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l’azile » information

May 21, 2011

whatever happened to Yao Defen?

catherine @ 8:56 pm

Four years ago to the day, I wrote a blog post about Yao Defen. As I explained in the intro to that post, I first heard about her through a television show on TLC relating the story of the tallest woman in the world. I was very touched by this story. Actually I was troubled and angry that a human being could be neglected and used and abused and exploited all at once in the way she was.

To this day, I still have no idea what became of Yao Defen. I do not know if she survived, not only her projected 2007 surgery but just in general considering the life she had. And, judging from the number of people who land on my blog everyday searching for news of her fate, I am not alone. Many would like to know what happened to her. Many are hoping she made it and has actually had the chance for a better life.

And I find it utterly astounding that people end up on my blog to try to find out the fate of this poor woman because no real information seems to be available elsewhere. Sure, you can google her and find plenty of references to her, there is even a Facebook page for her though obviously, she did not set it up. And TLC (and its worldwide Discovery Channel affiliates) still airs the same gawd damn show on a regular basis without telling people what became of her. Frankly TLC, I know I should not expect too much of you but gee, could you be more crass? And of course, the Chinese government keeps silent.

So if anyone has any idea, any information about Miss Yao’s situation, please let us know. Either post a comment here or on the original post.

Miss Yao, wherever you are, a lot of people are thinking about you and hoping you made it.

February 28, 2011

amended judgment in the Jodhan case

catherine @ 3:24 am

Disclaimer: Any views expressed in the following article are my own and, as far as I know, do not necessarily reflect the views of the organizations I am affiliated with.

If you blinked, you may have missed the amended judgment in the Jodhan case, rendered February 09 2011 following the Government of Canada’s motion for reconsideration filed last December. That motion came shortly after the initial ruling in the case which awarded victory to Ms. Donna Jodhan, a blind woman who sued the government for the lack of accessibility of federal government websites.

The November 29 2010 ruling stipulated, among other things, that the Government of Canada had indeed violated Ms. Jodhan’s Charter rights by failing to monitor the application of its own web standards, the Common Look and Feel standards (CLF), which contain a number of accessibility requirements to ensure “equitable access to all content on Government of Canada websites“. The ruling also declared that the government has a constitutional obligation to bring itself into compliance with the Charter within 15 months.

Continue reading amended judgment in the Jodhan case

February 16, 2011

a11y cat[1]

catherine @ 6:01 pm

This is a post I wrote last April 2010 at the height of the whole #a11y vs. #AxS debate that gripped the Accessibility community on twitter at the time. The plan was to chime in, to make it clear what I thought about this whole thing and why I feel the way I do. Note that a large part of the contents of this post were taken, with some adjustments, from an email I wrote to a dear friend at the time. Indeed, I had decided to stop tweeting about it and to write an email, not because I did not want to discuss this subject publicly but because I felt that this was not a discussion that could be well served 140 characters at a time.

And then I thought I should probably commit to collective memory my perspective on the issue and write a blog post about it. But obviously, I never published the article because I kind of got tired of the whole subject and decided to just do my own thing. But, I was called out on this issue again today so I think it will just be easier to post the gawd damn thing and have it over with.

So anyway, last April on twitter, it was proposed that people start using the #AxS (as in “access”) hashtag in lieu of the #a11y (as in “accessibility”) hashtag (see John Foliot’s blog post on the story for more background). My impression is that the primary motivation here was to gain 1 character in tweets. And it seems to me that every other argument was secondary to the goal which, again, was to gain 1 character in tweets. So, lets have a look at some of these arguments[2].

Continue reading a11y cat[1]

February 2, 2011

le collectif « Article 47 » pour l’accessibilité numérique des services publics français

catherine @ 12:05 pm

Nos cousins français ont décidé de prendre les grands moyens afin d’inciter le gouvernement de la France à respecter ses obligations en matière d’accessibilité numérique de l’État. Le 28 janvier dernier, plusieurs acteurs du Web en France ont diffusé une lettre ouverte sommant le gouvernment de s’activer et de poser des gestes concrets pour s’assurer que les objectifs fixés par la loi du 11 février 2005 soient atteints dans les délais prescrits.

Cette lettre ouverte fait donc le point à mi-parcours sur l’application de l’article 47 de la loi, qui oblige les services en ligne de l’État, des collectivités territoriales et des établissements publics qui en dépendent à être accessibles.

