The Canadian Association of Broadcasters (CAB) – the national voice of Canada’s private broadcasters, representing the vast majority of Canadian programming services, including private television and radio services, networks and specialty, pay and pay-per-view television services – is pleased to submit to the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) our Research Report on The Presence, Portrayal and Participation of Persons with Disabilities in Television Programming (the Report).
Canada’s private broadcasters are committed to bringing greater diversity to Canada’s broadcasting system, both on-screen and behind the scenes. This was the focus and intent of this repot and the report of the Task Force for Cultural Diversity in Television, which provided a comprehensive foundation of research and Best Practices for broadcasters and industry partners alike on advancing the place of ethnocultural groups and Aboriginal Peoples in television.
This research study on the presence, portrayal and participation of persons with disabilities in television programming has provided a tremendous level of learning and exposure to new ideas about diversity through broad consultation, a very successful Stakeholder Forum and research on international Best Practices.
Given the positive experience of this research process and the detailed Report that follows, Canada’s private broadcasters are confident that we have built a foundation for change, where a commitment shared by our industry partners will deliver a future where persons with disabilities have equitable representation in their presence, portrayal and participation in Canada’s private television industry.
In January 2004, the CRTC released Public Notice 2004-2, Introduction to Broadcasting Decisions CRTC 2004-6 to 2004-27 renewing the licences of 22 specialty services.
In Public Notice 2004-2, the Commission addressed the issue of the presence, portrayal and participation of persons with disabilities in television programming. Issues pertaining to persons with disabilities had been raised by several intervenors at the hearing on specialty service licence renewals, and had been discussed with the Canadian Association of Broadcasters during its intervention.
As a result, the Commission requested in Public Notice 2004-2 that the CAB develop and file an action plan with the Commission, outlining the process proposed to examine and address these issues.
Lead by its Joint Societal Issues Committee (JSIC), comprised of members from all sectors of the broadcasting industry to deal with social policy issues affecting the industry, the CAB undertook a number of consultations and background research in developing an Action Plan that was submitted to the Commission in August 2004.
The Action Plan proposed the following initiatives:
In addition, the CAB proposed the development of a toolkit for broadcasters, to assist its members in advancing the inclusion of persons with disabilities in the industry and addressing presence and portrayal issues on-screen.
In a letter issued by the CRTC to the CAB on November 15, 2004 the Commission stated it was satisfied with the CAB’s proposed strategy, citing the “wealth of information provided in the Action Plan…attests to the value of a consultative and research based approach to this process.”
With the submission of the attached Research Report, the CAB has now completed the above noted initiatives that were outlined in its Action Plan. Given the process of developing the Action Plan, establishing committees, conducting research and creating a comprehensive report, the CAB has undertaken a significant level of consultation with the Canadian disability community. The degree of learning involved has also been significant, and has informed the range of Initiatives, Tools and Recommendations to follow.
The CAB Steering Committee on the Presence, Portrayal and Participation of Persons with Disabilities in Television Programming (the Steering Committee) was created as a sub-committee of the JSIC to guide the research undertaking and develop recommended initiatives for broadcasters. The Steering Committee was comprised of representatives from English- and French-language conventional and specialty & pay television broadcasters:
Sarah Crawford, Vice-President, Public Affairs, CHUM Limited (Chair)
Kent Brown, Director, Human Resources, Aboriginal Peoples Television Network
Kim Carter, Director, Human Resources, Alliance Atlantis Communications Inc.
Ben-Marc Diendéré, Conseiller aux relations institutionnelles, Quebecor Média Inc.
Melanie Farrell, Director, Community Liaison, OMNI Television
Jerry Humes, Director, Human Resources, Pelmorex Inc.
Jean-Pierre Laurendeau, Vice-président, Programmation, Canal D, Astral Media
Jonathan Medline, Director, Regulatory Affairs, Global Television Network
Mark Prasuhn, COO/General, Manager, One: Body, Mind & Spirit,Vision TV
Ruth Schreier, Manager, Regulatory Affairs, CORUS Entertainment Inc
Fiona Sterling, Manager, Compensation and Employment Practices, Human Resources, Bell Globemedia Inc.
