2019 Accessibility Award Winners Recognized


By Melanie IrwinOctober 28, 2019

2019 Accessibility Award winners were recognized at a special ceremony in Sarnia Council chambers Monday afternoon.

The awards are given to businesses and individuals who have excelled in promoting an inclusive environment and shopping experience for people with disabilities.

RBC on Lambton Mall Road and Junior Baker are being recognized for creating an inclusive environment.

Judith and Norman Alix Art Gallery staff who run the Art Pod Program, designed for youth with special needs, are being honoured for exceptional leadership in customer service.

Holly Wenning, Amy Mayea and Jenn-Brown Nead are recognized for creating opportunity for an accessible community, through an expressive arts program.

Patodia Eye Institute is awarded for ensuring exceptional physical accessibility for people with disabilities.

Detroit Metro Shuttle Inc. is honoured for going above and beyond when serving and assisting people with disabilities.

Three women have been singled out for making Sarnia a better place to live for people of all ages.

Sarah Nishimura-Nissen is a champion for inclusive employment, Amber Harding is an emerging leader in accessibility and inclusion and Lynne Betteridge has been recognized for creating a group that brings women together.

The list of accessibility champions was compiled by the City of Sarnia’s Accessibility Advisory Committee after requesting nominations from the community.

Original at https://blackburnnews.com/sarnia/sarnia-news/2019/10/28/2019-accessibility-award-winners-recognized/




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Interacting with Service Animals in School


Our last article outlined how an education standard could include a province-wide policy for allowing students to bring their service animals to school. Once an elementary or high school student’s service animal is allowed in school, staff should know how to interact with it. In addition, fellow staff members may also have service animals. Moreover, staff of other educational institutions should also know how to behave around service animals. For instance, staff at universities, colleges, and private schools should know how to interact with the service animals of students or colleagues. In this article, we suggest some best practices for interacting with service animals in school.

Interacting with Service Animals in School

Do’s and don’ts when encountering service animals

When service animals are at school, staff should know what to do or not do. They should also be able to explain these do’s and don’ts to other students in the class or school. Here is a list with some suggestions.

For instance, do:

  • Pay attention to the student or staff member, not the animal
  • Ask what tasks the animal assists with, not what the student or staff member’s diagnosis is

On the other hand, don’t:

  • Ask that the animal be left elsewhere
  • Pet the animal, unless its owner gives permission
  • Call the animal
  • Feed the animal
  • Entice the animal with toys
  • Disturb the animal if it is sleeping

Service Animal Responsibilities

Older service-animal owners, such as high school students, adult learners, or staff, should have full responsibility for interacting with their service animals in school. For instance, the animal’s owner should be in charge of:

  • Giving commands, such as “sit” or “stay”
  • Feeding the animal
  • Taking it outside when needed, and cleaning up after it
  • Correcting it if it does something wrong

When students are younger, an adult handler may share or take responsibility for some or all of these tasks. Some service-animal owners may want to tell students about why their animal is there and what it does. Alternatively, others may want their animal’s handler to do so. some owners may also be willing to talk briefly about their disabilities. However, others may prefer to answer curious classmates’ questions but not draw extra attention to the animal. Staff should work with each student or staff member to find out which approach they would like to take.

Exceptions

Under the Customer Service Standards of the AODA, service animals are allowed almost anywhere the public can go. Exceptions include places where food is made, but not where it is served. If school board policies follow this standard, service animals should be able to go almost everywhere their students and staff do. For instance, students and staff should be able to bring their service animals with them:

  • In class
  • In the school yard
  • In the cafeteria

However, students and staff should not bring their service animals into school kitchens or food laboratories. If a student or staff member needs to use them, such as for a cooking or baking activity, their service animal should stay in a different room. Meanwhile, staff should provide a different way for the student or colleague to receive the help the animal usually gives. For instance, an animal may:

  • Calm a student
  • Alert a staff member to sounds
  • Open doors

Staff should work with the animal’s owner to plan how the student or colleague will access the event without the animal.

School staff can best serve all their students when they know about interacting with service animals in school.




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New Pilot Project in Stratford Aiming to Improve Accessibility


Casey Kenny, staff
Monday, Oct. 28th, 2019

A new pilot project in Stratford is aiming to improve accessibility at signalized pedestrian crossings.

The City of Stratford is taking part in the project through a partnership with the CNIB Foundation and Key2Access.

Officials say equipment has been installed at two downtown intersections in Stratford that will make it easier for people with sight loss or mobility issues, to cross at those lights.

As of now, pedestrians can request a street crossing with a free mobile app or dedicated key fob that connects wirelessly to “Smart Accessible Pedestrian Signals” at the Ontario Street/Waterloo Street and Wellington Street/St.Patrick Street intersections.

The app can be downloaded for free from the App Store or Google Play.

Original at https://www.mystratfordnow.com/67143/new-pilot-project-in-stratford-aiming-to-improve-accessibility/




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Come to A November 5, 2019 Windsor Area Public Forum on Accessibility


CBCs The National Reveals A Troubling Barrier to Accessible Housing Facing Too Many People with Disabilities and Another Memorable Anniversary on the Road to A Barrier-Free Ontario

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

October 29, 2019

SUMMARY

1. Come to the November 5, 2019 Essex County Town Hall Forum on the AODA and Accessible Canada Act

Want to hear the latest news in our non-partisan campaign for accessibility for people with disabilities, at the municipal, provincial and federal levels? Want to know how you can make a big difference for over 6 million people with disabilities in Canada?

If you live in Windsor, or anywhere in Essex County, please come to the Essex County Civic Centre on Tuesday, Nov. 5, 2019, beginning at 1 p.m. for a Town Hall Public Forum on making the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act and the Accessible Canada Act work for you. The speaker will be AODA Alliance Chair David Lepofsky. Below is the announcement of this event by the Essex County Accessibility Advisory Committee. We commend that Committee and the municipal staff that supports them for organizing this event and for reaching out to the AODA Alliance to have our chair take part. Information on how to RSVP is available at a link in the announcement, set out below.

2. CBCs The National TV Program Shines Light on Another Troubling Disability Accessibility Barrier

For the third time this year, CBC TVs unstoppable reporter Rosa Marchitelli shone a bright light on another troubling accessibility barrier that faces too many people with disabilities in Canada. This time, it was a barrier to accessible housing. A condo refused to install an automatic door opener to accommodate a woman with a disability who needs it to get in and out of the building where she lives. We set that story out below, and commend CBC, Rosa Marchitelli and her team for covering this barrier.

This story is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the critical shortage of accessible housing in Canada, needed by a growing population that needs an accessible place to live. Federal, provincial and municipal action is needed to address this. We are honoured that CBC has come to us with this story and sought our comment on it.

3. Today is An Important Anniversary for the Campaign for Accessibility

Twenty-one years ago today, tireless and tenacious grass roots disability advocacy paid off, with long term consequences for over 2 million Ontarians with disabilities!

On October 29, 1998, when the Conservative Government of Premier Mike Harris was in power, the Ontarians with Disabilities Act Committee (the predecessor to the AODA Alliance) got the Ontario Legislature to unanimously pass a powerful resolution. It called for the enactment of a provincial disability accessibility law that puts into effect the 11 principles that grass roots disability advocates had formulated. You can read that resolution by visiting https://www.aodaalliance.org/whats-new/today-is-the-20th-anniversary-of-the-ontario-legislatures-historic-unanimous-resolution-calling-for-ontario-to-enact-strong-and-effective-disability-accessibility-legislation-how-far-have-1-9-mil/

The events of that dramatic day are summarized in a three-page excerpt, set out below, from AODA Alliance Chair David Lepofsky’s detailed article which summarizes the Disabilities Act movements history from 1994 to 2003. To read the debates in the Ontario Legislature on October 29, 1998, leading to the passage of this resolution, visit http://www.odacommittee.net/hansard18.html

Over two decades later, we still measure the legislation weve won, the McGuinty Governments Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act 2005, against the 11 principles that the Ontario Legislature adopted on October 29, 1998. We also continue to measure any accessibility standards and other actions taken under the AODA 2005 against the 11 bedrock principles which the Ontario Legislature adopted on that historic day.

It is troubling that on this anniversary, a seemingly-endless 273 days have passed since the Ontario Government received the final report of the Independent Review of the AODAs implementation and enforcement by former Lieutenant Governor David Onley. The Ontario Government has still not announced a comprehensive plan to implement the Onley Report. In the meantime, public money continues to be freely available to create new barriers against people with disabilities in Ontario and to perpetuate existing barriers.

Learn more about the ODA Committee’s campaign that led to the enactment of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act in 2005.

Learn more about the AODA Alliance’s campaign since 2005 to get the AODA effectively implemented and enforced.

Learn more about the AODA Alliance’s campaign to get the Federal Government to enact strong national accessibility legislation.

