Tomorrow 4-5 pm EST Watch Live Stream of the Birthday Party for the 25th Anniversary of the Birth of the AODA Movement at Queen’s Park – and — Toronto Star Publishes Letter to the Editor from the AODA Alliance on the Dangers to People with Disabilities Posed by the Ford Government’s Allowing E-scooters in 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

Tomorrow 4-5 pm EST Watch Live Stream of the Birthday Party for the 25th Anniversary of the Birth of the AODA Movement at Queen’s Park – and — Toronto Star Publishes Letter to the Editor from the AODA Alliance on the Dangers to People with Disabilities Posed by the Ford Government’s Allowing E-scooters in Ontario

December 2, 2019

          SUMMARY

1. If You Did Not RSVP to Attend the AODA Movement’s 25th Birthday Party Tomorrow at the Ontario Legislature, You Can Watch the Speeches Streamed Live

Tomorrow from 4 to 6 pm EST will be the big birthday party for the 25th anniversary of the birth of the grassroots non-partisan campaign to get a strong Ontario accessibility law enacted and implemented. It takes place at the Ontario Legislature at Queen’s Park, as we earlier announced.

If you have not already registered to attend, the event is now filled to capacity. There won’t be room for any others to be added.

However, don’t fret or feel left out! You can watch the speeches live-streamed on the AODA Alliance’s Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/aodaalliance/

There will be live captioning of the speeches. They will be available online in real time. You need to open them in a separate window. They will not be streaming with the video itself. For the captions,  visit https://2020archive.1capapp.com/event/marchofdimes/

We will only be streaming the speeches, and not the rest of the event. We expect them to begin around 4:30 pm and to go for no more than 30 minutes. The video will come on the Facebook live stream just before the speeches begin, and not beforehand.

We hope to later archive this video. We hope that it all works as planned. Of course, with technology, we regret that you can never be sure! We will do our best.

To read about the historic events that got this movement started 25 years ago, visit our website.

2. Toronto Star Publishes the ‘AODA Alliances Letter to the Editor on the Dangers that the Ford Government Has Created for Ontarians with Disabilities by Allowing Electric Scooters

The December 1, 2019 Toronto Star published a somewhat edited version of the letter to the editor that AODA Alliance Chair David Lepofsky sent to the newspaper. We set it out below. It addresses the dangers to Ontarians with disabilities that the Ford Government has created by allowing e-scooters in Ontario. We have been raising this issue with the Government and the media over the past three months since the Ford Government made public its troubling intentions.

We will keep up the pressure and invite you to do the same. Please raise these issues you’re your member of the Ontario Legislature. Send your own letter to the editor of the Toronto Star. Email it to [email protected]

3. Will the Ford Government Ever Implement the Onley Report?

There have now been 305 days since the Doug Ford Government received the final report of the Independent Review of the AODA’s implementation that former Lieutenant Governor David Onley conducted. The Government has announced no plans to implement that report. The AODA’s mandatory 2025 deadline for Ontario to become accessible to people with disabilities is only 5 years and one month away.

          MORE DETAILS

Toronto Star December 1, 2019

Originally posted at https://www.thestar.com/opinion/letters_to_the_editors/2019/12/01/ontarios-e-scooter-regulations-will-endanger-people-with-disabilities.html

Letters to the Editor

E-scooter rules will endanger people with disabilities

Rules that make sense, Editorial, Nov. 29

The Star was wrong to applaud the Doug Ford government’s decision to let municipalities pilot electric scooters.

Ford ignored serious safety and accessibility concerns, documented by Ontarians with disabilities, by allowing dangerously fast e-scooters on roads, sidewalks and other places. We and others will be exposed to the danger of serious injuries, if not worse. E-scooters will be unforeseeable new barriers blocking the accessibility of public spaces for people with disabilities.

As a blind person, I want to walk safely in public. I fear an inattentive, unlicensed, uninsured person, as young as 16, with no training, experience or knowledge of the rules of the road, silently rocketing towards me at 24 km/h. Ford will even let municipalities allow e-scooters on sidewalks, endangering pedestrians.

Ford paid lip service to safety and disability accessibility. He created weak, unenforceable provisions to limit how e-scooters are ridden and whether they may be left on sidewalks. He appears to have bowed to e-scooter rental companies. Ontarians with disabilities are disproportionately poor and disadvantaged. We don’t have the resources to fight corporate lobbyists in hundreds of municipalities to fend off these dangers.

David Lepofsky, Chair, Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance, Toronto



Source link

Tomorrow 4-5 pm EST Watch Live Stream of the Birthday Party for the 25th Anniversary of the Birth of the AODA Movement at Queen’s Park


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

Toronto Star Publishes Letter to the Editor from the AODA Alliance on the Dangers to People with Disabilities Posed by the Ford Government’s Allowing E-scooters in Ontario

December 2, 2019

SUMMARY

1. If You Did Not RSVP to Attend the AODA Movement’s 25th Birthday Party Tomorrow at the Ontario Legislature, You Can Watch the Speeches Streamed Live

Tomorrow from 4 to 6 pm EST will be the big birthday party for the 25th anniversary of the birth of the grassroots non-partisan campaign to get a strong Ontario accessibility law enacted and implemented. It takes place at the Ontario Legislature at Queen’s Park, as we earlier announced.

If you have not already registered to attend, the event is now filled to capacity. There won’t be room for any others to be added.

However, don’t fret or feel left out! You can watch the speeches live-streamed on the AODA Alliance’s Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/aodaalliance/

There will be live captioning of the speeches. They will be available online in real time. You need to open them in a separate window. They will not be streaming with the video itself. For the captions, visit https://2020archive.1capapp.com/event/marchofdimes/

We will only be streaming the speeches, and not the rest of the event. We expect them to begin around 4:30 pm and to go for no more than 30 minutes. The video will come on the Facebook live stream just before the speeches begin, and not beforehand.

We hope to later archive this video. We hope that it all works as planned. Of course, with technology, we regret that you can never be sure! We will do our best.

To read about the historic events that got this movement started 25 years ago, visit our website.

2. Toronto Star Publishes the ‘AODA Alliances Letter to the Editor on the Dangers that the Ford Government Has Created for Ontarians with Disabilities by Allowing Electric Scooters

The December 1, 2019 Toronto Star published a somewhat edited version of the letter to the editor that AODA Alliance Chair David Lepofsky sent to the newspaper. We set it out below. It addresses the dangers to Ontarians with disabilities that the Ford Government has created by allowing e-scooters in Ontario. We have been raising this issue with the Government and the media over the past three months since the Ford Government made public its troubling intentions.

We will keep up the pressure and invite you to do the same. Please raise these issues you’re your member of the Ontario Legislature. Send your own letter to the editor of the Toronto Star. Email it to [email protected]

3. Will the Ford Government Ever Implement the Onley Report?

There have now been 305 days since the Doug Ford Government received the final report of the Independent Review of the AODA’s implementation that former Lieutenant Governor David Onley conducted. The Government has announced no plans to implement that report. The AODA’s mandatory 2025 deadline for Ontario to become accessible to people with disabilities is only 5 years and one month away.

