A Conservative Party pamphlet that touts the Canadian government’s efforts to help disabled residents find jobs is being panned.
The so-called “householder” pamphlet was sent out by various Conservative MPs. Some Yukoners received their version of the flyer last week. It features pictures of a smiling MP Ryan Leef, a handicap sign, Parliament Hill, and writing in braille.
The problem is, the braille is only an image – without it being embossed, it’s useless to visually impaired or blind people. The braille image reads “Supporting jobs for all Canadians,” a direct translation of the flyer’s slogan on the first page.
Disability groups across the country have criticized the pamphlet, including Jim Tokos, vice-president of the Canadian Council of the Blind, who called it a “lacklustre effort.”
“I think it’s appalling,” said Riverdale NDP MLA Jan Stick. “I think it’s insulting and whoever thought this was appropriate, I don’t get it,” she said.
The Tories could have depicted another disability if they needed to use some image to target that community, Stick added. “I understand if we’re going to do braille, it’s going to cost money. So then don’t do that,” she said.
But Brian Lendrum, who is fully blind, did not take the pamphlet personally. “It’s advertising,” he said. “Putting actual raised braille characters won’t improve the quality of the document very much,” the owner of Lendrum Ross Farm said.
He’s insulted by “many many things” the government does and he’s not looking for their support, Lendrum said. It would be insulting if the braille graphic reads as something other than what it should be translating, he said.
The Yukon Council on Disability criticized the content more than the braille. A survey in the pamphlet asks which party is doing its best to create access to jobs for disabled people. “I think the disability groups are doing the best,” said Lisa Rawlings Bird, a social worker with the non-profit.
She also criticized the party for not going beyond renewing the Enabling Accessibility Fund, as the pamphlet states. The government should also look into teaching Canadians how to change attitudes towards disabled people, to not view them as mere charity cases, Bird said.
Stick said the party should make up for the blunder. “I think they should apologize for sure. And stop sending those things to me,” she said, chuckling.
A spokesperson for the Conservative Party and MP Ryan Leef did not respond to an interview request before press time.
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