Keith Hurst was getting his mail in December when he slid down the Burk’s Falls Canada Post accessible ramp on his scooter. He was then told the ramp is for wheelchairs only.
By Kathryn Boyle
BURK’S FALLS A man’s minor scooter accident has raised some questions about accessibility in public businesses.
In early December, Keith Hurst travelled to the Canada Post office on his scooter and tried accessing the building via the wheelchair ramp. The snow caught on his front tires and his cane got stuck in the reverse position of the scooter, forcing Hurst to slide down the slippery ramp.
“It was a snowy morning,” he explained. “I went up the ramp but there was snow on the step in front of the door. My front wheels sped sideways and my cane dropped, and it did not release the reverse. So I went down the steps sliding backwards.”
“There was no damage, no broken bones or skin,” he said.
“The ramp is up to national standard building codes. A wheelchair is not a scooter.” – Anick Losier
“Three or four days later, a woman came out and told me I could not ride my scooter on the ramp and that the ramp was for wheelchairs only,” he said.
“There is a lot of snow, and I have to leave my scooter at the bottom and walk up the ramp,” he said. “Therefore, I must get off my scooter.”
His scooter, he said, is not bigger than a wheelchair.
“I’ve seen wheelchairs that are bigger than my scooter,” he said.
“I was told the ramp was built for wheelchairs only,” he said. “Where she got that information from, I don’t know.”
Hurst is concerned if the ramp is for wheelchairs only, can mothers with buggies not use them either?
“It is a handicapped ramp,” he said. “Not for wheelchairs only. I was working [at the post office] when the ramp was built.”
Anick Losier, spokesperson for Canada Post, said Hurst was told to walk up the ramp out of concern for his safety.
“I can’t speculate on the tone [of the employee] because I wasn’t there,” she said. “We wanted to make sure he doesn’t hurt himself.”
“It was not meant to be disrespectful at all.”
“The ramp is up to national standard building codes,” she said. “A wheelchair is not a scooter.”
“He was bruised a little bit,” she said. “And we want to make sure the person is going to be okay.”
Losier said if Hurst had any concerns, to take it up with Canada Post.
“If he has any concerns, he should talk to us about it,” she said. “We’ll work on a solution.”
Brigitte Marleau, senior advisor of the communications branch at the Ministry of Economic Development, Employment and Infrastructure shed some light on the situation.
“We cannot comment on specific cases,” she wrote in an email. “Scooters, like wheelchairs, do fall under Ontario’s accessibility laws. Under the Integrated Accessibility Standards Regulation, a scooter may be classified as a mobility aid, which is defined as a device used to facilitate the transportation, in a seated position, of a person with a disability.”
“As for the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA), the introduction of the Customer Service Standard was the first accessibility standard created under the authority of the act. As of January 1, 2012, all private, not-for-profit, and public sector organizations with at least one employee in Ontario were required to comply with the Standard, which stipulated that business and organizations must carry out simple steps to provide accessible customer service.”
“Under the Standard, organizations must have a process in place to receive feedback on how they provide their goods or services to people with disabilities.” These organizations must also say how they will respond to that feedback.
Marleau said individuals with inquiries can contact the Ministry through the toll free AODA General Inquiry line and a representative will record their complaint to use for statistical and audit purposes. The toll free number is 1-866-515-2025.