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Thumbs Up & Down

Abilities approvals and critiques...you decide.

THUMBS UP to the city of Hamilton, celebrating the 20th anniversary of the accessible sidewalk system they call “Urban Braille.” The needs of persons using mobility devices are addressed by ensuring that sidewalk and ramp design as well as road crossings are free of obstruction. Also, those with vision loss can more easily navigate the streets thanks to tactile signals such as bus stop detection strips and street name sidewalk plates at intersections.

THUMBS DOWN to provincial officials in Quebec who have revoked $900 social assistance to a 38-year-old woman with cerebral palsy because her mother had a small trust fund set up to pay for her future care. The government says Sarah Davidson must exhaust the funds before her assistance is restored, a claim that disability advocates say is unjustified. Seems even the provincial minister responsible, Sam Hamad, is not sure his officials got it right, however, as he suggests he may make an exception for this “special case.”

THUMBS UP to the kids and seniors sharing space in Saskatoon’s Sherbrooke Community Centre. Saskatoon Public Schools recently partnered in an innovative, new program that has 24 grade six students attending “school” at the community centre, a long-term care residence. The children participate in intergenerational discussions about changes in technology, and receive one-to-one lessons from residents. Subjects include: playing the piano and practicing basic skills like reading, writing and arithmetic. They also learn to respect and relate with their elders while bringing energy, life and excitement to the staff and residents.

THUMBS UP to the Back to Ag program, a partnership between Farm Credit Canada, the Canadian Agricultural Safety Association and the Rick Hansen Foundation that provides funding to farmers and agricultural workers who have been severely injured and require adaptive technology to help them return to the farming work they love. One of the first recipients is Andre Veilleux, a maple syrup producer from Quebec whose spinal cord was severed when he was crushed under a maple tree he was felling. The funding has helped Andre to get a stand-up wheelchair so that he can handle the tools and repair equipment that he found difficult to manage in a seated position.

THUMBS DOWN to a number of people using fake ID for their untrained dogs. Fakers are said to obtain service dog labeling and the associated benefits, such as permission for the pet to accompany the owner in restaurants or public places. In recent years fraudulent tags and jackets for pets have become unfortunately easy to get online. THUMBS UP to B.C. proposed legislation aimed at curbing the practice by creating a government issued service dog license and registry.

THUMBS DOWN to the federal Ministry of Veterans Affairs for ignoring the needs of nearly half of Canada’s most severely disabled ex-soldiers. According to Guy Parent, the Veterans ombudsman, these soldiers do not receive a permanent impairment allowance, intended to compensate them for their physical and mental injuries, due to the government’s excessively restrictive guidelines. Parent notes that officials fail to consider the long-term effects of chronic injuries on employment and career prospects.

THUMBS UP to the organizers of ‘Deliciously Disabled’ a Toronto sex club party that is fully accessible for persons with disabilities, including with an interpreter for the deaf. The $20-a-ticket event—caretakers will be admitted for free—will take place on August 14th near the close of the Parapan Am games. The party theme is a Mascarade Ball. The organizers note that in addition to having a good time, the event is being held to recognize that persons with disabilities have desires, including for love and sexuality, just like able-bodied persons.

THUMBS DOWN to Sunwing travel group who have left Rose Finlay stuck at home unable to get out, as her customized wheelchair—her essential means of mobility—was damaged and rendered unsafe by the company’s mishandling in flying it home from a Cuba vacation. A new custom chair will cost $7000, money that Finlay, of Bowmanville, Ontario, doesn’t have. Finlay plans to complain to the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal.

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