North Bay Still Waiting for Parabus Improvements

Author of the article:Letter to the Nugget editor
Publishing date:Jun 21, 2022
Letters to the editor

It has been two years since the North Bay Accessibility Advisory Committee told the municipality that Parabus is the top priority for people living with disabilities, yet we have seen no action.

To qualify for Parabus, you must be unable to climb stairs or walk 175m, which is unacceptable. Nowhere in our provincial legislation (i.e., the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) and the Ontario Human Rights Code) does it state that you only have a disability if you’re unable to climb stairs or walk a certain distance.

For many people with sight loss, the conventional transit system is inaccessible. There are many crossings leading to bus stops on busy highways without accessible pedestrian signals. If the crossing doesn’t emit a noise to let someone know when pedestrians have the green light, people may think it’s safe to cross and walk out into oncoming traffic.

Without stop announcements on the bus, passengers may not know when it’s their stop and risk being dropped off in an unfamiliar location.

Many destinations that can be reached by public transit also present barriers due to a lack of sidewalks and other landmarks that aid safe navigation.

We have seen the emotional devastation and social isolation that occurs when someone is denied access to the Parabus because they can physically walk an arbitrary distance. As others actively participate in their community, people with sight loss are forced to stay home. Without access to transit, they’re unable to pick up groceries, visit friends and family, attend medical appointments, and travel to and from work.

After years of empty promises and inaction, enough is enough.

The City of North Bay needs to improve the accessibility of conventional transit and update its flawed Parabus eligibility criteria so anyone who truly needs it can travel within our city safely and independently.

Tanis Boardman

Program Lead, Recreation, Sport, and Accessible Community Engagement, Ontario Northwest

CNIB Foundation

Original at https://www.timminspress.com/opinion/north-bay-still-waiting-for-parabus-improvements

AODA Alliance Welcomes Premier Ford to His Second Term by Listing His Job Duties as Premier to Lead Ontario to Become Accessible to Ontarians 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: aodafeedback@gmail.com
Twitter: @aodaalliance
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/aodaalliance/

June 22, 2022

SUMMARY

For a second time, Doug Ford has won a job competition for the position of Premier of Ontario. He must fulfil the duties in the Premier’s job description. The Premier’s job includes fulfilling his duties to over 2.6 million Ontarians with disabilities under the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act.

We want to help. We therefore just wrote Premier Ford. In our letter, set out below, we congratulate him on winning this job competition. We list his important job duties under the AODA. Of course, we also extend our hand, offering to help him with this task. To begin, we ask for a meeting with him.

We will let you know what we hear back. We are on stand-by, ready to help the Premier of Ontario.

Your feedback is always welcome. Write us at aodafeedback@gmail.com

MORE DETAILS

Text of the AODA Alliance’s June 22, 2022 Letter to Premier Doug Ford

June 22, 2022

To: Hon. Premier Doug Ford, Premier
Via Email: doug.ford@ontariopc.com
Room 281, Legislative Building
Queen’s Park
Toronto, Ontario M7A 1A1

To: Dear Premier Ford,

Re: Fulfilling Your Government’s Obligation to Lead Ontario to Become Accessible to over 2.6 Million Ontarians with Disabilities

Congratulations on your success in the recent Ontario Election. Four people applied for that job and campaigned vigorously to win it. As the winner, we write to describe for you an important part of that job and to offer you our help so you can do it well.

The part of your job description that we address here comes directly from the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act. That landmark law was unanimously passed in 2005. Ontario’s Conservative Party proposed amendments to make it even stronger. It congratulated the Government of the day for bringing in that legislation. The PC party has supported that legislation ever since it was passed. While in opposition, the PC party pressed for the AODA’s implementation to be sped up and strengthened.

You personally pledged your support for the AODA in your May 15, 2018, letter to us, stating:

“Whether addressing standards for public housing, health care, employment or education, our goal when passing the AODA in 2005 was to help remove the barriers that prevent people with disabilities from participating more fully in their communities. For the Ontario PCs, this remains our goal. Making Ontario fully accessible by 2025 is an important goal under the AODA and it’s one that would be taken seriously by an Ontario PC government.”

Your job, and that of the Government you lead, includes responsibility to lead Ontario to become accessible to over 2.6 million Ontarians with disabilities by 2025, as mandated by the AODA. Among other things, it is part of your job and that of the Government that you lead to enact all the accessibility standards necessary to ensure that Ontario becomes accessible to people with disabilities by 2025. An AODA accessibility standard is a mandatory, enforceable regulation, enacted under the AODA. It spells out the disability barriers that an organization must remove and/or prevent, the measures the organization must take to remove and/or prevent them, and the timeline for doing so.

Ontario is now quite behind schedule for achieving the goal of becoming accessible to people with disabilities by 2025. This is overwhelmingly evident from the life experience of people with disabilities. It also derives from the final report of the third Government-appointed Independent Review of the AODA by former Lieutenant Governor David Onley.

The AODA accessibility standards enacted to date do not rectify a majority of the disability barriers in our society. Even if fully obeyed to the letter, those standards will not ensure that Ontario will ever become accessible, much less by 2025.

It is a requirement of your job to fix this. Fortunately, you have in hand many of the needed tools to help you. We are eager to help you. Please take the hand we are reaching out to you.
Here are some key actions you can and should take, to fulfil your job duties under the AODA:

1. Your job includes strengthening the AODA accessibility standards that are now on the books to address disability barriers in three important areas, namely access to transportation, access to employment, and access to information and communication. Under the AODA, you can revise an accessibility standard to strengthen it once you have a report from a Government-appointed advisory Standards Development Committee that has reviewed that accessibility standard.

For years, the Government has had in hand the final reports from three Government-appointed Standards Development Committees in these three areas. They all recommend that the accessibility standard they reviewed needed revisions.

Specifically, the Government received the final report of the Transportation Accessibility Standard over four years ago. It received the final report of the Employment Standards Development Committee over 3 years ago, on January 22, 2019. It received the final report of the Information and Communication Standards Development Committee over two years ago, on January 23, 2020. Since then, nothing has been done to strengthen any of those three accessibility standards.

Once the Government has received the final report of a Standards Development Committee that has reviewed an existing AODA accessibility standard, the Government can make whatever revisions to that standard that will best achieve the goal of making Ontario accessible by 2025–and not only those revisions that the Standards Development Committees final report recommends. In each of these areas, we have recommended additional changes beyond those that the relevant Standards Development Committee recommended. Your job includes considering our recommendations in those three areas. To help your Government with this, you need only look to the AODA Alliance’s July 31, 2017 brief to the Transportation Standards Development Committee (jointly submitted with the ARCH Disability Law Centre), the AODA Alliance’s May 7, 2018 brief on the initial recommendations of the Employment Standards Development Committee and the AODA Alliance’s November 25, 2019 brief on the initial recommendations of the Information and Communication Standards Development Committee.

