Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Useless Braille in MP's flyer

Glover mail-out can't be read by visually impaired

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A flyer mailed out by Manitoba's newly minted senior cabinet minister touting her party's record on disability issues includes faulty Braille, a mistake one disability activist called insulting.

 

Saint-Boniface MP Shelly Glover sent out the one-page flyers, known as householders, last week promoting the Harper government's record of removing barriers that stop disabled Canadians from joining the workforce.

Some of the text was rendered in Braille, but the dots are not embossed, making the Braille useless to any visually impaired person who must feel the dots to read.

'It's pretty silly, and actually I think it's rather insulting to Braille users'

-- Activist Doreen Demas, decrying the flyer

"It's pretty silly, and actually I think it's rather insulting to Braille users," said local disability activist Doreen Demas, who is visually impaired.

She said there was some chatter about the flyers among Winnipeggers she knows with visual impairments.

Winnipeg public relations consultant Jocelyne Nicholas spotted the flyer amid her parent's mail at their home in St. Boniface and tweeted a photo of the flyer's faulty Braille last week.

"It was literally a piece of paper with a picture of Braille on it," said Nicholas. "My immediate thought was 'that's bizarre. What's the point?' "

'It was simply a visual representation'

-- MP Shelly Glover, defending the flyer

After Nicholas tweeted a photo of the flyer, she learned similar flyers had arrived in mailboxes in Tory MP Lawrence Toet's riding of Elmwood-Transcona. Other media have reported similar flyers have surfaced in Peterborough, home to MP Dean Del Mastro, and in Ottawa West-Nepean, home riding of Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird.

Nicholas said it's odd no one caught the error since party mailers would get a lot of scrutiny by many people before hitting mailboxes.

"I just found it a little off-colour," she said.

The taxpayer-funded flyer, printed on plain computer paper, touts the government's Opportunities Fund for Persons with Disabilities and notes that "unfortunately, disabled Canadians are sometimes limited by inaccessible workplaces."

Demas said the Braille flub compounds what she says is lip service among government staff when it comes to information and services in alternative forms useful to the blind. She says she often has to push federal government staff to follow the official policy and provide documents or forms in Braille.

"Improving accessibility will remove barriers and help create jobs and economic growth."

Glover, reached Saturday, said the householder was never meant to include Braille and MPs don't have the ability to add the embossed dots to flyers yet.

"It was simply a visual representation," said Glover.

Conservative householders, which allow MPs to update constituents on local issues, have come under criticism in recent years for their overly partisan tone.

maryagnes.welch@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition July 28, 2013 A3

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