A Message and Warm Invitation to CARP Members from David Lepofsky, Chair of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance

David Lepofsky, Chair of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance


Do you think Ontario should become fully accessible to over 1.7 million Ontarians with disabilities, and their friends and families? Right now over 1.7 million Ontarians with disabilities face too many barriers when they try to use public transit, enjoy public services like their local library, or shop for goods or services.

The Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance is a non-partisan province-wide, volunteer community coalition. We campaign for a barrier-free Ontario for all persons with disabilities. We advocate to and work with the Ontario Government, the opposition parties,  the disability community and the public to press for the effective implementation of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA). That law requires Ontario to become fully accessible to all Ontarians with disabilities by 2025.

We have no membership fees! We won’t ask for money.

We want to achieve accessibility for people with all disabilities, whether a physical, sensory, mental, learning or intellectual disability. We care about both visible and invisible disabilities. We aim to remove and prevent all kinds of barriers. This includes, for example, physical barriers (like steps to get into a public building or public transit bus), information barriers (like the lack of Braille on elevator buttons in a public building), communication barriers (like the lack of communication supports for people who are deaf, deafened, or hard of hearing when seeking medical care from a doctor), and bureaucratic barriers.

We are eager to reach out to you and for you to learn more about us. Perhaps you have a disability now. Perhaps a friend or family member has a disability. If not, you will likely get a disability as you get older.

Seniors have a special interest in removing and preventing barriers that impede persons with disabilities. Aging is the most common cause of a physical, sensory or mental disability. Seniors and their advocacy organizations played an important role supporting the long and arduous 10-year campaign from 1994 to 2005 to win the enactment of Ontario’s disability accessibility legislation.

There is so much overlap between and common interest among Ontario’s disability community and Ontario’s seniors community. Let’s keep working together. Even if you are outside Ontario, our efforts will interest you. ! Our successes in Ontario can trigger reforms in other parts of Canada.

How did our disability community win the enactment of the AODA back in 2005? How are we waging our campaign to get this law effectively implemented and enforced? We used widely-followed email Updates, an informative website and other internet tools to spread the word and bring people together. What followed was a very successful grassroots campaign.

We continue using these strategies. People learn more about us by writing [email protected] and visiting www.aodaalliance.org Our supporters learn even more from our Twitter updates @aodaalliance and via our Facebook page www.facebook.com/AccessibilityforOntarians withDisabilities ActAlliance

We have been invited to teach others how to use these tools to campaign for social causes.

How is our campaign going? While there has been some progress, Ontario is now behind schedule on achieving full accessibility by 2025. To get back on schedule, we are focusing on these priorities:

* Pressing to get the Ontario Government to keep its promise that it will effectively enforce the Disabilities Act.

* Urging the Government to pass its promised, and overdue  Built Environment Accessibility Standard, needed  to ensure that buildings are fully accessible to Ontarians with disabilities.

* Campaigning to get the Ontario Government to develop, enact and enforce new accessibility standards under the Disabilities Act. These are especially needed now to remove barriers facing persons with disabilities in getting access to health care, to residential housing, and to education, and to prevent the creation of new barriers in these areas.

* Advocating to ensure that no taxpayer money is ever used to create or perpetuate barriers against persons with disabilities. We have pointed out troubling instances when the Ontario Government has used public money to create new barriers that impede persons with disabilities.

* Continuing our efforts to make provincial and municipal elections in Ontario fully accessible to voters with disabilities. We have campaigned to ensure that all polling stations are fully accessible. We are in the lead in pressing for the adoption of telephone and internet voting to make the voting process easier and more accessible to everyone, including voters with disabilities.

We would be delighted to share more with you about these efforts. This issue touches everyone.