MORE DETAILS

Toronto Star December 1, 2019

Originally posted at https://www.thestar.com/opinion/letters_to_the_editors/2019/12/01/ontarios-e-scooter-regulations-will-endanger-people-with-disabilities.html Letters to the Editor

E-scooter rules will endanger people with disabilities

Rules that make sense, Editorial, Nov. 29

The Star was wrong to applaud the Doug Ford government’s decision to let municipalities pilot electric scooters.

Ford ignored serious safety and accessibility concerns, documented by Ontarians with disabilities, by allowing dangerously fast e-scooters on roads, sidewalks and other places. We and others will be exposed to the danger of serious injuries, if not worse. E-scooters will be unforeseeable new barriers blocking the accessibility of public spaces for people with disabilities.

As a blind person, I want to walk safely in public. I fear an inattentive, unlicensed, uninsured person, as young as 16, with no training, experience or knowledge of the rules of the road, silently rocketing towards me at 24 km/h. Ford will even let municipalities allow e-scooters on sidewalks, endangering pedestrians.

Ford paid lip service to safety and disability accessibility. He created weak, unenforceable provisions to limit how e-scooters are ridden and whether they may be left on sidewalks. He appears to have bowed to e-scooter rental companies. Ontarians with disabilities are disproportionately poor and disadvantaged. We don’t have the resources to fight corporate lobbyists in hundreds of municipalities to fend off these dangers.

David Lepofsky, Chair, Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance, Toronto




Source link

Come to A Birthday Party On December 3, 2019 (the International Day for People with Disabilities) at Queen’s Park to Celebrate the 25th Anniversary of the Birth of the Non-Partisan Grassroots Movement for Accessibility Legislation in 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 Birthday Party On December 3, 2019 (the International Day for People with Disabilities) at Queen’s Park to Celebrate the 25th Anniversary of the Birth of the Non-Partisan Grassroots Movement for Accessibility Legislation in Ontario!

November 13, 2019

          SUMMARY

Everyone loves a birthday party! Please come to the Ontario Legislature Building at Queen’s Park on Tuesday, December 3, 2019 from 4 to 6 pm, for a birthday party! It will celebrate the 25th anniversary of the birth of the non-partisan grassroots movement for the enactment and effective implementation of accessibility legislation in Ontario.

A quarter of a century ago, on November 29, 1994, a group of about twenty people with disabilities gathered together at a spontaneous meeting at the Ontario Legislature. On the spot, they decided to form an organization to campaign for Ontario to pass a strong accessibility law. What has followed has been an extraordinary twenty-five years of vibrant, creative, tenacious  non-partisan grassroots advocacy across Ontario for accessibility for people with disabilities.

What better day could there be to celebrate this important birthday than December 3? It is recognized around the world as the International Day for People with Disabilities! What better way could there be to celebrate it, then to turn our prime attention to the next generation that will carry the torch forward in this cause. For that reason, a key focus at this birthday party will be on the next generation of people with disabilities!

Please come! Get others to come, and especially kids, teens and young adults! Our thanks to the March of Dimes, Spinal Cord Injury Association of Ontario and several other organizations who are helping to throw this party!

To attend, it is essential to RSVP in advance, so we can ensure that Queen’s Park security officials have the names of those who are coming. Also, space is limited, so RSVP fast! You must RSVP by November 26, 2019. To RSVP, go to this link https://sciontario.org/an-accessible-future-our-commitment-to-the-next-generation/

We also encourage individuals and organizations around Ontario to organize their own local celebrations of this historic anniversary. Let us know what you have planned. We would be happy to spread the word.

Over these twenty years, we can be proud that we have put disability accessibility on the political map. We’ve obtained lots of positive media coverage from one end of Ontario to the other. We put forward constructive proposals for action. We hold politicians accountable on this issue. We have waged non-partisan disability accessibility campaigns during every Ontario election since 1995, and have gotten election pledges on disability accessibility from at least two parties, if not more, in every one of those seven provincial elections.

Our strength, from beginning to end, is our many wonderful grassroots supporters, both individuals and organizations, selflessly toiling away, tirelessly, right across Ontario. Each one has helped our cause by writing or meeting their MPP, telling the media about a barrier in their community, educating their local businesses and community organizations on accessibility, serving on a municipal or provincial accessibility advisory committee, council or other body, tweeting about our campaign, posting on the web about accessibility, calling a phone-in radio program, writing a letter to the editor or guest newspaper column, organizing a local accessibility event, submitting briefs to the Government, reading and forwarding our email Updates, or sending us feedback and ideas. This is a chance to celebrate all these collective efforts. We have learned over and over that tenacity and courage in the face of barriers pays off.

So what happened back on November 29, 1994, to kick-start this movement? We set out a description of the key events. It comes from a law journal article that describes the first eight years of this movement, entitled “The Long Arduous Road to a Barrier-free Ontario for People with Disabilities: The History of the Ontarians with Disabilities Act – The First Chapter,” found in volume 15 of the National Journal of Constitutional Law. It was written by David Lepofsky, who led the ODA Committee from 1995 to 2005, and who has chaired the AODA Alliance since 2009. Footnotes are omitted from this excerpt. Back then, we were campaigning for a law to be called the Ontarians with Disabilities Act or ODA. In 2005, the Legislature passed the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act or AODA. That is why in 2005 the ODA Committee wound up and was succeeded by the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act

Please sign up to attend this birthday party and get others to do so!

          MORE DETAILS

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” BY DAVID LEPOFSKY, PUBLISHED IN THE NATIONAL JOURNAL OF CONSTITUTIONAL LAW, VOLUME 15.

  1. a) The Birth of the Organized ODA Movement

The realization within Ontario’s disability community that a new law was needed to tear down the barriers facing persons with disabilities did not take place all at once as the result of a single catastrophic event. Rather, it resulted slowly from a simmering, gradual process. That process led to the birth of Ontario’s organized ODA movement.

How then did the organized ODA movement get started? Most would naturally think that it is the birth of a civil rights movement that later spawns the introduction into a legislature of a new piece of civil rights legislation. Ironically in the case of the organized ODA movement, the opposite was the case. The same ironic twist had occurred 15 years before when the Ontario Coalition for Human Rights for the Handicapped formed in reaction to the Government’s introduction of a stand-alone piece of disability rights legislation.

In the early 1990s, after the enactment in the U.S. of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) in 1990, sporadic voices in Ontario began discussing the idea of seeking the enactment of something called an “Ontarians with Disabilities Act.” There was little if any focused attention on what this new law would contain. It was understood from the outset that an ODA would not be a carbon copy of the ADA. For example, some parts of the ADA were already incorporated in the Ontario Human Rights Code. There was no need to replicate them again.

