In the third review of the AODA, the Honourable David Onley recommends needed improvements to the Act. One of these improvements is the need to solve problems in every-day accessibility. During the public meetings Onley held while preparing his review, attendees stated that Ontarians do not have enough awareness about how accessibility impacts citizens with disabilities. Instead, the province needs cultural change to foster understanding of how small actions can make life better or worse for citizens with disabilities. Attendees also described some of the small changes that could easily improve their quality of life. As a result, Onley’s review recommends that the government and other organizations begin making the small changes that improve people’s lives.
Small Problems in Every-Day Accessibility in Ontario
For example, attendees describe stair-lifts they need to use in buildings with only a few stairs. In Ontario, many of these lifts are old-fashioned models that are locked. As a result, someone needing to travel up two or three stairs must find a staff member and ask for a key. In contrast, modern lifts do not require keys. Moreover, many other regions, including the United States, have banned older lifts and mandated modern ones. This mandate allows people with disabilities to move more freely throughout buildings. Therefore, Onley’s review recommends that the Ontario government should mandate updated stair lifts in buildings.
Similarly, Onley’s review reports that the paint that designates accessible parking spaces becomes slippery when it is wet. As a result, these parking spaces become dangerous in rain and snow. Therefore, the review recommends that a new type of paint should be used to mark accessible parking spaces. Likewise, attendees state that the restroom floors in ONroute Highway Service Centres are also slippery and dangerous. In contrast, the review points out that restroom floors in other places, like fast food restaurants, are not slippery. Therefore, there are ways to make these locations safer, which more restrooms should be using.
Shortage of Interpreters and Captioners
Moreover, the review reports a shortage of Sign language interpreters and captioners. These professionals provide access to communication for people who have hearing disabilities. As a result, the review recommends that the government mandate more education and training programs for these workers.
Furthermore, the review mentions that larger signs in shopping centres would be helpful for people with intellectual disabilities. Therefore, the review recommends that signage should be accessible. In addition, some other ways to make signage accessible are to:
- Include detailed information for people with hearing disabilities
- Use clear language or pictures for people with intellectual disabilities
- Place signs at eye level for people at wheelchair and standing heights
- Have large print and good colour contrast for people with visual impairments
- Include Braille for people who are blind
High Hotel Beds in “Accessible” Rooms
Finally, the review describes hotels claiming that they offer fully accessible rooms. However, many guests find the beds in their accessible rooms too high to access from their assistive devices. As a result, Onley’s review recommends that hotel rooms must offer lower beds in the rooms they advertise as wheelchair-accessible.
Freedom, Safety, and Knowledge for All People
All these problems in every-day accessibility are small and can be easily solved. However, organizations will only solve them, and similar small problems, when they are aware of them. Moreover, organizations should be more aware about the impact these small problems have on the lives of people with disabilities. Solutions to these problems bring people more freedom, safety, and knowledge. All Ontarians deserve to move freely, safely, and knowledgeably. However, when small problems are not solved, only non-disabled Ontarians have these freedoms.