Talking accessibility

Photo of Stephanie Cadieux framed in a circle, with text ‘Talking Accessibility: What it means and why it matters

Accessibility means different things to different people. Ultimately, accessibility is about removing barriers that prevent everyone from being included. Because people with disabilities face different barriers, it can be difficult to know where to begin. But as Chief Accessibility Officer, Stephanie Cadieux, has often said: ‘’Just get started. Don’t wait.’’ If we don’t get started, the culture will never change.

When it comes to culture change, conversations and stories are powerful.  So in the spirit of encouraging everyone to get started, and to keep going, our office is thrilled to present ‘’Talking Accessibility,’’ a series of stories and conversations about what accessibility really means. In this series, we’ll meet people with lived experience and learn from organizations that are doing the work.

Breaking barriers

Jason Mitschele, Senior Crown Counsel with the Public Prosecution Service of Canada, explains what breaking down barriers has meant to him and how his employer helped him succeed.

Talking accessibility: breaking barriers

Transcript of Talking Accessibility: Breaking Barriers

The video opens with the Office of the Chief Accessibility Officer’s animated logo. Text on screen reads: The Office of the Chief Accessibility Officer presents: Talking Accessibility.” Thoughtful music plays throughout the video.

[00:00:08] Stephanie Cadieux and an ASL interpreter appear on a split screen, with ASL interpreter on the right. Text on screen reads: Stephanie Cadieux; Canada’s Chief Accessibility Officer.

Stephanie Cadieux: I’m speaking with Canadians about what accessibility really means, and why it matters. As a society, we cannot afford to accommodate inaccessibility any longer. Far too much potential is being lost and it’s time to act.

[00:00:23] Jason Mitschele is checking his cell phone while seated in an office lunchroom setting. A service dog is lying on the floor next to him. Text on screen: Breaking Barriers.

[00:00:32] Animated logo appears briefly, then split screen with ASL interpreter on the right: A series of images show Jason Mitschele walking outside with his service dog.

Jason Mitschele: I've been discouraged. When I was younger, when I told my high school teachers about going to law school, they discouraged it. They felt that it was something that was too much reading, too hard to get in. And I almost started to believe it myself.

[00:00:49] Jason Mitschele and his service dog appear full screen. They are walking outside on a rainy day.

[00:00:55] Split screen: Jason Mitschele and an ASL interpreter appear. Text on screen: Jason Mitschele, Team Leader and Senior Counsel, Superior Court Litigation Team, Public Prosecution Service of Canada.

Jason Mitschele: My name is Jason Mitschele, and I am a Senior Federal Crown Counsel with the Public Prosecution Service of Canada here in Toronto.

[00:01:06] Split screen with ASL interpreter on the right. Jason Mitschele and his service dog enter an office building.

Jason Mitschele: When I was going to undergrad, my ground-breaking moment was actually in my beginning of fourth year. I kind of felt there's no reason I can't do that.

[00:01:17] Split screen: Jason Mitschele and ASL interpreter on the right.

Jason Mitschele: I mean, these are people that are not – they're not on a pedestal, or they're not – you know, they're just regular people that happened to be going to law school.

[00:01:25] Split screen with ASL interpreter on the right: Jason Mitschele’s service dog settles into her bed in the office.

Jason Mitschele: You literally get the file hot off the presses as they're coming in during the day. So, there's no time to scan it, there's no time to have it put in an alternative format. You really have to be able to access that file as it's coming in, live in court.

[00:01:30] Split screen with ASL interpreter on the right: Jason Mitschele and Stephanie Cadieux in conversation in a wood panelled room.

Jason Mitschele: Especially being a prosecutor, a lot of what we deal with are large voluminous files with handwritten officer's notes.

[00:01:51] Split screen: Jason Mitschele and ASL interpreter to the right.]

Jason Mitschele: Me just having a clunky scanner wasn't going to cut it.

[00:01:56] Split screen with ASL interpreter on the right: Jason Mitschele walks down a hallway with his service dog. His paralegal assistant follows behind, they all seat themselves in Jason’s office.