In the 1990 Ontario provincial election campaign (which happened to take place just days after the U.S. had enacted the Americans with Disabilities Act) NDP leader Bob Rae responded to a disability rights legal clinic’s all-party election platform questionnaire in August 1990 with a letter which, among other things, supported appropriate legislation along the lines of an Ontarians with Disabilities Act. Rae’s letter didn’t spell out what this law would include. This letter did not get serious airplay in that election campaign. It was not well-known when the NDP came from behind in the polls to win that provincial election. Because the NDP had not been expected to win, it was widely seen as campaigning on a range of election commitments that it never anticipated having the opportunity to implement.

Despite sporadic discussions among some in the early 1990s, there was no grassroots groundswell in Ontario supporting an ODA. There was also no major grassroots political force building to push for one. This was quite similar to the fact that there was no organized grassroots disability rights movement pushing for the inclusion of disability equality in the Ontario Human Rights Code in 1979, before the Ontario Government proposed its new disability discrimination legislation in that year. In the early 1990s, Ontario disability organizations involved in disability advocacy were primarily focused on other things, such as the NDP Ontario Government’s proposed Employment Equity Act, expected to be the first provincial legislation of its kind in Canada. That legislation, aimed at increasing the employment of persons with disabilities as well as women, racial minorities and Aboriginal persons, was on the agenda of the provincial New Democratic Party that was then in power in Ontario.

What ultimately led to the birth of a province-wide, organized grassroots ODA movement in Ontario was the decision of an NDP back-bench member of the Ontario Legislature, Gary Malkowski, to introduce into the Legislature a private member’s ODA bill in the Spring of 1994, over three years into the NDP Government’s term in office. By that time, the NDP Government had not brought forward a Government ODA bill. Malkowski decided to bring forward Bill 168, the first proposed Ontarians with Disabilities Act, to focus public and political interest in this new issue. Malkowski was well-known as Ontario’s, and indeed North America’s, first elected parliamentarian who was deaf. Ontario’s New Democratic Party Government, then entering the final year of its term in office, allowed Malkowski’s bill to proceed to a Second Reading vote in the Ontario Legislature in June, 1994, and then to public hearings before a committee of the Ontario Legislature in November and December 1994.

In 1994, word got around various quarters in Ontario’s disability community that Malkowski had introduced this bill. Interest in it started to percolate. Malkowski met with groups in the disability community, urging them to come together to support his bill. He called for the disability community to unite in a new coalition to support an Ontarians with Disabilities Act. A significant number of persons with disabilities turned up at the Ontario Legislature when this bill came forward for Second Reading debate in the Spring of 1994.

Over the spring, summer and fall months of 1994, around the same time as Malkowski was coming forward with his ODA bill, some of the beginnings of the organized ODA movement were also simmering within an organization of Ontario Government employees with disabilities. Under the governing NDP, the Ontario Government had set up an “Advisory Group” of provincial public servants with disabilities to advise it on measures to achieve equality for persons with disabilities in the Ontario Public Service. In the Spring of 1994, this Advisory Group set as one of its priorities working within the machinery of the Ontario Government to promote the idea of an ODA.

This public service Advisory Group met with several provincial Cabinet Ministers and later with Ontario’s Premier, Bob Rae, to discuss the idea of an ODA. It successfully pressed the Government to hold public hearings on Malkowski’s ODA bill.

As 1994 progressed, Malkowski’s bill served its important purpose. It sparked the attention and interest of several players in Ontario’s disability community in the idea of an ODA. No one was then too preoccupied with the details of the contents of Malkowski’s ODA bill.

Malkowski’s bill had an even more decisive effect on November 29, 1994, when it first came before the Legislature’s Standing Committee for debate and public hearings. On that date, NDP Citizenship Minister Elaine Ziemba was asked to make a presentation to the Committee on the Government’s views on Malkowski’s bill. She was called upon to do this before community groups would be called on to start making presentations to the legislative committee. The hearing room was packed with persons with disabilities, eager to hear what the Minister would have to say.

Much to the audience’s dismay, the Minister’s lengthy speech said little if anything about the bill. She focused instead on the Government’s record on other disability issues. The temperature in the room elevated as the audience’s frustration mounted.

When the committee session ended for the day, word quickly spread among the audience that all were invited to go to another room in Ontario’s legislative building. An informal, impromptu gathering came together to talk about taking action in support of Malkowski’s bill. Malkowski passionately urged those present to come together and to get active on this cause.

I was one of the 20 or so people who made their way into that room. In an informal meeting that lasted about an hour, it was unanimously decided to form a new coalition to fight for a strong and effective Ontarians with Disabilities Act. There was no debate over the content of such legislation at that meeting. However, there was a strong and united realization that new legislation was desperately needed, and that a new coalition needed to be formed to fight for it. This coalition did not spawn the first ODA bill. Rather, the first ODA bill had spawned this coalition.

Days later, in December 1994, the Legislature’s Standing Committee held two full days of hearings into Malkowski’s bill. A significant number of organizations, including disability community organizations, appeared before the Legislature’s Standing Committee to submit briefs and make presentations on the need for new legislation in this area. Among the groups that made presentations was the Ontario Public Service Disability Advisory Group which had pressed for these hearings to be held. Its brief later served as a core basis for briefs and positions that would be presented by the brand-new Ontarians with Disabilities Act Committee.



Source link

Come to A Birthday Party On December 3, 2019 (the International Day for People with Disabilities) at Queen’s Park to Celebrate the 25th Anniversary of the Birth of the Non-Partisan Grassroots Movement for Accessibility Legislation in 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

November 13, 2019

SUMMARY

Everyone loves a birthday party! Please come to the Ontario Legislature Building at Queen’s Park on Tuesday, December 3, 2019 from 4 to 6 pm, for a birthday party! It will celebrate the 25th anniversary of the birth of the non-partisan grassroots movement for the enactment and effective implementation of accessibility legislation in Ontario.

A quarter of a century ago, on November 29, 1994, a group of about twenty people with disabilities gathered together at a spontaneous meeting at the Ontario Legislature. On the spot, they decided to form an organization to campaign for Ontario to pass a strong accessibility law. What has followed has been an extraordinary twenty-five years of vibrant, creative, tenacious non-partisan grassroots advocacy across Ontario for accessibility for people with disabilities.

What better day could there be to celebrate this important birthday than December 3? It is recognized around the world as the International Day for People with Disabilities! What better way could there be to celebrate it, then to turn our prime attention to the next generation that will carry the torch forward in this cause. For that reason, a key focus at this birthday party will be on the next generation of people with disabilities!

Please come! Get others to come, and especially kids, teens and young adults! Our thanks to the March of Dimes, Spinal Cord Injury Association of Ontario and several other organizations who are helping to throw this party!

To attend, it is essential to RSVP in advance, so we can ensure that Queen’s Park security officials have the names of those who are coming. Also, space is limited, so RSVP fast! You must RSVP by November 26, 2019. To RSVP, go to this link https://sciontario.org/an-accessible-future-our-commitment-to-the-next-generation/

We also encourage individuals and organizations around Ontario to organize their own local celebrations of this historic anniversary. Let us know what you have planned. We would be happy to spread the word.

