Posts Tagged "disabilities"


No access: what happens to transit users with disabilities when the elevators aren’t working | CBC News

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Port Moody resident Micaela Evans takes the SkyTrain and the West Coast Express commuter train everyday to get to her job in Vancouver as a communications coordinator at a non-profit that helps people with spinal cord injuries.

Typically, Evans’ daily commute to the Spinal Cord Injury BC office in South Vancouver takes her just over an hour each way.

Evans, 24, uses an electric wheelchair, so if an elevator breaks down at a SkyTrain station, or is undergoing maintenance, the delay can add an extra half hour each way to her commute. Sometimes, these elevator outages can occur several times a month.

“I have a job like anyone else, I just want to be able to get to work and be there on time,” Evans said in a phone interview.


She isn’t the only disabled person who has faced delays when an elevator is out of service at a SkyTrain station. Justina Loh, executive director of Disability Alliance B.C., said other people who rely on elevators because they have disabilities have complained about delays when an elevator is out of commission.

At times, Loh said staff and volunteers have arrived late for work because they’ve had to wait or because they’ve had to reroute themselves to get to work in a different way. 

“I would say it’s a pretty big issue,” Loh said.

Evans, who said she thinks TransLink’s overall service is good, said the company posts alerts on their website and Twitter to warn users when an elevator will be under maintenance. But she says the wording of these alerts are vague and puts the onus on the person with the disability to figure out a Plan B.

“They just kind of expect you to figure out how the heck you’re going to get to the next successful station,” Evans said. 

She said she’d like to see more support staff at stations to provide help, adding she’s noticed a reduction in services.

2-train commute

Each work day, Evans boards the West Coast Express at Moody Centre Station and disembarks at Waterfront. She then transfers to SkyTrain’s Canada Line and takes the train to Marine Drive station. 

She has spinal muscular atrophy, a genetic disorder that affects the nerve cells that control voluntary muscle movement.

Micaela Evans, pictured here, says when the elevators break down or are under maintenance, it can add an extra half hour each way to her commute. (Micaela Evans )

TransLink spokesperson, Jill Drews said when the transit authority has scheduled elevator maintenance at one of its SkyTrain stations, it attempts to provide users with a minimum notice of three days, which it relays through tweets and on its website.

If a customer arrives at a station and isn’t aware of the outage, they can request a TransLink assistant to call a taxi, which will take them to the next station with a working elevator.

Regular elevator maintenance is necessary, Drews said. Under B.C. safety regulations, TransLink must inspect each elevator in the system once a month. There’s also a yearly inspection that’s more in-depth and can take multiple days. 

“You can imagine how catastrophic it could be if a fault, you know, trapped a customer or led to injury. That’s just not something we can risk,” Drews said. 

Loh pointed out TransLink was one of the first systems to implement the Universal Fare Gate program which uses sensors so people who can’t physically tap a Compass Card can have the fare gates open for them. 

Elevator sign at Granville Skytrain Station in Vancouver. (Maggie MacPherson/CBC)

But, Loh said there are still barriers for people with disabilities when it comes to taking public transportation. 

“I would say, one, it’s either just too congested, and there’s a lack of understanding and empathy from other transit users,” Loh said.

Drews said TransLink’s policy states it must have to have an attendant present when the only critical elevator to access the platform is out for maintenance or repairs. She also said the company tries to schedule maintenance during non-peak hours but there’s an industry shortage of qualified elevator technicians. 

Drews said TransLink isn’t able to offer as much money as other companies, so in order to stay competitive, it schedules technicians during daytime, meaning the work is conducted during commuting hours.


Accessible parking scofflaws a problem for people with disabilities | CBC News

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Vincel Miele feels frustration and anger when he sees an able-bodied person parking illegally in a spot designated for people with disabilities.

“For them it’s a convenience, I suppose,” said Miele, 69, as he drove through the parking lot of Lansdowne Centre in Richmond in his specially-designed van. 

Miele was injured in an accident at 21 and has used a wheelchair since. 

“It just takes away from someone that does need it and, in a lot of cases, can’t go about their business because they can’t find a parking spot where they can get in and out independently.”

Miele’s van lets him get out into the community independently, but he needs to park in a special, wider disability stall so he can use his van’s ramp to get in and out of his vehicle.