The CAB Outreach Committee on the Presence, Portrayal and Participation of Persons with Disabilities was created to:
Comprised of persons with disabilities, many of whom had previous experience within the broadcasting industry, members included:
Executive Producer, Rogers Television (Ottawa)
Consultant & Past Chair, CAB Board of Directors (Toronto)
President, Fireweed Media (Toronto)
President, Alliance for Equality of Blind Canadians (Toronto)
Senior Coordinator, Accessibility Advisory Council of Ontario (Scarborough)
President, National Educational Association of Disabled Students (Victoria)
Corporate Programs and Services Advisor, Canadian Space Agency (Longueuil)
Biographical notes on the members of the CAB Outreach Committee are included in an attached Appendix.
The CAB retained CONNECTUS Consulting Inc. to undertake the research study on the presence, portrayal and participation of persons with disabilities in television programming (the Study). Under the direction of the CAB Steering Committee, the Study was based on the following qualitative methodologies:
The CAB recognizes that the Action Plan and the CRTC’s response to the Action Plan indicated that focus groups would be part of the research process. However, subsequent discussions with the research team identified the greater benefits of holding a larger, one-day Stakeholder Forum that would bring the disability community, broadcasters and industry-related organizations together in a facilitated environment of discussion. For example, it was believed that a Stakeholder Forum would include the participation of experts in disability issues and a broader cross-section of representatives from Canada’s disability community that focus groups would not provide.
As such, the Stakeholder Forum – which was held toward the completion of both consultations and Best Practices phases of the research – served as a filter for discussion and an arena for debate on preliminary research findings. This comprehensive approach to the subject matter has ultimately yielded a rich set of findings that will inform the implementation of initiatives to advance the presence, portrayal and participation of persons with disabilities in television programming.
This approach to the research has yielded a comprehensive Report that provides extensive detail on the issues and barriers challenging persons with disabilities, in society and in television programming alike. It further provides a series of considerations for a broadcaster toolkit in moving forward on greater inclusion of persons with disabilities in our industry and for addressing issues of presence and portrayal on-screen.
All findings from the research are outlined in detail in the attached study. The CAB Steering Committee and Outreach Committee, have reviewed the findings in detail and support the following as key points of consensus for the development of a set of initiatives directed at improving the presence, portrayal and participation of persons with disabilities in television programming:
The CAB has considered the following issues throughout the development of the Initiatives, Tools and Recommendations to follow:
The CAB notes that our research on presence, portrayal and participation of persons with disabilities in television programming fundamentally differs from research previously carried out by the Task Force for Cultural Diversity on Television (the Task Force).
As a very important distinction between the two areas of research, the study carried out by the Task Force included a quantitative component (i.e. on-screen measurement of cultural diversity) and content analysis (i.e. analysis of on-screen presence) of Canada’s ethnocultural and Aboriginal communities that ultimately guided a number of recommendations and proposed Best Practices.
This research on the presence, portrayal and participation of persons with disabilities in television programming was strictly qualitative in its design; there was no quantitative on-screen measurement applied in this research. This is because it was generally agreed by the CRTC and the private broadcasting community that on-screen presence of persons with disabilities is very low, and on-screen counting would yield little in the way of useful results.
As a further consideration, although persons with disabilities and ethnocultural and Aboriginal people together represent important aspects of Canada’s diversity, there are differences distinct to and additional for persons with disabilities in terms of the issues and barriers they encounter, whether in society as a whole or in broadcasting more specifically.
Given the differences in research methodologies and research subjects, the CAB recognizes that the recommendations and proposed Best Practices that emerged from the work of the Task Force on Cultural Diversity cannot simply be mapped onto Initiatives, Tools and Recommendations concerning the presence, portrayal and participation of persons with disabilities in television programming.
However, the CAB also notes that those Best Practices identified in the Report of the Task Force on Cultural Diversity – as well as the Best Practices included in the attached Research Report – will be examined carefully by broadcasters in developing and reviewing their corporate diversity plans, as they may be helpful in moving forward on initiatives for persons with disabilities.
In developing the Initiatives, Tools and Recommendations to follow, the CAB Steering Committee agreed that their implementation must take place in one of three levels: (i) at the level of the individual station, broadcaster or corporate group, (ii) at the level of the broadcasting industry as a whole, or (iii) within other designated sectors, such as the independent production sector or the education sector.
It was also recognized that the primary level of implementation will occur at the level of the individual station, broadcaster or corporate group. Given this, it was agreed by the CAB Steering Committee and the CAB Outreach Committee that broadcasters must develop and implement initiatives that are tailored to meet their individual business realities.