MORE DETAILS
Essex County Accessibility Advisory Committee Announcement of November 5, 2019 Town Hall Public Forum on Accessibility for People with Disabilities

Accessibility Champion to Speak at Essex County Civic Centre

David Lepofsky, a prominent and passionate champion for accessibility and the rights of persons with disabilities, will speak at a free event hosted by the Essex County Accessibility Advisory Committee at the Civic Centre on Tuesday, Nov. 5.

An author, advocate, professor, lawyer and community organizer, Lepofsky will speak about accessibility in municipal settings and the need for continued advocacy in pursuit of an inclusive society accessible to all. The ECAAC is thrilled to welcome such an experienced, engaging and dynamic speaker on such an important topic.

Lepofsky has been advocating for laws to protect the rights of persons with disabilities in Canada since the 1970s. In the early 1980s, he was part of a successful effort to ensure the rights of those with disabilities were protected in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. He began fighting for those with vision loss in the 1990s and won cases against the Toronto Transit Commission before the Human Rights Tribunal, which ordered the TTC in 2005 to announce all subway stops and in 2007 to announce all bus and streetcar stops.

From 1994 to 2005, Lepofsky led the Ontarians with Disabilities Act Committee, which campaigned for a decade to secure passage of two provincial laws to make Ontario fully accessible the Ontarians with Disabilities Act 2001 and the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act 2005.

He is presently the chair of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance, which advocates for the strong accessibility standards outlined in provincial legislation. The Alliance successfully secured in 2010 amendments to electoral legislation to address barriers to voting in Ontario and is currently working for the expansion of telephone and internet voting.

Lepofsky is a graduate of Harvard Law School and Osgoode Hall Law School, where he is a visiting professor of Disability Rights and Legal Education. He is also an adjunct member of the University of Torontos Faculty of Law. He is the author of one law book, the author or co-author of 30 law journal articles or book chapters and his work has been cited in several decisions by the Supreme Court of Canada.

He was awarded the Order of Canada in 1995, the Order of Ontario in 2007 and inducted into the Terry Fox Hall of Fame in 2003. He has honorary doctorates from multiple Canadian universities and awards from several organizations including the March of Dimes Canada and Community Living Ontario. Canadian Lawyer magazine named him one of Canadas 25 most influential lawyers in 2010.

Lepofsky has been a featured speaker across Canada and the United States as well as Israel, Denmark, Belgium, New Zealand and the Republic of Ireland. He will speak at the Essex County Civic Centre on Tuesday, Nov. 5, beginning at 1 p.m.

The event is free but space is limited, so participants are asked to register by visiting the County of Essexs website. CBC TV News The National October 13, 2019

Originally posted at https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/calgary/go-public-disabled-automatic-door-1.5313633 Calgary GO PUBLIC
‘If there’s a fire I’m dead’: Quadruple amputee battles condo board for access to her own building
Governments need to ‘get with the program,’ fix building codes and laws, advocate says Rosa Marchitelli CBC News

Verna Marzo says she’ll never forget the embarrassment of being stuck outside her Calgary condo building in the cold for almost two hours, waiting for someone to let her in because as a quadruple amputee she can’t open the doors on her own, and her condo board has refused to install automatic doors she can use.

“Someone helped me [get] out, but when I wanted to go back in, there was no one to open the door,” said Marzo, 46.

“It was cold. I called my sister but my sister was at work so I waited until my caregiver arrived.” She says none of the other doors in the building is an option.

“That means I get stuck behind the doors. If there’s an emergency if there’s a fire, I’m dead, there’s no way I can get outside.”

According to an advocate for people with disabilities, situations like Marzo’s are “all too common,” because weak building codes and a lack of provincial accessibility laws are causing a “chronic and pervasive shortage” of accessible housing.

“Imagine that you’re in a building where you paid good money to live and you can’t get in or out without having someone there,” said David Lepofsky, chair of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance.

“Imagine you go to sleep at night knowing God forbid if there’s a fire, you can’t let yourself out. No one would want to live that way and people with disabilities shouldn’t have to live that way.”

Homebound and frustrated
Two years ago, after having emergency abdominal surgery, Marzo contracted sepsis a reaction to a severe blood infection that leads to organs shutting down. Doctors amputated both legs and arms to save her life.

Earlier this year, she started shopping for a condo that would allow her to get around with her wheelchair or prosthetics. She says she knew the place she bought wasn’t perfect, but it was one of the few she could afford. She hoped to deal with issues as they came up, but never expected to be fighting for a door.

In May, a few months after she was locked outside in the cold, she asked the building manager if automatic doors could be installed.

She was told the condo board decided not at this time. Marzo’s social worker tried again, contacting the board on her behalf.

She was told the board already had a plan for new doors but there would be no automatic push-button system due to security concerns of the doors being open too long.

That explanation is “a total red herring,” according to Lepofsky.

“You could design doors with optical sensors to protect against that. But even a manual door, with a lock, there’s no guarantee that requires it to be held open only long enough for the person with the key to get through.”

Meanwhile, Marzo remains homebound and frustrated.

“I don’t want to only benefit me. I want people who have lesser mobility to benefit as well. Because it’s not easy to just be staying at home and be depressed,” she said.

The property management company declined to answer Go Public’s questions, claiming it was a legal matter and referring us to the condo board.

Go Public made repeated requests to board members for comment; all went unanswered.

‘Get with the program’
Automatic doors would cost between $2,500 to $7,500, depending on the design, according to Sean Crump from Universal Access, a Calgary company that provides advice to businesses on how to make buildings more accessible.

Crump says there is public funding available to qualified candidates to help pay for building modifications, though it’s not clear if Marzo’s building qualifies.

“There are a few resources. The federal government has an Enabling Access Fund that allows funds to be put into accessible design for spaces and buildings and it’s done a lot of good.”

More than three million people over the age of 15 have at least one physical disability according to the most recent Statistics Canada numbers from 2017.

On July 11, the Accessible Canada Act came into force. Lepofsky says it’s a well intentioned effort at mandating barrier-free access, but it, too, falls short by covering only sectors within Ottawa’s jurisdiction like banking, telecommunications and the federal government.

He says that leaves a mish-mash of accessibility laws or none at all at the provincial level. Ontario, Manitoba and Nova Scotia are the only provinces with that kind of legislation.

“We need the seven provinces in Canada that don’t have a provincial accessibility law to enact one to get with the program,” Lepofsky said.

But even in those provinces, Marzo would have little or no recourse. Manitoba and Nova Scotia’s legislation don’t address the responsibilities of condo boards.

Ontario’s does, but since it was implemented in 2005, it’s done little to help people with disabilities, according to a review released in January by former lieutenant governor David Onley.

“We are almost 14 years later,” Onley, who was Canada’s first lieutenant governor with a physical disability, wrote, “and the promised accessible Ontario is nowhere in sight.”

“For most disabled persons, Ontario is not a place of opportunity but one of countless, dispiriting, soul-crushing barriers.”

Changing the building codes could also help, according to Lepofsky. But, though national and provincial codes cover new buildings and major renovations, older buildings like Marzo’s are under no obligation to renovate.

All of this, Lepofsky says, leaves people with disabilities to deal with problems “one battle at a time” through human rights complaints.

The national and provincial human rights codes say buildings used by the public need to be accessible.

Fight for doors ‘hideous’
Marzo says everywhere she turned no one could or would help. She says her call to the Alberta Human Rights Commission wasn’t returned and the City of Calgary told her there is nothing it can do.

“They just keep [telling me] call this person or this person and eventually someone from City of Calgary called me and said they cannot force the condo board to put the door in because it’s not the law.”

Go Public took Marzo’s situation to provincial and federal lawmakers.

Jennifer Dagsvik, spokesperson for Alberta’s Ministry of Community and Social Service, says the province is “monitoring” the new federal and existing provincial laws.

She says while Alberta lacks an accessibility law, people with disabilities can seek help under the Alberta Human Rights Act and the Premier’s Council on the Status of Persons with Disabilities.

Ottawa’s most recent minister of public services and procurement and accessibility didn’t answer Go Public’s questions directly.

Instead Carla Qualtrough sent a general statement, referring to the Accessible Canada Act and the accessibility review board the Canadian Accessibility Standards Development Organization (CASDO) it created.

“While CASDO is still in its early stages of development, it has been made evident by Canadians and members of the disability community that standards in new and existing buildings is a priority,” Qualtrough said.

Marzo says she won’t give up, saying it’s “hideous” she’s had to fight this hard to be able to enter and exit the building she lives in.

She’s planning to talk to a lawyer for advice on what to do next.

“They will get old too,” she says, referring to members of her condo board. “And they will lose their strength. And they will thank me for that door if they will do it now.”

