Monday January 20 2014

Access for sight impaired consumers Board Meeting Minutes

Date: Monday January 20, 2014
Location: Via teleconference
Time: 4:00 – 6:00 PM

Attendees:  Rob Sleath – Chair, David Neufeldt – Vice-Chair, Amy Amantea, Susan Flanagan, Louise Johnson, Ann McNab, Cathy Stuckenberg, Laura Mackenrot
Regrets:  Shawn Marsolais

Meeting commenced at 6:00 PM with self-introductions from all present.
Agenda: Laura Mackenrot requested two items be added under Other Business. 

Motion to adopt the November 18 2013 meeting minutes: Moved -  Ann McNabb, seconded -  Laura Mackenrot. Carried.

Susan Flanagan joined the meeting at 6:10 PM.

Treasurer’s Report presented by Susan Flanagan. Details of November and December were presented as per the confidential documents included in the board package. Motion to receive the treasurer’s report as presented” Moved -  Susan Flanagan, seconded -  Louise Johnson. Carried.

Action Item: Susan to research short term investment options for a sizeable portion of our cash balance.

Summary Report See Appendix A enclosed with these minutes:
The following updates were added to the Summary Report:

Mark Workman- Researcher for the Consumer Access Group (CAG) is still working on the updated revised position papers from the CAD meeting and will send to ASIC before March meeting.

The developers of the AccessaMed Digital Audio Prescription Label have been contacted. Louise recommended ASIC investigate this product as an alternate to the ScripTalk reader. A prototype will be sent once production begins.

Action Item: David to prepare proposal for new web site content for review and discussion at March meeting

Action Item: Susan to contact Sean Kirkpatrick to obtain invoice for web hosting services and forward payment upon receipt.

Action Item: Louise to send out Shirley Bond’s email address to all board members. If any board members have not yet written a letter to extend EATI program passed March 31, please do so. 

Action Item: All board members are requested to write to Minister James Moore at the Federal Government about expediting the approval of Marrakesh Treaty for the acceptance of the Whipo agreement. You can adapt the letter included in the board package or use it as a template.

For those who are interested, Compass card orientation is available by contacting Brad Hooge at 604 431 2121 local 6009 for the following times and dates:
February 6 2014 from 2:00 to 4:00 pm – This session is now fully subscribed.
February 12 2014 from 10:00 am to 12:00 pm – This session is now fully subscribed.
February 20 2014 from 2:00 to 4:00 pm
February 26 2014 from 10:00 am to 12:00 pm
Each session has room for only ten participants. Your participation is optional and more orientation sessions will be announced shortly. When they do the orientation sessions they will be using test cards. They will be letting participants orient themselves to the bus validators and the skyTrain fare gates.

Action Item: Amy may share the Chair’s Summary Report with the CNIB division board.
Amy will inquire of CNIB management as to whether Compass card lanyards will be available through Shop CNIB.

Action Item: David/Rob to present Compass card lanyards at next meeting.

CAD Report this report was well done And There was no additions to the written report. Ann did not spend all funds put aside for this trip. At the meting there were three main themes - education, Guide dog issues and issues regarding visual impairment.

White Paper Disability: Last week was the opening meeting and four board members attended – Amy Amantea, Laura Mackenrot, Louise Johnson and Rob Sleath. The first hour was getting people to write out there individual ideas. If selected, you were given a time to facilitate a group discussion. There were 20 group discussions ten at 1:30 and ten at 3:00. You had a opportunity to attend two groups and put forward your concerns. Board members were asked to attend at least one of the Community White Paper consultations in their respective area so our voice can be heard.  If unable to attend a face-to-face consultation, please send an email or join the conversation on line.
ASIC will prepare a written submission; items that the board collectively feels are important to the Blind community.  ASIC will promote the idea of comparing notes with other consumer groups.
The groups that have been identified to join in a comparison review are CNIB, AEBC, CCB and CFB. The objective will be to identify common ground and prevent any contradictions. Initial suggestions from the Board include:
* EATI Funding to keep this program going and to expand it to include people who volunteer this could help them get jobs and to include seniors and high school students in grade 11 and 12.
* Accessibility for British Columbians Act as per the Ontarians with Disabilities Act Manitoba has a similar Act. Nova Scotia is in hot pursuit. We ask to follow the Ontario disability Act that they have put into place.  There are five pillars one is accessibility to Transportation, Accessibility in the built in environment accessible Information like web sites for the Government and Crown Corporation. Customer Service and Employment
* Home support needs to be a better program.
* Revamping of the BC Guide Animal Act. A proposal has been pending in Victoria for nearly Four years.
* Increase in PWD Benefits
* Accessible Voting
* Accessible Prescriptions
* Increased qualify Human Resources for students with disabilities in the Education system.
* Improve and increase accessible transit throughout British Columbia

