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AODA: The failure of a self-reporting structure

One of the biggest problems with the AODA (Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act) aside from the gross lack of enforcement, is the dependence of compliance on self?reports submitted by municipalities and organizations.

Recently I had the opportunity to read the self-report draft prepared by my municipality. For those who are aware of the specialized transportation service nightmare we’ve been struggling with over the past two years, you may recall that staff and elected officials had stated that “AODA is not a real law” and that “if we rebrand specialized transportation as subsidized transportation, we can get rid of the AODA.”

AODA: The need to clarify public transportation in the standards

For those who are familiar with the successful rebranding of a specialized transportation service as a “subsidized transportation program” in one municipality to “get rid of AODA, you will be familiar with the attitudes toward those of us with disabilities and this form of public transit.

What has become clear from our struggle is that very few people know that specialized transportation service or Para Transit is a form of public transportation.

Will we Finally get Reform of Disability Services at Toronto Pearson International Airport?

For those of us with disabilities who travel through Toronto Pearson Airport, hearing that violinist Itzhak Perlman was treated without respect or dignity came as no surprise. The surprise was that treating us like cattle or cargo hasn’t received media attention before now.

One has to only look at the comments that this news story generated to find those of us who are treated without dignity and respect.

Is it Time for a UN Investigation into AODA Compliance and Enforcement?

It was with little surprise that I read the AODA Alliance article “Ontario Government Sat on A Detailed Plan for Enforcing the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act since at Least May 2012

For those who have been following the struggle of those of us with disabilities in the County of Brant Ontario to retain Para transit, you may remember that the issue first arose in May of 2012, the same time the brief on the enforcement framework was available. There are several blog articles in this blog on the topic if you weren’t aware of our struggle.

Activist Launches Accessibility Audit of Businesses; Posts Results Online

Accessibility audit

Nick Wendler has experienced the challenges of getting around Waterloo in a wheelchair for years. Many businesses in the uptown have stairs that make it impossible for him to enter their stores without assistance. The owners of Nick & Nat’s Uptown 21 have purchased a removable ramp to make their restaurant more accessible.

ByDianne Wood

“Subsidized Transportation Program” not Accessible for People with Disabilities in County of Brant?

The winner of the four month, yes only 4 month, contract for specialized transportation service or Para transit in the County , approved by County Council at the July 23 Council meeting has no wheelchair accessible vehicles according to the company web site which can be viewed doing a simple Internet search. The information is not hidden.

“People using wheelchairs must transfer to a seat and the wheelchair will be stored as baggage.”

County of Brant Closer to Eliminating Para Transit

The Request for Proposals (RFP) for the “subsidized transportation program” is now out although the language in the document is confusing and appears to use “subsidized” and “specialized” interchangeably.

We still have no clear idea of the budget except it is $200,000 for this year…maybe.

We have no clear idea of what the eligibility criteria is, whether it will follow Ontario Regulation 191/11, or what the process is to qualify for the transportation scheme.

County of Brant Seeks Comments on “Subsidized Transportation Program!” April Fool’s Day in May!

On April 19, in the agenda for the Accessibility Advisory Committee meeting for April 23, an inaccessible PDF document called a “Draft” for a new variant of the “subsidized transportation program” was attached and did contain language that did suggest that comments were welcome. There was no deadline for comments in the document or the agenda.

April Fool’s!

Government Not Enforcing Disabilities Act, Says Advocate

Jacqueline Coyne sits outside of Cose Belle Gifts and Unique Shop at 380 Ouellette Ave.
Friday, May 3, 2013.

Coyne says she was refused service by the business owner because she uses a motorized wheelchair. (DYLAN KRISTY/The Windsor Star)
Email Rebecca Wright
May 05, 2013
Last Updated: May 06, 2013

An Ontario disability advocate says a downtown Windsor store that allegedly restricted access to
people in wheelchairs may be breaking the law.

Specialized versus Subsidized Transportation: Are class based transit systems in the future for Ontario?

As the City of Hamilton considers a means test to access conventional transit services by people with disabilities, it should be pointed out that this approach to transit access may cause some human rights complaints.

