Here's a new and exciting way to help raise awareness about the need for a strong and effective Ontarians with Disabilities Act to achieve a barrier-free Ontario for people with disabilities. Contact your local school board, or your local schools directly, to encourage them to teach their students about this issue, and to get their students talking and thinking about it. Barriers face people of all ages, including of course, children. Today's children have a strong interest in growing up in a society that is barrier-free. they can benefit from learning about this issue in school, and talking to their families about it at home.
We have a wonderful document that can help you with this. The Toronto District School Board has developed a set of materials on teaching disability in school. It includes an excellent, short, easy-to-use section on the ODA. It is set out below, with a memo from the Toronto Board official who can provide further help and advice if requested. We are delighted that the Toronto Board took the time and effort to put together these materials, and that it has held two seminars for teachers on how to teach in this area. We express to them our thanks.
Tips on how you can put this idea into action in your community include the following:
- Contact your local school board, school trustees, or the nearest school itself. Explain to them about this issue and urge them to get a discussion going in their schools about this. Give
them the Toronto District School Board materials below. Offer to help them out. Encourage them to contact the Toronto Board for advice and ideas. Get them to let you know what steps they take, and how it works out.
- Offer to work on a pilot project in a school or schools in your area on this. Help arrange for some people with disabilities to come to school to talk about the barriers we face and the need
for a strong ODA. Offer to speak to teachers about ideas on how to teach in this area, and to make it a fund and positive learning experience.
- Where a school or school board agrees to do this, follow up with thanks, positive feedback, and good publicity for them. Use their success as an example to convince other schools and school
boards to do the same.
- Consider getting the schools to tie their activities in this area to major events in this area e.g. National Access Awareness Week.
- Offer to have the schools run a poster-making contest, and to provide judges to pick the best posters. Posters could depict examples of current barriers, and how society would look if it
were barrier-free. Posters could be posted in public once they are made.
Let us know what success you have with these ideas, and share with us any additional ideas you come up with.
Memo: to David Lepofsky
from Tim McCaskell,
Equity Department, Toronto District School Board
On behalf of the Equity Department of the TDSB I wanted to thank you for your assistance with the section on the Ontarians With Disabilities Act in our new binder of materials on Disabilities and Human Rights.
This binder, including the section on the ODA which I am enclosing here, will be launched in late March and available to grade seven and eight advisory teachers who wish to introduce the issues of disabilities and human rights in their classes.
Please feel free to share this material with any other Boards of Education or schools you feel might be interested. If anyone would like to look at the complete binder package, please have them contact me at 416-397-3345.
Good luck with the ongoing efforts toward an ODA.
Toronto District School Board
THE ONTARIANS WITH DISABILITIES ACT
The Ontarians with Disabilities Act Committee is a province-wide, voluntary and non-partisan coalition of people with disabilities, their friends and families and many major disability organizations in Ontario. The Committee wants this province to become a barrier-free society for the 1.5 million Ontarians who have a disability. It wants all people with disabilities to be able to participate fully in all aspects of life in this province.
The activities in Human Rights and Disabilities have looked at how people with disabilities must now resort to a patchwork of different laws such as the Ontario Human Rights Code when they face barriers or discrimination. While the ODA Committee supports the rights of people with disabilities to make complaints under the Human Rights Code, and would oppose anything which might reduce those rights under the Code, it is also aware how hard it is for people with disabilities to complain to the Human Rights Commission every time they run into barriers or experience discrimination. The Human Rights Code process is slow, often complicated, and takes a great deal of energy. Such complaints also only deal with one individual's problem at a time. Meanwhile other people with disabilities may still face similar barriers. Human Rights complaints have therefore not solved the many
problems often faced by people with disabilities.
In addition to the present Human Rights process, the ODA Committee wants legislation to require all levels of government, public services, companies and organizations to:
- identify barriers in their organization, for people with disabilities
- remove these barriers within a fixed reasonable period of time, so that they are fully accessible and usable by people with disabilities.
- develop strategies to prevent new barriers from being created, so this problem does not get worse in the future.
- That way barriers could be removed without requiring people with disabilities to make complaints. This new law would be called the Ontarians With Disabilities Act.
Although the government promised to introduce such a law several years ago, and the Ontario Legislature passed a unanimous resolution on October 29, 1998 calling on the government to introduce an ODA, people with disabilities are still waiting.
For more information on the Ontarians With Disabilities Act and the ODA Committee, visit their comprehensive web site at www.odacommittee.net .
To download a pamphlet about the ODA by the Committee, visit www.odacommittee.net/pamphlet.html
To download a poster about the ODA visit www.odacommittee.net/poster.html
SUGGESTIONS FOR PROJECTS ON THE ODA
1) Go to the ODA website and find out what the Committee feels should be included in the Ontarians with Disabilities Act. Prepare a report for your teacher or the class.
2) Go to the ODA website and find out about the history of the ODA. Prepare a report for your teacher or the class.
3) Go on a barrier hunt with your class. Do a barrier inventory of your school, shopping centre, library or other public places in your neighbourhood. A barrier inventory is a list of barriers that would make participation difficult or impossible for someone with a disability. For example: no elevators for people in wheelchairs, morning announcements or audible fire alarms at school that deaf people cannot hear, computer screens that people with visual disabilities can't read. There is a model barrier check-list on page 126 of Discover Together. Remember to think about all the different kinds of disabilities we have learned
about, both physical and mental disabilities.
4) Develop a report about what your school or neighbourhood would have to do to remove these barriers. Try to come up with ideas that would cost least and help the most people.
5) Prepare a poster showing the barriers in your school or neighbourhood and what it would look like if these barriers were removed.
6) Brainstorm a list of the ways that these barriers hurt everyone, not just people with disabilities, and how society would benefit if we got rid of them.
7) Write a paper for your class on what it would be like to have a society without barriers for people with disabilities.
8) Write a class letter to the Ontario government or to all three party leaders explaining why it is important to pass a strong and effective Ontarians with Disabilities Act right away.
9) