ACCESSIBILITY FOR ONTARIANS WITH DISABILITIES ACT ALLIANCE UPDATE
Attend the Toronto Transit Commission's September 15, 2016 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 13, 2016
Below is TTC's web announcement of its 2016 Annual Public Forum on Accessible Transit. It will be held on the evening of September 15, 2016. 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 and Ontario Governments promising to spend more and more public money on infrastructure, including on public transit, 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. Use the ever-popular hashtag #AODAfail in tweets about these barriers, as part of our "Picture Our Barriers" campaign.
Commendably, TTC is also streaming the event live, but only for those who pre-register for this event. Check out details below in the TTC announcement.
We plan to attend this event and to "live tweet" during it. We will use the hashtag #TTCAccess. That is the hashtag TTC has used in recent years. You can search on that phrase on Twitter and follow all the tweets that evening, if you can't yourself attend.
This TTC Public Forum originated in 2008 as a result of the 2007 Human Rights Tribunal order in Lepofsky v. TTC #2. The Ontario Human Rights Tribunal ordered TTC to hold one such event per year for the three years after the Tribunal ruled against TTC in Lepofsky v. TTC #2.
After starting to hold these events, 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 Tracy MacCharles, 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 email@example.com
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 TTC says it's 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.
Under the Human Rights Tribunal's order, all TTC Commissioners were required to attend each public forum. Since that order expired, many if not most TTC Commissioners have skipped these events. This is wrong. TTC set the forum's date. Its Commissioners should be able to make it. If hundreds of people with disabilities take the time out of their busy day to come to speak to the Commissioners, the least that those TTC Commissioners can do is to themselves take the time to show up to this TTC community event and listen to the front-line experiences of TTC riders with disabilities.
Also, remember to plan to attend one of the upcoming Accessibility Public Forums in your community including:
* Ottawa Monday, September 19, 2016 from 1:30 to 3:30
* London Friday, September 30, from 2 to 4 pm, and
* Whitby/Durham region from 10 a.m. to noon.
Have you taken part in our "Picture Our Barriers campaign? If not, please join in! You can get all the information you need about our "Picture Our Barriers" campaign by visiting www.aodaalliance.org/2016
To sign up for, or unsubscribe from AODA Alliance e-mail updates, write to: firstname.lastname@example.org
We encourage you to use the Government's toll-free number for reporting AODA violations. We fought long and hard to get the Government to promise this, and later to deliver on that promise. If you encounter any accessibility problems at any large retail establishments, it will be especially important to report them to the Government via that toll-free number. Call 1-866-515-2025.
Please pass on our email Updates to your family and friends.
Why not subscribe to the AODA Alliance's YouTube channel, so you can get immediate alerts when we post new videos on our accessibility campaign.
Please "like" our Facebook page and share our updates.
Follow us on Twitter. Get others to follow us. And please re-tweet our tweets!! @AODAAlliance
Please also join the campaign for a strong and effective Canadians with Disabilities Act, spearheaded by Barrier-Free Canada. The AODA Alliance is proud to be the Ontario affiliate of Barrier-Free Canada. Sign up for Barrier-Free Canada updates by emailing info@BarrierFreeCanada.org
2016 TTC Public Forum on Accessible Transit
September 15, 2016
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
Thursday, September 15, 2016
Exhibition Place – 105 Princes' Boulevard
6:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.
Open Public Forum
7:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.
The purpose of the Forum is to update customers about TTC accessibility initiatives, including the Wheel-Trans Modernization project and the Easier Access project, and gather feedback about possible improvements to the TTC's accessible conventional and specialized services.
How to Get There
An accessible shuttle bus will be available from Bathurst Station starting at 5:00 p.m. Regularly scheduled accessible service is also available on the 509 Harbourfront route from Union Station to the nearest stop to the Allstream Centre at Strachan Avenue (approximately 300 metres walk).
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. Refreshments will not be served.
Live video stream
- The Public Forum On Accessible Transit will be streamed live.
- This webcast requires pre-registration.
The 2015 Public Forum on Accessible Transit page summarizes issues raised during the 2015 Public Forum and staff responses.
The 2016 Accessibility Plan Status Report summarizes the TTC's current activities to improve the accessibility of its facilities and services.
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 years to 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.