Accordingly, all of the initiatives, tools and recommendations outlined below were designed so that they may be incorporated by broadcasters in their corporate diversity plans, where appropriate, and measured on a yearly basis through CRTC annual reporting requirements.
However, it must be kept in mind that the broadcasting system and the markets served by that system are highly complex and differentiated. While some broadcasters operate in very high density urban markets, others serve smaller population centers. This means that, in terms of developing and implementing diversity initiatives, there is no “one-size-fits-all” approach. Individual broadcasters, while sharing an overall goal of a more diverse system, need to tailor their initiatives to accommodate their business and operational needs.
As an example of this, the U.K.-based initiative Broadcasting and Creative Industries Disability Network (BCIDN) as described in Appendix A of the Research Report, is subscribed to and supported by all U.K. broadcasters, but each broadcaster has a different way of implementing initiatives in order to account for their particular market realities.
As noted in the Foreword, the objective of this research is to establish a strong basis for the equitable presence, portrayal and participation of persons with disabilities in television programming. In order to achieve this, the CAB Steering Committee and Outreach Committee have carefully examined all aspects of the Research Report and Best Practices, and have determined the following as key Initiatives, Tools and Recommendations for development and implementation in the near term, i.e. over the next one- to two-year period.
The CAB Steering Committee approached these Initiatives, Tools and Recommendations on the basis of the core issues that were raised by persons with disabilities, broadcasters, industry partners and other stakeholders throughout the course of the research. The ten issues outlined below are used to inform the overall objectives, tools and timing for implementation in each case.
A) Negative Attitudes and Misperceptions of Persons with Disabilities
The clear, predominant concern raised throughout the course of the research was negative social attitudes, misperceptions and misinformation concerning persons with disabilities and life with a disability.
There is little doubt that broadcasters can exercise significant influence over public attitudes and perceptions about persons with disabilities, and in doing so can take concrete steps to encourage attitudinal shifts.
Canada’s private broadcasters are committed to increasing on-screen presence, improve portrayals and grow participation of persons with disabilities in television programming through all initiatives noted below.
B) Lack of Participation (employment) in the Industry by Persons with Disabilities
There is a lack of participation, particularly with respect to employment, among persons with disabilities in television programming. This was found to be due in large part to a lack of communication and information accessible to persons with disabilities about employment opportunities in the broadcasting industry as a whole.
In this case, the CAB’s objective is to increase access to information regarding employment opportunities in broadcasting, for the disability community.
C) Accommodating Persons with Disabilities in Television Broadcasting Industry
Throughout the course of this research, issues concerning accommodation of persons with disabilities in the workforce arose, with particular attention to the need to better accommodate persons with disabilities in the broadcasting industry.
The CAB’s objective is to increase the participation of persons with disabilities in the industry by better accommodating their needs.
D) Presence Issues and Negative Portrayals of Persons with Disabilities in Dramatic programming
With respect to dramatic programming, the CAB’s research uncovered two core concerns: (i) continuing low presence of persons with disabilities on-screen and (ii) continuing negative portrayals of persons with disabilities in characterization.
By improving the on-screen presence of persons with disabilities, and by improving depictions ensuring accurate characterizations and storylines, broadcasters hope to address these issues with their industry partners in the independent production sector.
The research uncovered a number of concerns with respect to the presence and portrayal of persons with disabilities in the production sector, and presents evidence that a lack of consultation and effort on the part of the production sector are major barriers to inclusion.
E) Presence Issues and Low/inaccurate Coverage of Disability Issues in News and Information Programming
The research also revealed concerns about a lack of on-air presence among persons with disabilities, and low or inaccurate coverage of disability issues, in news and information programming.
The research has sent a clear message that more on-air role models are needed to initiate a longer term process of more on-air participation by persons with disabilities in our industry. At the same time, the research revealed concerns about the level, quality and accuracy of stories covering disability issues in news and information programming; our objective is to rectify these issues.
F) Use of Inappropriate Language Regarding Persons with Disabilities in News and Information Programming
The CAB’s extensive consultations throughout the course of this research revealed a fundamental concern about the continuing use of inappropriate or insensitive language regarding persons with disabilities in news and information programming.
