(Distributed from CHHA National Office) – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

(16 February 2011) ’s broadcast regulator, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) must shortly rule on who will control a $5.7 million Accessibility Fund, which BCE has proposed as part of its tangible benefits commitment. The objective of the fund would be to ensure that the broadcasting system becomes 100% accessible to disabled Canadians by 2020. The CRTC will decide whether to empower the accessibility community to do the job or entrust the task to BCE.

Proposed by Media Access on behalf of the Access 2020 Coalition, the commitment will underwrite the final details and execution of a business plan to achieve 100% accessibility in Canadian broadcasting by 2020.

“We believe the CRTC recognizes this opportunity to establish an Accessibility Fund, controlled by accessibility organizations to work with experts, academics and stakeholders, an approach never before attempted,” stated Beverley Milligan, Executive Director of Media Access Canada. “The CRTC will be the first regulator in the history of international broadcasting to empower accessibility organizations to finally get the job done for Canadians with disabilities.”

In submissions to the CRTC, Media Access presented uncontested evidence that past attempts on the part of broadcasters to consult with accessibility organizations have not succeeded. “BCE’s suggestion that it establish its own fund to work towards 100% accessibility in broadcasting in consultation with the accessibility community is just more of the same, empty words.” stated Louise Gillis, National President, Canadian Council of the Blind.

“If BCE wants to control the fund, does this mean they are prepared to ensure 100% accessibility by 2020?” noted Louise Norman, President of the Canadian Hard of Hearing Association. “Broadcasters like BCE have had 60 years to provide 100% accessibility on their own and they haven’t. This work should be overseen by those who are most committed to its success.”

“On behalf of Canadians with disabilities MAC has developed a business plan to achieve 100% accessibility in a reasonable time frame. The accessibility industry must be allowed the control to execute it. This can be done and we know how to do it. The technology and the knowledge are there. What has been lacking to date is the commitment to make it happen,” says Milligan. “Consultation in the past has been a smokescreen behind which the broadcasters have hidden”.

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For further information contact:
Beverley Milligan, Media Access
info@mediac.ca ph: 416-488-9521