After Winning the Battle in Toronto Last Spring, AODA Alliance and Other Disability Advocates Now Call on London City Council Not to Endanger People with Disabilities, Seniors and Others by Allowing Electric Scooters


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

August 30, 2021

SUMMARY

Will it ever end? Now It’s London Ontario that is considering the possibility of legalizing electric scooters (e-scooters). Due to the Ford Government, we must fight this battle in one city after the next. It was the Ford Government that gave municipalities the power to allow e-scooters. Premier Ford ignored all disability concerns and acted instead at the behest of the e-scooter corporate lobbyists.

With this issue now rearing its ugly head in London Ontario, the AODA Alliance and other disability advocates are now hitting the ground running, in an effort to avert this danger to people with disabilities, seniors, children and others who live in or visit London. On Tuesday, August 31, 2021 at noon, this issue is an agenda item on the City of London’s Civic Works Committee. The AODA Alliance is one of the disability organizations that have sent in written submissions to that Committee, asking London to say no to e-scooters. The AODA Alliance’s August 27, 2021 brief to the London Civic Works Committee is set out below.

We understand that London’s Accessibility Advisory Committee has commendably recommended that London say no to e-scooters. Earlier this year, the AODA Alliance and several other disability organizations and advocates convinced the Toronto City Council to unanimously say no to e-scooters. We are now trying to convince London to do the same thing, without burdening people with disabilities with the hardship of having to mount another hard-fought campaign to protect our safety and accessibility. We need London City Council to stand up for people with disabilities, seniors and others, and to stand up to the e-scooter rental companies’ corporate lobbyists.

We have asked London’s Civic Works Committee to allow for a deputation by the AODA Alliance at its August 31, 2021 meeting. We understand that no final votes on the e-scooters issue are expected at that meeting.

You can watch the August 31, 2021 London Civic Works Committee meeting live-streamed on Youtube on the City of London’s Youtube stream at this link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gmRugRQ2sUo

For more details on the battle that people with disabilities have fought in Ontario over the past two years to avert the danger that e-scooters pose for them, visit the AODA Alliance website’s e-scooter page.

Riding Electric Scooters in London is Dangerous and Must Remain Banned — AODA Alliance brief to the City of London Civic Works Committee August 27, 2021
Via email: [email protected]

On its agenda for its August 31, 2021 meeting, the Civic Works Committee of London City Council has an agenda item regarding the possibility of allowing electric scooters (e-scooters) in the City of London. The AODA Alliance submits this brief to London’s Civic Works Committee on that agenda item, and requests an opportunity to make a presentation or deputation at that meeting via whatever virtual platform is being used.

In summary, London City Council must not unleash dangerous e-scooters in London. Riding e-scooters in public places in London is now banned and remains banned unless City Council legalizes them.

The non-partisan AODA Alliance has played a leading role in raising serious disability safety and accessibility concerns with e-scooters. To learn more about the AODA Alliance’s advocacy efforts to protect people with disabilities and others from the dangers that e-scooters pose, visit its e-scooters web page.

The AODA Alliance strongly commends the London Accessibility Advisory Committee for recommending that e-scooters should not be allowed in London. The AODA Alliance asks the City of London Civic Works Committee to follow that advice, and to recommend the following:

1. London should not permit the use of e-scooters, and should not conduct a pilot project with e-scooters.

2. If the City of London is going to explore the possibility of allowing e-scooters, e-scooters should not be permitted if they present any risk to the health or safety of people with disabilities, seniors, children or others, or if they are prone to create new accessibility barriers that would impede people with disabilities within London.

3. At the very least, if this issue is not simply taken right off the table, before proceeding any further, City staff should investigate the dangers that e-scooters pose for people with disabilities, seniors, children and others. A public consultation on that issue should be held, beyond a purely online digital survey form.

London should benefit from the extensive and commendable work done on this issue in Toronto. This past spring, Toronto City Council voted unanimously not to allow e-scooters, after very extensive consideration of the issue. Toronto City Staff undertook the most thorough investigation of this issue of any Ontario municipality, as far as we have been able to discover.

An initial July 2020 Toronto City Staff Report, supplemented by a second February 2021 Toronto City Staff report, together amply show that e-scooters endanger public safety in communities that have permitted them. Riders and innocent pedestrians get seriously injured or killed. They especially endanger seniors and people with disabilities. Blind people cannot detect silent e-scooters that can accelerate at them at over 20 KPH, driven by unlicensed, untrained, uninsured, unhelmeted fun-seeking riders. Left strewn on sidewalks, e-scooters are tripping hazards for people with vision loss and an accessibility nightmare for wheelchair users.

It is no solution to just ban e-scooters from sidewalks. The Toronto City Staff reports, referred to above, document the silent menace of e-scooters continuing to be ridden on sidewalks in cities that just ban them from sidewalks. London would need police officers on every block. Toronto City Staff reported to Toronto City Council last summer that no city that allows e-scooters has gotten enforcement right.

E-scooters would cost taxpayers a great deal. This would include new law enforcement, OHIP for treating those injured by e-scooters, and lawsuits by the injured. London has far more pressing budget priorities.

Especially with COVID still raging, London City Council should not be considering the legalization of dangerous e-scooters. In Toronto, a stunning well-funded behind-the-scenes feeding frenzy of back-room pressure by corporate lobbyists for e-scooter rental companies had inundated City Hall with for months. The corporate lobbyists want to make money on e-scooter rentals, laughing all the way to the bank, while injured pedestrians sob all the way to hospital emergency rooms. That the Toronto City Council unanimously said no to e-scooters despite this massive corporate lobbying should signal to London how important it is to stand up for people with disabilities and others endangered by e-scooters.

London City Council should not conduct an e-scooter pilot. A pilot to study what? How many of people living in or visiting London will be injured? We already know they will, from cities that have allowed them. It would be immoral to subject people in London to a City-wide human experiment, especially without their consent, where they can get injured. The call for a “pilot project with e-scooters is just the corporate lobbyists’ ploy to try to get their foot firmly planted in the door, so it will be harder to later get rid of e-scooters.

London, like the rest of Ontario, already has too many disability barriers that impede accessibility for people with disabilities. The Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act requires London and the rest of Ontario to become accessible to people with disabilities by 2025. To allow e-scooters would be to make things worse, not better, by creating new barriers impeding people with disabilities.

E-scooters create problems for businesses, as well as for people with disabilities. That is why Toronto’s Broadview Danforth BIA made an April 26, 2021 submission to the City of Toronto, set out below, that urged that e-scooters not be allowed. That BIA includes a part of Toronto that has similarities to downtown London.

Since we allow bikes, why not e-scooters? An e-scooter, unlike a bike, is a motor vehicle. As such, they should not be exempt from public safety regulations that apply to motor vehicles. A person who has never ridden an e-scooter can hop on one and instantly throttle up to race over 20 KPH. A person cannot instantly pedal a bike that fast, especially if they have never ridden a bike. In any event, London already has bikes. It does not need the dangers of e-scooters.