The CAB believes there is a clear need to educate the broadcasting industry about inappropriate use of language.
G) Lack of Industry Reference Points or Standards Concerning the Depiction and Portrayal of Persons with Disabilities
With respect to the portrayal of persons with disabilities in television programming, the research found a general concern with the absence of industry standards or reference points for broadcaster use.
Given the research findings concerning the use of inappropriate or insensitive language regarding persons with disabilities in news and information programming and the low or inaccurate coverage of disability issues in news and information programming, the CAB recommends the RTNDA also review its Code of Ethics in the context of these findings.
H) Lack of Communication and Outreach between Broadcasting Industry and Disability Community
The research findings show there is a fundamental lack of communications and outreach between the broadcasting industry and the disability community. The CAB’s objective is therefore to increase on-going, meaningful dialogue between the two sectors.
These initiatives are on-going, and will also be included in broadcasters’ corporate diversity plans.
I) Lack of Internal Communication among Broadcasters regarding Disability Issues, Barriers and Initiatives
The research findings also noted a general lack of communication within the industry regarding disability issues, barriers and initiatives and a clear need to improve internal communications.
The CAB’s objective is to develop of a series of information materials and mechanisms that will lead to better communication among CAB members about issues, barriers and initiatives regarding persons with disabilities.
These initiatives on internal industry communications are to begin immediately with the release of the Research Report in September 2005.
Independent Production Sector
Improving the presence, portrayal and participation of persons with disabilities in television programming is of vital importance to broadcasters in ensuring their programming is reflective of Canadian society. Given that the independent production sector provides the majority of dramatic programming for purchase and airing by broadcasters, the participation of the independent production sector in this initiative is critical.
As noted above, there is a lack of involvement among performers and creators with disabilities in the independent production sector, and an on-going concern with negative portrayal through characterization and storylines.
The CAB therefore recommends that the independent production sector, including but not limited to, the Canadian Film and Television Production Association (CFTPA) and l’Association des producteurs de films et de télévision du Québec (APFTQ), take the following steps:
The CAB recommends that these initiatives be implemented by relevant industry associations by the end of 2006.
Cable Community Channels
As noted in the research report, cable distribution undertakings can make a valuable contribution to inclusion and diversity by making community channels available and accessible to programming initiatives by persons with disabilities while also providing training facilities for persons with disabilities.
The CAB notes that in Broadcasting Public Notice 2002-61 Policy Framework for Community-based Media the Commission reaffirmed that the overall objectives of community-based media is:
The CAB notes that cable community channels have established a number of training programs that can provide persons with disabilities with valuable skills development opportunities. Given that the research findings supported the need for more training and mentorship opportunities for persons with disabilities, the CAB recommends that cable licensees operating community cable channels develop and implement diversity plans aimed at promoting better participation of persons with disabilities in community programming.
Other Industry Partners
The CAB recommends that its other industry partners, including but not limited to, the Alliance of Canadian Cinema, Television and Radio Artists (ACTRA), Union des artistes (UDA), Writers Guild of Canada (WGC), Association des réalisateurs et réalisatrices du Québec (ARRQ), and the Directors Guild of Canada (DGC):
As discussed in the implementation section above, Canada’s private broadcasters will continue to include initiatives and activities regarding persons with disabilities in their annual diversity reports to the CRTC. In this way, through a mechanism of regular diversity reporting to the Commission, broadcasters will be accountable for continuously measuring progress on the presence, portrayal and participation of persons with disabilities in television.
Moreover, in Broadcasting Public Notice CRTC 2005-24 Commission’s response to the report of the Task Force for Cultural Diversity on Television, the Commission asked the CAB to begin reporting annually on its progress in implementing the industry initiatives recommended by the Task Force. Accordingly, the CAB will also report on its progress in implementing the tools and initiatives outlined in this Report in its annual submission to the Commission. The CAB notes that its first report is due March 21, 2006.
