Bolton woman highlights accessibility issues with action
I can’t get inside
Bolton resident Kathleen Lynch sat outside Bolton businesses this past Saturday to highlight accessibility issues. Lynch suffers from MS and is wheelchair bound. Caledon Enterprise
By Matthew Strader
Accessibility was on the minds of local residents recently, and the reason was one intrepid Caledon resident who will not stop in her mission to inform the public.
Kathleen Lynch, a Bolton resident with Multiple Sclerosis who is wheelchair bound due to the affliction, sat outside the Dollarama plaza on Bolton’s south hill May 7, with a simple sign that read: “I can’t get inside.”
Lynch has been frustrated by the lack of accessibility at a number of places in her hometown and decided to take it to the streets, literally, with the belief that if the public knew more about the issue, more might get done about it.
“I wanted to go out there to create not just a sense of awareness but a call to action. Saturday was fantastic! In fact I would like to do it again,” Lynch said. “The only difference is that now I want to contact the MPPs of all the parties and see who shows up.”
Lynch said her reception from the public was fantastic, and many were engaged and curious about the plight someone in Lynch’s situation faces.
“I was thrilled to find out how many people wanted to talk to me. They were open to discussing with me the many obstacles existing right here in Bolton,” Lynch said. “They were open to being educated and I would say that 90 per cent of the people that I spoke to had no idea how little the government has done to achieve accessibility or at least how long it’s taking them. I actually had people wanting to sign a petition for me.”
And an accessibility awareness initiative is perfectly timed, as May 29 to June 4 is National Access Awareness week, an accessibility awareness initiative begun in 1988 to honour Rick Hanson and his Man in Motion tour that began in 1985.
Lynch was inspired after meeting with the chair of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Alliance (AODA).
“He was inspiring and gave me what I needed to get out there and let everyone know what the government is doing has been slow in coming and is not enough.”
According to the government, they are working toward an accessible Ontario, but explained that enforcement of the laws does require a bit of the honour system among Ontario’s businesses.
Andreas Kyprianou, spokesperson for the Ministry of Economic Development, Employment and Infrastructure, said in 2005, the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act passed into law, and began a journey to create an accessible province within 20 years.
Their enforcement works on a system of reporting and auditing.
“Organization submit self-certified reports to the ministry online where they indicate their compliance with the accessibility standards,” Kyprianou said. “We audit a sample of organizations to confirm they are in compliance with the Act.”
The law is enforced when businesses are found to not comply, and the ministry progressively escalates compliance with a number of enforcement tools when required.
And greater accessibility isn’t just about fair access for everyone, Kyprianou said. The ministry understands that it is simply good for business.
Forbes magazine reported in 2015 that the global market represents 1.3 billion people, and their 2.3 billion family members, friends, caregivers and colleagues.
Kyprianou explained, that’s approximately $8 trillion in disposable income.
“For business, it means tapping into an underused talent pool, creating new products and services based on universal design, and harnessing the power of more people, both in store and online,” he said. “That makes becoming more accessible and promoting accessibility not just the right thing to do, but also the smart thing to do for businesses and organizations of all sizes.”
With residents like Lynch at the businesses doors, more of those compliance reports might receive check marks in this area at least.
Matthew Strader is a reporter with the Caledon Enterprise. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @CaledonStrader. And The En
Reproduced from http://www.caledonenterprise.com/news-story/6551548-wheelchair-bound-bolton-woman-with-ms-wants-call-to-action-on-accessiblity/
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