ACCESSIBILITY FOR ONTARIANS WITH DISABILITIES ACT ALLIANCE UPDATE
Attend the Toronto Transit Commission’s September 16, 2015 Annual Public Forum on Accessible Transit to Recount Accessibility Barriers You Face on TTC – Are Public Transit Authorities across Ontario All Annually Holding these Mandatory Public Forums for Public Transit Riders with Disabilities?
September 9, 2015
Below we set out TTC’s web announcement of its 2015 Annual Public Forum on Accessible Transit, to be held on the evening of September 16, 2015. We encourage anyone in the Toronto area to come to this event and raise accessibility problems you have experienced on the TTC. With the federal election ongoing, and the parties promising to spend more and more public money on infrastructure, it is important to shine the light on accessibility issues that continue to plague people with disabilities on public transit in Canada’s biggest city.
Also, contact your local media and encourage them to attend. Video record or photograph barriers on TTC you have experienced. Send them to the media. Publicize them on social media like Twitter and Facebook.
We plan to attend this event and to "live tweet" during it. We will use the hashtag #TTCAccess. That is the hashtag TTC uses. You can search on that phrase on Twitter and follow all the tweets that evening, if you are not able to attend.
This TTC Public Forum originated in 2008 as a result of the 2007 Human Rights Tribunal order in Lepofsky v. TTC #2. TTC was required to hold one such event per year for the three years after the Tribunal ruled against TTC in Lepofsky v. TTC #2. After that, to its credit, TTC decided to keep holding these events once per year, even though TTC originally opposed David Lepofsky when he asked the Tribunal to make this order. Below we set out more background on that case.
Since 2011, TTC and all public transit providers in Ontario are required by law to hold a similar event each year in your community under section 41(2) of the Integrated Accessibility Standard Regulation, enacted under the AODA. Ask your public transit provider when they are planning to hold their annual public forum on accessible transit. If your public transit authority has not done so, please contact Brad Duguid, the Ontario cabinet minister responsible for enforcing the AODA, to ask that this provision be strictly enforced. That section provides:
"41(2) Every conventional transportation service provider shall annually hold at least one public meeting involving persons with disabilities to ensure that they have an opportunity to participate in a review of the accessibility plan and that they are given the opportunity to provide feedback on the accessibility plan."
Let us know if your public transit authority in Ontario is holding a similar event this year, or did so last year. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
There has always been a great turnout of hundreds of people at TTC’s public forums on accessible transit. Each wants a chance at the microphone to tell their story. Unfortunately, TTC each year uses up far too much time, as much as a third of the time in some instances, making speeches on what a great job it is doing on accessibility. We have urged TTC to keep those speeches down to five or ten minutes maximum, to give as much time as possible to the attendees to speak, since they made the effort to come to this event. We hope TTC will listen this time.
The Accessibility Clock keeps on ticking. There are 9 years, 3 months and 21 days left for the Ontario Government to lead Ontario to become fully accessible to people with disabilities, as the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act requires. It’s time for the Government to get Ontario back on schedule for full accessibility! When she was running for leadership of the Ontario Liberal party, Kathleen Wynne, now Ontario’s premier, promised the AODA Alliance in her December 3, 2012 letter to us that she would ensure that Ontario is on schedule for full accessibility by 2025.
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2015 TTC Public Forum on Accessible Transit
September 16, 2015
TTC Board, TTC Staff, and members of the Advisory Committee on Accessible Transit (ACAT) will be on hand to hear from the public about the accessibility of conventional TTC and door-to-door (Wheel-Trans) public transit services in Toronto.
Date and Location
Wednesday, September 16, 2015
Exhibition Place - 105 Princes’ Boulevard
6 p.m. to 7 p.m.
Open Public Forum:
7 p.m. to 9 p.m.
1. Discussion of previous Public Forum concerns and progress made.
2. Review of new service initiatives.
3. Opportunity for the community to voice concerns or suggestions for accessible transit improvement.
How to Get There
An accessible shuttle bus will be available from Bathurst Station starting at 5:00 p.m. Regularly scheduled accessible streetcar service is also available on the 509 Harbourfront route from Union Station to the nearest stop to the Allstream Centre at Strachan Avenue.
Wheel-Trans customers may book trips to the Public Forum starting one week prior to the event.