Rosa Marchitelli
@cbcRosa
Rosa Marchitelli is a national award winner for her investigative work. As co-host of the CBC News segment Go Public, she has a reputation for asking tough questions and holding companies and individuals to account. Rosa’s work is seen across CBC News platforms.

With files by Jenn Blair
Excerpt from The Long, Arduous Road To A Barrier-Free Ontario For People With Disabilities: The History Of The Ontarians with Disabilities Act The First Chapter

(2004, 15 National Journal of Constitutional Law)
By David Lepofsky

8) FALL 1998: THE ONTARIO LEGISLATURE DECLARES WHAT THE ODA MUST INCLUDE AND THE GOVERNMENT BRINGS FORWARD ITS FIRST ODA BILL

a) Enshrining The ODA Yardstick – The Legislature’s Second ODA Resolution Adopts Our Eleven Principles

Perhaps the most significant milestone in the first chapter of our campaign came in October 1998. In the Fall of 1998, after the Government’s 1998 ODA closed consultations ended, we turned our attention to a next big challenge. A Government ODA bill could come at any time. We had no reason to expect that the Government would forewarn us of the date when it would introduce an ODA bill into the Legislature. The Government hadn’t forewarned us of the July 1998 release of its ODA discussion paper.

We wanted to publicly set a clear benchmark or yardstick against which any Government’s ODA bill could be measured. We had no reason to expect that a Government ODA bill would be any better than its weak policy framework in its ODA discussion paper.

Early in the Fall of 1998, we were approached by Liberal Windsor MPP Dwight Duncan. Until then, Hamilton Liberal MPP Dominic Agostino had been the lead Liberal MPP championing the ODA in the Legislature. Agostino had announced at one of our news conferences that his father had been an injured worker. From this, he well understood the barriers persons with disabilities faced. He had brought a personal passion to the ODA issue.

Mr. Duncan told us he wanted to introduce a private member’s ODA bill in the Legislature for us. We welcomed his support. However, we were still very reluctant to put massive work into researching and drafting a private member’s bill, for the reasons discussed earlier. We also feared that the Government could skilfully focus a barrage of criticism on some minor, distracting target in a bill that we would crank out, such as some obscure inconsequential wording problem. It could thereby transform a red herring into the central public issue. This could drag us off our message.

Accordingly we asked Duncan to instead introduce another private member’s ODA resolution into the Legislature. This tactic had worked so well for us in May 1996, when NDP MPP Marion Boyd had successfully brought forward the first ODA resolution to the Legislature. If Duncan were to bring forward another ODA resolution, this could help increase the Liberal Party’s support for the ODA. It was very important for our coalition to be, and to be seen as non-partisan. Rotating our activities among both opposition parties helped us achieve this.

Duncan was open to our idea. We then had to decide what this second ODA resolution should say. It needn’t replicate the first ODA resolution. That had called on the Ontario Government to keep its 1995 ODA election promise. We again didn’t want the resolution to be a partisan attack on the Conservative Government. As in 1996, we didn’t want to give the Government an easy excuse to use its majority in the Legislature to defeat this resolution.

We came up with an idea which would move the ODA cause forward, and which would put all of the political parties to the test. We proposed to Duncan that his resolution call on the Ontario Legislature to pass an ODA which complies with our 11 principles. A legislative debate over those principles took the ODA discussion far beyond the realm of just discussing in the abstract whether a law called the ODA should be passed. Such a resolution would make the parties either vote for or against our core principles on what that legislation should contain.

Dwight Duncan agreed to introduce the resolution we proposed. He also secured the Liberal Party’s support for the resolution. The NDP also notified us that it would support the resolution. We did not know whether the Conservatives, who commanded a majority of votes in the Legislature, would support it. We had no reason in advance for any optimism.

The resolution was scheduled for a debate and vote in the Legislature on October 29, 1998. This was one week after our meeting with Citizenship Minister Bassett, where we had been treated to the overhead slide show. The date for the resolution’s debate and vote also came a mere two days before Hallowe’en. Carole Riback, an inspired and inspiring ODA activist, dreamt up a clever Hallowe’en slogan around which we rallied. This resolution vote raised the question: Would the ODA be a trick or treat?

In Fall 1998, the ODA movement made its main focus getting this resolution passed. We urged ODA supporters to lobby MPPs from all three parties to vote for it. We also urged them to go to their local media to publicize this issue. We were learning more and more that the ODA movement was increasingly effective when it channelled its energies over a period of weeks on one concrete short-term goal.

The ODA Committee again quickly pulled together a major event at the legislative building at Queen’s Park for the morning of the resolution’s debate and vote. ODA supporters came to the legislative building and met in committee rooms. We planned to break into small teams to each go to MPPs’ offices, door to door, to trick or treat, canvassing them for their support on the resolution.

All hurried planning for this event went well, until we were contacted the night before by the office of the Speaker of the Legislature. It confronted us with a huge problem. The Speaker would not let us go to any MPP’s office unless we had a prior appointment. We were told that there is a blanket rule that provides that no one can get near the MPPs’ offices without an invitation. We were threatened with all being refused admittance to the legislative building. Since the Conservatives had taken power in 1995, Queen’s Park building security had increased extraordinarily.

This threatened to eviscerate our plans. We explained to the Speaker’s office that we planned an informal door-to-door canvass. It was impossible for us at that late hour to call then, the very night before our event, to try to book meetings with each MPP. We feared that if asked, Conservative MPPs would not agree to meet with us. They had refused to come to most of our prior events, and had so often resisted meeting our supporters in their local communities. If we could even get through to their offices at that late hour (which was unlikely), we would likely be told that appointments cannot be booked on such short notice.

We hurriedly negotiated a solution with the Speaker’s office. Small groups of our supporters could go to MPPs’ offices without a prior appointment, if each group was escorted by one Queen’s Park security officer, one MPP staffer, and one ODA committee representative. We had to agree to immediately recall all groups if any complaints about their conduct were received.

Having removed this last-minute roadblock, October 29, 1998 was a dramatic day. We had no idea in advance whether the resolution would pass. The Conservative majority held the power to decide this. Our teams carried out their door-to-door trick or treat canvass without any complaint.

One group was larger than authorized. We persuaded the Queen’s Park security staff not to complain. That group was composed entirely of deaf people. They made no noise, and needed our sign language interpreters. Queen’s Park security officials who travelled with our teams seemed to be enjoying the process.

An ODA supporter on one of our trick or treat teams reported that a Conservative MPP happened to be quickly leaving his office as the ODA team approached. The MPP called out that he had no time to meet, but he would vote for us, whatever it was we wanted him to vote for. While behind a glass door, another Conservative MPP turned to a staff member and mouthed that he did not know what the Ontarians with Disabilities Act was all about. That MPP hadn’t foreseen that among those on the other side of the glass door was a hard-of-hearing ODA supporter who can read lips.

The trick or treat teams finished their tours of MPPs’ offices. They then converged in Queen’s Park legislative committee rooms to watch the MPPs debate Dwight Duncan’s resolution in the Legislature, again on video monitors. We again brought our own sign language interpretation. As in the past, the Legislature’s public galleries remained almost totally inaccessible to persons with mobility disabilities.

During the debate in the Legislature, Liberal and NDP MPPs predictably spoke in favour of the resolution. The governing Conservative MPPs boasted of their Government’s record, and sounded as if they would vote against the resolution. However, when the vote came, our second ODA resolution in the Ontario Legislature passed unanimously.

Immediately afterward, we held a triumphant news conference at the Queen’s Park media studio. Both opposition parties had MPPs in attendance. The Government again declined our invitation to participate.

As another important step forward for us, the new Liberal leader, Dalton McGuinty attended our news conference. He announced on the record that if his party were elected, they would commit to passing an ODA which complies with Dwight Duncan’s resolution.44

Later that day Citizenship Minister Bassett was asked in Question Period whether her Government would honour the resolution that the Legislature had unanimously passed that morning. Minister Bassett had not attended the debate in the Legislature that morning when the resolution was under consideration, even though it directly related to legislation for which she had lead responsibility for the Government. In her evasive answer to the opposition’s question put to her in Question Period that afternoon, Minister Bassett condemned the resolution as calling for job hiring quotas.

It was self-evident from the resolution’s text that it did not call for job hiring quotas or even hint at them. When we realized that the Government was going to use the hot-button job quotas accusation to try to whip up public opposition against us, we immediately launched a province-wide letter-writing campaign addressed directly to Minister Bassett and Premier Harris. We proclaimed that we sought no job hiring quotas. We called on the Government to desist in their inaccurate claims. Within a short time, Minister Bassett candidly conceded on a CBC radio interview that we were not seeking quotas. The Government thereafter dropped that tactic.