The July 2020 Toronto City Staff Report shows that e-scooters do not bring the great benefits for reduced car traffic and pollution that the corporate lobbyists for e-scooter rental companies claim.

London should now call a stop to its exploration of e-scooters. Its residents with disabilities, its seniors and others should not have to mount an advocacy effort like the one that was necessary in Toronto to prevent the City from exposing its residents and visitors to the proven dangers that e-scooters pose. This is so especially while they along with all others must continue trying to cope with the pandemic.

Please make London easier and not harder for people with disabilities, seniors and others to get around. Protect those who need safe, accessible streets and sidewalks, not the interests of corporate lobbyists.

These references to banning e-scooters do not refer to the very different scooters that some people with disabilities use for mobility devices. Those mobility devices are now permitted and of course, should remain permitted.

Learn more about the dangers that e-scooters pose to people with disabilities, seniors, children and others, by visiting the AODA Alliance e-scooter web page and by watching the AODA Alliance’s short, captioned video on this issue. Read the AODA Alliance’s March 30, 2021 detailed brief to Toronto City Council on e-scooters. Read the January 22, 2020 open letter to all municipalities and to Premier Doug Ford co-signed by 11 disability organization, that oppose e-scooters in Ontario.

Learn more about the AODA Alliance by visiting www.aodaalliance.org, by following @aodaalliance on Twitter, by visiting our Facebook page at www.facebook.com or by emailing us at [email protected]

April 26, 2021 Written Submission to the City of Toronto by the Broadview Danforth Business Improvement Area

April 26, 2021

TO: Infrastructure and Environment Committee Clerk

FROM: The Broadview Danforth BIA

RE: Item: 1E21.7 Pilot Project: Electric Kick-Scooters

I’m writing on behalf of the 355 business members in the Broadview Danforth BIA to support the recommendation being made by the General Manager, Transportation Services to decline the option to participate in O.Reg 389/19 Pilot Project for Electric Kick-Scooters. Our comments below can be shared with the Infrastructure and Environment Committee meeting on April 28, 2021.

We have reviewed the components related to this proposed pilot project and have serious concerns that it would be very difficult to implement in a manner consistent with public safety and order.

Following a presentation made by Janet Lo from Transportation Services to BIAs, our key concerns are as follows:
Safety issues related to people with disabilities who use our sidewalks and wouldn’t be able to safely continue doing so if e-scooters were allowed on sidewalks.

Safety issues related to all people using sidewalks the potential of e-scooters being left on the sidewalks or tied to benches, tree guards etc. and falling over will lead to potential tripping hazards.

Lack of clarity on insurance coverage for riders, e-scooter rental companies and the general public who may be injured by e-scooter riders. Lack of City/police resources to enforce any kind of e-scooter laws. At the moment we have cyclists improperly using the roads and bike lanes and enforcement is almost non-existent. It’s impossible to believe that enforcement will be available for e-scooters. Our businesses are fighting for their survival during this pandemic and the last thing we need is for customers to feel unsafe using our sidewalks.

Thank you for your time and consideration of our feedback on this issue.

Albert Stortchak
Board Chair
Broadview Danforth BIA




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After Winning the Battle in Toronto Last Spring, AODA Alliance and Other Disability Advocates Now Call on London City Council Not to Endanger People with Disabilities, Seniors and Others by Allowing Electric Scooters


Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance Update

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

Web: www.aodaalliance.org

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @aodaalliance

Facebook: www.facebook.com/aodaalliance/

After Winning the Battle in Toronto Last Spring, AODA Alliance and Other Disability Advocates Now Call on London City Council Not to Endanger People with Disabilities, Seniors and Others by Allowing Electric Scooters

August 30, 2021

        SUMMARY

Will it ever end? Now It’s London Ontario that is considering the possibility of legalizing electric scooters (e-scooters). Due to the Ford Government, we must fight this battle in one city after the next. It was the Ford Government that gave municipalities the power to allow e-scooters. Premier Ford ignored all disability concerns and acted instead at the behest of the e-scooter corporate lobbyists.

With this issue now rearing its ugly head in London Ontario, the AODA Alliance and other disability advocates are now hitting the ground running, in an effort to avert this danger to people with disabilities, seniors, children and others who live in or visit London. On Tuesday, August 31, 2021 at noon, this issue is an agenda item on the City of London’s Civic Works Committee. The AODA Alliance is one of the disability organizations that have sent in written submissions to that Committee, asking London to say no to e-scooters. The AODA Alliance’s August 27, 2021 brief to the London Civic Works Committee is set out below.

We understand that London’s Accessibility Advisory Committee has commendably recommended that London say no to e-scooters. Earlier this year, the AODA Alliance and several other disability organizations and advocates convinced the Toronto City Council to unanimously say no to e-scooters. We are now trying to convince London to do the same thing, without burdening people with disabilities with the hardship of having to mount another hard-fought campaign to protect our safety and accessibility. We need London City Council to stand up for people with disabilities, seniors and others, and to stand up to the e-scooter rental companies’ corporate lobbyists.

We have asked London’s Civic Works Committee to allow for a deputation by the AODA Alliance at its August 31, 2021 meeting. We understand that no final votes on the e-scooters issue are expected at that meeting.

You can watch the August 31, 2021 London Civic Works Committee meeting live-streamed on Youtube on the City of London’s Youtube stream at this link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gmRugRQ2sUo

For more details on the battle that people with disabilities have fought in Ontario over the past two years to avert the danger that e-scooters pose for them, visit the AODA Alliance website’s e-scooter page.

Riding Electric Scooters in London is Dangerous and Must Remain Banned — AODA Alliance brief to the City of London Civic Works Committee

August 27, 2021

Via email: [email protected]

On its agenda for its August 31, 2021 meeting, the Civic Works Committee of London City Council has an agenda item regarding the possibility of allowing electric scooters (e-scooters) in the City of London. The AODA Alliance submits this brief to London’s Civic Works Committee on that agenda item, and requests an opportunity to make a presentation or deputation at that meeting via whatever virtual platform is being used.

In summary, London City Council must not unleash dangerous e-scooters in London. Riding e-scooters in public places in London is now banned and remains banned unless City Council legalizes them.

The non-partisan AODA Alliance has played a leading role in raising serious disability safety and accessibility concerns with e-scooters. To learn more about the AODA Alliance’s advocacy efforts to protect people with disabilities and others from the dangers that e-scooters pose, visit its e-scooters web page.

