By Victor Schwartzman
July 22, 2015
Hugh Adami, a columnist for the Ottawa Citizen, recently wrote that Stephane Parisien wanted to enter a “Service Ontario franchise on St Joseph Blvd in Orleans and saw it didn’t have an automatic door for access by the disabled.
Stephane Parisien got an apology from the Ontario government, but the disabled man who uses a wheelchair hopes it wasn’t just lip service.”
A Service Ontario Franchise representative stated an automatic door was not installed because it is slow and lets in cold air during the winter.
“This showed us that the Service Ontario franchise for access service has failed,” Minister Brad Duguid could have told a media conference if he had actually held one about the situation. “The problem here is not the power door, although it would let in a lot of cold air. The real problem is whether we are giving lip service to access services.
“Because the franchise failed for access services,” Minister Duguid announced proudly, “we brought in the franchise experts: Hollywood. They know how to make franchises work.
“It was rocky at first. Hollywood thoroughly reviewed our expertise on AODA implementation, social issues understanding and human empathy. Its assessment based on its creation of franchise comic book characters is that we did not meet basic standards. We needed another type of politician.
“Hollywood suggested a new franchise plan,” he continued, “which was to provide access service through a Hollywood-style theme park.” Minister Duguid pointed to the new theme park behind him. “And we built it, and those disabled people will come! Welcome to AODA World! It is modelled on theme parks including Jurassic World, but without dinosaurs eating people. Here is where people who want various access services can come!”
Minister Duguid then took the assembled journalists on a tour of AODA World. The park is large and due to open to the public shortly. First he showed journalists the access services rides.
The AODA Expectation Roller Coaster took hardy journalists up a steep incline that went very high and created great excitement. Then the roller coaster went over the edge, under a sign that flashed “LAW’S ON!” and they went down. The coaster never stopped until it ran level with the ground and eventually petered out.
People who wanted to file a complaint about access with a business had several choices. On the AODA Individual Complaint Ferris Wheel, journalists went high and low and in the end went in circles trying to find a place to file a complaint. In the AODA Complaint Carousel, people sit in simulated wheelchairs, also going in circles, trying for a complaint “ring” that is always out of reach. In the Haunted House of Access Horrors, people sign complaint forms and then are tied into chairs and forced to watch the forms shredded. Then the chairs move forward past various rooms. The chairs stop at the entrance to each because they can’t gain access.
Government Land demonstrated its approach to promoting access. Leaflet City was popular. Another favourite were the Community Development Bumper Cars. Each car represents a different community stakeholder and drivers are encouraged to crash into each other. In the Hall of You Are Important To Us, people work their way through a maze made from mirrors, where any mirror they look into, they see nothing.
“You have seen what people seeking access services from their Government can expect,” Minister Duguid told the journalists. “They ask for services and we give them rides. But there is more. There is the future.”
He then led the journalists into a large building and to a hallway where they faced a curtained area. “Welcome to the future of political access implementation in Ontario. Here we are attempting to create, through genetic cross-breeding, the perfect access politician. When he is ready he will welcome people seeking access and show them which ride to take. Over time he will become our next Minister responsible for access.
“May I introduce Indominaccess Rex!”
The curtain dramatically parted, revealing a cage. A clear glass wall made it possible to see inside. The cage was built to resemble a politician’s office, complete with a large wooden desk, shelves of books and awards to the politician. Sitting at the desk was a man. He was tall, well dressed and had excellent hair.
The Indominaccess Rex stood. He looked at Minister Duguid, who nodded. He faced the journalists. “Mr. Parisien wonders whether the Ontario Government’s approach to access is real or only lip service. I am the answer to that question. Read my lips!” And the Indominaccess Rex’s lips broadened. Words formed on his top and bottom lips: ACCESS and LAW, followed by NOT and NOW, and then BUSINESS and RELAX, TALK and CHEAP. When he grinned, the words flashed.
“He has over four hundred words! Isn’t he great?” Minister Duguid asked proudly. “And if you think his lips are something, you should see what his helping hand is like!”
Next: At Least This Column Didn’t Mention Access Problems At The Pan Am Games, Where In The Access Seating Area You Can’t See Anything When People In Front Of You Stand.
Victor Schwartzman has contributed this weekly satirical column to Accessibility News and the AODA Alliance since May 13, 2013. Check out the first nine chapters of his current satirical fantasy novel, King Of The Planet, for .99 on Kindle at http://www.amazon.ca/King-The-Planet-Victor-Schwartzman-ebook/dp/B00NE0CCRC, or for free on Facebook. The unpolished first nine chapters got a “4 out of 5 star” review! He is currently polishing the novel. His graphic novel The Winnipeg Weakly Herald (where each chapter is one issue of a community newspaper) is serialized on the great Canadian lit site, http://www.redfez.net. He has had poetry and short fiction published, has edited novels and his email is firstname.lastname@example.org.