2. You can and should enact new AODA accessibility standards to address the disability barriers in education (both K-12 education and post-secondary education) and in the health care system. You are now empowered to do so at any time. Earlier this year, the Government received the final report of the K-12 Education Standards Development Committee, the final report of the Post-Secondary Education Standards Development Committee, and the final report of the Health Care Standards Development Committee.

On or before March 16, 2022, your Minister for Accessibility, Raymond Cho, committed in writing in an email to Lynn Ziraldo, Chair of the K-12 Education Standards Development Committee, that the Government would enact an accessibility standard to deal with barriers in the education system. He wrote:

“While it is still too early for me to confirm which of the proposals can be recommended to the Lieutenant Governor in Council (LGIC) for adoption into regulation, I can advise that I intend to recommend that the LGIC adopt into regulation specific requirements for the education sector either within the existing IASR accessibility standards or as an education standard for grades Kindergarten to 12, as appropriate, based upon the Education Standards Development Committee’s Final Recommendations Report.”

3. Your job includes ensuring that the Government does not violate its own accessibility laws. Your Government is legally required to appoint AODA Standards Development Committees to review the 2007 Customer Service Accessibility Standard and the 2012 Design of Public Spaces Accessibility Standard. The Ontario Government continues to be in breach of that duty in two separate ways:

a) The Design of Public Spaces Accessibility Standard was enacted in December 2012. The Government was required to appoint a Standards Development Committee to review its sufficiency by December 2017, four and a half years ago. Your Government announced last December that it appointed a person to chair that Committee. No competition was held for that position. There has been no posted advertisement for other members to be appointed to that Committee.

On December 20, 2021, your Government said that this Standards Development Committee would be at work by early 2022. Despite this, and as far as we have been able to discover, there is no one else appointed to that Committee. No advertisement has been posted inviting people to apply to serve on that Committee.

b) The Customer Service Accessibility Standard was enacted in 2007. Five or so years later, the Government appointed a new Customer Service Standards Development Committee to review its sufficiency, as the AODA requires. That Committee submitted a final report to the Government.

On or around June 6, 2016, the Government revised the Customer Service Accessibility Standard. The AODA required the Government to appoint a new Customer Service Standards Development Committee to review it within 5 years, which was early June 2021. One year has passed since that deadline. However, no new Customer Service Standards Development Committee has been appointed.

4. Your job includes ensuring that the AODA is effectively enforced. Yet for years (including long before you took office), the AODA’s enforcement has been paltry at best. It needs to be substantially ramped up.

5. Your Government is spending a substantial amount of public money on new infrastructure, including such things as new schools, public transit, hospitals, and college and university buildings. Ontario does not now have in place an effective, accountable process to ensure that this new infrastructure is accessible to people with disabilities and that public money is never used to create new disability barriers.

As you have said many times, your job includes ensuring the responsible use of public money. To fulfil that duty, substantial reforms are needed for how the Government oversees the design of this new infrastructure.

In conclusion, for you to be able to fulfil these job duties, we recommend that you appoint a full-time Minister for Accessibility, with no other responsibilities. We have seen time and again over the past 17 years that a minister cannot effectively do this job if they have other ministerial duties. Media reports suggest you are planning to appoint a much bigger cabinet. Thus, you are well-positioned to appoint a full-time Accessibility Minister. This is more important than ever, given the looming 2025 deadline for achieving an accessible province.

In your May 15, 2018 letter to us, you wrote:

“Your issues are close to the hearts of our Ontario PC Caucus and Candidates, which is why they will play an outstanding role in shaping policy for the Ontario PC Party to assist Ontarians in need.”

Drawing on that strong commitment, can we please have a meeting with you to offer our input, advice, and help as you take on this part of your job in this second term? As a first step, can you please identify the lead official within the Premier’s Office with whom we can speak?

You campaigned on a commitment that you are the person to “get it done.” We are eager to help you get it done when it comes to your job duties for tearing down and preventing disability barriers that hurt all Ontarians.

Sincerely,

David Lepofsky CM, O. Ont, LL.B. (Osgoode Hall Law School), LL.M. (Harvard Law School), LL.D. (Honorary) (Queen’s University, Western University, the Law Society of Ontario, and Brock University Chair, Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance Twitter: @davidlepofsky

I don’t know how long I can do this: Disabled Ontarians still waiting on federal disability benefit

Ottawa recently reintroduced legislation to create a national disability benefit. So where is it? Written by Meagan Gillmore
Jun 21, 2022

Ronald Hoppe spent years trying to make a living in the entertainment industry; now he gets excited when he finds discounted bagels or produce.

“I’m literally living hand to mouth,” says the Kitchener resident, who’s in his late 40s, adding that he often eats just one meal a day.

In a span of eight months in 2020, his left leg and numerous toes on his right foot were amputated after a series of infections went untreated. Since then, he’s relied on government assistance. The subsequent loss of his long-term relationship rendered him homeless, and he fought to not be moved to a homeless shelter after leaving the hospital. He eventually secured a unit in a high-rise apartment that has elevator access. But his social-assistance payments won’t cover his $1,625 rent. His vision is declining because of cataracts and retinal bleeding, and these physical disabilities, combined with learning disabilities, make finding work difficult. “Without it, I’d be destitute,” he says of his rent subsidy.

Optimism is hard to come by, too. Disability supports are complicated and not something Hoppe ever thought he’d have to learn about. While he’s mastering using a wheelchair, he’s struggling with depression. “I’m new to being physically disabled,” he says. “I don’t have a roadmap to follow.”

For many Ontarians, disability is a one-way ticket to permanent poverty. ODSP rates, which aren’t tied to inflation, haven’t risen in years. A maximum monthly amount for a single adult is $1,169, with small additions made for approved needs, such as special diets or care for service animals. Wages are clawed back at a rate of 50 per cent after the first $200. Federal support programs, like Employment Insurance, are also clawed back.

Opposition parties campaigned on raising rates; Doug Ford’s Progressive Conservatives have pledged to raise rates by 5 per cent, a promise not contained in the budget released pre-election. On June 10, the premier reiterated that increases are coming: “These people are struggling. And I’ve always said if you’re physically or mentally unable to work, I’m always going to take care of you. Always. That’s what we do here in Ontario,” he said, adding that there are thousands of jobs available for people who are willing to work. “The best way to help people is get them a job. But we are going to increase it to the rate of inflation, and we’re going to support the people that need it.”

Relief may be coming from the federal government, but details are scarce.

