December 2, 2016
An excellent article in the Toronto Star on December 2, 2016, set out below, reports on the AODA Alliance’s video which depicts a number of accessibility problems in the brand-new Centennial College Culinary Arts Centre. The article lets far more members of the public know about this incident, and about our YouTube video.
As well, CBC Radio’s national news program “World Report” referred to our video and played a short audio clip from it at 6 a.m. today. This all catapults our “Picture Our Barriers” campaign to an even higher level of profile.
In today’s Toronto Star article, Centennial College contends that this building was built without any public money. Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance chair David Lepofsky responds in the article that even if that were true, it provides no justification for new accessibility barriers in this building. The Ontario Human Rights Code and the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act both apply with full force to the public and private sectors.
We would add that no doubt this building was built for Centennial College, at its request, and in accordance with its requirements. That new building could not have appeared on Centennial’s campus, out of nowhere, and with no involvement from the College. We can’t imagine that Centennial College would get to use that building for free. That community college is operated under the Ontario Government.
To watch the AODA Alliance’s captioned 18-minute video on accessibility issues at the new Centennial College Culinary Arts Centre.
We encourage you to share this news article with your local media and your member of the Ontario Legislature. Urge them to press the Wynne Government to agree at last to develop an Education Accessibility Standard under the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, so that these and other kinds of accessibility barriers won’t continue to recur in Ontario’s education system.
* To read about the fact that the Ontario and Federal Governments are now giving Centennial College fully $44 million for more campus infrastructure, at a time when there are in place insufficient accessibility standards to ensure that this new infrastructure will be accessible.
* To see the AODA Alliance’s Discussion Paper on what an Education Accessibility Standard could include.
* For more background on the AODA Alliance’s call for the Ontario Government to agree to create an Education Accessibility Standard under the AODA.
For a list of the contact information for the members of the Ontario Legislature, visit: www.www.aodaalliance.org/2016
You can always send your feedback to us on any AODA and accessibility issue at email@example.com
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.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
Toronto Star December 2, 2016
Lawyer crusades against accessibility problems caused by inadequate laws
David Lepofsky says Centennial College accessibility problems are symptomatic of bigger issues.
By Hina Alam
Thu., Dec. 1, 2016
Toronto lawyer David Lepofsky is highlighting Centennial College building’s accessibility problems. But that is not the complete picture. These accessibility issues are the symptoms of a bigger problem, Lepofsky says.
“It’s not that Centennial College didn’t try to include accessibility features,” said Lepofsky. “The problem is they didn’t do it right because the provincial law falls short on telling them what is needed.
“This proves that we have deficient laws on accessibility.”
Lepofsky, head of a grassroots alliance that monitors progress on the province’s landmark Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA), has made an 18-minute video detailing all the accessibility problems at the Centennial College.
Lepofsky gained fame when he won two human rights cases forcing the TTC to announce bus and subway stops.
The Centennial College building opened in late August of this year to accept student residents while the Culinary Arts Centre on the ground floor opened in time for classes on Sept. 6.
David Lepofsky outside the main floor washroom at Toronto Women’s Hospital. Lepofsky is a former lawyer and an accessibility activist who is blind. (Lucas Oleniuk / Toronto Star file photo)
Accessibility problems in the building include a ramp beside the stairs by the main entrance of the college that has a railing only on one side; an awkwardly placed changing table, right next to the accessibility stall, that someone exiting the accessibility stall would bump into if in use; and the high parking payment machines that would make it difficult for someone in a wheelchair to access them.
The laws on accessibility, already deficient, are violated by the government’s own community college, he said.
The Centennial College building is owned and operated by the private sector, said Shannon Brooks, associate vice-president of corporate services for the college. There are no public funds invested in the construction of the building, she said.
“Are they saying that therefore they don’t have to obey the law?” Lepofsky asked.
“[The Ontario government] set accessibility standards that are too low, which has resulted in Centennial College being able to engage in a deal without making sure that it has proper accessibility features,” he said.
It’s irrelevant who owns and operates the building because Centennial College is a community college operated under the government of Ontario, he said. What this video shows is that the province has a long way to go before the 2025 deadline to reach full accessibility, the deadline set by the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, he added.
Other publicly-financed buildings, such as Ryerson’s Student Learning Centre, the new Women’s College Hospital, and major renovations at York’s Osgoode Hall Law School also have accessibility problems, Lepofsky said.
These examples show that Ontario’s laws on building accessibility, although recently revised, are woefully inadequate, he said.
The fact that this recurs at educational organizations, such as Centennial College, is powerful proof that the Ontario Government needs to develop an Education Accessibility Standard under Ontario’s Disabilities Act, he said.
A building that has well-designed accessibility features helps not just people with disabilities, but also mothers pushing strollers, children and the sick, he said.
The obligation to provide accessibility applies under the Human Rights Code to everybody, Lepofsky said.
“It’s a college or a university . . . . They offer classes there I assume because it’s set up like classrooms,” he said. “There are residence rooms and dorm rooms where students can sleep in. They can’t just say we don’t have to provide full accessibility because we got a private building that we used.”