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Accessibility and transitions

accessibilityThere is an accessibility consideration that I have been thinking about for quite some time which isn’t covered under the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) is the accessibility of transition. It was a thought that started around the same time as when the new subways started to show up in Toronto, and the height and width became a new barrier for some people who rely on transit to get to and from work.

The accessibility of transitions could be represented by the area or time in which a person with a disability moves from element to element. So, the gap in which someone must cross to get from the subway to the platform or the time it takes to transfer a mobility device from the street corner to a bus could be viewed in terms of this inquiry.  What I find very interesting is that after transit systems have on-boarded accessible vehicles to allow for the transportation of people with disabilities, the aspect of time might not have been viewed as a mitigating factor.

This might seem benign, but if the schedule of a transit system is set so that it allows for a certain window of time for people to board and to get from stop to stop, the effect of lowering a ramp and securing a wheelchair might throw off the carefully timed schedule of the transit system. The problem is not that of the person with a disability. I’d venture to suggest that the process of transition from stop and pick up does not recognize that, for people with disabilities, accommodation might also equate more time.

As you know, the AODA makes  suggestions that accommodation be delivered in a timely manner but in terms of providing smooth transition from one physical element to another it falls short.  While this works for things like the exchange of information and accommodation requests, it doesn’t do very much for improving transit organization.

The impact is two-fold. For employees who need to get work in Ontario, a scheduled bus might be only chance they get to connect with other transit in order to arrive on time. For people with disabilities either being late for work or being seen as the cause of a delay is how stigma perpetuates itself.   This is just a thought piece, but I think it is wise to bring it into the mix because conversations like these are important to have.

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Christopher Lytle MA CDS

Principle Consultant and Owner at Christopher Lytle Consulting (CLC)
Christopher Lytle MA CDS, is the principle consultant and owner of Christopher Lytle Consulting (CLC). CLC consults on human rights and helps organizations incorporate requirements for the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA). Christopher has been involved with disability and human rights issues for ten years. During this time he has participated in the drafting of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and has been involved in its subsequent promotion and implementation in Canada as well as several countries in Africa, Central America, Asia and Europe. He has held a seat on the board of directors for the Canadian Council for International Cooperation (CCIC) as a representative of theCouncil of Canadians with Disabilities' (CCD) International Human Rights Committee and hehas spearheaded numerous capacity building projects with the purpose of promoting human rights, equality and accessibility. Read more
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2 thoughts on “Accessibility and transitions
  • Louise says:

    You raise an excellent point.

    I used to do the training for drivers on Kingston Transit. I did it at a time they were planning new routes. I suggested they time the boarding and securing of wheelchairs while they were in the planning stages. They weren’t interested. They said the driver must learn how to work faster. It’s really unfortunate.

    Please keep voicing these things. 0

  • The Accessibility Transition is at the heart of high unemployment rates for blind Canadians. As the world transitions into a global digital economy, people with vision loss are told to wait for an Accessibility Solution, and thus have been marginalized in society. Organization IT infrastructures create new barriers and are not required to provide temporary Accessibility Solutions. AODA does not support or mandate IT strategic planning, and employees who dare to raise the issue of career bariers are quietly dismissed from the organization.