Jason Mitschele: My employer has been very committed to accommodating me, advocated for me that, no, I needed my own actual, not just assistant, but paralegal. Someone that actually had some knowledge of the law so that they would know how to best assist me.

[00:02:15] Split screen with ASL interpreter on the right: Jason Mitschele and Stephanie Cadieux in conversation.

Jason Mitschele: Obviously, I have the technology, I have my computer with my speech program and whatnot.

[00:02:19] Split screen: Jason Mitschele with ASL interpreter on the right.

Jason Mitschele: But having my own person dedicated to me has been invaluable. And I think it's really been the key to my success here.

[00:02:27] Split screen with ASL interpreter on the right: Jason Mitschele and his assistant are seated in Jason’s office; ASL interpreter.

Jason Mitschele: My disability is obvious and visible,

[00:02:33] Split screen with ASL interpreter on the right: Jason Mitschele and Stephanie Cadieux in conversation.

Jason Mitschele: so, in some ways it's easier. But, you know,

[00:02:36] Split screen: Jason Mitschele with ASL interpreter on the right.

Jason Mitschele: I think in some ways also it's – I have felt left out at times.

[00:02:41] Split screen with ASL interpreter on the right: Jason Mitschele is seated in his office. He puts on headphones and starts working with a braille keyboard.

Jason Mitschele: What takes an average lawyer maybe two hours to do, it’s going to take me five or six. It's just a reality. But that's hard. It's hard on other aspects of your life, you have to work a lot harder, a lot smarter.

[00:02:57] Split screen with ASL interpreter on the right: Jason Mitschele’s service dog snoozes in her bed.

Jason Mitschele: I have to plan everything to a T.

[00:02:58] Split screen with ASL interpreter on the right: Jason Mitschele and Stephanie Cadieux in conversation.

Jason Mitschele: How am I going to get here? How am I going to leave? How am I going to get back? How am I going to get this assignment done? Do I need any help to do this?

[00:03:07] Split screen: Jason Mitschele with ASL interpreter on the right.

Jason Mitschele: I'm always trying to think outside the box and find ways that I can do things.

[00:03:12] Split screen with ASL interpreter on the right: Jason Mitschele prepares to leave the office. He re-attaches the harness on his service dog, walks up a hallway, and enters an elevator.

Jason Mitschele: My first boss, she knew I was going to struggle unless I had more accommodations. And that's someone who really did make a difference in my life because she believed in me, took a chance, fought for me, and got the accommodations in place. It’s a great career, a life-long career. It’s really allowed me to grow and be who I want to be.

[00:03:35] Jason Mitschele crosses the lobby and walks outdoors.

[00:03:42] Video ends with the Office of the Chief Accessibility Officer animated logo.

Delivering solutions

Natasha Saltes, Accessibility Director with Canada Post, discusses some of the initiatives taken to help ensure accessible service for all customers.

Talking accessibility: delivering solutions

Transcript of Talking Accessibility: Delivering Solutions 

The video opens with the Office of the Chief Accessibility Officer’s animated logo. Text on screen: The Office of the Chief Accessibility Officer presents: Talking Accessibility. Thoughtful music plays throughout the video.

[00:00:08 Split screen: Stephanie Cadieux appears to the left with an American Sign Language (ASL) interpreter to the right. Text on screen: Stephanie Cadieux, Canada’s Chief Accessibility Officer.

Stephanie Cadieux says: I’m talking with Canadians about what accessibility really means, and why it matters. As a society, we cannot afford to accommodate inaccessibility any longer. Far too much potential is being lost - it’s time to act.

[00:00:23] Outdoor view of a person entering a Canada Post office building. Text on screen: Delivering Solutions.

[00:00:32] Animated logo appears briefly, then split screen with ASL interpreter on the right: A person is seen walking with their service dog to collect their mail.

Natasha Saltes: I think sometimes in this digital era, we forget about the significance of tangible items sent by mail. A lot of these items have sentimental value, and they connect people over distance.