Le décret d’application de cet article, paru le 14 mai 2009, impose un délai de trois ans (ramené à deux pour les services en ligne de l’État) pour la mise en conformité. Or, comme le relate mon estimé homologue Victor Brito, « en ce début d’année 2011, force est de constater qu’il y a encore du pain sur la planche et le constat est sans appel : la très grande majorité des services de communication publique en ligne des services de l’État et des collectivités territoriales restent aujourd’hui inaccessibles aux personnes handicapées ».

Continue reading le collectif « Article 47 » pour l’accessibilité numérique des services publics français

January 18, 2011

overkill: Canadian government files appeal in the Jodhan case

catherine @ 2:00 pm

As I mentioned briefly in an update to my January 1 post on the Jodhan ruling, the federal government has filed an appeal in addition to their motion for reconsideration. Apparently, an appeal on a protective basis was filed on December 29 2010, giving the government an extra ten days to appeal the November 29 decision and the appeal itself was then filed on January 7 2011.

This information took a while to become public (probably, as the court officer I spoke to speculated, because it lay around on someone’s desk for a while). Anyway, I have since received a copy of the government appeal that I am reproducing in its entirety hereafter (it is not available online but it is public).

Continue reading overkill: Canadian government files appeal in the Jodhan case

January 1, 2011

federal government files a motion for Reconsideration in the Jodhan case

catherine @ 7:18 pm

Update: Since the publication of this post, the Government of Canada has filed an appeal in addition to the motion for reconsideration. From what I understand, an appeal on a protective basis was filed on December 29 2010, giving the government an extra ten days to appeal the November 29 decision and the appeal itself was then filed on January 7 2011. This information took a while to be published on the Court Index and Docket website and I was only made aware of these developments on January 10 so please keep this in mind while reading this post. These developments do not however change the opinions expressed herein. I will try to write a follow-up soon. (CR - 11-01-2011)

Disclaimer: I want to make absolutely clear that any views expressed in the following article are my own and, as far as I know, do not necessarily reflect the views of the organizations I am affiliated with. Also, I know a lot of individuals who work in government and the following views are not in any way a judgment on their commitment and their work. Finally, I am not a lawyer. And I do not play one on TV.

For the last month or so, many people in Canada had been waiting to find out whether or not the Canadian government would appeal the decision in the case of Donna Jodhan v. the Attorney General of Canada. The Government of Canada had 30 days to appeal the judgment rendered by the Honourable Justice Kelen on November 29. On that day, the Judge essentially ruled that the inaccessibility of federal government websites is a violation of Article 15 (1) of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms as it constitutes discrimination based on disability towards Ms. Jodhan and others with visual impairments. The ruling further stated that the Canadian government had 15 months (now roughly 14 and counting down) to make its websites more accessible.

Continue reading federal government files a motion for Reconsideration in the Jodhan case

July 29, 2008

OpenStreetMap Montréal

catherine @ 1:10 pm

Nicolas Marchildon is organising an OpenStreetMap event in Montréal this coming September. More info on his blog.

Nicolas Marchildon organise un événement OpenStreetMap à Montréal en septembre prochain. Plus d’info sur son blogue.

May 3, 2008


catherine @ 12:54 am

“Death is terrifying because it is so ordinary. It happens all the time.” – Susan Cheever

OTTAWA-The federal Conservatives have quietly killed a giant information registry that was used by lawyers, academics, journalists and ordinary citizens to hold government accountable.

The registry, created in 1989, is an electronic list of every request filed to all federal departments and agencies under the Access to Information Act.

Known as CAIRS, for Co-ordination of Access to Information Requests System, the database allowed ordinary citizens to identify millions of pages of once-secret documents that became public through individual freedom-of-information requests over many years.

But in a notice last week to civil servants on the Treasury Board website, officials posted an innocuous obituary: effective April 1, 2008, “the requirement to update CAIRS is no longer in effect.”

A spokesman for Treasury Board confirmed Friday that the system is being killed because “extensive” consultations showed it was not valued by government departments.

The full article is available at

September 16, 2007

a new television channel for the blind and visually-impaired

catherine @ 3:38 pm

I have been meaning to write about this but stuff got in the way. I read on the Fagstein blog a couple of weeks ago that there will be a new television channel in Canada: The Accessible Channel. The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) will require that the new channel, which should be launched in April 2008, be carried in all packages by cable and satellite providers and it will mean a very slight increase in fees for subscribers (2.40$ a year). An article on VoicePrint explains:

(…) the recent approval by the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) for The Accessible Channel, a national, English-language digital specialty service that will feature only “described” as well as “closed-captioned” programming, is a major breakthrough for Canadians with diminished vision or hearing.

