Providing resources about discrimination for partially-sighted, blind and Deafblind individuals in Ontario, the project is now growing nationally.
CNIB is a non-profit organization driven to change what it is to be blind today. We deliver innovative programs and powerful advocacy that empower people impacted by blindness to live their dreams and tear down barriers to inclusion. Our work as a blind foundation is powered by a network of volunteers, donors and partners from coast to coast to coast. To learn more or get involved, visit cnib.ca.
About the Know Your Rights Project
Through the Know Your Rights Project, CNIB developed plain language legal information and resources (fact sheets, videos, training, etc.) to empower Ontarians who are blind, partially sighted or Deafblind to better understand their rights, navigate the Ontario legal system and self-advocate to challenge discrimination. The development of these important resources was graciously funded by the Law Foundation of Ontario.
The project began in the fall of 2018 with CNIB convening focus groups across Ontario. The focus groups identified patterns of discrimination in the following contexts:
- Built Environment
- Government and Consumer Services
Legal Information Handbooks
CNIB created seven legal information handbooks for each category, as well as one on the topic of Self-Advocacy and Essential Legal Information. The handbooks are available in English and French and in a range of accessible formats on the Know Your Rights website.
Public Education Videos
CNIB staff and volunteers work with partially-sighted, blind and Deafblind individuals in Ontario.The team also produced a four-part educational video series. Each video re-enacts a true incident of discrimination and shows how a person can self-advocate to challenge the discrimination.
You can view the public education videos on the Know Your Rights website.
Legal Information Training
The Know Your Rights team created a legal information training program delivered to CNIB staff and volunteers across Ontario. Training workshops identified the legal issues behind many real-life discriminatory scenarios that people who are blind or partially sighted may encounter.
The goal of the training was to help educate CNIB staff and volunteers so they can provide participants appropriate legal information and connect them with legal services.
Continuing Professional Development for Ontario Legal Professionals
In September 2019, the Know Your Rights Project partnered with ARCH Disability Law Centre. The partnership created and delivered Professional Development workshops to lawyers and paralegals in Ontario.
Each workshop focused on the obligations and duties of lawyers and paralegals under the Rules of Professional Conduct and Ontario’s Human Rights Code for serving people who are blind, partially sighted and Deafblind.
The Know Your Rights Podcast
To continue outreach and education efforts, CNIB developed the Know Your Rights podcast. In each episode, host Jacob Charendoff leads informative conversations with people living with sight loss who have encountered discrimination and reaches out to lawyers and experts for their input.
The CNIB is now working to implement the Know Your Rights project in each of Canada’s provinces and territories.The goal of the podcast is to provide listeners with more information about legislation, resources, and laws in Ontario that can help challenge discrimination.
The Law Society of Ontario has accredited each podcast episode for 30 minutes of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Professionalism content.
Listen to the podcast on the Know Your Rights website, iTunes, Spotify, Stitcher, Overcast, Soundcloud and YouTube.
The Know Your Rights team received positive and constructive feedback from participants who attended training workshops and accessed the Know Your Rights resources. Several CNIB staff members specifically recommended delivering the Know Your Rights project nationally.
Expanding the Know Your Rights Project
CNIB is now working on expanding the Know Your Rights project nationwide. Currently, CNIB has received funding from the following Law Foundations to deliver the Know Your Rights project in their respective provinces:
- The Manitoba Law Foundation
- The Law Foundation of Newfoundland and Labrador
- The Law Foundation of Prince Edward Island
- The New Brunswick Law Foundation
- The Chambre des notaires du Québec
- The Law Foundation of Saskatchewan
The Ontario legal information handbooks are available for reference and download on the Know Your Rights website.The Law Foundation of Ontario also awarded CNIB an “Access to Justice” grant, which is helping to deliver the project in Atlantic Canada.
Teams in each of the six provinces facilitated focus groups and are currently drafting legal information handbooks specific to each province.
CNIB has applied for funding to deliver the Know Your Rights project in Nova Scotia. CNIB will apply for funding in 2022 to deliver the project in Alberta and 2023 to deliver it in British Columbia and the Yukon. After that, CNIB will look to bring the program to the Northwest Territories and Nunavut.
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The information in this article was correct at time of publishing. The law may have changed since then. The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of LawNow or the Centre for Public Legal Education Alberta.
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