Thousands of federal public servants across Canada are unable to utilize internal government software programs and websites because they’re inaccessible to people with a range of disabilities.
The problem has led to job losses, grievances, a human rights complaint and, as one lawyer suggests, opens the door to a potential court challenge under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
Abigail Shorter has a masters degree in public administration and 14 years of experience inside the federal government, but when her position was declared surplus a couple years ago, she found her inability to use certain computer programs left her out of the running for another public service job.
“I found myself less and less marketable and my time ran out and I lost my job,” said Shorter, who has a learning disability and difficulties using a computer and mouse.
“I’m not the only one that’s happened to.”
Other government workers with learning disabilities, physical disabilities, cognitive issues or impaired vision face similar barriers when it comes to using some government applications.