Access for Sight Impaired Consumers (ASIC) is an independent, consumer-driven advocacy coalition registered under the BC Societies Act that promotes awareness of blindness-related issues and champions the removal of systemic barriers that impede the independent access for residents of British Columbia who are blind, partially sighted, or deafblind. Many of our partner organizations are associated with widely recognized provincial or national bodies serving the 272,000 BC residents who have mild to severe sight loss. Approximately 64,500 of these individuals are classified as legally blind due to one of the four most common eye diseases which has rendered them totally blind or partially sighted. Our mission is to collaborate with these and other community partners to increase awareness and provide a better understanding of the systemic barriers, be they physical or attitudinal, that impact the independence and equitable access for those with sight loss. Our aim is to assist in building inclusive communities for persons with sight loss by promoting equitable access and supporting independent living through the removal of these systemic barriers.
ASIC returns after brief hiatus
Following 20 years of providing advocacy services for the benefit of British Columbians and other Canadians with sight loss, the Access for Sight Impaired Consumers Board elected to step back and take a much-needed break in May 2017. After a brief hiatus to recharge and regroup, we return as a non-profit society with a revitalized commitment to awareness and advocacy for the removal of systemic barriers affecting BC residents with sight loss.
What kinds of access we’ve helped create
Since 1998, ASIC has approached all levels of government, public and private corporations, and service providers to create awareness of the myriad of challenges and barriers impacting the independence of people who are blind, partially sighted, or deafblind. Often, service providers are unaware of the barriers they themselves have created, and truly do not know how to make their services or venues more accessible. This is how Access for Sight Impaired Consumers can help. Our philosophy encompasses both an understanding of these barriers and a proven ability to innovate collaboratively to reach alternatives, resulting in improved access and independence for those of us living with sight loss.
- On June 17, 2021, Access for Sight Impaired Consumers and its community partners, hundreds of other disability organizations and thousands of persons with disabilities celebrated when Bill6 – the Accessible British Columbia Act received Royal ascent in the BC Legislature. This legislation set British Columbia on the path to a more accessible and inclusive province for people with disabilities. The Act authorizes government to establish accessibility standards to support the identification, prevention, and removal of barriers to accessibility and inclusion . For more information, visit the accessibility legislation web page where a plain language overview and an ASL video is available. Public engagement and consultation will remain a priority as government develops regulations and standards to address the barriers people with disabilities face.
- Under the Act, the BC Government is required to perform certain functions, among the first is to establish a Provincial Accessibility Committee. The Access for Sight Impaired Consumers Board was pleased and proud to learn that our president, Rob Sleath was appointed an inaugural member of this committee on December 3, 2021 for a 2-year renewable term.” I am humbled by this appointment and look forward to joining my committee colleagues in the task that lies ahead. While I recognize my role will be to help in the development of the standards and regulations with an inclusive approach for all persons with disabilities, I will ensure the needs of British Columbians who are blind, partially sighted or deafblind are clearly defined and understood to ensure a balanced conversation takes place” he said.
- We’ve had much more success since our inception!
What we’re doing right now
- A primary focus at present is continuing to dig deep into both BC’s Retinal Diseases Program and Alberta’s Retina Anti-Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor Program for Intraocular Disease (RAPID). Results of a survey we conducted with individuals impacted by age-related macular degeneration and recent reports from glaucoma specialist has inspired us to take a closer look into the structure of the programs overseen by the Provincial Health Services Authority in BC and the Ministry of Health in Alberta. While our investigation is far from complete, we invite you to view some of what we’ve discovered about these programs as of February, 2022. Keep watch on the link in this section as we will upload more results as our investigations continue.
Over the past several years, Access for Sight Impaired Consumers has and continues to work closely with Elections BC collaborating to design an election process whereby persons with sight loss can independently and confidently mark their election ballot, including a choice to vote with the aid of a rigid plastic template, a Braille or poster-size list of candidate, a Dominion voter assist terminal at each electoral riding office and most recently by way of a toll-free call during voting dates/times to the Elections BC offices in Victoria.
We have been pleased to note that Elections Canada has adopted many (but not all) of the tools during past federal elections that Elections BC had developed for their voters with sight loss.
On October 15, 2022, municipal elections will be held in each of 162 cities, towns and districts throughout British Columbia. We are actively advocating to make the municipal election process equally accessible and invite you to read about our progress to date.
ASIC receives requests for assistance from its constituents on a regular basis. While it’s an excessively big challenge to keep this site current with every request we receive, we do our best to regularly update the status of our active major projects online. Best way to learn about our current projects and how your world will be positively impacted is to sign up for our
periodic news bulletins.
Our site is evolving
We recently migrated our site onto the Word Press platform which has caused us to carefully examine each page and the many links they contain. This is a labour-intensive project. So, we ask you to be patient and understanding as we undertake this on-going process. Should you come across a broken link or any item that appears to require correction, please bring it to our attention by dropping a note to our web support team