First Fully Accessible Universal Washroom Opens at Upper Canada


Accessibility advocates say the new facility at Newmarket’s mall should serve as a benchmark for universal washrooms of the future By: Kim Champion
Dec. 3, 2019

Newmarket resident and chairperson of the Town of Newmarket’s accessibility advisory committee, Steve Foglia (left), and Derek Bunn, a special education teacher who also works with Community Living, were the driving force behind the new fully accessible universal washroom at Upper Canada Mall that’s now open.

A Change.org petition that garnered more than 26,000 signatures to get physically disabled children, adults and seniors off the washroom floor at Upper Canada Mall was instrumental in the official opening today of the first fully accessible universal washroom on the premises.

It’s been a two-year long project that saw many in the community working together to make it happen.

York Region District School Board special education teacher Derek Bunn, who started the petition in 2018, said support poured in from across the community and Canada, the United States and around the world.

He describes the situation for supporting people on a trip to the loo as follows:

“Children, adults and seniors who visit the Upper Canada Mall or any mall, and need to use the washroom, must be physically lifted from their wheelchair and be laid on the floor near toilets and the garbage in order to be changed. This type of activity is happening every day. Does this seem fair? Does this bother you? Does it shock you? I’m one of many who does this when I support someone at the mall. It is really unfair, unhygienic, unsafe and not dignified,” Bunn stated in the petition.

He sent the petition to Upper Canada Mall manager Oxford Properties Group, which helped “push the mall in the right direction,” to design its first fully accessible universal washroom, Bunn said.

Everyone involved in bringing the project to fruition was on hand this morning for the official ribbon-cutting of the 238-square-foot private washroom near the mall food court that could serve as the benchmark for universal washrooms of the future, said Steve Foglia, a Newmarket resident and artist who is chairperson of the Town of Newmarket’s accessibility advisory committee.

Foglia said Bunn mentioned to the committee a few years ago that he was having an issue with being forced to change school children on the floor while they were on outings.

“I thought, that’s got to stop,” Foglia said. “We are so grateful and, honestly, they gave us everything we asked for without even questioning it, everything.”

As it turned out, Upper Canada Mall was undertaking a renovation of its washroom facilities in 2019, and the stage was set for the universal washroom.

The area’s councillor, Christina Bisanz, contacted mall management on behalf of the accessibility advisory committee, and Petroff Partnership Architects were brought in to carry out the vision.

“If you build an accessible washroom by the Ontario Building Code, it’s not accessible,” Foglia said. “If you build it by the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act standards, it’s better but it’s still not 100 per cent accessible. This universal washroom is doing everything you could possibly need it to.”

To put the features of the new universal washroom into perspective, Foglia said there’s always an issue for people in wheelchairs to get through the door without banging into the sides. Personally, he can’t wash his hands a lot of the time because he can’t fit his chair underneath the sink.

“So we made an extra wide door that’s 40 inches wide so people can go through the door just like an able-bodied person would,” he said. “We also have a sink that you can access with a wheelchair, along with the soap dispenser and water, and hand dryer.”

“We pulled things away from the wall so you can get under it with a chair,” he said. “And a person can use the sling to transfer themselves out of the chair, onto the adjustable change table, over to the toilet, over to the sink and back to the change table, and back to the chair without anybody having to lift somebody out of the chair, that’s very important. And keeping people off the floor, as it should be.”

Here are the features of the fully accessible universal washroom at Upper Canada Mall:

  • An adult change table complete with a lift and sling (600 lb. capacity) that allows an individual to move around the room
  • Waiting area for support workers
  • Privacy curtain
  • Emergency bars to call for help
  • Accessible toilet, sink, soap dispenser, water, and hand dryer
  • Contrasting floor tiles to help those with a visual impairment navigate the facilities
  • Child-sized toilet and child change table
  • Grab bars fastened to walls
  • Security system that includes guests buzzing in to gain access

“This is how it should be done,” Foglia said.

Upper Canada Mall’s general manager, Ryan DaSilva, thanked the Newmarket community for their help and support on the project, and said the universal washroom ensures “everyone feels welcome at the mall”.

Bunn added that Upper Canada Mall has always been the hub of social and shopping experiences, and it is a great atmosphere for people in wheelchairs to spend the day there.

“What a great economic benefit this is to the mall, and a great social outing to everybody in the GTA,” he said.

Oxford Properties Group declined to provide the cost of the new washroom, but said the project was a custom-build and the first of its kind for the group.

