The Nova Scotia Department of Justice will take the lead on finalizing the province’s first Accessibility Act, effective today, Feb. 9. Staff of the Disabled Persons Commission will also join the department to bring their expertise to this work.
“We heard this fall at law amendments committee meetings that people with disabilities and advocates would like to see the Department of Justice take responsibility for accessibility,” said Diana Whalen, Minister of Justice. “I am pleased to take the lead on the accessibility bill and on Nova Scotia’s future work on accessibility.”
Nova Scotia’s legislation to improve accessibility for people with disabilities will be considered by the law amendments committee on Feb. 13 and 14 in Province House and by videoconferencing where registration has taken place.
The province made some innovative changes to how the committee will hear from constituents about this legislation, including:
–- more advance notice for committee meetings allowing people with mobility challenges time to plan to get to the meeting in Halifax
–- the presentation of information sessions across Nova Scotia including a video that is also available on the accessibility legislation website in accessible formats
–- video conferencing at Nova Scotia Community College campuses across the province that made it easier for people outside of Halifax to present to the committee
–- the signing of hearings and real-time captioning for people who are deaf or hard of hearing
–- a plain-language description of the act that makes it easier for a wider audience to understand.
Accessibility legislation is the first step in making the province more accessible for all Nova Scotians. Input gathered at law amendments meetings will help create amendments to be introduced in the spring sitting of the legislature. This work will make it possible for all Nova Scotians to participate more fully in our society.
Setting accessibility standards takes time. Committees set by the minister will consult with people with disabilities, their advocates, government and other organizations and the public on each standard.
“This act is enabling legislation that will allow us to start to work on accessibility standards and how those standards will be enforced,” said Ms. Whalen. “To do this right, it is going to take some time. We will ensure that each standard is carefully considered through extensive consultation.”
People who wish to present to the law amendments committee must register. This can be done any time before the day of the last hearing. To register to speak, contact the Office of Legislative Counsel at 902-424-8941 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org
For more information on the committee’s consideration of the Accessibility Act, visit novascotia.ca/coms/accessibility/