The AODA Alliance strongly commends the London Accessibility Advisory Committee for recommending that e-scooters should not be allowed in London. The AODA Alliance asks the City of London Civic Works Committee to follow that advice, and to recommend the following:

  1. London should not permit the use of e-scooters, and should not conduct a pilot project with e-scooters.
  1. If the City of London is going to explore the possibility of allowing e-scooters, e-scooters should not be permitted if they present any risk to the health or safety of people with disabilities, seniors, children or others, or if they are prone to create new accessibility barriers that would impede people with disabilities within London.
  1. At the very least, if this issue is not simply taken right off the table, before proceeding any further, City staff should investigate the dangers that e-scooters pose for people with disabilities, seniors, children and others. A public consultation on that issue should be held, beyond a purely online digital survey form.

London should benefit from the extensive and commendable work done on this issue in Toronto. This past spring, Toronto City Council voted unanimously not to allow e-scooters, after very extensive consideration of the issue. Toronto City Staff undertook the most thorough investigation of this issue of any Ontario municipality, as far as we have been able to discover.

An initial July 2020 Toronto City Staff Report, supplemented by a second February 2021 Toronto City Staff report, together amply show that e-scooters endanger public safety in communities that have permitted them. Riders and innocent pedestrians get seriously injured or killed. They especially endanger seniors and people with disabilities. Blind people cannot detect silent e-scooters that can accelerate at them at over 20 KPH, driven by unlicensed, untrained, uninsured, unhelmeted fun-seeking riders. Left strewn on sidewalks, e-scooters are tripping hazards for people with vision loss and an accessibility nightmare for wheelchair users.

It is no solution to just ban e-scooters from sidewalks. The Toronto City Staff reports, referred to above, document the silent menace of e-scooters continuing to be ridden on sidewalks in cities that just ban them from sidewalks. London would need police officers on every block. Toronto City Staff reported to Toronto City Council last summer that no city that allows e-scooters has gotten enforcement right.

E-scooters would cost taxpayers a great deal. This would include new law enforcement, OHIP for treating those injured by e-scooters, and lawsuits by the injured. London has far more pressing budget priorities.

Especially with COVID still raging, London City Council should not be considering the legalization of dangerous e-scooters. In Toronto, a stunning well-funded behind-the-scenes feeding frenzy of back-room pressure by corporate lobbyists for e-scooter rental companies had inundated City Hall with for months. The corporate lobbyists want to make money on e-scooter rentals, laughing all the way to the bank, while injured pedestrians sob all the way to hospital emergency rooms. That the Toronto City Council unanimously said no to e-scooters despite this massive corporate lobbying should signal to London how important it is to stand up for people with disabilities and others endangered by e-scooters.

London City Council should not conduct an e-scooter pilot. A pilot to study what? How many of people living in or visiting London will be injured? We already know they will, from cities that have allowed them. It would be immoral to subject people in London to a City-wide human experiment, especially without their consent, where they can get injured. The call for a “pilot project with e-scooters is just the corporate lobbyists’ ploy to try to get their foot firmly planted in the door, so it will be harder to later get rid of e-scooters.

London, like the rest of Ontario, already has too many disability barriers that impede accessibility for people with disabilities. The Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act requires London and the rest of Ontario to become accessible to people with disabilities by 2025. To allow e-scooters would be to make things worse, not better, by creating new barriers impeding people with disabilities.

E-scooters create problems for businesses, as well as for people with disabilities. That is why Toronto’s Broadview Danforth BIA made an April 26, 2021 submission to the City of Toronto, set out below, that urged that e-scooters not be allowed. That BIA includes a part of Toronto that has similarities to downtown London.

Since we allow bikes, why not e-scooters? An e-scooter, unlike a bike, is a motor vehicle. As such, they should not be exempt from public safety regulations that apply to motor vehicles. A person who has never ridden an e-scooter can hop on one and instantly throttle up to race over 20 KPH. A person cannot instantly pedal a bike that fast, especially if they have never ridden a bike. In any event, London already has bikes. It does not need the dangers of e-scooters.

The July 2020 Toronto City Staff Report shows that e-scooters do not bring the great benefits for reduced car traffic and pollution that the corporate lobbyists for e-scooter rental companies claim.

London should now call a stop to its exploration of e-scooters. Its residents with disabilities, its seniors and others should not have to mount an advocacy effort like the one that was necessary in Toronto to prevent the City from exposing its residents and visitors to the proven dangers that e-scooters pose. This is so especially while they along with all others must continue trying to cope with the pandemic.

Please make London easier and not harder for people with disabilities, seniors and others to get around. Protect those who need safe, accessible streets and sidewalks, not the interests of corporate lobbyists.

These references to banning e-scooters do not refer to the very different scooters that some people with disabilities use for mobility devices. Those mobility devices are now permitted and of course, should remain permitted.

Learn more about the dangers that e-scooters pose to people with disabilities, seniors, children and others, by visiting the AODA Alliance e-scooter web page and by watching the AODA Alliance’s short, captioned video on this issue. Read the AODA Alliance’s March 30, 2021 detailed brief to Toronto City Council on e-scooters. Read the January 22, 2020 open letter to all municipalities and to Premier Doug Ford co-signed by 11 disability organization, that oppose e-scooters in Ontario.

Learn more about the AODA Alliance by visiting www.aodaalliance.org, by following @aodaalliance on Twitter, by visiting our Facebook page at www.facebook.com or by emailing us at [email protected].

April 26, 2021 Written Submission to the City of Toronto by the Broadview Danforth Business Improvement Area

April 26, 2021

TO: Infrastructure and Environment Committee Clerk

FROM: The Broadview Danforth BIA

RE: Item: 1E21.7 Pilot Project: Electric Kick-Scooters

I’m writing on behalf of the 355 business members in the Broadview Danforth BIA to support the recommendation being made by the General Manager, Transportation Services to decline the option to participate in O.Reg 389/19 Pilot Project for Electric Kick-Scooters. Our comments below can be shared with the Infrastructure and Environment Committee — meeting on April 28, 2021.

We have reviewed the components related to this proposed pilot project and have serious concerns that it would be very difficult to implement in a manner consistent with public safety and order.

Following a presentation made by Janet Lo from Transportation Services to BIAs, our key concerns are as follows:

Safety issues related to people with disabilities who use our sidewalks and wouldn’t be able to safely continue doing so if e-scooters were allowed on sidewalks.

Safety issues related to all people using sidewalks — the potential of e-scooters being left on the sidewalks or tied to benches, tree guards etc. and falling over will lead to potential tripping hazards.

Lack of clarity on insurance coverage for riders, e-scooter rental companies and the general public who may be injured by e-scooter riders. Lack of City/police resources to enforce any kind of e-scooter laws. At the moment we have cyclists improperly using the roads and bike lanes and enforcement is almost non-existent. It’s impossible to believe that enforcement will be available for e-scooters. Our businesses are fighting for their survival during this pandemic and the last thing we need is for customers to feel unsafe using our sidewalks.

Thank you for your time and consideration of our feedback on this issue.

Albert Stortchak

Board Chair

Broadview Danforth BIA



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Multiple Means of Action or Expression


Multiple means of action or expression is one of the three principles of Universal Design for Learning (UDL). Teachers and other educators can use multiple means of action or expression to make their lessons accessible to a wide variety of learners.

