Author Archive - Suzanne Cohen Share
A photo of a beautifully designed stairway with an integrated accessibility ramp recently caught my eye. It is a fine example of a creative and attractive solution to a problem we are seeing more and more. Unfortunately, I think the stair is actually a hazard for anyone who uses it, not just persons with disabilities!
The Federal Court of Appeal has upheld a legally blind woman’s 2010 legal victory over the federal government, ordering the government to make its websites accessible to blind persons. It may not be a case under the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, but it does show us how website accessibility matters and has an impact on promoting accessibility for persons with disabilities.
Recently I sent an email in a medium-large font to someone who thought I was shouting. The reply I received was disturbing. The person was offended and read the information as if I was angry…
Andrew Lawson recently introduced our readers to the StopGap one-step ramp project at www.stopgap.ca. The group offers businesses in Ontario a one-step accessibility ramp for free. Sounds great, right? Well, during my several years on Ontario’s accessible built environment standards committee, we addressed the issue of one-step ramps and members raised valid reasons not to assume this is a fix in all situations. So what is the conundrum?
January 1, 2012, is the date to complete all actions required under the Accessibility Standards for Customer Service and emergency preparedness requirements in the Integrated Accessibility Standards. The good news is, if your organization is obligated to report, you do not have to file with the government until December 31, 2012.
December 3 is the International Day of Persons with Disabilities. On this December 3, the global celebration has an appropriate theme, “Together for a better world for all: Including persons with disabilities in development”. Some people are unaware of a global mandate to achieve accessibility, and may feel isolated when their specific jurisdiction introduces new laws benefitting people with disabilities. Understanding we are all moving in the same direction, albeit using varying methods and timelines, is important when making decisions in your organization.
The Accessibility Standards for Customer Service require employers with 20 or more employees to document policies. The Integrated Accessibility Standards require employers to document policies and multi-year accessibility plans if they have 50 or more employees. So smaller organizations might breathe a sigh of relief knowing that they don’t have to document and keep track of their accessibility policies and plans under the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA).
You may have read the recent story about a blind rowing champ who was asked to leave the premises of an Esso gas station store. Victoria Nolan attempted to enter the premises with her guide dog when she was promptly told to leave the store. Ms. Nolan is not new to this problem, and she contacted the Toronto police who seemed to have extracted some kind of apology from the employee. An Esso spokesperson stated that the company tells retailers to allow service animals onto the premises. Apparently, there was a communication breakdown when instructing this employee about the topic of service animals.
The Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) allows for severe maximum monetary penalties for any violation to the Act. Details on how these administrative penalties work are found in the Integrated Accessibility Standards Regulation, which came into force July 1, 2011.
Generally, disruptions to all of your services, such as during a power outage or during a labour dispute, do not require this special notice. However, if the disruption has a significant impact on people with disabilities, you should provide notice of the disruption of service. In Ontario, under the Accessibility Standards for Customer Service, as of January 1, 2012, organizations are required to publicly notify customers of temporary disruptions of services or facilities or if they are expected to be temporarily unavailable in the near future, including the steps to take to access alternative methods.
In Ontario there is a regulation called the Accessibility Standard for Customer Service. One of the requirements of this regulation is that persons with disabilities are allowed to enter your organization’s public premises with a service animal. A person should be able to remain with the animal unless otherwise excluded by law. If the animal is…