Vince Miele, 69, was injured in an accident at 21 and has used a wheelchair since. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

He wants people to know how inconsiderate it is when someone who doesn’t need the spot takes it anyway.

Miele also wants to see improvements to what he calls a patchwork system of fines and enforcement in B.C.

He said rules, penalties and enforcement levels vary across Metro Vancouver.

Vancouver, for example issued more than 1,600 tickets for parking in accessible spaces in 2018, while Surrey issued 24.

Miele would also like to see tougher fines for those who violate disability parking rules, and stricter rules for disability parking on public and private property. Fines can be as low as about $60. 

‘They swear’

While driving in another Richmond parking lot with CBC News, Miele spotted an able-bodied person with a disability parking decal in an accessible spot.

The driver said she was waiting for her mother, who has a disability. She was legally using the space but Vince doesn’t get why she had to take the spot he needed instead of waiting somewhere else.

This Canada Post truck was spotted parked in a disability parking spot on Homer Street in Vancouver. The corporation said it has launched an internal investigation. (Eric Rankin/CBC)

“It’s a problem … mostly for people that use wheelchairs because they really depend on that wider spot,” he said.

Miele spoke to the driver. The conversation went well but he said drivers can turn nasty.

“They swear. Yeah. They tell you to mind your own business,” Miele said. “They tell you to, whatever off, and sometimes worse.”

Vince Miele says when able-bodied people park in the wider accessible parking spaces — like the driver of this white van has done — it inconveniences people in wheelchair vans, like the one on the left. (Vince Miele)

Private lots make own rules

A Lansdowne Mall spokesperson said it enforces parking rules, especially for disability stalls. Offenders, she said, are fined or towed.

EasyPark vice-president Gary Kohr said private lots — the kind you might find at malls, grocery stores or below ground at some highrise towers — are only obligated to include a certain number of disability parking stalls.

The buildings’ owners arrange enforcement, he said, and can waive tickets.

Private parking lots are only required by law to maintain a certain number of accessible spots, according to one lot operator. Enforcement of lot policies is up to the owner — who has the option to waive a ticket. (Vince Miele)

“The owner of the property will define the rules of engagement,” Kohr said, adding most owners follow guidance from operating companies like EasyPark, with fines starting at about $60.

City bylaw officers have no jurisdiction over private lots, he said.

Lorraine Copas, executive director of the accessibility advocacy group SPARC BC, said police can enforce rules on private lots, if called.

A CBC News team spotted this driver on Granville Island parked in an accessible spot with no permit. The vehicle’s back end encroaches onto a second accessible spot. (Ethan Sawyer/CBC)

Cities vary

Kohr would not say how many delinquent drivers his company tickets for breaking disability parking rules.

Numbers from Metro Vancouver’s four largest cities show a wide disparity in numbers of tickets handed out in 2018 for offenders on city-controlled lots and on-street parkers.

Vancouver handed out the most tickets — over 1,600. Burnaby issued 138, Richmond issued 107, while Surrey handed out 24. 

A City of Surrey spokesperson explained that’s because bylaw officers only actively patrol four locations in the city for violations, two of which are at city hall. 

Miele says it’s not just the malls — rule-breakers are commonly seen on Richmond’s streets and lots.

Richmond spokesperson Clay Adams said the city doesn’t have the power to enforce disability parking rules in private lots, leaving it up to drivers and lot owners to respect the parking laws.

“It really gets down to individual drivers and how much they want to respect the legality, but also the moral element, of these kind of parking stalls.”


Miele wants to see rules for disability parking — on public and private property — better enforced, and a uniform, hefty fine to apply across B.C.

“Make it $400 as a even number,” he said. “Maybe that’ll get people’s attention.”

Most of all, he wants to see a change in attitude from some able-bodied drivers.

Vince Miele is an advocate for people with disabilities. He uses a special wheelchair-lift-equipped van that he can drive on his own. But if the wider accessible parking stalls in a lot are taken up, it’s hard for him to deploy the ramp and get out of the van. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

“I mean, is part of parking closest to the entrance that critical for the guy that has to run in and grab a case of beer or go buy a pack of smokes?” he asked.

“I think they should give … their heads at least one shake. Maybe two or more.”

