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One man's vision (fair treatment under the law for those with disabilities).

A British Columbia man has won a posthumous victory over the BC Department of Motor Vehicles, which denied him a driver's licence after he lost most of his left side peripheral vision in both eyes after suffering a stroke at the age of 47 in 1984. He repeatedly passed drivers tests but did not meet the minimum physical requirement of a field of vision of 120 degrees. He won a $500 award from the BC Human Rights Council but this decision was overturned by the BC Court of Appeal. Mr. Grismer appealed to the Supreme Court of Canada, but died in 1994. His widow carried on the fight. The Supreme Court of Canada ruled unanimously that his right to fair treatment under the law had been violated. Madame Justice McLaughlin wrote "This case is not about whether unsafe drivers must be allowed to drive. There is no suggestions that a visually impaired driver should be licensed unless she or he can compensate for the impairment and drive safely. Rather, this case is about whether, on the evidence ... Mr. Grismer should have been given a chance to prove through an individual assessment that he could drive. It is also about combatting false assumptions regarding the effects of disabilities on individual capacities. All too often, persons with disabilities are assumed to be unable to accomplish certain tasks based on the experience of able-bodied individuals. The thrust of human rights legislation is to eliminate such assumptions and break down the barriers that stand in the way of equality for all." In Mr. Grismer's case, the court decided that he had compensated for his vision deficiencies and could drive safely. It restored the award of the BC Human Rights Council.

British Columbia (Superintendent of Motor Vehicles) v. British Columbia (Council of Human Rights) Supreme Court of Canada December 16, 1999
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Author:Mitchell, Teresa
Date:Feb 1, 2000
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