Over these twenty years, we can be proud that we have put disability accessibility on the political map. We’ve obtained lots of positive media coverage from one end of Ontario to the other. We put forward constructive proposals for action. We hold politicians accountable on this issue. We have waged non-partisan disability accessibility campaigns during every Ontario election since 1995, and have gotten election pledges on disability accessibility from at least two parties, if not more, in every one of those seven provincial elections.

Our strength, from beginning to end, is our many wonderful grassroots supporters, both individuals and organizations, selflessly toiling away, tirelessly, right across Ontario. Each one has helped our cause by writing or meeting their MPP, telling the media about a barrier in their community, educating their local businesses and community organizations on accessibility, serving on a municipal or provincial accessibility advisory committee, council or other body, tweeting about our campaign, posting on the web about accessibility, calling a phone-in radio program, writing a letter to the editor or guest newspaper column, organizing a local accessibility event, submitting briefs to the Government, reading and forwarding our email Updates, or sending us feedback and ideas. This is a chance to celebrate all these collective efforts. We have learned over and over that tenacity and courage in the face of barriers pays off.

So what happened back on November 29, 1994, to kick-start this movement? We set out a description of the key events. It comes from a law journal article that describes the first eight years of this movement, entitled “The Long Arduous Road to a Barrier-free Ontario for People with Disabilities: The History of the Ontarians with Disabilities Act – The First Chapter,” found in volume 15 of the National Journal of Constitutional Law. It was written by David Lepofsky, who led the ODA Committee from 1995 to 2005, and who has chaired the AODA Alliance since 2009. Footnotes are omitted from this excerpt. Back then, we were campaigning for a law to be called the Ontarians with Disabilities Act or ODA. In 2005, the Legislature passed the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act or AODA. That is why in 2005 the ODA Committee wound up and was succeeded by the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act

Please sign up to attend this birthday party and get others to do so!

MORE DETAILS

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” BY DAVID LEPOFSKY, PUBLISHED IN THE NATIONAL JOURNAL OF CONSTITUTIONAL LAW, VOLUME 15.

a) The Birth of the Organized ODA Movement

The realization within Ontario’s disability community that a new law was needed to tear down the barriers facing persons with disabilities did not take place all at once as the result of a single catastrophic event. Rather, it resulted slowly from a simmering, gradual process. That process led to the birth of Ontario’s organized ODA movement.

How then did the organized ODA movement get started? Most would naturally think that it is the birth of a civil rights movement that later spawns the introduction into a legislature of a new piece of civil rights legislation. Ironically in the case of the organized ODA movement, the opposite was the case. The same ironic twist had occurred 15 years before when the Ontario Coalition for Human Rights for the Handicapped formed in reaction to the Government’s introduction of a stand-alone piece of disability rights legislation.

In the early 1990s, after the enactment in the U.S. of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) in 1990, sporadic voices in Ontario began discussing the idea of seeking the enactment of something called an “Ontarians with Disabilities Act.” There was little if any focused attention on what this new law would contain. It was understood from the outset that an ODA would not be a carbon copy of the ADA. For example, some parts of the ADA were already incorporated in the Ontario Human Rights Code. There was no need to replicate them again.

In the 1990 Ontario provincial election campaign (which happened to take place just days after the U.S. had enacted the Americans with Disabilities Act) NDP leader Bob Rae responded to a disability rights legal clinic’s all-party election platform questionnaire in August 1990 with a letter which, among other things, supported appropriate legislation along the lines of an Ontarians with Disabilities Act. Rae’s letter didn’t spell out what this law would include. This letter did not get serious airplay in that election campaign. It was not well-known when the NDP came from behind in the polls to win that provincial election. Because the NDP had not been expected to win, it was widely seen as campaigning on a range of election commitments that it never anticipated having the opportunity to implement.

Despite sporadic discussions among some in the early 1990s, there was no grassroots groundswell in Ontario supporting an ODA. There was also no major grassroots political force building to push for one. This was quite similar to the fact that there was no organized grassroots disability rights movement pushing for the inclusion of disability equality in the Ontario Human Rights Code in 1979, before the Ontario Government proposed its new disability discrimination legislation in that year. In the early 1990s, Ontario disability organizations involved in disability advocacy were primarily focused on other things, such as the NDP Ontario Government’s proposed Employment Equity Act, expected to be the first provincial legislation of its kind in Canada. That legislation, aimed at increasing the employment of persons with disabilities as well as women, racial minorities and Aboriginal persons, was on the agenda of the provincial New Democratic Party that was then in power in Ontario.

What ultimately led to the birth of a province-wide, organized grassroots ODA movement in Ontario was the decision of an NDP back-bench member of the Ontario Legislature, Gary Malkowski, to introduce into the Legislature a private member’s ODA bill in the Spring of 1994, over three years into the NDP Government’s term in office. By that time, the NDP Government had not brought forward a Government ODA bill. Malkowski decided to bring forward Bill 168, the first proposed Ontarians with Disabilities Act, to focus public and political interest in this new issue. Malkowski was well-known as Ontario’s, and indeed North America’s, first elected parliamentarian who was deaf. Ontario’s New Democratic Party Government, then entering the final year of its term in office, allowed Malkowski’s bill to proceed to a Second Reading vote in the Ontario Legislature in June, 1994, and then to public hearings before a committee of the Ontario Legislature in November and December 1994.

In 1994, word got around various quarters in Ontario’s disability community that Malkowski had introduced this bill. Interest in it started to percolate. Malkowski met with groups in the disability community, urging them to come together to support his bill. He called for the disability community to unite in a new coalition to support an Ontarians with Disabilities Act. A significant number of persons with disabilities turned up at the Ontario Legislature when this bill came forward for Second Reading debate in the Spring of 1994.

Over the spring, summer and fall months of 1994, around the same time as Malkowski was coming forward with his ODA bill, some of the beginnings of the organized ODA movement were also simmering within an organization of Ontario Government employees with disabilities. Under the governing NDP, the Ontario Government had set up an “Advisory Group” of provincial public servants with disabilities to advise it on measures to achieve equality for persons with disabilities in the Ontario Public Service. In the Spring of 1994, this Advisory Group set as one of its priorities working within the machinery of the Ontario Government to promote the idea of an ODA.

This public service Advisory Group met with several provincial Cabinet Ministers and later with Ontario’s Premier, Bob Rae, to discuss the idea of an ODA. It successfully pressed the Government to hold public hearings on Malkowski’s ODA bill.

As 1994 progressed, Malkowski’s bill served its important purpose. It sparked the attention and interest of several players in Ontario’s disability community in the idea of an ODA. No one was then too preoccupied with the details of the contents of Malkowski’s ODA bill.

