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  • What Would Strong and Effective Legislation Look like?
    While the details of the act will be up to the government, we can learn from other provinces/countries what has worked- and what hasn’t. Three factors overwhelmingly seem necessary for strong and effective legislation: Timelines, Reviews, and Consequences. Timelines: Removing all barriers in society is not an overnight task. We need to determine what the barriers are, how to remove them, and by when. A recent example is this release of the Roadmap to 2040 released by the government of Canada. Reviews: This is important to address citizen-led concerns and general policy adherence. There are many ways to do this, and Alberta should employ more than one strategy. Some common options are self-reporting, random audits, and complaint lines. Mechanisms must be in place to prevent new barriers and report when existing barriers aren’t removed (as outlined by the act). Consequences: Like any other law or rule, there needs to be something that happens if you don’t follow it. Other current laws (those with consequences) will mostly offer a warning and opportunity to fix it and then a fine. There are a variety of ways to do this, however. Suggestions include: a penalty or tax, reduced or removed funding, or being shut down (for example, people who violate Occupational Health & Safety rules have to stop operating until they are safe again).
  • Isn’t Canada’s Federal Legislation (Accessible Canada Act) enough?
    Put simply, no. The Canadian act only applies to areas the Federal Government controls (banking, broadcasting, national/international travel etc.). The provincial and territorial governments have control over other areas, including significant ones like healthcare, benefits programs, education, and governing our cities and towns. In some cases this can be complicated, like housing or human rights, where multiple levels of government have some involvement. Regardless, the Government of Alberta is responsible for many services that impact our lives. An act that focuses on making those services accessible to all would be immensely beneficial.
  • How Many People in Alberta Would this Really Help?
    100% of Albertans would benefit from this act. In 2017, 1 in 5 people identified as having a disability, which has likely increased in the last five years. While this act might seem specific to that 20% of people, it will have lasting benefits for other segments of the population like seniors and parents, but for everyone else too. More educated and employed people with disabilities means a stronger economy and workforce and lowered unemployment and spending on poverty services. Beyond the economic benefits, it will result in better-designed products and services and better user experiences for everyone. There are examples of this throughout our history: Curb cuts, text messaging, voice-to-text, captions and so much more.
  • Aren't There Already Laws in Place for this?
    Yes, lots! However, Alberta's current disability policy is a patchwork of legislation. Some acts are specific to disability, like the Service Dog Act, while others just have certain sections that are specific to disability (like the building code). We counted at least 30 pieces of legislation related to disability and accessibility but with little to no consistency or clarity. This doesn't include policies that don't consider accessibility and inherently and inadvertently create barriers. An Accessible Alberta Act would streamline and address all these areas and afford an overarching mechanism to ensure accessibility for all.
  • What Would be Different About this Legislation?
    We don't know precisely what the legislation will look like (that's up to the government), but we do know that it should act differently from human rights legislation and be a preventative measure versus a reactive one. It should be far-reaching in its scope (accessibility can and should apply to everything, not just "disability" issues), binding, and informed by lived experience. It should also have everything we mentioned in our strong and effective FAQ.
  • What Role Does the Government Play in Improving Access for All?
    The government has a responsibility to fairly manage the province’s finances and establish meaningful and accountable legislation for all Albertans, especially for the most vulnerable. This is an opportunity to live up to the social contract that everybody is allowed to participate to the best of their ability in the larger society - and they will if given the opportunity! The notion of ‘no one left behind’ is more than a United Nations mantra, it weaves the very fabric of solidarity that this country was built from. If you want to learn more we recommend Radical Inclusion's Report on the Status of Rights of People living with Disability in Alberta
  • Employment Look Like?
    Removing barriers in the workplace, such as discriminatory attitudes from employers during the recruitment process. Improved awareness of the rights to work and the duty of employers to accommodate employees with disabilities (Alberta Human Rights Commission). Diverse job creation that considers the various skills and abilities of people with disabilities. Increased assistance for finding, securing and maintaining employment once a job has been secured. More opportunities to access skills training and education. Flexible accommodations as people move through the education system, especially in post-secondary work placements to ensure there are many placement options once people complete practicums. Access to more flexible work arrangements, especially for those who have episodic, invisible, and varying health conditions. Increased time and innovation in negotiating reasonable adjustments and accommodations in the workplace. More innovation and energy spent in the back-to-work or modified work environment for those who are returning to work. Increased availability of accessible technology in the workplace and workplace design. Training to, and with, Leadership & Human Resources departments to address the accessibility cycle: you don’t have staff with disabilities, not because they don’t exist but, because they don’t have the systems in place to support their needs Considering all needs when developing workplace emergency responses
  • Housing Look Like?
    Solving the great divide between affordable housing and homelessness. If people are not working due to their disability, it can be assumed that they will need to have a rent supplement to find and maintain safe housing. Having choices about where to live based on the accessibility of the home to health clinics, services, grocery stores and reliable and efficient transportation systems. Having access to paths and recreation areas that are safe and barrier-free to all who would like to participate in the community. Where there is a need for personal support workers, having access to those supports during a 24/7 time period. Many people are sent to long term care because there are unscheduled needs that cannot be met in their home. Access to wrap-around services would be the best way to allow people to stay in their homes or go home after a hospital stay. Prompt access to affordable housing. Two to three years is an unacceptable amount of time to wait. No housing registries in the province specific to accessibility and type of disability. No discrimination on housing applications that can turn away people who receive disability benefits.
  • Transportation Look Like?
    Working public transportation systems that allow folks to comfortably and safely use public transport with their mobility devices Access to information that considers all needs, including visual and hearing impairments: stops/announcements made auditory and visual Accessible seating and mobility aid spaces that are available and proportional Staff and drivers that are trained on how to support folks if needed to load/unload public transit, use the mobility aid spaces, lift seats if needed, etc. Public awareness and acceptance of service animals on public transportation Accessible public transport stops: enough spacing, prioritized for snow removal & clean-up, monitored for severe weather impacts (ice), seating options, handrails Access to low-income transit passes Accessible taxi cabs with training Specialized training for specific destinations Increased transportation services including hours and transportation to where bus routes will not typically go Regular community consultation. Annual environmental scan (through a disability lens) as the population grows and needs change, so that people have a choice of where they work, play, and live.
  • Education Look Like?
    Physical access to all facilities including classrooms, dorms, dining rooms, social rooms, student union etc. Meaningful access to the educational experience A uniform and consistent system to address student needs. Provision of auxiliary aids or services (screen reader, interpreter, CART or close captioning on screen) Modifications to nonessential academic requirements (i.e. complete an exam orally) Reasonable adjustments to policies, procedures or practices (absences, pet policies) A responsive system for modifications like automatic door opening and clearing the snow immediately after a snow fall Creating inclusive and accessible environments for a wide diversity of learners. Opportunities to access mainstream classes and schools if parents/guardians so choose Streamlining process to pursue post-secondary education Empowering students through programs and mentorship to access further education
  • Recreation Look Like?
    Options for individualized participation in community settings that offer greater opportunities for diverse social connection and relationship building Access to integration in recreation and leisure activities Providing needed supports and accommodations so that the activity is successful or meaningful Assisting participants to have social interaction and develop new friendships Widespread commitment and willingness to take responsibility for inclusion Staff support and training where needed Ongoing contributions of financial and other resources towards inclusion efforts.
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