Open Letter to CRTC on VRS Awareness Day

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Open Letter to CRTC on VRS Awareness Day
September 20, 2012

19 September 2012

Mr. Jean-Pierre Blais, Chairman
Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission
Les Terrasses de la Chaudière
Central Building
1 Promenade du Portage
Gatineau, Quebec J8X 4B1

Re: Regulatory Policy CRTC 2009-430 – Video Relay Services under Accessibility of Telecommunications and Broadcasting Services

Dear Mr. Blais:

We, Canadian Association of the Deaf, are writing an open letter to Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) to inform you that there will be a nationwide Video Relay Services (VRS) Awareness Day on Friday September 21, 2012.

Founded in 1940, the Canadian Association of the Deaf is the national information, research, and community action organization of Deaf people in Canada. We promote and protect the rights, needs, and concerns of those who are linguistically and culturally Deaf.

The purpose of this event is to express our appreciation for the CRTC’s work towards improving accessibility over the past 40 years, and to draw your attention to the fact that Video Relay Service is urgently needed to continue this progress towards true accessibility for Deaf Canadians.

The Deaf community of Canada has been asking for VRS in this country for 8 years now. Over the past 4 years, we have been patiently participating in the CRTC’s official procedure in the matter. We note that, in comparison, when non-Deaf Canadians asked for an end to loud commercials on TV, you moved quickly to act and got everything done in a matter of months. A matter of months to fix a trivial issue for non-Deaf people, and 8 years to fix a vital, essential service and human right for Deaf people? That is just not acceptable.

We expect the CRTC to call a public proceeding on VRS as soon as possible and to render a final decision before the end of this calendar year. A permanent national VRS in both official spoken languages (English and French) and both Sign languages (ASL and LSQ) must be established and running within the first half of 2013.

Therefore, we ask the CRTC to adopt the following five points:

1. PROVISION of interpreters in both American Sign Language (ASL) and Langue des Signes Quebecoise (LSQ) by the VRS.
2. The CHOICE of using any accessible VRS communication technologies that are currently available and/or those that may be developed in the future.
3. FLEXIBILITY and opportunities for a market of VRS products and services.
4. Mandatory INVOLVEMENT from the Deaf community in the implementation and operation of the Canadian VRS industry.
5. A DECISION of YES for a permanent VRS in Canada by December 31, 2012.

Adoption of these five points would bring the CRTC into consistency with the principles of accessibility as defined in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, the Canadian Human Rights Act, and the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. These documents have all been approved and passed by Parliament, and thus legally and morally bind the Commission to take swift action to ensure that Deaf Canadians have the full and equal access to telecommunications which VRS will provide.

We remind the CRTC also that VRS is an investment that will generate the full, productive participation of Deaf Canadians in social, economic, political and cultural aspects of this country. It is not merely an expenditure and the Commission is wrong to view it as such.

The Canadian Association of the Deaf stands ready to meet with the CRTC and with the Minister of Canadian Heritage and Official Languages and Minister of Industry to discuss this crucial issue for a national VRS service.

Sincerely,

Doug Momotiuk                                               Frank Folino
President                                                         Vice President

cc:

The Honourable James Moore, Minister of Canadian Heritage and Official Languages
The Honourable Christian Paradis, Minister of Industry

Appendix
Organizations and groups that have endorsed this letter are:

Alliance for Equality of Blind Canadians
Alberta Association of the Deaf
Alberta Cultural Society of the Deaf
Association de l’Ouïe de l’Outaouais
Association des personnes vivant avec une surdité de Laval (APVSL)
Association des Sourds de l’Estrie
Association des Sourds de Québec
Association du Syndrome de Usher du Québec
Association of Sign Language Interpreters of Alberta (ASLIA)
Association of Visual Language Interpreters of Canada (AVLIC)
Association of Visual Language Interpreters of New Brunswick (AVLI-NB)
Association ontarienne des Sourd(e)s francophones
Association Sportive des Sourds du Québec (ASSQ)
BC Coalition of People with Disabilities
BCVRS Committee
Calgary Board of Education
Canadian Cultural Society of the Deaf
Canadian Hearing Society
Centre des loisirs des Sourds de Montréal Inc.
Cinéall Production des Sourds
Coalition Sida des Sourds du Québec
Council of Canadians with Disabilities
Deafness Advocacy Association Nova Scotia
Deaf Centre Manitoba Inc
Deaf & Hard of Hearing Society
Deaf Youth Association of Nova Scotia
Deaf Youth Canada
Developing and Supporting Employment for Persons with Disabilities, TEAM Work Cooperative Ltd.
Fredericton Association of the Deaf
Greater Vancouver Association of the Deaf
‘Groupe de recherche sur la LSQ et le bilinguisme sourd’ de l’Université du Québec à Montréal (UQAM)
Healing Opportunities and Personal Empowerment
Holistic Multiple Pathways Consulting and Support Services / multiplepathways.ca
La Fondation des Sourds du Québec
Le Centre Alpha-Sourd Rive Sud
Le Regroupement des Sourds de Chaudière-Appalaches
Manitoba Association of Visual Language Interpreters (MAVLI)
Maritime Association of Professional Sign Language Interpreters (MAPSLI)
Moncton Association of the Deaf
Manitoba Deaf Association
Newfoundland Association of Visual Language Interpreters (NAVLI)
Newfoundland and Labrador Association of the Deaf
Nova Scotia Cultural Society of the Deaf
Ontario Association of Sign Language Interpreters (OASLI)
Ontario Association of the Deaf
Ontario Citizens with Disabilities
Ontario Rainbow Alliance of the Deaf
Queen Elizabeth High School
Regina Association of the Deaf
Saint John Association of the Deaf
Saint John Deaf and Hard of Hearing Services
Saskatoon Association of the Deaf
Saskatchewan Deaf Association
Saskatchewan Voice of People with Disabilities
Service d’interprétation visuel et tactile (SIVET)
Sign Language Interpreters of the National Capital (SLINC)
Société culturelle québecoise des Sourds
Society of Deaf and Hard of Hearing Nova Scotians
South-East Deaf & Hard of Hearing Service
Westcoast Association of Visual Language Interpreters (WAVLI)
Winnipeg Association of the Deaf
Toronto Association of the Deaf
Toronto International Deaf Film and Arts Festival