|Issue||Objective||Recommendation||Tools||Timing and Implementation|
|A||Negative attitudes and misperceptions of persons with disabilities||Influence the public and our audiences about persons with disabilities to encourage attitudinal shift||
1) Increase presence, portrayal and participation of persons with disabilities in television in all initiatives noted
2) Create a Public Service Announcement (PSA) that may be broadcast on CAB member stations
||CAB to coordinate and undertake launch of PSA for broadcast in the Fall 2006.|
|B||Lack of participation (employment) in the industry by persons with disabilities||Increase access to information about employment opportunities in broadcasting to disability community||Develop an information package about employment in the broadcasting and production sectors for wide distribution to broadcasters, educators and disability community||
||Through its committees, CAB to begin work immediately for completion in 2006|
|C||Accommodating persons with disabilities in television broadcasting industry||Increase the participation of persons with disabilities in the industry by better accommodating their needs.||With the input of the disability community, develop training seminar for managers in television broadcasting industry.||
||CAB to investigate available training for adaptation to television settings (e.g. Canadian Council on Rehabilitation and Work) for implementation in 2006|
|D||Presence issues and negative portrayals of persons with disabilities in dramatic programming||Increase presence; improve depictions by ensuring accurate characterizations and storylines||Broadcasters to use their existing licensing agreements, guidelines and/or contracts with producers to enforce positive depiction||
||CAB Board to initiate process in 2005 by issuing communique to independent production community|
|E||Presence issues and low/inaccurate coverage of disability issues in news and information programming||Improve on-air presence of persons with disabilities and improve coverage of disability issues in television news & information programming||Consult with RTNDA and disability community on development of local outreach measures and other initiatives||
||Through its Committees, CAB to initiate discussion with RTNDA in 2005; initiatives advanced through broadcaster diversity plans|
|F||Use of inappropriate language respecting persons with disabilities in news and information programming||Educate the broadcasting sector about inappropriate and insensitive language on an on-going basis||Seeking the input of the disability community, CAB to work with RTNDA to develop educational material on inappropriate language||
||CAB to undertake with RTNDA immediately for completion in 2006|
|G||Lack of industry reference points or standards concerning the portrayal of persons with disabilities||Create a set of guidelines and standards for broadcaster use||Integrate standards and guidelines into review of Industry Content Codes.||
||Review process is underway, proactively including persons with disabilities; completion in Spring 2006|
|H||Lack of communication and outreach between broadcasting industry and disability community||Increase on-going meaningful dialogue between the two sectors||On an individual broadcaster basis, establish connections with local disability organizations and implement a mechanism for regular communication||
||On-going, with inclusion of initiatives in corporate diversity plans|
|I||Lack of internal communication among broadcasters regarding disability issues, barriers and initiatives||Improve communication about disability issues and barriers within the broadcasting industry||Create materials and mechanisms for better communicating information about disability issues, barriers and initiatives to CAB membership||
||Begins with release of CAB Report in September 2005; CAB initiative currently underway to improve accessibility of website|
|Issue||Objective||Recommendation||Tools||Timing and Implementation|
|Presence issues and negative portrayals in the independent production sector||Improve the presence of performers and creators with disabilities on-screen/behind the scenes and more accurately depict characters with disabilities||
Recommend that the production sector (i) take steps to increase/ identify the talent pool of performers and creators with disabilities and (ii) consult with disability groups and experts about characterization
||Recommend implementation in 2006|
|Lack of Access and Training Opportunities||Provide training opportunities and skills development in local communities||Cable licensees operating community channels should identify diversity strategies aimed at encouraging better participation of persons with disabilities in community programming.||
||Recommend implementation in 2006|
|Use of inappropriate or insensitive language regarding persons with disabilities in news and information programming and the low or inaccurate coverage of disability issues in news and information programming||Improve portrayal/depiction of persons with disabilities and coverage of disability issues by television news||RTNDA to consult with disability community on how to improve portrayal of persons with disabilities and coverage of disability issues in news||
||Recommend review as soon as possible and in conjunction with CAB review of Industry Content Codes|
James B. Macdonald operates his own consulting practice, working primarily with clients in broadcasting and communications. Mr. Macdonald has held a number of senior positions within the broadcasting industry including: Senior Vice President and Chief Media Services Officer, BCE Media Ltd., President and Chief Executive Officer of WIC Television Ltd. and WIC Entertainment Group Ltd. (Western International Communications), President and Chief Executive Officer of Niagara Television Limited, and various senior management positions with Rogers Broadcasting Limited.