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Pat Carney: Helping people with disabilities isn’t just kind — it’s the law

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Seniors using walkers and others struggling with disabilities need others, including policy makers, to help them and be throughtful about their unique needs. (Brian Thompson/POSTMEDIA FILES)

Brian Thompson / Brian Thompson/The Expositor

Recently, I have been using a walker to avoid falling. It’s a different world out there when you use a walker, canes or other mobility devices.

In my mind and dreams I am still agile, moving swiftly and without thought. In reality, I have slowed to a walk. It is dawning on me that limits to my mobility are now my world, a scary one, and I must get used to it. Falls are a leading cause of death and disability among Canadian seniors and are increasing dramatically as baby boomers age.

I am sharing my new world because the federal government has proclaimed May 27 — June 2 as National AccessAbility week, to increase awareness of barriers that prevent people with disabilities from participating in society.

The federal Accessible Canada Act is scheduled to become law before Parliament rises in June, requiring public and federally regulated private companies to make their services accessible for Canadians with disabilities. Provinces should follow.

Barriers involve buildings, technology and even attitudes. Here are some I encounter.

Pedestrian crossings are terrifying as warning lights count down the time. Can I make it across?

Sidewalks are minefields of cracks and raised cement slabs. That tiny slope I once crossed in one stride has become a ski hill.

Curbs separating sidewalks from streets seem insurmountable. My Vancouver condo’s fire door is a struggle to open when I cart groceries. So are most store doors.

Many public events effectively exclude the disabled. I didn’t attend a recent Walrus magazine lecture on “Inclusion,” featuring advocate Rick Hansen, because the outside parking lot organizers directed me to was too far away to manage with my walker.

Peoples’ attitudes can be obstacles for the disabled. Struggling to lift my walker to the sidewalk from a rain-soaked gutter, I called for help to a young woman approaching me. “I can’t stop,” she answered as she hurried by. “I am going to a job interview.” Not in customer service, I hope.

A woman behind me in a café line up demanded: “Please move over” as I tottered on my urban poles on an inclined entry. As if I could.

Able-bodied people use handicapped bathrooms. They have a choice. We don’t.

One B.C. Ferries deckhand threatened to leave me ashore at the terminal when I asked to park on the upper deck alongside a B.C. Ferries van, refusing to go into the hold under a lowered ramp, afraid I could drown in the dark if the elevators broke down in an emergency.

Ferries are a challenge. Two of three elevators were not working on a recent voyage. On the return, I was parked by the broken midship elevator, forced to thread my walker through the packed cars, hoping the aft elevator worked. Another passenger cried because she couldn’t get her mother’s wheelchair out of their car.

Still, I am amazed at the kindness of people who volunteer to stow my walker into my car and stop to open doors.

The Shoppers Drug salesperson who picked up a cosmetic item her store didn’t stock and delivered it to my door on her day off.

Our condo janitor, who checks the swimming pool to ensure I am OK. The storekeeper who came to help me out of that soggy gutter. A ferry deckhand who took my keys and parked my car in a safe place.

Friends who pick up groceries and volunteer to drive me to events. HandiDART buses with their helpful drivers. Events that advertise accessibility options. People who are aware that removing barriers enable all Canadians to participate in society.

People who are AccessAbility challenged must speak up. We have the right to “reasonable accommodation” under human-rights laws. We are still ourselves, the people we always were. Others, be aware. Think how you would walk in our shoes. Chances are you will.

Pat Carney, author and retired federal politician, is an arthritis research advocate and lives on Saturna Island.

Letters to the editor should be sent to [email protected] The editorial pages editor is Gordon Clark, who can be reached at [email protected].

CLICK HERE to report a typo.

Is there more to this story? We’d like to hear from you about this or any other stories you think we should know about. Email [email protected].

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‘We’re just like everybody else’: New play tackles misconceptions about disabilities, love and sex | CBC News

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Talking sex and romance can be cringe-worthy for parents and their adult children — the stuff of many an awkward romantic comedy.

Now imagine you have a physical disability, can’t get in or out of your wheelchair by yourself, and need a caregiver to help you talk with others. You like a boy, but how do you date? What does consent look like in that scenario?

You might be paralyzed from the neck down, but you have sexual urges. What do you do? 

