The number of people who have a disability in Canada is growing every year and comprises 22 percent of the total Canadian population. Therefore, it is crucial to be an advocate for accessibility rights so that everyone has the same opportunity to access the world around us.
Based out of Oakville, Ontario, Adam Spencer, the President (GLOBAL) of AbleDocs, has made it his life’s work to ensure a person’s ability to independently manage their own online affairs. Without accessibility focused organizations like AbleDocs, it is possible that those with print disabilities would not be able to fully access essential online documents that allow them to sign up for government programs and vaccines, access their banking and medical records, and connect with friends and family.
Adam Spencer explains how everyone can become advocates for accessibility and the changes that every online information provider can make to ensure their documents and forms are fully accessible to every visitor.
The History of Advocacy for People with Disabilities in Canada
People with disabilities have been organizing to protect their rights since 1886, when people with auditory disabilities created a consumer organization in Ontario. The Canadian Federation for the Blind advocated for pensions in the 1930s.
By the 1970s, disability advocacy was being framed as a battle for human rights. Understanding how human rights are affected by the presence of disabilities became necessary for many members of society in the 1970s and 1980s.
Causes that Advocates Can Champion
Everyone will need to join the fight against discrimination toward people with disabilities. There are several great causes that disability advocates can assist in their quest to make Canada free and open to all.
Accessibility of Transportation
Public buses and trains have been accessible to those with disabilities for many years, but today, there are more potential problems in the works. Rideshare programs like Uber and Lyft frequently discriminate against riders in Canada who have vision and hearing loss, and may require assistive equipment. As the transportation economy changes, the accessibility of rideshare services will become even more important.
Accessibility of Internet Services
This form of accessibility is of special concern. As the Founder and President (Global) of AbleDocs, Spencer has dedicated his career to making sure that Internet users worldwide can access the information they need using simple and functional tools. Online forms and documents are notorious for being unreadable for users with screen reader programs. Still, AbleDocs simplifies the process and ensures that people with low vision and print disabilities can view and respond to these forms.
Accessibility of Healthcare
Healthcare in Canada is not always as accessible to those who have a disability as it should be. Some find it difficult to get rides to doctors’ offices, and they may put off care due to logistical hassles. The presence of COVID-19 in the population also dissuaded many people with disabilities from receiving healthcare since many also have weakened immune systems.
The Canadian immigration system discriminates against people with disabilities. People who wish to move to Canada may not be allowed to do so because they may cause an “undue burden” on the country’s healthcare system. This is an unfounded prejudice against a whole population and is in need of dire correction.
How to Advocate for People with Disabilities
Some of the organizations that would-be advocates can join include the CNIB Foundation, Council of Canadians with Disabilities, Ontario’s Citizens with Disabilities, Disability Alliance BC, the Manitoba League of Persons with Disabilities, and Quebec’s COPHAN.
These organizations welcome donations and grassroots help from Canadian citizens and other interested parties. When disability advocates from all communities band together, they will be better able to solve the social and regulatory problems plaguing those with disabilities throughout Canada.
Adam Spencer founded AbleDocs because his mother, a banker, needed help with assisting staff who had print disabilities. Spencer created an initiative that could help individuals with print disabilities access PDF documents. His first PDF accessibility service was successful, but he went on to found AbleDocs in 2019 because he saw a need to change the way people create accessible content.
The Importance of Disability Advocacy
People with disabilities have been a silent minority for too long. People with disabilies need to know that they have the right to stand up and protest their treatment under the law and fight for the resources they need to enhance their quality of life.
Two of the most pressing concerns today are the inequality of transportation options and the lack of access to digital content. Spencer encourages all would-be disability advocates to thoroughly research the issues at hand and make sure that they follow their passion and do the work that needs to be done.
AbleDocs will continue to help those with print disabilities access documents and fill out forms so that they can be independent users of the Internet. Adam Spencer will continue to broaden the reach of AbleDocs and its offerings to make the digital world more accessible to all those with disabilities.