A Historic Day for All Canadians: November 29th 2020 Blind Canadians Applaud 10th Anniversary of Donna Jodhan's Victory in Landmark Website Access Case
Original Release: 11/29/2020
Video Scene 1: A Canadian Flag waving in the air. Snow-capped mountains in the background.
Text Scene 1: On November 29th 2010
Video Scene 2: Canadians walking across a thoroughfare lined with Canadian flags.
Text Scene 2: Persons all across Canada joined in celebrating the landmark decision in Donna Jodhan's victory...
Video Scene 3: An upward shot of the Canadian Parliament Building.
Text Scene 3: ...mandating that the Federal Government make all of their websites accessible, especially to Canadians with disabilities.
Video Scene 4: A father walks along a beach path holding the hands of his two young children. A boy and a girl.
Text Scene 4: "I launched this case for all blind Canadians and for the kids of the future." - Donna Jodhan
Video Scene 5: No video. Static message on BFC blue for stand out effect.
Text Scene 5: A reminder that deaf-blind Canadians must not be closed off from accessing Government information forms and applications.
Video Scene 6: A gavel with a Canadian Flag in the background hits three times, and is laid down.
Text Scene 6: "Jodhan's charter challenge continued the efforts to give us a barrier free society where we have equal access to information at a time when online access is becoming increasingly important." - Leo Bissonette
Video Scene 7: A Canadian Flag blows in the wind. Blue sky in the background.
Text Scene 7: November 29th 2020 will be the 10 Year Anniversary of this landmark decision, and a historic day for all Canadians.
Video Scene 8: Balloons being released into the air.
Text Scene 8: Join us in celebration!
Video Scene 9: White background with the BFC logo beneath the text.
Text Scene 9: Learn more today at: www.barrierfreecanada.org.
Jodhan2020 - 10th Anniversary
Blind Canadians Applaud Decision In Landmark Website Access Case
Monday, November 29, 2010
"Back in 2010 Blind persons all across Canada joined in celebrating the landmark decision in Donna Jodhan's victory in her Charter of Rights case against the federal government for its failure to provide 'equal access to, and benefit from, government information and services provided online to the public,'" says Robin East, Past-President of the nationwide Alliance for Equality of Blind Canadians.
This Charter challenge was all about access to information and usability of federal information and websites.
"It is very regrettable that rights holders of Canada were forced to go to court and fight to gain access to information. This should not have been an issue in 2010 or some 10 years later," added East. "Blind, partially sighted, and deaf-blind Canadians must not be closed off from accessing Government information forms and applications."
"I launched this case for all blind Canadians and for the kids of the future," says a jubilant Donna Jodhan upon hearing of the successful outcome of her case back in 2010.
"Blind Canadians want to be able to access information on websites independently and privately."
"Today an increasing number of job applications and purchases are carried out electronically, and we must not be left on the sidelines," said Jodhan.
"We had hoped that this decision would have sent a signal to all website designers and developers working with organizations that the time has come for inclusive accessible websites." said Leo Bissonnette, "It is time that governments be proactive and remove barriers to our equal participation in society instead of being reactive and fighting with citizens like Jodhan." added Bissonnette.
"Jodhan's charter challenge continued the efforts to give us a barrier free society where we have equal access to information at a time when online access is becoming increasingly important."
For interviews, please contact:
Robin East, President Barrier Free Saskatchewan, National AEBC Past President: (306) 241-2623 ☎
Donna Jodhan, President Barrier Free Canada, and Complainant: (416) 497-7306 ☎
It's fair to say that Canadian citizen Donna Jodhan knows a lot about accessibility. A specialist consultant in the field with more than 26 years' experience, her company has worked with numerous clients, including financial institutions, and the University of Toronto. She has obtained Systems Engineering Certification from Microsoft and won various technical awards from IBM. She is a recipient of the Apple Certified Support Professional certification.
Jodhan's problems began in 2006, when she was unable to create a job profile on the Government of Canada's employment website - the point of access for all federal government job opportunities. When trying to complete a section of the form (the 'date available' field) she simply received an error message each time. She attempted to contact the site's owners, but the phone number provided was out of service.
Jodhan was forced to seek assistance from a sighted government employee to create a job profile, but was still unable to review any of the information entered, as she was not given any user identification or password.
In addition to the problems with job applications, she was also unable to complete a 2006 online Census form from Statistics Canada. The form was only fully accessible to those users who are blind or have significant vision loss, and who used the most recent version of the JAWS screen-reader - an expensive piece of technology, costing around $1,000 Canadian at the time. Jodhan was again forced to rely on sighted assistance from a government employee to complete the Census, which she regarded as an invasion of her privacy.
Furthermore, Jodhan found she was unable to access information on Canada's national consumer price index and unemployment rate, again on Statistics Canada's website, as the information was only available in a PDF file, which had not been adapted for screen-readers. Jodhan was informed by government employees that no alternative formats were available.
November 29th 2010 will probably go down in history as having been a day that Canadians with disabilities shall always remember. For it was the day when the Lower Court of Canada handed down a landmark victory mandating the Federal Government to make all of their websites accessible especially to all Canadians with disabilities.
A victory that was long overdue in the making! One that was so very sweet, memorable, and one which would be used as a springboard to propel Canadians to fight harder to convince the Federal Government to pass legislation to enact an Accessible Canada Act which was given Royal assent in June 2019.
When I began my journey in late 2006, I really did not know what to expect. All that I knew then was that something had to be done. That I had to find the strength and energy to gather others around me who would be willing to walk the walk with me. This being to challenge the Federal Government to make their websites accessible to Canadians with disabilities and that my mission would be to ensure that our kids of the future would be able to benefit from real equality and accessibility.
I could only describe the following four years as ones where I along with my team worked undyingly to ensure that we would carry out our mission through to the end and that success would not be denied. That our community would not be denied what was rightfully our; this being the right to equality under the Canadian Charter of rights!
It did not matter to me that at times I felt as if I was being pulled in so many different directions. That I felt as if I was standing at the edge of a cliff with nowhere to go or that my professional and personal acumen were constantly under scrutiny. All that mattered to me was that this had to be done for our kids and I had full confidence that my team would walk the walk with me.
I can honestly say that this entire experience was one that taught me great humility and that those around me were never prepared to give up or give in. More often than not we were often forced to swim in very rough seas and to face unexpected adversity but we soldiered on. The sleepless nights were too many to count but thanks to my lawyer David Baker and his team, Jutta Traviranus and her team, and the Alliance for Equality of Blind Canadians and to the ARCH disability Law Centre; we prevailed in grand style!
To Robin East, John Rea, Sharlyn Ayotte, Susan Pinder, the late Chris Stark and the late Richard Quan, and to those wonderful grade one kids at the Grove Community School in Toronto and to their teachers Shannon and Velvet! I am truly grateful to you all and to so many others too many to name!
Would I do it again? Most definitely! And to all of our supporters across Canada and around the world! A heartfelt thank you!
Donna J. Jodhan
President, Barrier Free Canada / Canada sans Barrieres
President, Sterling Creations
Author, Donna Jodhan Publications