Accessible Service in Sports Venues


Under the Customer Service Standards of the AODA, service providers must make their goods, services, and facilities accessible to customers with disabilities. Our last article outlined accessible information in sports venues, such as arenas and stadiums. In this article, we cover best practices for accessible service in sports venues. In particular, we look at how staff can find ways to make their premises welcoming to fans who need accessible features that a venue does not have yet.

Accessible Service in Sports Venues

Service Animals, Support Persons,  and Assistive Devices

Accessible sports venues must welcome all guests who enter with assistive devices, support persons, or service animals. Service animals are legally permitted in all areas open to the public, including areas where fans buy or consume food. Venues should work with fans who have service animals to book seats with room for the animals. Similarly, if arenas or stadiums choose to waive or reduce fees for support-person tickets, they should advertise this pricing.

Training Staff

Venues must ensure that their staff are trained to interact with fans who have disabilities. Staff should understand how to communicate with fans, both in person and remotely. Additionally, staff should know where all the accessible features of their buildings or outdoor amenities are, including seats offering different kinds of accessibility. For instance, a fan with a visual impairment might want to book a front seat on the left side of the stadium. However, this fan may not be able to access the stadium’s online seating map. In this case, the fan may choose to book by phone so that a staff member can assist them.

Communication Support Awareness

Similarly, staff should know about any communication supports their locations offer. For example, staff should know whether certain games or concerts will be available with:

  • American Sign Language (ASL) interpretation
  • Closed or open captioning
  • Assistive listening devices
  • Live description

Moreover, staff should know which equipment is used for which service, where it is stored, and how to trouble-shoot when it malfunctions.

If venues cannot offer some or all of these services, staff can still offer fans an accessible experience. For instance, if a venue cannot offer live description for games, it can waive the ticket fee for companions of fans with visual disabilities. A companion can act as a support person and give a verbal play-by-play of the game.

Finally, accessible service in sports venues involves welcoming amateur and professional athletes with disabilities. Arenas and stadiums should seek out and host players and teams with disabilities. Our next set of articles will cover a few sports programs for athletes with disabilities. Programs range from recreational to competitive. Athletes with disabilities participate in summer and winter sports on the local, national, and international levels.



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Carleton Creates Canadian Accessibility Network


June 26, 2019

Building on its reputation as Canada’s most accessible university, Carleton University is launching the Canadian Accessibility Network the first entity of its kind in the country.

The announcement follows the historic passage of the federal government’s Bill C-81, the Accessible Canada Act. The bill sets groundbreaking accessibility standards for the Government of Canada and organizations under its jurisdiction to ensure that public spaces, workplaces, employment, programs, services and information are accessible to everyone.

“As a campus community that has been dedicated to supporting people with disabilities since our inception, we are excited to see the Accessible Canada Act bring accessibility to the top of our national agenda,” says President Benoit-Antoine Bacon.

“Carleton exemplifies the many ways accessibility can be embedded into everything we do, but we know there is so much more we can do within our own community and beyond. We are excited to launch and lead the Canadian Accessibility Network and we call on all our current and future partners to work together, through the network, to create a more accessible and inclusive world.”

“When talented people work together for a common cause, great things can happen, and that is the promise of the Canadian Accessibility Network,” says Yazmine Laroche, deputy minister, Public Service Accessibility, Treasury Board Secretariat. “I am so excited by the possibilities the network will provide for collaboration on removing barriers and building greater accessibility for Canadians where they work, learn, play and live. Congratulations to Carleton University and all of the partners of the network.”

The Honourable Raymond Cho, Ontario’s Minister for Seniors and Accessibility, expressed support for the foundation of the Canadian Accessibility Network at Carleton. “I am proud that this initiative is spearheaded in Ontario, where accessibility is a priority as exemplified by the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA),” said Cho. “I am equally pleased that such an ambitious undertaking is led by Carleton University, the most accessible university in Canada. My ministry is looking forward to working alongside Carleton as a Canadian Accessibility Network partner to advance accessibility in Ontario and Canada.”

Ontario’s Minister of Seniors and Accessibility, Raymond Cho, toured Carleton University in 2018 to get an inside look at how it is pushing the boundaries of accessibility and inclusion.

Carleton University has a long history in accessibility and is regarded among the most supportive universities in North America for students with disabilities. For example:

  • The Research, Education, Accessibility and Design (READ) initiative joins expertise from across all academic disciplines and service departments at Carleton with individuals and organizations committed to accessibility. READ will serve as the headquarters for the new Canadian Accessibility Network.
  • Through its Research and Education in Accessibility, Design and Innovation (READi) training program funded by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council, Carleton brings together students from across more than seven disciplines and three universities to use theory and practice to develop accessibility solutions.
  • Carleton University’s Disability Research Group is an interdisciplinary team from scholarly and professional backgrounds that aims to raise awareness about disability and technology through virtual exhibits and multidisciplinary research.
  • The Transforming Disability Knowledge, Research and Activism project, funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council, focuses on engaging women and girls with disabilities in disadvantaged communities in Vietnam.
  • The Paul Menton Centre (PMC) fosters equal access to university experiences for students with disabilities while maintaining academic standards by providing academic accommodations and support services.
  • From Intention to Action (FITA) supports students to manage their mental health and improve academic performance by helping them navigate personal stressors impacting their education.
  • Led by Carleton, the David C. Onley Initiative for Employment and Enterprise Development is an Ontario government-funded partnership between four post-secondary institutions in Ottawa dedicated to supporting students with disabilities in their employment readiness and career aspirations.

By leveraging strengths of individual stakeholders within a national network of partnerships, the Canadian Accessibility Network is creating collective regional and national capacity. A number of organizations and individual stakeholders from across Canada representing diverse sectors have already expressed interest in the Canadian Accessibility Network, such as the Rick Hansen Foundation, Ontario Ministry for Seniors and Accessibility, National Educational Association of Disabled Students, and several universities and organizations across Canada.

Through the Canadian Accessibility Network, Carleton will work with partners to promote a more accessible and inclusive Canada and build on the goals of the Accessible Canada Act.

To learn more about the Canadian Accessibility Network, visit: http://www.Carleton.ca/read/can.

Original at https://newsroom.carleton.ca/2019/carleton-creates-canadian-accessibility-network/



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Accessible Information in Sports Venues


Under the Customer Service Standards of the AODA, service providers must make their goods, services, and facilities accessible to customers with disabilities. Our last article outlined accessible features in sports venues, such as arenas and stadiums. This article will cover best practices for providing accessible information in sports venues.

