This Mom Sits Outside Her Child’s School All Day. She Wants More Help for Students With Disabilities

An estimated 1 in 6 students in Ontario have a disability and face barriers to education, advocate says Vanessa Balintec, CBC News
Posted: Oct 28, 2022

Michelle Cousins follows her 14-year-old daughter Colette to school each morning.

Cousins meets her bus at Marshall McLuhan Catholic Secondary School in north Toronto. She helps Colette and her wheelchair onto the ground and parks her van on a nearby street.

She stays there until the end of the school day in case she needs to help her daughter, who has arthrogryposis, which causes joint stiffness and affects her mobility, among other conditions

“It’s been really, really challenging,” said Cousins, a single mom.

“Had there been a proper assessment, had people been doing their job and doing it properly, I don’t think we’d be here.”

For every school day since September, Cousins has been sitting in her van in case Colette needs her help going to the washroom. That’s something educational assistants usually do, but it’s the best option to maintain Colette’s dignity, she says, until a better solution from the school and the Toronto Catholic District School Board (TCDSB) materializes.

Cousins says she’s been told there are only two educational assistants who are able to lift Colette out of her wheelchair when needed, with no guarantee of trained replacements in case they’re away. On top of that, the support equipment the school does have has either been inoperable or unable to fit in the washroom, Cousins says.

Colette isn’t the only child with disabilities facing accommodation issues in schools across the province. About one in six students in Ontario have a disability, according to a prominent advocate, and it’s common for them to face physical, technological and bureaucratic barriers that get in the way of their education.

Even though the school confirmed Colette’s admission in the spring, and had her accommodation needs assessed this summer, Cousins says she’s resorted to taking on the support role to give her daughter as normal of a high school experience as possible amidst bureaucratic and labour issues at play.

While Colette appreciates her mom’s help, she says she knows it shouldn’t be this way.

“It’s not fair that my mom has to sit in a van,” said Colette.

Who’s responsible for accommodation?

The TCDSB, in an email to CBC Toronto, says it works with parents and students case-by-case to accommodate special needs in line with the province’s main disability rights legislation, the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA).

The board stresses it can’t speak about individual cases due to privacy laws. But it says Colette’s high school has an elevator, an accessible washroom, alternative and operable equipment and support staff who are “available and assigned as needed” to help students with disabilities.

However, Cousins refutes most of that and a high-profile advocate for people with disabilities in Ontario says these issues can’t be dealt with at the board level alone.

“The bureaucracy handcuffs the teachers and principals and other staff who want to do the right thing,” said David Lepofsky, the chair of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance.

“This is emblematic of a much bigger problem – a problem that the provincial government has known about for years.”

Lawyer David Lepofsky is chair of the AODA Alliance, a group that advocates for the implementation of accessibility standards in Ontario. He says parents of children with disabilities are often ‘left at sea’ to face large bureaucracies by themselves.

Lepofsky, who is also a member of the provincially-appointed Kindergarten to Grade 12 (K-12) Education Standards Development Committee, helped draft recommendations for an accessibility standard in all publicly-funded schools.

“All that is available to our kids [right now] is for their parents to try to negotiate with the bureaucracy of a school board, and if that doesn’t work, to lawyer up at personal expense,” said Lepofsky.

Work began in 2017, and the committee put forward dozens of recommendations in February aimed at creating equipment, support and staffing standards for school boards to better help students with disabilities. The committee also called for a user-friendly process for parents to get unique accommodations in a fast and easy manner.

But the committee hasn’t heard word on if or when they’ll be implemented, Lepofsky says.

In an email to CBC Toronto, the Ontario Ministry of Education says it’s working with the Ministry of Seniors and Accessibility to review the recommendations.

In the meantime, the ministry says it’s consistently added more educational assistants in schools each year since 2018, with more than 1,700 in special education this school year alone.

But that’s not what Cousins says she’s seeing on the ground. At this rate, she says she’ll be in her car by the school for another four to six weeks, fighting for the board to approve another way for Colette to attend classes independently, to repair or order in extra equipment, or get the staff needed to support her.

“I hope there’s some sort of systemic change.”