Those are some of the scenarios a new theatre production at the Anvil Centre in New Westminster wants its audience to consider about dating, romance and sex for people with disabilities.

The production, called Romance, Relationships and Rights, is described as social theatre, where the community — in this case individuals with disabilities who are also advocates — are empowered to tell their own stories. 

The actors have little professional experience but plenty of lived experience, and the six scenes from the show draw from that.

Performers are pictured during the Romance, Relationships and Rights performance at the Anvil Centre in New Westminster, B.C. on Wednesday, May 16, 2019. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

“Love has no boundaries,” says one of the actors and advocates, Dana Faris. 

“We’re just like everybody else. People can see it (the disability) as a barrier to having a relationship. They make assumptions about us.”

For example, some might assume people with disabilities aren’t capable of having relationships, or believe it might be too hard physically. But a 2018 study found that 84 per cent of individuals with mild to moderate developmental disabilities said they had been in a sexual relationship, and 87 per cent indicated that they would like to be in a relationship. 

Often, the barriers to relationships are overprotective caregivers.

The advocates in this production wanted to perform, rather than tell, their stories. Some of their scenes — about online dating and meeting a stranger for the first time — would feel familiar to anyone, irrespective of whether they have a disability.

Other stories are more unique and based on real people.

The theatre process

The show was put together in conjunction with The University of British Columbia’s Centre for Inclusion and Citizenship and theatre departments. The advocates participated in acting classes in the fall, and then scripted the show from their own experiences in January.

The process took more time and effort than a typical theatre production, but director Leyton Schnellert said it was worth it.

“Traditional actors just couldn’t tell these stories,” Schnellert said. “It’s not theirs to tell and the experience would have been totally different.”

The theatre made changes to the way the show is delivered to make it more accessible for both the actors and the audience. 

One of the actors, Justin Vancleef, is blind in his left eye, and worked with the lighting director to ensure the bright theatre lights were dimmed. Interpreters were paired with actors and also signed the show for the audience. 

All you need is love

Vancleef plays Jeffrey, a young man with multiple disabilities who wanted to date Shannon, who had difficulty communicating by herself. Their parents facilitated a date, carefully watching and ensuring that what was evolving was romantic and meaningful.

Advocates bring to life the love story of Jeffrey and Shannon. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

Then, the caregivers get out of the way and allow Jeffrey and Shannon to spend some romantic time alone. 

When Shannon’s seizures worsen, Jeffrey is at her side in hospital simply holding her hand even while she’s in coma. There’s hardly a dry eye in the audience. 

Ainsleigh Spencer, a support worker who came to the show with his client, was choked up after the performance.

“I thought it was beautiful, insightful, really meaningful,” Spencer said. “It’s just a beautiful story about two people who found love, and it ended too quickly.”

And for Vancleef — who like his character needs the help of an interpreter to communicate — the message to the audience is simple.

“We have the right to date and love just like anyone else.”

Many in the audience teared up during the final scene. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

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Adaptive boxing gets athletes with disabilities into the ring | CBC News

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Thoughts of boxing might conjure up images of two fighters, duking it out, trading blows while fast on their feet.

But how about two people in wheelchairs? Or people who have undergone amputations? Or even brain injuries?

Peggy Mayers, owner and coach of the Bulldog Boxing Centre in Salmon Arm, B.C., hosted a special event this past weekend for adaptive boxing. 

It’s a way for the sport to be more inclusive for those who might be kept out of the ring by a physical disability.

“The whole point is boxing is truly adaptable, including competition, and it can be made safe,” Mayers told CBC Radio West’s Leah Shaw.

“And I felt like this was the one piece that just wasn’t there yet in our sport. And here we are today. We’re making history.”

Wood and Twining practise while Peggy Meyers and Carina Trueman, right, look on. (Leah Shaw/CBC)

The weekend event saw people come from far away, including Colin Wood, CEO of the Great Britain Adaptive Boxing Council.

He described adaptive boxing as a sport that focuses on scoring points during fights. That, he said, minimizes physical risks to the fighters.

“This is about inclusion, it’s about a wide variety of disabled people to be able to be included,” Wood said. “Most sports have not got [that] correctly at the moment.”