The Legislature’s passage of Dwight Duncan’s October 29, 1998 resolution was likely the most critical victory for the ODA movement in its history to that date. From then on, we no longer referred to the 11 principles as simply the ODA Committee’s 11 principles for the ODA. From then on we could, and did point to them as the 11 principles for the ODA which the Ontario Legislature unanimously approved by a resolution on October 29, 1998. We were indebted to Duncan for spearheading this resolution in a non-partisan way. His resolution served to become the yardstick by which any future legislation would be tested. It was also the catalyst that brought the Liberal and New Democratic Parties officially on the record in support of our 11 principles for the ODA. Both parties would go on to campaign for these 11 principles in the 1999 and 2003 provincial elections, and would actively press the Conservative Government to live up to them.

In the end, October 29, 1998 was a decisive, indeed towering milestone on the road to a barrier-free Ontario. Ironically, we got no media coverage that day, despite our best efforts. This cannot be explained on the basis that this story wasn’t newsworthy. The story had all the hallmarks of newsworthiness. We have learned that this is an unfortunate fact of community advocacy life. It did not deter our tenacity.

44 This was Mr. McGuinty’s first public commitment to this effect. Of great importance to the as-yet unwritten second chapter of the ODA saga, five years later, Mr. McGuinty would be elected Premier of Ontario in the October 2, 2003 provincial election. His 2003 election platform included a pledge to fulfil the commitment he first gave at our news conference on October 29, 1998.




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Come to A November 5, 2019 Windsor Area Public Forum on Accessibility – CBC’s “The National” Reveals A Troubling Barrier to Accessible Housing Facing Too Many People with Disabilities – and Another Memorable Anniversary on the Road to A Barrier-Free Ontario


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

Come to A November 5, 2019 Windsor Area Public Forum on Accessibility – CBC’s “The National” Reveals A Troubling Barrier to Accessible Housing Facing Too Many People with Disabilities – and Another Memorable Anniversary on the Road to A Barrier-Free Ontario

October 29, 2019

          SUMMARY

1. Come to the November 5, 2019 Essex County Town Hall Forum on the AODA and Accessible Canada Act

Want to hear the latest news in our non-partisan campaign for accessibility for people with disabilities, at the municipal, provincial and federal levels? Want to know how you can make a big difference for over 6 million people with disabilities in Canada?

If you live in Windsor, or anywhere in Essex County, please come to the Essex County Civic Centre on Tuesday, Nov. 5, 2019, beginning at 1 p.m. for a Town Hall Public Forum on making the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act and the Accessible Canada Act work for you. The speaker will be AODA Alliance Chair David Lepofsky. Below is the announcement of this event by the Essex County Accessibility Advisory Committee. We commend that Committee and the municipal staff that supports them for organizing this event and for reaching out to the AODA Alliance to have our chair take part. Information on how to RSVP is available at a link in the announcement, set out below.

2. CBC’s “The National” TV Program Shines Light on Another Troubling Disability Accessibility Barrier

For the third time this year, CBC TV’s unstoppable reporter Rosa Marchitelli shone a bright light on another troubling accessibility barrier that faces too many people with disabilities in Canada. This time, it was a barrier to accessible housing. A condo refused to install an automatic door opener to accommodate a woman with a disability who needs it to get in and out of the building where she lives. We set that story out below, and commend CBC, Rosa Marchitelli and her team for covering this barrier.

This story is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the critical shortage of accessible housing in Canada, needed by a growing population that needs an accessible place to live. Federal, provincial and municipal action is needed to address this. We are honoured that CBC has come to us with this story and sought our comment on it.

 3. Today is An Important Anniversary for the Campaign for Accessibility

Twenty-one years ago today, tireless and tenacious grass roots disability advocacy paid off, with long term consequences for over 2 million Ontarians with disabilities!

On October 29, 1998, when the Conservative Government of Premier Mike Harris was in power, the Ontarians with Disabilities Act Committee (the predecessor to the AODA Alliance) got the Ontario Legislature to unanimously pass a powerful resolution. It called for the enactment of a provincial disability accessibility law that puts into effect the 11 principles that grass roots disability advocates had formulated. You can read that resolution by visiting https://www.aodaalliance.org/whats-new/today-is-the-20th-anniversary-of-the-ontario-legislatures-historic-unanimous-resolution-calling-for-ontario-to-enact-strong-and-effective-disability-accessibility-legislation-how-far-have-1-9-mil/

The events of that dramatic day are summarized in a three-page excerpt, set out below, from AODA Alliance Chair David Lepofsky’s detailed article which summarizes the Disabilities Act movement’s history from 1994 to 2003. To read the debates in the Ontario Legislature on October 29, 1998, leading to the passage of this resolution, visit http://www.odacommittee.net/hansard18.html

Over two decades later, we still measure the legislation we’ve won, the McGuinty Government’s Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act 2005, against the 11 principles that the Ontario Legislature adopted on October 29, 1998. We also continue to measure any accessibility standards and other actions taken under the AODA 2005 against the 11 bedrock principles which the Ontario Legislature adopted on that historic day.

It is troubling that on this anniversary, a seemingly-endless 273 days have passed since the Ontario Government received the final report of the Independent Review of the AODA’s implementation and enforcement by former Lieutenant Governor David Onley. The Ontario Government has still not announced a comprehensive plan to implement the Onley Report. In the meantime, public money continues to be freely available to create new barriers against people with disabilities in Ontario and to perpetuate existing barriers.

Learn more about the ODA Committee’s campaign that led to the enactment of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act in 2005.

Learn more about the AODA Alliance’s campaign since 2005 to get the AODA effectively implemented and enforced.

Learn more about the AODA Alliance’s campaign to get the Federal Government to enact strong national accessibility legislation.

          MORE DETAILS

 Essex County Accessibility Advisory Committee Announcement of November 5, 2019 Town Hall Public Forum on Accessibility for People with Disabilities

Accessibility Champion to Speak at Essex County Civic Centre

David Lepofsky, a prominent and passionate champion for accessibility and the rights of persons with disabilities, will speak at a free event hosted by the Essex County Accessibility Advisory Committee at the Civic Centre on Tuesday, Nov. 5.

An author, advocate, professor, lawyer and community organizer, Lepofsky will speak about accessibility in municipal settings and the need for continued advocacy in pursuit of an inclusive society accessible to all. The ECAAC is thrilled to welcome such an experienced, engaging and dynamic speaker on such an important topic.

Lepofsky has been advocating for laws to protect the rights of persons with disabilities in Canada since the 1970s. In the early 1980s, he was part of a successful effort to ensure the rights of those with disabilities were protected in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. He began fighting for those with vision loss in the 1990s and won cases against the Toronto Transit Commission before the Human Rights Tribunal, which ordered the TTC in 2005 to announce all subway stops and in 2007 to announce all bus and streetcar stops.

From 1994 to 2005, Lepofsky led the Ontarians with Disabilities Act Committee, which campaigned for a decade to secure passage of two provincial laws to make Ontario fully accessible – the Ontarians with Disabilities Act 2001 and the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act 2005.

He is presently the chair of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance, which advocates for the strong accessibility standards outlined in provincial legislation. The Alliance successfully secured in 2010 amendments to electoral legislation to address barriers to voting in Ontario and is currently working for the expansion of telephone and internet voting.

Lepofsky is a graduate of Harvard Law School and Osgoode Hall Law School, where he is a visiting professor of Disability Rights and Legal Education. He is also an adjunct member of the University of Toronto’s Faculty of Law. He is the author of one law book, the author or co-author of 30 law journal articles or book chapters and his work has been cited in several decisions by the Supreme Court of Canada.

He was awarded the Order of Canada in 1995, the Order of Ontario in 2007 and inducted into the Terry Fox Hall of Fame in 2003. He has honorary doctorates from multiple Canadian universities and awards from several organizations including the March of Dimes Canada and Community Living Ontario. Canadian Lawyer magazine named him one of Canada’s 25 most influential lawyers in 2010.

Lepofsky has been a featured speaker across Canada and the United States as well as Israel, Denmark, Belgium, New Zealand and the Republic of Ireland. He will speak at the Essex County Civic Centre on Tuesday, Nov. 5, beginning at 1 p.m.

The event is free but space is limited, so participants are asked to register by visiting the County of Essex’s website.

CBC TV News The National October 13, 2019

Originally posted at https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/calgary/go-public-disabled-automatic-door-1.5313633

Calgary GO PUBLIC

‘If there’s a fire I’m dead’: Quadruple amputee battles condo board for access to her own building

Governments need to ‘get with the program,’ fix building codes and laws, advocate says

Rosa Marchitelli CBC News

Verna Marzo says she’ll never forget the embarrassment of being stuck outside her Calgary condo building — in the cold for almost two hours, waiting for someone to let her in — because as a quadruple amputee she can’t open the doors on her own, and her condo board has refused to install automatic doors she can use.

“Someone helped me [get] out, but when I wanted to go back in, there was no one to open the door,” said Marzo, 46.

“It was cold. I called my sister but my sister was at work … so I waited until my caregiver arrived.” She says none of the other doors in the building is an option.