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Vanessa Balintec is a reporter for CBC Toronto who likes writing stories about labour, equity and community. She previously worked for stations in New Brunswick and Kitchener-Waterloo. You can reach her at vanessa.balintec@cbc.ca and on Twitter at @vanessabalintec.

Original at https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/toronto/washoom-accessibility-toronto-school-1.6630161

Will Bill C-22, the Proposed Canada Disability Benefit Act, Be a Trick or Treat? House of Commons Public Hearings Start Today, But Will the AODA Alliance Ever Get to Make a Presentation?

Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance
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/

October 31, 2022

Today begins public hearings on Bill C-22, the proposed Canada Disability Benefit Act, before HUMA, the House of Common Standing Committee on Human Resources, Skills and Social Development and the Status of Persons with Disabilities. We will be watching closely to see if this proposed new law to combat poverty among people with disabilities will be a trick or treat!

So far, we have heard that HUMA has scheduled four public hearings, two hours each, on October 31, and November 2, 14 and 16. A total of 21 groups would get to present, three per hour. The first hour today will be taken up by a presentation by federal Disabilities Minister Carla Qualtrough and her staff.

The AODA Alliance asked to present to HUMA. We have not received an invitation to present. We don’t know if we ever will. We were likely the first organization to make public a detailed brief with concrete recommendations on how to strengthen the bill. We wrote every member of HUMA very quickly to ask to be given a chance to present.

HUMA can schedule more hearing days, or could shorten the time allotted to each presenter. It can and should ensure that the AODA Alliance and others who want to speak to this important bill be given a chance to do so.

It is great that Disabilities Minister Carla Qualtrough echoes the language of “Nothing about us without us” when it comes to disability rights. However, if we and any other interested disability groups don’t get to make a presentation to HUMA, that would contradict “Nothing about us without us.”

We have been told by some that it is always open to groups like us to submit a written brief to HUMA, even if we don’t get to make a presentation at the hearings. Of course, we rapidly submitted a brief. However, presenting to a public hearing is infinitely more effective than only submitting a written brief. There is no guarantee that all the MPs on HUMA will read and absorb our written brief, along with all the others they receive. A written brief cannot answer MPs’ questions, or answer poor justifications that the Government makes to defend this weak bill, if not strengthened.

We fear that the Trudeau Government may try to oppose allowing the hearings to go on past November 16. They may argue that it is important to pass this bill as soon as possible, so that we can get money into the pockets of people with disabilities who are languishing in poverty.

We too want to get money into the pockets of people with disabilities who are languishing in poverty. However, rushing this bill through without the needed amendments that we seek to strengthen it, will delay getting money into the pockets of people with disabilities who are languishing in poverty. This bill leaves all the important decisions to some future time, when and if Cabinet gets around to it. If we get more details included in the bill itself, then we won’t have to wait months and months for Cabinet to decide the questions that the bill will have already decided!

Moreover, rushing this bill through Parliament as is ensures that not a dime will end up in the pockets of any people with disabilities who are 65 or older, and who are languishing in poverty. This bill now prevents them from ever qualifying for the Canada Disability Benefit, no matter how poor they are. As we have said, disability poverty does not end at age 65!

Federal Disabilities Minister Carla Qualtrough told CBC Radio on October 22, 2022 that it has taken too long to get this bill to this point. It was two years ago that the Federal Government promised the Canada Disability Benefit. It would be a cruel irony for the Government to first drag its feet for so long, and then insist on rushing the public hearings, contravening “Nothing about us without us.”

Let’s ensure that Bill C-22 is the treat that impoverished people with disabilities need and deserve! Tell HUMA to fix the bill fast and then pass the bill fast! Urge HUMA to let the AODA Alliance make a presentation during the Bill C-22 public hearings! Email HUMA at huma@parl.gc.ca

Follow @aodaalliance on Twitter and retweet our tweets on this important issue!

To keep track of our efforts on this bill, visit the AODA Alliance website’s Bill C-22 page. To see the 12 recommendations that we placed before HUMA to strengthen Bill C-22, read our short and sweet 5 page October 27, 2022 brief to HUMA. We want HUMA to amend the bill to:

* Ensure that people with disabilities living in poverty can get the Canada Disability Benefit, even if they are not “working age.”

