Ontario transit services expected to announce all transit stops

    TORONTO, Oct. 25 /CNW/ - Following up on several key developments in the
area of accessible transit, Chief Commissioner Barbara Hall has written to
transit services across the province
http://www.ohrc.on.ca/en/resources/news/transitletter asking them to remove
barriers faced by riders with disabilities. "Stop announcements are not only
necessary for visually impaired riders but can benefit all transit users
including visitors and even many of us who can't see the stops due to crowds
or weather conditions," commented Chief Commissioner Hall.
    In a recent decision this past July in Lepofsky v. Toronto Transit
Commission (TTC),
http://www.canlii.org/en/on/onhrt/doc/2007/2007hrto23/2007hrto23.html, the
Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario found that the TTC's failure to ensure
announcements of all stops on buses and streetcars violated the human rights
of persons with disabilities, particularly riders with visual impairments. It
ordered the TTC to begin announcing bus route stops within 30 days. This
follows a similar ruling by the Tribunal in July 2005 involving a complaint
about the lack of stop announcements in Toronto's subway system.
    As part of its ongoing work to address human rights issues in public
transit, in August, the Commission made a submission
http://www.ohrc.on.ca/en/resources/submissions/transportsub to the
Accessibility Directorate of Ontario setting out concerns that the Initial
Proposed Transportation Accessibility Standard falls far short of fundamental
human rights standards. For example, most of the accessibility requirements
for transportation vehicles would apply only to new vehicles, leaving barrier
removal on existing vehicles to the discretion of transportation providers.
Transportation providers could also continue to make non-inclusive design
choices such as being able to purchase non-accessible second-hand buses.
    "Let's be clear", commented Hall. "Commission policy and Tribunal
decisions have set the bar much higher for transit accessibility."
    Recent Tribunal cases have shown that a policy of announcing stops only
upon request doesn't work. Transit providers should call out stops regardless.
The Commission is now asking transit services to review their accessibility
policies and practices and inform the Commission on what steps they are taking
to ensure all transit stops are announced. The Commission will then report
publicly and consider its next steps so that the Tribunal decisions are
applied equally across Ontario and the duty to accommodate riders with
disabilities is respected.

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For further information:

For further information: Jeff Poirier, Manager, Communications, Policy &
Education Branch, (416) 314-4539; Afroze Edwards, Sr. Communications Officer,
Policy & Education Branch, (416) 314-4528

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