Original at https://www.newmarkettoday.ca/local-news/first-fully-accessible-universal-washroom-opens-at-upper-canada-1897800




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Join the Blitz to Press Candidates Across Ontario for School Board Trustee to Make the “Students with Disabilities Pledge” – Help Ensure Hundreds of Thousands of Students with Disabilities Fully Benefit From Ontario’s Education system


Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance Update

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

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

Join the Blitz to Press Candidates Across Ontario for School Board Trustee to Make the “Students with Disabilities Pledge” – Help Ensure Hundreds of Thousands of Students with Disabilities Fully Benefit From Ontario’s Education system

July 30, 2018

          SUMMARY

Please join the new non-partisan three month blitz that the AODA Alliance launches today. Help us help tear down the many unfair barriers impeding hundreds of thousands of students with all kinds of disabilities in Ontario schools from fully benefitting from a good education.

On October 22, 2018, voters across Ontario will vote for the school board trustees that will run Ontario’s public and Catholic schools for the next four years. Please press all candidates for school board trustee to make the “Students with Disabilities Pledge!” We seek three commitments from each candidate for school board trustee across Ontario:

The Students with Disabilities Pledge for Candidates for School Board Trustee

  1. Do you agree that students with disabilities should be able to fully participate in and benefit from your school board’s education programs in a barrier-free school board?
  1. Do you support your school board establishing a permanent committee of trustees, the “Students with Disabilities Full Participation Committee,” to oversee action to remove and prevent barriers impeding students with disabilities?
  1. Do you support your school board putting in place a comprehensive plan to remove and prevent disability barriers, with six month progress reports?

To help with our blitz, please:

* Contact candidates for public or Catholic school board trustee in your community. Ask them to make the Students with Disabilities Pledge.

On Twitter, tweet school board trustees with the three commitments. Each of the 3 pledges fits in a single tweet. Your tweet might begin with the candidate’s Twitter name, and then include the following wording:

Tweet #1

Do you agree that students with disabilities should be able to fully participate in & benefit from your school board’s education programs in a barrier-free school board? #SWDP #accessibility

Tweet #2

Do you support your school board establishing a permanent committee of trustees, the “Students with Disabilities Full Participation Committee,” to oversee action to remove and prevent barriers impeding students with disabilities? #SWDP #accessibility

Tweet #3

Do you support your school board putting in place a comprehensive plan to remove and prevent disability barriers, with six month progress reports? #SWDP #accessibility

We use the new hashtag #swdp in our tweets about this topic, which is short for “Students with Disabilities Pledge.”

* Let us know which candidates you asked, and whether they make the pledge. Contact us at [email protected]

* Let your local media know which school board trustees have made the Students with Disabilities Pledge, and which have not. Write a guest column for your local newspaper. Phone in to your local call-in radio station.

* Contact the Special Education Advisory Committee of your local public and Catholic school board. Let them know about your efforts to get school board trustees to make the Students with Disabilities Pledge. Urge them to spread the word about this blitz.

* Circulate this Update to your family and friends. Urge them to help with this campaign.

Below we give you more background. Share that information with candidates, friend, family and the media. Learn more about our ongoing campaign to achieve a fully accessible and barrier-free education system in Ontario for all students with disabilities by visiting www.aodaalliance.org/education

          MORE DETAILS

Ontario publicly-funded schools have about two million students. Of these, over one third of a million are students with special education needs — They have a disability, or are gifted, or both. That number only includes those students with special education needs that school boards have recognized as needing education accommodations. There are no doubt more students with disabilities in Ontario schools who have not been identified or recognized as such.

Students with disabilities include students with any kind of disability, such as a physical disability, a sensory disability (like hearing loss or vision loss), an intellectual disability, a learning disability, a mental health condition, a communication disability, a neurological disability like autism, or any other kind of disability.

These students face all kinds of disability barriers in Ontario schools. These include physical barriers (like steps to get into or around a school), technological barriers (like computers and software used in school that does not accommodate their disability), attitude barriers (like a lack of understanding of how to ensure that students with disabilities can fully participate and fully benefit from the programs in Ontario schools), communication barriers, curriculum barriers, just to name a few. In November 2016, the AODA Alliance made public a Discussion Paper that gives more details on the barriers that students with disabilities in Ontario face.

Ontario has no comprehensive strategy in place to ensure that our education system becomes accessible and barrier-free for students with disabilities.

Ontario’s special education laws are out-of-date. They were largely written before the Charter of Rights and Ontario Human Rights Code guaranteed equal rights in education to students with disabilities.

The former Ontario Government committed to create an Education Accessibility Standard under the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act. It is still under development. During the 2018 Ontario election, Doug Ford committed: “The Ontario PC Party believes our education system must minimize barriers for students with disabilities, providing the skills, opportunities and connections with the business community that are necessary to enter the workforce.”

This brings us to our new blitz. Each public school board and Catholic school board is governed by a board of locally-elected school board trustees. They serve for a four year term.

In the October 22, 2018 school board election, we want as many school board trustees as possible to commit to supporting the achievement of a fully accessible education system for all students with disabilities and to take action on that commitment.



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