For Immediate Release | BCPIAC
VANCOUVER, B.C. – On Wednesday, January 24, 2018, the Okanagan Valley Association of the Deaf (“OVAD”) filed a human rights complaint against St. John Ambulance for refusing to provide Sign language interpretation for Deaf students in its first aid courses.
OVAD says that St. John Ambulance is not meeting its duty to accommodate Deaf students, and is filing the complaint on behalf of all Deaf British Columbians who have experienced harm from this absence of accommodation.
First aid training and certification provide British Columbians with career advancement opportunities and, most importantly, the ability to help others and save lives in an emergency. Denying Deaf British Columbians equal access to first aid training and certification therefore limits their full participation and inclusion in our communities.
Gordon Rattray, OVAD Treasurer, stated: “OVAD took on this case because enough is enough. Deaf people need first aid skills just like everyone else. This could be a matter of life or death in an emergency situation.”
“We are thrilled that OVAD is pursuing this human rights complaint on behalf of Deaf people across British Columbia. The inaccessibility of St. John Ambulance classes has long been a source of frustration and pain in our community,” said Kimberly Wood, the President of the Greater Vancouver Association of the Deaf (GVAD).
Kate Feeney, the lawyer representing OVAD, stated: “Deaf individuals have a right to Sign language interpretation when accessing both public and private services, except where it causes undue hardship. It is therefore our view that St. John Ambulance – one of the largest and most recognized providers of commercial first aid training in Canada – is required to provide Sign language interpretation to Deaf students.”
For more information, please contact:
BCPIAC Staff Lawyer