“That means I get stuck behind the doors. If there’s an emergency … if there’s a fire, I’m dead, there’s no way I can get outside.”

According to an advocate for people with disabilities, situations like Marzo’s are “all too common,” because weak building codes and a lack of provincial accessibility laws are causing a “chronic and pervasive shortage” of accessible housing.

“Imagine that you’re in a building where you paid good money to live … and you can’t get in or out without having someone there,” said David Lepofsky, chair of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance.

“Imagine you go to sleep at night knowing — God forbid — if there’s a fire, you can’t let yourself out. No one would want to live that way and people with disabilities shouldn’t have to live that way.”

Homebound and frustrated

Two years ago, after having emergency abdominal surgery, Marzo contracted sepsis — a reaction to a severe blood infection that leads to organs shutting down. Doctors amputated both legs and arms to save her life.

Earlier this year, she started shopping for a condo that would allow her to get around with her wheelchair or prosthetics. She says she knew the place she bought wasn’t perfect, but it was one of the few she could afford. She hoped to deal with issues as they came up, but never expected to be fighting for a door.

In May, a few months after she was locked outside in the cold, she asked the building manager if automatic doors could be installed.

She was told the condo board decided not at this time. Marzo’s social worker tried again, contacting the board on her behalf.

She was told the board already had a plan for new doors but there would be no automatic push-button system due to security concerns of the doors being open too long.

That explanation is “a total red herring,” according to Lepofsky.

“You could design doors with optical sensors to protect against that. But even a manual door, with a lock, there’s no guarantee that requires it to be held open only long enough for the person with the key to get through.”

Meanwhile, Marzo remains homebound and frustrated.

“I don’t want to only benefit me. I want people who have lesser mobility to benefit as well. Because it’s not easy to just be staying at home and be depressed,” she said.

The property management company declined to answer Go Public’s questions, claiming it was a legal matter and referring us to the condo board.

Go Public made repeated requests to board members for comment; all went unanswered.

‘Get with the program’

Automatic doors would cost between $2,500 to $7,500, depending on the design, according to Sean Crump from Universal Access, a Calgary company that provides advice to businesses on how to make buildings more accessible.

Crump says there is public funding available to qualified candidates to help pay for building modifications, though it’s not clear if Marzo’s building qualifies.

“There are a few resources. The federal government has an Enabling Access Fund that allows funds to be put into accessible design for spaces and buildings — and it’s done a lot of good.”

More than three million people over the age of 15 have at least one physical disability according to the most recent Statistics Canada numbers from 2017.

On July 11, the Accessible Canada Act came into force. Lepofsky says it’s a well intentioned effort at mandating barrier-free access, but it, too, falls short by covering only sectors within Ottawa’s jurisdiction like banking, telecommunications and the federal government.

He says that leaves a mish-mash of accessibility laws — or none at all — at the provincial level. Ontario, Manitoba and Nova Scotia are the only provinces with that kind of legislation.

“We need the seven provinces in Canada that don’t have a provincial accessibility law to enact one — to get with the program,” Lepofsky said.

But even in those provinces, Marzo would have little or no recourse. Manitoba and Nova Scotia’s legislation don’t address the responsibilities of condo boards.

Ontario’s does, but since it was implemented in 2005, it’s done little to help people with disabilities, according to a review released in January by former lieutenant governor David Onley.

“We are almost 14 years later,” Onley, who was Canada’s first lieutenant governor with a physical disability, wrote, “and the promised accessible Ontario is nowhere in sight.”

“For most disabled persons, Ontario is not a place of opportunity but one of countless, dispiriting, soul-crushing barriers.”

Changing the building codes could also help, according to Lepofsky. But, though national and provincial codes cover new buildings and major renovations, older buildings like Marzo’s are under no obligation to renovate.

All of this, Lepofsky says, leaves people with disabilities to deal with problems “one battle at a time” through human rights complaints.

The national and provincial human rights codes say buildings used by the public need to be accessible.

Fight for doors ‘hideous’

Marzo says everywhere she turned no one could — or would — help. She says her call to the Alberta Human Rights Commission wasn’t returned and the City of Calgary told her there is nothing it can do.

“They just keep [telling me] call this person or this person and eventually someone from City of Calgary called me and said they cannot force the condo board to put the door in because it’s not the law.”

Go Public took Marzo’s situation to provincial and federal lawmakers.

Jennifer Dagsvik, spokesperson for Alberta’s Ministry of Community and Social Service, says the province is “monitoring” the new federal and existing provincial laws.

She says while Alberta lacks an accessibility law, people with disabilities can seek help under the Alberta Human Rights Act and the Premier’s Council on the Status of Persons with Disabilities.

Ottawa’s most recent minister of public services and procurement and accessibility didn’t answer Go Public’s questions directly.

Instead Carla Qualtrough sent a general statement, referring to the Accessible Canada Act and the accessibility review board — the Canadian Accessibility Standards Development Organization (CASDO) — it created.

“While CASDO is still in its early stages of development, it has been made evident by Canadians and members of the disability community that standards in new and existing buildings is a priority,” Qualtrough said.

Marzo says she won’t give up, saying it’s “hideous” she’s had to fight this hard to be able to enter and exit the building she lives in.

She’s planning to talk to a lawyer for advice on what to do next.

“They will get old too,” she says, referring to members of her condo board. “And they will lose their strength. And they will thank me for that door if they will do it now.”

Rosa Marchitelli

@cbcRosa

Rosa Marchitelli is a national award winner for her investigative work. As co-host of the CBC News segment Go Public, she has a reputation for asking tough questions and holding companies and individuals to account. Rosa’s work is seen across CBC News platforms.

With files by Jenn Blair

 Excerpt from The Long, Arduous Road To A Barrier-Free Ontario For People With Disabilities: The History Of The Ontarians with Disabilities Act — The First Chapter

(2004, 15 National Journal of Constitutional Law)

By David Lepofsky

8)         FALL 1998: THE ONTARIO LEGISLATURE DECLARES WHAT THE ODA MUST INCLUDE AND THE GOVERNMENT BRINGS FORWARD ITS FIRST ODA BILL

  1. a) Enshrining The ODA Yardstick – The Legislature’s Second ODA Resolution Adopts Our Eleven Principles

Perhaps the most significant milestone in the first chapter of our campaign came in October 1998. In the Fall of 1998, after the Government’s 1998 ODA closed consultations ended, we turned our attention to a next big challenge. A Government ODA bill could come at any time. We had no reason to expect that the Government would forewarn us of the date when it would introduce an ODA bill into the Legislature. The Government hadn’t forewarned us of the July 1998 release of its ODA discussion paper.

We wanted to publicly set a clear benchmark or yardstick against which any Government’s ODA bill could be measured. We had no reason to expect that a Government ODA bill would be any better than its weak policy framework in its ODA discussion paper.

Early in the Fall of 1998, we were approached by Liberal Windsor MPP Dwight Duncan. Until then, Hamilton Liberal MPP Dominic Agostino had been the lead Liberal MPP championing the ODA in the Legislature. Agostino had announced at one of our news conferences that his father had been an injured worker. From this, he well understood the barriers persons with disabilities faced. He had brought a personal passion to the ODA issue.

Mr. Duncan told us he wanted to introduce a private member’s ODA bill in the Legislature for us. We welcomed his support. However, we were still very reluctant to put massive work into researching and drafting a private member’s bill, for the reasons discussed earlier. We also feared that the Government could skilfully focus a barrage of criticism on some minor, distracting target in a bill that we would crank out, such as some obscure inconsequential wording problem. It could thereby transform a red herring into the central public issue. This could drag us off our message.

Accordingly we asked Duncan to instead introduce another private member’s ODA resolution into the Legislature. This tactic had worked so well for us in May 1996, when NDP MPP Marion Boyd had successfully brought forward the first ODA resolution to the Legislature. If Duncan were to bring forward another ODA resolution, this could help increase the Liberal Party’s support for the ODA. It was very important for our coalition to be, and to be seen as non-partisan. Rotating our activities among both opposition parties helped us achieve this.

Duncan was open to our idea. We then had to decide what this second ODA resolution should say. It needn’t replicate the first ODA resolution. That had called on the Ontario Government to keep its 1995 ODA election promise. We again didn’t want the resolution to be a partisan attack on the Conservative Government. As in 1996, we didn’t want to give the Government an easy excuse to use its majority in the Legislature to defeat this resolution.

We came up with an idea which would move the ODA cause forward, and which would put all of the political parties to the test. We proposed to Duncan that his resolution call on the Ontario Legislature to pass an ODA which complies with our 11 principles. A legislative debate over those principles took the ODA discussion far beyond the realm of just discussing in the abstract whether a law called the ODA should be passed. Such a resolution would make the parties either vote for or against our core principles on what that legislation should contain.