Continue reading a new television channel for the blind and visually-impaired

May 11, 2007

access info à la carte

catherine @ 12:29 pm

En Angleterre, une entreprise privée a développé un service de registre, Direct Enquiries, qui, selon leur site Web, fournit des détails sur l’accessibilité architecturale et les services d’accommodement de dizaines de milliers de propriétés au Royaume-Uni. Si je comprends bien, les entreprises s’abonnent (exemple, les PE déboursent £35 par année) et cela leur permet de remplir une partie de leurs obligations conformément à la législation nationale en matière de discrimination fondée sur le handicap (DDA). Cela leur donne aussi l’opportunité de publiciser leurs biens ou services.

Les personnes effectuant une recherche en ligne (gratuite) dans le registre peuvent chercher par nom spécifique, par région géographique ou par secteur d’activités. Un dossier pour chaque propriété contient des informations de contact, un repère cartographique avec un truc googlemap et des options pour consulter une fiche technique d’accessibilité, pour transmettre des commentaires, etc., (voir exemple). Le système permet aussi de chercher des salles de toilettes accessibles sur le territoire et récemment, ils ont ajouté une recherche pour des stations du métro de Londres (qui, certes, s’avère moins fructueuse pour les utilisateurs de fauteuil roulant).

Je ne connais pas personnellement le service ni l’Angleterre alors difficile pour moi de dire si ça vaut quelque chose. Je me suis amusée à expérimenter les recherches et l’interface un peu. J’ai essayé la fonction recherche de toilette accessible parce que j’ai trouvé ça tellement inattendu et euh, un peu pourquoi-pas-mais-quand-même-biz. Et après une dizaine de minutes, j’ai fini, en effet, par trouver quatre toilettes au fin fond de Bracknell.

Anyway, ici au Québec (et par conséquent à Montréal) la législation en matière de participation sociale des personnes handicapées n’oblige pas un bilan d’accessibilité des entités privées. Mais les ministères et certains organismes publics et les municipalités de plus de 15,000 habitants doivent fournir ce genre d’info, du moins en partie, via « un plan d’action identifiant les obstacles à l’intégration des personnes handicapées dans le secteur d’activité relevant de ses attributions, et décrivant les mesures prises au cours de l’année qui se termine et les mesures envisagées pour l’année qui débute dans le but de réduire les obstacles à l’intégration des personnes handicapées dans ce secteur d’activité » (article 61.1).

Et la Ville de Montréal détient un paquet de données urbaines, qu’il s’agisse de mobilier urbain et voies de circulation piétonnes, cyclistes et automobiles, d’édifices municipaux, d’espaces commerciaux, de chantiers de construction, de travaux projetés, etc. Une partie des informations sur les installations municipales se retrouve dans les bottins de quartier en format papier et d’autres aussi sur le site de la Ville mais finalement, c’est assez pauvre et il serait intéressant d’avoir accès à tout ça en données numériques, disponibles gratuitement et en ligne dans des formats interopérables. Et un chausson aux pommes avec ça.

Aussi, il y a des initiatives comme Kéroul, un osbl dans le domaine du tourisme pour les personnes à mobilité réduite, qui offre via son site Web un service de recherche d’établissements accessibles (parmi plus de 6000 entrées). Je ne sais pas grand-chose du service, on procède à une mise à jour présentement mais on me dit que le service devrait être rétabli vers la mi-juin. On verra donc s’il y a quelque chose d’utile de ce côté.

Il y a aussi le monde sci-fi de la localisation GPS expérimenté par les personnes aveugles. HumanWare offre le produit Trekker, un système GPS pour les personnes handicapées visuelles qui permet de localiser clairement sa position, de connaître les points d’intérêt de l’endroit où on se trouve, et de savoir comment se diriger vers des destinations précises et ce, n’importe où dans le monde. Je n’ai jamais utilisé ce produit, je n’ai pas de déficience visuelle et de toute manière, je n’ai certainement pas les moyens de me payer ce bidule. Mais j’ai tout de même une petite place spéciale dans mon cœur pour Trekker parce que, outre le fait que c’était une application quand-même assez avant-garde pour l’époque, c’est un produit à l’origine québécoise, développé dans le temps par Visuaide, fournisseur d’aides techniques, notamment JAWS en français, pour la déficience visuelle au Québec et à l’international. Du moins jusqu’en 2005 lorsque Visuaide et Pulse Data, une entreprise néo-zélandaise, annoncèrent leur fusion.

Mais anyway, il y a toutes ces différentes informations et j’imagine qu’il y en a plein d’autres. Il y a aussi celles utiles à tout être humain moyen (consommation, divertissement, etc.). Il serait intéressant que toutes ces données fassent connaissance et qu’elles collaborent.

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