On June 2, the federal government reintroduced legislation to create a national disability benefit. The stated purpose of Bill-22, the Canada Disability Act, is to “reduce poverty and to support the financial security of working-age persons with disabilities.” In the September 2020 speech from the throne, the government announced its intention to create a benefit, modelled after Old Age Security and the Guaranteed Income Supplement, to support working-age Canadians with disabilities. Legislation to create the benefit was first introduced in June 2021, days before Parliament dissolved for the election. The Liberals included the creation of a disability benefit in the party’s election platform and in the mandate letter for Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Disability Inclusion Carla Qualtrough. The 2021 federal budget earmarked $11.9 million for a three-year consultation.

There’s a lot riding on the successful implementation of the benefit.

“We have a very good social-safety net in Canada, but this gap was identified years ago,” Qualtrough told reporters shortly after introducing the legislation. Children with disabilities receive support through the Canada Child Benefit, and seniors also receive support. “But between 19 and 64, you’re on your own,” she said. “We’re changing that.”

The legislation introduced this month, which is identical to what was tabled last year, leaves all the specifics of the benefit – including who will be eligible for the benefit, how much the benefit will be, and how it will interact with provincial and territorial social-assistance benefits – to be worked out in regulations.

The lack of details frustrates Mike Morrice, Green MP for Kitchener Centre. In February, Morrice presented a petition asking for the government to fast-track introducing legislation to create the benefit and to work with Canadians with disabilities in all phases of benefit design. The petition, started by advocacy group Disability Without Poverty, was signed by 17,874 Canadians.

“This is about trust,” he told TVO.org a few hours after the legislation was tabled. “I’m disappointed that it’s not more substantial, that after another year of consultation this is still, as the minister made clear, framework legislation. The only real difference from a year ago is that there isn’t an election looming now. I just hope they’re not playing politics with the disability community. Living in poverty doesn’t take a recess over the summer.”

In May, an NDP motion calling for the government to quickly enact the benefit passed unanimously.

Qualtrough has been clear that individuals should not lose provincial or territorial supports because of the benefit.

“I don’t want to be creating a benefit that disentitles someone from pharmacare, from their province or accessible transit or disability supports,” she told reporters in Ottawa. “We have to see not only how this benefit would interact with income support at the provincial level, but also services and other supports.”

She also told reporters that, even though the legislation is the same as the bill tabled in 2021, “we are way farther along than we were a year ago.” She noted other pressing issues, including the protests in Ottawa and the war in Ukraine. But, she insisted, “the work hasn’t stopped.”

In an emailed statement to TVO.org, the minister reiterated the need for provinces, territories, and all federal political parties to work together to create the benefit.

“Consultations with the disability community and other stakeholders, such as academics and researchers, are ongoing and will directly inform the Canada Disability Benefit. As this work continues, it’s up to Members of Parliament from all parties to work together to pass Bill C-22, and to make the Canada Disability Benefit a reality,” the statement reads in part.

The Ministry of Children, Community and Social Services, which administers ODSP, did not say whether the government would commit to not clawing back ODSP if a national disability benefit were created.

“Our government has consistently advocated for the delivery of the federal disability benefit, and we look forward to meeting with our federal counterparts soon, and expediting its delivery,” a spokesperson for Minister of Children, Community and Social Services Merilee Fullerton told TVO.org via email.

It’s not clear when the legislation will go to second reading or when people will receive the benefit.

The lack of details in a policy framework isn’t unusual, says John Stapleton, a social-policy consultant who has written widely about disability benefits. The legislation “builds the scaffolding,” he says, while benefit structure, including eligibility, is determined in regulations and guidelines. This gives the government the ability to change the amount of the benefit without having to change the law, he says.

Stapleton, along with policy analyst Yvonne Yuan, wrote 10 short draft papers last year that examine different questions that need to be answered about the design of the benefit. These drafts, which are not public but were obtained by TVO.org, discuss matters including possible definitions of disability and whether that definition will include addictions, whether the benefit will be given to individual or family units, and how to ensure that provinces and territories don’t reduce their social-assistance programs because of a new federal benefit. In the papers, Stapleton and Yuan argue that the National Child Benefit process in the late 1990s offers a good model for how provinces and territories can work together to create a meaningful benefit that doesn’t have clawbacks. At a minimum, they say, the amount of the CDB should, at least, be equal to the amounts of the Old Age Security and Guaranteed Income Supplement.

“The ideal design would combine payment that approximated an income floor of $2,000 a month from all sources,” they write. But they caution that supporting people with disabilities requires more than social-assistance programs. “The reality is that real poverty reduction among people with disabilities cannot be achieved through income security measures alone.”

Despite the lack of details, the reintroduction of the legislation is still “a really big step,” says Andrea van Vugt, a member of the leadership team and Alberta Community Organizer at Disability Without Poverty, an advocacy organization dedicated to seeing a federal disability benefit created and implemented as quickly as possible. Van Vugt, who has epilepsy, says there’s an urgent need to lift people with disabilities out of poverty. “People need the money now,” she says, noting that some Canadians with disabilities are opting for medically assisted deaths because they don’t have adequate social supports. (Full disclosure: the author has done copywriting work for Disability Without Poverty’s website but has not been involved with its advocacy efforts.)

Since the benefit bill had its first reading earlier this month, Disability Without Poverty has been pushing for it to quickly go to second reading. More than 70 disability organizations have signed an open letter, co-authored by Disability Without Poverty and eight other groups, urging that the bill go to second reading before Parliament’s summer break, on June 23.

“The urgent income instability and affordability crisis facing millions of people with disabilities in Canada coupled with the high inflation especially affecting the basic goods makes bringing this legislation back for second reading a critical and time-sensitive priority,” the June 13 letter reads. “The bill’s second reading will be a milestone event that will enable C-22 to quickly move forward to its assigned Standing Committee and the remainder of the legislative process that follows.” The letter notes the few sitting days left before Parliament’s summer break and the fact that people with disabilities waited almost a year for the legislation to be reintroduced. “Our community simply cannot wait as another season passes by, not knowing whether our federal representatives will deliver on their support for the dignity and financial security of all people living with disabilities in Canada.”

Organizations that work with people with disabilities are also waiting to see what exactly the benefit will look like. Leonard Baker, CEO of March of Dimes Canada, says he’s responding to the bill with “guarded enthusiasm.” March of Dimes was one of the organizations behind the June 13 open letter. Focus-group participants have told March of Dimes they want the new benefit to be easily accessible and not subject to any clawbacks from provincial social-assistance benefits.

Original at https://www.tvo.org/article/i-dont-know-how-long-i-can-do-this-disabled-ontarians-still-waiting-on-federal-disability-benefit

Denied a Cab Because of Her Service Dog, This Disability Advocate is Pointing to a Larger Problem

Anne Malone said the incident, which took place at the St. John’s airport, highlights the obstacles she and others who use service animals face.

