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Moving Toward Ideal Accessibility – The ODA Under Audit

April 30, 2014

The goal: A fully accessible Ontario by 2025. The facilitator: Mayo Moran, first female Dean of the Law Faculty at the University of Toronto. Her job is to conduct a province-wide audit and evaluation of Ontario’s progress regarding its compliance with the Ontario Disabilities Act.

This is not Dean Moran’s first opportunity to provide feedback on social progress. She has been the Chair of the Independent Assessment Process Oversight Committee for the Indian Residential Schools Agreement since 2007. Moran has interests in Equality and Anti-Discrimination Law, Legal Theory, Tort Law, and Tort Theory. She will assist Ontario as it moves toward the next level of accessibility. Currently she is touring the province in order to hear feedback from stakeholders.

Last week in Thunder Bay, CBC News reporte

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d that Dean Moran heard from Ontarians regarding such accessibility issues. One of the presenters, Tracy Hurlburt, used the scheduling of accessible transit as an example in her presentation. She is quoted as asking, “”Why should we be expected to … book our rides and our lives a week in advance? Do you know today that you’re going to get sick next Tuesday? Of course not. Neither do I.” Hurlburt also spoke about issues like establishments who claim accessibility because they have an accessible entrance, but the rest of their accessible options are useless to patrons because, for example, the accessible washrooms are in the basement.

In addition to ongoing physical accessibility concerns, there are a number of areas that will benefit from Dean Moran’s scrutiny to the Ontarians with Disabilities Act. Some of these are:

• Attitudinal barriers like negative backlash, denial, superiority, and stereotyping.

• Informational and communication barriers like lack of interpreter/intervenor services, lack of accessible public telephones, TTYs and other adaptive devices, unclear verbal or written instruction, poor indoor lighting, and lack of textural or tactile surfaces.

• Policy barriers like lack of access to information and special services, lack of time or resources for problem solving and strategizing, impatience with difficulties in comprehension and/or expression of written and/or spoken language, lack of inclusion for advisory groups that are created on behalf of persons with disabilities.

• Socio-Economic barriers like factoring ‘driving time’ but not ‘accessible bus time’ to get to a destination, not having made arrangements to accommodate a caregiver as well, or having a system that fosters inappropriate dependence.

Generally, Moran is also concerned with the whether and how accessibility laws will be enforced in order to enact meaningful change to Ontario’s system.

CBC News reports that Dean Moran has recently held another open forum for discussion of stakeholder feedback on April 29th in Toronto.

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