Our Campaign for Strong, Effective Implementation of the AODA

ACCESSIBILITY FOR ONTARIANS WITH DISABILITIES ACT ALLIANCE UPDATE

BITS AND PIECES OF NEWS ON THE ACCESSIBILITY FRONT, IN THE AFTERMATH OF LAST WEEK’S ONTARIO ELECTION

October 17, 2007

SUMMARY

Here are a few recent developments:

* Come to the “Carole Riback Memorial Lecture” On Wednesday, November 7, 2007, from 2 to 4 pm, AODA Alliance’s David Lepofsky will be giving a talk on strategies on effective community organizing and advocacy, with lessons from the long campaign for Ontario disability accessibility legislation. It is open to all. It will be held in Toronto’s York University, Osgoode Hall Law School, Room 101 (the Moot Court Room).

David Lepofsky will be dedicating this talk to the memory of the late Carole Riback, who sadly died on October 15, 2007. Ms. Riback was a very central player in the decade-long fight for disability accessibility legislation. Over and over she brought extraordinary energy, passion, talent and classy wit to our cause, in presentations to the Legislature, to government officials, to community groups and to the media. You can read her powerful December 5, 2001 deposition to the Ontario Legislature’s Standing Committee at:
http://www.odacommittee.net/ODA_Bill_125_hansard31.html

Or just go to the website of the AODA Alliance’s predecessor, the Ontarians with Disabilities Act Committee www.odacommittee.net and do a search on Carole Riback. You can see just how much of a difference one individual can make.

* Want to learn more about accessibility issues across Canada? Sign up for the free weekly Accessibility News newsletter, available on-line by requesting to sign up at: info@accessibilitynews.ca

We are indebted to Geof Collis for including our AODA Alliance updates in this publication. We normally don’t advertise other publications in our updates, but we’re making an exception here because of this.

* We have even more concrete proof that there is a pressing need to reform Ontario’s election process to make it fully accessible to voters with disabilities. Below are letters to the editor that recently appeared in the Toronto Star, reporting on inexcusable barriers that voters faced in the recent election.

This is more proof positive that the re-elected McGuinty Government should get right to work on its election commitments in this area. We asked the three parties to commit to develop an action plan to make all facets of provincial and municipal elections fully accessible to voters with disabilities. Here is what all three parties pledged in the recent election campaign on this issue:

Liberals: “In addition, we will commit to developing an action plan to make elections fully accessible to voters with disabilities. “

NDP: “Develop an action plan to make all facets of provincial and municipal elections fully accessible to voters with disabilities.”

Conservatives: “I support your request that the government show leadership by reviewing its own legislation to remove barriers against persons with disabilities and by developing an action plan for provincial and municipal elections to be fully accessible to voters with disabilities. In addition, I will ask Elections Ontario to review its practices and regulations with a goal of achieving these positive changes. We will also engage our other stakeholders to pursue this same goal.”

Ontarians with disabilities have been trying for years and years to make Ontario elections fully barrier-free. For example:

To see a call for a formal inquiry into election barriers facing voters with disabilities right after the 1999 election, visit: http://www.odacommittee.net/press31.html

To see the efforts leading up to the 1999 Ontario election to raise this issue, visit: http://www.odacommittee.net/press24.html

To see efforts to raise this elections accessibility issue in the 2003 election, visit: http://www.odacommittee.net/news83.html

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Toronto Star On-Line October 11, 2007

Oct 11, 2007 04:30 AM

Woman in wheelchair unable to cast a ballot

Imagine you are 80 years old. Imagine you are fiercely proud to be a Canadian because you believe that Canada is the best country in the world in which to live. Imagine you have followed the campaigning and are very proud to have the opportunity to cast your ballot.

Now imagine this: On voting day, my mother was denied access to her polling station because she is in a wheelchair, and her poll, No. 123 on Simcoe St. in Beaverton, was not wheelchair-accessible – despite the wheelchair logo on the notice of registration. I spoke with three clerks in the building and no one could suggest an alternative.

My mother was very disappointed when she learned she would not be able to exercise her right to vote. Someone owes this 80-year-old woman an apology. Hands up if you think she will get it.

Elizabeth Munson, Beaverton, Ont.

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Toronto Star October 14, 2007

Editorial
Elections Ontario to blame for mix-ups

So much for senior's right to vote in election

Letter, Oct. 11

I was surprised to see the letter about the wheelchair-bound elector being refused an opportunity to vote.

I also know that my elderly sister-in-law was refused the right to vote in Toronto because she did not have photographic ID.

I was a first-time district returning officer and am aware that both decisions were incorrect. I had a training session that covered the problem of electors unable to enter the polling station: In this case, the staff were allowed to go outside to let electors exercise their votes.

In the case of my sister-in-law, she was on the list and had her notification: She didn't need photographic ID, although we were supposed to ask for it.

I was surprised at the kinds of ID allowed. The list of valid ID included the old OHIP card (no picture and often counterfeit), a valid credit card, etc., many of which I thought were rather too inclusive.

In many cases, where there were problems, we were required to take oaths stating the electors were who they were or were residents, etc.

I do blame Elections Ontario for insufficient training. In my case, we were briefed by Elections Toronto. Our trainer was very careful to point out these problematic points. Obviously, not all trainers were as competent.

Ed Lyons, Toronto