Read more at
https://www.accessibilitynewsinternational.com/denied-a-cab-because-of-her-service-dog-this-disability-advocate-is-pointing-to-a-larger-problem/

Mohawk College’s Reasons for Cancelling Its Much-Needed Accessible Media Production Program Don’t Stand Up Under Scrutiny

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: aodafeedback@gmail.com
Twitter: @aodaalliance
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/aodaalliance/

June 21, 2022

SUMMARY

On June 10, 2022, the AODA Alliance raised serious objections when it learned that Mohawk College, an Ontario Government-funded community college, cancelled its well-regarded Accessible Media Production (AMP) program. That graduate certificate program educates its students on how to create accessible documents, web sites, videos and like media. Ontario needs this one-of-a-kind program, given how far we are lagging in achieving digital accessibility.

We here report on two important developments:

1. On June 13,2022, the president of Mohawk College wrote the AODA Alliance (letter set out below). He voiced a strong commitment to digital accessibility, gave Mohawk’s reasons for cancelling the AMP program, and agreed to speak to AODA Alliance chair David Lepofsky about this.

2. On June 20, 2022, the AODA Alliance wrote back to the president of Mohawk College. (Letter also set out below). We show that Mohawk’s reasons for cancelling the AMP program are full of holes, and don’t stand up to scrutiny. We also show that this is not the first time that Mohawk College has cancelled and important program, to the detriment of people with disabilities. A few years ago, Mohawk cancelled its program for training orientation and mobility instructors, the only program of its kind in Ontario. Orientation and mobility instructors train blind, low vision, and deafblind people how to safely navigate their environment, by using tools such as a white cane. The cancellation of that program has had devastating impact on rehabilitation services for people with vision loss.

The AODA Alliance will follow up to speak with the Mohawk College president. We have called on the Ontario Government, as Mohawk College’s funder, to intervene, if Mohawk does not reverse its cancellation of the AMP program. Stay tuned as this story unfolds.

More details

June 13, 2022 Letter from Mohawk College to the AODA Alliance

June 13, 2022
David Lepofsky
Chair
Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance

Dear David:

I do recall our past dealings and I would like to congratulate you and the AODA Alliance for your advocacy for people with disabilities in Ontario.

I want to start by emphasizing that Mohawk College is proud of the work that has been done at our college to advance Accessible Media Production and we remain sincerely committed to training people to work in this important area.

Mohawk College has offered and subsidized the graduate certificate program since 2017 to allow it to become established and grow. Unfortunately, enrolment targets have not been met during that time, which has made the program in its current format – as a full-time graduate certificate – unsustainable from an enrolment perspective.

As you rightly make the case, the need is urgent to train as many people as possible in order to make much-needed progress in accessible media creation. Unfortunately, since 2017, there have been only 41 graduates of the program, with 11 of those completing the program through Continuing Education. This is not nearly meeting the needs of the province.

It is the intensive nature of the Accessible Media Production Graduate Certificate Program, which you have referenced, that poses a significant barrier to increasing the number of people receiving this training. As a graduate certificate, people must leave their full-time employment or take a leave of absence from work in order to enrol in the program. Many people who would like to do so are not in a position to make that intensive commitment.

Our desire is to remodel the excellent curriculum of the program so that it is appealing to more people. Through micro-credentials and other possible models, our intent is to make this important training more flexible and easily available to those who wish to pursue this education. This does not prevent the college from including curriculum from the current graduate certificate into another model. /2
We continue to believe strongly in the concept of this program and the need for trained graduates to do this important work. We also intend to support the ongoing applied research underway and commit to exploring new funding sources and research opportunities to find alternative ways to get the training into the hands of those who desire it.
I would be happy to speak with you about this more fully in a call, as you have requested. Please contact Cindy Merifield at cindy.merifield@mohawkcollege.ca to arrange a time that is mutually convenient. Regards,

Ron J. McKerlie
President & CEO

cc: Jill Dunlop, Minister of Colleges and Universities
Shelley Tapp, Deputy Minister, Ministry of Colleges and Universities

June 20, 2022 Letter from the AODA Alliance to the President of Mohawk College

Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance
United for a Barrier-Free Society for All People with Disabilities Web: www.aodaalliance.org
Email: aodafeedback@gmail.com
Twitter: @aodaalliance
Facebook: www.facebook.com/aodaalliance/
June 20, 2022
To: Ron J. McKerlie, President Mohawk College
Via Email president@mohawkcollege.ca
135 Fennell Ave W
Hamilton, ON
L9C 7V7
Twitter: @ronmckerlie
CC: Jill Dunlop, Minister of Training, Colleges and Universities Email: jill.dunlop@ontario.ca
Shelley Tapp Deputy Minister Training, Colleges and Universities Email: shelley.tapp@ontario.ca
Raymond Cho, Minister for Seniors and Accessibility
Raymond.cho@ontario.ca
Carlene Alexander, Deputy Minister for Seniors and Accessibility Carlene.alexander@Ontario.ca

Dear President McKerlie,

Re: Mohawk College’s Cancellation of Its Accessible Media Production Graduate Certificate Program.

Thank you for your June 13, 2022 letter. It responds to our June 10, 2022 letter. We raised strong objections to Mohawk College’s cancellation of its Accessible Media Production (AMP) graduate certificate program.

Mohawk’s AMP program educates its students on how to create accessible documents, accessible web content and accessible videos. These are skills that all document, web content and video producers should have but many if not most do not.

Thank you as well for agreeing to speak about this issue. I will contact your office to arrange a conversation. I ask that the AMP Program Coordinator Jennifer Jahnke be included in that call, because of her great knowledge about the issues we need to discuss.

You have also heard from several others, individuals and organizations, who object to Mohawk cancelling the AMP program, through correspondence to you and via social media. We understand that this includes, for example, the Broadcasting Accessibility Fund (a granting body that has financially contributed to the development of Mohawks accessibility programs and research), Alliance for Equality of Blind Canadians, CNIB, Canadian Council of the Blind, Miles Nadal Jewish Community Centre, ReelAbilities Film Festival, and Royal Ontario Museum Department of Museum Volunteers. As well, local media has covered the backlash generated by Mohawk’s cancellation of the AMP program.

Mohawk has commendably offered meetings to some of those who have objected to the AMP program’s cancellation. After you, Jennifer and I speak, it would be very helpful if you were to lead a roundtable on this issue with all of those who have raised concerns about this decision.
In anticipation of our forthcoming call, this letter brings to your attention several key points. We want to give you and Mohawk a chance to consider these points before we speak.
Providing training in the digital accessibility area. We ask you to reverse the cancellation of the AMP program, because its cancellation contradicts Mohawk’s commitment to further the goal of digital accessibility.

