"Accessibility 2024": Provincial government's 10-year plan for inclusion and accessibility

On June 16th, the provincial government released “Accessibility 2024,” its 10-year plan for making BC the most progressive province in Canada for people with disabilities.

Link: http://engage.gov.bc.ca/disabilitywhitepaper/accessibility-2024/

The BCCPD is pleased that the government has identified accessibility and inclusion as a priority and has articulated clear goals and actions toward making BC the most progressive province in Canada for people with disabilities. We are also encouraged by the level of engagement and input from across BC as well as the building blocks that have been identified as the plan’s key elements.

We are disappointed, however, that the plan only commits to increasing provincial disability benefit rates as BC’s fiscal situation allows. Without making changes to the disability assistance rates, we will continue to see people with disabilities who depend on provincial income supports living in poverty. We were also disappointed that the plan is silent about the needs of people living with mental health disabilities. We will continue to work with our community partners to encourage the province to increase disability benefit rates.

The Equipment and Assistive Technology Initiative (EATI) comes to an end on August 29, 2014

Since 2009, the BC Personal Supports Network and the Ministry of Social Development and Social Innovation have been in partnership to develop and deliver the Equipment and Assistive Technology Initiative (EATI) http://www.bcpsn.org . The goal of EATI has been to demonstrate the Participation Model as a person directed, goal oriented way to enable people with disabilities to obtain the assistive technology they need to overcome a functional barrier to labour market participation. In its development and delivery, EATI meets and exceeds the standards established by the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. Funding for EATI has come through the federal/provincial Labour Market Agreement and over $19.5 million has been spent on EATI to assist more than 2,000 British Columbians since 2010.

In June 2013, EATI stopped accepting new applications but, thanks to additional funding from the Ministry of Social Development and Social Innovation, continued to work on assisting all applicants who were in progress prior to June 20, 2013. On August 29, 2014 all of these applicants will have completed the process and EATI will cease operations.  EATI will continue to provide repairs or replacements for all existing clients until August 29, 2014 and expects to be able to refer existing clients who need repairs after August 29, 2014 to other programs and services.

Assistive technology is a vital springboard for full participation for people with disabilities. An independent evaluation of  EATI,  undertaken by the University of British Columbia in 2013, showed that more than  90% of the 289 EATI participants surveyed agreed that they had received the right assistive technology for their needs and that this technology had helped them to move towards employment. http://www.disabilitypolicyalliance.ca/employment_team/employment_assistivetechnology/equipment-assistive-technology-initiative-evaluation.html

EATI has also provided a unique opportunity for the government and the community to work in partnership to realize the vision, values and principles of the Participation Model for Personal Supports. The Independent Evaluation highlighted the joint decision making of this partnership as a key factor in enabling EATI to adapt to participants’ needs, be flexible in the provision of funding and be effective in supporting participants in their movement to obtaining employment.

With the end of the first generation of EATI on August 29, 2014, the BC Personal Supports Network and the Ministry of Social Development and Social Innovation hope to continue to work in partnership to ensure that British Columbians with disabilities have access to the assistive technology they need through innovative approaches like the Participation Model.

Members of the BC Personal Supports Network

BC Association for Individualized Technology and Supports http://www.bcits.org/ | Voice: 604-326-0175 | Fax: 604-326-0176

BC Coalition for People with Disabilities http://www.bccpd.bc.ca/ | Voice: 604-872-1278 | Fax: 604-875-9227

Spinal Cord Injury BC http://sci-bc.ca | Voice: 604-326-1237 | Fax: 604-326-1229

Neil Squire Society http://www.neilsquire.ca/ | Voice:  604-473-9363 | Fax:    604-473-9364

North Shore Disability Resource Centre http://www.nsdrc.org/ | Voice: 604-985-5371 | Fax: 604-985-7594

Keremeos Measuring Up Team measuringup@hotmail.com | Voice: 250-499-5017 | Contact: Kelly McKay or Heather Walkus

Richmond Centre for Disability http://www.rcdrichmond.org/ | Voice: 604-232-2404 | TTY: 604-232-2479 | Fax: 604-232-2415

Seeing Caucus (for people with visual impairments) | Betty Nobelbnobel@vcc.ca

Victoria Personal Supports Centre http://www.drcvictoria.com/ | Voice: 250-595-0044

Western Institute for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing http://www.widhh.com/ | Voice: 604-736-7391 | TTY (TDD): 604-736-2527 | Fax: 604-736-4381

Attachment: EATI evaluation Highlights DSB final

Survey: Library Services for People with Disabilities

LibraryThe BC Coalition of People with Disabilities is a community partner on a new project led by the BC Library Association (BCLA).  The project will create a training toolkit for library staff providing services to people with disabilities/chronic health conditions. We are asking for input from individuals and representatives from disability/chronic illness organizations across the province.

Public libraries provide a vital link to resources and opportunities for skill development, community engagement, recreation and life-long learning. Library staff are committed to the public library tradition of free and equal access for all members of our communities. A recent survey of library staff in BC revealed an interest in increasing their knowledge of disabilities and chronic illness in order to ensure optimum service. We’re inviting people living with disabilities/chronic illness and service providers working with people with disabilities/chronic illness to complete a short survey.  We’d like to hear how disability/chronic illness affects access to public libraries. We’re interested in both the visible and invisible issues that may prevent a visit to the library or limit successful access to desired information once at the library. Survey participants will be entered in a draw for a $20 gift card.

Access the survey at: http://tinyurl.com/kglov5n.