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#CripTheVote Town Hall: Accessibility and the AODA


Image Description: Disability Justice Network of Ontario's Logo is on the bottom left. On the right there is a heading that reads "Online Town Hall". Under this there is more text that reads, "Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act. Friday, October 19th @ 6:00pm EST. Follow the discussion @djnontario. Join in using the #CripTheVote and #HamOnt tags."

Good evening everyone, and welcome to our third and final #CripTheVote chat in the lead-up to the Hamilton municipal election.


The #AODA is a law that was passed by the Ontario government in 2005, "to develop, implement and enforce standards for accessibility related to goods, services, facilities, employment, accommodation and buildings" by 2025.


Accessibility is usually understood to mean the design of products, spaces and services so that disabled people can use them.


Designing for accessibility is crucial to the protection of disabled human rights - without access, disabled people cannot participate in society.


Access barriers can prevent disabled people from receiving healthcare, equal education, equal housing, and due process in court.


There are a number of different approaches to designing accessibility. #UniversalDesign suggests that a design should "meet the needs of all people who wish to use it".


This approach also focuses on the #CurbCutEffect: the notion that designing for a marginalised population benefits everyone. "Universal design is good design."


Transcript: "Universal Design is the design and composition of an environment so that it can be accessed, understood and used to the greatest extent possible by all people regardless of their age, size, ability or disability. An environment (or any building, product, or service in that environment) should be designed to meet the needs of all people who wish to use it. This is not a special requirement, for the benefit of only a minority of the population. It is a fundamental condition of good design. If an environment is accessible, usable, convenient and a pleasure to use, everyone benefits. By considering the diverse needs and abilities of all throughout the design process, universal design creates products, services and environments that meet peoples' needs. Simply put, universal design is good design." National Disability Authority, 2014.


A limitation of this approach is that it tends to seek a single, best design solution, to accommodate all users.


When universal design projects are led by non-disabled people, this often means that in fact, only a narrow range of access needs are considered and addressed.


It also neglects the fact that conflicting access needs exist.


Another approach to designing accessibility is inclusive design, which seeks to address diverse access needs, and to create flexible, customisable design solutions.


This approach also has its limitations: like universal design, inclusive design is often framing as designing for disability, and is often led by non-disabled people, implicitly frames access needs and disabled bodies and minds as "other", and displaces disabled people from society and economic prosperity.


Alternatively, as proposed by The Disabled List, designing with disability acknowledges the creative expertise afforded by lived experiences of disability and seeks to centre disabled expertise within design processes.


From a disability justice perspective, #accessibility must be broader than the design of specific, individual objects, spaces or services. It must become a framework for building a society within which disabled people are free to be.


This evening's chat will be focusing on how cities can become more accessible for the people who live in them.


We have prepared one set of questions for the mayoral candidates for #HamOnt, and another set of questions that apply broadly to disabled people, regardless of where they are currently living.


To make it easier for people to follow the discussion, the @djnontario account will only be tweeting out the chat questions, and retweeting the responses from the candidates, while the town hall is taking place.


To see the full discussion, including other people's responses, you can follow the #CripTheVote hashtag, and set the page to ‘Latest’.



Image Description: Twitter screenshot showing the top of the Twitter search page for #CripTheVote, with the “Latest” tab selected.

Please remember to add the #CripTheVote and #HamOnt to your own tweets, so that others can see what you are saying!


If you respond to a question such as Q1, your tweet should follow this format: “A1 [your message] #CripTheVote #HamOnt”.


We would also like to ask that you reply to the tweeted questions, rather than quote-tweeting them, as this can make the conversation easier to follow, and therefore more accessible, for some people.


We are aware that Twitter chats are not accessible for everyone. For those who cannot participate, we will also be updating the DJNO blog, at djno.ca/blog, with a summary of each discussion, the day after the event.


This town hall is scheduled to be 120 minutes long.


Questions for the community


1. Welcome, and thanks for joining us for our final #CripTheVote chat. Please introduce yourself! [6:00pm EST]



2. What does it mean to say that something is “accessible”? [6:10pm EST]



3. Why is accessibility important? [6:20pm EST]



4. What are some of the most significant barriers to accessibility that you encounter on a day-to-day basis?


How do these barriers affect you?



5. Exorbitant costs are often cited as a challenge to making spaces and services accessible.


What are your thoughts on this?



6. What do you consider to be the most urgent changes needed to make your city more accessible?



7. Discussions of accessibility often focus on built environments. What are some non-physical barriers you've encountered when trying to access public services?



8. For disabled people living in urban environments, public events can pose a barrier to access – both in terms of accessing the events themselves, and the ways they can impact access to public spaces and services.


What are some things cities need to consider when planning large events?



9. Inaccessible businesses are a challenge many of us have encountered.


What are some ways your city's government could help to ensure private businesses meet accessibility requirements?



10. Accessibility is often talked about as a 'seniors' issue'. How does this impact the way businesses and governments tend to approach planning for access?


What are some areas where considering the needs and lifestyles of younger disabled people might be important?



11. Accessibility initiatives are often led by non-disabled public servants and designers. How would you like to see your city engaging disabled people in its planning?



12. We've talked about why accessibility is important. But we also live in an imperfect and often unjust society. So let's be cynical for a moment.


How would you 'pitch' the concept of accessibility to your city?


How might it benefit them to become leaders in this area?

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