Author Donna Jodhan Named Unsung Hero of 2008 By The Alliance for Equality of Blind Canadians
Two years ago, Donna Jodhan embarked on a very difficult mission to challenge the federal government to make their websites more accessible to Canadians who have a print disability; in particular to blind and vision-impaired Canadians. Donna launched a Charter challenge after years of not being able to convince government to work with her and other stakeholders to make their websites more accessible.
The case is ongoing. And so is Donna's determination to continue what she knew would be a long and difficult fight for better employment opportunities and equal access to information. In her own words: "I am here because others before me fought very hard to make things better for my generation so now it is up to me and my fellow blind and vision-impaired Canadians to continue the fight."
Her struggle began in 2000, when Donna started her quest for job opportunities within the Public Service Commission but quickly discovered that the websites were extremely inaccessible to Canadians who are blind and vision-impaired. Her appeals for help to officials within the Public Service Commission and the Treasury Board Secretariat were in vain and she quickly found herself as a one-person advocate trying to convince the government that they needed to make their websites more accessible.
Then in 2005, after Donna was refused the right to write an exam in Braille by a high profile federal department, she took her complaint to the Federal Human Rights Commission. This long, arduous, and frustrating process only ended this year when the complaint was settled in Donna's favour.
Donna did not hesitate to take on these challenges. She is not intimidated and has spent many hours working tirelessly alongside her lawyers and experts refusing to give in. Donna's resolve to improve accessibility and to break down barriers to job opportunities is inspirational. But in her modest words, she says: "My objective was solely to help make a difference in the lives of my fellow blind and vision-impaired Canadians. Nothing more."
Nominated by: Alliance for Equality of Blind Canadians