Trueman, left, and Twining practise while Wood looks on. (Leah Shaw/CBC)

‘Boxing changed my life’

Samantha Twining, from Philadelphia, was paralyzed 11 years ago in a car accident. She has been in a wheelchair since, and said she struggled at first.

“I didn’t participate in sports before my accident. So, it wasn’t something I was looking to,” Twining said.

“Boxing changed my life, my self-confidence … I would like to show other people that they can do it, too.”

Christopher Middleton, a British veteran of the war in Afghanistan, lost his legs in an explosion in 2011.

“As you can imagine, it was quite tough to get free, obviously, with the PTSD and just generally not knowing the way of life I was going to go down,” Middleton said.

“Sport was a massive thing for me, so was my scuba diving, but now I’ve got boxing. It’s something else to pass on to anybody else who thinks negatively about their situation or their injury.”

Wood is hoping to grow adaptive boxing and have his organization accredited by the World Boxing Council as the official body.

As for Mayers, she wants the sport to head to the biggest stage of all. 

“Paralympics, look out, because we’re coming for you,” she said.

Listen to the full story:

Peggy Mayers, owner and coach of Salmon Arm’s Bulldog Boxing Centre, hosted a special event this past weekend for adaptive boxing: a way for the sport to be more inclusive for those who might be kept out of the ring by a physical disability. 5:56

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Non-profit for people with disabilities shocked after 3 municipal partners pull funding | CBC News

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An organization that has helped people with disabilities pursue active lifestyles in the Greater Victoria area for more than 30 years says its future has been thrown into doubt after three long-term municipal partners announced they were ending their contracts with them. 

The Capital Regional District (CRD) — the regional government for southern Vancouver Island and the southern Gulf Islands — as well as the districts of Saanich and Oak Bay have decided to end their contracts with Recreation Integration Victoria (RIV) this summer.

RIV provides volunteer training and leisure access passes for persons with disabilities, according to Yvonne Locke, president of the Victoria Integration Society, the non-profit partner that operates RIV. 

“We felt like we had been blindsided,” Locke told Gregor Craigie, host of CBC’s On the Island.

She says the possibility of ending partnerships had not been raised in a January meeting between RIV and the municipalities when the latest contracts were signed. 

Oak Bay and the CRD will end services with RIV at the end of June, and Sannich will end services at the end of August. 

Locke says RIV will work with their remaining partners to discuss the future of the organization. 

“We hope that somehow we can reconfigure to provide those same services in the future. But we really don’t know if we’ll have enough resources to do that.”

The Capital Regional District and the districts of Saanich and Oak Bay have decided to end their contracts with Recreation Integration Victoria this summer. (Recreation Integration Victoria/Facebook)

‘Integrated service’

In the summer, RIV provides service to 70 children who want to have one-on-one recreation services for one week, says Locke. The activities range from attending soccer and basketball camps to kayaking. Services are available to adults as well. 

“The idea originally was, rather than each municipality providing service to their local community, it would be better to have an integrated service,” Locke said. 

Recreation Integration Victoria has helped people with disabilities pursue active lifestyles in the Greater Victoria area for more than 30 years. (Recreation Integration Victoria/Facebook)

Locke is concerned the municipalities will not be able to provide replacement services in time. But Saanich and the CRD’s Panorama Recreation Centre say there are plans already in the works.

The Panorama centre says it is allocating funds to programs supporting inclusion. 

“We understand the change may raise concerns so we have a series of actions we are taking to continue to provide inclusion support and services,” the CRD said in a statement.

Those actions include enhanced support services over the summer, continuing to offer the access pass currently offered by RIV, and improving accessibility.

Kelli-Ann Armstrong, senior manager of recreation in the District of Sannich, said the municipality’s decision to end the contract is due to an effort to improve other services. 

“There are new, unanticipated and expanding areas that also require support, such as growing older adult populations, youth at risk and new Canadians,” Armstrong said.

“With two of the region’s departments also terminating the agreement, we felt it was an appropriate time to do the same.” 

According to Armstrong, Sannich’s decision was well planned and communicated in advanced. 

“It’s unfortunate the RIV felt that this was a surprise,” she said. “But we feel we have had discussions with them leading up to this decision.”