Malkowski’s bill had an even more decisive effect on November 29, 1994, when it first came before the Legislature’s Standing Committee for debate and public hearings. On that date, NDP Citizenship Minister Elaine Ziemba was asked to make a presentation to the Committee on the Government’s views on Malkowski’s bill. She was called upon to do this before community groups would be called on to start making presentations to the legislative committee. The hearing room was packed with persons with disabilities, eager to hear what the Minister would have to say.

Much to the audience’s dismay, the Minister’s lengthy speech said little if anything about the bill. She focused instead on the Government’s record on other disability issues. The temperature in the room elevated as the audience’s frustration mounted.

When the committee session ended for the day, word quickly spread among the audience that all were invited to go to another room in Ontario’s legislative building. An informal, impromptu gathering came together to talk about taking action in support of Malkowski’s bill. Malkowski passionately urged those present to come together and to get active on this cause.

I was one of the 20 or so people who made their way into that room. In an informal meeting that lasted about an hour, it was unanimously decided to form a new coalition to fight for a strong and effective Ontarians with Disabilities Act. There was no debate over the content of such legislation at that meeting. However, there was a strong and united realization that new legislation was desperately needed, and that a new coalition needed to be formed to fight for it. This coalition did not spawn the first ODA bill. Rather, the first ODA bill had spawned this coalition.

Days later, in December 1994, the Legislature’s Standing Committee held two full days of hearings into Malkowski’s bill. A significant number of organizations, including disability community organizations, appeared before the Legislature’s Standing Committee to submit briefs and make presentations on the need for new legislation in this area. Among the groups that made presentations was the Ontario Public Service Disability Advisory Group which had pressed for these hearings to be held. Its brief later served as a core basis for briefs and positions that would be presented by the brand-new Ontarians with Disabilities Act Committee.




Source link

Come to the April 10, 2019 Queen’s Park Accessibility Town Hall and


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

March 13, 2019

SUMMARY

1. Come to Queen’s park on April 10, 2019!

Here is a great chance to have your say and to show your support for action to achieve n accessible Ontario. We encourage one and all to come to Queen’s Park on April 10, 2019 to attend an Accessibility Town Hall that is being hosted by Ottawa Centre NDP MPP Joel Harden. Below we set out Mr. Harden’s announcement of this event. It includes a link for you to RSVP if you are going to attend.

We are honoured that AODA Alliance Chair David Lepofsky will be speaking at this event. This is your chance to share information about the disability barriers you face and the actions that you need the Government to take.

The AODA Alliance is strictly non-partisan. We are open to take part in similar events, organized by any of the political parties. We encourage all the parties in the legislature to organize similar events.

2. A Powerful Toronto Star Editorial Calls for Swift Government Action to Implement the Onley Report on the Disabilities Act’s Implementation and Enforcement

Here’s another great development in the long road to a constitutional Ontario for people with disabilities. A strong editorial in the March 13, 2019 Toronto Star, set out below, endorses the final report of David Onley’s Independent Review of the AODA’s implementation and enforcement. This is the fourteenth time a newspaper editorial has backed our cause since our predecessor, the Ontarians with Disabilities Act Committee, was formed in the late fall of 1994.

That editorial, the Onley report itself, and the AODA Alliance’s March 8, 2019 news release on the Onley report, together are a great starting point for the April 10, 2019 Queen’s Park Town Hall on accessibility in Ontario. We encourage you to widely circulate both that editorial and the announcement of the April 10, 2019 Town Hall that are included below in this Update.

In our March 11, 2019 letter to Minister for Accessibility and Seniors Raymond Cho, the AODA Alliance called on the Ford Government to act now on the Onley report’s findings and recommendations. We don’t want the Government to now drag its feet with months of study and pondering before it acts. It took the Ford Government fully nine months to lift its unnecessary freeze on the work of AODA Standards Development Committees that are developing recommendations for new accessibility standards in the important areas of education and health care. We don’t want that kind of delay repeated here.

MORE DETAILS

Text of MPP Joel Harden’s Announcement of the April 10, 2019 Queen’s Park Accessibility Town Hall

March 11, 2019

Friends,

I’ve had the pleasure to act as Critic for Accessibility & People with Disabilities; Seniors’ Affairs; Pensions in the Ontario Legislature, and in that time I’ve met with many folks in the disability rights community. I have had a lot to learn, and greatly benefited from conversations with passionate leaders.

Time and again, I’ve heard that we are not prepared to meet Ontario’s obligations under the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA), most notably that Ontario be a fully accessible province by the year 2025. This message was powerfully reinforced recently by the Honourable David C. Onley’s Report on the Third Review of the AODA.

Ontario needs a plan of action on accessibility, and it’s time to open up the Ontario Legislature to hear from those directly impacted by failing to meet AODA targets.

And so, with that in mind, I write to invite you to an Accessibility Town Hall at the Ontario Legislature on April 10, 2019. Following Question Period, a lunch will be hosted in Room 351, followed by three hours of open presentations to listen to your perspectives.

I am pleased that David Lepofsky (Chair, AODA Alliance) and Sarah Jama (Disability Justice Network of Ontario) will be on hand to offer brief remarks prior to these open hearings. All necessary accommodations will be available to ensure you can participate.

Please join us! Ontario needs your ideas, expertise, and passion to ensure this province is accessible to all, where everyone can live their lives to the fullest.

RSVP here: http://www.joelharden.ca/accessibility_town_hall

My very best,

Joel Harden
MPP for Ottawa Centre
Official Opposition Critic for Accessibility & People with Disabilities; Seniors’ Affairs; Pensions

The Toronto Star March 13, 2019

Originally posted at: https://www.thestar.com/opinion/editorials/2019/03/12/ford-government-must-fulfill-ontarios-promise-to-people-with-disabilities.html Editorial

Time to clear the way
Accessibility review

Fourteen years ago, Ontarians with disabilities might have been hopeful that the barriers that prevent them from fully participating in daily activities, from getting to work to eating in a restaurant, would be dismantled.

After all, the government of the day was ahead of its time when it passed the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act with the goal of making
the province fully accessible by 2025. But last week their disappointments were given heartfelt voice in a scathing review that concludes the province is nowhere near accomplishing its goal.

Indeed, Ontario’s former lieutenant governor David Onley found that for “most disabled persons, Ontario is not a place of opportunity but one of countless, dispiriting, soul-crushing barriers.”

This is clearly unacceptable. The Ford government must quickly implement Onley’s 15 sensible recommendations, starting with his request that Premier Doug Ford make accessibility a government-wide priority.

As it stands, 1.9 million Ontarians with disabilities are receiving the message that “you don’t belong here,” says Onley, who himself uses a wheelchair. That should be viewed as a violation of both human and civil rights.

In fact, it’s no different, Onley says, than “the signs of a bygone era in foreign countries telling people which water fountains they could or could not use and which restaurants and buses they could or could not use.”

The bottom line, he says, is that investing in accessibility is both the right thing to do and also provides social and economic benefits for everyone, including the province’s increasing numbers of seniors.

Among Onley’s common-sense recommendations:

Offer tax breaks and other financial incentives to improve accessibility in public and private buildings alike.