Mr. Macdonald is presently a Board member of the Ontario Association of Broadcasters; Stornoway Communications, trustee of Doctors Hospital Foundation (now the Kensington Health Centre), an Industry Adjudicator (National Television Panel) Canadian Broadcast Standards Council and on the national Board of LOVE (Leave Out Violence Everywhere). Previously, Mr. MacDonald was Chairman of the Canadian Association of Broadcasters, Chair of Canadian Digital Television (CDTV), Governor of the Banff Festival and was on the Board of Directors of WIC Television Ltd., Niagara Television Limited, WIC Entertainment Ltd., Report On Business Television, (ROBtv), Television Bureau of Canada (TVB), Doctors Hospital, Chedoke-McMaster Hospital, and the Children’s Aid Society of Toronto.
In 1997, Mr. Macdonald was the recipient of the Ontario Broadcasters Association; Broadcaster of the Year Award and in 2004 was inducted into the Canadian Association of Broadcasters Hall of Fame.
John Rae is the President of the Alliance for Equality of Blind Canadians (AEBC). John has had a 24-year career in the Ontario Public Service, holding a number of positions including: Program Officer in the Accessibility Directorate of the Ontario Ministry of Citizenship and Immigration, Consultant with the Centre for Disability and Work, and Education Officer with the former Employment Equity Commission.
John has been a board member of many human and disability rights organizations. He has been President of PAL Reading Services, the Canadian Legal Advocacy, Information and Research Association of the Disabled (CLAIR), the Blind Organization of Ontario with Self-Help Tactics (BOOST), the Don Vale Community Centre, and Co-chaired the Coalition on Human Rights for the Handicapped, which secured the first human rights coverage for persons with disabilities in Ontario. He now represents the AEBC on the National Council of the Council of Canadians with Disabilities (CCD). In April of 2000, Mr. Rae received the Individual Human Rights Award from the Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU).
In June 2004, Mr. Rae was elected to the Board of the Canadian Centre on Disability Studies, where he brings his views on consumer involvement in all new research to the work of the Centre. He has recently been appointed to the Canadian Apprenticeship Forum, representing the Council of Canadians with Disabilities.
Don Peuramaki has extensive experience in media: television, radio, video production, visual art and music. He is currently the President of FIREWEED MEDIA PRODUCTIONS INC., an independent production company owned and operated by people with disabilities.
Don Peuramaki has extensive experience in media: television, radio, video production, visual art and music. He is currently the President of FIREWEED MEDIA PRODUCTIONS INC., an independent production company owned and operated by people with disabilities. Some of his production credits include executive and senior producer for the award-winning weekly co-production, Disability Network (DNET) for eight seasons at CBC Television and a two hour special for CBC sports on the 1996 Paralympic Games which drew an audience of over 1.5 million viewers. Through DNET and other media initiatives he has provided training and work experience to over fifty people with disabilities, most of who continue to work in the industry or related areas.
Don is presently on the advisory board for the “Projections” International Film Festival which features films produced, written or directed by people with disabilities, and the “Abilities Festival” which showcases the work of people with disabilities in the arts.
A recipient of several awards including: ACTRA’s “Into the Mainstream” Award, B’nai Brith’s Media Human Rights Award, International Film and TV Festival of New York Awards, and Columbus International Film and Video Festival Awards, Don is a strong proponent for the inclusion of the accurate, fair and complete representation of the rich tapestry of Canadian society in film and television.
Patrick Tanguay is the Corporate Programs and Services Advisor for the Canadian Space Agency. For the past two years Patrick has worked with Kéroul, a non-profit organization that develops and promotes accessible tourism opportunities for persons with disabilities, where he has worked on several disability issues including access to buildings such as restaurants, hotels, and museums.
Patrick has been with the federal public service since 1999 working for Human Resources Development Canada prior to joining the Canadian Space Agency in 2002 where he is responsible for implementing equity programs.
Patrick holds a Bachelor's degree in Political Science (1995) from the Université de Montréal and a Master's degree in Public Administration from l'École nationale d'administration publique (1997).
Enza Ronaldi is the Senior Coordinator with the Accessibility Directorate of Ontario where she manages the Council Liaison Office providing support to two Minister’s Advisory Councils, which advise the Minister of Community and Social Services on the implementation of the Ontarians with Disabilities Act and the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act.
A strong proponent of universal accessibility and the removal of barriers for people with disabilities in their communities, Enza has held various positions within national, provincial and local community organizations that serve and support people with disabilities, including numerous positions on boards of directors. Enza lives in Toronto with her husband and their two young boys ages 9 and 6.