Among those who evidently need to enroll in Mohawk’s AMP program are those working at Mohawk College itself. We need look no further than the June 13, 2022 letter you sent us for strong proof of the need for the AMP program. Your response was originally sent to me as a PDF. A PDF is known to be a format that creates accessibility problems for blind people like me. I was shocked but sadly not surprised that I had to immediately write back to you to ask you to send me that letter in an accessible MS Word format. While some accessibility features can be included in a PDF document (which are never a total accessibility solution), your letter to me in a PDF format fell short on that score as well.

It is a painful irony that Mohawk’s cancellation of the AMP program was apparently made or announced in the middle of National Accessibility Awareness Week. That week promotes more action to tear down barriers impeding people with disabilities. Mohawk’s decision has the opposite effect.

Mohawk Says It Cancelled the AMP Program Due to Low Enrollment

Mohawk has stated publicly that the AMP program was cancelled due to low enrollment. It is far preferable for Mohawk to retain the AMP program, and to far better promote it, rather than terminating it. We have not seen a major effort by Mohawk to promote the AMP program, before it decided to terminate it due to low enrollment.
There is a large market for this program in Ontario, across Canada, and elsewhere around the world. The AMP program can be undertaken virtually. A student need not attend it in person, or even be in Canada.

It is important for us to know what Mohawk did to better publicize the AMP program, before deciding to give up on the graduate certificate program altogether. We understand from the AMP Program Coordinator that there had not, to her knowledge, been any major initiative by Mohawk to better publicize and advertise the program before it was cancelled.

Micro-Credential Courses are No Substitute for Mohawk’s Full AMP Program

In your June 13, 2022 letter, you said that Mohawk has decided instead to offer the AMP program’s content through a series of micro-credential courses. You said that this is a more effective way to reach people who want to learn this content, and that needing to take part in a full-time program has been a “significant barrier” to students who want to take part in it. There are several obvious gaping holes in that reasoning.

First, this is not an either-or situation, where Mohawk either offers the full-time AMP program but no micro-credential courses, or Mohawk offers a series of micro-credential courses but no full-time AMP program. Mohawk can instead at the same time offer both the full AMP program and a series of micro-credential courses.

Indeed, it is our understanding that that was the trajectory that Mohawk was taking before it decided to categorically cancel the AMP program. We understand that some micro-credential offerings were being developed in addition to the AMP program, which could, once available, be taken by students whether or not they also enroll in the AMP program.
Second, any micro-credential courses now under development only cover a very small part of what the AMP program includes. Even if a student took all the micro-credential courses under development at Mohawk, they would not learn the vast majority of what they learn in the AMP program.

Making this worse, in contrast to the AMP program, micro-credential courses cannot consolidate, into one project, a demonstration of an overall understanding of universal design.
In addition, we understand that students in the AMP program only take one course at a time. This allows them to concentrate on that specific topic. The learning from each course is then added into their mandatory capstone project, building on accumulating knowledge, and providing a big picture understanding of digital accessibility. Moreover, we understand that the content learned in one course is then reinforced through later courses in the program.
In other words, it is our understanding from faculty members with whom we have spoken that the AMP program is more than simply the sum of its individual parts. It provides a systematic cumulative learning environment for its students which cannot be replicated by a student who chooses to take this or that micro-credential.

We are told that graduates of the AMP program go on to support organizations with implementing information computer technology (ICT) and are prepared to train others. The graduates of the AMP program can review an organization’s ICT for barriers, determine their legislative requirements, build a business case for accessibility, audit their ICT frameworks, determine roles and responsibilities and then train the staff to implement accessible media throughout the organization. How can a single micro-credential course or a random selection of them that a student chooses to take replicate this, or even come close?

Moreover, all one gets from completing a micro-credential course is some sort of badge, not a graduate certificate from the Mohawk AMP program. We have no idea how many businesses, government organizations and non-profit community organizations know what any of such badges even signify, or what education and skills they reflect. Each badge can only reflect the acquisition of some bite-size slice of training. In contrast, a graduate of the Mohawk AMP program has in hand a recognized Ontario Graduate Certificate and assurance they successfully completed the entire comprehensive program of study.

If Mohawk College is committed to supporting achievement of the goal of digital accessibility, then at the very least, the AMP program would not have been cancelled until Mohawk had designed and deployed a comprehensive set of micro-credential courses that deliver the entirety of the AMP program’s content. From what we understand, Mohawk did not do this.

Mohawks AMP Program Provides Alternative Delivery Options

Third, it is now open to students to take the AMP program on a part-time basis. It is our understanding that classes are taught remotely, and are held in evenings, not during weekdays, specifically to accommodate full-time employees who want to take the AMP program. As such, your June 13, 2022 letter is quite incorrect when it stated that a significant barrier to enrollment is the program’s full-time status, and that “people must leave their full-time employment or take a leave of absence from work in order to enroll in the program”.

We also understand that students can and do have the option of taking the AMP program on a part-time basis, through Mohawk’s Continuing Education department. As your June 10, 2022 letter to us acknowledges, fully one quarter of the students who have taken the AMP program have chosen that route for doing so. If a person is only prepared to take the time to do one or more ad hoc micro-credential courses from time to time, they may well not be that committed to acquiring the spectrum of skills needed to produce accessible documents, websites and other media.

In fact, we understand that Mohawk’s sudden cancellation of the AMP program hauled the rug out from under those students who are in the midst of undertaking the AMP program on a part-time basis. Far from accommodating students wanting to learn this content on a part-time basis, Mohawk has now cut off any possibility of those students completing the program that they have started, and in which they have invested their time, effort and money. Mohawk should not cancel this program when they are partway through the program.

Weakening Mohawk’s Expertise in the Area of Teaching Digital Accessibility

By running the AMP program, Mohawk has commendably brought together a team of experts in the field of producing accessible media. They have invested time and effort toward developing and updating a comprehensive program. They have accumulated experience to refine that program, from the front-line experience of teaching it to students. Mohawks cancellation of the AMP program risks squandering that VALUABLE human capital. That is counterproductive. It contradicts your stated commitment to helping Ontario achieve digital accessibility.

The Bigger Picture

This is not the first time that Mohawk cancelled an important, if not unique program, to the detriment of accessibility for people with disabilities. Mohawk used to offer Ontario’s only program to train students to become a qualified orientation and mobility instructor. An O&M instructor is the vital rehabilitation professional who trains blind and low vision people how to independently and safely move around in the community and at home.

When a person loses their eyesight, they lose the ability to get around on their own. The O&M instructor teaches them to regain their independence, via skilled use of a white cane or other tools and technology. Graduates of Mohawk’s O&M program work at school boards, blindness rehabilitation agencies like CNIB, and in the community.