Accessible Information in Sports Venues

Accessible Websites

Fans can use accessible computers or phones to read websites that follow Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0. More fans can find out about venues’ features, events, and services if venues post them on websites that are accessible. For instance, they should post:

  • What games or concerts they will be hosting
  • What accessible structural features they have, and where these features are located
  • Whether they offer any communication supports for games or concerts

Signage

Moreover, signage is also important. Whether signs are large ones outside the venue or small ones on seat numbers, they should:

  • Include detailed information for fans with hearing disabilities
  • Use clear language or pictures for fans with intellectual disabilities
  • Be at eye level for fans at wheelchair and standing heights
  • Have large print and good colour contrast for fans with visual impairments
  • Include Braille for fans who are blind

Communication Supports

Furthermore, sports venues can also offer communication supports to make games or concerts more accessible for fans with sensory disabilities. For instance, when hosting concerts, venues can offer:

  • American Sign Language (ASL) interpretation
  • closed or open captioning
  • Assistive listening devices

Alternatively, for sports events, venues can offer live description of what is happening on the field, court, or ice.

Moreover, venue websites should explain how to access communication supports. For example:

  • Which performances will be interpreted or captioned
  • Which games will be described
  • Whether fans can request additional interpretation, captioning, or description
  • Where to pick up and return assistive listening devices, closed-captioning mirrors, or description headsets

Accessible information in sports venues ensures that all guests have equal opportunities to access services. Our next article will discuss how sports venues can provide an accessible service experience.



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Ensuring Accessible Content for All Students


By Steven M. Baule
June 24th, 2019

There are four major areas educators can check to ensure digital materials include accessible content for all students

This summer, many faculty will work on developing or revising curricular content for their courses. One of the keys in developing new digital materials is verifying that those materials offer accessible content for all students.

Today, most learning management systems (LMS) and software programs offer some level of accessibility compliance checking. However, they are not always thorough or error-free.

For instance, some PowerPoint templates show less-than-ideal contrast between text and background colors. Many YouTube videos include closed captioning, but the automatic captioning often leaves something to be desired. Taking the time to review accessibility of materials makes sense to ensure all students can experience success instead of frustration.

Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 are a checklist of items to consider in developing accessible websites or other digital documents. The WCAG 2.0 guidelines were published in 2008, so they are well established. Unfortunately, they are not well implemented. WCAG 2.0 has three levels of compliance from least to most restrictive: Level A, Level AA, and Level AAA. Level AAA is considered to be difficult for some new technologies to embrace immediately, so Level AA is considered an acceptable standard for digital resources. W3C, which is the entity responsible for issuing the WCAG 2.0 guidelines, maintains a listing of compliance tools for evaluating websites. The list also includes tools to check the compliance against the federal Access Board’s Section 508 standards and those of several other nations. Google provides a web development tool called Lighthouse that offers performance and accessibility audits.

WebAIM did an analysis of the top 1 million websites earlier this year. They used WCAG 2.0 Level A/AAthe lower two levels of complianceand estimated that less than 1 percent or so of commonly accessed websites conform to WCAG 2.0 Level AA. They found on average 59.6 average accessibility errors per page. According to WebAIM, users with disabilities should expect to encounter an error on 1 of every 13 HTML elements with which they interact. A complete summary of the results is available at https://webaim.org/projects/million/#errors.

Four common barriers to accessible content for all students

The four most prevalent issues identified by WebAIM’s study were items lacking contrast, missing alternative text tags for images, empty or broken links, and missing form labels. Eighty-five percent of homepages have issues with presenting low contrast text. Nearly 68 percent of pages were missing alternative text for images. More than half of the websites included empty links or missing form labels.

Two great tools for checking the contrast ratio of text and its background are WebAIM’s Color Contrast Checker and Contrast-ratio.com. As a reminder, WCAG 2.0 Level AA asks for a contrast ratio of at least 4.5:1 for regular text and 3:1 for large text. Level AAA asks for 7:1 of higher ratio for regular text and 4.5:1 for large text. Muzli has an excellent in-depth article on the science of color design. If you don’t want to stay with black text on a white background, stay with the tried and true color combinations used on informational road signs, white on blue and black on yellow. The reverse of those schemes are equally effective.

Ensuring the alt text tags are not missing is another important topic both for websites and documents included informational images. SEO Site Checkup has a simple Image Alt Test scanner for any URL. Screamingfrog has a good article on how identify those missing alt text tags. Adobe has excellent help resources to help users create and verify PDF accessibility. Microsoft Office provides similar help to create accessible MS Office documents.

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Most LMSs and other web tools include link verification tools to assist in ensuring there are no broken or empty links on a website. However, with the fluid nature of the web, links break constantly. Additionally, some links created by Java script are difficult for those with disabilities to access. Links to other formats, like pdfs and docx files should include those identifications within the link text, so users except that file type. WebAIM includes a detailed article on links and hypertext. As an example, CANVAS’s support for error checking is linked. Brightspace/D2L has a process for resolving broken links as well.

Ensuring form labels is not a consideration for most digital documents, but it is for web documents and some Adobe Acrobat documents as well. Google provides four ways to provide labels to every element in a web-based from. Adobe support for labeling forms is available as well.

Although there are other potential accessibility issues with websites and digital documents, addressing the four most common issues identified above will go a long way towards improving accessible content for all students.

Original at https://www.eschoolnews.com/2019/06/24/ensuring-accessible-content-for-all-students/?all



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Accessible Sports Venues


Under the Customer Service Standards of the AODA, service providers must make their goods, services, and facilities accessible to customers with disabilities. This article will outline features that accessible sports venues, such as arenas and stadiums, should have. Accessible sports venues allow fans of all abilities to enjoy different kinds of sports together.

Accessible Sports Venues

Venues show their welcome for fans using assistive devices when they have accessible structural features. For instance, some accessible structural features that venues might have are:

  • Accessible Parking
  • Ramped or level entrances
  • Automatic doors and wide doorways
  • Lifts or elevators whenever there are stairs
  • Accessible public washrooms
  • Accessible change rooms for athletes or performers
  • Wide aisles and paths of travel
  • Visual fire alarms
  • Line areas and service counters that accommodate fans using mobility devices

Other features can also help venues become more accessible. For instance, good lighting will help fans who are Deaf communicate visually. Lighting is also important for fans who are visually impaired. Moreover, additional seating may benefit some fans with invisible physical disabilities who cannot stand in long lines.

Tickets and Other Purchases

Moreover, accessible sports venues should allow fans to purchase tickets in multiple ways, such as:

  • By phone or teletypewriter (TTY)
  • In person
  • Online

If a fan finds one way of buying tickets inaccessible, they should be able to buy in another way. In addition, staff should be available to assist fans purchasing from concessions or gift-shops.

Accessible Seating

Venues should also have accessible seating at multiple levels. An “accessible seat” can mean different things to different people. For instance, it can mean a seat:

  • Someone can reach without climbing stairs
  • Near the front so that someone can see or hear clearly
  • On one side of the arena or stadium, for someone with sight in one eye or hearing in one ear

Advertising

Fans with disabilities, as well as their loved ones, will want to watch games together. Therefore, accessible arenas and stadiums should make the public aware of all the accessibility features and services they offer. For instance, venues can make fans aware:

  • On signs
  • In person
  • Through their websites
  • Remotely, through messages on their automated phone-answering systems

Moreover, websites can explain how to access features, equipment, or services. For example:

  • Where accessible parking, entrances, and washrooms are
  • Which seats are wheelchair accessible
  • Whether fans need to book accessible seats or parking in advance, and how to do so

Contact Information

In addition, accessible sports venues should provide multiple contact methods for fans to get in touch with them, including:

  • Phone and teletypewriter (TTY) numbers
  • Email addresses
  • Accessible websites, including performance listings, ticket purchase, and contact forms

Our next article will cover accessible information in sports venues.