Dwight Duncan agreed to introduce the resolution we proposed. He also secured the Liberal Party’s support for the resolution. The NDP also notified us that it would support the resolution. We did not know whether the Conservatives, who commanded a majority of votes in the Legislature, would support it. We had no reason in advance for any optimism.

The resolution was scheduled for a debate and vote in the Legislature on October 29, 1998. This was one week after our meeting with Citizenship Minister Bassett, where we had been treated to the overhead slide show. The date for the resolution’s debate and vote also came a mere two days before Hallowe’en. Carole Riback, an inspired and inspiring ODA activist, dreamt up a clever Hallowe’en slogan around which we rallied. This resolution vote raised the question: “Would the ODA be a trick or treat?”

In Fall 1998, the ODA movement made its main focus getting this resolution passed. We urged ODA supporters to lobby MPPs from all three parties to vote for it. We also urged them to go to their local media to publicize this issue. We were learning more and more that the ODA movement was increasingly effective when it channelled its energies over a period of weeks on one concrete short-term goal.

The ODA Committee again quickly pulled together a major event at the legislative building at Queen’s Park for the morning of the resolution’s debate and vote. ODA supporters came to the legislative building and met in committee rooms. We planned to break into small teams to each go to MPPs’ offices, door to door, to “trick or treat,” canvassing them for their support on the resolution.

All hurried planning for this event went well, until we were contacted the night before by the office of the Speaker of the Legislature. It confronted us with a huge problem. The Speaker would not let us go to any MPP’s office unless we had a prior appointment. We were told that there is a blanket rule that provides that no one can get near the MPPs’ offices without an invitation. We were threatened with all being refused admittance to the legislative building. Since the Conservatives had taken power in 1995, Queen’s Park building security had increased extraordinarily.

This threatened to eviscerate our plans. We explained to the Speaker’s office that we planned an informal door-to-door canvass. It was impossible for us at that late hour to call then, the very night before our event, to try to book meetings with each MPP. We feared that if asked, Conservative MPPs would not agree to meet with us. They had refused to come to most of our prior events, and had so often resisted meeting our supporters in their local communities. If we could even get through to their offices at that late hour (which was unlikely), we would likely be told that appointments cannot be booked on such short notice.

We hurriedly negotiated a solution with the Speaker’s office. Small groups of our supporters could go to MPPs’ offices without a prior appointment, if each group was escorted by one Queen’s Park security officer, one MPP staffer, and one ODA committee representative. We had to agree to immediately recall all groups if any complaints about their conduct were received.

Having removed this last-minute roadblock, October 29, 1998 was a dramatic day. We had no idea in advance whether the resolution would pass. The Conservative majority held the power to decide this. Our teams carried out their door-to-door trick or treat canvass without any complaint.

One group was larger than authorized. We persuaded the Queen’s Park security staff not to complain. That group was composed entirely of deaf people. They made no noise, and needed our sign language interpreters. Queen’s Park security officials who travelled with our teams seemed to be enjoying the process.

An ODA supporter on one of our “trick or treat” teams reported that a Conservative MPP happened to be quickly leaving his office as the ODA team approached. The MPP called out that he had no time to meet, but he would vote for us, whatever it was we wanted him to vote for. While behind a glass door, another Conservative MPP turned to a staff member and mouthed that he did not know what the Ontarians with Disabilities Act was all about. That MPP hadn’t foreseen that among those on the other side of the glass door was a hard-of-hearing ODA supporter who can read lips.

The trick or treat teams finished their tours of MPPs’ offices. They then converged in Queen’s Park legislative committee rooms to watch the MPPs debate Dwight Duncan’s resolution in the Legislature, again on video monitors. We again brought our own sign language interpretation. As in the past, the Legislature’s public galleries remained almost totally inaccessible to persons with mobility disabilities.

During the debate in the Legislature, Liberal and NDP MPPs predictably spoke in favour of the resolution. The governing Conservative MPPs boasted of their Government’s record, and sounded as if they would vote against the resolution. However, when the vote came, our second ODA resolution in the Ontario Legislature passed unanimously.

Immediately afterward, we held a triumphant news conference at the Queen’s Park media studio. Both opposition parties had MPPs in attendance. The Government again declined our invitation to participate.

As another important step forward for us, the new Liberal leader, Dalton McGuinty attended our news conference. He announced on the record that if his party were elected, they would commit to passing an ODA which complies with Dwight Duncan’s resolution.44

Later that day Citizenship Minister Bassett was asked in Question Period whether her Government would honour the resolution that the Legislature had unanimously passed that morning. Minister Bassett had not attended the debate in the Legislature that morning when the resolution was under consideration, even though it directly related to legislation for which she had lead responsibility for the Government. In her evasive answer to the opposition’s question put to her in Question Period that afternoon, Minister Bassett condemned the resolution as calling for job hiring quotas.

It was self-evident from the resolution’s text that it did not call for job hiring quotas or even hint at them. When we realized that the Government was going to use the hot-button “job quotas” accusation to try to whip up public opposition against us, we immediately launched a province-wide letter-writing campaign addressed directly to Minister Bassett and Premier Harris. We proclaimed that we sought no job hiring quotas. We called on the Government to desist in their inaccurate claims. Within a short time, Minister Bassett candidly conceded on a CBC radio interview that we were not seeking quotas. The Government thereafter dropped that tactic.

The Legislature’s passage of Dwight Duncan’s October 29, 1998 resolution was likely the most critical victory for the ODA movement in its history to that date. From then on, we no longer referred to the 11 principles as simply “the ODA Committee’s 11 principles for the ODA.” From then on we could, and did point to them as “the 11 principles for the ODA which the Ontario Legislature unanimously approved by a resolution on October 29, 1998.” We were indebted to Duncan for spearheading this resolution in a non-partisan way. His resolution served to become the yardstick by which any future legislation would be tested. It was also the catalyst that brought the Liberal and New Democratic Parties officially on the record in support of our 11 principles for the ODA. Both parties would go on to campaign for these 11 principles in the 1999 and 2003 provincial elections, and would actively press the Conservative Government to live up to them.

In the end, October 29, 1998 was a decisive, indeed towering milestone on the road to a barrier-free Ontario. Ironically, we got no media coverage that day, despite our best efforts. This cannot be explained on the basis that this story wasn’t newsworthy. The story had all the hallmarks of newsworthiness. We have learned that this is an unfortunate fact of community advocacy life. It did not deter our tenacity.

44 This was Mr. McGuinty’s first public commitment to this effect. Of great importance to the as-yet unwritten second chapter of the ODA saga, five years later, Mr. McGuinty would be elected Premier of Ontario in the October 2, 2003 provincial election. His 2003 election platform included a pledge to fulfil the commitment he first gave at our news conference on October 29, 1998.



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Service Animals in Schools


The AODA does not yet have an education standard. Two committees are making recommendations about what an education standard should include. Our recent articles have considered how the education standards can build on requirements from the AODA’s existing standards. Now, we will explore new mandates that the education standards could create. One issue that an education standard should address is service animals in schools. Currently, students must ask their school boards if they can bring their service animals to school. Every school board must make its own service animal policy. A new standard is needed for service animals in schools.

Service Animals

Service animals are animals, typically dogs, trained to help people with disabilities maintain independence. They help people with many disabilities and medical conditions, such as:

  • Visual impairments
  • Diabetes
  • Epilepsy
  • Autism
  • Hearing disabilities
  • Physical disabilities

Service animals are working animals with duties. They are not pets. Instead, they are assistants or guides and they usually wear harnesses or vests identifying them as service animals.

Moreover, service animals have specialized training to perform tasks, such as:

  • Guiding a person around obstacles
  • Warning a person about low blood sugar
  • Protecting a person during seizures
  • Calming a person in an environment with too much sensory stimulation and preventing behavioural outbursts
  • Retrieving out-of-reach objects
  • Alerting a person to sounds, such as ringing phones or fire alarms

In addition, service animals are also trained to behave appropriately in public places where non-service-animals are not allowed. For example, good service animal behaviour includes:

  • Focusing on the handler’s needs
  • Avoiding distractions
  • Never barking, growling, or jumping

Standard Needed for Service Animals in Schools

Under the Integrated Accessibility Standards Regulation (IASR), service animals are welcome in all public places. However, the Human Rights Code ruled in 2017 that schools are not places that all members of the public have access to. This ruling means that students with service animals cannot automatically bring their animals to school with them. Instead, they must ask their school boards if they can bring the animal. School boards then make decisions on a case-by-case basis.

There are seventy-two school boards in Ontario. Currently, each school board must develop its own policy  outlining the process families should follow when requesting the accommodation of service animals in schools. As a result, policies may differ widely. Students’ chances to bring service animals to school may depend not on their needs, but on where they live.

