Guest Post: Press Release; World Braille Day, January 4, 2019, Braille Literacy Canada

Braille Literacy Canada Commends the United Nations adoption of World Braille Day and Canada’s Accession to the Optional Protocol to the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities

January 4, 2019 – Toronto – Braille Literacy Canada/Littératie braille Canada (BLC), as the Canadian braille authority, celebrates the United Nations’ recent adoption of World Braille Day, recognizing it as an official day to be celebrated annually on January 4th around the world, to coincide with the birth date of Louis Braille. Official recognition of World Braille Day on the international stage brings with it a strong message to both raise awareness and celebrate the importance of braille literacy for the generations of blind people who continue to benefit from it around the globe.

“Braille represents literacy, freedom and equality for the millions of blind people who use it around the world. It is as important as print is to the sighted,” explains Natalie Martiniello, president of Braille Literacy Canada. “It enables blind children to acquire literacy, raises employment and income levels, enables people who are blind to independently vote and exercise their citizenship, and to read personal and professional communications independently. We commend the United Nations for recognizing the importance of braille by designating January 4th as World Braille Day, and we celebrate alongside braille readers everywhere.”

BLC also commends the Government of Canada which has recently announced that Canada will accede to the optional protocol to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD). The UNCRPD sets guidelines to bolster the rights of persons with disabilities and calls for the abolishment of laws and practices that perpetuate discrimination. Importantly to BLC, the treaty also affirms and reinforces the importance of equal access to information for those unable to read print, including those Canadians who are blind or who have sight loss and who use braille.

Though Canada ratified the treaty in 2010, it only recently agreed to also be bound by the Optional Protocol, allowing the UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities to consider complaints against Canada and providing a further level of recourse at the international level for Canadians with disabilities facing discrimination.

“Access to information is not a privilege, but a right,” explains Martiniello. “We applaud the Government of Canada for acceding to the optional protocol. We hope that the Optional Protocol will provide an additional protective layer where gaps in accessibility remain and that the introduction of the Accessible Canada Act will usher in an era of increased accessibility.”

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Braille Literacy Canada / Littératie braille Canada is a national charitable organization that is dedicated to the promotion of braille as the primary medium of literacy for those who are blind or visually impaired and is recognized by the International Council on English Braille as the authority for the development and adoption of standards relating to braille in Canada.

For more information, please contact Natalie Martiniello, President, at 1-877-861-4576 or email president@blc-lbc.ca.

 

Message from CCB President: Canada accedes to the Optional Protocol to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities

Canada accedes to the Optional Protocol to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities

From: Employment and Social Development Canada

News release

December 3, 2018         Ottawa, Ontario                   Employment and Social Development Canada

The Government of Canada is working to create a truly accessible Canada. Today, as part of these efforts, the Honourable Carla Qualtrough, Minister of Public Services and Procurement and Accessibility, along with the ministers of Justice, Foreign Affairs and Canadian Heritage, announced that, with the support of all provinces and territories, Canada has acceded to the Optional Protocol to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

Accession to the Optional Protocol means that Canadians will have additional recourse to make a complaint to the UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, if they believe their rights under the Convention have been violated.

Along with the proposed Accessible Canada Act, which was recently adopted by the House of Commons and is now before the Senate, today’s announcement shows that the Government of Canada is taking another step towards creating a barrier-free Canada.

Recently released data from Statistics Canada reinforce the importance of a more inclusive and accessible Canada. The 2017 Canadian Survey on Disabilities shows that the prevalence of disabilities among Canadians is greater than many realize, with 22% of Canadians identifying as having a disability. The new data will be used by the federal government to help build a more inclusive society that benefits all people in Canada – especially persons with disabilities – through the realization of a Canada without barriers.

Quotes

“Over the last year, our government has taken important steps to help realize a barrier-free Canada. Today, on the International Day of Persons with Disabilities, we celebrate those accomplishments and look towards the future of accessibility in Canada with optimism. Canada’s accession to the Optional Protocol of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities builds on our work and sends a clear message that we are committed to the rights of persons with disabilities and committed to giving all Canadians a fair chance at success.”
– The Honourable Carla Qualtrough, Minister of Public Services and Procurement and Accessibility

“Canada joining this UN convention is about protecting and promoting the rights and dignity of persons with disabilities. As a country, we need to ensure that everyone has access to the same opportunities and enjoys the same rights. Today is a step forward to making that goal a reality.”
– The Honourable Chrystia Freeland, P.C., M.P., Minister of Foreign Affairs

“I am proud that the Government of Canada is taking this step to advance the rights of persons with disabilities. Enabling the UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities to consider complaints of violations of rights under the Convention is an important way to strengthen and protect the human rights of Canadians with disabilities.”
– The Honourable Jody Wilson-Raybould, P.C., Q.C., M.P., Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

“Promoting and advancing human rights for everyone is a fundamental part of our Canadian identity. It is important that federal, provincial and territorial governments continue to work together to uphold the rights of persons with disabilities. I am proud of the intergovernmental consultation held in support of Canada’s accession to the Optional Protocol to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and I look forward to driving further change.”
The Honourable Pablo Rodriguez, Minister of Canadian Heritage and Multiculturalism

“This announcement regarding the Optional Protocol, along with this government’s intention to pass the proposed Accessible Canada Act, sends a strong message to Canadians with and without disabilities that this government truly believes in inclusion and equality for all. This is one positive step to ensuring that Canadians with intellectual disabilities have their voices heard and that we are one step closer to ensuring we are not the left behind of the left behind.”
–  Kory Earle, President, People First of Canada

Quick facts

The United Nations (UN) Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (the Convention) is an international human rights instrument that requires State Parties to the Convention to promote, protect and ensure the rights of persons with disabilities. Canada ratified the Convention in 2010.

The Optional Protocol establishes two procedures. The first is a complaint procedure that allows individuals and groups to take complaints to the UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in the case of an alleged violation of their rights under the Convention. The second is an inquiry procedure that allows the Committee to inquire into allegations of grave or systematic violations of the Convention by a State Party.

The UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities is a body of independent experts that monitors the implementation of the Convention by States Parties.

As of November 2018, there are 177 States Parties to the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, with 93 States Parties to the Optional Protocol to the Convention.

Under Bill C-81, approximately $290 million over six years would serve to further the objectives of the proposed legislation.

One in five people—22 percent of the Canadian population aged 15 years and over, or about 6.2 million individuals—had one or more disabilities, according to the 2017 Canadian Survey on Disabilities.

The survey also reports that people with severe disabilities aged 25 to 64 years are more likely to be living in poverty than their counterparts without disabilities (17 percent) or with milder disabilities (23 percent).

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Contacts

Ashley Michnowski
Director of Communications
Office of the Honourable Carla Qualtrough
819-997-5421
ashley.michnowski@canada.ca

Media Relations Office
Employment and Social Development Canada
819-994-5559
media@hrsdc-rhdcc.gc.ca
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Louise

 

Louise Gillis

National President

The Canadian Council of the Blind

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