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Grassroots Disability Coalition Unveils Powerful New Video Showing Serious Accessibility Problems at the New Ryerson University Student Learning Centre

On 19th Anniversary of Landmark Unanimous Legislature Resolution Calling for Strong Accessibility Law, this Video Shows Ontario Falling Further Behind Schedule for Becoming Accessible by 2025

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

October 29, 2017 Toronto: The AODA Alliance today makes public a striking 12-minute video (and a more detailed 30-minute version) revealing significant disability accessibility barriers in a new public building in the heart of downtown Toronto, built in part with public money. This video documents accessibility problems at the new Ryerson University Student Learning Centre with such things as stairs, ramps, student socializing areas, elevators, signage, an information desk and electronic kiosk. AODA Alliance Chair David Lepofsky guides you on a tour of barriers that hurt people with blindness, low vision, mobility disabilities, dyslexia, balance issues, and more.

12 minute video:
https://youtu.be/4oe4xiKknt0

30 minute video:
https://youtu.be/uqUZ6gK9N9k

This video, which all (including the media) are welcome to broadcast or link to, has captioning for persons with hearing loss and audio description for persons with vision loss.

This video shows disability barriers that were created with public money. Premier Wynne promised that public money would never be used to create or perpetuate disability barriers. Ontario universities get massive Ontario Government funding.

“Most people mistakenly think all new buildings in Ontario must be accessible to people with disabilities. Our new video shows the painful truth that this isn’t so. Using this video as a stark example, we call on the Wynne Government to substantially strengthen Ontario’s laws on building accessibility, including the Ontario Building Code and the Disabilities Act’s accessibility standards”, said David Lepofsky, chair of the AODA Alliance, which leads the non-partisan campaign for disability accessibility in Ontario. “This video also shows how some design professionals (like some architects) can be dramatically out of touch with the needs of 1.9 million Ontarians with disabilities. It is shocking that a building with these accessibility problems won an architecture design award, as this video shows.”

This new video follows on the success of an earlier 2016 AODA Alliance video. That earlier video revealed troubling accessibility problems at Toronto’s Centennial College’s new Culinary Arts Centre. That earlier video, whose short version and long version were viewed over 2,400 times, secured impressive media coverage, and has been viewed from Israel to New Zealand, including in a class of Ontario architecture students.

“We’re telling architecture students that they won’t want to ever design a building that ends up in one of our videos”, said Lepofsky. “Organizations like Ryerson and Centennial College commendably wanted to include good accessibility features. But these two buildings show what happens when Ontario has insufficient accessibility laws, and when design professionals have inadequate accessibility training or give accessibility too little priority.”

On October 23, 2017, the AODA Alliance wrote the Wynne Government, calling for a new action plan to ensure Ontario’s built environment becomes accessible to people with disabilities. On October 5, 2017, the AODA Alliance wrote Ontario Attorney General Yasir Naqvi, raising concerns about its accessibility plans for a huge new courthouse in downtown Toronto. Yet the Government has announced no new accessibility plans.

“We’re poised to use social media like Twitter to spread the word on our new video, as part of our highly successful “Picture our Barriers” social media campaign. News organizations should search on the Twitter hashtag “#AODAfail” to see a wide array of crowd-sourced disability barriers. Those barriers repeatedly get retweeted to each member of the Legislature on Twitter.

In the June 2018 Ontario election, the AODA Alliance will again press the parties for pledges on disability accessibility, not just in the built environment but in all aspects of Ontario life. As for organizations with new buildings in the works, no one knows which building we’ll choose for our next video!

This video is released on an important anniversary in the grassroots Ontario campaign for accessibility. On October 29, 1998 was a pivotal event in the battle from 1994 to 2005, for the enactment of strong Ontario disability accessibility legislation. On October 29, 1998, during the Conservative Mike Harris Government, the Ontario Legislature unanimously passed a resolution. It called for a Disabilities Act to implement 11 important principles to make it strong and effective. Those principles were crafted by the predecessor coalition to the AODA Alliance. Read those principles at: http://www.odacommittee.net/oct-resolution.html

Nineteen years later, we still measure the impact of the legislation we’ve won, the Liberal Government’s Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act 2005, against the 11 principles that the Ontario Legislature adopted 19 years ago today. We also continue to measure the impact of any accessibility standards enacted under the AODA against the 11 principles which the Legislature adopted 19 years ago.

The accessibility problems at the new Ryerson Student Learning Centre show how far Ontario still must go to live up to those principles, which the Ontario Liberals promised to uphold. The Ontario Government has just over seven years left to lead Ontario to full accessibility, the deadline which the AODA requires.

For more background on the historic events of October 29, 1998, and their ongoing significance for 1.9 million Ontarians with disabilities, visit: http://www.aodaalliance.org/strong-effective-aoda/10292016.asp

Contact: David Lepofsky, aodafeedback@gmail.com Twitter: @aodaalliance
More on the AODA Alliance’s campaign for accessibility in the built environment is at: http://www.aodaalliance.org/strong-effective-aoda/20120914.asp

All the news on the AODA Alliance’s campaign for accessibility in Ontario is available at: www.aodaalliance.org