Within the past ten years, when Mohawk closed its Brantford campus, it cancelled its O&M program as well as its related program that trained other blindness rehabilitation specialists (such as those who teach people with vision loss to independently undertake activities of daily living, like cooking). Mohawk did not transfer the O&M program to its Hamilton campus.
That decision by Mohawk has had a lasting devastating impact on people with vision loss. As a result of it, we understand that there is no such program in Ontario that trains O&M instructors. A person who wants such training must go out of province, or to another country. That of course is more expensive. It is a deterrence to more students taking on that career.
Ontario now has an increasing shortage of qualified O&M instructors. That will continue to get worse as existing O&M instructors reach retirement age, or leave the field for any other reason.
Mohawk’s cancellation of its O&M program has directly and significantly contributed to this serious problem. People who lose their vision are necessarily subjected to longer delays before they can acquire the vital skill of independent mobility. This can hurt their education, their pursuit of their career path or employment.

In the case of both the AMP program and the O&M program, Mohawk terminated a unique program in Ontario that the disability community desperately needs. In both cases, they result in harmful consequences for people with disabilities. Mohawk should be concerned about causing this.

We look forward to speaking with you, and to learning about your response to these issues. We hope Mohawk will reconsider its cancellation of the AMP program and will immediately reverse that decision. This letter shows why Mohawk’s stated reasons for its cancellation do not stand up under scrutiny.

Sincerely,

David Lepofsky CM, O. Ont, Ll.B (Osgoode Hall Law School), Ll. M. (Harvard Law School, Ll.D. Hon (Queens University, Western University, the Law Society of Ontario and Brock University) Chair Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance

Twitter: @davidlepofsky

Press Release: Young Man with Developmental Disabilities Denied Care from Community Living BC

“They are- just hoping that he takes care of the problem through overdosing or killing himself” – RB’s mother

Read more at
https://www.accessibilitynewsinternational.com/press-release-young-man-with-developmental-disabilities-denied-care-from-community-living-bc/

Disability Advocates to Present Tuesday at Virtual Meeting of London City Council’s Civic Works Committee to Oppose Allowing Electric Scooters in Public Places Under Any Circumstances

ACCESSIBILITY FOR ONTARIANS WITH DISABILITIES ACT ALLIANCE
NEWS RELEASE – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

June 20, 2022, Toronto: On Tuesday, June 21, 2022, starting some time after noon, the AODA Alliance will ask to make a deputation to London City Council’s Civic Works Committee, urging the city not to lift the ban on electric scooters, because they endanger vulnerable people with disabilities, seniors, children and others. The Committee meeting will be live-streamed on a link that will be posted on the day of the meeting, at https://london.ca/government/council-civic-administration/council-committee-meetings

Disability advocates will tell the Committee that Mayor Holder and City Council must not legalize the use of e-scooters in public, whether privately-owned or offered through an e-scooter share program. See AODA Alliance’s June 20, 2022 letter to London City Council members, set out Below.

Experience in city after city shows that e-scooters, a silent menace, endanger public safety in places that allow them. Riders and innocent pedestrians get seriously injured or killed. They especially endanger vulnerable seniors and people with disabilities. Blind people can’t know when silent e-scooters rocket at them at over 20 KPH, driven by unlicensed, untrained, uninsured, unhelmetted, fun-seeking joyriders.

Often left strewn on sidewalks, e-scooters are tripping hazards for blind people and accessibility nightmares for wheelchair users.

London, like other Ontario cities, has been getting less accessible to people with disabilities. Permitting e-scooters, now banned from public places, would make that even worse. City Council has a legal duty not to create new disability barriers.

It accomplishes nothing to just ban e-scooters from sidewalks. The silent menace of e-scooters continues unreduced, because they are frequently ridden on sidewalks in cities that only ban them from sidewalks. London would need cops on every block.

E-scooters would cost taxpayers substantially, such as for new law enforcement, OHIP for treating those injured by e-scooters, and lawsuits by the injured.

It is very commendable that a London city staff report, to be considered at the June 21 London Civic Works Committee, says London should not permit an e-scooter share program, where the public could rent e-scooters for short rides. London city staff agree that this presents accessibility and safety dangers for people with disabilities.

However, the AODA Alliance strongly opposes the London city staff recommendation that City Council should permit people to ride privately-owned e-scooters (as opposed to renting e-scooters). The AODA Alliances detailed June 20, 2022 brief shows that privately-owned e-scooters, and not just rented e-scooters, endanger vulnerable people with disabilities, seniors and others. It would be wrong to reward law-breakers who now illegally ride e-scooters in public.

City Council should not conduct an e-scooter pilot. A pilot to study what? How many innocent people will be injured by privately-owned e-scooters? We already know that they will from cities that allow them. London’s residents and visitors should not be forced to serve as guinea pigs in such a human experiment, especially without the consent of those at risk of being injured.

Corporate lobbyists for e-scooter rental companies will be all over London City Council members, to try to get them to allow an e-scooter share program with rental e-scooters. “The corporate lobbyists want to make money on e-scooter rentals, laughing all the way to the bank as injured pedestrians sob all the way to hospital,” said AODA Alliance Chair David Lepofsky.

The AODA Alliance exposed the stunning well-funded, behind-the-scenes feeding frenzy of back-room pressure that corporate lobbyists for e-scooter rental companies inundated Toronto City Hall with for months. They do this in city after city. We call on Mayor Holder and City Council to stand up for people with disabilities and to stand up to the e-scooter corporate lobbyists.

Contact: AODA Alliance Chair David Lepofsky, aodafeedback@gmail.com Twitter: @aodaalliance

For more background, check out:
The AODA Alliance’s June 20, 2022 brief to London City Council’s Civic Works Committee. The June 15, 2022 London staff report addressing e-scooters. The AODA Alliance website’s e-scooter page.

Text of the AODA Alliance’s June 20, 2022 Letter to London City Council

Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance
United for a Barrier-Free Society for All People with Disabilities Web: www.aodaalliance.org
Email: aodafeedback@gmail.com
Twitter: @aodaalliance
Facebook: www.facebook.com/aodaalliance/

June 20, 2022

Via Email
Mayor Ed Holder
mayor@london.ca
Twitter: @ldnontmayor

Ward 1 Councillor Michael van Holst
mvanholst@london.ca
Twitter: @mikevanholst

Ward 2 Councillor Shawn Lewis
slewis@london.ca
Twitter: @shawnwlewis

Ward 3 Councillor Mohamed Salih
msalih@london.ca
Twitter: @MohamedMOSalih

Ward 4 Councillor Jesse Helmer
jhelmer@london.ca
Twitter: @jesse_helmer

Ward 5 Councillor Maureen Cassidy
mcassidy@london.ca
Twitter: @MaureenPCassidy

Ward 6 Councillor Phil Squire
psquire@london.ca

Ward 7 Councillor Josh Morgan
joshmorgan@london.ca
Twitter: @JoshMorganLDN

Ward 8 Councillor Steve Lehman
slehman@london.ca

Ward 9 Councillor Anna Hopkins
ahopkins@london.ca
Twitter: @AnnaHopkins11

Ward 10 Councillor Paul Van Meerbergen
pvanmeerbergen@london.ca
Twitter: @NotVanMerbergen

Ward 11 Councillor Stephen Turner
sturner@london.ca
Twitter: @st3v3turn3r

Ward 12 Councillor Elizabeth Peloza
epeloza@london.ca
Twitter: @ElizabethPeloza

Ward 13 Councillor Arielle Kayabaga
akayabaga@london.ca
Twitter: @KayabagaArielle

Ward 14 Councillor Steven Hillier
shillier@london.ca

Dear Mayor and Members of City Council

Re: Protecting London from the Dangers of Electric Scooters

We seek your leadership to protect all people in London, especially people with disabilities and seniors, whose safety is endangered if London adopts a city staff proposal to legalize the use of privately-owned e-scooters. We applaud that report for rejecting the idea of London holding a pilot project with shared rental e-scooters. However, we strongly oppose staff’s proposal that London amend its bylaws to permit (and thereby condone) the public use of privately-owned e-scooters (whose use in public is now prohibited).

