On the Path to an Accessible Ontario: Winter 2018 edition

Winter Edition 2018  |
On Path to an Accessible Ontario

2018 International Day of Persons with Disabilities

Proclaimed by the United Nations (UN) in 1992, International Day of Persons with Disabilities (IDPD) is observed on December 3rd. The goal is to promote an understanding of disability issues and to support the dignity, rights and well being of persons with disabilities around the world. It also increases awareness of the benefits of integrating persons with disabilities in every aspect of social, economic and cultural life.

The Commemoration of the 2018 International Day of Persons with Disabilities took place at the United Nations Headquarters in New York. The event began with a message from the United Nations Secretary General as well as statements from the President of the 73rd session of the United Nations General assembly, Member States and Civil Society Organizations.

There were discussions on recent initiatives taken by Member States, a musical performance by Special Olympics Korea, as well as a high-level panel discussion on Accessible Cities for All: Smart and Inclusive Urban Planning.

The theme for 2018 was empowering persons with disabilities and ensuring inclusiveness and equality.

The United Nations Secretary General also used the occasion to launch a new report, The UN Flagship report on Disability and Development 2018 – Realizing the Sustainable Development Goals by, for and with persons with disabilities. The report speaks to the many challenges faced by people with disabilities globally but also calls attention to many practices that are creating more inclusive communities.

Celebrating International Day for Persons with Disabilities

Minister Cho with event attendees

Minister Cho with event attendees

In celebration of the 26th annual International Day for Persons with Disabilities, the Honourable Raymond Cho, Minister for Seniors and Accessibility, attended a reception at the Ontario Legislature on the morning of December 3, 2018. The event was hosted by March of Dimes Canada and Spinal Cord Injury Ontario. The event’s theme was Leaving No One Behind: Access, Inclusion and Choice for Everyone. A panel of Members of Provincial Parliament and consumer champions came together to provide their unique perspectives, noting the progress of accessibility in the province. Minister Cho provided opening remarks about the importance of dignity and respect for all persons with disabilities.

Minister Cho with fellow panelist Morgan Austin, Regional Services Co-Ordinator for Spinal Cord Injury Ontario
Accessibility on the Big Screen 

The media has a deep influence on society’s opinions and helps form cultural norms and behavior. In film, images and stories are inherently important to promote an accurate representation of persons with disabilities both behind and in front of the camera. Film can be used as a powerful instrument to educate, raise awareness and dispel stigmas surrounding disabilities that can change societal perceptions and empower the voice of people with disabilities.

Following the 2018 theme of empowerment for the International Day for Persons with Disabilities, below are international film festivals that celebrate inclusivity and accessibility across the world:

The ReelAbilities Film Festival: This is the largest film festival in North America dedicated to promoting awareness and appreciation of the lives, stories, and art of people with disabilities and Deaf people.

Superfest International Disability Film Festival: Debuting in the 1970’s, this film festival is one of the longest running in the world. The festival celebrates cinema that is cutting edge and portrays disability through a diverse, complex, unabashed and engaging lens.

Oska Bright Film Festival: This festival has a focus on learning disabilities and autism by having films that are made by or feature people with these types of disabilities. In 2017, the festival showcased 66 films from 13 different countries around the world.

Focus on Ability Film Festival: This festival asks filmmakers to focus on the ability of an individual rather than the disability to challenge perceptions and change attitudes of viewers. Movie screenings from the festival were held around the world from New York to Australia, and even Zimbabwe.

Inspiring Youth to Create Inclusive Communities

The Ministry for Seniors and Accessibility partnered with WE Charity to educate and empower youth at the 2018 WE Day events and at in-school workshops.

WE Day is an inspirational concert that features world-renowned speakers and award-winning performers. WE Day events in Toronto and Ottawa welcomed 36,000 motivated students and educators with the hope of inspiring positive change in their communities. Both concerts featured an on-stage accessibility awareness segment.

