to the voting stations if they don’t know when or where the voting is taking place. Community organizations can play a role in educating youth about how to vote by promoting upcoming elections on social media or through text messaging campaigns that may be more likely to catch the attention of young Albertans.
Elections Alberta has many online resources that can be used as tools for educating youth about the voting process. Visit www.elections.ab.ca to find answers to common questions, information about legislation and election curriculum.
2014-2015 ACCD Board of Directors
- Weslyn Mather, President, (Edmonton)
- Arthur Erickson, Secretary-Treasurer, (Wabamun)
- Lui Greco, Director, (Calgary)
- Kent Hodgins, Director, (Medicine Hat)
- Brian Irvine, Director, (Didsbury)
- Ian Young, Director, (Edmonton)
- Earl Snider, Director, (Edmonton)
Meet a staff member – Minhas Ali
Minhas joined the ACCD team as the Program Manager in May 2014. He was born and raised in Karachi, a city of Pakistan. After completion of his postgraduate studies in Education, he pursued another postgraduate degree in Global Education from the University of Melbourne in Australia in 2010 and has lived in Canada since 2012. Minhas has previously worked with the University of Alberta and Edmonton Mennonite Center for Newcomers.
Minhas believes in continuous learning and development, and brings a wide array of skills and experience from Canada and other countries. He started his career as an educator and was part of a management team in the NGO sector in Pakistan. He has worked with an internationally-reputed NGO and is continually developing his skills with ACCD. Minhas has been also involved in various voluntary work experiences.
“It was a fantastic presentation! Students were comfortable enough to ask questions that they would normally not ask. Students gained a better understanding of the attitude and view a person with disabilities has. Thank you again for this opportunity! We look forward to next year! – Teacher Feedback
Did you know? – New technology may prevent pressure ulcers
A pressure ulcer is an injury to the skin and tissues underneath the skin that can occur when there is pressure on the skin for a long period of time. People with disabilities who have limited mobility have a high risk of developing pressure ulcers, especially those who use a wheelchair or have to stay in bed for a long time.
To prevent pressure ulcers, ideally patients are turned every two hours and many different types of cushions and beds are available that specifically ease the amount of pressure on the body. Traditional methods of preventing pressure ulcers are not always effective and it is estimated that the Canadian health care system spends $3.5 billion a year treating this condition. In the United States, it is estimated that 60,000 people die each year from pressure ulcers.
Researchers in Alberta have recognized a need to look more closely at why pressure ulcers occur and what can be done to prevent them. Project SMART is a group of research teams from the University of Calgary and the University of Alberta that have been developing Sensory Motor Adaptive Rehabilitation Technologies to improve the quality of life of people with neural injuries and diseases. The team recently developed Smart e-Pants, which are shorts that are embedded with electrodes and stimulate the muscles for ten seconds every ten minutes. This process mimics muscle fidgeting that occurs naturally in the muscles of those who do not have limited mobility. These preventative pants are currently in the testing stage and the team is hoping to have them on the market in the next two years.
To learn more about preventing pressure ulcers or the Smart e-Pants, visit www.smartneuralprostheses.med.ualberta.ca.
Putting Patients First: Optimum Design for Medical Facilities and Equipment
For the past five years ACCD has been actively promoting barrier-free health and medical services in Alberta. Through multiple projects and awareness campaigns, ACCD has learned that many medical and diagnostic clinics, doctor’s offices and medical equipment are not accessible to people with disabilities. These physical, attitudinal and communication barriers prevent Albertans from receiving proper preventative and diagnostic health care, which leads to more health issues and a greater strain on the health care system.
By studying the best practices for accessible medical facilities and equipment and through talking to people with various disabilities about their experiences, ACCD has developed a guide to help building professionals, health practitioners and the owners of medical facilities to implement optimum design features to ensure accessibility. Putting Patients First: Optimum Design for Medical Facilities and Equipment addresses physical barriers and is the first in a series of guides that will also address attitudinal and communication barriers.
The first guide provides a checklist of key design features for parking areas, entrances, reception and waiting areas, washrooms, exam rooms, change rooms and medical equipment. Each area is also featured in a diagram that illustrates the optimum design for that space. The key design features that are outlined in the guide are intended to remove barriers for people with all types of disabilities. Many of the recommendations are inexpensive, especially if they are taken into consideration during the planning stages of construction or equipment purchasing.
The first guide is in the final development stages and will soon be released to the public. ACCD is actively campaigning for barrier-free health services on social media and will announce the release of the guide when it is available. Visit www.barrierfreehealth.ca to learn more about this campaign and how you can be involved.
Mental Health Working Group
The ADF Mental Health Working Group has identified several barriers to mental health services that exist within the cross-disability community, through a survey and literature review. The working group members are in the process of writing a position paper to explain these barriers, what can be done to improve access to mental health care for people with various disabilities and also to identify areas that require more research in the future.
Home Care Working Group
The members of the Home Care Working Group have been actively promoting the recent ADF publication, Linked In: Meeting the Needs of Alberta’s Home Care Clients, by meeting with elected officials and representatives from Alberta Health Services (AHS). These efforts have resulted in collaborations between the ADF and AHS, as well as a full review of the Continuing Care program by the Health Quality Council. Also, there is now a Continuing Care response team that is working directly with patients and their families to resolve issues.