Multiple Means of Action or Expression

Multiple means of action or expression refers to offering students diverse ways of expressing what they have learned. Teachers use this principle when they find more than one way to assess the knowledge students have gained.

For example, teachers at all levels, from elementary school to higher education, often grade student participation in class. Teachers may assign these grades based on how often or how well students contribute to class discussions. However, basing part of a grade only on oral discussion could put some students at a disadvantage. For instance, verbal discussion may not be accessible for students:

  • With communication disabilities
  • Who need more time to think about the discussion in progress before responding

Alternatively, teachers can grade participation based on two elements: the comments students make orally in class, and written responses. In early grades, students could post these responses in their classroom, on a bulletin board. Later in their education, students could post on a course’s online discussion forum. These options could help teachers grade students based on their strengths, rather than in ways that put them at a disadvantage.

If teachers can offer both options for class participation, all their students have the chance to practise both forms of communication. Likewise, students can develop their written communication skills in a context less formal than an essay or report.

More Ways to Encourage Student Expression

Some other ways educators can create more opportunities for students to express what they know are:

  • Tests with different question formats, such as:
    • Multiple choice
    • Fill-in-the-blanks
    • Short answer
    • Analysis questions
    • Essay questions
  • oral presentations, in person or through audio or video recording
  • Written essays
  • Projects that involve physically constructing something
  • Creative assignments
  • Assignments requiring fact recollection or application

Educators can offer students some choice in the ways they show their teachers and peers what they have learned. For instance, students could choose between an oral presentation and a written essay. Some of the choices teachers offer may be more accessible for some students than for others. However, each student should be able to display their growing knowledge in a way that is accessible for them.

Multiple means of action or expression help teachers assess their students in diverse and creative ways.




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What Do Major Federal Political Parties Commit to Do in Their Published Election Platforms to Make Canada Accessible for Six Million People with Disabilities?


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

August 27, 2021

SUMMARY

In the current federal election, what are the major national political parties promising to do, if elected, to make Canada accessible for people with disabilities? On August 3, 2021, we wrote the major parties to ask them to make 12 specific commitments. With less than a month left before voting day, none of the party leaders have written us back to make any commitments in response.

We have reviewed the publicly-posted platforms of the major national parties in this election to see if they make any commitments there on this issue. We set out below what we found. We emphasize that accessibility for people with disabilities is only one of the important disability issues in this federal election. The major national parties’ platforms have things to say on other issues that affect people with disabilities, beyond those excerpted below.

We will make public any commitments we receive in response to our requests. As always, we do not support or oppose any party or candidate. We urge all parties to make the commitments on disability accessibility that we seek.

The AODA Alliance is now tweeting as many federal candidates as we can to try to get them to make strong commitments on accessibility. Please follow @aodaalliance and @davidlepofsky on Twitter and retweet the tweets you find there. This will help put pressure on the candidates to make strong commitments.

2021 National Federal Parties’ Platform Key Excerpts on Accessibility for People with Disabilities

Liberal Party

More Accessible Workplaces and Schools
We will make it easier for people with disabilities to work or attend school.
Across Canada, nearly 650,000 people with disabilities have the potential to work or attend school, but arent able to do so because they dont have access to the accommodations that would make this possible.

To help more people with disabilities go to school, enter the workforce, and join the middle class, we will move forward with a new $40 million per year national workplace accessibility fund, with a special focus on making small and medium-sized businesses more accessible. This fund will match costs with employers and schools, providing up to a combined $10,000 to cover the cost of an accommodation.

Employers and schools will continue to be required to meet their accessibility obligations under provincial and federal law. (Page 13)

New Democratic Party
Removing barriers for persons living with disabilities
We can do much more to make Canada an inclusive and barrier-free place. As a start, New Democrats will uphold the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, and strengthen the Accessibility Act to cover all federal agencies equally, with the power to make and enforce accessibility standards in a timely manner.
To help tackle the unacceptable rate of poverty among Canadians living with a disability and ensure that everyone has the chance to thrive and live in dignity, we will expand income security programs to ensure Canadians living with a disability have a guaranteed livable income. While the Liberal government spends years talking about a new federal disability benefit, New Democrats will get to work immediately to deliver it.

When it comes to employment, everyone deserves a fair shot at a good job that fits their unique abilities. A New Democrat government will continue and expand employment programs to make sure that quality employment opportunities are available to all.

For Canadians facing a serious illness, well make Employment Insurance work better by extending sickness benefits to 50 weeks of coverage, and creating a pilot project to allow workers with episodic disabilities to access benefits as they need them.

Canadians living with disabilities shouldnt need to worry about the cost of prescription medication, dental work, how to find housing, or how to get their mail. In addition to putting in place a universal, publicly funded national pharmacare and dental care program that will offer full benefits to all Canadians, a New Democrat government will restore door-to door mail delivery for those who lost it under the Conservatives, and create affordable, accessible housing in communities across the country.

Finally, we will work with Autistic Canadians to develop and implement a national Autism strategy that will coordinate support for research, ensure access to needs-based services, promote employment, and help expand housing options. (Page 62)

Conservative Party
Breaking Down Barriers for Canadians Living with Disabilities
One in five Canadians lives with a disability. They need our support to live full lives and participate fully in society, including in the workforce. Canadas Conservatives have a plan to break down the barriers faced by Canadians living with disabilities. Doubling Disability Support in the Canada Workers Benefit
A disproportionate number of disabled Canadians are working part-time or for low wages.
* Canadas Conservatives will double the Disability Supplement in the Canada Workers Benefit from $713 to $1,500, providing a major boost to lower-income disabled Canadians on top of our increase in the Canada Workers Benefit. The most help will go to families where one member has a disability. We will help them achieve the security and financial independence they deserve. Making Work Pay
Canadas Conservatives will ensure that going to work never costs a disabled person money as is too often the case today. The complex web of programs in place today means that someone can lose more than a dollar in benefit cuts and higher taxes for every dollar they earn by working. This means that for many disabled Canadians, the harder they work, the poorer they become. This is simply wrong.
We will overhaul the complex array of disability supports and benefits to ensure that working always leaves someone further ahead. And we will work with the provinces to ensure that federal programs are designed to work with provincial programs to achieve this result.
This will augment the effect of our increase to the Canada Workers Benefit, which will help make work pay for disabled Canadians by boosting the benefits of work. Boosting the Enabling Accessibility Fund
We will provide an additional $80 million per year through the Enabling Accessibility Fund to provide:
Additional incentives for small business and community projects to improve accessibility.
Grants and support for all types of accessibility equipment that disabled Canadians need to work.
Enhancements to existing programs that will get more disabled Canadians into the workforce.
Making it Easier to Qualify for the Disability Tax Credit and Registered Disability Savings Plan
To give more Canadians with disabilities access to financial support, we will reduce the number of hours required to qualify for the Disability Tax Credit (DTC) and the Registered Disability Savings Plan from 14 to 10 hours per week.
In 2017, Justin Trudeau took away the support that thousands of Canadians relied on when he changed how Canadians qualify for the Disability Tax Credit and the Registered Disability Savings Plan. To some, this credit was worth thousands of dollars. Conservatives joined diabetes advocates to successfully fight back against this tax grab.
Our changes will save a disabled person made eligible for the tax credit or their family an average of $2,100 per year. Making it easier to qualify for the tax credit will also make it easier to qualify for the RDSP, which provides up to $3,500 per year in matching grants for Canadians with disabilities. (Pages 135-136)