With the introduction of the Compass card in Metro Vancouver, people who are blind or sight impaired can obtain day passes when coming to Vancouver for medical appointments or vacation.
We do not know what is going to happen next year when they open busses from Chilliwack to Langley.

Board members are encouraged to attend one of the consultation sessions and present ideas  for the record. Remember that all ideas may not be noted so check the web site and if you don’t find your request on the web site, please add it or email your information in. This is our chance to speak up for what we want to change.

Action Item: Each board member is asked to identify at least one or more accessibility issue(s) that impact you personally and submit to the Chair prior to the March meeting. From all suggestions, the Board will determine a select number of initiatives as their main goals for 2014.

Action Item: Each board member is asked to submit the name and contact information for at least one eligible nominee to serve on the ASIC Board by February 28th. Please remember we are looking for individuals who are willing to serve on a working board and, in your opinion, would endorse the values as outlined in our mission statement. Please just put their name forward and allow our Nominations Committee to approach them to determine their interest.

In the months ahead, following the AGM, we will include a section on effective advocacy techniques in our meeting agendas. A clear understanding of our position statements will also be included. Board members should have knowledge and be able to advocate on behalf of the community-at-large.

Action Item: Laura Mackenrot to determine the regulations/bylaws regarding sidewalk murals in Vancouver.

Action Item: Amy Amantea to determine the regulations/bylaws for the three North Shore municipalities

Laura Mackenrot raised the question as to whether board members were aware of PWD’s being declined acceptance by Canada Revenue Agency of their Disability Tax Credit – Form T2201. Following some discussion, this did not appear to be a wide spread issue.

Next meeting – Tentatively set for Monday March 17 2014. Meeting terminated at 6:00 PM

Appendix A:
Date: January, 2014

TO: Members – Access for Sight-Impaired Consumers Board
FROM: Rob Sleath, Chair – Access for Sight-Impaired Consumers
RE: Summary report of activities

This report is provided as a summary of the activities which have taken place since the Board’s last meeting on November 18, 2013. I begin by wishing each of you a new year filled with good health, new opportunities and great success in achieving your personal goals in 2014!

On November 30th, the writer, accompanied by Anne McNabb as an appointed observer, participated in CAG’s annual face-to-face meeting in Toronto. Also in attendance were Facilitator – Jennifer Dillon, representing AEBC – Sharlyn Ayotte, ASVI – Kelly Baldock, ASVI – Trina Bell (Observer), CBSA – Jane Blaine, CCB – Louise Gillis, GDUC – Penny LeClair, RAAQ – Gerald Miller, VIEWS – Dawn Clelland, CNIB – Diane Bergeron, Marc Workman and Celeste Kremzar (Recorder). Chair of the Canadian Blind Rightsholders, Richard Marion was also in attendance.

Saturday morning’s agenda consisted of activity updates from each of the organizational representatives; ASIC’s written report is included in this month’s meeting package and reflected our initiatives and successes for the past year. The balance of the morning included a lively debate and opinions regarding a draft governing document which has been included in the meeting package. The afternoon focused on discussion regarding updated revisions to various position statements. At time of writing this report, we are working toward obtaining the revised position statements for inclusion in the meeting package for your review so that we can consider ratification at our January meeting. The balance of the afternoon was spent discussing education standards for children with vision loss brought forward by VIEWS and ASVI and some miscellaneous issues regarding guide dog legislation  brought forward by GDUC. Due to a scheduling conflict, the writer departed the meeting in the late afternoon and deferred any further participation and/or comments to Anne McNabb.