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The Ford Government Gets A Failing Grade on Making Progress on Disability Accessibility After One year in Power


Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance Update United for a Barrier-Free Society for All People with Disabilities http://www.aodaalliance.org [email protected] Twitter: @aodaalliance

June 21, 2019

SUMMARY

It’s time to look back on the past year, take stock and give a report card on the Ontario Government’s performance on achieving the goal of accessibility for people with disabilities in Ontario. The Ontario Government has now been in office for one year, or one quarter of its term in office. It has been blanketing social media and the web with glowing statements about its progress on various issues, exemplified in Minister for Accessibility and Seniors Raymond Cho’s June 14, 2019 email to disability stakeholders, set out below. It repeatedly tells the public that it is keeping its promises and protecting “what matters most” to Ontarians.

We regret that we must give the Ford Government a failing “F” grade. It has done virtually nothing helpful and new to improve the Ontario Government’s efforts on leading Ontario to become accessible to over 1.9 million Ontarians with disabilities by 2025, the deadline which the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act sets. It has even exceeded the previous Wynne Government’s record for dithering and inaction on accessibility. When running for office, Doug Ford told all Ontarians that if he is elected, help is on the way. When it comes to the accessibility needs of Ontarians with disabilities, we are still waiting.

We were delighted at the start of the new Government that it appointed the closest thing to a fulltime accessibility minister. This meant that progress on accessibility could be sped up, since more ministerial time could be devoted to that issue. Yet no such progress occurred over the year that followed.

The only new initiative on disability accessibility that the Ford Government has announced in an entire year is unhelpful. It appears to be a major distraction rather than a real significant help. That is the Ford Government’s decision to divert 1.3 million public dollars over two years into having the Rick Hansen Foundation undertake a private “certification” of a total of 250 buildings (125 per year), using the Rick Hansen Foundation’s problematic private accessibility certification process. We have been on the record for years in opposition to investing any public money in a private accessibility certification process, no matter who runs it. In an upcoming AODA Alliance Update, we will have more to say specifically about the Rick Hansen Foundation private accessibility certification process which the Ford Government has chosen to endorse and finance in Ontario.

With yesterday’s Cabinet shuffle, the Ford Government is now broadly trying to do a re-set, since it has plummeted in the polls. This is a good time for the Government to do a re-set in its approach to accessibility for people with disabilities. We estimate that there are at least one million voters with disabilities in Ontario. We are ready and willing to help with this, in our ongoing spirit of non-partisanship.

We remain open to work with the Ford Government so that it turns the page and begins a new strategy on disability accessibility. We invite and encourage your feedback on what to do in response to the Ford Government’s failing grade on accessibility in its first year in office. Email us at [email protected]

In striking contrast to this “F” grade for the Ontario Government, today the Federal Government is scheduled to give Royal Assent to Bill C-81, the Accessible Canada Act. That means that it goes into operation as a federal law. While the Accessible Canada Act lacks important features for which we and others vigorously campaigned, it underwent a series of improvements over the year since it was introduced in the House of Commons for First Reading on June 20, 2018, just one year and one day ago. It was improved in the House of Commons last fall at public hearings. It was further improved this past spring in the public hearings in the Senate. Check out the seven preliminary observations we have offered in response to the enactment of the Accessible Canada Act, in the June 3, 2019 AODA Alliance Update.

MORE DETAILS

The Doug Ford Government’s Record on Accessibility After One Year in Office A Closer Look

Here are the key developments over the past year which together lead to the Ford Government’s failing grade on promoting accessibility for Ontarians with disabilities during its first year in office.

1. Starting on a Positive Note

The Ford Government started its term in office on a positive note. In June 2018, on being sworn in, the Ford Government announced that it was appointing Ontario’s first ever Minister for Accessibility and Seniors. This was the closest Ontario has ever come to having a much-needed full-time accessibility minister. Combining responsibility for accessibility and for seniors was a good idea, since these mandates overlap. A large percentage of people with disabilities are seniors.

We congratulated the Government for this move. We offered to work together with Raymond Cho, the new minister, and the new Government. We have had a number of discussions with the minister and the minister’s staff.

2. We Offered the Government Good Ideas Early On But Got Vague Answers

Within a month of the Ford Government taking office, we wrote to the Minister for Accessibility and Seniors and to Premier Doug Ford. We made specific suggestions for priority actions. Check out our July 17, 2018 letter to Minister for Accessibility and Seniors Raymond Cho and our July 19, 2018 letter to Premier Doug Ford.

Both Premier Ford and Minister Cho replied with pro forma letters. These letters said little and committed to nothing specific. Apart from our request that the Government revive the work of five Standards Development Committees (which the Government had just frozen due to the election and its outcome), addressed further below, the Ford Government has taken none of the actions in the past year that we recommended as priorities.

3. Chilling Progress on Accessibility by Freezing the Work of AODA Standards Development Committees for Many Months

When the Ford Government won the 2018 Ontario election, the work of five AODA Standards Development Committees were promptly all frozen, pending the new Minister for Accessibility and Seniors getting a briefing. Any delay in the work of those committees further slows the AODA’s sluggish implementation.

Those Standards Development Committees remained frozen for months, long after the minister needed time to be briefed. We had to campaign for months to get that freeze lifted.

Over four months later, in November 2018, the Ford Government lifted its freeze on the work of the Employment Standards Development Committee and the Information and Communication Standards Development Committee. However it did not then also lift the freeze on the work of the three other Standards Development Committees, those working on proposals for accessibility standards in health care and education.

We had to keep up the pressure. The Ford Government waited until March 7, 2019 before it announced that it was lifting its freeze on the work of the Health Care Standards Development Committee and the two Education Standards Development Committees. As of now, over three and a half months since the Ford Government announced that it was lifting that freeze, none of those three remaining Standards Development Committees has had a single meeting, as far as we can tell.

The Ford Government has announced potential reductions in the number of days that they will be able to meet. In the meantime, the many barriers in Ontario’s education system and Ontario’s health care system remain in place, while new ones continue to be created.

4. No New Government Action on Ensuring the Accessibility of Public Transportation in Ontario

Just before the 2018 Ontario election, the Ontario Government received the final recommendations for reforms to the Transportation Accessibility Standard from the AODA Transportation Standards Development committee. Since then, the Ford Government has announced no action on those recommendations. It has not publicly invited any input or consultation on those recommendations. At the same time, the Ford Government has made major announcements about the future of public transit infrastructure in Ontario. As such, barriers in public transportation remain while the risk remains that new ones will continue to be created.