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What Do the Major Federal Political Parties Commit to Do in Their Published Election Platforms to Make Canada Accessible for Six Million People with Disabilities? – AODA Alliance


Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance Update

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

Web: www.aodaalliance.org

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @aodaalliance

Facebook: www.facebook.com/aodaalliance/

What Do the Major Federal Political Parties Commit to Do in Their Published Election Platforms to Make Canada Accessible for Six Million People with Disabilities?

August 27, 2021

        SUMMARY

In the current federal election, what are the major national political parties promising to do, if elected, to make Canada accessible for people with disabilities? On August 3, 2021, we wrote the major parties to ask them to make 12 specific commitments. With less than a month left before voting day, none of the party leaders have written us back to make any commitments in response.

We have reviewed the publicly-posted platforms of the major national parties in this election to see if they make any commitments there on this issue. We set out below what we found. We emphasize that accessibility for people with disabilities is only one of the important disability issues in this federal election. The major national parties’ platforms have things to say on other issues that affect people with disabilities, beyond those excerpted below.

We will make public any commitments we receive in response to our requests. As always, we do not support or oppose any party or candidate. We urge all parties to make the commitments on disability accessibility that we seek.

The AODA Alliance is now tweeting as many federal candidates as we can to try to get them to make strong commitments on accessibility. Please follow @aodaalliance and @davidlepofsky on Twitter and retweet the tweets you find there. This will help put pressure on the candidates to make strong commitments.

2021 National Federal Parties’ Platform Key Excerpts on Accessibility for People with Disabilities

Liberal Party

More Accessible Workplaces and Schools

We will make it easier for people with disabilities to work or attend school.

Across Canada, nearly 650,000 people with disabilities have the potential to work or attend school, but aren’t able to do so because they don’t have access to the accommodations that would make this possible.

To help more people with disabilities go to school, enter the workforce, and join the middle class, we will move forward with a new $40 million per year national workplace accessibility fund, with a special focus on making small and medium-sized businesses more accessible. This fund will match costs with employers and schools, providing up to a combined $10,000 to cover the cost of an accommodation.

Employers and schools will continue to be required to meet their accessibility obligations under provincial and federal law. (Page 13)

New Democratic Party

Removing barriers for persons living with disabilities

We can do much more to make Canada an inclusive and barrier-free place. As a start, New Democrats will uphold the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, and strengthen the Accessibility Act to cover all federal agencies equally, with the power to make and enforce accessibility standards in a timely manner.

To help tackle the unacceptable rate of poverty among Canadians living with a disability and ensure that everyone has the chance to thrive and live in dignity, we will expand income security programs to ensure Canadians living with a disability have a guaranteed livable income. While the Liberal government spends years talking about a new federal disability benefit, New Democrats will get to work immediately to deliver it.

When it comes to employment, everyone deserves a fair shot at a good job that fits their unique abilities. A New Democrat government will continue and expand employment programs to make sure that quality employment opportunities are available to all.

For Canadians facing a serious illness, we’ll make Employment Insurance work better by extending sickness benefits to 50 weeks of coverage, and creating a pilot project to allow workers with episodic disabilities to access benefits as they need them.

Canadians living with disabilities shouldn’t need to worry about the cost of prescription medication, dental work, how to find housing, or how to get their mail. In addition to putting in place a universal, publicly funded national pharmacare and dental care program that will offer full benefits to all Canadians, a New Democrat government will restore door-to door mail delivery for those who lost it under the Conservatives, and create affordable, accessible housing in communities across the country.

Finally, we will work with Autistic Canadians to develop and implement a national Autism strategy that will coordinate support for research, ensure access to needs-based services, promote employment, and help expand housing options. (Page 62)

Conservative Party

Breaking Down Barriers for Canadians Living with Disabilities

One in five Canadians lives with a disability. They need our support – to live full lives and participate fully in society, including in the workforce. Canada’s Conservatives have a plan to break down the barriers faced by Canadians living with disabilities.

Doubling Disability Support in the Canada Workers Benefit

A disproportionate number of disabled Canadians are working part-time or for low wages.

  • Canada’s Conservatives will double the Disability Supplement in the Canada Workers Benefit from $713 to $1,500, providing a major boost to lower-income disabled Canadians on top of our increase in the Canada Workers Benefit. The most help will go to families where one member has a disability. We will help them achieve the security and financial independence they deserve.

Making Work Pay

Canada’s Conservatives will ensure that going to work never costs a disabled person money – as is too often the case today. The complex web of programs in place today means that someone can lose more than a dollar in benefit cuts and       higher taxes for every dollar they earn by working. This means               that for many disabled Canadians, the harder they work, the poorer they become.

This is simply wrong.

We will overhaul the complex array of disability supports and benefits to ensure that working always leaves someone further ahead. And we will work with the provinces to ensure that federal programs are designed to work with provincial programs to achieve this result.

This will augment the effect of our increase to the Canada Workers Benefit, which will help make work pay for disabled Canadians by boosting the        benefits of work.

Boosting the Enabling Accessibility Fund

We will  provide  an additional $80 million per year through the Enabling Accessibility Fund to provide:

  • Additional incentives for small business and community projects to improve accessibility.
  • Grants and support for all types of accessibility equipment that disabled Canadians need to work.
  • Enhancements to existing programs that will get more disabled Canadians into the workforce.

Making it Easier to Qualify for the Disability Tax Credit and Registered Disability Savings Plan

To give more Canadians with disabilities access to financial support, we will reduce the number of hours required to qualify for the Disability Tax Credit (DTC) and the Registered Disability Savings Plan from 14 to 10 hours per week.

In 2017, Justin Trudeau took away the support that thousands of Canadians relied on when he changed how Canadians qualify for the Disability Tax Credit and the Registered Disability Savings Plan. To some, this credit was worth thousands of dollars. Conservatives joined diabetes advocates to successfully fight back against this tax grab.

Our changes will save a disabled person made eligible for the tax credit or their family an average of $2,100 per year. Making it easier to qualify for the tax credit will also make it easier to qualify for the RDSP, which provides up to $3,500 per year in matching grants for Canadians with disabilities. (Pages 135-136)



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Why a GTA Woman is Still Fighting the WSIB for Help a Decade After Her Sister Fell Ill


Board still hasn’t modified home so Cynthia Vossah’s sister can properly care for her Dexter McMillan
CBC News, Aug. 23, 2021

As the director of internet marketing for a major hotel chain, Cynthia Vossah regularly flew long distances for work.

