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AODA Alliance Urges All Ontario Voters with Disabilities to Vote at Advance Polls, to Avoid the Risk of Running Into Accessibility Barriers on Voting Day June 7, 2018 – Here Are Helpful Action Tips

Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance Update United for a Barrier-Free Ontario for All People with Disabilities http://www.aodaalliance.org aodafeedback@gmail.com Twitter: @aodaalliance

May 24, 2018

SUMMARY

Election day is only two weeks away. It’s time for all voters with disabilities to now take active steps to ensure that you can vote, despite barriers that you may face in the process. We here offer ideas on what to do. Of course, as a non-partisan coalition, we don’t suggest who you should vote for or against. However, we do urge all Ontario voters, including at least one million Ontario voters with disabilities, to be sure to vote, and to think about the election’s disability accessibility issues.

We periodically like to let our readers and supporters know about important anniversaries along the road to a barrier-free Ontario. Today is the anniversary of an important day in AODA history. Twenty-three years ago today, on May 24, 1995, Conservative Party leader Mike Harris wrote our predecessor coalition, the Ontarians with Disabilities Act Committee, during the 1995 election campaign. He promised that if elected, he would enact the Ontarians with Disabilities Act in his first term. He also promised that he would work with the ODA Committee to develop it.

His party won the 1995 election. The Mike Harris Government did not pass the promised legislation in its first term. Eventually a weak and limited Ontarians with Disabilities Act was enacted in 2001, in the Harris Government’s second term. It had no enforcement. It did not apply to the private sector.

Two years later, when the Liberal Party won the 2003 election, replacing the Conservatives, it brought in the stronger Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act. The Conservatives voted for that law. It applied to the private sector and included enforcement powers.

During debates in the Legislature on the AODA bill, the Conservative MPP who had earlier been the Conservative Minister that created the Ontarians with Disabilities Act, Cam Jackson, recognized that the Conservatives’ earlier Ontarians with Disabilities Act was too weak.

The Ontarians with Disabilities Act 2001 was the last piece of legislation passed while Mike Harris was Ontario’s premier. During his six years as Ontario premier, the ODA Committee asked many times to meet with Premier Harris. Mike Harris never agreed to meet with the ODA Committee.

MORE DETAILS

Action Tips for Voters with Disabilities to Ensure They All Get to Vote

Elections Ontario is Ontario’s non-partisan public agency responsible for administering the election, and for ensuring that everyone can cast their ballot. Despite their policies and public statements in support of accessibility, Elections Ontario’s track record on accessibility for voters with disabilities in past elections has been insufficient. As far as we have been able to tell, Elections Ontario has never come up with a comprehensive and effective plan to ensure that voters with disabilities can always mark their ballot in secrecy and verify their choice.

Here are a series of important action tips for all voters with disabilities:

* Be sure you are registered to vote. To find out more about this, visit: www.elections.on.ca

* We strongly recommend that voters with disabilities vote before June 7, 2018. Vote at an advance poll, or at your riding’s Returning Office. Ontario elections are, sadly not assured to be barrier-free for voters with disabilities. If you wait until the day of the election, June 7, 2018, and then run into disability barriers that prevent you from voting, you won’t be able to come back the next day to vote. On the other hand, if you plan to vote at an advance poll, and then run into accessibility voting barriers, you at least have the option of coming back again to try to overcome these barriers some time before or on June 7.

To learn about the different options for voting, including the accommodations that Elections Ontario offers voters with disabilities and to find out when and where you can vote in your riding before or on voting day June 7, visit: https://www.elections.on.ca/en/voting-in-ontario/how-to-vote.html

* Plan well in advance for accessible transportation to get to and from the voting location. If you need to use para-transit, be sure to book it well in advance so you can assure yourself of a ride.

* Allow yourself extra time when you go to vote. Despite their training and eagerness to help, the staff that work at voting locations may not be fully familiar with the options open to you for accessible voting.