Ensure that architects are trained in inclusive design.

Redesign Ontario’s education curriculum to educate students about accessibility issues, starting in kindergarten.

Reform the way infrastructure projects are managed to ensure public money is never spent on actually creating barriers to accessibility.

Review accessibility standards in building code amendments for new construction projects and major renovations, as well as in provincial guidelines for how public space is designed.

Onley’s review is not the first to point out the glacial pace of progress on accessibility reform in this province. It is the third. It’s time the government listened and acted.



Source link

Come to the April 10, 2019 Queen’s Park Accessibility Town Hall – and – Powerful Toronto Star Editorial Calls on Ford Government to Swiftly Implement the Onley Report


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 the April 10, 2019 Queen’s Park Accessibility Town Hall – and – Powerful Toronto Star Editorial Calls on Ford Government to Swiftly Implement the Onley Report

March 13, 2019

          SUMMARY

1. Come to Queen’s park on April 10, 2019!

Here is a great chance to have your say and to show your support for action to achieve n accessible Ontario. We encourage one and all to come to Queen’s Park on April 10, 2019 to attend an Accessibility Town Hall that is being hosted by Ottawa Centre NDP MPP Joel Harden. Below we set out Mr. Harden’s announcement of this event. It includes a link for you to RSVP if you are going to attend.

We are honoured that AODA Alliance Chair David Lepofsky will be speaking at this event. This is your chance to share information about the disability barriers you face and the actions that you need the Government to take.

The AODA Alliance is strictly non-partisan. We are open to take part in similar events, organized by any of the political parties. We encourage all the parties in the legislature to organize similar events.

2. A Powerful Toronto Star Editorial Calls for Swift Government Action to Implement the Onley Report on the Disabilities Act’s Implementation and Enforcement

Here’s another great development in the long road to a constitutional Ontario for people with disabilities. A strong editorial in the March 13, 2019 Toronto Star, set out below, endorses the final report of David Onley’s Independent Review of the AODA’s implementation and enforcement. This is the fourteenth time a newspaper editorial has backed our cause since our predecessor, the Ontarians with Disabilities Act Committee, was formed in the late fall of 1994.

That editorial, the Onley report itself, and the AODA Alliance’s March 8, 2019 news release on the Onley report, together are a great starting point for the April 10, 2019 Queen’s Park Town Hall on accessibility in Ontario. We encourage you to widely circulate both that editorial and the announcement of the April 10, 2019 Town Hall that are included below in this Update.

In our March 11, 2019 letter to Minister for Accessibility and Seniors Raymond Cho, the AODA Alliance called on the Ford Government to act now on the Onley report’s findings and recommendations. We don’t want the Government to now drag its feet with months of study and pondering before it acts. It took the Ford Government fully nine months to lift its unnecessary freeze on the work of AODA Standards Development Committees that are developing recommendations for new accessibility standards in the important areas of education and health care. We don’t want that kind of delay repeated here.

          MORE DETAILS

Text of MPP Joel Harden’s Announcement of the April 10, 2019 Queen’s Park Accessibility Town Hall

March 11, 2019

Friends,

I’ve had the pleasure to act as Critic for Accessibility & People with Disabilities; Seniors’ Affairs; Pensions in the Ontario Legislature, and in that time I’ve met with many folks in the disability rights community. I have had a lot to learn, and greatly benefited from conversations with passionate leaders.

Time and again, I’ve heard that we are not prepared to meet Ontario’s obligations under the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA), most notably that Ontario be a fully accessible province by the year 2025. This message was powerfully reinforced recently by the Honourable David C. Onley’s Report on the Third Review of the AODA.

Ontario needs a plan of action on accessibility, and it’s time to open up the Ontario Legislature to hear from those directly impacted by failing to meet AODA targets.

And so, with that in mind, I write to invite you to an Accessibility Town Hall at the Ontario Legislature on April 10, 2019. Following Question Period, a lunch will be hosted in Room 351, followed by three hours of open presentations to listen to your perspectives.

I am pleased that David Lepofsky (Chair, AODA Alliance) and Sarah Jama (Disability Justice Network of Ontario) will be on hand to offer brief remarks prior to these open hearings. All necessary accommodations will be available to ensure you can participate.

Please join us! Ontario needs your ideas, expertise, and passion to ensure this province is accessible to all, where everyone can live their lives to the fullest.

RSVP here: http://www.joelharden.ca/accessibility_town_hall

My very best,

Joel Harden

MPP for Ottawa Centre

Official Opposition Critic for Accessibility & People with Disabilities; Seniors’ Affairs; Pensions

The Toronto Star March 13, 2019

Originally posted at: https://www.thestar.com/opinion/editorials/2019/03/12/ford-government-must-fulfill-ontarios-promise-to-people-with-disabilities.html

Editorial

Time to clear the way

Accessibility review

Fourteen years ago, Ontarians with disabilities might have been hopeful that the barriers that prevent them from fully participating in daily activities,

from getting to work to eating in a restaurant, would be dismantled.

After all, the government of the day was ahead of its time when it passed the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act with the goal of making

the province fully accessible by 2025. But last week their disappointments were given heartfelt voice in a scathing review that concludes the province

is nowhere near accomplishing its goal.

Indeed, Ontario’s former lieutenant governor David Onley found that for “most disabled persons, Ontario is not a place of opportunity but one of countless,

dispiriting, soul-crushing barriers.”

This is clearly unacceptable. The Ford government must quickly implement Onley’s 15 sensible recommendations, starting with his request that Premier Doug

Ford make accessibility a government-wide priority.

As it stands, 1.9 million Ontarians with disabilities are receiving the message that “you don’t belong here,” says Onley, who himself uses a wheelchair.

That should be viewed as a violation of both human and civil rights.

In fact, it’s no different, Onley says, than “the signs of a bygone era in foreign countries telling people which water fountains they could or could not

use and which restaurants and buses they could or could not use.”

The bottom line, he says, is that investing in accessibility is both the right thing to do and also provides social and economic benefits for everyone,

including the province’s increasing numbers of seniors.

Among Onley’s common-sense recommendations:

Offer tax breaks and other financial incentives to improve accessibility in public and private buildings alike.

Ensure that architects are trained in inclusive design.

Redesign Ontario’s education curriculum to educate students about accessibility issues, starting in kindergarten.

Reform the way infrastructure projects are managed to ensure public money is never spent on actually creating barriers to accessibility.

Review accessibility standards in building code amendments for new construction projects and major renovations, as well as in provincial guidelines for

how public space is designed.

Onley’s review is not the first to point out the glacial pace of progress on accessibility reform in this province. It is the third. It’s time the government

listened and acted.



Source link

Does A Toronto Star Queen’s Park Columnist Hint that David Onley’s AODA Independent Review Will Find Ontario’s Disability Accessibility Situation in Need of Reforms?