On July 11, 2011, a blood clot in her lung led to two heart attacks. It took paramedics 20 minutes to resuscitate her and she was left in a chronic vegetative state.

Over the past decade since, her sister Francine Vossah, and mother Ruth Vossah told CBC News they’ve had to quit their jobs and become full-time caregivers and advocates for Cynthia.

But more than 10 years after her sister’s injury, Francine said she’s still fighting the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) to modify her home so she can properly care for her sister while Cynthia is confined to a hospital bed set up in the family’s living room.

“It’s utterly ridiculous,” said Francine. “There’s no question about the claim, there’s no question about her injury, yet simple things are becoming very difficult and time is stretching beyond what we think is fair.”

A decade-long fight

In 2013, the WSIB was in discussions with the family to pay for home modifications so that Cynthia could live with Francine rather than in hospital. Francine said the WSIB told her that her apartment, which she rented, could not be modified. So Francine bought a two-storey house in Stouffville, Ont., about 50 kilometres outside of Toronto. They envisioned the unfinished basement as Cynthia’s space.

But shortly after they closed the deal on their home, the WSIB said Cynthia should remain in hospital, where she had been since 2011, and the board would not pay for the modifications to the basement, including an accessible shower, bedroom, and elevator to the main floor.

In 2016, Cynthia was finally moved from hospital into Francine’s house, and the following year, Francine took the decision to the Workplace Safety and Insurance Appeals Tribunal, which arbitrates disputes between workers and the WSIB. The tribunal ruled that it was reasonable for Cynthia to be cared for at home and the home modifications should proceed.

But the WSIB denied the family’s basement modification proposal because it said the space was not accessible in the event of an emergency, according to documents reviewed by CBC Toronto. The WSIB wanted to make modifications to the main and second floor instead.

Then, when the WSIB’s original main- and second-floor plan was eventually scrapped because it determined it would not meet Cynthia’s needs, Francine said the board proposed an entirely new addition to the main floor of the house instead of a basement refinish like the family wanted.

That proposal runs counter to the WSIB’s own policy on home modifications, which states that “wherever possible home modifications will be applied to existing structures.”

“It’s really unfortunate,” said Francine. “We’ve been waiting for the board to do what we know the legislation, the law, the policies do.”

Cynthia Soda, the designer who created the Vossahs’ basement proposal, said having a proper space to care for their sister is about making the family’s job easier and helping Cynthia feel more comfortable.

“The biggest thing is to create a space for her where she can heal properly and get some semblance of her life back,” she said.

Francine filed a second appeal with the tribunal. It ruled in her favour and directed the WSIB to work with Francine and her mother to finish the basement space.

The WSIB did not respond to specific questions about Cynthia Vossah’s case, but said it is currently “implementing” the most recent tribunal decision. The board told CBC News that it makes “every effort to provide necessary services, support and benefits as quickly as possible,” but that in some cases “it may take longer than any of us would like.”

The WSIB has been paying Cynthia’s salary since the injury.

The ‘ping pong effect’

Kathrin Furniss, a lawyer and advocate with the Injured Workers Community Legal Clinic, said when claims go to the appeals tribunal, it can take years before workers receive any compensation. Even after a favourable ruling, the WSIB and workers may have other disagreements, and it goes back to the tribunal. She calls it the “ping pong effect.”

“I’m not entirely shocked,” she said. “They want to save money, have control, not be worker-centred.”

She said workers need documentation to prove everything, meaning many trips to doctors, psychologists or occupational therapists. These trips often create mental health issues on top of everything else, which then need further assessment.

“It is very stressful for workers to deal with the appeals process and to be continually re-traumatized,” she said. “So they just end up giving up.”

Gearing up for another appeal

Francine and Ruth are preparing to go back to the appeals tribunal for a third time. They claim the WSIB is not compensating them properly to provide Cynthia with adequate care.

An assessment from an occupational therapist found that Cynthia needs medical care 24 hours a day, seven days a week from both a registered practical nurse and a personal support worker (PSW), totalling 48 hours per day.

The WSIB compensates her for 28 hours per day.

The WSIB would not answer a question about why it only agreed to 28 hours of care payments, and in an emailed statement, a spokesperson for the WSIB wrote that it does “not object to sharing claim documents, including design drawings, once the WSIB has had an opportunity to review them.”

“There needs to be someone to make decisions about her medications, to interpret the vitals, interpret what’s happening to her, and that’s just not happening right now,” said Francine.

Francine also said the WSIB has hired its own construction firm to build out the basement, and has stopped consulting her and her mother on the renovations. She told CBC News they’re breaking ground on their own renovations out-of-pocket soon, because they’re confident the WSIB will eventually be paying for them.

“That’s all that we’re asking for.”

Original at https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/toronto/why-a-gta-woman-is-still-fighting-the-wsib-for-help-a-decade-after-her-sister-fell-ill-1.6147434




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Multiple Means of Representation


Multiple means of representation is one of the three principles of Universal Design for Learning (UDL). Teachers and other educators can use multiple means of representation to make their lessons accessible to a wide variety of learners.

Multiple Means of Representation

Multiple means of representation refers to presenting information in multiple ways. Teachers use this principle when they find more than one way to explain a concept or provide information.

For example, in early elementary school, students learn about three-dimensional shapes. Teachers may explain this concept through two-dimensional diagrams drawn to look three-dimensional. When teachers use this method of representation, they expect all their students to perceive how each diagram relates to the shape it represents. However, this method of teaching is not accessible for many students with print disabilities. Teachers may try to teach these students using tactile copies of the diagrams. Nonetheless, these tactile images show how a shape looks, rather than how it feels. As a result, students who do not learn visually may never understand how a diagram’s lines and angles represent three-dimensional space.

Alternatively, teachers can present the concept of three-dimensional shapes by making three-dimensional models out of paper. Folding the paper could give students with print disabilities a clear understanding of viewing a whole shape in terms of sides, edges, and corners. In addition, other students in the same class gain the chance to look at shapes in a different way, and to engage in a learning activity instead of simply observing.

If teachers can present this lesson in both ways, students have more opportunities to learn in ways that work best for them.

More Ways to Represent Lessons

Some other ways educators can represent the content of lessons or course readings are:

Alt-text descriptions are brief written explanations of images that people include in presentations. These descriptions do not appear visually in a presentation. However, if a student reads a copy of the presentation with their screen reader, they can access any alt-text that the presenter has added to images. Writing these descriptions can help teachers plan lessons. While writing alt-text, teachers have the chance to think in advance about:

  • What elements of an image they want to draw students’ attention to
  • Why that image is important to the lesson

Educators can also produce lesson resources that easily adapt to students’ accommodation needs. For instance, handouts created in Microsoft Word or another text-based program are easy to print in Braille or read with screen readers. On the other hand, formats like PDF or Google Docx are less accessible.