With this letter, we are forwarding to you a detailed brief that we have sent to London City Council’s Civic Works Committee. We have requested a slot to make a deputation to the Civic Works Committee when this agenda item comes up at its June 21, 2022 meeting.

We ask you to please stand up to e-scooter corporate lobbyists who will urge you to permit shared e-scooter rentals, from which they profit. Stand up for the many people who don’t want to be injured by e-scooters, whether rented or privately-owned. We ask that the Civic Works Committee do the following at its June 21, 2022 meeting:

1. Please accept the London staff report’s recommendation that rental e-scooters not be permitted. Please reject that report’s recommendation that London’s bylaws be amended to permit a person to ride in public a privately-owned e-scooter. If London wants to proceed with a new micromobility initiative, establish a far safer bike share program (which staff supports).

2. If not, then at the very least, before taking any further steps on allowing privately-owned e-scooters to be ridden in public, please first send this issue back to city staff, to thoroughly study the dangers that e-scooters create for vulnerable people with disabilities, seniors, children and others (including ones that are privately owned). That is what the City of Toronto wisely did. It led Toronto City Council to ultimately, and wisely, say a unanimous no to the e-scooter corporate lobbyists and to leave all e-scooters banned, whether rented through a shared e-scooter program, or privately owned.

3. If not, then our brief lists a series of specific mandatory conditions that City Council should impose on any further steps towards the city staff’s proposal regarding allowing privately-owned e-scooters to be ridden in public.

In recommending this, we want to be sure that nothing is done that prevents people with disabilities from using the mobility devices they need to assist them with independent mobility.

The Issue
An e-scooter is a silent motor vehicle. If allowed, a joy-rider with no license or training could rocket around on an e-scooter at 20 kph or faster. E-scooter riders and innocent pedestrians would get seriously injured or killed. See a CBC report on e-scooter injuries suffered in Calgary. See also a disturbing collection of 25 news reports on e-scooter injuries in communities that allow them.

The silent menace of e-scooters especially endangers vulnerable seniors and people with disabilities, such as people who are blind or who have low vision or balance issues, or whose disability makes them slower to scramble out of the way. A blind pedestrian can’t know when a silent e-scooter races toward them at over 20 kph, driven by a fun-seeking unlicensed, untrained, uninsured, unhelmetted joy-rider.

In cities where e-scooters are allowed, e-scooters, and especially rental e-scooters, left strewn around public places, create serious new mobility barriers to accessibility for people using a wheelchair, walker, or other mobility device. For people who are blind, deafblind or have low vision, this is a serious unexpected tripping hazard.

Over the past two years, Toronto City staff commendably produced two detailed reports on e-scooters, one in June 2020 and one in April 2021. Taken together, they showed that to allow e-scooters in Toronto in any form, rented or privately-owned, will endanger public safety, send e-scooter riders and innocent pedestrians to hospital emergency rooms, require significant new law enforcement efforts, and impose new financial burdens on the taxpayer to cover added costs that e-scooters trigger. Those Toronto City staff reports also showed that e-scooters do not bring the great benefits for reduced car traffic and pollution that corporate lobbyists for e-scooter rental companies claim. We are aware of no City staff report in any other Ontario municipality that has replicated or improved upon the research on this issue conducted by Toronto City staff.

E-scooters would especially endanger public safety and accessibility for people with disabilities and others on sidewalks. The two Toronto City staff reports, referred to above, show that in cities where e-scooters are allowed but banned on sidewalks, they are nevertheless ridden on sidewalks. The deeply troubling experience in Ottawa amply supports this concern.

Last year, Toronto City Council commendably voted unanimously not to allow e-scooters. It did so after it directed City staff to study the impact of e-scooters on people with disabilities. The Accessibility Advisory Committees of Toronto, Hamilton, London, and Ottawa have all advised their respective city councils against allowing e-scooters. That includes both rented and privately-owned e-scooters.

Showing how strong the disability opposition to any e-scooters is, on January 22, 2020, over two years ago, an open letter to the Ontario Government and all municipalities from eleven major disability organizations called for e-scooters not to be allowed.

Feeding Frenzy by E-scooter Rental Companies’ Corporate Lobbyists
There can be no doubt that the well-funded e-scooter corporate lobbyists have been trying to get the ear of the City of London. We have elsewhere seen those corporate lobbyists in action. A 2020 AODA Alliance report on e-scooter corporate lobbyists provides insight. It documented through a public lobbyists’ registry that Toronto City Hall was inundated by a well-funded feeding frenzy by corporate lobbyists for the e-scooter rental companies.

Those corporate lobbyists want to make money on e-scooter rentals, laughing all the way to the bank as seriously injured pedestrians sob all the way to hospital emergency rooms. They have falsely claimed that the City can approve e-scooters at no cost to the City or the public.

London should not allow e-scooters, whether rented or privately-owned. If anyone is riding privately-owned e-scooters in London, this is illegal. Illegal and dangerous conduct should not be rewarded. Instead, the law should be effectively enforced.

Please make London safer and more accessible for people with disabilities. Do not leave a legacy of a London where it becomes harder and more dangerous for us to get around. London, like all other Ontario cities, already has too many disability barriers. Do not create new ones by legalizing and thereby condoning public riding of privately-owned e-scooters.

Sincerely,

David Lepofsky CM, O. Ont
Chair Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance

Accessibility News June 18,2022 Update

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The AODA Clock is Ticking

There are 2 years, 28 weeks, 1 day until a fully Accessible Ontario! Will you be compliant?

