Legislation introduced to provide income support program for Manitobans with severe disabilities

The province is introducing legislation to provide an income support program for Manitobans with severe and prolonged disabilities.

Current legislation puts Manitobans with severe and prolonged disabilities in the same category as those experiencing temporary losses of employment due to shorter-term or less severe disabilities.

The province says Bill 72 would create a program separate from Employment and Income Assistance (EIA) and include disability support payments and shelter assistance tailored to the specific needs of those who apply.

RELATED: Manitoba advocate releases systemic review of services for children with disabilities

Families minister Rochelle Squires says about 10,000 people will be moved into the new category.

“It will make life easier for them. They will not have to go back and prove on a regular basis that they still are impacted by their disability,” Squires said. “We believe this will be a great reduction in unnecessary regulatory requirements and paperwork and inconvenience for them.”

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“We’re also going to be moving forward with a better income for these individuals.”

NDP critic for persons with disabilities Danielle Adams claims “Bill 72 would propose sweeping changes to Manitoba’s income assistance programs, including how Manitobans are eligible for programs and what level of support they can receive.”


© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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Coronavirus: Accessibility advocate calls on Ford government to provide support for special needs students

A Toronto-based accessibility advocate is calling on the Ontario government for a comprehensive plan to remove barriers that online learning creates for students with disabilities.

“We’ve been calling on the government to show leadership. Whether it’s the crisis in nursing homes or the crisis facing students with disabilities, it’s the recurring failure to lead,” said David Lepofsky of Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) Alliance.

On Tuesday, the Ford government announced schools across the province will remain closed for in-person learning due to the coronavirus pandemic.

In addition, Education Minister Stephen Lecce, acknowledging that families of students with special needs need more support, announced two new initiatives specific to those students.

READ MORE: Online schooling not a smooth transition for parents during COVID-19

“We’ve put out an expectation to our boards of education that every single mental health and special education resource that is funded in this province is fully unlocked to support our kids,” said Lecce.

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Lepofsky called that offer “ineffective” and “wasteful.”

“What they’ve done is they’re leaving it to every one of over 70 school boards to each face the same problems and have to reinvent the same wheel all in the middle of a crisis,” he said, adding the minister’s statement “falls far short of the urgent action one-third of a million Ontario students with disabilities immediately need.”

Lecce also announced a new program for children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).

READ MORE: Ontario parents, teachers say transition to e-learning will be a learning process

“There’s a two-week specialized program extended to kids in special education, mental health challenges. This program is going to help them re-climatize themselves back to school,” added Lecce.

“It’s really focused on behavior and communication.”

To help teachers and parents of students with disabilities, the AODA Alliance and Ontario Autism Coalition recently teamed up for a vitual town hall to share teaching strategies from experts to help students with disabilities.

But Lepofsky pointed out, despite repeatedly asking the Ford government, the tips outlined in the town hall have not been shared with school boards or frontline teachers.

Nicola Jeffrey is a Toronto mother of three, including a five-year-old son in junior kindergarten with ASD.

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“He’s probably on the moderate to severe end of things. He’s verbal, but it’s limited — it’s not conversational,” explained Jeffrey.

“With school and the therapy he was having, he was learning to cope with those things and he’s made such amazing progress and without those in place those behaviours start to come back.”

Jeffrey has attempted the online learning provided by her Scott’s school but it’s been difficult.

“I just think it’s an impossible situation because unless you’re in person in a classroom, in JK-aged kids, you just can’t, it’s impossible and that’s before you even get to the special needs part of it,” she said.

READ MORE: Ontario government launches online program for students out of school

Jeffrey said she heard about the government’s plans for a two-week transition program for students like her son.

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If it is offered online, Scott will not be enrolled.

“It’s laughable really like for so many kids with additional needs,” she said.

“They have unique behaviours and need help, and you can’t offer a one-size-fits-all for all kids.”

© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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How to Provide Accessible Library Service

Under the Customer Service Standards of the AODA, service providers must make their goods, services, and facilities accessible to customers with disabilities. Our last article outlined accessible features in libraries. In this article, we cover what staff can do to create an accessible library service experience for patrons. In particular, we look at how staff can find ways to make their premises welcoming to patrons who need accessible features that a library does not have yet.

How to Provide Accessible Library Service

When librarians plan to buy new books or subscribe to new publications, they should try to find alternate-format versions of the print or visual materials they are selecting. Moreover, when librarians are choosing online resources to subscribe to or partner with, they should look into whether these websites comply with Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0. They should try to develop relationships with online publications that share their commitments to service for all patrons.

Welcoming Patrons

Libraries must welcome all patrons who enter with assistive devices, service animals, or support persons.

Training Staff

Libraries must ensure that their staff are trained to interact with patrons who have disabilities. Staff should understand how to communicate with patrons, both in person and remotely. In addition, staff should know where accessible content is shelved as well as how patrons can access library materials in alternative ways, such as through the library website, from other branches, and from the Centre for Equitable Library Access (CELA) or the National Network for Equitable Library Service (NNELS)

Staff should also know how their libraries’ accessible computer equipment works. This knowledge allows them to help first-time patrons learn the basics or troubleshoot if computers malfunction.

In addition, staff should know how to provide a welcoming experience for patrons if their branches are lacking certain structural features. For instance, staff should:

  • Retrieve resources from inaccessible sections or floors upon request
  • Know where the nearest accessible washrooms are
  • Offer remote service for patrons who cannot enter the space

Staff should make the public aware that they have these or other accessible library services. When they do so, more people can be patrons of libraries that value them as clients.

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How to Provide Accessible Restaurant Service

Under the Customer Service Standards of the AODA, service providers must make their goods, services, and facilities accessible to customers with disabilities. Our last article outlined how restaurants can make menus and other written information accessible. In this article, we cover best practices for accessible restaurant service. In particular, we look at how hosts and servers can find ways to make their premises welcoming to diners who need accessible features that a restaurant does not have yet.

How to Provide Accessible Restaurant Service

Individual diners will know what makes a restaurant accessible for them. For instance, one diner may need a ramp or a level entrance, while another needs an automatic door. If a restaurant lacks the features a diner needs to enter its building, staff could bring the diner’s food to them outside. Alternatively, they could provide delivery service and waive any additional fees they usually charge for this service. Similar services may also be appropriate for diners who cannot use a restaurant’s seating options.

Welcoming Diners

Restaurants must welcome all diners who enter with assistive devices or service animals. Service animals are legally permitted in restaurants, including in dining rooms.

Serving Diners

Servers taking orders should understand how to communicate with diners, both in person and remotely.

Restaurants where patrons order their food at a counter should make this process accessible for all diners. Staff at restaurants without accessible counters or line areas can offer to take diners’ orders somewhere else. For instance, staff could take diners’ orders at their tables. In contrast, some diners may order at an average-height counter but need assistance carrying their orders. Likewise, some diners may need assistance at buffets. Staff may need to go through a buffet line with a diner or serve portions. Alternatively, staff may need to tell the diner what the buffet is offering. Then, staff can go through the line and select food the diner requests.


When a restaurant does not have menus in the format a diner needs, servers should read the menu aloud. Servers should also be prepared to read menus aloud upon request. Diners will explain how they would like the menu read. For instance, one diner might like to know what the main headings are. Then, the diner can choose to find out more about certain sections. Another diner might first want to know the names of all the meal choices. Then, the diner might ask for  descriptions of certain dishes. Other diners may want to read the whole menu and return to items they are most interested in.

Accessible restaurant service ensures that all diners have a pleasant experience. For many diners with disabilities, excellent service is as memorable as excellent food. Diners treated with dignity will want to come back for a second meal.

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