On December 12th, we attended the semi-annual meeting of the Passenger Directed Vehicle Advisory Committee, a Standing Committee of the Passenger Transportation Board. While most of the meeting dealt with taxi provider issues, we managed to officially file CAG’s Position Statement regarding taxi accessibility. Formal discussion and questions were tabled until the May 2014 meeting to provide committee members an opportunity to review the document. Presentation of the Position Statement was very timely in that the PTB is about to amend its vehicle identification rules. The proposed direction will be to provide each taxi company serving a given area with a unique alpha prefix (i.e. “Y” for Yellow Cabs, “R” for Richmond Taxi, etc.) which will be followed by a three-digit numeric vehicle number and a second alpha code depicting either a temporary (T) or special (S) license, when applicable. The purpose of the unique prefix is to enable passengers and service providers alike to clearly identify a particular taxi should they wish to lodge a commendation, complaint or recover lost or forgotten items. On behalf of CNIB and ASIC, the writer has critiqued the draft proposal and registered several concerns regarding but a single vehicle identification inside the vehicle, lack of Braille and tactile identification and a misguided recommendation with respect to foreground letter colors versus the background color on the exterior of the vehicle. We will follow-up on our observations when the subject arises at the May 2014 meeting.

Our participation in assisting in the development of a taxi training curriculum and companion video is complete. The Vancouver Taxi Association will be issuing a media release and making an announcement to Vancouver City Council in the near future. We will receive an invitation to said announcement and to a preview showing of the training video. We extend our thanks to members of the ASIC Board for their review and critique of the materials we contributed to this project.

With regards to accessible prescription labels, we circulated an appeal for members with vision loss who reside in the Champlain area and surrounds of Vancouver to utilize Peoples Drug Mart free home delivery service in conjunction with the audio RFID labels. Peoples Drug Mart was reporting zero take-up on their accessible prescription offering prior to our notice. Before evaluating next steps, they elected to offer free home delivery before taking any action toward suspending the program. In early December, we received the disappointing (and rather ignorant) response from Walmart Canada which has been included in the meeting package. Our response letter focuses on the challenges of living with vision loss and offers some awareness that those challenges are only compounded when a pharmacist thinks an oral summary is sufficient when dispensing a prescription to a person with vision loss. We shall anxiously await their impending response.

On a more positive note, PharmaSave has shown an interest in offering accessible prescription labels. A lengthy meeting was held with Mr. Ken Foreman – Manager, Pharmacy, Pacific Region in early December, inclusive of a demonstration of the ScripTalk reader. They committed to undertaking their due diligence and reporting back in Q1 of 2014. We extend our appreciation to Louise Johnson who brought forward an alternative solution for accessing prescription labels – the AccessaMed Digital Audio Label. We have contacted the distributor in Washington State and ordered a demo sample so that we can undertake a consumer evaluation.

Our meeting with web site developers from the BC Lottery Corporation (BCLC) was very beneficial. As we attempted to navigate the www.playnow.com web site with JAWS, they recognized numerous shortcomings with the site’s current coding. We have facilitated an introduction between BCLC and Simply Accessible. This latter company has a very well respected and glowing reputation amongst web accessibility consultants. In speaking with Derek Featherstone prior to the introduction, we were convinced they have the local human resources and broad adaptive technology expertise to assist BCLC.

Intuit has begun beta testing of Quicken 2014 with JAWS users in the US. As the Canadian edition of this software is a cousin to the US application, it was felt Intuit’s developers could monitor in-person results more efficiently south of the border. Meanwhile, we have obtained a commitment from Freedom Scientific to accelerate development on their end once the accessibility issues are identified. John Martin of www.doitblind.com, the developer of JAWS scripts for Rhapsody and iTunes, has also been speaking with Intuit as he works toward developing scripts for Quicken 2014, a project that may take up to 12 months to complete.

