Accessibility: Province on right track

Posted on June 16, 2015 in Equality Delivery System – Opinion/Readers’Letters – Re: Parapan Ams a missed chance for T.O. tourism, Opinion June 13
Jun 15 2015.   David Onley

Parapan Ams a missed chance for T.O. tourism, Opinion June 13

I must respectfully disagree with my long-time friend and accessibility advocate, David Lepofsky. If making Ontario accessible was purely enforcing the regulations and standards of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA), we would need to do nothing more than create a massive societal checklist, hire thousands of enforcement officers and wait for the list to be complete.

A more accessible society requires far more than just regulating and enforcing accessibility standards. It requires significant dialogue within our culture, something I believe is taking place in a hugely positive way and at an increasingly accelerated pace.

The province’s recently released Path to 2025: Accessibility Action Plan aims to engage employers and address the systemic economic issues associated with accessibility by forging partnerships with the business community.

The Accessibility Action Plan is investing $9 million into new employment opportunistic funds. The first fund will expand the Community Loan Program that provides low interest commercial loans for small business and is projected to create up to 1,100 new jobs for people with disabilities and others facing barriers to employment.

The other employment fund is based on creating partnerships with businesses across Ontario as they transition to accessible workplaces, leading to additional employment opportunities for persons with disabilities.
Has a real cultural dialogue begun? Are institutions, companies, schools, hospitals buying into the underlying message of social equality for people with disabilities by integrating the existing AODA standards into their very organizational fabric? The answer to all of these is a resounding “Yes!”

As the accessibility adviser to Ontario’s Minister Responsible for Accessibility, and as someone who personally encounters daily accessibility challenges in our community, I believe that our provincial government’s action is encouraging, and that we are on track for a more accessible Ontario by 2025.”

David Onley, former Lieutenant Governor of Ontario, Toronto

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