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 Microsoft deal means more access for all Canadian public servants with disabilities, minister says

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The federal government has renewed a contract with Microsoft Canada that includes more digital communication tools for public servants with disabilities.

Minister of Accessibility Carla Qualtrough made the announcement at Microsoft’s offices in Vancouver, saying the modern tools will allow for more information sharing, productivity and collaboration.

Qualtrough, who is legally blind, says the seven-year agreement is part of the government’s procurement of software and services for all public servants and that about five per cent of the workforce of 410,000 people has a disability.

The inclusive design of the $940-million deal includes features such as artificial intelligence technology that allows an image on a screen to be described to someone who can’t see and provide transcription for dozens of languages.

Qualtrough says all public servants will now have access to Office 365 and the agreement will enable software to run in data centres or in the cloud.

She says all Canadians will benefit as a result of a strong platform for the delivery of programs and services.

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Investment in workplace technology helps people with disabilities

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A new WorkBC contract that equips people with adaptive technology will open up employment opportunities for people with disabilities and help them thrive in the workplace.

Delivered by the Neil Squire Society, the Assistive Technology Services program combines two existing services — [email protected] and supports offered through individual WorkBC Centres — into one streamlined provincial resource to help more people with disabilities throughout the province fully participate in B.C.’s economy.

“British Columbia’s economy is thriving but to be a truly inclusive province, we need everyone to have the tools they need to participate in the workforce and build the life they deserve,” said Shane Simpson, Minister of Social Development and Poverty Reduction. “The Neil Squire Society has been a leader in innovative assistive technology for over 30 years. As the successful proponent, it can continue its important work with employers and people with disabilities.”

Supports available through the Assistive Technology Services program include:

  • mobility supports, alternative keyboards, voice input equipment and other workplace modification technology
  • advice to employers on how to be more accessible and inclusive
  • training to help people navigate other services and supports to assist with employment

The contract has a five-year term, is valued at $28.8 million and will begin service delivery on April 1, 2019.

“The Neil Squire Society is dedicated to breaking down barriers that keep people with disabilities from finding sustainable, meaningful employment,” said Gary Birch, executive director, Neil Squire Society. “This funding will help expand our vision and continue our work to improve the lives and opportunities of people with disabilities.”

The Assistive Technology Services program is one of two WorkBC services that will soon be delivered provincially. Beginning April 1, 2019, Douglas College will provide WorkBC Apprentice Services, including processing financial support applications and facilitating approvals for apprentices to collect employment insurance benefits while participating in classroom training. This contract is valued at $67.5 million over five years.

Quick Facts:

  • Approximately 334,000 people in B.C. aged 15 to 64 self-identify as having a disability.
  • As of Nov. 1, 2018, more than 1,400 people with disabilities have accessed [email protected] services through the Neil Squire Society.
  • There are 84 WorkBC centres throughout the province that serve British Columbians, including people with disabilities.
  • The President’s Group, an advisory group to government, is a change-driven network of 22 B.C. business leaders committed to working with private sector employers to help increase employment opportunities for people with disabilities.
  • Of Canadians with disabilities aged 15 to 64 years, 47% are employed compared to 74% of people without disabilities.

Learn More:

For information about supports available through the WorkBC Employment Services Program, visit: https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/governments/policies-for-government/bcea-policy-and-procedure-manual/eppe/employment-program-of-british-columbia

To learn more about the Neil Squire Society, visit: https://www.neilsquire.ca/

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Use of RFID fare gates will remain free for those with disabilities

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Omar Al-azawi tries the new Universal Fare Gate Access gates at the Sperling/Burnaby lake SkyTrain Station in January.

Omar Al-azawi tries the new Universal Fare Gate Access gates at the Sperling/Burnaby lake SkyTrain Station in January.

Nick Procaylo / PNG

TransLink riders unable to use their hands to tap a Compass card will continue to have free access to SkyTrain and SeaBus stations using the Universal Fare Gate Access Program.

Sam Turcott, executive director of the Disability Alliance of B.C., applauded TransLink’s commitment to making its services as accessible as possible to people with disabilities. He said the feedback the alliance had received about the fare gate access pilot program was very positive.

