I attended the British Columbia Framework for Accessibility Legislation in-person Community meeting on November 2, 2019 in Vancouver. The goal was to give feedback and get realistic perspectives from others. It was a spirited conversation.
The intent of this session was to gather feedback from individuals in the community who currently rely on and are involved with accessibility and inclusion needs — students, entrepreneurs, caregivers, employees, employers, advocates, retirees and others.
As well, the session was also attended by many organizations who work closely with these individuals including lawyers, non-profit organizations and provincial government representatives. For the most part, these people were either observers, facilitators or moderators.
At our tabletop, the discussions were facilitated by a representative from the Social Planning and Research Council of British Columbia (S P A R C - B C) group. The table was a mix of individuals with various accessibility needs and very strong opinions about the current state of accessibility. Although the needs varies for each individual, the common themes were:
- issues with the venue itself, in terms of accessibility needs: room itself was crowded, noisy and tough to get in and out of.
- concerns that enough consolations were being done leading up to forming this new legislation in 2019: 10 in-person sessions (September 28 to November 14), a virtual town hall (November 20), online questionnaire, phone and email submissions (up to November 29)
- needing more details about what the action plan is after the new law has been passed, in terms of feedback and improvement.
- rather than ranking what needs were more important than others, most went with an open discussion on what each of us go through, how we can learn from each other, and possible actions that could be taken
Even though we agreed to not ranking certain issues over others (as we felt that accessibility in British Columbia should be improved from a holistic approach), we did come up with our top 3 items to push this new legislation forward now, and in the future:
- More opportunities to engage. We all agreed that the number of current consultations is not enough to come up with solid legislation.
- Empathy. We need the Government of British Columbia employees to truly empathize with those with accessibility and inclusion needs.
- Continuous feedback. Assure a mechanism to gather and act on feedback after the new law has passed.
As we went around the other tables to hear their own top 3 items, there were many other good ideas around mandatory fines, more training for employees, more funding needed, getting the work done quicker and other ideas.
Overall, it was good to have an opportunity to be involved and give feedback on this future legislation.
There is no magic solution. Any legislation will take time to create and apply to all in British Columbia. If you are passionate about accessibility in British Columbia, I encourage you to provide your feedback before November 29, 2019, as well as stay connected for future developments.
- Government of British Columbia — Accessibility Through Legislation
- Youtube: Minister Shane Simpson — Accessibility through Legislation Consultation
- British Columbia Framework for Accessibility — Current Draft
- S P A R C — B C: British Columbia Framework for Accessibility Legislation
- Building a Better B.C. for People with Disabilities