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Setting the Bar

Members of the disabled community say they prefer the L-shaped handled to the angled one in washrooms.
By Jeff Labine, tbnewswatch

Washroom bar handles should be standardised across Canada says some members of the disabled community.

The Accessibility for Ontarians with Disability Act released a proposed Accessibility Built Environment Standard for the public to review. Person’s United for Self-Help held a community information workshop at Confederation College on Saturday to see if there were any issues that needed to be addressed. The public has until Oct. 16 to have input.

Maurice Rubenick, 62, said washroom accessibility should be standardized across Canada to make it easier for those in a wheelchair who travel.

“Nobody complains about toilet business,” said Rubenick. “You will never hear complaints from girls about toilet business. It is something that people don’t talk about. With the disabled public we can talk about it but for them to talk about it (outside the disabled community) is almost a no.”

Rubenick has been using a wheelchair for 20 years ever since his accident. He said there is a problem with accessibility not only in the province but nation wide.

Rubenick said he wants washrooms to be standardized with L-shape handles all across the country. The angled bars in some washrooms don’t accommodate because it requires a lot of strength to pull oneself up, said Rubenick.

“In a wheelchair you are limited to where you can stay. When I travel to B.C. I have to hope their accommodations are like (Ontario’s).”

Rubenick said that when he travels he takes a bar that can cramp onto the side of the wall so that he can have a horizontal bar to lift himself back onto his chair.

Rob Wheeler said one of the scariest things for him is to fall out of his chair.

“You’re out there in the world all alone,” said Wheeler. “I’m too heavy and I don’t want to hurt anyone (trying to lift me up onto my chair).”

In August, the Lt.-Gov. David Onley came to Thunder Bay to have a discussion with the Accessibility Committee. At the time, Onley said he was impressed with the progress Thunder Bay was doing to ensure accessibility.

Ron Ross, president of Persons United for Self-Help in Northwestern Ontario, said that he agrees that Thunder Bay is making head way with accessibility but there is still more to be done.

“There are still many, many barriers,” said Ross. “Accessibility is good for everybody. I guess the major issue will be the economical impact.”

Ross said one of the main concerns is the cost of renovating older buildings so that those with disabilities can use them.

Reproduced from