Multiple means of representation help teachers plan and deliver lessons that more students can learn from.




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Why is a New Grocery Store in Downtown Kitchener Inaccessible to People in Wheelchairs?


By Luisa D’AmatoRecord Columnist
Fri., Aug. 20, 2021

A beautiful new grocery store has just opened in downtown Kitchener.

Marché Leo’s Market has a pizza oven, a deli and an upscale pastry counter. It sells perfect flowers by the bunch, plus staples, nut milks, organic cheeses and many different kinds of olive oils and vinegars.

It’s at 276 King Street W., right next door to the church where Rev. Preston Parsons works. He was excited to go inside.

But then he discovered that, for him, it might as well be in China.

Parsons uses a wheelchair – and there is no way for him to get into the store.

From the street, you have to climb up eight steps. There is no ramp and no elevator for people with mobility issues. There’s no accessible back entrance either.

“It makes me feel like I don’t belong, in the city I live in,” said Parsons, who is rector and priest of the Anglican Church of St. John the Evangelist on Water Street.

He got in touch with the company headquarters of the store to discuss this with them. That was a week ago and he has heard nothing.

Another disappointed customer is Jennifer Adams, who uses a scooter and a walker to get around.

She approached the store and sat outside the front entrance for a couple of minutes as she wondered what to do. A few people asked if they could help her.

Eventually she sat on each step with her back to the front doors, pushing herself up to the next step with her arms as she laboriously got into the building. She left the scooter behind on the sidewalk.

Once she was inside, the staff were “very kind” to her, she said, but she felt embarrassed by the experience.

“I’d been so looking forward to this store opening up in downtown Kitchener,” she told me Thursday.

She started to cry. “This whole thing about losing mobility is very hard.”

I wonder: Can’t we do better than this?

Surely the government should be minimizing the difficulties that people like Adams and Parsons experience on a daily basis, instead of allowing them to be shut out of even more buildings.

You would think that a newly renovated space like this grocery store would be required to be accessible to people with mobility challenges.

But according to the people who enforce the Ontario Building Code, that’s not necessarily the case.

In the case of this building in Kitchener, although there were renovations involved before the store could go into the building, they weren’t major enough to allow city inspectors to require the provision of inclusive features like ramps or elevators.

“This is what the code considers a basic renovation of an existing building,” said Tim Benedict, manager of the building division of the City of Kitchener.

“It allows existing buildings that are renovated to remain as is.”

“We always encourage property owners to make things accessible,” Benedict said, but there’s only so much they can do, given the legislation.

The building, which also includes condos, is owned by Perimeter Development Corporation, which has many projects in Kitchener and Waterloo, including the Walper Hotel and Breithaupt Block (where Google’s offices are).

In an email Thursday, the company’s chief executive officer, Craig Beattie, said the building at 276 King St. W. had been vacant for well over a decade.

The building’s unusual structure meant it was not possible to build a ramp or elevator as renovations went ahead.

“We invested significantly in base building renovations,” he said, including new facades along King and Water streets, new electrical and mechanical systems, and partitioning to create the individual retail units.

All this work attracted “a long desired and needed urban grocery market to the core,” he said. It’s an important amenity for the growing downtown population.

All true.

But it’s also true that this new market is not for everybody.

It’s just for able-bodied people.

And in that sense, it’s a little bit like downtown Kitchener itself.

“We’re rejuvenating Kitchener,” said Parsons.

“Are we building a Kitchener for everyone, or a Kitchener for some?”

Luisa D’Amato is a Waterloo Region-based staff columnist for The Record. Reach her via email: [email protected]

Original at https://www.therecord.com/news/waterloo-region/2021/08/20/why-is-a-new-grocery-store-in-downtown-kitchener-inaccessible-to-people-in-wheelchairs.html




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Toronto Teacher Who Now Uses Wheelchair Prompts TDSB to Make School More Accessible


More than 50% of TDSB schools have barriers to people with disabilities Talia Ricci , CBC News
Posted: Aug 19, 2021

Toronto teacher Karyn Bugelli says she’s overwhelmed by recent support from her school and neighbours as she adjusts to life in a wheelchair. As Talia Ricci reports, the situation has motivated the TDSB to make the school more accessible – but there’s still a long way to go.

When Karyn Bugelli first learned she wouldn’t walk again, she says one of the first things that came to mind was one of her former students.

“He had something go wrong with his spine and he ended up in a wheelchair. I was instructing him while he waited to get into another school, because Malvern wasn’t accessible,” she said.

Bugelli has worked as both a teacher and a guidance counsellor at Malvern Collegiate Institute in Toronto’s east-end for the past 15 years.

“I remember thinking at the time, what a terrible thing that a Grade 9 student will have to move away from his friends and move to a new school in this day and age.” Now she feels an even deeper connection to that student.

Last October, Bugelli was experiencing what she thought was common back pain – but it wasn’t going away. Tests determined she had a cancerous tumour on her spine. She underwent chemotherapy but eventually had to have the tumour removed. That operation meant she was cancer-free, but would remain paralyzed from the waist down and would have to use a wheelchair.

After being rooted in a school and community she loved for more than a decade, she hoped there was a way she could continue working there, and so did her colleagues. According to data provided by the Toronto District School Board (TDSB), more than 50 per cent of its schools are not accessible. Bugelli hopes her situation sparks change so future students and staff can work and learn in accessible buildings.

Bugelli said her principal and colleagues have been very supportive. One even started a GoFundMe to help with renovations to make her home more accessible, which has raised more than $55,000. Multiple messages on the page from former students say Bugelli was their favourite teacher.

“It’s basically overwhelming. It’s an indescribable feeling really. You feel like you don’t deserve it. But you really just can’t believe what people will do to help you out,” Bugelli said. She added that friends, neighbours and colleagues also brought her family meals, offered to walk her dog and continue to send her motivating texts in the morning.

“I think it will be a big learning curve, and I think there’s a lot of barriers I haven’t seen before,” she said.

“But I will now.”

More than 50% of TDSB schools not accessible

In a statement, the TDSB says it has audited all of its schools and created site-specific profiles on their accessibility. During the audit, schools were categorized as either accessible, somewhat accessible, or not accessible.

Accessible is defined as allowing independent access into and throughout the building and providing a barrier-free washroom, while somewhat accessible does not meet the full criteria but provides independent access to the building, a barrier-free washroom on the main level and no level disruptions to entry.

According to the data provided to CBC News, the board found 153 schools are accessible, 114 are somewhat accessible and 276 as not accessible. The TDSB estimates it would cost between $750 million and $1 billion to make all its schools barrier-free to people with disabilities.

Sandy Kaskens, principal at Malvern C.I., says she felt an overwhelming sense of admiration for Bugelli when she received a text from her about whether she’d be able to do her job in a wheelchair.