[00:00:53 Split screen with ASL interpreter on the right. Stephanie Cadieux joins Natasha in conversation. Text on screen: Natasha Saltes, Director, Accessibility Canada Post.

Natasha Saltes: Accessibility is really about removing the barriers, preventing barriers, and ensuring that everyone is included and has a sense of belonging.

[00:01:09] Split screen with ASL interpreter on the right: An open laptop; a person scrolls through a document on Canada Post’s Delivery Accommodation Program.

Natasha Saltes: The Delivery Accommodation program was developed to assist residential customers with disabilities, functional limitations, or health conditions to access their mail.

[00:01:18] Split screen with ASL interpreter on the right. Natasha Saltes and Stephanie Cadieux look at the laptop, and then appear in conversation.

Natasha Saltes: Many of the customers of the Delivery Accommodation program identify as having multiple disabilities, and the majority indicate that they have difficulty with mobility and agility.

[00:01:37] Split screen with ASSL interpreter on the right: A series of images show: a person’s service dog opens an automatic accessibility door and accompanies them into a post office; a visually impaired person retrieves their mail; a person in a wheelchair retrieves their mail.

Natasha Saltes: Access to mail enables them to have connections with family, with friends, with their community. The program also ensures that important items like medication, medical supplies and household essentials are delivered safely.

[00:01:52] Split screen with ASL interpretation to the right: a series of images show:a person in a wheelchair writing at a pull-out accessible desk in the post office. They hand a parcel to be mailed over to a postal worker, and a person in a wheelchair retrieves a box from a large, low placed mailbox.

Natasha Saltes: So, having that sense of independence and really feeling that strong sense of connection with others contributes to quality life.

[00:01:58] Split screen with ASL interpretation to the right: a series of images show a visually impaired person retrieving their mail from a pull-out tray in a mailbox; a person using a key with an over-sized handle to open their mailbox; arrows point ing to higher and lower placed mailboxes; a person in a wheelchair retrieving a box from a large, low placed mailbox; and an over-sized key with braille.

Natasha Saltes: We have sliding trays; we have key turners that make it easier to actually open the mail compartment. We can provide an adjustment to the height of a mail compartment, so that means we could make the compartment higher or lower, depending on the needs of the individual. We also offer braille on the compartment so that it could be more easily identified.

[00:02:22] Split screen with ASL interpretation to the right: a series of images show a postal worker delivering mail to the residence of a person in a wheelchair.

Natasha Saltes: And then for customers who are not able to access their assigned mode of delivery, we also offer daily home delivery of packages and weekly delivery of mail.

[00:02:36] Split screen with ASL interpretation to the right: Natasha shows a person an accessible mailbox inside a post office; ASL interpreter.

Natasha Saltes: There are models of accessibility that we can learn from. And I really see the program as being an example that can help other organizations.

[00:02:48] Split screen with ASL interpretation to the right: Natasha shows a person a document on a laptop. The document reads “Procurement of goods, services, and facilities,” and shows a person retrieving their mail from an accessible mailbox.

Natasha Saltes: I always describe our commitment to accessibility as a journey.

We made a lot of progress in removing barriers.

[00:02:57] Split screen: Natasha Saltes and ASL interpreter. Stephanie Cadieux joins Natasha in conversation.

Natasha Saltes: It's definitely an ongoing process for us.

[00:03:00] Natasha Saltes appears full screen. The Canada Post logo can be seen in the background.

Video ends with the Office of the Chief Accessibility Officer’s animated logo.

Making it work

Raphael Solomon, Economic Expert with the Copyright Board of Canada, discusses how a few seemingly small accommodations have enabled him to embrace his strengths and contribute his best work to the team, benefiting everyone.

Talking accessibility: making it work

Transcript of Talking Accessibility: Making it Work

The video opens with Office of the Chief Accessibility Officer’s animated logo. Text on screen: The Office of the Chief Accessibility Officer presents: Talking Accessibility. Thoughtful music plays throughout video.]

[00:00:07] Split screen: Stephanie Cadieux appears to the left with an ASL interpreter to the right. Text on screen: Stephanie Cadieux; Canada’s Chief Accessibility Officer.