Service Dog Working Group
The Service Dog Working Group conducted research into the status of service dogs in Alberta, as well as the many benefits that service dogs provide people with various disabilities. Using this information, the working group submitted recommendations to inform the community consultations being conducted by Alberta Human Services in regards to the regulations for the Service Dogs Act. The members of the working group will continue to build a foundational document that will address the need for service dogs, as well as advocate for the Government of Alberta to provide support for those whose quality of life is improved by service dogs.
Employment First Working Group
The Employment First Working Group was launched in June 2014 by various ADF members who are interested in the Government of Alberta’s new Employment First Strategy, which aims to improve access to employment for people with disabilities. The purpose of this working group is to explore the Employment First Strategy and make recommendations to Alberta Human Services to ensure the perspectives of people across all types of disabilities are included in the development of processes and initiatives for this strategy.
Do you share ACCD’s commitment to ensuring that Albertans with disabilities are fully able to participate in society?
Do you have a disability?
Do you have a friend or family member who has a disability?
Are you an employer interested in inclusive hiring practices?
Are you interested in learning about different types of disabilities and how to accommodate a variety of needs?
If you answered yes to any of the questions above, please consider becoming a member of ACCD to support Alberta’s only provincial, cross-disability organization of and for people with disabilities. To become a member, visit www.accd.net/support-accd.
Events Around Alberta
Hosted by the Disabled Sailing Association of Alberta
September 6 – 13, 2014 – Calgary, AB
For more information, visit www.mobilitycup.com
National Seniors Day Mini-Conference
Hosted by Sylvan Lake Seniors Association
September 30, 2014 – Sylvan Lake, AB
For more information, visit http://www.albertahealthservices.ca/ev/ne-ev-national-seniors-day-mini-conference.pdf
Grey Matters 2014
Hosted by Alberta Health and Golden Circle Seniors Resource Centre
October 1-2, 2014 – Red Deer, AB
For more information, visit http://www.albertahealthservices.ca/events
Music Care Conference 2014
Hosted by the University of Calgary
October 25, 2014 – Calgary, AB
For more information, visit www.musiccareconference.ca
Consensus Development Conference on Improving Mental Health Transitions
Hosted by Alberta Health and the Institute of Health Economics Alberta
November 4-6, 2014 – Edmonton, AB
For more information, visit www.transitions2014.ca
International Day of Persons with Disabilities
Hosted by Pecha Kucha
December 3, 2014 – Edmonton, AB
For more information, visit www.idpdedmonton.ca
International Day of Persons with Disabilities
Each year on December 3, the United Nations recognizes the International Day of Persons with Disabilities (IDPD) to increase awareness of the rights of persons with disabilities and to celebrate the contributions that people with disabilities make to their communities. The Premier’s Council on the Status of Persons with Disabilities presents several awards to recognize Albertans who have demonstrated outstanding achievement and leadership in making positive changes towards full inclusion of persons with disabilities.
There are three types of awards: the Gary McPherson Leadership Award, the Marlin Styner Achievement Award and the Awards of Excellence. Nominations are open until September 30, 2014. To learn more about the Premier’s Council Awards, please visit http://humanservices.alberta.ca/department/premiers-council-awards.html.
CCD Award Nomination Notice
ACCD will once again present the Council of Canadians with Disabilities Award to a deserving Albertan who is dedicated to the “pursuit of full participation in society by people with disabilities.” If you know an Albertan whose commitment to the disability community deserves recognition, you can nominate them for this award to honour their dedication. The recipient of this annual award will be presented with a plaque and will be featured on the ACCD website, as well as in ACCD’s newsletter and annual report.
Nomination forms are available online at www.accd.net/what-we-do/bursaries-and-awards or by phoning 780-488-9088 or toll free at 1-800-387-2514. The deadline for nominations is December 31, 2014.
Education for Life Bursary Recipients 2014
In celebration of our 25th anniversary in 1998, ACCD established the Education for Life Bursary. The purpose of this bursary is to help students with disabilities overcome financial barriers to post-secondary education. This year ACCD awarded $4,032 to eight students.
We are pleased to announce this year’s Education for Life Bursary recipients:
Amber Boyd, Calgary
Candace Cave, Medicine Hat
Telisa Courtney, Edmonton
Kimberly Doi, Olds
Allison Ikenouye, Sexsmith
Michelle Lee, Edmonton
Katrine Thompson, Calgary
Amanda Timm, Calgary
The Elsa Marie Lodewyk Memorial Bursary was established by Mr. and Mrs. Lodewyk, parents of Elsa Marie Lodewyk who lived 19 years with severe Cerebral Palsy. The Lodewyk family provides $1,000 to an Albertan student with a disability each year to reflect Elsa’s generosity, kindness and gentleness. We are pleased to announce that Christopher Zeglen of Calgary is the recipient of the 2014 Elsa Marie Lodewyk Memorial Bursary. Elsa would have been thrilled to know that she was helping a student with a disability.
Congratulations to all of the 2014 bursary recipients!
Save the Date! You are Invited to ACCD's Open House
Each year ACCD celebrates International Day of Persons with Disabilities by hosting an open house event at the ACCD offices. Come and join us as we meet with old friends and newcomers, let you know about the work that ACCD and ADF are doing and enjoy refreshments and merriment!
Date: December 5, 2014
Time: 3:00 – 6:00 pm
Location: 106 – 10423 178 St, Edmonton
Parking is available on the west side of the parking lot. Accessible parking is available next to the building’s south side entrance.