5. Failure to Fulfil Its Duty to Appoint A Standards Development Committee to Review the Public Spaces Accessibility Standard

The AODA required the Ontario Government to appoint a Standards Development Committee to review the Public Spaces Accessibility Standard by the end of 2017. Neither the previous Wynne Government nor the current Ford Government have fulfilled this legal duty. This is a mandatory AODA requirement. The Ford Government has had a year in office to learn about this duty and to fulfil it. We flagged it for the Government early on.

6. No Comprehensive Government Plan of Action on Accessibility 142 Days After Receiving the Report of David Onley’s AODA Independent Review, Even Though the Government Thought Onley Did a “Marvelous Job”

We have been urging the Ford Government to develop a detailed plan on accessibility since shortly after it took office. it has never done so.

In December 2018, the Ford Government stated that it was awaiting the final report of former Lieutenant Governor David Onley’s Independent Review of the AODA’s implementation and enforcement, before deciding what it would do regarding accessibility for people with disabilities.

On January 31, 2019, the Ford Government received the final report of the David Onley Independent Review of the AODA’s implementation and enforcement. Minister for Accessibility and Seniors Raymond Cho publicly said on April 10, 2019 in the Ontario Legislature that David Onley did a “marvelous job.”

The Onley report found that Ontario is still full of serious barriers impeding people with disabilities, and that specific new Government actions, spelled out in the report, are needed. However, in the 142 days since receiving the Onley Report, the Ford Government has not made public any detailed plan to implement that report’s findings and recommendations. It says it is still studying the issue.

The Ford Government Voiced Very Troubling and Harmful Stereotypes About the AODA and Disability Accessibility During National Access Abilities Week

For years, Canada has held some form of National Access Week towards the end of May. During this week, provincial politicians typically make public statements in the Legislature committing to accessibility and focusing on what more needs to be done.

This year, during National Access Abilities Week, MPP Joel Harden proposed a that the Legislature pass a resolution that called for the Government to bring forward a plan in response to the Onley Report. The resolution was worded in benign and non-partisan words, which in key ways tracked Doug Ford’s May 15, 2018 letter to the AODA Alliance. In that letter, Doug Ford had set out the Conservative Party’s 2018 election promises on disability accessibility. The proposed resolution stated:

“That, in the opinion of this House, the Government of Ontario should release a plan of action on accessibility in response to David Onley’s review of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act that includes, but is not limited to, a commitment to implement new standards for the built environment, stronger enforcement of the Act, accessibility training for design professionals, and an assurance that public money is never again used to create new accessibility barriers.”

Premier Doug Ford had every good reason to support this proposed resolution, as we explained in the June 10, 2019 AODA Alliance Update. Yet, as described in detail in the June 11, 2019 AODA Alliance Update, the Doug Ford Government used its majority in the Legislature to defeat this resolution on May 30, 2019, right in the middle of National Access Abilities Week.

The speeches by Conservative MPPs in the Legislature on the Government’s behalf, in opposition to that motion, voiced false and harmful stereotypes about disability accessibility. That was hurtful to 1.9 million Ontarians with disabilities. Those statements in effect call into serious question the Ford Government’s commitment to the effective implementation and enforcement of the AODA. They denigrated the creation and enforcement of AODA accessibility standards as red tape that threatened to imperil businesses and hurt people with disabilities.

7. In an Inappropriate Use of Public Money, the Ford Government Diverts 1.3 Million Dollars into the Rick Hansen Foundation’s Private Accessibility Certification Process

The only new action the Ford Government has taken on accessibility over its first year in office is its announcement in the April 11, 2019 Ontario Budget that it would spend 1.3 million public dollars over two years to have the Rick Hansen Foundation’s private accessibility certification process “certify” some 250 buildings, belonging to business or the public sector, for accessibility. We oppose any public funding for any private accessibility certification process, no matter who provides this service.

the Ford Government entirely ignored all our serious concerns with spending public money on such a private accessibility certification process. These concerns have been public for well over three years. The Ford Government has given no public reasons for its rejecting all of these concerns.

We here summarize our major concerns with any kind of private accessibility certification process, no matter who is operating it. A future AODA Alliance update will address concerns specific to the Ford Government’s funding the private accessibility certification process offered under the name of the Rick Hansen Foundation.

a) A private accessibility certification risks misleading the public, including people with disabilities. It also risks misleading the very organization that seeks this so-called certification. It “certifies” nothing. A private organization might certify a building as accessible, and yet people with disabilities may well find that the building itself, or the services offered in the building, still has serious accessibility problems.

Such a certification provides no defence to an accessibility complaint or proceeding under the AODA, under the Ontario Building Code, under a municipal bylaw, under the Ontario Human Rights Code, or under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

As well, the certification, for whatever it is worth on the day it is granted, can quickly become out-of-date. New accessibility rules might later be enacted or amended that the assessor did not even consider. The building might proudly display a gold accessibility certification, while something might have been changed inside the building that creates new barriers.

If an organization gets a top-level accessibility certification, it may think they have done all they must do on accessibility. The public, including people with disabilities, and design professionals may be led to think that this is a model of accessibility to be emulated, and that it is a place that will be easy to fully access. This may turn out not to be the case, especially if the assessor uses an insufficient standard to assess accessibility, and/or if it does not do an accurate job of assessing the building and/or if things change in the building after the certification is granted.

b) All a private accessibility is some kind of accessibility advice, dressed up in the seemingly more impressive and authoritative label of “certification”. There are a number of accessibility consultants available to organizations to provide accessibility reviews and advice. The Government should not be subsidizing one accessibility consultant over another, and conferring on it the seemingly superior designation of “certification”. There is no assurance that the people who do the certifying have as much training, experience and expertise on accessibility as do other accessibility consultants.

c) A private accessibility certification process lacks much-needed public accountability. The public has no way to know if the private accessibility assessor is making accurate assessments. It is not subject to Freedom of Information laws. It can operate behind closed doors. It lacks the kind of public accountability that applies to a government audit or inspection or other enforcement.

d) Especially in a period of austerity and major Ontario budget cuts, spending any public money on a private accessibility certification process is not a priority for efforts on accessibility in Ontario or a responsible use of public money. It is not focusing Government funding and efforts on the things that “matter most”, to draw on the Ford Government’s slogan.

There are much more pressing areas for new public spending on accessibility. At the same time as it is diverting this new public money to the Rick Hansen Foundation, the Ford Government appears to be cutting its expenditures on existing Standards Development Committees that are doing work in the health care and education areas. There is a much more pressing need for the Government to now appoint a Built Environment Standards Development Committee to recommend an appropriate accessibility standard to deal with barriers in the built environment. These public funds could also be far better used to beef up the flagging and weak enforcement of the AODA.

e) The Onley report recommended important and much-needed measures to address disability barriers in the built environment that the Ford Government has not yet agreed to take. The Onley Report did not recommend spending scarce public money on a private accessibility certification process.

f) If a private organization wants to hire an accessibility consultant of any sort, that organization should pay for those services. The Government should not be subsidizing this.