Stephanie Cadieux: I’m talking with Canadians about what accessibility really means, and why it matters. As a society, we can’t afford to accommodate inaccessibility any longer. Far too much potential is being lost – it’s time to act.

[00:00:23] Stephanie Cadieux and Raphael Solomon are seated together at an accessible table. Text on screen: Making it Work.

[00:00:30] Animated logo appears briefly, then split screen with ASL interpreter on the right: A person is in conversation with Raphael in an office setting.

Raphael Solomon: The idea is you can bring in some fantastic people if you're willing to make a small amount of effort.

[00:00:43] Split screen with ASL interpreter on the right: Raphael Solomon and Stephanie Cadieux in conversation.

Raphael Solomon: My name is Raphael Solomon.

[00:00:45] Split screen: Raphael Solomon and ASL interpreter. Text on screen: Raphael Solomon, Economic Expert, Copyright Board of Canada.

Raphael Solomon: I work for the Copyright Board of Canada. I pursued a Master’s, and PhD in Economics.

[00:00:52] Split screen with ASL interpreter on the right: A view of the hands only of two people opposite each other at a desk, followed by Raphael speaking.

Raphael Solomon: I was offered the promotion, Director of Economic Research to look after staff. And to hire staff. And it was hard.

[00:01:06] Split screen with ASL interpreter on the right: Raphael Solomon and Stephanie Cadieux in conversation.

Raphael Solomon: One of the things that happened around the same time was that I got my formal autism diagnosis. I was more receptive to the idea that there were some things I just wouldn't be good at, and that I should embrace the things at which I'm good and move from there.

[00:01:24] Split screen with ASL interpreter on the right: A person is in conversation with Raphael in an office setting.

Raphael Solomon: And we started talking, my manager and I. She was saying, ‘I don't want to lose Raphael. He's clearly an asset to the board. He's good at analyzing the evidence and data; writing. He's good at teaching. How can I best make use of him within this organization?’

[00:01:45] Split screen with ASL interpreter on the right: a series of images show Raphael working at a desk in an office setting.

Raphael Solomon: One of my biggest strengths has got to be my near photographic memory. People can ask me something, and I can probably find you the reference in under five minutes. People here have always been accommodating. This is a great place to work.

[00:02:00] Split screen with ASL interpreter on the right: Raphael Solomon and Stephanie Cadieux in conversation.

Raphael Solomon: It's made me feel good about myself, and about myself as a person, as a person with disabilities, as an employee.

[00:02:10] Split screen with ASL interpreter on the right: A series of images show Raphael in an office setting. Raphael puts on headphones and connects a laptop.

Raphael Solomon: I've been given headphones that really help me focus, to block out the outside sound. I really don't deal with surprises well.

[00:02:24] Split screen with ASL interpreter on the right: Raphael Solomon and Stephanie Cadieux in conversation.

Raphael Solomon: My manager made a point of giving me heads ups. ‘Don't let anyone else know, but this is what's going to be announced at the all-staff meeting.’  It's made a tremendous difference. I can get overwhelmed when I'm around people for too long. And so, the opportunity to work from home is a bit of a break for me.

[00:02:43] Split screen with ASL interpreter on the right: A computer monitor in shown.

Raphael Solomon: I'm that sort of funny guy, who maybe doesn't know when to be quiet, and what have you, but will have something good to say if you want to listen. People have understood that the package that is me, is an interesting mix.

[00:03:00] Split screen with ASL interpreter on the right: Raphael Solomon and Stephanie Cadieux in conversation.

Raphael Solomon: It may be some challenges, together with some great opportunities.

[00:03:04] Raphael Solomon appears full screen. A Copyright Board of Canada sign can be seen in the background.

[00:03:10] Video ends with Office of the Chief Accessibility Officer animated logo.

Via Rail – All Aboard! Accessible design on VIA Rail’s new fleet 

A person in a wheelchair entering a train using a lift for accessibility.

VIA rail’s new fleet demonstrates the value of inclusive design.

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