“Her first communication was about how she can return to work and continue serving the community,” she said. “I thought, ‘Okay, what do I need to do to make sure she can return to Malvern.”‘

Kaskens explained that for Bugelli to get into her office an exterior ramp needs to be installed at the door where the parking lot is located and a stair-lift to access the main floor will also need to be installed. There will also have to be an accessible washroom. Like Bugelli, Kaskens was reminded of students who had to transfer because the high school isn’t fully accessible.

“A process has started, but I am learning that accessibility at TDSB schools is really a massive project. It’s not just Malvern,” she said, adding that she has known for a long time that accessibility needed improvement across the board.

But now the issue feels close to home.

“When someone close to you, someone you’re responsible for professionally, suddenly has accessibility needs, you see the barriers much more.”

Learning how to live in a wheelchair

Bugelli has been staying at the University Health Network’s Lyndhurst Centre. Dr. Anthony Burns, a physiatrist at the facility, says the spinal cord rehabilitation program helps people like Bugelli transition back to home and work, while remaining as independent as possible.

“Here at the centre, as you can imagine it’s an ideal environment, an accessible set-up for people with spinal cord injuries,” he said.

“But it’s a significant transition when they return to the community because, unfortunately, they will encounter barriers, not all of the environments within the home and outside the home will be accessible.”

Burns says part of their program is to help individuals solve problems in these situations.

“When I’m out and about I certainly note people with mobility impairments and some of the challenges they face,” he said.

“I think we have a long way to go, we need to do a better job as a society of increasing access for individuals with impairments to fully engage in the workplace.”

Bugelli says she can’t wait to return to the job she loves. Reflecting on her former student and the road ahead, she says she hopes everybody will be able to attend fully accessible schools in the near future.

“If it starts with me, maybe something good can come out of all this.”

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Talia Ricci is a CBC reporter based in Toronto. She has travelled around the globe with her camera documenting people and places as well as volunteering. Talia enjoys covering offbeat human interest stories and exposing social justice issues. When she’s not reporting, you can find her reading or strolling the city with a film camera.

Original at https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/toronto/toronto-teacher-overwhelmed-by-support-1.6143645




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Adults With Disabilities Face Barriers Accessing Food, Leading to Food Insecurity: U of T Study


During an ice storm, Cynthia, a woman in her 50s who lives in downtown Toronto and uses a walker, didn’t know where she would get her next meal. If she couldn’t afford food delivery, her plan was to drink a glass of water and wait to eat the following day.

This is just one of the troubling personal stories that Naomi Schwartz heard while researching food accessibility for people with disabilities living in Canada’s largest city.

Schwartz, a PhD graduate of the University of Toronto Mississauga’s geography program, along with professors Ron Buliung and Kathi Wilson from U of T Mississauga’s department of geography, geomatics and environment, co-authored the study recently published in the journal Disability & Society.

The researchers found that people with disabilities were at considerably greater risk of food insecurity than others – an outcome partially explained by often interconnected physical and economic barriers.

Schwartz interviewed 23 adults with disabilities who use mobility aids or experience physical barriers to their mobility between 2017 and 2018. To get a better understanding of their everyday routines, she accompanied study participants on a “typical food access journey,” usually to the grocery store.

She was surprised by how many small barriers arose throughout the trip – such as garbage cans blocking pathways, inadequate curb cuts and narrow aisles within stores.

“As a non-disabled researcher, it was so important for me to understand the small-level barriers that we don’t necessarily think of,” Schwartz says.

Buliung adds that the study also provides unique insight into the barriers within people’s homes.

“We really wanted to dig into what’s happening in the home,” says Buliung. “When we think about food access we often think about accessibility in the city. We’re often looking outward at destinations but it seemed a bit rare to look at what’s happening at the home site.”

Within the home, some participants on a limited income or living in subsidized housing lived in spaces that were too small to allow them to move comfortably with their mobility device. Many had inaccessible kitchens, and those in apartments or condos faced potential mechanical breakdowns of important services such as elevators and exterior points of entry.

Among those who used Wheel-Trans – Toronto’s paratransit service which provides door-to-door service at the cost of standard TTC transit fares – people with disabilities sometimes waited for the bus for half-an-hour in freezing weather. Some also said the Wheel-Trans monthly pass, which then cost $146.25, ate up a big part of their income.

Schwartz says she was able to access one food bank with a participant during mobile interviews, but that another participant had indicated some food banks were inaccessible.

“There’s a lot of food banks that might not have a lot of funding themselves, so they’re not running necessarily accessible operations,” Schwartz says.

There are potential solutions to the issues outlined in the study, Schwartz says. More financial support could be given through the Assistive Devices Program for people with long-term disabilities. There could also be greater enforcement and improvement of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA), legislation that aims to make the province fully accessible by 2025. There could also be a greater emphasis on designing the built environment, including inside and around a person’s residence, with people with disabilities in mind.

“Disability needs to be considered further up in the design process, as part of how things are designed from the beginning,” Schwartz says. “We need accessible spaces, and [to] not consider disability as an afterthought.”

Buliung says that, while AODA is supposed to help produce greater accessibility in new builds, processes and access to resources to support retrofit are messy and unclear.

“There is a long way to go before the ‘accessible’ Ontario vision becomes a reality,” he says. “What I really see happening by 2025 is a sort of accessible Ontario, in some places, for some people, some of the time. The presence of AODA does not mean that someone is going to come into your residence and make it suddenly work for you – many of the barriers identified in Dr. Schwartz’s work are not simply going to magically disappear in the coming years.”

Schwartz adds that offering a basic income supplement or increasing payments through the Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP) could also be part of the solution.

“Higher income levels would support so many things in terms of adequate food, but also housing. Or when there’s an emergency, to be able to afford an alternative, like a taxi,” she says. “Flexible income is needed, and right now the levels of income and things like the ODSP are just not adequate to allow that leeway at all. The basic income supplement is hugely important as well. It would just allow so much more flexibility in people’s incomes.”

Ultimately, she hopes that their study can make an impact on people’s lives.

“I hope it can be used to advocate for increases to disability incomes and act as evidence as a need for a basic income program,” she says, adding that she hopes the team’s research can also be used by the food industry to improve accessibility within their services.

Buliung, whose daughter Asha was born with spinal muscular atrophy type 2 and uses a wheelchair, says the issue is deeply personal to him.

“I want a future for my daughter where she doesn’t have to struggle with the issues that we have described in this paper,” he says. “I don’t want her to have to experience food insecurity.”

The researchers have also co-authored two other studies that focus on food insecurity across Canada, including “Disability and food access and insecurity: A scoping review of the literature and Mobility impairments and geographic variation in vulnerability to household food insecurity,”

published in Health & Place in 2019.
.

Original at https://www.utoronto.ca/news/adults-disabilities-face-barriers-accessing-food-leading-food-insecurity-u-t-study




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