To read the AODA Alliance’s February 1, 2016 brief to Deloitte on the problems with publicly funding any private accessibility certification process, visit https://www.aoda.ca/aoda-alliance-sends-the-deloitte-company-its-submission-on-the-first-phase-of-the-deloitte-companys-public-consultation-on-the-wynne-governments-problem-ridden-proposal-to-fund-a-new-private-ac/

7. Text of the June 14, 2019 Email from Minister for Accessibility and Seniors Raymond Cho to Stakeholders on Accessibility Issues

Dear Stakeholder:

June 7th marks the one-year anniversary that our government has been in office, and together, we have much to celebrate. We were elected to be a government that works for the people, putting their interests first in everything we do. I am proud to share with you how our government has helped people with disabilities and their families across Ontario over this past year.

Premier Ford and our entire team made five core commitments to the people of Ontario: restoring trust, accountability, and transparency; putting more money in people’s pockets; cleaning up the hydro mess; ending hallway healthcare; and making Ontario open for business and open for jobs.

Today, we can proudly say: “Promises made, promises kept.” We have charted a reasonable and responsible path to a balanced budget in five years, invested in core public services like healthcare and education, and protected frontline workers.

As Minister for Seniors and Accessibility, I am committed to helping seniors and people with disabilities stay independent, safe, active and socially connected. Our government has the highest regard for people with disabilities and is committed to protecting what matters most to them and their families. I am incredibly proud of the work that our Ministry has accomplished over the past year, working alongside terrific partners like AODA Alliance.

We are committed to making Ontario more accessible for all. That is why when the Honourable David C. Onley completed and submitted his review of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act in January 2019, our government tabled the report faster than either previous review. After tabling the report, we immediately announced that we would be resuming the Health Care and Education Standards Development Committees so that they can continue their valuable work to improve accessibility in those sectors. We are also continuing to work with the Information and Communications Standard Development Committee. Needless to say, we are taking Mr. Onley’s input very seriously as we continue to work towards making Ontario more accessible.

People with disabilities and seniors deserve to remain engaged and participate fully in their communities. Yet many buildings in Ontario continue to be a challenge for people with disabilities and seniors. That is why our government is investing $1.3 million over two years through a new partnership with the Rick Hansen Foundation. The Rick Hansen Foundation Accessibility Certification program is expected to start this fall and will roll out over the next two years in select communities across Ontario. The certification program will provide accessibility ratings of businesses and public buildings by trained professionals, and will help property managers and owners determine ways to remove identified barriers. Through this investment, the Rick Hansen Foundation will undertake ratings of 250 facilities.
We are also continuing to work closely with many partners to spread the word about the importance of accessibility. For instance, our Employers’ Partnership Table, which was brought together to support the creation of employment opportunities for people with disabilities. They are working on developing sector-specific business cases for hiring people with disabilities that will be shared with businesses in Ontario to help them see the benefits of employing people with disabilities.

Additionally, through our EnAbling Change Program, we partner with non-profit organizations to develop educational tools and resources to promote ways to make our communities and businesses more accessible.

This is just the beginning. We look forward to continuing to work together to make Ontario more accessible for all.

As our track record shows, we have accomplished a great deal, but our work is far from over. Looking ahead, our government will continue turning this province around and building for the future.

We look forward to continuing to work with you to build an Ontario where everyone shares in greater opportunity and prosperity.

Sincerely,
Raymond Cho
Minister



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The Ford Government Gets A Failing Grade on Making Progress on Disability Accessibility After One year in Power – AODA Alliance


Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance Update

United for a Barrier-Free Society for All People with Disabilities

www.aodaalliance.org [email protected] Twitter: @aodaalliance

The Ford Government Gets A Failing Grade on Making Progress on Disability Accessibility After One year in Power

June 21, 2019

SUMMARY

It’s time to look back on the past year, take stock and give a report card on the Ontario Government’s performance on achieving the goal of accessibility for people with disabilities in Ontario. The Ontario Government has now been in office for one year, or one quarter of its term in office. It has been blanketing social media and the web with glowing statements about its progress on various issues, exemplified in Minister for Accessibility and Seniors Raymond Cho’s June 14, 2019 email to disability stakeholders, set out below. It repeatedly tells the public that it is keeping its promises and protecting “what matters most” to Ontarians.

We regret that we must give the Ford Government a failing “F” grade. It has done virtually nothing helpful and new to improve the Ontario Government’s efforts on leading Ontario to become accessible to over 1.9 million Ontarians with disabilities by 2025, the deadline which the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act sets. It has even exceeded the previous Wynne Government’s record for dithering and inaction on accessibility. When running for office, Doug Ford told all Ontarians that if he is elected, help is on the way. When it comes to the accessibility needs of Ontarians with disabilities, we are still waiting.

We were delighted at the start of the new Government that it appointed the closest thing to a fulltime accessibility minister. This meant that progress on accessibility could be sped up, since more ministerial time could be devoted to that issue. Yet no such progress occurred over the year that followed.

The only new initiative on disability accessibility that the Ford Government has announced in an entire year is unhelpful. It appears to be a major distraction rather than a real significant help. That is the Ford Government’s decision to divert 1.3 million public dollars over two years into having the Rick Hansen Foundation undertake a private “certification” of a total of 250 buildings (125 per year), using the Rick Hansen Foundation’s problematic private accessibility certification process. We have been on the record for years in opposition to investing any public money in a private accessibility certification process, no matter who runs it. In an upcoming AODA Alliance Update, we will have more to say specifically about the Rick Hansen Foundation private accessibility certification process which the Ford Government has chosen to endorse and finance in Ontario.

With yesterday’s Cabinet shuffle, the Ford Government is now broadly trying to do a re-set, since it has plummeted in the polls. This is a good time for the Government to do a re-set in its approach to accessibility for people with disabilities. We estimate that there are at least one million voters with disabilities in Ontario. We are ready and willing to help with this, in our ongoing spirit of non-partisanship.

We remain open to work with the Ford Government so that it turns the page and begins a new strategy on disability accessibility. We invite and encourage your feedback on what to do in response to the Ford Government’s failing grade on accessibility in its first year in office. Email us at [email protected]

In striking contrast to this “F” grade for the Ontario Government, today the Federal Government is scheduled to give Royal Assent to Bill C-81, the Accessible Canada Act. That means that it goes into operation as a federal law. While the Accessible Canada Act lacks important features for which we and others vigorously campaigned, it underwent a series of improvements over the year since it was introduced in the House of Commons for First Reading on June 20, 2018, just one year and one day ago. It was improved in the House of Commons last fall at public hearings. It was further improved this past spring in the public hearings in the Senate. Check out the seven preliminary observations we have offered in response to the enactment of the Accessible Canada Act, in the June 3, 2019 AODA Alliance Update.

          MORE DETAILS

The Doug Ford Government’s Record on Accessibility After One Year in Office – A Closer Look

Here are the key developments over the past year which together lead to the Ford Government’s failing grade on promoting accessibility for Ontarians with disabilities during its first year in office.