Leesa Levinson has been an active member of ACTRA Toronto for over 10 years. She is an actor who has made a long-term commitment to advocacy through her numerous volunteer, Board/committee and professional activities related to her field. Leesa has been involved in several coalitions working towards the inclusion of persons with disabilities in the arts/media including the “Abilities Festival”, “Projections” International Film Festival, and Access 2 Entertainment National Advisory Group. Leesa has consulted for the CRTC, CAB, ACTRA Toronto, ACTRA Fraternal, and has also interacted with the Media Access Office, Hollywood, California, and the U.S. Screen Actors’ Guild Disabilities Committee. A spokesperson for the Scarborough Multiple Sclerosis Society for 10 years, Leesa continues to actively aspire to learn, advocate and promote change in the Canadian Entertainment Industry.
Janus Raudkivi has had an extensive career in journalism, photography and public relations. Having survived a severe stroke seven years ago, Janus has been working hard over the past years on his rehabilitation. A regular contributor to the Estonian Life which has a weekly printed subscription of 3,500, Janus also works part time for the Toronto Sun.
Prior to his stroke, Janus worked for the Estonian paper Our Life as a staff photographer, and contributed to the French-language weekly L'Express .
Janus has been actively involved in a number of organizations including the Baltic Federation, the Estonian Central Commission, and the Progressive Conservative Party among others.
Gavin Lumsden is an Executive Producer for Rogers Television in Ottawa. He is involved in the planning, development and execution of the programming produced by Rogers Television, cable 22. A 13 year television veteran, Gavin first began as a volunteer at Rogers' Lakeshore studio in Toronto, before moving to Ottawa to set up Rogers' Closed Caption Centre. He has since become an acknowledged expert in the field of closed captioning and has been involved in training, consultation and advocacy on behalf of a number of production and broadcast entities. Gavin was heavily involved in the development of the CAB's Closed Captioning Standards and Protocol Manual for English-language Broadcasters which was published in 2003.
Gavin has been involved in the development and creation of over 2,000 programs for Rogers and has received a number of industry awards. In 1996 he created the first fully accessible newscast produced entirely for, and more significantly by, Ottawa's Deaf, Deafened and hard of hearing communities. The program, called "For Listening Eyes" captured the CCTA's national award for outstanding innovation in programming. In 2005 Gavin was recognized for his business achievements, as a recipient of the Ottawa Business Journal's 40 Under 40 award. He is currently working on a documentary feature about Dr Sean Egan, a University of Ottawa professor who passed away this spring while attempting to become the oldest Canadian to summit Mount Everest.
Gavin has a severe binaural hearing loss, and wears hearing aids full time.
Rachael Ross has been the President of the National Educational Association of Disabled Students (NEADS) for the past 3 years overseeing a number of its initiatives including: Leadership and Employment Forums, aimed at sharing information and ideas with respect to the recruitment and accommodation of persons with disabilities in the Canadian employment market; Access to Success: A Guide for Employers, which identifies and offers solutions to various barriers to access in Canada’s employment market; and NEADS Online Work System (NOWS) which provides a unique bilingual channel for hiring companies to post employment and internship opportunities specifically for qualified Canadian post-secondary students and graduates with disabilities.
A social research consultant with expertise in disability related issues like social policy, national disability rights movements, labour market trends as they relate to the disability population, human rights, and post-secondary education, Rachael has gained experience specifically relating to educational and employment issues and the needs of youth and people with disabilities in Canada and has worked with a variety of NGO’s, municipal authorities and provincial and federal initiatives.
Rachael’s commitments further involve sitting as a board member of the Assistive Technology British Columbia Advisory Committee in Vancouver BC, as a member of the Canadian Association of Broadcasters Outreach Committee on the Presence, Portrayal and Participation of Persons with disabilities in Television and Radio, and as Chair of the Access to Academic Materials for Print-Disabled Post-Secondary Students initiative in Ottawa, ON. Rachael publicly speaks and participates as a guest on disability issues; education, employment, human rights and policy in Canada.
Rachael is an award winning advocate, having won numerous academic and activism awards; this includes being awarded over two consecutive years the Canadian Council of Disabilities (CCD) national award for her contribution to Canada’s disability rights movement. Rachael is last year’s winner of a Woman of Distinction award.