“It means that people with particularly significant mobility and dexterity related disabilities are able to access the transit system just like everyone else,” Turcott said. “And we’re really pleased with TransLink’s decision to continue to provide individuals with the RFID (Long-range Radio Frequency Identification) chips free access to gated areas in the TransLink system.”

The universal access program, which was soft launched in January, makes it possible for people who have limited or no use of their arms and are unable to tap Compass cards to get through the accessible fare gates at stations.

Long-range radio frequency identification sensors are installed above the accessible fare gates at SkyTrain and SeaBus stations, so that the gates will simply swing open for people who have been issued universal access cards as part of the program.

Long-range radio frequency identification readers have been installed at 51 stations on the Canada, Expo and Millennium lines, as well as at both SeaBus stations. It’s expected that all SkyTrain stations in the system will be outfitted with these readers by the end of 2018.

Geoff Cross, vice-president of policy and planning for TransLink, told a board meeting on Thursday that 20 people had applied for the Universal Fare Gate Access Program. Eleven applicants were approved, five were waiting for meetings with occupational therapists and four were rejected. Those who were not approved were offered assistive devices to enable tapping at Compass fare gates.

The transit authority initially decided to give free universal access cards to eligible customers so they could use the new technology while TransLink finished installing sensors at the rest of its station and monitored the program’s reception.

On average, there have been 100 instances a month of the universal access card being used to access the gated transit system, with most users travelling infrequently.

“The take up was not significant,” Cross said. “We didn’t expect it to be — it’s a small portion of the population.”

He said the small number of customers who were eligible for the program was part of the reason the service would remain free.

The Universal Fare Gate Access Program cost $9 million to set up, with half paid for by the federal government, 33 per cent from the province and the rest from TransLink.

[email protected]



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Supporting greater inclusion for people with disabilities

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Two programs that help people with disabilities connect with services and supports in their communities will be expanding through new funding from the Province.

“We know how important it is for people with disabilities to be connected to the services and resources they need,” said Shane Simpson, Minister of Social Development and Poverty Reduction. “This funding will help these organizations reach more people, and create positive changes for people living with a disability and their families.”

British Columbia Aboriginal Network on Disability Society (BCANDS), Canada’s first and only stand-alone organization serving Indigenous peoples with disabilities, is receiving $180,000 to expand its navigation supports for Indigenous peoples with disabilities.

“This new funding will assist the society to expand our urban disability case-management services, enabling us to reach more individuals and families in relation to addressing their disability related needs and priorities,” said Neil Belanger, executive director of BCANDS. “This includes housing, accessing disability and health-related services, employment, disability-related equipment and technology.”

Inclusion BC is receiving $270,000 to hire community inclusion advocates, to advocate for youth with developmental disabilities and their families.

“We all play a vital part in supporting and empowering people to live good lives in their communities,” said Faith Bodnar, executive director of Inclusion BC. “This funding will help us ensure Inclusion BC is working proactively, and that our support systems are empowered to respond to the needs and hopes of those we serve.”

As the first AccessAbility Week in B.C. is being celebrated May 27 through June 2, 2018, the provincial government is recognizing disability organizations, like BCANDS and Inclusion BC, and the individuals with disabilities and their families, who work to reduce barriers to give British Columbians of all abilities a better chance to succeed.

Quick Facts:

  • The provincial government provides more than $5 billion annually to fund services and supports for people with disabilities in B.C.
  • AccessAbility Week is an opportunity to celebrate the work being done to make British Columbia a fully accessible, inclusive province. It is a time to recognize the efforts of people, communities and workplaces that are actively removing barriers so that people of all abilities have a better chance to succeed.

Learn More:

BCANDS’ advocacy work includes a focus on the special cultural and practical considerations important and unique to Indigenous peoples with disabilities. To learn more: www.bcands.bc.ca 

Inclusion BC is a federation of families, individuals and over 70 member agencies. They provide services throughout the province, and the demand for their services continues to grow. To learn more about Inclusion BC: http://inclusionbc.org/

View the AccessAbility Week proclamation: http://www.bclaws.ca/civix/document/id/proclamations/proclamations/AccessAbilityWk2018

See what government is doing to build a better B.C. for people with disabilities: www.gov.bc.ca/accessibility

For more information on support and services, visit: https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/family-social-supports/services-for-people-with-disabilities/supports-services

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