1. Starting on a Positive Note

The Ford Government started its term in office on a positive note. In June 2018, on being sworn in, the Ford Government announced that it was appointing Ontario’s first ever Minister for Accessibility and Seniors. This was the closest Ontario has ever come to having a much-needed full-time accessibility minister. Combining responsibility for accessibility and for seniors was a good idea, since these mandates overlap. A large percentage of people with disabilities are seniors.

We congratulated the Government for this move. We offered to work together with Raymond Cho, the new minister, and the new Government. We have had a number of discussions with the minister and the minister’s staff.

2. We Offered the Government Good Ideas Early On But Got Vague Answers

Within a month of the Ford Government taking office, we wrote to the Minister for Accessibility and Seniors and to Premier Doug Ford. We made specific suggestions for priority actions. Check out our July 17, 2018 letter to Minister for Accessibility and Seniors Raymond Cho and our July 19, 2018 letter to Premier Doug Ford.

Both Premier Ford and Minister Cho replied with pro forma letters. These letters said little and committed to nothing specific. Apart from our request that the Government revive the work of five Standards Development Committees (which the Government had just frozen due to the election and its outcome), addressed further below, the Ford Government has taken none of the actions in the past year that we recommended as priorities.

3. Chilling Progress on Accessibility by Freezing the Work of AODA Standards Development Committees for Many Months

When the Ford Government won the 2018 Ontario election, the work of five AODA Standards Development Committees were promptly all frozen, pending the new Minister for Accessibility and Seniors getting a briefing. Any delay in the work of those committees further slows the AODA’s sluggish implementation.

Those Standards Development Committees remained frozen for months, long after the minister needed time to be briefed. We had to campaign for months to get that freeze lifted.

Over four months later, in November 2018, the Ford Government lifted its freeze on the work of the Employment Standards Development Committee and the Information and Communication Standards Development Committee. However it did not then also lift the freeze on the work of the three other Standards Development Committees, those working on proposals for accessibility standards in health care and education.

We had to keep up the pressure. The Ford Government waited until March 7, 2019 before it announced that it was lifting its freeze on the work of the Health Care Standards Development Committee and the two Education Standards Development Committees. As of now, over three and a half months since the Ford Government announced that it was lifting that freeze, none of those three remaining Standards Development Committees has had a single meeting, as far as we can tell.

The Ford Government has announced potential reductions in the number of days that they will be able to meet. In the meantime, the many barriers in Ontario’s education system and Ontario’s health care system remain in place, while new ones continue to be created.

4. No New Government Action on Ensuring the Accessibility of Public Transportation in Ontario

Just before the 2018 Ontario election, the Ontario Government received the final recommendations for reforms to the Transportation Accessibility Standard from the AODA Transportation Standards Development committee. Since then, the Ford Government has announced no action on those recommendations. It has not publicly invited any input or consultation on those recommendations. At the same time, the Ford Government has made major announcements about the future of public transit infrastructure in Ontario. As such, barriers in public transportation remain while the risk remains that new ones will continue to be created.

5. Failure to Fulfil Its Duty to Appoint A Standards Development Committee to Review the Public Spaces Accessibility Standard

The AODA required the Ontario Government to appoint a Standards Development Committee to review the Public Spaces Accessibility Standard by the end of 2017. Neither the previous Wynne Government nor the current Ford Government have fulfilled this legal duty. This is a mandatory AODA requirement. The Ford Government has had a year in office to learn about this duty and to fulfil it. We flagged it for the Government early on.

6. No Comprehensive Government Plan of Action on Accessibility 142 Days After Receiving the Report of David Onley’s AODA Independent Review, Even Though the Government Thought Onley Did a “Marvelous Job”

We have been urging the Ford Government to develop a detailed plan on accessibility since shortly after it took office. it has never done so.

In December 2018, the Ford Government stated that it was awaiting the final report of former Lieutenant Governor David Onley’s Independent Review of the AODA’s implementation and enforcement, before deciding what it would do regarding accessibility for people with disabilities.

On January 31, 2019, the Ford Government received the final report of the David Onley Independent Review of the AODA’s implementation and enforcement. Minister for Accessibility and Seniors Raymond Cho publicly said on April 10, 2019 in the Ontario Legislature that David Onley did a “marvelous job.”

The Onley report found that Ontario is still full of serious barriers impeding people with disabilities, and that specific new Government actions, spelled out in the report, are needed. However, in the 142 days since receiving the Onley Report, the Ford Government has not made public any detailed plan to implement that report’s findings and recommendations. It says it is still studying the issue.

The Ford Government Voiced Very Troubling and Harmful Stereotypes About the AODA and Disability Accessibility During National Access Abilities Week

For years, Canada has held some form of National Access Week towards the end of May. During this week, provincial politicians typically make public statements in the Legislature committing to accessibility and focusing on what more needs to be done.

This year, during National Access Abilities Week, MPP Joel Harden proposed a that the Legislature pass a resolution that called for the Government to bring forward a plan in response to the Onley Report. The resolution was worded in benign and non-partisan words, which in key ways tracked Doug Ford’s May 15, 2018 letter to the AODA Alliance. In that letter, Doug Ford had set out the Conservative Party’s 2018 election promises on disability accessibility. The proposed resolution stated:

“That, in the opinion of this House, the Government of Ontario should release a plan of action on accessibility in response to David Onley’s review of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act that includes, but is not limited to, a commitment to implement new standards for the built environment, stronger enforcement of the Act, accessibility training for design professionals, and an assurance that public money is never again used to create new accessibility barriers.”

Premier Doug Ford had every good reason to support this proposed resolution, as we explained in the June 10, 2019 AODA Alliance Update. Yet, as described in detail in the June 11, 2019 AODA Alliance Update, the Doug Ford Government used its majority in the Legislature to defeat this resolution on May 30, 2019, right in the middle of National Access Abilities Week.

The speeches by Conservative MPPs in the Legislature on the Government’s behalf, in opposition to that motion, voiced false and harmful stereotypes about disability accessibility. That was hurtful to 1.9 million Ontarians with disabilities. Those statements in effect call into serious question the Ford Government’s commitment to the effective implementation and enforcement of the AODA. They denigrated the creation and enforcement of AODA accessibility standards as red tape that threatened to imperil businesses and hurt people with disabilities.

7. In an Inappropriate Use of Public Money, the Ford Government Diverts 1.3 Million Dollars into the Rick Hansen Foundation’s Private Accessibility Certification Process

The only new action the Ford Government has taken on accessibility over its first year in office is its announcement in the April 11, 2019 Ontario Budget that it would spend 1.3 million public dollars over two years to have the Rick Hansen Foundation’s private accessibility certification process “certify” some 250 buildings, belonging to business or the public sector, for accessibility. We oppose any public funding for any private accessibility certification process, no matter who provides this service.

the Ford Government entirely ignored all our serious concerns with spending public money on such a private accessibility certification process. These concerns have been public for well over three years. The Ford Government has given no public reasons for its rejecting all of these concerns.

