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COLLABORATION: THE KEY TO ACCESS AND INCLUSION
December 17, 2016
November 25, 2016
March 23, 2016
Let's Talk Parks, Canada!
c/o Parks Canada
30 Rue Victoria, 2nd Floor (PC-02-E)
Gatineau, QC J8X 0B3
Council of Canadians with Disabilities
909-294 Portage Avenue
Winnipeg, MB R3C 0B9
The Council of Canadians with Disabilities (CCD) is Canada's national cross-disability coalition that is working for a more accessible and inclusive Canada. Our work includes policy development, public awareness, and law reform.
CCD is impressed with the level of ongoing collaborations that Parks Canada has developed with approximately 300 Indigenous communities across Canada. CCD was delighted to have been invited to participate in the Minister's Round Table in Ottawa on January 16, 2017. CCD is interested in developing an ongoing collaborative working relationship with Parks Canada that will support increased access and inclusion in all of Parks Canada's activities.
An increasing amount of information is provided to the public through facilities’ websites. In order to be fully accessible to and useable by persons using a screen reader, websites must meet WCAG 2.0 level AA standards. Facilities operated by Parks Canada should review their existing websites for accessibility and ensure they meet these standards.
Canada 150 celebrations offer a unique opportunity to promote and celebrate Canada's diverse history. Persons with disabilities have a history worth celebrating. As part of Canada 150 celebrations, the history of persons with disabilities should form an integral part of historic projects. These activities should both celebrate the contributions of persons with disabilities in Canada and take into account the events in Canadian history where degradation and institutionalization have taken place.
QR CODES AND BEACON TECHNOLOGIES:
The convergence of smart phone and GPS technologies with accessible apps for people who are vision impaired (and who have other forms of disability) provides incredible opportunities for greater access to Canada’s national parks and historic sites. Beacon technology and QR codes are offering independent navigation of environments which previously have been difficult, if not impossible, for people with vision impairments to access independently. Simply put, an accessible GPS navigation app on a smart phone linked to beacons located in a park or other environment provides information that allows vision impaired people to navigate these environments without assistance from others.
Similarly, park signage can be equipped with durable QR Codes, commonly known as bar codes, which can also send information to the smart phone of a vision impaired visitor, giving them clear directions as to which pathways they are traveling on, and what options are available when approaching diverging routes.
Imagine if you will, QR codes on historical plaques that read the plaque’s information out loud on a phone or tablet, making the information accessible to a person with vision impairment. The possibilities are endless and the potential enormous. Refer to projects underway in Helsinki, London, and other cities piloting digital navigation that uses beacon technology in major malls and transportation hubs.
Canada’s National Parks offer all Canadians the opportunity to enjoy the outdoors. Their trails would be more useable by persons who have mobility impairments if some of the trails were paved.
Due to cutbacks, increasingly, tours at Parks Canada facilities are self-guided. Persons with vision impairments and other visitors benefit much more from person-guided tours. The guide is available to assist the visitor with navigating the facility and is available to answer questions.
EMPLOYMENT AND VOLUNTEER OPPORTUNITIES:
Any group of potential visitors will be more likely to visit if they see some members of their group as staff or volunteers at the facility they plan to visit. Parks Canada should take proactive measures to employ more persons with disabilities as either full time staff or through summer internships and should encourage members from the disability community to volunteer at Parks Canada facilities.
- Parks Canada should develop a collaborative, ongoing working relationship with the Council of Canadians with Disabilities and other organizations of persons with disabilities in the disability community, similar to the close relationships currently in place with Indigenous communities.
- Parks Canada facilities should review their websites and bring them up to WCAD 2.0 Level AA standards so they will be accessible to and useable by all Canadians, including persons using a screen reader.
- Parks Canada should recognize the history of persons with disabilities by including plaques at sites that are important in the history of Canadians with disabilities, e.g. former institutions for persons with intellectual disabilities.
- As part of Canada 150 celebrations, the history of persons with disabilities should be included in celebratory projects and activities.
- Parks Canada should encourage their Parks administrators to pave some of their trails. This would make it easier for persons who are elderly or have mobility impairments to participate in more of these outdoor experiences.
- Parks Canada should install QR Codes and Beacon Technologies, as a way of providing directions and other information about a trail or a facility being visited.
- Parks Canada should take proactive measures to employ more persons with disabilities as either full time staff or through summer internships and should encourage members from the disability community to volunteer at Parks Canada facilities.
** End of Submission **
End Exclusion supporters rally in support of an accessible and inclusive Canada.