Saint Mary’s researcher recognized for contributions to Accessibility Act

 Dr. Linda Campbell (back row, far left) and other members of the Bill 59 Community Alliance

Dr. Linda Campbell (back row, far left) and other members of the Bill 59 Community Alliance

Over the past year-and-a-half, Saint Mary’s University professor Dr. Linda Campbell has worked diligently to improve a very important bill to the province of Nova Scotia through a partnership called the Bill 59 Community Alliance. Their work on Bill 59, otherwise known as the Accessibility Act, has helped to ensure that the bill addresses the needs of Nova Scotians with disabilities.

  Dr. Linda Campbell (right) with Amberlin Hines, a deaf student from Gallaudet University who visited Saint Mary’s in 2015.

Dr. Linda Campbell (right) with Amberlin Hines, a deaf student from Gallaudet University who visited Saint Mary’s in 2015.

Recently their hard work was recognized by the Partnership for Access Awareness when they were awarded this year’s Mel Hebb Hourglass Action Award for their contributions to Nova Scotia’s Accessibility Act. The Partnership for Access Awareness bestows the Action Award annually during National Access Awareness Week to celebrate individuals who promote the inclusion of persons with disabilities in Nova Scotia.

Lauded by the Honorable Graham Steele as a “remarkable example of effective citizen action,” the Bill 59 Community Alliance helped to make Nova Scotia more inclusive by bringing together high-level civil servants and advocates from diverse backgrounds.

Dr. Campbell recalls the first meeting with the Premier’s Office, in which the Alliance shared their concerns and recommended solutions.

“It was an informative meeting. The Premier’s Office staff was attentive and thoughtful, and we left the room feeling positive about the way forward.”

This meeting led to an invitation from the Executive Council Office to join key players in redrafting the bill. The result, the Accessibility Act, received significant praise. Key features of the bill include a 2030 deadline for Nova Scotia businesses, organizations, and governments to provide barrier-free access to buildings, and a detailed implementation plan to ensure targets are met.

"As an environment scientist, my first priority is to advocate for healthy environments; however, often I must advocate for access before I can even speak about the environment,” says Dr. Campbell. “This two-step process means that others lose access to the knowledge and expertise that I can offer. Establishing a strong Accessibility Act allows people like me to focus on our jobs and careers. "

Bill 59 received Royal Assent on April 28, 2017.

Dr. Linda Campbell is a Senior Research Fellow in the Department of Environmental Science and Acting Chair of the School of the Environment. She carries out international-level research on environmental contaminants and freshwater ecosystems, has published extensively on these issues, and is frequently consulted by governments and private businesses.

As one of only two Deaf professors in the world doing aquatic research, Dr. Campbell mentors deaf students and has published on the issues facing Deaf academics. She also co-led an interactive sign language place name project at Saint Mary’s University.

 In addition to her work with the Bill 59 Community Alliance, where she co-represented the Deaf community, Linda sits on the Board of Directors for the Canadian Hearing Society and Gallaudet University in Washington DC, the only Deaf liberal arts university in the world.