In July 2019, the world celebrated a defining moment. That inspired a generation. In which, John F Kennedy, set the target. “We choose to go to the moon in this decade, and do the other things, not because they are easy but because they are hard. Because that goal will serve to organise and measure the best of our energies and skills. Because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one we intend to win, and the others too.” Kennedy, Rice University, September 12. 1962.
Advocating for human rights and social justice is no less important and requires the same level of commitment and passion as Kennedy challenge to America in going to the Moon. It speaks to creating the world we want for future generations and the legacy we entrust to them and their descendants.
Everyday I am reminded how underrepresented, under served and under funded the blind community is in Canada and Globally. Whether it is fighting for individual civil rights, equal access to services or a barrier free internet. Our advances are few and often mimic the dance of one step forward and two steps back.
But it is the passion, commitment and reward of challenging those around you to create the world we imagine. It is also about focusing and setting goals on the issues most important to you, your family and your community.
Canadian born, Dr. Jacobus tenBroek, 1916-1968, Author, Jurist, Professor, Founder of the National Federation of the Blind NFB. Along with other blind leaders in the mid 20th century advocated for the Civil Rights of the blind. Recognizing the vital need to speak with a united voice to initiate change.
In Canada, whether it is the Canadian Council of the Blind CCB, Canadian Federation of the Blind CFB or the Alliance for the Equality of Blind Canadians AEBC. Pay special attention to the word “of”. This one word indicates the blind speaking for themselves. These organizations reflect democratically elected Directors and Officers who are blind and elected by blind members.
These and other peer-based organizations provide a forum for people who are blind, deaf-blind or visually impaired to come together for social, recreational and advocacy. As with the blind movement in the United States. Individuals coming together for a united and common purpose was described as “walking alone; marching together.”
In the area of advocacy. Gateway Navigation has three areas of focus. In which, we are committed to building partnerships and collaborations with blind individuals, blind groups and allies to build consensus, purpose and action:
First. the social justice issue that public places, especially those funded through public tax dollars. Must be accessible and inclusive to people who are blind, deaf-blind or visually impaired. Through available technology that supports inclusive audio-base navigation systems. As well as the enhanced orientation that can be supported through architectural, graphic, audio and tactile wayfinding design. As with the accommodations that have become common place for those with mobility limitations, we believe accommodations for those with vision loss is no less vital. For equal opportunity to participate in our communities.
Second, social justice issue for education and employment. In which, government and private sector invest to train and employ persons who are blind, deaf-blind or visually impaired in audio-based navigation and audio-based augmented reality technologies. Remembering audio-based means digital in which the information can be delivered in multiple formats based on the user’s needs.
Third, social justice issue for access to the internet and e-commerce. Investment into research and development for technology to provide equivalent non-visual interpretation of graphical information such as graphs, tables, diagrams and floor plans. As we do not believe the manual input of alternative text on internet or app images is enough to be considered truly accessible. Especially in light that graphical images represent 80% of website content.
Working with the Canadian Council of the Blind and engaging with all blind people and stakeholders. We are committed to the Accessible Canada Act and the UN Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities to create a society in which the blind, deaf-blind and visually impaired are equally represented, equally served and equally funded.
Gateway Navigation’s part in this greater effort is to focus on the areas of advocacy for inclusive audio-based navigation, increased training and employment in the tech sector for people with disabilities and removing barriers of access to the internet and e-commerce. Please join us and the tech for good we advocate.
Thank you for taking the time to read this post on advocacy and hope we can count on your support. Drop us a note with your feedback.