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Elections and Access

blue/green circle background with white words above "Irony alert" and illustration of a light skin woman with short dark hair in red shirt signing "irony". Logo below.

Canada’s Federal elections are happening these days. Elections will take place on Monday, September 20. Candidates are out in full force; making live streams on social media, doing interviews, going door to door, sending out flyers in mails, and making phone calls, etc. 

Promises are being made, discussions being held among the community. Signs posted on private and public properties. 

Now the irony here is, the candidates are missing out on getting votes from people who have the capacity to vote but likely not vote when access is dismissed. Voting is similar to shopping… according to the Royal Bank of Canada, people with disabilities have an estimated spending power of about $25 billion annually across Canada. We are one of them. This needs to be taken into consideration.

Did you know that two years ago the government established the Accessible Canada Act, Bill C-81 was enabled to ensure that Canada is barrier free and allows equal access for all. The purpose of the Accessible Canada Act
 is to make Canada barrier-free by January 1, 2040. One of the key topic that I want to address, involves identifying, removing and preventing barriers in federal jurisdiction in the following priority areas is

** communication, other than information and communication technologies **

2040 is a long way but more people than ever are being exposed to sign language through Covid press briefings as interpreters work to pass on vital information. ASL and LSQ is a common sign language on screen (though by far not the only one) for people who are deaf or hard of hearing. 

Estimated about 15% of adults in America report hearing loss, and about 1 million use sign language to communicate. ASL has its own rules and incorporates hand movements as well as facial motions, grammar and word ordering distinct from English, from which it is completely separate. ASL entails five parameters: handshapes, palm orientation, location (space on the body, around the signer), movement and of course, facial expressions.

Also since the start of the pandemic, the massive switch over to online meetings, classes and videos has made the need to close captions especially apparent. According to Statistics Canada, more than one million adults across the country reported having a hearing-related disability, a number more than 50% greater than the number of people reporting problems with their eyesight. 

Alt text and image descriptions have been increasingly included. This is the reality for many readers around the world who have a print disability (which includes individuals who are blind or visually impaired, people with cognitive and comprehension disabilities, and persons who have physical mobility challenges).

Case to point, the candidates are seriously lacking on very basic inclusion communication; closed captions, text-description, interpreters, and more. It is the biggest battle for the community to request access. To constantly post comments, tag, call or email candidates to provide access upon request. Every single time.

If you are a candidate, you can be influential, powerful when access is provided for all. It will better your chances, for the people having equal access will likely vote for YOU.

If you are curious about inclusion communication, SignAble Vi5ion can show you the ways to be more inclusive. Our goal is access for all, everyone wins.

Additional Reference:

Employment Social Development

ASL Day 2019 American Sign Language

SignAble Vi5ion: The Importance of Closed Captioning

Reach more people with online closed captioning