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Community Event Accessibility Questioned

By Lacie Williamson, Dunnville Chronicle
Monday, November 5, 2012 10:56:56 EST AM

DUNNVILLE – Would you tell a person in a wheelchair they were welcome to an event, so long as they kept their wheelchair at

the door?

Rick Pleasance’s wife June is not in a wheelchair but she has a service dog named Harley.

A service dog is trained to complete a number of amazing tasks such as assisting those who are hearing or visually impaired,

are autistic, suffer from post traumatic stress disorder, or alerting to seizures or a change in their companions insulin

levels in addition to picking up items, opening and closing doors and drawers and assisting with mobility issues.

“June, Harley and I were not allowed to enter an event where food was being served,” said Pleasance. “At another event a

woman with a cane, was upset that a service dog was in the same room where food was, but we were not in the kitchen where the

food was being prepared.”

Pleasance said there are others who have had similar experiences

“We were also very upset when a person in a wheelchair had to go outside to eat her food because people would not make room

for her to get through,” he said. “Seems to me, that if you’re disabled you are not welcome to partake. It’s about time

people help make a little room for disabled people. It could happen to anyone.”

The Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) defines disability as: “any degree of physical disability,

infirmity, malformation or disfigurement that is caused by bodily injury, birth defect or illness.”

For those purposes defined by the AODA “an animal is a service animal for a person with a disability if it is readily

apparent that the animal is used by the person for reasons relating to his or her disability; or if the person provides a

letter from a physician or nurse confirming that the person requires the animal for reasons relating to the disability.”

June, after consulting her family doctor and numerous specialists was prescribed a service dog, and carries a letter stating

she needs Harley and he must accompany her where ever she goes.

“All we’re trying to do is get the word out that the service dogs are allowed in these locations,” said June.

“You’re supposed to go out places and support your community but then you wonder why bother, is it really worth attending

these events? I feel as though I am too much trouble to attend.”

The Pleasance’s confirmed that the events they had tried to attend had taken place in the Dunnville area, but they did not

want to name the specifics in order to prevent people from being offended.

Reproduced from