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#CripTheVote: Responses from candidate Michael Pattison, on Accessibility and the AODA

1. Welcome, and thanks for joining us for our final #CripTheVote chat. Please introduce yourself!

Hello. My name is Michael Pattison. I am a lifelong Hamilton resident, I live in Ward 1, I am self-employed, I have two daughters and 1 step-daughter, and I am running for Mayor of the Greater City of Hamilton.

2. What does it mean to say that something is “accessible”?

Accessible to me means that a product, service, technology, or space can be used or accessed by all people. It means that barriers are removed so that that all people have equal access to all facets of our world.

3. What is the importance of making Hamilton more accessible?

People have the right to be able to access all spaces, places, products, technologies, and services just as any able-bodied person can.

4. In your opinion, what are the most urgent changes Hamilton needs to undertake, in order to meet AODA requirements for accessibility?

This city needs to make people with disabilities a priority. There are so many inaccessible places, products, services etc. Many businesses are not accessible, some are half-accessible, and a rare few are wholly accessible to all. Unfortunately most businesses fall into one of the first two categories. I have been to many businesses, for example, where there is a ramp to get in the door, but there are stairs to get to the washroom, or there is no automatic button to open the doors, or the washroom itself is not wheelchair accessible... Accessibility can also apply to websites, sidewalks, community mailboxes, and just about everything that able-bodied people take for granted- even the language we use. Hamilton should be at the forefront of the changes that are needed and make this a priority.

5. Plans to make city facilities barrier-free have been an important topic of discussion in this election.

What are your thoughts on this issue?

How do you plan to finance the retrofits that are needed?

I know first hand that most soft infrastructure revolving around Accessibility are exorbitantly priced. I have no magic answer because I don't understand how manufactures are still carrying two lines of product. If everything is OADA approved the problem is solved.

6. What steps need to be taken in order to improve the accessibility of Hamilton's infrastructure?

Do you consider these changes to be an urgent priority?

We need to work together with our provincial and federal counterparts and demand that accessibility be seen as a fundamental human right. All city facilities must be made accessible, the time is well overdue. Taxes would have a minimal increase in order to make this happen, and we need to start now.

7. Public events can significantly impact the accessibility of an urban environment.

What are some measures that can be implemented both to protect access to public spaces during city events, and to ensure the events themselves are accessible?

Designating areas for those with accessibility issues is a first step. Not wanting people separated by area is a difficult answer. Anything that is to be built going forward should be able to address this issue through design and flow of our city run facilities.

8. Accessibility isn't just about built environments. If elected, how would you work to make Hamilton's public services more accessible?

This is absolutely true, accessibility is about more than built environments. It is about all environments- technology, web based, the language we use, the services we have, the processes in place etc. If elected, ensuring that all environments are accessible to all would be a priority for me.

9. If elected, how would you work to ensure that Hamilton's private businesses meet AODA accessibility requirements?

Hamilton's older buildings are sometimes near impossible to convert to accessible. We would have to investigate this issue further to come up with a viable strategy. Businesses should come to you to fulfill your needs, as that is what good business does.

10. Accessibility is often talked about as a 'seniors' issue'.

How might this limit the way we approach its implementation?

Can you think of any areas where considering the needs and lifestyles of younger disabled people might be especially relevant?

I believe the "marketing" of barrier free living should focus a lot on children. If we as a society are to get better in the way we plan for the future, I believe we need to show the future which realistically helps everyone of any age.

11. Disabled people are, by nature of our lived experiences, experts in planning for accessibility – and yet accessibility initiatives are often led by non-disabled people, firms and organizations.

What role do you see disabled residents playing in the process of designing a more accessible future for Hamilton?

I will use first hand experience to answer the question. When I was constructing my restaurant. I had people with different physical needs help to design and be part of the experience. Of course that led to having my space be a great experience for all.Any issue regarding this topic has to be thought out and fixed by people of every shape and form. Any boards or committee's have to have representation by those it is meant to benefit.

12. What does the phrase “conflicting access needs” mean to you? What approaches can be used to address this planning challenge?

The topic that comes to mind is computer driven. So I recently was informed about how some software that is deemed accessible yet it is conflicting and a broad based term. If someone has a visual impairment and they receive notifications certain lights on their screen will let them know, yet someone of say an autistic sense can be pushed to the edge if this application was delivered to them. I would come to the conclusion that we need multiple approaches to conflicting needs and at that point, the user can make and match the right app or service to their desired requirements.


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