Re-Posted from ASIC: Elections BC Accessible Telephone Voting 2017

Re-posted on behalf of Advocates for Sight Impaired Consumers:
Good afternoon:
Having just completed the process offered by Elections BC for persons with a vision loss and/or a permanent or episodic disability to cast their ballot by phone, I wanted to take this opportunity to share how private, convenient and simple the process was. Although I called at a very busy time which necessitated a request by elections officials to return my call at a mutually convenient time, I had every confidence my identity was protected and my ballot was marked as per my instructions. Verification was provided when my ballot was then passed along to a third election official who was completely unaware of the instructions I had provided earlier. He read to me the name of the candidate for whom my ballot had been marked and the process was complete.
I found this process to be just as secure as had I presented myself at my local polling station and had an election official either assist me in marking my ballot and/or verifying I had marked it correctly.
Access for Sight-Impaired Consumers has worked closely with Elections
BC for over a decade on this particular file, dating back as far as
January 2004. We believe we have been successful in advancing a much improved private and independent process for voters with vision loss in BC. But there is still much to do on this file. The option to vote by phone in this provincial general election is still in the “pilot project” stage in the eyes of Elections BC and the writer will continue to work with Elections BC to enhance voting options and opportunities for all voters in BC. If you made use of the telephone voting option in this election, we would like to receive your feedback. Positive or negative, we will remove all names from feedback received and point to the collective experiences in our future discussions with Elections BC. This is one of four files that will continue to be monitored and overseen after May 31st 2017.
Additional files that will remain open and garner close attention include:
* Accessible prescription medication information – expanding the availability of APMI at pharmacy outlets throughout BC and beyond.
* Accessible pedestrian signals – working closely with APS manufacturers in the area of new technologies and features and also working with municipalities throughout BC promoting the installation of APS to enhance independent accessibility for persons with vision loss.
* Accessible public transit provided by BC Transit and the South Coast British Columbia Transportation Authority (TransLink) – enhancing access to all modes of public transit for persons with vision loss provided by both these major public transportation providers.

Your feedback regarding the telephone voting option or any election feedback you wish to provide is requested by May 15th via return email to this address. The writer will continue to keep the community well informed on future progress as more election options unfold in BC. However you choose to vote is strictly your choice so please…be sure to exercise your democratic right one way or the other!
Rob Sleath
Chair – Access for Sight-Impaired Consumers

BC May 9th Election and CELA/NNELS Library Funding Talking Points

Dear CCB/GTT participants,

Here are the “Talking Points” circulated by CNIB following a conference call with their CEO, John Rafferty on Wednesday, May 3, 2017 where blind, deaf-blind and partially sighted Canadians were invited to learn more about the state of CELA Library funding in BC specifically, and in other parts of Canada. Please use these talking points if you intend to contact candidates running for office in your community, and if you live in other parts of Canada, use them when you meet with your elected Provincial representative.

Quoted text:
Key Messages – Accessible BC Library Services

Access to alternate format materials has been a long-standing barrier for Canadians with print disabilities. Today, Canada’s answer to this challenge has manifested through two very different models of service – CELA (Centre for Equitable Library Access) and NNELS (National Network for Equitable Library Services).

Accessible alternate format materials include many different medium given an individuals reading or literary preferences. This could include high quality natural voice audio books, literary or braille books or braille music and access to current electronic and news papers/magazines. This content, as with that provided through Canada’s public libraries must be easy to access, either through a library service point, through Canada Post delivery or via direct to player download.

For a system to be considered truly equitable and accessible, the unique needs and individual preferences of patrons must be at the forefront of the delivery model. A one-size fits all approach, will further marginalize those who do not fit into a uniform service delivery model.

In order for access to CELA services to continue, we are asking that you contact candidates running in next weeks’ election and ask them to commit to fully funding CELA as your library service provider. Currently, the Government of BC has fully funded NNELS and CELA receives very limited financial support. This is both wrong and cannot be sustained.

To continue CELA services, $135,000 is required. This will ensure that the residents of British Columbia who have downloaded or received over 38,000 items via Canada Post last year can continue to do so in the future.
End of quoted text.

Thx, Albert Ruel, GTT Coordinator
The Canadian Council of the Blind
Western Canada