The accessibility segment included Spencer West, an accessibility champion, who interviewed a young innovator and entrepreneur, Riya Karumanchi, who invented the “smart cane”. This invention modernised the traditional white cane by incorporating GPS. In Ottawa, he interviewed Sarah Telford, an inspiring 20-year old accessibility champion. During both events, students and educators in the audience were encouraged to post their ideas to social media on what action they would take to create a more accessible community, using the hashtag #AccessTogether. One participant tweeted, “we are going to open more doors for people and offer our seats to those who really need… #AccessTogether.”

 WE Day Toronto stadium packed with audience watching the show

WE Day Toronto stadium packed with audience watching the show

In addition to WE Day, WE facilitated 15 interactive workshops to middle and high school students about accessibility. The students participated in an inclusive design challenge where they developed innovative solutions to accessibility challenges. Learn more about the workshops by reading the article or watching the workshop video found at Creating an Accessible Ontario.

Feeling inspired? Use the hashtag #AccessTogether and post the actions you would take to create a more accessible community to Twitter or Instagram.

Fonts and Readability

What is an accessible font? What makes it accessible? Accessibility is about readability. Let’s explore some basic readability design features.

A font is a computer file used to display and print a typeface. What makes a font accessible is based on the design of the letters, numbers and punctuation.  A font file also controls the space between characters, whereas the spacing between lines and paragraphs is controlled by your word processor.

Generally, we want text to be easy to read. However, there are instances when fonts are designed to intentionally slow the reader down. These fonts are often used on warning labels and signs. You might notice these are often set in all upper-case letters.

Researchers can study how quickly text is read by using eye-tracking technology. For example, one study looked at how people with dyslexia are affected by different onscreen fonts. It found that good fonts for people with dyslexia are Helvetica, Courier, Arial, Verdana and Computer Modern Uni-Code (CMU). The study found serif and mono space fonts didn’t have a significant effect on reading compared with sans serif fonts. It also found that italic style did have a significant effect on reading.

When selecting a font, compare similar looking characters to see if they are easily distinguishable. If characters do not have distinguishing features, readability can be reduced for some readers:

Compare the lower case letter ‘l’ with the uppercase letter ‘I’ and number ‘1’

Compare the uppercase letter ‘O’ with the number ‘0’
Compare lower case ‘d’ and ‘b’, or ‘q’ and ‘p’

A good resource on other aspects of readability is How to measure typographic accessibility: Infographic.

Look at samples of work from sources such as the Ontario, United Kingdom and American governments to get an idea of what these organizations are doing to make their material accessible. You can also check out these resources below:

Accessibility Resources and Learning Opportunities

Upcoming Webinar: Accessibility for People with Invisible Disabilities who have Service Animals
Join Courageous Companions for a panel discussion about barriers faced by persons with invisible disabilities. The webinar will be held on January 29, 2019 at 7:00 PM EST.
Participants will hear from:

  • A medical professional about how service animals assist people with various types of disabilities
  • A Master Service Dog Trainer about the process of training service dogs
  • People who use service dogs to overcome barriers as part of their day-to-day life

To register please use the link below:

Boundless: A Post-Secondary Design Challenge
Design Exchange is hosting its annual student design competition. Students studying design have a chance to win up to $2,000 by submitting proposals that develop creative solutions for the accessible navigation of public spaces. Submissions will be accepted until April 2, 2019. For more information about the design challenge please click here.

Event: 2019 White Cane Week ‘Experience’ Expo
The Canadian Council of the Blind is hosting the 2019 White Cane Week ‘Experience’ Expo on Saturday February 2, 2019, from 10am to 4pm. Admission is free.

Location: Miles Nadal Jewish Community Centre, 750 Spadina Avenue, Toronto, right on the south-west corner of Spadina & Bloor, and right across the accessible intersection from the Spadina Subway station.

With over 50 Exhibitors on every aspect of living with vision loss, the Expo is Canada’s only exposition and consumer show for Canadians who are blind or partially sighted.  From sports & recreation to arts and advocacy, from service providers to the latest Assistive Technologies, there’s information on education, employment, transportation, alternate format reading materials, low-vision aids, government supports, and more.

For more information, please visit www.ccbtorontovisionaries.ca/wcw.php