Commitment to accessibility in new independent leader's debate commission

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For Immediate Release

CNIB Foundation applauds commitment to accessibility in new independent leader's debate commission

OTTAWA – October 31, 2018 - Yesterday, the Government of Canada announced the creation of an independent Leader's Debate commission. Democratic Institutions Minister Karina Gould said an emphasis will be on accessibility, to reach the greatest number of Canadians, including people living with disabilities.

The CNIB Foundation applauds the federal government in this decision. For many Canadians who are blind or partially sighted, the federal Leader's Debates are an opportunity to listen to federal leaders debate high profile issues before an election. Often, election material distributed door-to-door is inaccessible and candidate websites are not usable for Canadians who rely on screen readers or screen magnifiers. Ensuring accessibility as a central component to future Leader's Debates is imperative to offer all Canadians a chance to inform themselves ahead of voting.

CNIB appeared before the House of Commons Standing Committee on Procedural and House Affairs in December 2017 and recommended the Committee ensure full accessibility for Canadians who are blind or partially sighted at all future leader's debates.

"CNIB is pleased that the Government of Canada has taken our recommendations and is ensuring accessibility is a central component of this new Leader's Debate commission," said Diane Bergeron, CNIB's vice president of engagement and international affairs.

Technology offers new platforms for viewing political debates in an accessible way. The CNIB Foundation recommended to the Committee that future leader's debates have described video and be hosted on a platform that supports screen readers and screen magnifiers. As federal leader's debates are a focal point in federal elections, the CNIB Foundation is proud to have highlighted the need for accessibility to the Committee.

"We are excited to work with the government to continue to ensure Canadian's with sight loss have full access and inclusion in society," said Bergeron. "We are hopeful that all future federal election debates will be fully accessible."

About CNIB

Celebrating 100 years in 2018, the CNIB Foundation is a non-profit organization driven to change what it is to be blind today. We deliver innovative programs and powerful advocacy that empowers people impacted by blindness to live their dreams and tear down barriers to inclusion. Now, as we enter our second century of operation, we're going to be even bolder in tackling the issues before us.

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For more information, please contact:

Matisse Hamel-Nelis
Specialist, Strategic Communications
416-486-2500 ext. 8355
Matisse.hamel-nelis@cnib.ca

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