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Wonderful Media Coverage of the AODA Alliance’s New Video on Serious Accessibility Problems at New and Recently-Renovated Toronto Area Public Transit Stations

Our Video Is Quickly Becoming a Key Part of Our Non-Partisan Accessibility Blitz During the 2018 Ontario Election Campaign

Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance Update United for a Barrier-Free Ontario for All People with Disabilities http://www.aodaalliance.org aodafeedback@gmail.com Twitter: @aodaalliance

May 17, 2018

SUMMARY

Today is international Global Accessibility Awareness Day, recognized around the world and on Twitter with the hashtag #GAAD. Just two days ago, the AODA Alliance launched its new online video exposing serious new disability barriers, created by our Governments, in new and recently renovated public transit stations around Ontario.

This video has already been viewed a little shy of 1,000 900 times in the two days since it went public. It is quickly becoming a key part of our current non-partisan campaign to raise disability accessibility issues during the campaign that leads up to the June 7, 2018 Ontario general election. Encourage as many people as possible to watch it:

16 minute version:
https://youtu.be/za1UptZq82o

30 minute version:
https://youtu.be/2VZLGGfFg1g

On May 16, 2018, a fantastic article about our new video appeared in the Toronto Star (See below). The Ontario Government, through its Metrolinx agency, gave a breath-taking explanation for barriers at that station’s recent renovation. The Star quotes a Metrolinx spokesperson as saying:

“Union Station is an historic building, so we have to follow the heritage guidelines and make it accessible, so there’s some challenges for sure.”

Nothing in Union Station’s Heritage or historic past required the Government to build leaning pillars in its major renovation of the Go Transit area of that station, depicted in our video.

Reinforcing and expanding on our message, YorkRegion.com also ran a great online article on May 16, 2018, that highlights further accessibility problems that tenacious and tireless AODA Alliance supporter Randy McNeil brought to the media. That news outlet linked his issues to issues we raised in our video, and to our broader campaign on accessibility issues in this Ontario election. We also set that article out below.

On May 16, 2018, AODA Alliance Chair David Lepofsky was interviewed twice on the topic of our video and our election blitz. One interview was on Toronto’s Talk 640 Radio. The other interview was on CFRB News Talk 1010 Radio.

Capping this off, on Thursday, May 17, 2018, AODA Alliance Chair David Lepofsky taped an interview on the TVO’s flagship public affairs program “The Agenda with Steve Paikin”. We are told that this will air on Monday night, May 21, 2018 at 8 and 11 pm, and will be available shortly afterwards on Twitter. We will let you know if that changes. In that interview (which also included Hamilton area disability rights advocate Yvonne Felix) both our public transit video and the election’s broader disability accessibility issues were addressed.

Finally, on May 16, 2018, several disability community organizations hosted an excellent all-candidates’ debate on disability issues. Accessibility issues, including the AODA’s implementation and enforcement, came up many times. Our new video was referred to directly or indirectly more than once. To watch a recording of that debate, visit: https://ryecast.ryerson.ca/72/Watch/12595.aspx

We encourage you to:

* Encourage as many people as possible to watch our public transit accessibility video. Share it on Facebook and other social media.

* Urge candidates to watch our video. Ask what they will do if elected, to prevent public money from ever being used again to create or perpetuate disability barriers. Check out our handy list of all the candidates and their Twitter handles, email addresses and phone numbers, that we could find. You can also send them our news release on this video.

* Stay tuned for the AODA Alliance’s forthcoming Action Kit, which will be chock full of ideas on how you can help our non-partisan campaign to raise disability issues in this election.

MORE DETAILS

The Toronto Star May 16, 2018

Originally posted at:
https://www.thestar.com/news/gta/2018/05/15/new-ttc-and-go-stations-difficult-dangerous-for-people-with-disabilities-advocacy-group-says-in-new-video.html Greater Toronto

Video highlights transit flaws; Activist shows difficulty stations present to people with disabilities

Toronto’s subway and train stations, including the TTC’s newest, have design flaws that can make travelling difficult or dangerous for people with disabilities, according to a new video that illustrates the problems.

In a 30-minute video released Tuesday, David Lepofsky, the chair of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance, demonstrates various problems at Union Station, some of the new TTC stations on Line 1 and some GO stations.

At Union Station, Lepofsky, who is blind, shows how a person walking with a white cane can hit their head on angled pillars on the train platforms.

At Bloor GO Station, he points out gaps in the “tactile walking surface indicators” – the bumpy parts of the platform that let blind people know that they’re close to the edge.

At the new York University TTC station, he notes only one entrance has an elevator – and on that elevator the braille is mislabelled and confusing, he says, pointing out how the button for the ground floor reads “main.”

“Accessibility requirements are inadequately enforced,” Lepofsky says in the video, adding that he thinks the province’s Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) doesn’t go far enough.

“If you’re going to design a building, do it in a way that everyone can use it,” Lepofsky told the Star. “Everybody gets a disability eventually, if you get older.”

Stuart Green, a spokesperson for the TTC, said some of Lepofsky’s observations are known to the TTC and are being addressed, but the video raised new concerns.

“Mr. Lepofsky’s analysis has raised a few issues regarding the new stations of which we were previously unaware and which will be reviewed by TTC staff for correction or improvement,” he said.

“The TTC is fully committed to meeting or exceeding AODA requirements.”

Anne Marie Aikins, a spokesperson for Metrolinx, said that the company is working on making GO stations more accessible, but there are roadblocks.