When school boards do not have strong policies for students with service animals, children may not receive the classroom accommodations they need. Moreover, students should have the same chance for this accommodation, no matter where they live. A province-wide policy in the education standard could solve this problem. This policy could provide clear guidelines for allowing service animals in schools. It could also offer guidance for situations where staff and students have conflicting accommodation needs. For instance, it could include ways to balance the needs of a service-animal handler and someone with severe allergies to animals.

Our next article will outline some best practices for interacting with service animals.




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Accessible School Field Trips


Our last article outlined how an education standard could improve transportation services for students with disabilities. One improvement could be plans to help more students attend field trips. In this article, we will explore more ways to plan accessible field trips.

Accessible Field Trips

Field trips are an important part of school life. They give students the chance to learn in different ways by visiting new places. Moreover, field trips can help make school subjects mean more for students. For instance, students can take field trips to visit:

  • Museums, to learn more about science or history
  • Theatres, to see performances of plays they have studied
  • Places of worship, for religious studies or services
  • Sports venues, to learn the basics of a sport, such as:
    • Swimming
    • Skiing or snowboarding

In all these places, students can learn from experts in different fields, such as tour guides, theatre professionals, or sports coaches. Furthermore, end-of-year trips to places like amusement parks give elementary-school students a reward for their work during the year. Field trips also bring students together as a group and can be meaningful for their social development. Not all students are exposed to these cultural, athletic, or social activities outside of school. Therefore, all students should have access to field trips.

Accessible Locations

An education standard could mandate that field trips, when possible, should take place in accessible locations. Teachers could find out whether places they plan to visit have accessible features, such as:

  • Ramps, lifts or elevators whenever there are stairs
  • Automatic doors
  • Wide doorways at entrances to buildings and common areas
  • Accessible public washrooms
  • Barrier-free paths of travel into and through buildings
  • Accessible seating in auditoriums
  • Accessible pools and change rooms

Teachers should be encouraged to choose accessible locations for all their field trips. If teachers return to the same places every year with new classes, they will know that every student can enter.

Accessible Programs and Services

In addition, the standard could mandate that field trips should include accessible programming and services, if possible. Many venues offer services that make their events or programs accessible to people with various disabilities. For example, theatres may offer performances with American Sign Language (ASL) interpretation, live description, or touch tours. Similarly, some museums offer ASL-interpreted or tactile tours. Teachers could contact venues to find out if they can arrange these or other services for students during their trip. Likewise, some amusement parks offer accessible attractions. Teachers can find out if a park has rides or other attractions that will be accessible for the students in their classes.

Furthermore, some sports venues, like swimming pools and ski hills, offer programming for learners with and without disabilities. Teachers can contact venues to find out if lessons are available for students with disabilities, including:

  • Physical
  • Intellectual
  • Visual

Some venues may teach students of all abilities together. In contrast, other venues may offer one-on-one lessons for students with disabilities. In both cases, all students can learn the same skill and enjoy time in a new place.

An education standard highlighting the importance of accessible field trips could help teachers plan outings that include all their students.




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School Transportation Services


The AODA does not yet have an education standard. Two committees are making recommendations about what an education standard should include. In the meantime, the Transportation Standards have rules that apply to school transportation. School transportation services make schools more accessible to students with disabilities.

School Transportation Services

Several sections of the Transportation Standards apply to school transportation. For instance, school boards must create individual transportation plans for students with disabilities. In addition, colleges and universities that transport students on their campuses must make this service accessible. They may do so by using accessible vehicles when they transport all students. Alternatively, if they cannot provide integrated service on conventional vehicles, they must have equivalent services on specialized vehicles.

Stronger Standards are Needed

There are many other regulations in the standards that apply to public transportation, such as city buses, but not to school buses. Some of these requirements are:

In addition, the standards list technical rules for making different parts of city buses accessible. For example, some of the rules apply to features such as:

  • Ramps and lifting devices
  • Steps
  • Grab bars, handholds, handrails, and stanchions
  • Floors and carpeted surfaces
  • Lighting
  • Signage

These technical rules make city buses accessible to many passengers with disabilities. In contrast, school buses are not accessible to as many students. While some students can ride the bus with their peers, many others need to use specialized transportation. However, some of these students might ride a conventional school bus if it was slightly more accessible.

Furthermore, individual transportation plans only cover trips to and from school at the beginning and end of the school day. Similarly, universities and colleges only need accessible transportation around their campuses. There are no rules in the standards about how to transport students to special events off school property, such as class field trips. As a result, each student’s family and teachers need to make plans for each trip. An education standard could make this process easier by mandating that individual transportation plans include advance planning about how each student will get to field trips.

Our next article will explore more ways to make field trips accessible.




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A Non-Partisan Look at the 2019 Federal Election Results from a Disability Accessibility Perspective


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

October 22, 2019

SUMMARY

What is the upshot of last night’s federal election results, from the perspective of over 6 million people with disabilities in Canada who want this country to become accessible to them?

We congratulate all those candidates who ran in this election and won. We are ready to again roll up our sleeves and work with all of the federal parties, as we further describe below, to advance the goal of making Canada barrier-free for over 6 million people with disabilities in Canada.

Last June, Parliament unanimously endorsed the goal of making Canada barrier-free by 2040. We turn our attention to what the Federal Government should now do to ensure that Canada is on schedule for meeting this mandatory goal which the new Accessible Canada Act has set.

MORE DETAILS

The Recent Election Campaign

Our movement has now succeeded in mounting a non-partisan campaign for disability accessibility during a total of nine elections since 1995, seven at the provincial level in Ontario and 2 at the federal level. For its part, the AODA Alliance wrote the major federal parties back on July 18 2019, well before the formal election campaign began, to ask them to make 11 specific commitments on disability accessibility.

Our agenda for reform was not pulled out of the air. It built on key issues that so many disability organizations and advocates raised with the Federal Government over the past year during public hearings on the Accessible Canada Act before the House of Commons last fall, and later before the Senate last spring. These in turn built substantially on experience that we have had with the implementation and enforcement of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act. It is so important for us to come forward with concrete and workable action requests, and not to be satisfied or distracted by the broad plattitudinal pronouncements of politicians, whatever be their political party.

We succeeded in launching a major blitz on social media to try to get the parties and their candidates to make the election pledges that we sought. We sent hundred and hundreds of tweets over the past weeks, and generated real attention on this issue in the social media context. We thank all those who retweeted our tweets, or took other actions to raise disability accessibility issues with any candidates over the past weeks. To see what we were up to, visit www.aodaalliance.org/canada

We secured written election commitments from two of the major parties, the NDP and later the Liberals. We plan to hold them to those commitments. A comparison of the parties’ responses is available at https://www.aodaalliance.org/whats-new/non-partisan-issue-by-issue-comparison-of-the-positions-of-the-6-major-federal-political-parties-on-achieving-accessibility-for-over-6-million-people-with-disabilities-in-canada/

While the Conservatives did not answer our July 18, 2019 letter, we plan to hold them to their strong statements on November 22, 2018 in the House of Commons during Third Reading debates on Bill C-81. They promised that if elected, they would treat the strengthening of Bill C-81as a priority. Similarly, the Green Party did not answer our July 18, 2019 letter. However it spoke in strong terms about the need to strengthen Bill C-81 during debates in Parliament over the past year. We aim to urge them to act on that policy position in the upcoming Parliament.

We express our strong regret and deep frustration that the conventional media once again gave far too little attention to these issues during the recent election campaign. This is a sad continuation of the conventional media’s failure to give much attention to the proposed Accessible Canada Act during its journey through Parliament over the past months. We commend those few reporters who bucked this trend, and covered this issue.

The Election’s Results

As we often repeat, the AODA Alliance does not campaign for or against any party or candidate. We aim to get strong commitments on disability accessibility from all parties and candidates.

Canada now will have a minority government. This provides a wonderful opportunity for us to press to try to get the Accessible Canada Act strengthened by legislative amendments. The Liberals suggested during the election campaign that they did not plan to amend the Accessible Canada Act. However, because they do not have a majority government, the door is open to us to try to get an amending bill through Parliament, and to try to get the Liberals to support it.

We have a recent and relevant track record in this regard. Last spring, we and others, working together, got the Senate to make some amendments to Bill C-81 to somewhat strengthen it. These included amendments that the Liberal Government had rejected when the bill was before the House of Commons in the 2018 fall. When the Senate’s amendments came back to the House of Commons last June, the Liberals ultimately agreed to approve the Senate’s amendments which included changes to the bill that the Liberals had earlier opposed. We and others in the disability community have done it before. We can do it again!