In this Issue

*’You Had to Be Able-Bodied to Get in’: Markham Woman Forced to Vote Outside Voting Centre
*Montreal Woman Raising Concerns About Hotel Accessibility After ‘Devastating’ Experience at Downtown Hotel
*As Patio Season Ramps Up, CafeTO’s Accessibility Problem Comes Under Fire
*Blind Canadians Say New Rules to Put Sound on EVs Don’t Go Far Enough
*’We Try Very Hard to Be Inclusive’: New Boat Launch in Angus Makes Water More Accessible
*Network Helps People With Disabilities Focus on Mental, Physical Wellness
*Japan’s Transit System Gets Serious About Disability Access

eSSENTIAL Accessibility is an Accessibility-as-a-Service platform. It helps organizations deliver inclusive web, mobile, and product experiences in compliance with legal requirements to ensure that no one with a disability is left behind.

To learn more, visit http://www.essentialaccessibility.com.

Press Releases:

*KKR-backed eSSENTIAL Accessibility and JMI-backed Level Access to merge
https://www.pehub.com/kkr-backed-essential-accessibility-and-jmi-backed-level-access-to-merge/
* Level Access and eSSENTIAL Accessibility Agree to Merge, Strengthening Market Presence as an All-Encompassing Digital Accessibility Solutions Provider
https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/level-access-and-essential-accessibility-agree-to-merge-strengthening-market-presence-as-an-all-encompassing-digital-accessibility-solutions-provider-301567712.html

Past Press Releases:

https://www.essentialaccessibility.com/news

ARTICLES:
‘You Had to Be Able-Bodied to Get in’: Markham Woman Forced to Vote Outside Voting Centre

Couple told they couldn’t use front doors at Thornhill Secondary School on voting day due to school play

Read more at
https://www.accessibilitynews.ca/you-had-to-be-able-bodied-to-get-in-markham-woman-forced-to-vote-outside-voting-centre/

Montreal Woman Raising Concerns About Hotel Accessibility After ‘Devastating’ Experience at Downtown Hotel

There’s nothing Chantal De Luca, 21, wanted more than to have her parents come to Montreal for her convocation at McGill University late last month, but as soon as they arrived in town for her special day, she was in tears.

Read more at
https://www.accessibilitynewsinternational.com/montreal-woman-raising-concerns-about-hotel-accessibility-after-devastating-experience-at-downtown-hotel/

As Patio Season Ramps Up, CafeTO’s Accessibility Problem Comes Under Fire

But disability advocate Luke Anderson has noticed a marked difference this year: many of the facilities aren’t accessible.

Read more at
https://www.accessibilitynews.ca/as-patio-season-ramps-up-cafetos-accessibility-problem-comes-under-fire/

Blind Canadians Say New Rules to Put Sound on EVs Don’t Go Far Enough

Unlike the U.S. and Europe, Canada doesn’t currently require electric vehicles and their quieter motors to generate sound when travelling at low speeds.

Read more at
https://www.accessibilitynewsinternational.com/blind-canadians-say-new-rules-to-put-sound-on-evs-dont-go-far-enough/

‘We Try Very Hard to Be Inclusive’: New Boat Launch in Angus Makes Water More Accessible

Platform provides safe way to launch canoes, kayaks on Nottawasaga River.

Read more at
https://www.accessibilitynews.ca/we-try-very-hard-to-be-inclusive-new-boat-launch-in-angus-makes-water-more-accessible/

Network Helps People With Disabilities Focus on Mental, Physical Wellness

A range of community services for people with disabilities throughout B.C. will be expanded, thanks to a provincial grant of $3 million over three years.

Read more at
https://www.accessibilitynewsinternational.com/network-helps-people-with-disabilities-focus-on-mental-physical-wellness/

Japan’s Transit System Gets Serious About Disability Access
Trains and subways in Tokyo and other cities have long posed a challenge for disabled riders. As Japan prepares to reopen to tourists, here’s what’s changed.

Read more at
https://www.accessibilitynewsinternational.com/japans-transit-system-gets-serious-about-disability-access/

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‘You Had to Be Able-Bodied to Get in’: Markham Woman Forced to Vote Outside Voting Centre

Couple told they couldn’t use front doors at Thornhill Secondary School on voting day due to school play Simone Joseph
Markham Economist & Sun
Friday, June 17, 2022

Joan Jenkyn had a “great big step to climb” when she went to vote at Thornhill Secondary School on voting day.

She and her husband were told they could not enter through the front doors because it was reserved for people going to a play at the school in the John Street and Henderson Avenue area. Instead, they were directed to the back doors.

“There was a great big step to climb up. No railing,” Jenkyn said in a phone interview.

For some people, that might not be a problem. For the 76-year-old, it was an issue because she has multiple Sclerosis and uses a walker. Her husband uses a cane. Multiple sclerosis is a chronic, typically progressive disease that damages nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord. Symptoms can include numbness, impairment of speech and of muscular co-ordination, blurred vision, and severe fatigue.

This entrance had no ramp.

“You had to be able-bodied to get in,” she said.

“I was angry they did it again for the disabled – made it impossible for voting.”

Jenkyn thought the situation was especially upsetting because of the large number of older adults in the area.

“Anyone in a wheelchair was in more trouble. It’s unacceptable.”

Jenkyn is a former member of Markham’s advisory committee on accessibility with several mentions online of her contributions from 2014 when she provided the city with the accessibility sports and recreation subcommittee report.

Since the couple could not access the building, staff brought voting materials outside for them – not a satisfactory solution for Jenkyn. Staff brought out a bright folder, not a ballot box. She sat on her walker to vote. “They could see who I voted for.”

All voting locations for the 2022 general election were assessed using Elections Ontario’s Site Accessibility Standards, said Elections Ontario in a statement. These standards include a site accessibility checklist to audit, the availability of accessible parking, the width, slopes, and ramps of exterior pathways and an accessible entrance and internal path of travel to the voting location.

From Ebru Ozdemir Erol, media relations clerk: “While we do complete an accessibility audit of voting locations and ensure the path of travel is fully accessible in advance of election day, on the day of voting, sometimes changes need to be made to reroute electors to another entrance. In some cases, those alternate entrances may not have been considered as part of the accessible path of travel. That is why we also offer curbside voting to make voting possible without requiring an elector to enter a polling station.

In response to the feedback that we receive from groups, including the accessibility community, we continue to review and improve our processes and training for staff so that they are better prepared to offer services that accessible to all Ontarians.”

Original at https://www.yorkregion.com/community-story/10656809–you-had-to-be-able-bodied-to-get-in-markham-woman-forced-to-vote-outside-voting-centre/

Montreal Woman Raising Concerns About Hotel Accessibility After ‘Devastating’ Experience at Downtown Hotel

There’s nothing Chantal De Luca, 21, wanted more than to have her parents come to Montreal for her convocation at McGill University late last month, but as soon as they arrived in town for her special day, she was in tears.

Read more at
https://www.accessibilitynewsinternational.com/montreal-woman-raising-concerns-about-hotel-accessibility-after-devastating-experience-at-downtown-hotel/