Low hanging election signs dangerous for visually impaired, advocacy group says

Jérôme Plante is tired of walking face first into election posters and other low-hanging signs around Montreal. He is blind and relies on white cane to sense obstacles in his way, but that cane can't detect posters hanging chest or head high on lampposts.

Jérôme Plante uses a white cane to get around Montreal, but that cane can't detect signs hanging chest high

Jérôme Plante, who is blind, says he is tired of walking face first into election posters and other signs that are hanging too low. (Jaela Bernstien/CBC)

Jérôme Plante is blind and relies on a cane to find his way around Montreal. He says getting around the city is hard enough with all the detours, orange cones and cracked sidewalks.

During election campaigns, it's even worse, he said.

No matter if it's a federal, provincial or municipal election, he told CBC that "it's always the same problem about electoral signs."

When he sweeps his cane across the sidewalk, Plante can sense ground-level obstacles like curbs, trash cans or parked bicycles.

But there's no way for him to know if there's a campaign poster half way up a pole until it's too late and "it can hurt," he said.​​​​

Plante works with a Quebec organization that defends the rights of people who are blind or visually impaired, the Regroupement des Aveugles et Amblyopes du Québec (RAAQ).

The group recently shared its concerns about campaign signs on Facebook, focusing on examples in the riding of Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie.

And it caught the attention of several party officials from the local riding who replied to the post, saying they will raise the signs to a safer height.

For example, Robert Loiselle replied to the post, thanking the organization for making the Bloc Québécois aware of the problem, saying his team will remedy the situation.

Julien Fournier-Dorion made similar remarks on behalf of the New Democratic Party, saying the team has been warned.

Now Plante wants parties across Quebec and the rest of the country to ensure their signs aren't hanging too low.

According to Elections Canada, government agencies may remove sign without informing the person who authorized the posting of the sign if that sign is posing a safety hazard.

With files from Jaela Bernstein


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