Making Progress Towards An Accessible Ontario



    Second Anniversary Of The Passage Of The Accessibility For Ontarians With
    Disabilities Act

    TORONTO, June 12 /CNW/ - The McGuinty government is making important
progress in making businesses, government services and communities fully
accessible to all Ontarians, Minister Responsible for Ontarians with
Disabilities Madeleine Meilleur said today in celebration of the second
anniversary of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act. The
landmark legislation was passed unanimously in the Legislature on June 13,
2005.
    "Our government believes that a fully accessible Ontario will be a
stronger Ontario," said Meilleur. "That's why we took a strong stand for
accessibility by making the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act
the law. And that's why we will continue to work together to break down
barriers for people with disabilities."
    According to Statistics Canada, approximately 1.5 million people, or 13
per cent of Ontarians, have a disability and that is expected to increase to
20 per cent in 20 years, as the population ages.
    The government is developing provincewide standards in five key areas:
customer service, transportation, information and communications, the physical
environment, and employment. The proposed standards are created by Standards
Development Committees, which consist of people with disabilities and experts
in their field from the private sector and the public sector.
    The proposed Accessible Customer Service Standard has been posted for
public review and feedback, and the proposed Accessible Transportation
Standard will be posted for public review later this year.
    The Standards Development Committee that will draft the proposed
Accessible Information and Communications Standard has recently begun its
work. And the committees for the Accessible Built Environment Standard and the
Employment Accessibility Standard are being assembled now.
    The McGuinty government has also entered into several different
partnership projects with various private sector and not-for-profit
organizations to improve accessibility in some new and innovative ways.
    
    Over the past two years, these partnerships have resulted in:

    -  A new guide for front-line managers and human resources professionals
       that provides information and advice on recruiting, interviewing and
       employing people with disabilities.
    -  The Ontario Mainstreet Awards which recognize businesses and
       communities that have been leaders in providing quality service to all
       customers.
    -  A series of videos and printed materials developed through the Ontario
       Chinese Restaurant and Food Services Association. These tools will
       help an important part of the Chinese business community better
       understand how to make their businesses and services more accessible.
    -  Tools and resources developed by media professionals aimed at raising
       the profile of people with disabilities in the Canadian movie,
       television and radio industry.
    

    The government has also invested nearly $11 million in new funding for
interpreter and intervenor services for people who are deaf or deafblind,
announced $28.2 million for universities and colleges to provide services for
students with disabilities, and developed a new Emergency Preparedness Guide
for People with Disabilities to help make Ontario's communities safer for
everyone in the event of an emergency.
    Last month, the government launched a new public awareness website on
accessibility called AccessON which challenges attitudes and encourages all
Ontarians to learn about barriers to accessibility. The AccessON.ca website
will also help businesses get the information and tools they need to comply
with the new accessibility standards.
    "In the coming years, we look forward to continuing our progress with the
development of accessibility standards and public education to raise awareness
of the benefits of accessibility. We are also looking for new ways in which we
can partner with the private sector as well as the broader public sector and
municipalities, to open more doors for Ontarians with disabilities," said
Meilleur. "An accessible Ontario is going to be a stronger Ontario for
everyone."

    
    Disponible en français

                               www.accesson.ca
                             www.mcss.gov.on.ca
    





For further information:

For further information: Marc Despatie, Minister's Office, (416)
325-5219; John Letherby, Communications and Marketing Branch, (416) 325-5187

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Ontario Ministry of Community and Social Services

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