* Set a deadline for making progress on lifting people with disabilities out of poverty.

* Set a minimum amount for the Canada Disability Benefit and set the date when it must start being paid.

* Put more details in the bill, rather than leaving everything up to Cabinet to decide by secret votes, and

* Set a deadline when needed regulations must be passed.

Twenty-Four Years After the Ontario Legislature Unanimously Called for Strong Provincial Legislation to Make Ontario Accessible, Students with Disabilities Still Face Unfair Disability Barriers

Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance
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/

October 29, 2022

SUMMARY

An Appalling Disability Barrier at School is the Tip of a Cruel Iceberg Facing Too Many Students with Disabilities

Each day, a mother must sit in her car all day long, parked in front of her daughter’s school. she must be on stand-by to come into the school in case her daughter needs help to go to the bathroom. Her daughter is a student with disabilities.

This outrageous story hit the media yesterday. It was covered by CBC and CTV. Below you can read their reports.

In these reports, AODA Alliance Chair David Lepofsky is quoted as pointing out that this is part of a much bigger and very troubling picture. Students with disabilities continue to face too many disability barriers in Ontario schools. The Ford Government has had in hand for about half a year a detailed roadmap of how to fix this mess. It was written by the Government-appointed K-12 Education Standards Development Committee. Yet, the Ford Government says it is still consulting with itself.

The Ontario Government can and should act right now to start to implement the final report of the K-12 Education Standards Development Committee. We have provided a captioned video
that summarizes what that detailed report says. The Ford Government has had it for months. It has known for much longer than that what the report was going to recommend.

The findings and recommendations of the K-12 Education Standards Development Committee are widely supported within both the disability and educator communities. The AODA Alliance has reached out to school boards across Ontario, to urge them to get head of the game, by starting to implement the K-12 Education Standards Development Committee report. Responses included statements by some boards that they are awaiting directions from the Ministry of Education. It is time for the Ford Government to start giving those directions!

To learn more about the AODA Alliance’s campaign since 2009 to tear down the unfair barriers impeding students with disabilities in Ontario’s education system, pop in on the AODA Alliance website’s education page.

An Important 24th Anniversary Today

Twenty-four years ago today, on October 29, 1998, when the Conservative Mike Harris Ontario Government was in office, the Ontarians with Disabilities Act Committee (the predecessor to the AODA Alliance) convinced the Legislature to unanimously pass a historic resolution. It called for the enactment of a disability accessibility law that puts into effect the 11 principles that grass roots disability advocates had formulated.

To read the debates in the Ontario Legislature on October 29, 1998, leading to the passage of this resolution, visit http://www.odacommittee.net/hansard18.html

Twenty-four years later, we still measure progress against the 11 principles that the Ontario Legislature adopted on October 29, 1998.

Read what the Ontario Legislature’s historic October 29, 1998 resolution said, and how we won it 24 years ago today!

Check out what MPPs said in the Ontario Legislature 24 years ago today about the need for strong disability legislation in Ontario.

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

Government Delaying Even More?

There have now been 1,367 days since the Ford Government received the ground-breaking final report of the Independent Review of the implementation of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act by former Ontario Lieutenant Governor David Onley. The Government has announced no comprehensive plan of new action to implement that report. Only 795 days are left before 2025, the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act’s mandatory deadline for Ontario to become accessible to over 2.6 million people with disabilities.

MORE DETAILS

CBC News Toronto October 28, 2022

Originally posted at https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/toronto/washoom-accessibility-toronto-school-1.6630161

This mom sits outside her child’s school all day. She wants more help for students with disabilities

An estimated 1 in 6 students in Ontario have a disability and face barriers to education, advocate says

Vanessa Balintec CBC News

Michelle Cousins makes herself comfortable with a pillow and a blanket in her accessible van while she camps out near her daughter’s school in case she needs her help. (Talia Ricci/CBC)
Michelle Cousins follows her 14-year-old daughter Colette to school each morning.

