The issue
Despite improvements, transportation services are generally still not fully accessible for Deaf people.

CAD's position
The special needs of Deaf travellers must be given the same attention and respect as the needs of travellers who have other disabilities.

Many improvements have been made in recent years towards making transportation more accessible to people with disabilities. Attendant fares, kneeling buses, and dedicated seating locations for people who use wheelchairs are some examples.

Unfortunately, the special needs of Deaf people continue to get less attention and less respect than the needs of people with other disabilities.

The Canadian Association of the Deaf has successfully used persuasion and human rights complaints to convince many transportation providers to set up dedicated TTY lines for information and reservations. However, we note with dismay that in many cases the TTY machine is left in drawers, operators are not trained to use it, the number is changed without notice or only with voice-tape announcements, and the line and machines are not tested regularly and kept operational. These are minimal requirements for TTY lines and should be followed carefully.

Not all terminals (airports, train and bus stations, marine facilities) use adequate signage (e.g. electronic display boards) to announce boarding times. Some have the signage but fail to use it properly to provide Deaf travellers with announcements and information. The Canadian Association of the Deaf believes that all transportation terminals should provide and use good visual displays of information and announcements.

In the post-9/11 era, security measures often prove difficult for Deaf travellers. Too many of these measures are verbal/auditory. A Deaf person’s inability to communicate with non-Signing security personnel can lead to them being targeted as suspicious. Suspicion may also be aroused by our alertness to our surroundings, which may strike security personnel as similar to a terrorist’s nervous alertness. The devices we need, such as shake-awake clocks and visual monitors, are sometimes thought to be possible bomb components and are seized by poorly-informed guards. The Canadian Association of the Deaf certainly does not downplay the need for security vigilance, but the personnel need better training in dealing with Deaf travellers, recognizing our technical devices and our behaviours, and communicating with us.

Usually, safety videos and in-flight entertainment (movies and TV shows) on airplanes are not captioned. The safety video should include open captions, or better yet, it should be made in a style that requires no languages at all, so that every passenger can understand it whether they are deaf or hearing, English or French or any other linguistic group.

Transportation employees (air hostesses, train conductors, etc.) should be trained in how to work with Deaf travellers in emergency situations.

The Canadian Association of the Deaf maintains that steps can be taken to ensure the equality and dignity of Deaf travellers, rather than force them to go through potentially embarrassing and frustrating routines in order to have their needs met.

We believe that true equality of accessible transportation means that the Deaf traveller should not have to identify him/herself to transport service personnel as a deaf person in order to make sure adequate transportation information is provided.

Related to accessible transportation in general, the Canadian Association of the Deaf insists that hotels across Canada must provide full and equal accessibility to their Deaf guests. TTYs and flashing alarms (particularly door-knockers and fire alarms) must be available at all hotels for Deaf guests. These devices also need to be checked before installation and tested regularly to ensure they are actually in working condition.

The Deaf people of Canada have been repeating all of the above points for years. We have sent representatives to transportation commissions and committees on a volunteer basis to promote these points, again for years. It is time for our recommendations to be acted upon instead of continuing to subject us to such wasteful repetitions, or forcing us to fight for our rightful access on a case-by-case basis through the Canadian Transportation Agency or the Canadian Human Rights Commission.


The Canadian Association of the Deaf
303 - 251 Bank Street
Ottawa, Ontario K2P 1X3
(613)565-2882 Voice/TTY
(613)565-1207 Fax

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