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

February 11, 2019

SUMMARY

The February 9, 2019 Toronto Star includes a column by veteran Star columnist Martin Regg Cohn, set out below, that reports on David Onley’s great frustration with the accessibility barriers he continues to face. On January 31, 2019, Mr. Onley submitted his final report on his Government-appointed Independent Review of the implementation and enforcement of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act.

The Star column makes it clear that Mr. Onley did not reveal what he told The Ford Government in his report. However, a glimpse is evident from the article. Mr. Onley reportedly finds it very frustrating that he himself continues to face so many disability barriers, including in the built environment. The article says this about Mr. Onley:

“A longtime believer in the original legislation, which passed with all-party support, he now fears that its 2025 target for full accessibility will go unfulfilled.”

We hope that this means that David Onley’s report calls for substantial new action by the Ontario Government to kick-start and speed up the AODA’s sluggish implementation and enforcement that we recommended in our detailed brief to Mr. Onley. The article describes a concern of Mr. Onley’s which, we believe, may refer to a widely-viewed online video that the AODA Alliance made public in late 2017 about the serious accessibility problems at the new Ryerson University Student Learning Centre. The Star article states:

“Onley is especially vexed by the lack of foresight from the self-styled visionaries who make up the architectural community. He points to new buildings that win architectural awards but get a failing grade for accessibility, which should surely disqualify them from recognition.”

In light of this, it is even more obvious and urgent for the Ford Government to immediately lift its 235-day-long freeze on the work of the Health Care Standards Development Committee and the two Education Standards Development Committees. These committees were appointed under the AODA to recommend what disability barriers must be removed and prevented in Ontario’s health care system and education system. They have a job they must do under the AODA. They should be allowed to do that job. As well, the Ford Government should immediately make public Mr. Onley’s report.

On February 6, 2019, the AODA Alliance wrote Ontario’s Minister for Accessibility and Seniors, Raymond Cho, to take those two actions now. We will continue to press for action in this area.

Meanwhile, it is great that so many are continuing to tweet pictures and descriptions of disability barriers they face on Twitter using the hashtag #AODAfail that we invented three years ago. Keep them coming! You can learn more about our successful “Picture Our Barriers” campaign on our website. MORE DETAILS
The Toronto Star February 9, 2019

Originally posted at https://www.thestar.com/politics/political-opinion/2019/02/08/david-onleys-long-road-to-accessibility-for-the-disabled-is-a-lesson-for-all-of-us-as-we-age-into-walkers-and-wheelchairs.html Onley’s long road to accessibility a lesson for us all

Martin Regg Cohn OPINION

We all complain, habitually and self-pityingly, about punishing snowfalls. Especially lately.

But for David Onley, the snow banks and other barriers never truly melt away.

For a time, as Ontario’s lieutenant-governor, the obstacles were magically cleared away. Enveloped by an entourage, cocooned by bodyguards, he surmounted the roadblocks.

An elevator was installed in the vice-regal suite at Queen’s Park, and a ramp was retrofitted in front of the legislature. Thanks to the superhuman powers emanating from the Crown – which he embodied from 2007-14 – Onley not only made his way, but also paved the way for other wheelchair-bound Ontarians.

Ensconced in his scooter, chauffeured in a specially outfitted van, backed by his band of official enablers, his disability – or inaccessibility – seemingly diminished. But after a lifetime spent grappling with the fallout from a childhood bout of polio, Onley always knew it was only a matter of time before he was on his own again.

Now, Onley no longer speaks for the Crown. But he still has a voice.

He is using it to describe what he sees at ground level – and getting a hearing from the powers above. Appointed last year by Queen’s Park to conduct a formal review of accessibility in Ontario, he has just submitted his findings to the Progressive Conservative government.

There is still a stunning disconnect for the disabled, and a growing gap in how the able-bodied perceive the reality of inaccessibility.

Onley wouldn’t tip his hand about the details of his report, which will be shared with the public later. But he didn’t disguise his disappointment.

“We still have a very inaccessible society, a built environment that is very inaccessible,” he told me. “The people who believe it’s accessible are members of the able-bodied population.”

A longtime believer in the original legislation, which passed with all-party support, he now fears that its 2025 target for full accessibility will go unfulfilled.

Onley points a finger not only at politicians but bureaucrats, architects, developers, administrators and inspectors who fail to do their duty to the disabled.

And all of us. For the disabled are us, sooner or later.

The older we get – and our population is aging fast – the more likely we are to find ourselves in their shoes: First with canes, then walkers, then wheelchairs.

Eligible, ultimately, for those special parking permits in our windshields that confer priority access to reserved spots. Paradoxically, the advent of priority parking has helped to distort the reality of disability today in Ontario.

Those signs are ubiquitous, serving as a symbol of access and open doors. But the typical reserved parking spot is a dead end – leading only to barriers that leave the disabled out in the cold at most malls and public buildings.

“It’s shocking the number of places that are fully inaccessible and yet out front, you’ll see a wheelchair sign,” he said. “It depends on how angry you want to be.”

The problem isn’t just the false signal it sends to the disabled on the spot, but the facade it conveys to society at large that access is everywhere.

Onley is especially vexed by the lack of foresight from the self-styled visionaries who make up the architectural community. He points to new buildings that win architectural awards but get a failing grade for accessibility, which should surely disqualify them from recognition.

Over the years, I had watched Onley’s handlers help him navigate unforeseen obstacles and predictable impediments. This week, I watched him flying solo again, when he wended his way to a Ryerson University democracy forum I hosted for Onley and his successor as lieutenant-governor, Elizabeth Dowdeswell: A Conversation with the Crown.

Without government officials to smooth the way, it fell to Ryerson organizers to ensure that he didn’t stumble on his journey. In preparation, Onley patiently walked me through his detailed checklist to overcome any obstacles.

Yes, they had a ramp leading onto the stage, but had they verified its dimensions to ensure his scooter could mount the slope? Was the platform wide enough for him to pre-position without toppling over? Any stairs along the way leading to the campus venue?

Where was the nearest parking? Was it underground or at least sheltered? Was there an underground passageway leading to the event? If not (and there wasn’t), what about the weather? Who would shovel any snow in the way?

Presciently, as it turns out, Onley reminded me of the perils of ice and snow for someone in a scooter. Even a few centimetres can gum up his wheels, and a serious snow bank is a dead end.

Even before Toronto’s unexpected 20-centimetre snowfall that came after our chat, Onley had confided that he typically refuses all winter speaking engagements – too unpredictable and insurmountable. But he was making a rare exception to be with his successor, Dowdeswell.

Practiced in both logistics and logic, Onley made it onstage without a hitch, and expounded on vice-regal arcana without a verbal stumble.

While it’s always an education hearing him talk about the abstractions of our constitution, he also delivers enduring lessons on the reality of inaccessibility.

Twitter: @reggcohn



Source link

Does A Toronto Star Queen’s Park Columnist Hint that David Onley’s AODA Independent Review Will Find Ontario’s Disability Accessibility Situation in Need of Reforms?