Cousins meets her bus at Marshall McLuhan Catholic Secondary School in north Toronto. She helps Colette and her wheelchair onto the ground and parks her van on a nearby street.

She stays there until the end of the school day in case she needs to help her daughter, who has arthrogryposis, which causes joint stiffness and affects her mobility, among other conditions

“It’s been really, really challenging,” said Cousins, a single mom.

“Had there been a proper assessment, had people been doing their job and doing it properly, I don’t think we’d be here.”

For every school day since September, Cousins has been sitting in her van in case Colette needs her help going to the washroom. That’s something educational assistants usually do, but it’s the best option to maintain Colette’s dignity, she says, until a better solution from the school and the Toronto Catholic District School Board (TCDSB) materializes.

Cousins says she’s been told there are only two educational assistants who are able to lift Colette out of her wheelchair when needed, with no guarantee of trained replacements in case they’re away. On top of that, the support equipment the school does have has either been inoperable or unable to fit in the washroom, Cousins says.

Along with other conditions, Colette Cousins, right, has arthrogryposis, which causes joint stiffness and affects her mobility.

Colette isn’t the only child with disabilities facing accommodation issues in schools across the province. About one in six students in Ontario have a disability, according to a prominent advocate, and it’s common for them to face physical, technological and bureaucratic barriers that get in the way of their education.

Even though the school confirmed Colette’s admission in the spring, and had her accommodation needs assessed this summer, Cousins says she’s resorted to taking on the support role to give her daughter as normal of a high school experience as possible amidst bureaucratic and labour issues at play.

While Colette appreciates her mom’s help, she says she knows it shouldn’t be this way.

“It’s not fair that my mom has to sit in a van,” said Colette.

Who’s responsible for accommodation?
The TCDSB, in an email to CBC Toronto, says it works with parents and students case-by-case to accommodate special needs in line with the province’s main disability rights legislation, the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA).

The board stresses it can’t speak about individual cases due to privacy laws. But it says Colette’s high school has an elevator, an accessible washroom, alternative and operable equipment and support staff who are “available and assigned as needed” to help students with disabilities.

However, Cousins refutes most of that and a high-profile advocate for people with disabilities in Ontario says these issues can’t be dealt with at the board level alone.

Why these Ontario educational assistants believe they deserve a raise and will strike if they don’t get it Educational assistants in Ontario say they’re fighting to make a livable wage

“The bureaucracy handcuffs the teachers and principals and other staff who want to do the right thing,” said David Lepofsky, the chair of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance.

“This is emblematic of a much bigger problem a problem that the provincial government has known about for years.”

Lawyer David Lepofsky is chair of the AODA Alliance, a group that advocates for the implementation of accessibility standards in Ontario. He says parents of children with disabilities are often ‘left at sea’ to face large bureaucracies by themselves. (

Lepofsky, who is also a member of the provincially-appointed Kindergarten to Grade 12 (K-12) Education Standards Development Committee, helped draft recommendations for an accessibility standard in all publicly-funded schools.

“All that is available to our kids [right now] is for their parents to try to negotiate with the bureaucracy of a school board, and if that doesn’t work, to lawyer up at personal expense,” said Lepofsky.

Work began in 2017, and the committee put forward dozens of recommendations in February aimed at creating equipment, support and staffing standards for school boards to better help students with disabilities. The committee also called for a user-friendly process for parents to get unique accommodations in a fast and easy manner.

But the committee hasn’t heard word on if or when they’ll be implemented, Lepofsky says.

In an email to CBC Toronto, the Ontario Ministry of Education says it’s working with the Ministry of Seniors and Accessibility to review the recommendations.

In the meantime, the ministry says it’s consistently added more educational assistants in schools each year since 2018, with more than 1,700 in special education this school year alone.

But that’s not what Cousins says she’s seeing on the ground. At this rate, she says she’ll be in her car by the school for another four to six weeks, fighting for the board to approve another way for Colette to attend classes independently, to repair or order in extra equipment, or get the staff needed to support her.

“I hope there’s some sort of systemic change.”

