The Canadian Council of the Blind bestows its 2019 President’s Award to VIA Rail Canada

The Canadian Council of the Blind bestows its 2019 President’s Award to VIA Rail Canada

Canada NewsWire

OTTAWA, Feb. 6, 2019 /CNW/ - This year, during White Cane Week and on its 75th anniversary, the National Office of the Canadian Council of the Blind (CCB) is pleased to present its 8th Annual President’s Award to VIA Rail Canada. White Cane Week is an annual public awareness campaign hosted by the CCB that takes place during the first full week of February and that broadens the understanding of vision loss and its impact on all Canadians. There’s no better time to recognize and celebrate a company that is leading the way in accessibility and making strides towards a barrier-free Canada.

As Canada’s national rail passenger service, VIA Rail and its employees are mandated to provide safe, efficient, and economical transportation to approximately 4.8 million passengers annually. The company has distinguished itself in its efforts to improve the accessibility of its services.

Last year, VIA Rail collaborated with the International Union of Railways (UIC) on a proof of concept at its Ottawa station, to enable blind and partially-sighted passengers to navigate the station from entrance to platform autonomously. The effort included the participation of the CCB and other organizations representing people with disabilities. Through this innovative and collaborative approach, and the adoption of leading-edge technologies, the proof of concept aims to meet international accessibility standards.

VIA Rail has also taken several other steps towards improved accessibility, including creating more accessible spaces onboard its trains, establishing a user-friendly online reservation system, and integrating more people with disabilities into its workforce.

“We are working hard to ensure that VIA Rail remains the most accessible intercity mode of transportation in Canada, serving all Canadians,” says Yves Desjardins-Siciliano, VIA Rail’s President and CEO. “We partnered with the CCB and other organizations representing people with disabilities from the very beginning, seeking their input to any potential solution.
It is the only way to ensure that their needs are met fully, adequately, and safely,” he continues. “It gave us better insight from day one. For us, it is a matter of inclusion of all Canadians in an active and participative Canada.”

In bestowing this year’s President’s Award, the CCB commends VIA Rail Canada and in particular Desjardins-Siciliano, whose vision and leadership raise the bar and set a standard in the industry. Desjardins-Siciliano’s commitment to providing accessibility, including VIA Rail’s support for a national effort to achieve the eventual seamless transfer from one mode of transport to another, should be an inspiration to Canada’s transportation industry, and it has laid a path that implores all to follow.

Desjardins-Siciliano will be a guest speaker at the CCB’s 75th Anniversary Dinner (which takes place in Ottawa on Wednesday, February 6, 2019, at Christ Church Cathedral’s Great Hall, 414 Sparks St.), where VIA Rail will also receive the award.

To learn more, check out this year’s issue of White Cane Magazine at   


SOURCE The Canadian Council of the Blind

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