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

Does A Toronto Star Queen’s Park Columnist Hint that David Onley’s AODA Independent Review Will Find Ontario’s Disability Accessibility Situation in Need of Reforms?

February 11, 2019

SUMMARY

The February 9, 2019 Toronto Star includes a column by veteran Star columnist Martin Regg Cohn, set out below, that reports on David Onley’s great frustration with the accessibility barriers he continues to face. On January 31, 2019, Mr. Onley submitted his final report on his Government-appointed Independent Review of the implementation and enforcement of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act.

The Star column makes it clear that Mr. Onley did not reveal what he told The Ford Government in his report. However, a glimpse is evident from the article. Mr. Onley reportedly finds it very frustrating that he himself continues to face so many disability barriers, including in the built environment. The article says this about Mr. Onley:

“A longtime believer in the original legislation, which passed with all-party support, he now fears that its 2025 target for full accessibility will go unfulfilled.”

We hope that this means that David Onley’s report calls for substantial new action by the Ontario Government to kick-start and speed up the AODA’s sluggish implementation and enforcement that we recommended in our detailed brief to Mr. Onley. The article describes a concern of Mr. Onley’s which, we believe, may refer to a widely-viewed online video that the AODA Alliance made public in late 2017 about the serious accessibility problems at the new Ryerson University Student Learning Centre. The Star article states:

“Onley is especially vexed by the lack of foresight from the self-styled visionaries who make up the architectural community. He points to new buildings that win architectural awards but get a failing grade for accessibility, which should surely disqualify them from recognition.”

In light of this, it is even more obvious and urgent for the Ford Government to immediately lift its 235-day-long freeze on the work of the Health Care Standards Development Committee and the two Education Standards Development Committees. These committees were appointed under the AODA to recommend what disability barriers must be removed and prevented in Ontario’s health care system and education system. They have a job they must do under the AODA. They should be allowed to do that job. As well, the Ford Government should immediately make public Mr. Onley’s report.

On February 6, 2019, the AODA Alliance wrote Ontario’s Minister for Accessibility and Seniors, Raymond Cho, to take those two actions now. We will continue to press for action in this area.

Meanwhile, it is great that so many are continuing to tweet pictures and descriptions of disability barriers they face on Twitter using the hashtag #AODAfail that we invented three years ago. Keep them coming! You can learn more about our successful “Picture Our Barriers” campaign on our website.

MORE DETAILS

The Toronto Star February 9, 2019

Originally posted at https://www.thestar.com/politics/political-opinion/2019/02/08/david-onleys-long-road-to-accessibility-for-the-disabled-is-a-lesson-for-all-of-us-as-we-age-into-walkers-and-wheelchairs.html

Onley’s long road to accessibility a lesson for us all

Martin Regg Cohn OPINION

We all complain, habitually and self-pityingly, about punishing snowfalls. Especially lately.

But for David Onley, the snow banks and other barriers never truly melt away.

For a time, as Ontario’s lieutenant-governor, the obstacles were magically cleared away. Enveloped by an entourage, cocooned by bodyguards, he surmounted the roadblocks.

An elevator was installed in the vice-regal suite at Queen’s Park, and a ramp was retrofitted in front of the legislature. Thanks to the superhuman powers emanating from the Crown – which he embodied from 2007-14 – Onley not only made his way, but also paved the way for other wheelchair-bound Ontarians.

Ensconced in his scooter, chauffeured in a specially outfitted van, backed by his band of official enablers, his disability – or inaccessibility – seemingly diminished. But after a lifetime spent grappling with the fallout from a childhood bout of polio, Onley always knew it was only a matter of time before he was on his own again.

Now, Onley no longer speaks for the Crown. But he still has a voice.

He is using it to describe what he sees at ground level – and getting a hearing from the powers above. Appointed last year by Queen’s Park to conduct a formal review of accessibility in Ontario, he has just submitted his findings to the Progressive Conservative government.

There is still a stunning disconnect for the disabled, and a growing gap in how the able-bodied perceive the reality of inaccessibility.

Onley wouldn’t tip his hand about the details of his report, which will be shared with the public later. But he didn’t disguise his disappointment.

“We still have a very inaccessible society, a built environment that is very inaccessible,” he told me. “The people who believe it’s accessible are members of the able-bodied population.”

A longtime believer in the original legislation, which passed with all-party support, he now fears that its 2025 target for full accessibility will go unfulfilled.

Onley points a finger not only at politicians but bureaucrats, architects, developers, administrators and inspectors who fail to do their duty to the disabled.

And all of us. For the disabled are us, sooner or later.

The older we get – and our population is aging fast – the more likely we are to find ourselves in their shoes: First with canes, then walkers, then wheelchairs.

Eligible, ultimately, for those special parking permits in our windshields that confer priority access to reserved spots. Paradoxically, the advent of priority parking has helped to distort the reality of disability today in Ontario.

Those signs are ubiquitous, serving as a symbol of access and open doors. But the typical reserved parking spot is a dead end – leading only to barriers that leave the disabled out in the cold at most malls and public buildings.

“It’s shocking the number of places that are fully inaccessible and yet out front, you’ll see a wheelchair sign,” he said. “It depends on how angry you want to be.”

The problem isn’t just the false signal it sends to the disabled on the spot, but the facade it conveys to society at large that access is everywhere.

Onley is especially vexed by the lack of foresight from the self-styled visionaries who make up the architectural community. He points to new buildings that win architectural awards but get a failing grade for accessibility, which should surely disqualify them from recognition.

Over the years, I had watched Onley’s handlers help him navigate unforeseen obstacles and predictable impediments. This week, I watched him flying solo again, when he wended his way to a Ryerson University democracy forum I hosted for Onley and his successor as lieutenant-governor, Elizabeth Dowdeswell: A Conversation with the Crown.

Without government officials to smooth the way, it fell to Ryerson organizers to ensure that he didn’t stumble on his journey. In preparation, Onley patiently walked me through his detailed checklist to overcome any obstacles.

Yes, they had a ramp leading onto the stage, but had they verified its dimensions to ensure his scooter could mount the slope? Was the platform wide enough for him to pre-position without toppling over? Any stairs along the way leading to the campus venue?

Where was the nearest parking? Was it underground or at least sheltered? Was there an underground passageway leading to the event? If not (and there wasn’t), what about the weather? Who would shovel any snow in the way?

Presciently, as it turns out, Onley reminded me of the perils of ice and snow for someone in a scooter. Even a few centimetres can gum up his wheels, and a serious snow bank is a dead end.

Even before Toronto’s unexpected 20-centimetre snowfall that came after our chat, Onley had confided that he typically refuses all winter speaking engagements – too unpredictable and insurmountable. But he was making a rare exception to be with his successor, Dowdeswell.

Practiced in both logistics and logic, Onley made it onstage without a hitch, and expounded on vice-regal arcana without a verbal stumble.

While it’s always an education hearing him talk about the abstractions of our constitution, he also delivers enduring lessons on the reality of inaccessibility.

Twitter: @reggcohn



Source link