Broken processes and complaints systems

This is probably one of the most difficult editorials for me to write for as I sit hear today; I am not sure if/when any sort of changes could or would be made in order to rectify a very obvious and blatant infringement against the rights of Canadians with disabilities.  Am I being dramatic?  No!  And I am going to do my best to convince you that my concerns are not just troubling!  They are real and if we do not speak up it would only continue.

Remember now:  If we do not take steps to right a wrong then it would only be passed down to our kids and then on to their kids!  Is this really what we want?  Are we satisfied and comfortable waking up to this scenario every day?  For me, the answer is a resounding no!  Maybe some people could go to sleep knowing that this does exist and are quite content to keep doing this every night; but not for me!  This is my way of speaking up and speaking out!

So here are the cold facts as I as an accessibility advisor/consultant and as a Human Being view it through my personal lens.

Fact 1:  There are certain Federal Government Departments that continue to offer online complaints systems that are either inaccessible or unusable to Canadians with special needs; in particular to the blind and vision impaired.

Online forms are inaccessible and websites are still lacking in meeting the W3C standards.

Fact 2:  At the best of times, it is almost impossible to communicate with staff who can help to explain the complaints process.  Too often, they provide inaccurate info and then they somehow fail to send along documentation in alternate formats.

When you ask them questions, they defer to their lawyers to write responses and at the end of the day these responses are extremely difficult to interpret when it comes to the lay person.

Fact 3:  It takes at least two years for a complaint to be resolved if you’re lucky but the norm seems to be anywhere from at least five years and upwards.

Fact 4:  If your complaint has managed to pass the department’s screening process, you are then subjected to these departments requiring you as the complainant to provide info that the said department itself should be researching on its own.

I find it very difficult to understand why I as the complainant should be put upon to provide additional info that they themselves can more easily obtain.  For blind and vision impaired complainants, it goes without saying that it takes double the time for us to complete our forms and retrieve information.

So why is it that departments can get away with asking a complainant to determine which party did what?   Should this not be their job?

Fact 5:  When it comes to the screening process, we have no idea who oversees these processes and the question needs to be proffered; are any of the reviewers persons with a disability? Do any of the screening panels include persons with a disability?

Fact 6:  For the most part, we believe that the various decision making panels within these departments do not include women, persons of diverse ethnic backgrounds, and persons with disabilities.

Fact 7:  As they say, perception is often reality and I can only share what I have encountered and what others continue to share with me.  The perception out here is that these departments continue to yield to industry.  They are afraid to rock the boat and in addition, they do not even appear to have the mandate to enforce their own rules and regulations.

So what are we left with?  In reality, departments that are just paper tigers.  Industries that continue to bully, intimidate, and use their deep pockets to get their way.  Finally, we the complainants who continue to be bullied, beaten down, and forced to retreat in total defeat knowing that our Human Rights continue to be disrespected and trampled upon.

No one is really listening, and as a good friend said to me in total frustration, “May be it is easier for us to have our rights violated rather than continuing to fight.”

Just my two cents for today.

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