Please note that all return trips will be organized after the event finishes at 9:00 p.m. and will not be scheduled in advance.
Attendants, ASL interpreters, and captioning will be available.
The 2015 Accessibility Plan Status Report summarizes the TTC’s current activities to improve the accessibility of its facilities and services.
The 2014 Public Forum on Accessible Transit page summarizes issues raised during the 2014 Public Forum and staff responses.
Let us know how we can improve TTC accessibility. Complete our brief survey.
Please contact TTC Customer Service with your accessibility feedback, complete our survey, or follow the conversation on Twitter #TTCAccess
Background on Lepofsky v. TTC
From the AODA Alliance
When David Lepofsky launched his public battle to get TTC to announce all subway stops twenty years ago, he had no idea that the battle would take so long, or be so frustrating. He also did not then know that just over two months later, on November 29, 1994 (unconnected with the start of this public battle with TTC), the organized movement for Ontario accessibility legislation for persons with disabilities would be born.
It is always hard to predict in advance whether a single media interview will trigger action. Lepofsky's interview on CBC Radio's Metro Morning program twenty years ago yesterday (September 8, 1994) resulted in TTC calling Lepofsky within hours to ask for a meeting. At that meeting, held days later, TTC caved, and agreed to order its subway operators to announce all station stops. As a result, Lepofsky decided not to proceed with his human rights complaint.
However, when the TTC subway stop announcements on the subways started in early 1995, they were not consistent or reliable. After six more years of trying to get TTC to keep its word, David Lepofsky decided in 2001 that he had to go back to the Human Rights Commission for action. His case came before the Human Rights Tribunal in 2005. After a hotly-contested hearing, the Human Rights Tribunal ruled in Lepofsky's favour in Lepofsky v. TTC #1. It concluded that TTC had been violating the human rights of Torontonians with vision loss for at least a decade. The Tribunal ordered TTC to consistently and reliably announce all route stops.
Shortly before that Human Rights Tribunal hearing, Lepofsky also asked TTC to have its drivers audibly announce all bus stops. TTC refused, saying its drivers would only announce major stops, and passenger-requested stops. Lepofsky had to again resort to a human rights complaint. His second case came before the Human Rights Tribunal in 2007. After a second hotly-contested hearing, the Tribunal again ruled in his favour. In Lepofsky v. TTC #2, the Tribunal ordered TTC to direct its drivers to audibly announce all bus and street car stops.
In both cases, TTC argued that it planned to eventually install automated stop announcements, but should not have to get its drivers or crews to make the announcements themselves in the meantime. In both cases, this argument failed.
After winning these two cases, Lepofsky brought a freedom of Information application to find out how much TTC spent on its legal defence of these cases. The total bill of $450,000 was revealed. We have never had an accounting from TTC of who authorized this, and why. That money could have funded a lot of accessibility, had it not been used to fight against accessibility.
Also after these rulings, the Ontario Human Rights Commission surveyed all Ontario public transit providers to see what their plans were to call all route stops, as the Human Rights Code requires. Of those that eventually complied, several only went along with this ruling, with their feet dragging.
Under the AODA, the Ontario Government appointed a Transportation Standards Development committee to develop proposals for a Transportation Accessibility Standard. It initially recommended that municipal transit services be given a ludicrous 18 yearsto start providing this basic accommodation. We objected that this was far too long.
Eventually, in June 2011, the Government enacted the Integrated Accessibility Standard Regulation. Section 52 of that regulation required that those announcements start on July 1, 2011.
That winning this simple accommodation required twelve years and two separate cases before the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario, illustrates so much about our long, arduous campaign to make Ontario fully accessible for all persons with disabilities. It again shows why we need strong, effective accessibility legislation, so that an individual doesn't have to take on such battles on their own. The AODA was enacted in 2005 so that persons with disabilities would not have to fight accessibility barriers one at a time, via individual human rights complaints.
This battle also shows why we need the Ontario Government to finally keep its unkept promise to effectively enforce the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act. The Government has not provided its promised effective enforcement to ensure that a public transit authority will be brought to swift justice if it violates that accessibility regulation.
This case also shows why we need strong measures in place to ensure that no public official ever uses public money to create or perpetuate barriers against persons with disabilities.