For example, each Returning Office is supposed to have an accessible voting machine, to accommodate the needs of people with vision loss, dyslexia, and physical barriers that prevent them from themselves marking their own paper ballot. However, in the past, Elections Ontario staff at a Returning Office may not have used this machine before you get there. You may need extra time to become familiar with the machine, and for making sure it is working.

* What should you do if you find out that your local polling station lacks proper accessibility, or if you try to use an accessible voting machine at a Returning Office, only to find out that it isn’t working properly?

Don’t just keep this to yourself! Please let us know, so we can make this public. Send us as much detail as you can. Email us at: aodafeedback@gmail.com

Please also report any barriers you faced to Elections Ontario, as soon as you can. Again, include as much detail as possible. Please copy us on your communications with Elections Ontario.

Here is how to contact Elections Ontario, according to its website:

“Our office hours are Monday to Saturday from 10:00 A.M. to 8:00 P.M., and Sundays from 12:00 P.M. to 5:00 P.M. (Eastern Time).

Mailing address:
Elections Ontario
51 Rolark Drive
Toronto ON M1R 3B1

Phone: 1-888-668-8683
TTY: 1-888-292-2312
Fax: 1-866-714-2809
Email: info@elections.on.ca

General enquiries and feedback:

We welcome your questions, comments and concerns. Send us an email or contact us by mail, phone or TTY using the contact information above.”

* If you face any barriers getting to a voting location, or getting into and around the voting location, or with using accessible voting equipment, or if you face any other disability barriers to voting, we also urge you to let the media know. Also, post it on social media like Twitter and Facebook. Take pictures or video of any barriers. Tweet these using the hashtags #AODAfail and #DisabilityVoteCounts

* We again encourage you to use our new 2018 Election Action Kit. Its many great tips on how to raise disability accessibility issues with the candidates in the current election campaign. We are delighted that our non-partisan’s centerpiece, our online Youtube video of accessibility barriers in new and recently renovated public transit stations, is having quite an impact. Since we released it last week, it has been viewed over 1,700 times. Today, it was featured in an interview with AODA Alliance Chair David Lepofsky on CBC Radio Toronto’s flagship current affairs program, Metro Morning.

More Information About the AODA Alliance

Please take steps to ensure you can receive our AODA Alliance Updates. Put updates@aodaalliance.org in your contact list. Check your spam filter so it does not treat our emails from that new email address as spam.

To sign up for or unsubscribe from Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance Updates, send your request to us at aodafeedback@gmail.com In late December 2017, our email list for these Updates unfortunately crashed. We have rebuilt it. In case you fell off the list but want to return, just email to ask us to sign you up. In case you had wanted to be removed from the list, but were accidentally restored to it, just email us to ask to be removed! Sorry for any inconvenience.

To watch the new AODA Alliance video on serious accessibility problems at new and recently renovated Toronto area public transit stations, visit: 16-minute version:
https://youtu.be/za1UptZq82o

30-minute version:
https://youtu.be/2VZLGGfFg1g

To read the AODA Alliance’s May 16, 2018 news release that unveiled the commitments on disability accessibility from the major Ontario parties, visit: https://www.aodaalliance.org/whats-new/news-release-major-disability-coalition-unveils-the-parties-2018-election-pledges-on-accessibility-for-1-9-million-ontarians-with-disabilities/

To read the new AODA Alliance 2018 Election Action Kit, in order to get ideas on how to raise disability accessibility issues in the June 7, 2018 Ontario election campaign, visit:
https://www.aodaalliance.org/whats-new/use-and-widely-circulate-our-new-election-action-kit-full-of-tips-on-how-to-raise-disability-accessibility-issues-in-this-ontario-election/ For a riding-by-riding list of all the candidates’ contact info we could find, visit https://www.aodaalliance.org/whats-new/riding-by-riding-list-of-contact-information-for-the-major-parties-candidates-in-the-june-7-2018-ontario-general-election-as-of-may-2-2018/ For a list of all the all-candidates’ debates we could find around Ontario, visit:
https://www.aodaalliance.org/whats-new/list-ofall-the-2018-ontario-elections-all-candidates-debates-we-could-find-ask-the-candidates-to-make-strong-commitments-on-accessibility-for-1-9-million-ontarians-with-disabilities/ To read the AODA Alliance’s analysis of each party’s commitments on accessibility, visit
https://www.aodaalliance.org/whats-new/the-aoda-alliances-party-by-party-analysis-of-the-2018-election-disability-accessibility-commitments-of-the-major-ontario-political-parties/

