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Meet Election Canada’s Disability Advisory Group

March 18, 2014
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In accordance with the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal, Elections Canada has created a new Advisory Group for Disability Issues. The advisory group’s job is to inform Elections Canada on the needs of people with disabilities during the voting process. Elections Canada strives to draw individuals from diverse organizations in order to represent people with disabilities.

Below, we list some biographical information on each of the group members.

Donna Jodhan, Alliance for Equality of Blind Canadians

Ms. Jodhan is currently serving the AEBC as Second Vice President. Founded in 1992, the AEBC is promotes the inclusion of blind, deaf-blind and partially sighted Canadians from employment to participation in elections. Members are involved with local chapters and promote public awareness and education activities for their demographic every day. Their website can be found at http://www.blindcanadians.ca/.

Frank Folino, Canadian Association of the Deaf –

Mr. Folino is currently serving the CAD as Vice President. In 1940, three regional Associates of the Deaf communities came together to form an organization known as the Canadian Association of the Deaf. The CAD consults and advocates on behalf of Canada’s 300,000 deaf people to the public, business, media, educators, governments and others. The CAD is a national organization that interacts with local deaf organizations and service groups. Their website can be found at http://www.cad.ca/index_en.php.

Diane Bergeron, Canadian National Institute for the Blind –

Ms. Bergeron is currently serving the CNIB as the national director of government relations and advocacy. The CNIB is a national organisation that provides community-based support and advocacy for people who are blind or live with low-vision. The CNIB specializes in outreach work for anyone who is blind or partially sighted. The CNIB also advocates for a completely barrier-free society. The CNIB’s website can be found at http://www.cnib.ca/.

Richard Lavigne, Confédération des Organismes de Personnes Handicapées du Québec –

Mr. Lavigne is currently serving COPHAN in the capacity of general manager. COPHAN is a community advocacy group devoted to ensure that all citizens of Quebec are able to participate fully in society. COPHAN works to defend the collective rights of people with disabilities through legal action and community advocacy. Their website address is www.cophan.org.

Laurie Beachell, Council of Canadians with Disabilities –

Ms. Beachell is currently serving the council in the capacity of national coordinator. The CCD is a national organization that seeks to protect the human rights people with disabilities through law reform, litigation, public education and advocacy. The CCD’s website is as follows: http://www.ccdonline.ca/

Dr. Gary Birch, Neil Squire Society –

Dr. Birch is currently serving the Neil Squire Society in the capacity of Executive Director. Founded in 1985, the Neil Squire Society assists people with physical disabilities through the use of computer-based assistive technologies and education in order to remove barriers so that they can work and live independently. The Neil Squire Society website can be found at http://www.neilsquire.ca/.

Kory Earle and Shelley Fletcher, both of People First of Canada –

Ms. Fletcher is currently serving People First of Canada in the role of Executive Director and Mr. Earle is currently serving People First in the role of Vice President. People First of Canada is an organization that strives for equality for all citizens through self-advocacy and education. People First of Canada’s website can be found at http://www.peoplefirstofcanada.ca/.

Laurence Parent, Regroupement des Activistes Pour L’inclusion au Québec –

Ms. Parent is currently serving RAPLIQ in the capacity of Vice President. RAPLIQ is a multilingual grassroots organization committed to inclusivity in Quebec. They protect and promote the rights of people with disabilities and engage in conflict resolution, as well as training for members and businesses. RAPLIQ’s website can be found at http://www.rapliq.org/.

The Advisory Group for Disability issues will provide feedback to Elections Canada regarding accessibility and barriers in the days leading up to the 2015 federal election.

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