The County of Brant has rebranded its specialized transportation service as a “subsidized” transportation program to avoid implementing the IASR transportation standards. It too wanted to base access to public transit by people with disabilities based on income.

Enforcing the IASR Transportation Standards: Where do we go for help?

There was a recent post on the Enforcement Blog about Barrie Transit and how people with disabilities are asked to move from the seating area designated for people with disabilities if someone with a stroller or grocery cart enters the vehicle.

In the area of accessibility, an analogy to how curb cuts in sidewalks is always made to show how people without disabilities can benefit from accessibility features designed for people with disabilities.

County of Brant “Inaccessibility in Motion” Scheme: Everything old is new again!

At the County Council meeting on February 5, 2013, Council voted to extend the existing Para transit service (now that they found an additional $100,000 for 2013) and stated that they were going to hold two (yes only 2) public meetings to get input from the community. In addition elected officials stated with the motion, that staff would gather what was said at the two public meetings and come up with a report for March 5, 2013.

Why are People with Disabilities Treated with dignity and Respect in Brantford but not the County of Brant?

In the January 23 Brantford Expositor there was an article on the Brantford Para transit (Operation Lift) contract being over budget despite diligent management and oversight.

Budget issues with para transit organizations are not new and will increase as the population ages and more people join the ranks of those of us with disabilities.

I am writing about the issues in Brantford to show the dramatic contrast in how people with disabilities are being treated by the city compared to its surrounding County.

County of Brant “Finds” Additional $100,000 for Para Transit! Now What?

Seconds before the gavel to start the January 22, 2013 meeting of County Council, with dramatic flourish (lacking only a drum roll), to an audience packed with parents and caregivers of adult children with disabilities and their children and relatives with disabilities, the Mayor announced that after meeting for several hours that afternoon that they had “found” an additional $100,000 to add to the existing $100,000 budget for the 2013 Para transit service.

Does the New Accessibility Coordinator for the County of Brant have a Conflict of Interest?

The County of Brant has a new Accessibility Coordinator!

In November of 2012 Community Services staff and committee decided to take $75,000 of the total budget for Para transit of $100,000 to pay for an Accessibility Coordinator whose job it would be to “manage” the remaining $25,000 for the service itself. This idea was reversed in December 2012 and at the December 3 meeting of the Community Services Committee it was decided to ask Council if they would approve the position of Accessibility Coordinator and “find some funding for it.”

People with Disabilities get Support from Former County of Brant Councellor in Specialized Transportation Service Struggle

This letter was submitted to County Council, County of Brant at the January 8, 2013 Council meeting. The letter was written by former County of Brant Counsellor Roy Haggart and is posted in the County of Brant, County Council agenda.

Anyone who wants to support us in getting affordable sustainable specialized transportation service that complies with the Integrated Accessibility Standards, Part IV – Transportation can send comments to County Council and they will be received/published as communications received by Council.

County of Brant Setting Legal Precedence by Continuing to Defy Integrated Accessibility Standards

Although we have a reprieve until March 1, 2013, the County of Brant is going ahead with its plans to eliminate specialized transportation service/Para transit in the County.

The Difference Customer Service Training Makes

Usually I’m writing about the misadventures of Para transit in the County of Brant. This article is more positive!

I recently attended a day long workshop at the University of Toronto hosted by the Heritage Fund and the Ontario Human Rights Commission. Although I’d attended the University of Toronto, I’d never been to Hart House. I know, hard to imagine.

County of Brant “Celebrates” International Human Rights Day with Resignation of Two More Members of the Accessibility Advisory Committee

On December 10, 2013, the United Nations International Human Rights Day, two more members of the Accessibility Advisory Committee for the County of Brant resigned due to the systemic discrimination and lack of dignity and respect toward people with disabilities. This brings the total number to three members who have resigned in the last month including the Chair of the committee for the same reason.

Hamilton Turns an “Oops” into a HUGE Mess!

I wrote an article in assistance of the Hamilton Council decision to stop letting those of us who are blind or visually disabled ride the conventional transportation service free as a misinterpretation of the Integrated Accessibility Standards. I thought that this was an “honest” mistake and would be corrected at the next Council meeting. Turns out it was a good thing I also reserved further comment until I saw what they would do!