To read the AODA Alliance’s issue-by-issue breakdown of the commitments of each party on accessibility, visit
https://www.aodaalliance.org/whats-new/the-aoda-alliances-issue-by-issue-party-comparison-of-the-major-parties-election-commitments-on-disability-accessibility/

To read the AODA Alliance’s April 2, 2018 letter to the party leaders, listing the disability accessibility commitments we seek, visit:
https://www.aodaalliance.org/whats-new/aoda-alliance-writes-ontarios-major-political-parties-seeking-their-election-pledges-on-accessibility-for-1-9-million-ontarians-with-disabilities/

To read the Ontario Green Party’s May 4, 2018 letter to the AODA Alliance, setting out its election pledges on accessibility, visit:
https://www.aodaalliance.org/whats-new/read-the-may-4-2018-letter-from-the-green-party-to-the-aoda-alliance-setting-out-its-2018-election-commitments-on-accessibility/

To read the Ontario NDP’s May 5, 2018 letter to the AODA Alliance, setting out its election pledges on accessibility, visit:
https://www.aodaalliance.org/whats-new/read-the-may-5-2018-letter-from-the-new-democratic-party-to-the-aoda-alliance-setting-out-its-2018-election-commitments-on-accessibility/

To read the Ontario Liberal Party’s May 14, 2018 letter to the AODA Alliance, setting out its election pledges on accessibility, visit:
https://www.aodaalliance.org/whats-new/read-the-may-14-2018-letter-from-the-liberal-party-to-the-aoda-alliance-setting-out-its-2018-election-commitments-on-accessibility/

To read the Ontario Progressive Conservative Party’s May 15, 2018 letter to the AODA Alliance, setting out its election pledges on accessibility, visit:
https://www.aodaalliance.org/whats-new/read-the-may-15-2018-letter-from-the-progressive-conservative-party-to-the-aoda-alliance-setting-out-its-2018-election-commitments-on-accessibility/

For more background on the AODA Alliance’s non-partisan campaign for accessibility in this election, visit https://www.aodaalliance.org/2018vote/

To learn more about the AODA Alliance’s efforts to ensure that the voting process is fully accessible to voters with disabilities, visit: https://www.aodaalliance.org/category/ontario-election/

You can always send your feedback to us on any AODA and accessibility issue at aodafeedback@gmail.com

Have you taken part in our “Picture Our Barriers campaign? If not, please join in! You can get all the information you need about our “Picture Our Barriers” campaign by visiting www.aodaalliance.org/2016

We encourage you to use the Government’s toll-free number for reporting AODA violations. We fought long and hard to get the Government to promise this, and later to deliver on that promise. If you encounter any accessibility problems at any large retail establishments, it will be especially important to report them to the Government via that toll-free number. Call 1-866-515-2025.

Please pass on our email Updates to your family and friends.

Check out our new and expanded collection of online videos about the history, strategies and accomplishments of Ontario’s non-partisan grassroots accessibility campaign, available at:
https://www.aodaalliance.org/whats-new/the-aoda-alliance-launches-part-2-of-its-series-of-online-videos-on-the-campaign-for-accessibility-to-mark-the-23rd-anniversary-of-ontarios-grassroots-campaign-for-disability-accessibility/ Why not subscribe to the AODA Alliance’s YouTube channel, so you can get immediate alerts when we post new videos on our accessibility campaign. https://www.youtube.com/user/aodaalliance

Please “like” our Facebook page and share our updates: https://www.facebook.com/Accessibility-for-Ontarians-with-Disabilities-Act-Alliance-106232039438820/

Follow us on Twitter. Get others to follow us. And please re-tweet our tweets!! @AODAAlliance

Learn all about our campaign for a fully accessible Ontario by visiting http://www.aodaalliance.org