Our current web site – www.asic.bc.cx – continues to attract a significant number of visitors each month with approximately 4600 hits in the past 60 days. Numerous additions have found their way into the “Resources” section, thanks in part to the contributions brought forward by Louise Johnson. Most of the information that was submitted by ASIC Board members has been uploaded to the site which results in our pages on guide dog access legislation being nearly complete. One grateful visitor to our site reported the following after reading about text alerts being offered by their bank - “I wanted to thank you for this recommendation; I love this service!  The notification happens within seconds of the transaction most of the time. My only recommendation would be that the text state where the purchase took place.”

Following a change of IS personnel at CNIB National and some service disruptions over the summer months, our new web site is near ready for public launch. The content of the new site – www.asicbc.ca – is grossly out-of-date and will require some data migration from our current site before public launch. However, prior to taking such steps, we have asked David Neufeld to review the site, in particular the home page, in that it appears to have far too many links in no particular order or correlation to one another. Transition to the new site will be timely as our current host of the ASIC site is requesting a monthly fee for web hosting services.   

Over the past sixty days, we have been asked to provide counsel and/or some intervention in an increasing number of access denials by guide dog handlers. Most involved taxis, one restaurant, one hotel and a single incident with BC Ambulance Services (BCAS). In the latter case, we have posted a copy of BCAS’s policy regarding the transport of patients accompanied by a guide dog on our web site. In summary, it is BCAS’s policy to transport patient and guide dog together as one – a policy that was obviously misunderstood by the ambulance attendants involved that day.

Our letter to Minister Don McRae, urging continuation of the Equipment & Assistive Technology Initiative, along with the Minister’s response is included in your meeting package. You will note the Minister has re-directed our letter to the Honourable Shirley Bond, Minister of Jobs, Tourism and Skills Training and Minister Responsible for Labour, being the appropriate party responsible for the EATI program. For board members who have yet to pen their letters, we suggest you address your letter to the Honourable Shirley Bond
PO Box 9071, STN PROV GOV
Victoria, BC  V8W 9E2

Board members will note two additional pieces of correspondence in the meeting package.  Our response to Dr. Keith Archer – head of the Independent Panel on Internet Voting received a further endorsement from the BC Coalition of People with Disabilities. We await the Panel’s review of the numerous responses that they received regarding their initial report. With the impending municipal elections and the public transit referendum that are scheduled for 2014, the outcome of the Panel’s review is critical in deciding our next course of action toward making municipal elections accessible and private.

The second letter was addressed to Minister James Moore requesting the Government of Canada act expeditiously to ratify the Marrakesh Treaty for the Print Disabled.

It would be appreciated if those board members or organizational representatives who have written in response of support for EATI, the internet voting report or in support of the ratification of the Marrakesh treaty would share their correspondence for our files.

Finally, on January 4, we uploaded an invitation from the Government of BC to participate in the development of a White Paper which will focus on increasing accessibility for people with disabilities in BC. Specific topics include:

  • Innovation in disability services and more accessibility for persons living with disabilities
  • Personal supports and aids and devices
  • Work and contribution
  • Housing and accessibility in the broader built environment
  • Social networks to support people in community
  • Asset accumulation through the Registered Disability Savings Plan in particular.

Whether you participate by attending one of the numerous in-person consultations scheduled around the province or submit your thoughts via e-mail or a written letter, we encourage everyone to get involved and have your voice heard. Details of the consultations and/or methods of participating are available on our web site at:
http://www.asic.bc.cx/releases/DisabilityWhitePaperConsultation%20.shtml

While this initiative will benefit all persons living with a disability in BC, I am reminded of a comment that was once passed along to us by former MLA Rob Nijjar; he said “Government never hears from the blind community so we can only assume everything is all right.” In the wake of such a comment, we can only suggest that if we don’t participate, we only have ourselves to blame.

Respectfully submitted,


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