CTV Toronto News October 28, 2022

Originally posted at: https://www.iheartradio.ca/newstalk-1010/news/it-s-a-mess-why-a-single-mom-sits-outside-her-daughter-s-toronto-school-every-day-1.18706516 ‘It’s a mess’: Why a single mom sits outside her daughter’s Toronto school every day

CTV NEWS TORONTO VIDEOJOURNALIST
Andrew Brennan

Michelle Cousins can be found in her van, sitting down the street from her daughter’s Toronto school, every day after following her on the bus route.

“I’m one who greets her when she gets off the bus. I help her get into the school. I help her take her coat off. I give her a kiss, and then I hop back in my van and find a parking spot,” she told CTV News Toronto.

Cousins waits in case her daughter calls to use the bathroom. Normally, educational assistants are charged with helping in such cases, but Cousins says

she sacrifices her days because it is the best way to ensure her daughter’s modesty. Her daughter, Colette Cousins, is 14 years old. She has athrogryposis, which affects her mobility, and uses a wheelchair.

Cousins says she tried to flag issues last October before Colette was accepted to Marshal McLuhan Secondary School. Colette was accepted in May, and an assessment was done in June by an occupational therapist.

It was then she was told adjustments and modifications based on the assessment would be done over the summer, Cousins said, and there would be two educational assistants to help with lifts and transfers in the fall.

“The day before school starts, that’s when I learn nothing has been done physically for her, in spite of all the recommendationsgrab bars weren’t installed, the elevator company didn’t come in to inspect it and modify it,” she said.

Out of nine assistants, she was then told only two would be able to lift her daughter when needed.

Cousins says she also had to sign off for a fire evacuation plan before a fire drill, where her daughter would be left in a stairwell.

“Students with disabilities are treated like an afterthought by a system not designed for them,” said David Lepofsky, chair of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance. The longtime advocate was a member of the Kindergarten to Grade 12 Education Standards Development Committee, which was appointed in 2017 to draft recommendations for accessibility standards and best practices in all publicly-funded schools in Ontario.

The recommendations were presented to the Ministry of Education in February. The office for Minister Stephen Lecce says the ministry is working with the Ministry of Seniors and Accessibility to review the findings.

Lepofsky says the province is sitting on its hands. “Individual parents from one end of this province to another have to keep fighting those barriers one at a time,” he said. Meantime, Cousins says she and Colette have proposed a solution to her occupational therapist to demonstrate Colette is capable of partially supporting herself, and would require different equipment that would allow only one person to lift her with less invasive results.

The problem now is finding a supplier for the equipment, waiting for it to get here, and training staff on the new regime, she said.

“Now we’re playing catchup,” she said. “Now, they’re working tirelesslyand I do believe individually they do carebut I just sit there and it’s just a mess. “And I do know this is part of a larger problem. This is systemic.”

Accessibility News October 29,2022 Update

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The AODA Clock is Ticking

There are 2 years, 9 weeks, 1 day until a fully Accessible Ontario! Will you be compliant?

In this Issue

*Some Doctors are Reluctant to Care for Patients With Disabilities, Study Finds
*Canadian Mom’s Harrowing Tale Shows the Real Dangers of Legal Euthanasia
*Hamiltonians Can Give City Feedback on HSR, DARTS Transit Accessibility
*Ontario Man Applies for State-Sponsored suicide Over Homelessness
*Voter Upset With Accessibility Issue at Polling Station
*Federal Minister Says She’s ‘shocked’ by Suggestion of Assisted Deaths for Some Babies
*AODA Alliance Updates(2)

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:

*eSSENTIAL Accessibility + Level Access, in Collaboration with G3ict and IAAP, Release Annual State of Digital Accessibility Report
https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/essential-accessibility–level-access-in-collaboration-with-g3ict-and-iaap-release-annual-state-of-digital-accessibility-report-301660767.html * Level Access and eSSENTIAL Accessibility Complete Merger
https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/level-access-and-essential-accessibility-complete-merger-301608027.html

Past Press Releases:

https://www.essentialaccessibility.com/news

ARTICLES:

Some Doctors are Reluctant to Care for Patients With Disabilities, Study Finds

Details of three focus groups offer disturbing details about the challenges individuals with disabilities face when seeking care

Read more at
https://www.accessibilitynewsinternational.com/some-doctors-are-reluctant-to-care-for-patients-with-disabilities-study-finds/

Canadian Mom’s Harrowing Tale Shows the Real Dangers of Legal Euthanasia

When Margaret Marsilla found out her 23-year-old son scheduled his own death, she started her race against time.

