Body Scanners: Will They Be Accessible?

The Council of Canadians with Disabilities (CCD) met in Ottawa in late January. One of the topics of concern was the impact that new security measures will have on travelers with disabilities. CCD understands the need for security; however, we also believe that Canada's security measures should be implemented in a manner that respects human rights principles and the principles of universal design. We noted from information carried in media stories that the Office of the Privacy Commissioner has reviewed the scanners as has Health Canada, with both reviewers finding the devices acceptable.

Unfortunately, our conversations with officials from the Department of Transport, the Transportation Development Centre and the Canadian Transportation Agency regarding the accessibility of these scanners have not provided similar assurances. Instead of being reassured that access had been considered and that this equipment would pose no new barrier to anyone with a disability, CCD discovered that the officials it contacted had no information on the accessibility of body scanners. This is very disappointing. The 2007 Supreme Court of Canada decision in the VIA Rail case upheld the principle that service providers have a responsibility to ensure that no new barriers are created for people with disabilities. CCD is urging the Government of Canada to ensure that Canada's security measures will not adversely impact on travelers with disabilities.