ACCESSIBILITY FOR ONTARIANS WITH DISABILITIES ACT ALLIANCE NEWS RELEASE -- FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

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United for a Barrier-Free Ontario

MAJOR ONTARIO DISABILITY COALITION HOLDS NOVEL ON-LINE VIRTUAL NEWS CONFERENCE MAY 16 11 A.M. EDT TO UNVEIL THE ONTARIO POLITICAL PARTIES' DISABILITY ACCESSIBILITY ELECTION PLEDGES TO 1.8 MILLLION ONTARIANS WITH DISABILITIES

May 16, 2014 Toronto: As a novel grassroots strategy, the non-partisan AODA Alliance has just posted on YouTube its first-ever on-line virtual news conference. Using the internet to instantly reach the media across Ontario, the AODA Alliance is right now making public the election commitments that the Liberals, Conservatives and NDP have made to make Ontario fully accessible to all persons with disabilities by 2025. Enjoy a front-row seat, and learn how Ontarians with disabilities plan to mobilize in the lead-up to the June 12 election.

Watch AODA Alliance chair David Lepofsky's 30-minute virtual news conference, as he explains the commitments the AODA Alliance sought, what the parties promised, and how this grassroots coalition plans to raise disability accessibility issues in the hotly-contested Ontario election campaign. The parties' letters, making their commitments, an analysis of them, speaking notes for the news conference, the parties' track record on disability accessibility, and other background materials are all just a click away. Links to everything you need are set out below.

You can arrange a one-on-one interview by emailing a request at any time to aodafeedback@gmail.com The media are welcome to use any content in the on-line virtual news conference.

"In each of the past six Ontario elections, right back to 1995, at least two of the major Ontario parties made written election pledges on tearing down barriers that impede Ontarians with disabilities, in letters to our coalition or its predecessor," said David Lepofsky, chair of the province-wide AODA Alliance. "Our virtual news conference lets everyone across Ontario and beyond get instant access to this news the moment we unveil it. Reporters don't have to leave the campaign trail or their newsrooms to cover this story."

Through this news conference and a concerted social media blitz, the AODA Alliance is calling on voters with disabilities, and indeed all voters, to press all candidates for stronger commitments on disability accessibility than the three party leaders gave. They've tweeted a challenge to every candidate on Twitter to refuse to attend any all-candidates debates held in an inaccessible location.

"The three parties unanimously passed the Disabilities Act in 2005. It requires the Government to lead Ontario to become fully accessible to persons with disabilities by 2025. But dithering by the Government since the 2011 summer has led Ontario to fall further  behind schedule," said Lepofsky. "We need strong leadership and bold commitments to get Ontario back on schedule for full accessibility by 2025."

As part of this blitz, the AODA Alliance is urging PC candidates to press Tim Hudak for a clear commitment that he won't cut disability accessibility regulations or other initiatives - an unequivocal commitment Hudak has refused to make.

Everyone is hurt by the barriers that impede persons with disabilities from getting a job, an education or public services, or from shopping in stores. Everyone eventually gets a disability as they age, and suffers from these barriers. Those barriers hurt our economy.

For an interview, contact: David Lepofsky aodafeedback@gmail.com

KEY LINKS

To watch the AODA Alliance's virtual news conference, visit http://youtu.be/05AoTreGF7A

To read the Ontario Liberal Party's 2014 election commitments to the AODA Alliance on disability accessibility, visit http://www.aodaalliance.org/strong-effective-aoda/2014-election-pledges-Kathleen-Wynne.asp

To read the Ontario Progressive Conservative Party's 2014 election commitments to the AODA Alliance on disability accessibility, visit http://www.aodaalliance.org/strong-effective-aoda/2014-election-pledges-Tim-Hudak.asp

To read the Ontario New Democratic Party's 2014 election commitments to the AODA Alliance on disability accessibility, visit http://www.aodaalliance.org/strong-effective-aoda/2014-election-pledges-Andrea-Horwath.asp

To read the AODA Alliance's March 3, 2014 letter to the party leaders, setting out the specific disability accessibility commitments in this election that the AODA Alliance seeks, visit http://www.aodaalliance.org/strong-effective-aoda/03042014.asp

To read the speaking notes for the AODA Alliance's May 16, 2014 virtual news conference, visit http://www.aodaalliance.org/strong-effective-aoda/2014-election-accessibility-issues-speaking-notes.asp

To read the AODA Alliance's summary of the three parties' 2014 election commitments on disability accessibility, visit http://www.aodaalliance.org/strong-effective-aoda/2014-election-accessibility-pledges.asp

To read the AODA Alliance's analysis of the three parties' 2014 commitments on disability accessibility, visit http://www.aodaalliance.org/strong-effective-aoda/2014-analysis-of-accessibility-pledges.asp

To see the records of the Liberals, PCs and NDP on disability accessibility from 1990 to the present, visit http://www.aodaalliance.org/strong-effective-aoda/05072014.asp

To see a comparison of the parties' 2011 election disability accessibility commitments, visit http://www.aodaalliance.org/strong-effective-aoda/090220115.asp

To see a comparison of the parties' 2007 disability accessibility commitments, visit http://www.aodaalliance.org/strong-effective-aoda/default.asp

For full background on the ongoing campaign to make Ontario disability-accessible, visit www.aodaalliance.org

Follow us on Twitter for all the news from Ontario and around the world on disability accessibility: @aodaalliance