Seniors, Wellness and Social Development
Transportation and Works

June 19, 2015

Furthering the Status of Persons with Disabilities

Action Plan Guides Future of Provincial Inclusion Strategy

The Provincial Government today marked the release of an action plan to guide further implementation of Access. Inclusion. Equality – A Provincial Strategy for the Inclusion of Persons with Disabilities, with the unveiling of $1.7 million in accessibility upgrades to the Arts and Culture Centre in St. John’s. The Honourable Clyde Jackman, Minister Responsible for the Status of Persons with Disabilities, was joined by the Honourable David Brazil, Minister of Transportation and Works, for the event.

“The establishment of the Disability Policy Office in 2009, and the release of the inclusion strategy in 2012, represent a fundamental shift toward full equity for persons with disabilities throughout our province. While investments in programming, services and accessibility upgrades have been ongoing, this action plan is the next step in our efforts to build a truly inclusive society. It’s about making sure accessibility and inclusion are not an afterthought, but rather how we make decisions and live our lives each day.”
- The Honourable Clyde Jackman, Minister Responsible for the Status of Persons with Disabilities

The three-year action plan (2015-18) outlines 43 initiatives which advance the five strategic directions outlined in Access. Inclusion. Equality. Those strategic directions are: shifting public perceptions of disability; engaging persons with disabilities; improving accessibility in the built environment; improving access to disability-related supports; and changing the service delivery culture to be more fair and respectful.

Highlights of the action plan are included in the backgrounder below. The full action plan can be viewed at: www.swsd.gov.nl.ca/disabilities/pdf/dpo_isap.pdf .

Meanwhile, participants at today’s event also had the opportunity to view completed accessibility upgrades at the Arts and Culture Centre in St. John’s.

“Through an investment of $1.7 million, much work has been completed to ensure the St. John’s Arts and Culture Centre is accessible to all individuals. This project is one of several that have been undertaken to improve access and support inclusion at Arts and Culture Centres across the province. A total investment of $4.5 million, including $1 million this year, will see the continuation of this work at the Arts and Culture Centres in Gander, Stephenville and St. John’s.
- The Honourable David Brazil, Minister of Transportation and Works

In recent years, the Provincial Government has moved forward on a number of initiatives to improve the status of persons with disabilities. Blue zone parking regulations have been strengthened, investments have been made through the Accessible Vehicle Funding Program and the Inclusion Grants Program, and Newfoundland and Labrador Housing Corporation has increased its inventory of fully accessible and “visitable” units – and helped the private sector and non-profit groups create more.

“Inclusion is about equal access, not special access. This action plan, like the strategy itself, can move us closer to being a province where disability is a routine and everyday consideration in how we design buildings, infrastructure and programs; in how we communicate, and in how we serve customers and clients. The Provincial Advisory Council for the Inclusion of Persons with Disabilities is very pleased to see the action plan released, and we look forward to its full implementation.”
- J. Paul Walsh, Chair, Provincial Advisory Council for the Inclusion of Persons with Disabilities

As an example of community-based partner involvement to help implement the action plan, the Provincial Government has provided the Coalition of Persons with Disabilities with a total of $125,000 to facilitate three projects that advance inclusion.

“We are pleased to see the release of the action plan and are excited to be working in partnership with the Provincial Government on its implementation. We will be bringing the knowledge of people with disabilities to the development of training materials, working to ensure all our citizens have access to voting in provincial elections, and working to help media and marketing companies to better understand disability and promote a more positive image. There is much to be done and working together, we will get there.”
- Kelly White, Executive Director, Coalition of Persons with Disabilities

The inclusion strategy action plan was developed in consultation with the 18-member Provincial Advisory Council for the Inclusion of Persons with Disabilities, partner departments and agencies throughout government, and informed by more than 600 organizations and individuals through the province.