We here summarize our major concerns with any kind of private accessibility certification process, no matter who is operating it. A future AODA Alliance update will address concerns specific to the Ford Government’s funding the private accessibility certification process offered under the name of the Rick Hansen Foundation.

  1. a) A private accessibility certification risks misleading the public, including people with disabilities. It also risks misleading the very organization that seeks this so-called certification. It “certifies” nothing. A private organization might certify a building as accessible, and yet people with disabilities may well find that the building itself, or the services offered in the building, still has serious accessibility problems.

Such a certification provides no defence to an accessibility complaint or proceeding under the AODA, under the Ontario Building Code, under a municipal bylaw, under the Ontario Human Rights Code, or under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

As well, the certification, for whatever it is worth on the day it is granted, can quickly become out-of-date. New accessibility rules might later be enacted or amended that the assessor did not even consider. The building might proudly display a gold accessibility certification, while something might have been changed inside the building that creates new barriers.

If an organization gets a top-level accessibility certification, it may think they have done all they must do on accessibility. The public, including people with disabilities, and design professionals may be led to think that this is a model of accessibility to be emulated, and that it is a place that will be easy to fully access. This may turn out not to be the case, especially if the assessor uses an insufficient standard to assess accessibility, and/or if it does not do an accurate job of assessing the building and/or if things change in the building after the certification is granted.

  1. b) All a private accessibility is some kind of accessibility advice, dressed up in the seemingly more impressive and authoritative label of “certification”. There are a number of accessibility consultants available to organizations to provide accessibility reviews and advice. The Government should not be subsidizing one accessibility consultant over another, and conferring on it the seemingly superior designation of “certification”. There is no assurance that the people who do the certifying have as much training, experience and expertise on accessibility as do other accessibility consultants.
  1. c) A private accessibility certification process lacks much-needed public accountability. The public has no way to know if the private accessibility assessor is making accurate assessments. It is not subject to Freedom of Information laws. It can operate behind closed doors. It lacks the kind of public accountability that applies to a government audit or inspection or other enforcement.
  1. d) Especially in a period of austerity and major Ontario budget cuts, spending any public money on a private accessibility certification process is not a priority for efforts on accessibility in Ontario or a responsible use of public money. It is not focusing Government funding and efforts on the things that “matter most”, to draw on the Ford Government’s slogan.

There are much more pressing areas for new public spending on accessibility. At the same time as it is diverting this new public money to the Rick Hansen Foundation, the Ford Government appears to be cutting its expenditures on existing Standards Development Committees that are doing work in the health care and education areas. There is a much more pressing need for the Government to now appoint a Built Environment Standards Development Committee to recommend an appropriate accessibility standard to deal with barriers in the built environment. These public funds could also be far better used to beef up the flagging and weak enforcement of the AODA.

  1. e) The Onley report recommended important and much-needed measures to address disability barriers in the built environment that the Ford Government has not yet agreed to take. The Onley Report did not recommend spending scarce public money on a private accessibility certification process.
  1. f) If a private organization wants to hire an accessibility consultant of any sort, that organization should pay for those services. The Government should not be subsidizing this.

To read the AODA Alliance’s February 1, 2016 brief to Deloitte on the problems with publicly funding any private accessibility certification process, visit https://www.aoda.ca/aoda-alliance-sends-the-deloitte-company-its-submission-on-the-first-phase-of-the-deloitte-companys-public-consultation-on-the-wynne-governments-problem-ridden-proposal-to-fund-a-new-private-ac/

7. Text of the June 14, 2019 Email from Minister for Accessibility and Seniors Raymond Cho to Stakeholders on Accessibility Issues

Dear Stakeholder:

June 7th marks the one-year anniversary that our government has been in office, and together, we have much to celebrate. We were elected to be a government that works for the people, putting their interests first in everything we do. I am proud to share with you how our government has helped people with disabilities and their families across Ontario over this past year.

Premier Ford and our entire team made five core commitments to the people of Ontario: restoring trust, accountability, and transparency; putting more money in people’s pockets; cleaning up the hydro mess; ending hallway healthcare; and making Ontario open for business and open for jobs.

Today, we can proudly say: “Promises made, promises kept.” We have charted a reasonable and responsible path to a balanced budget in five years, invested in core public services like healthcare and education, and protected frontline workers.

As Minister for Seniors and Accessibility, I am committed to helping seniors and people with disabilities stay independent, safe, active and socially connected. Our government has the highest regard for people with disabilities and is committed to protecting what matters most to them and their families. I am incredibly proud of the work that our Ministry has accomplished over the past year, working alongside terrific partners like AODA Alliance.

We are committed to making Ontario more accessible for all. That is why when the Honourable David C. Onley completed and submitted his review of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act in January 2019, our government tabled the report faster than either previous review. After tabling the report, we immediately announced that we would be resuming the Health Care and Education Standards Development Committees so that they can continue their valuable work to improve accessibility in those sectors. We are also continuing to work with the Information and Communications Standard Development Committee. Needless to say, we are taking Mr. Onley’s input very seriously as we continue to work towards making Ontario more accessible.

People with disabilities and seniors deserve to remain engaged and participate fully in their communities. Yet many buildings in Ontario continue to be a challenge for people with disabilities and seniors. That is why our government is investing $1.3 million over two years through a new partnership with the Rick Hansen Foundation. The Rick Hansen Foundation Accessibility Certification program is expected to start this fall and will roll out over the next two years in select communities across Ontario. The certification program will provide accessibility ratings of businesses and public buildings by trained professionals, and will help property managers and owners determine ways to remove identified barriers. Through this investment, the Rick Hansen Foundation will undertake ratings of 250 facilities.

We are also continuing to work closely with many partners to spread the word about the importance of accessibility. For instance, our Employers’ Partnership Table, which was brought together to support the creation of employment opportunities for people with disabilities. They are working on developing sector-specific business cases for hiring people with disabilities that will be shared with businesses in Ontario to help them see the benefits of employing people with disabilities.

Additionally, through our EnAbling Change Program, we partner with non-profit organizations to develop educational tools and resources to promote ways to make our communities and businesses more accessible.

This is just the beginning. We look forward to continuing to work together to make Ontario more accessible for all.

As our track record shows, we have accomplished a great deal, but our work is far from over. Looking ahead, our government will continue turning this province around and building for the future.

We look forward to continuing to work with you to build an Ontario where everyone shares in greater opportunity and prosperity.

Sincerely,

Raymond Cho

Minister



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Social Housing Developer Prepares to Open New Affordable Housing Project


Two housing projects are already on the table with hopes for more in the future to come out CBC News · Posted: Jun 20, 2019

Affordable housing developer Indwell is preparing to open the first of two rental properties in hopes of combating homelessness in the city.

Indwell is the largest affordable housing developer in South Western Ontario. They’ve provided affordable housing in communities such as Hamilton, Woodstock and Oxford county.

In London, they are currently working on two affordable building projects, with hopes for more in the future.

