The month of October marked the 10th anniversary of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA).
According to Ontario.ca, this is an act that works towards removing barriers that prevent people with disabilities from participating in workplaces and communities across the province.
One of the main goals of the AODA is for Ontario to become fully accessible by 2025.
“Standards related to information and communications, transportation, public spaces, customer service and employment have been taking effect for the last several years and will be fully rolled out by 2021,” Brad Duguid, the Ontario Minister of Economic Development, said in a recent Ontario.ca document.
Despite action for improvement being taken, there is still a lot of work to be done.
In the province of Ontario, there are about 1.8 people, 15.5 per cent, with disabilities, and 90 per cent of Canadians believe that those who have disabilities are not fully included in society.
This number is expected to rise as the province’s population ages.
“In order to truly be successful in achieving our goal, we need to reach higher, to go beyond the requirements of the AODA and its standards. We need to integrate accessibility into everything we do, until it becomes second nature,” Duguid said in a recent Ontario.ca document.
So, how is the Halton Region doing in terms of accessibility?
The town of Milton has done fairly well in terms of accessibility.
The town met all of its compliance obligations for 2017 and the next Provincial Compliance Report is not due until the end of 2019.
The town has enforced laws and made many changes over the years surrounding the current accessibility standards outlined by Duguid.
Some of the changes Milton has made include many different accessible transit features such as mobility aid ramps, kneeling feature, mobility aid spaces, stanchions, grab-bars, slip-resistant flooring, as well as stop request buttons and announcements. There is also priority and courtesy seating areas on Milton buses, the courtesy seating areas are designated for expecting mothers, seniors, adults travelling with young children or infants, or any other passenger who may benefit from a seat at the front of the bus.
For more information about Milton’s accessible transit system visit the 2018 Milton Transit Accessibility Plan.
The town has also made many other changes to improve accessibility. Some places where more changes were made include parks, the Milton Centre for the Arts, and the Milton Public Library.
Also, on the town of Milton website, all documents are available in many different accessible formats if needed. To request an accessible document, fill out this request form.
The town welcomes feedback on the accessibility of its goods, services, and facilities. Comments can be submitted by filling out the Accessibility Feedback Form or by contacting the Accessibility Coordinator at 905-878-7252, ext. 2109.
The town of Oakville also has done fairly well in terms of accessibility.
According to the town’s website, Oakville is committed to providing accessible programs, services, and facilities in order to achieve its vision of becoming the most livable town in Canada.
In order to help town staff realize this commitment, the Oakville Universal Design Standards (OUDS) was created.
This provides a detailed and innovative approach for the creation of barrier-free and accessible facilities in Oakville, it replaced the town’s 2008 Guidelines for the Design of Accessible Facilities. The use of it is required for all construction projects at town-owned facilities or leased premises.
The OUDS covers common exterior and interior elements such as ramps, stairs, space and reach requirements, handrails, lighting, light sources and glare, in addition to covering interior elements and amenities such as multi-stall washrooms, change rooms, accessible and adaptable fixed seating etc.
Oakville also has an Accessibility Advisory Committee which is a volunteer committee that helps promote accessibility in the community.
The town also updates its website with annual Accessibility Plans and Compliance Reports which can be found here.
Information on the town’s website is available in an alternate formats upon request. Contact ServiceOakville for more information or to make a request. Visit the contact us page for ServiceOakville contact information.
The city’s website highlights that Burlington is committed to ensuring that people of all ages and abilities can enjoy the same opportunities as they work, play, visit, live, and invest in the city.
Burlington has been working on improving accessibility barriers since 1994 before the AODA was even created in 2005.
Some accessible services that the city offers are as follows:
- Transit – all Burlington transit buses are accessible. Buses now have low flooring, and can lower to the curb and implement a ramp to help make travelling easier. For individuals who may need further assistance, and Handi-Van– a specialized transit service – is available.
- Parks and Recreation Programs – the city offers a variety of social and recreational programs for adults, teens, youth, and children with disabilities.
- Parking – those who have an Ontario Accessible Parking Permit can park at all municipal locations without having to pay the required standard parking fees. Locations include the Waterfront Park Lots at Spencer Smith Park, the Waterfront Parking Garage, municipal lots, and on-street pay spaces.
- Accessible communication – the Burlington council chambers at City Hill are prepared with a wide-area FM transmitter that can automatically change FM users’ personal receivers to the frequency used in the chambers.
Similarly to Oakville, Burlington has an Accessibility Advisory Committee – a committee that provides guidance to council regarding identification, removal, and prevention of accessibility barriers.
Every five years, Burlington updates its Accessible Plan to highlight what improvements have been made and what else needs to be done in order for the city to be more accessible. Find the 2013-2018 Accessibility Plan here.
The town of Halton Hills has also done numerous things in order to comply with the AODA and become more accessible.
According to the town, some of those things included the following:
- Developed an Accessible Customer Service Policy.
- Trained staff (full and part-time), volunteers and elected officials.
- Ensured contractors, and any other people who interact with the public (in connection with the town), are familiar with the town’s accessible customer service practices.
- Provided ways for the public to give feedback.
Halton Hills’ mandatory accessibility training included:
- Highlighting the purpose of the act.
- Learning how to interact with people with various disabilities.
- Learning how to interact with people who use a service animal or support person.
- Learning how to use and maintain assistive devices available on town-owned property.
- Learning what to do if a person with a disability is having difficulty accessing a service.
- Details on the town’s accessibility policy, procedures and practices.
The town offers the following methods for residents to provide feedback regarding accessibility.
Phone: 905-873-2601 ext. 2330
Mail: Town of Halton Hills
Corporate Services – Clerk’s Division
1 Halton Hills Drive
Halton Hills, ON L7G 5G2
When providing feedback, include your contact information, date and time, service location and your specific concern and recommendation for improvement.
The town of Halton Hills also has an Accessibility Advisory Committee – a citizen volunteer committee that informs the mayor and council on matters related to accessibility barriers within the town.
For more information visit www.haltonhills.ca/committees
What changes do you think the Halton Region still needs to make?