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May 11, 2018

Progressive Realization

Ministers handicapping the race for 2030

In answer to a question on public health enforcement, the government had this to say:

"The overall approach of the Accessibility Act reflects the “progressive realization”
philosophy behind the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with
Disabilities. The progressive realization philosophy acknowledges that it often takes time to realize many accessibility rights fully. The goal date of 2030 was deliberately chosen, after consultation with persons with disabilities and review of similar experiences in other provinces, to allow time for the significant work involved in developing and implementing standards in this area."

- source withheld by me

I used to work with a guy who was affable, kind of interesting, and had a problem completing things.  It was sort of passive-agressive, and he would even tell me he was going to do something and not do it.  "I'm gonna upgrade the server today."  Tomorrow would come and nothing had happened.  I think of him as the godfather of "progressive realization"

I feel that the Nova Scotia government has the same problem.  "Progressive realization" has already become the mantra for doing nothing about access until 2030, when we'll be retired or dead, and access will be someone else's problem.

The words "Progressive Realization" do not appear in the act.  And 2030 was chosen to appease the naysayers, not because of any inherent complexity.

Lots of scientists have explained inertia, but government invented it.
Galileo thinking about
progressive realization
  They would have you believe that only tortoises win races, that there is nothing that can be done while we wait for bureaucrats to cross the finish line in 12 years.

Government and its agencies at all levels have an obligation to take stock of themselves and make changes.  Does the government have to wait for 12 years before they install more than one accessible washroom in the Joseph Howe building?  Does HRM need until 2030 before insisting on a full wheelchair marathon?  Does it take a standard to compel DirectioNS to stop exploiting people with intellectual differences with offensively low wages?

Many of these issues can be solved with a stroke of the pen.  Rather than sitting around waiting for the tortoise, we should require departments to be proactive.  "Low hanging fruit", as Gerry Post, Executive Director of the new Accessibility Directorate would say.  I know he has a committee of Deputy Ministers underway.  One way they could be anticipatory is to incorporate accessibility into the way departments operate.  Another is to review and make changes to the full range of programs and policies they administer.

This will require some coordination, but it doesn't take a rocket scientist to know when something has an adverse effect on some Nova Scotians.  Does Access-a-Bus provide the flexibility for employment in a modern economy?  Do school athletic programs encourage participation by people of different abilities?  Does Communications Nova Scotia adequately serve those who need alternative formats like Braille or screen readers?

These and a thousand other issues could be addressed with a little thought before the tortoise leaves the starting gate.   

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