Read more at
https://www.accessibilitynewsinternational.com/canadian-moms-harrowing-tale-shows-the-real-dangers-of-legal-euthanasia/

Hamiltonians Can Give City Feedback on HSR, DARTS Transit Accessibility

Area residents who rely on City of Hamilton transit infrastructure now have a chance to give feedback on accessibility.

Read more at
https://www.accessibilitynews.ca/hamiltonians-can-give-city-feedback-on-hsr-darts-transit-accessibility/

Ontario Man Applies for State-Sponsored suicide Over Homelessness

“I don’t want to die but I don’t want to be homeless more than I don’t want to die,” 54-year-old Amir Farsoud said.

Read more at
https://www.accessibilitynewsinternational.com/ontario-man-applies-for-state-sponsored-suicide-over-homelessness/

Voter Upset With Accessibility Issue at Polling Station

‘It shouldn’t be happening. This is 2022’

A 50-foot section of sidewalk was taped off in front of the West End Community Centre during voting for Monday’s municipal election, forcing anyone not in a motor vehicle approaching from Imperial Road onto the paved driveway if they need a flat surface to travel.

Read more at
https://www.accessibilitynews.ca/voter-upset-with-accessibility-issue-at-polling-station/

Federal Minister Says She’s ‘shocked’ by Suggestion of Assisted Deaths for Some Babies

Qualtrough says she hears regularly of people with disabilities seeking death due to lack of supports

Read more at
https://www.accessibilitynewsinternational.com/federal-minister-says-shes-shocked-by-suggestion-of-assisted-deaths-for-some-babies/

AODA Alliance Updates:

The AODA Alliance Submits a Brief 5-Page Brief to the House of Commons, Urging that It Strengthen the Weak Bill C-22, the Proposed Canada Disability Benefit Act

Read more at
https://www.accessibilitynews.ca/the-aoda-alliance-submits-a-brief-5-page-brief-to-the-house-of-commons-urging-that-it-strengthen-the-weak-bill-c-22-the-proposed-canada-disability-benefit-act/

Federal Disabilities Minister Qualtrough’s CBC Interview Shows Why Parliament Must Strengthen Weak Bill C-22, the proposed Canada Disability Benefit Act

Read more at
https://www.accessibilitynews.ca/federal-disabilities-minister-qualtroughs-cbc-interview-shows-why-parliament-must-strengthen-weak-bill-c-22-the-proposed-canada-disability-benefit-act/

Past Newsletters

View past issues of the Newsletter at http://www.accessibilitynews.ca/category/accessibility-news-weekly-newsletter/

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Accessibility News, since November 8, 2006

Some Doctors are Reluctant to Care for Patients With Disabilities, Study Finds

Details of three focus groups offer disturbing details about the challenges individuals with disabilities face when seeking care

Read more at
https://www.accessibilitynewsinternational.com/some-doctors-are-reluctant-to-care-for-patients-with-disabilities-study-finds/

Canadian Mom’s Harrowing Tale Shows the Real Dangers of Legal Euthanasia

When Margaret Marsilla found out her 23-year-old son scheduled his own death, she started her race against time.

Read more at
https://www.accessibilitynewsinternational.com/canadian-moms-harrowing-tale-shows-the-real-dangers-of-legal-euthanasia/

Hamiltonians Can Give City Feedback on HSR, DARTS Transit Accessibility

By Nathan Sager
Published October 26, 2022

Area residents who rely on City of Hamilton transit infrastructure now have a chance to give feedback on accessibility.