“We know we have a ways to go, we’re committed being AODA compliant … knowing it’s an extensive endeavour working with old infrastructure,” she said.

“Union Station is an historic building, so we have to follow the heritage guidelines and make it accessible, so there’s some challenges for sure.”

Lepofsky also said he made the transportation bodies aware of other accessibility concerns before the stations were finished, but they built them that way anyway.

One example is the platform design at all the new TTC stations, where the platform sits in the middle of the station and passengers can enter a train going either direction.

This gives people who are blind or have low vision no wall to use as a “shoreline” to follow, Lepofsky said, which can be dangerous on a crowded platform.

Jaren Kerr Toronto Star

YorkRregion.com May 16, 2018

Originally posted at:
https://www.yorkregion.com/news-story/8611008-vaughan-subway-accessibility-denied-with-elevator-out-of-service-6-months/ Vaughan subway accessibility denied with elevator out of service 6 months

‘This is par for the course for the TTC:’ local accessibility advocate: News May 15, 2018 by Tim Kelly ? Vaughan Citizen|

Randy McNeil, who has used a wheelchair since he contracted MS just over a decade ago, is not happy that an elevator at the bus station across the street from Vaughan Metropolitan Subway Centre station is not accessible and hasn’t been since it opened. May 14, 2018 – Susie Kockerscheidt/Metroland

A Vaughan resident, who uses a wheelchair, is angry after finding an elevator has been out of service next to the Vaughan Subway Station since it opened.

Randy McNeil, who has long been an advocate for accessibility issues, is frustrated because he says the Vaughan subway station “is not fully accessible and has never been and this is par for the course for the TTC.”

The problem is with an elevator in the York Region Transit terminal off Hwy. 7.

It has not worked for six months now due to an apparent water leak that a spokesperson for the TTC said will require another four to six weeks to repair.

The elevator connects those taking the bus to those linking to the TTC subway and vice versa.

It’s essential especially for those with accessibility issues, McNeil said.

“There has been an ongoing, consistent problem with accessibility from the get-go.”

He is unhappy the TTC system has many stations not fully accessible.

McNeil’s issues with the Vaughan subway station have come out at the same time that the Association for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance (AODA) group has come out with new videos and a statement demanding action from the government and political parties for 1.9 million people in Ontario with disabilities.

“With politicians making election promises to spend huge sums on public infrastructure, 1.9 million Ontarians with a physical, mental, sensory or other disability want to know what Ontario’s next government will do to ensure that new public transit stations are never built with accessibility barriers like those we expose in this new video, especially when spending public money,” said David Lepofsky, chair of the non-partisan AODA Alliance, which spearheads advocacy on accessibility for Ontarians with disabilities.

“People cannot believe that in the 21st century, new disability barriers are still being created in our built environment. We’re hoping our new video will help drive candidates in this election to make strong commitments for new action to strengthen and breathe new life into Ontario’s laws on accessibility for people with disabilities.”

As for McNeil, he said he believes a deadline of 2025 for all subway stations to be accessible “does not make Toronto a world-class city.”

by Tim Kelly

Tim Kelly is a reporter for the Markham Economist & Sun, Thornhill Liberal, Vaughan Citizen, YorkRegion.com and their sister papers. He can be reached at tkelly@yrmg.com. Follow him on Twitter and YorkRegion.com on Facebook. Email: tkelly@yrmg.com Facebook Twitter

More Information About the AODA Alliance

We are now using a new email server. Please take steps to ensure you can receive our AODA Alliance Updates. Put updates@aodaalliance.org in your contact list. Check your spam filter so it does not treat our emails from that new email address as spam.

To sign up for or unsubscribe from Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance Updates, send your request to us at aodafeedback@gmail.com In late December 2017, our email list for these Updates unfortunately crashed. We have rebuilt it. In case you fell off the list but want to return, just email to ask us to sign you up. In case you had wanted to be removed from the list, but were accidentally restored to it, just email us to ask to be removed! Sorry for any inconvenience.

You can always send your feedback to us on any AODA and accessibility issue at aodafeedback@gmail.com

Have you taken part in our “Picture Our Barriers campaign? If not, please join in! You can get all the information you need about our “Picture Our Barriers” campaign by visiting www.aodaalliance.org/2016

To sign up for, or unsubscribe from AODA Alliance e-mail updates, write to: aodafeedback@gmail.com

We encourage you to use the Government’s toll-free number for reporting AODA violations. We fought long and hard to get the Government to promise this, and later to deliver on that promise. If you encounter any accessibility problems at any large retail establishments, it will be especially important to report them to the Government via that toll-free number. Call 1-866-515-2025.

Please pass on our email Updates to your family and friends.

Check out our new and expanded collection of online videos about the history, strategies and accomplishments of Ontario’s non-partisan grassroots accessibility campaign, available at:
https://www.aodaalliance.org/whats-new/the-aoda-alliance-launches-part-2-of-its-series-of-online-videos-on-the-campaign-for-accessibility-to-mark-the-23rd-anniversary-of-ontarios-grassroots-campaign-for-disability-accessibility/ Why not subscribe to the AODA Alliance’s YouTube channel, so you can get immediate alerts when we post new videos on our accessibility campaign. https://www.youtube.com/user/aodaalliance

Please “like” our Facebook page and share our updates: https://www.facebook.com/Accessibility-for-Ontarians-with-Disabilities-Act-Alliance-106232039438820/

Follow us on Twitter. Get others to follow us. And please re-tweet our tweets!! @AODAAlliance

Learn all about our campaign for a fully accessible Ontario by visiting http://www.aodaalliance.org