QUICK FACTS

  • The Provincial Government today released an action plan to guide further implementation of Access. Inclusion. Equality - A Provincial Strategy for the Inclusion of Persons with Disabilities. The plan is available at: www.swsd.gov.nl.ca/disabilities/pdf/dpo_isap.pdf
  • The action plan outlines 43 practical, concrete initiatives which advance the five strategic directions outlined in the strategy, which are: shifting public perceptions of disability, engaging persons with disabilities, improving accessibility in the built environment, improving access to disability-related supports, and changing the service delivery culture to be more fair and respectful.
  • The launch of the action plan coincided with the unveiling of $1.7 million in accessibility upgrades at the Arts and Culture Centre in St. John’s, for a total investment of $4.5 million in accessibility upgrades at Arts and Culture Centres throughout the province.
  • Upgrades at the St. John’s location include improved access from the box office to the main auditorium and to the stage; the addition of accessible washrooms in the children’s library and upgrades to six other washrooms; upgraded door hardware/handles; and additional and upgraded blue zone parking.
  • The inclusion strategy action plan was developed in consultation with the 18-member Provincial Advisory Council for the Inclusion of Persons with Disabilities, partner departments and agencies throughout government, and informed by than 600

- 30 -

Media contacts:

Heather May
Director of Communications
Department of Seniors, Wellness and Social Development
709-729-0928, 697-5061
heathermay@gov.nl.ca
Jacquelyn Howard
Director of Communications
Department of Transportation and Works
709-729-3015, 689-2624
JacquelynHoward@gov.nl.ca
J. Paul Walsh
Provincial Advisory Council for the Inclusion of Persons with Disabilities
709-609-2767
acadean@gmail.com
Kelly White
Executive Director
Coalition of Persons with Disabilities – NL
722-7011
kwhite@codnl.ca

BACKGROUNDER
Highlights of Action Plan for Inclusion Strategy

The action plan to further advance Access. Inclusion. Equality. A Provincial Strategy for the Inclusion of Persons with Disabilities, focuses on initiatives which reflect the five strategic directions of the strategy: shifting public perceptions of disability; engaging persons with disabilities; improving accessibility in the built environment; improving access to disability-related supports; and changing the service delivery culture to be more fair and respectful. Some highlights of the 43 actions are listed below. The full list of actions can be viewed in the action plan at: http://www.swsd.gov.nl.ca/disabilities/pdf/dpo_isap.pdf

  • Public Engagement – Develop and implement accessibility guidelines for government public engagement activities so that consultations and meetings are fully inclusive of persons with disabilities.
  • Accessible Information – Implement new accessibility guidelines for public information to ensure equitable access to Provincial Government information and documents.
  • Accessible Procurement – Work with community and other stakeholders to develop new public procurement accessibility and inclusion guidelines, so that products, leases and contracts by the Provincial Government take accessibility into consideration.
  • Hunting – Make Wild Life Regulations regarding the Disabled Hunter and Disabled Angler Program more inclusive.
  • Universal Design – Promote universal design with private and community stakeholders so that new buildings are barrier-free.
  • Emergency Processes – Encourage emergency management planning processes to be inclusive of persons with disabilities.
  • Visual Alarms – Increase usage of visual smoke and fire alarms in private homes for better safety of persons who are deaf or hard of hearing.
  • Assistive Technology – Review and provide recommendations for development of a provincial assistive technology program so that individuals have better access to disability-related equipment and products.
  • Inclusive Education – Evaluate the Inclusive Education Initiative and Service Delivery Model for Students with Exceptionalities.
  • Transitioning – Implement a transition policy for students with an exceptionality going into and within schools, post-secondary institutions and community.
  • Paid Family Caregivers – Evaluate the Paid Family Caregiver Pilot Project to guide next steps with a focus on flexibility and choice.
  • Sport – In partnership with ParasportNL, further support the participation of persons with disabilities in sport and recreation activities.
  • Service Animals – Promote broad awareness and education regarding the Service Animal Act, with specific focus on industry, such as tourism and hospitality.
  • Deaf Culture – In recognition of its unique language and culture, engage the Deaf community to identify opportunities to celebrate and promote awareness about Deaf culture.
  • Social Media Campaign – Shift public attitudes by challenging negative stereotypes and building knowledge about barriers and how to remove them.

2015 06 19                            1:15 p.m.