The City of Hamilton Transit Division has commenced an annual public consultation regarding the accessibility of conventional transit (Hamilton Street Railway) and specialized transit (Accessible Transportation Services, ATS) delivered by DARTS, and through the Taxi Scrip program. A public meeting, which will include an in-person and virtual option, will take place next Thursday (Nov. 3) at the central branch of Hamilton Public Library.

That Nov. 3 meeting will be from 5 till 7 p.m. in the Hamilton Room at the HPL site located at 55 York Blvd. The first hour is the presentation portion of the meeting and will be made available online at the InsideCityofHamilton YouTube channel.

Small group discussions will take place from 6 to 7 p.m. with in-person attendees. That portion will not be recorded or broadcast online, the city said.

There are other means to send HSR comments, questions and feedback until Nov. 30. Those include:

  • Online: https://www.engage.hamilton.ca
    In person: fill out a comment card or a survey at the HSR Customer Service Centre at 36 Hunter St. E. (Hamilton GO Centre) or at any Municipal Service Centre.
  • Email: ats@hamilton.ca
  • Phone: 905-529-1212
  • Fax: 905-679-7305
    Mail: Accessible Transportation Services, c/o 71 Main St. W., Hamilton, ON / L8P 4Y5

The city adds that participants may contact Accessible Transportation Services for:

  • Questions about the public consultations
  • Request a copy of the presentation in an alternative format (e.g. print copy or braille)
  • request accessibility accommodations to provide feedback or attend the meeting

Transportation service providers are required to hold at least one public meeting on an annual basis to consult with the community in accordance with the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA).

Original at https://www.insauga.com/hamiltonians-can-give-city-feedback-on-hsr-darts-transit-accessibility

Ontario Man Applies for State-Sponsored suicide Over Homelessness

“I don’t want to die but I don’t want to be homeless more than I don’t want to die,” 54-year-old Amir Farsoud said.

Read more at
https://www.accessibilitynewsinternational.com/ontario-man-applies-for-state-sponsored-suicide-over-homelessness/

Voter Upset With Accessibility Issue at Polling Station

‘It shouldn’t be happening. This is 2022’
Richard Vivian
about 15 hours ago
October 24, 2022

Is roof work getting in the way of prospective voters at a Ward 4 polling station?

A 50-foot section of sidewalk was taped off in front of the West End Community Centre during voting for Monday’s municipal election, forcing anyone not in a motor vehicle approaching from Imperial Road onto the paved driveway if they need a flat surface to travel.

“Inclusion shouldn’t be just lip service,” commented Ward 4 resident Jennifer Cameron, who walks with a cane. “The west end rec. centre shouldn’t have been a voting station if it wasn’t accessible.”

Polling stations throughout the city opened at 10 a.m. and will remain open until 8 p.m.

Cameron said she went to the community centre at about 2 p.m. and was able to cast her vote, but was alarmed about the inaccessible sidewalk, thinking of the impact it could have on other prospective voters.

She was driven up to the centre’s main doors, which weren’t blocked, but expressed worry about anyone with mobility issues trying to navigate the sidewalk from Imperial, which is where the nearest bus stop is located.

“That’s not OK,” Cameron said. “It shouldn’t be happening. This is 2022.”

That section of sidewalk remained taped off when GuelphToday visited the centre shortly after 4 p.m. A sign posted there warns of work being done on the roof. A small crane which had been hanging over the sidewalk leading up to the main entrance had been moved to another section of the building.

Asked about the concern, city clerk Stephen O’Brien said anyone experiencing accessibility issues can reach out to polling station or community centre staff for assistance.

“We would be in a position to support any elector that needed assistance if they were attempting to navigate the sidewalk,” he said.

Cameron said she filed a complaint with election staff at the polling station.

“If somebody gets hurt today trying to vote, that’s on the city,” she said, noting city officials must have known about the ongoing roof work at the municipal facility and its impact on the sidewalk.

Accessibility is always an issue when it comes to voting, Cameron added, stating she’s come across problems during recent provincial and federal elections as well.

“It’s not going to change if we don’t keep making noise about it,” she said.

Original at https://www.guelphtoday.com/2022-municipal-election-news/voter-upset-with-accessibility-issue-at-polling-station-6000269

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