Their first project, located at 356 Dundas street, will be opening on July 15. The building has 67 one-bedroom apartments for $560 a month. At the moment, it still has some vacancies.

Graham Cubitt, the director of projects and development with Indwell, says they want to give people a chance to be able to participate in the community.

“Our tenants do experience a wide spectrum of life circumstances. So whether they might have a mental illness, or a physical disability…living with low income due to an intellectual disability or other circumstances….how do we help them achieve their best potential? Living in their own apartment in a community,” he said.

In addition to providing housing and rent at an affordable rate, the agency also provides services for their community members.

“From that starting point, we put out community connections. We do a lot of networking, financial literacy, cooking skills, finding community associations to belong to, opportunities to work or volunteering…Really it’s about fostering that community inclusion for each one of our tenants…and within the community,” Cubitt said.

Indwell is also working in partnership with other mental health agencies around the city to provide support to tenants. The Canadian Mental Health Association and the Parkwood Institute are collaborating with the agency to help break the cycle of re-hospitalization and homelessness.

‘We know that there’s a major problem in the community with people not being able to be discharged from the hospital. We’re trying to help address some of those issues, and give people living in the community who don’t need to be living in hospital [but making sure that] the support systems [are] around them,” said Cubitt.

Indwell’s second affordable housing building will be at 744 Dundas street with 75 one-bedroom apartments. Construction on the 16-month project is expected to start in the spring.

Indwell hopes they can make their work a collaborative effort with other housing providers in London to make a greater impact.

“We would love to work with London-Middlesex Community Housing and other social housing providers to say ‘how can we provide supportive housing alongside the affordable housing that other social housing providers would offer’,” Cubitt said.

He’s confident that Indwell can make a difference in the city alongside other community partners. He says that Indwell hopes to focus on other areas where affordable housing is needed in the city.

“Homelessness is such a problem, it seems pervasive, it seems overwhelming. But knowing that we can actually do things that work and that make a difference in the lives of people…we’re feeling very energized by the community’s response,” Cubitt said.

Original at https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/london/affordable-housing-indwell-london-ontario-canada-accessible-public-1.5181813



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Providing Accessible Service in Amusement Parks


Under the Customer Service Standards of the AODA, service providers must make their goods, services, and facilities accessible to customers with disabilities. Our last article outlined accessible information in amusement parks. In this article, we cover best practices for accessible service in amusement parks. In particular, we look at how staff can find ways to make their premises welcoming to clients who need accessible features that an amusement park does not have yet.

Providing Accessible Service in Amusement Parks

Service Animals, Support Persons,  and Assistive Devices

Parks must welcome all guests who enter with assistive devices, support persons, or service animals. If parks choose to waive or reduce fees for support-person tickets, they should advertise this pricing. Service animals are legally permitted in all areas open to the public, including dining areas. Park staff and websites should alert guests to the locations of all nearby service animal relief areas.

Structural Features

If parks have any accessible structural features, staff should know what and where they are. For example, staff should know where guests can find accessible parking, entrances, and washrooms.

Staff Assistance

Furthermore, parks must train their staff to interact with guests who have disabilities. Training should show staff how to help guests access their services if their grounds or buildings lack the features those guests need. Staff should understand how to communicate with guests, both in person and remotely.

In addition, staff members should be available to greet guests and ask if they need any assistance. In this way, they can make guests aware that they are willing to provide services if their parks lack certain amenities. For instance, if guests cannot read signs, staff should be able to direct them to the areas or attractions they want to reach.

Similarly, staff should know which kinds of assistive devices guests can bring with them on rides. For example, staff should know whether a guest can ride with their own:

  • Wheelchair
  • Scooter
  • Walker
  • Crutches
  • Cane

If a guest cannot ride with their own device, staff should know whether a guest can:

  • Approach the ride with the device but ride without it
  • Transfer from large devices into on-site devices or ride seats

Staff should also return riders’ devices to them as soon as possible. For instance, riders who entered a ride using a device may need to have the device back in order to exit the ride. Some guests might bring a support person to help them perform any or all of these tasks. However, parks should not require that a guest has a support person with them.

Accessible Format Awareness

When parks offer accessible versions of hard-copy print, such as pamphlets, guides, maps, or other documents, staff need to be aware of:

  • What information is available in what format(s)
  • Where hard copies are kept 
  • Whether hard-copy Braille or large print versions can be created upon request
  • How clients can find web versions
  • Whether alternate-format versions are up-to-date

Staff should know the differences between a current printed version of a document and the version a guest can read. For example, staff can keep a printed list of the differences clipped to the Braille version of a document. They can then let the guest know what the differences are.

If a document is not available in any of the formats a guest can use, staff should read the document to the guest. If it is a form, staff should fill it in according to the guest’s directions.

Communication Support Awareness

Similarly, when parks provide communication supports for performances or other interactions, staff should know:

  • What supports are available for what kinds of interaction
  • Where on-site communication devices are stored, and best practices for serving guests using them
  • Whether plain-language versions of documents are available and how to access them
  • How to arrange Sign language interpretation
  • How far in advance arrangements should be made

Accessible service in amusement parks ensures that all guests can have fun with their families and friends.



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Accessible Information in Amusement Parks


Under the Customer Service Standards of the AODA, service providers must make their goods, services, and facilities accessible to customers with disabilities. In our last article, we outlined features that make amusement parks accessible for guests with disabilities. In this article, we will cover best practices for accessible information in amusement parks.

Accessible Information in Amusement Parks

Accessible Websites

Guests can use accessible computers or phones to read websites that follow Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0. Therefore, amusement parks should ensure that their websites follow these guidelines. Moreover, they should post as much information as possible about their features, events, and services on their accessible websites. For instance, they should post:

  • What accessible structural features they have, and where these features are located
  • What attractions are accessible for guests using assistive devices
  • Whether they have a system for guests who cannot wait in line to access attractions
  • If on-site restaurants are accessible
  • Whether they offer any equipment for guests to borrow,  accessible-format information about the park, or communication supports for theatrical attractions

Accessible Formats

Parks should provide print information, like pamphlets or guides, in accessible formats. For instance:

  • Braille
  • Large print
  • Online on accessible websites
  • Accessible Word or html files

Staff should tell every guest about all the formats they have information available in. Parks can have a third party produce hard-copy Braille or large-print documents. For example, parks can provide Braille guides or tactile maps for guests to borrow during their visits. In addition, parks can produce versions of hard-copy text in accessible web formats.

Performances

Furthermore, amusement parks can also make theatrical events, such as movies or live performances, accessible. For instance, parks can offer:

  • American Sign Language (ASL) interpretation
  • Closed or open captioning
  • Live description

Moreover, park websites should explain how to access features, equipment, or services. For example:

  • Which performances will be ASL interpreted, captioned, or described
  • Where to pick up and return description headsets or closed-captioning mirrors
  • Whether parks can arrange additional interpreted, captioned, or described performances for groups

Accessible information in amusement parks ensures that all guests have equal opportunities to access services. Our next article will discuss how amusement parks can provide an accessible service experience.



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