We thank any and all MPs who worked on making this bill as strong as they could. Let’s take a quick look at the election outcome. Several key MPs who have played key roles regarding Bill C-81 have been re-elected. These include Liberal MP Carla Qualtrough, the Accessibility Minister who led the Government’s efforts to get Bill C-81 through Parliament, and Liberal MP Bryan May, who chaired the House of Commons Standing Committee that held hearings last fall on Bill C-81. Also re-elected were Conservative MPs John Barlow (who was the Vice-Chair of the House of Commons Standing Committee that held hearings last fall on Bill C-81), and who promised Tory support for strengthening Bill C-81) and MP Mike Lake (who was the Tory critic in this area as Bill C-81 was going through the Senate).

NDP MP Cheryl Hardcastle, the NDP’s critic on this issue who pressed for amendments at our request, was narrowly defeated. Liberal MP Kent Hehr, who was Accessibility Minister for a short time while Bill C-81 was being developed, was also defeated.

What’s Next

We will be eagerly watching to see whom Prime Minister Trudeau will appoint to be the next minister responsible for the implementation and enforcement of Bill C-81. We also will be eager to see whom the opposition parties appoint as their critics in this area.

We won’t just sit around and wait. We are already working on ideas of what to include in a new bill, whether a Government bill or an opposition private member’s bill, to strengthen the Accessible Canada Act. We welcome your ideas. Write us at [email protected] We will also be monitoring the Government’s implementation of the Accessible Canada Act to see where we might be able to helpfully contribute to it.

Last night’s election results have some echoes in history. Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau won a majority government in his first try in 1968. His son did the same in his first try in 2015. Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau only won a minority government in his second try, in 1972. So did his son in 2019. In both cases, the NDP held the balance of power. From 1972 to 1974, they instituted some progressive reforms. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau promised during the past weeks that if re-elected, he would lead a progressive government.

In the dying days of this most recent campaign. The Liberals promised to apply a “disability lens” to all government decisions. Last fall, the opposition had pressed without success for Bill C-81 to be amended to entrench in it just such a disability lens.

Even though the Liberals said during the recent election campaign that it didn’t intend to amend Bill C-81, we nevertheless see it as worthwhile to press for an amendment to Bill C-81 to entrench such a “disability lens”. If it is added to Bill C-81, the Accessible Canada Act, it would become a mandatory part of law, one which a future government cannot simply ignore. People with disabilities in Canada need a mandatory disability lens, not a weak, voluntary one that can be ignored at will.

We have lots to do ahead of us. We are ready to be as tenacious as ever! Just watch us.




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A Non-Partisan Look at the 2019 Federal Election Results from a Disability Accessibility Perspective – 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

A Non-Partisan Look at the 2019 Federal Election Results from a Disability Accessibility Perspective

October 22, 2019

     SUMMARY

What is the upshot of last night’s federal election results, from the perspective of over 6 million people with disabilities in Canada who want this country to become accessible to them?

We congratulate all those candidates who ran in this election and won. We are ready to again roll up our sleeves and work with all of the federal parties, as we further describe below, to advance the goal of making Canada barrier-free for over 6 million people with disabilities in Canada.

Last June, Parliament unanimously endorsed the goal of making Canada barrier-free by 2040. We turn our attention to what the Federal Government should now do to ensure that Canada is on schedule for meeting this mandatory goal which the new Accessible Canada Act has set.

     MORE DETAILS

The Recent Election Campaign

Our movement has now succeeded in mounting a non-partisan campaign for disability accessibility during a total of nine elections since 1995, seven at the provincial level in Ontario and 2 at the federal level. For its part, the AODA Alliance wrote the major federal parties back on July 18 2019, well before the formal election campaign began, to ask them to make 11 specific commitments on disability accessibility.

Our agenda for reform was not pulled out of the air. It built on key issues that so many disability organizations and advocates raised with the Federal Government over the past year during public hearings on the Accessible Canada Act before the House of Commons last fall, and later before the Senate last spring. These in turn built substantially on experience that we have had with the implementation and enforcement of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act. It is so important for us to come forward with concrete and workable action requests, and not to be satisfied or distracted by the broad plattitudinal pronouncements of politicians, whatever be their political party.

We succeeded in launching a major blitz on social media to try to get the parties and their candidates to make the election pledges that we sought. We sent hundred and hundreds of tweets over the past weeks, and generated real attention on this issue in the social media context. We thank all those who retweeted our tweets, or took other actions to raise disability accessibility issues with any candidates over the past weeks. To see what we were up to, visit www.aodaalliance.org/canada

We secured written election commitments from two of the major parties, the NDP and later the Liberals. We plan to hold them to those commitments. A comparison of the parties’ responses is available at https://www.aodaalliance.org/whats-new/non-partisan-issue-by-issue-comparison-of-the-positions-of-the-6-major-federal-political-parties-on-achieving-accessibility-for-over-6-million-people-with-disabilities-in-canada/

While the Conservatives did not answer our July 18, 2019 letter, we plan to hold them to their strong statements on November 22, 2018 in the House of Commons during Third Reading debates on Bill C-81. They promised that if elected, they would treat the strengthening of Bill C-81as a priority. Similarly, the Green Party did not answer our July 18, 2019 letter. However it spoke in strong terms about the need to strengthen Bill C-81 during debates in Parliament over the past year. We aim to urge them to act on that policy position in the upcoming Parliament.

We express our strong regret and deep frustration that the conventional media once again gave far too little attention to these issues during the recent election campaign. This is a sad continuation of the conventional media’s failure to give much attention to the proposed Accessible Canada Act during its journey through Parliament over the past months. We commend those few reporters who bucked this trend, and covered this issue.

The Election’s Results

As we often repeat, the AODA Alliance does not campaign for or against any party or candidate. We aim to get strong commitments on disability accessibility from all parties and candidates.

Canada now will have a minority government. This provides a wonderful opportunity for us to press to try to get the Accessible Canada Act strengthened by legislative amendments. The Liberals suggested during the election campaign that they did not plan to amend the Accessible Canada Act. However, because they do not have a majority government, the door is open to us to try to get an amending bill through Parliament, and to try to get the Liberals to support it.

We have a recent and relevant track record in this regard. Last spring, we and others, working together, got the Senate to make some amendments to Bill C-81 to somewhat strengthen it. These included amendments that the Liberal Government had rejected when the bill was before the House of Commons in the 2018 fall. When the Senate’s amendments came back to the House of Commons last June, the Liberals ultimately agreed to approve the Senate’s amendments – which included changes to the bill that the Liberals had earlier opposed. We and others in the disability community have done it before. We can do it again!

We thank any and all MPs who worked on making this bill as strong as they could. Let’s take a quick look at the election outcome. Several key MPs who have played key roles regarding Bill C-81 have been re-elected. These include Liberal MP Carla Qualtrough, the Accessibility Minister who led the Government’s efforts to get Bill C-81 through Parliament, and Liberal MP Bryan May, who chaired the House of Commons Standing Committee that held hearings last fall on Bill C-81. Also re-elected were Conservative MPs John Barlow (who was the Vice-Chair of the House of Commons Standing Committee that held hearings last fall on Bill C-81), and who promised Tory support for strengthening Bill C-81) and MP Mike Lake (who was the Tory critic in this area as Bill C-81 was going through the Senate).

NDP MP Cheryl Hardcastle, the NDP’s critic on this issue who pressed for amendments at our request, was narrowly defeated. Liberal MP Kent Hehr, who was Accessibility Minister for a short time while Bill C-81 was being developed, was also defeated.

What’s Next

We will be eagerly watching to see whom Prime Minister Trudeau will appoint to be the next minister responsible for the implementation and enforcement of Bill C-81. We also will be eager to see whom the opposition parties appoint as their critics in this area.

We won’t just sit around and wait. We are already working on ideas of what to include in a new bill, whether a Government bill or an opposition private member’s bill, to strengthen the Accessible Canada Act. We welcome your ideas. Write us at [email protected] We will also be monitoring the Government’s implementation of the Accessible Canada Act to see where we might be able to helpfully contribute to it.

Last night’s election results have some echoes in history. Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau won a majority government in his first try in 1968. His son did the same in his first try in 2015. Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau only won a minority government in his second try, in 1972. So did his son in 2019. In both cases, the NDP held the balance of power. From 1972 to 1974, they instituted some progressive reforms. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau promised during the past weeks that if re-elected, he would lead a progressive government.

In the dying days of this most recent campaign. The Liberals promised to apply a “disability lens” to all government decisions. Last fall, the opposition had pressed without success for Bill C-81 to be amended to entrench in it just such a disability lens.

Even though the Liberals said during the recent election campaign that it didn’t intend to amend Bill C-81, we nevertheless see it as worthwhile to press for an amendment to Bill C-81 to entrench such a “disability lens”. If it is added to Bill C-81, the Accessible Canada Act, it would become a mandatory part of law, one which a future government cannot simply ignore. People with disabilities in Canada need a mandatory disability lens, not a weak, voluntary one that can be ignored at will.

We have lots to do ahead of us. We are ready to be as tenacious as ever! Just watch us.



Source link