Moving Ahead [March 2012]

Updating International Accessibility Standards for Air Travel

The Canadian Transportation Agency has taken a leadership role in drafting updates to the International Civil Aviation Organization’s accessibility Standards and Recommended Practices and related guidance material. As a member of the Working Group on Persons with Disabilities, the Agency is drafting amendments to an annex to the Convention on International Civil Aviation entitled “Facilitation of the Transport of Passengers Requiring Special Assistance.” With its expertise in developing regulatory and voluntary accessibility standards for Canada’s transportation system, the Agency is well placed to lead the initiative.

The working group, which is made up of 16 other member states, has compiled existing information on standards regarding accessible transportation for persons with disabilities. The members of the working group will work together to find common ground and finalize the amendments to the International Civil Aviation Organization’s accessibility Standards and Recommended Practices and related guidance material.

Agency Presents at Government Conference on Disability

The Office for Disability Issues hosted the 2nd Government Conference on Disability on January 25-26, an opportunity for various levels of government and community organizations to explore topics related to accessibility.

Agency representatives presented information about its Accessibility Advisory Committee (AAC) as a model of effective collaboration between industry, government and the community of persons with disabilities. They also provided insight into how the accommodation requirements of a large and diverse group can be met through open communication and careful planning, with the result that face-to-face meetings are seamless and provide all in attendance with an equal opportunity to participate.

Attendees also heard the perspective of a member of the AAC on working with the Agency to develop regulations, Codes of Practice and industry guidelines on accessibility.

Changing Perspectives: The Ottawa Hospital Rehabilitation Centre’s disABILITIES Awareness Program

Over the past 25 years, the Ottawa Hospital Rehabilitation Centre has been providing training designed to reduce barriers and promote inclusion of persons with disabilities in society.

The training sessions challenge general assumptions, attitudes and beliefs about disability. Participants experience:

  • Candid testimonials by people living with disabilities highlighting not only the challenges they face, but also strategies for living;
  • Simulations of reduced mobility, visual impairments and hearing impairments (e.g. navigating a building with goggles that reduce vision); and
  • Highly interactive sessions that encourage them to expand ideas and challenge popular “default” beliefs regarding disability.

As the quasi-judicial body responsible for removing undue obstacles to the mobility of persons with disabilities from federally-regulated transportation services and facilities, the Agency understands how valuable this training can be. Employees are encouraged to participate in such training to hear first-hand from travellers with disabilities and gain an awareness that they can draw upon when interacting with persons with disabilities.

Members of the transportation industry can also benefit from this type of training as it helps them better understand possible barriers to inclusion. This, in turn, can enable industry members to identify and address issues, thereby contributing to making travel a more accessible and inclusive experience.

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