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February 6, 2017

Make yourself heard on Accessibility Legislation

A group of around 30 advocates for people with disabilities have released a set of principles to guide the redrafting of Bill 59.  They represent a wide range of sensory and physical disabilities.  The four principles are summarized here:

Summary Principles to Redraft Bill 59
The Nova Scotia Accessibility Act
Prepared by Bill 59 Community Alliance

  1. Be clear on the purpose
    1. To fulfill government’s promise of equality for all Nova Scotians and to end discrimination against people with disabilities
    2. To remove existing barriers and prevent new ones
  2. Make sure it works everywhere
    1. Apply the Act to public and private services, facilities, transportation, and communication
    2. Incorporate a broad and forward looking definition of disability
    3. Accord people with disabilities a central role in creating and implementing the Act
  3. Standards are the key
    1. Create and enforce standards
    2. Standards should adhere to the principles of Universal Design
    3. Include standards for assistive technologies and accessibility services
    4. Discourage arbitrary exemptions
  4. Take practical steps
    1. Embed meaningful deadlines in the Act
    2. Employ incentives to advance the purpose of the Act.
    3. Accept and investigate complaints
    4. Enforce compliance with penalties
    5. Do not subordinate fundamental human rights to cost-benefit analysis
    6. Require government to purchase accessible goods and services
    7. Harmonize with other legislation

The longer version is available here.

This promises to be the best equality legislation in Canada, but it needs your help.  Here are some actions you can take:

  • Join the Bill 59 Facebook Group
  • Like and share this post to Facebook and encourage friends to share.
  • Meet with your MLA to discuss how this legislation affects you
    • Have a face-to-face meeting if possible, or send an email
    • Here are some ideas on how to be effective:
      • Tell a personal story from your experience
      • Focus on
        • Employment
        • Transportation
        • Government Services
      • Question conventional arguments - most resistance comes from bureaucrats
        • Thing take time
        • Things are expensive
        • It's a hardship for business
      • Bring supporting documents
  • contact your local media and send them the Principles 
  • consider presenting to the Law Amendments Committee on February 13 or 14. 
    • There is an opportunity to make presentations at your local Community College on the 14th. You can learn about it here

There will be small grants to cover ASL-English interpreting costs in relation to advocacy work for Bill 59 up to the Law Amendments Committee. The grants go to a maximum of a team of 2 interpreters up to 2 hours.  Mr. Frank O'Sullivan (fosullivan@ns.sympatico.ca), the SDHHNS Executive Director, will be administrating this.  Contact him for details.
We're at a tipping point, and Nova Scotia could be the Canadian leader.  Make a difference!

Please share your experience on the Facebook Group

Yours for the future,

Bill 59 Community Alliance

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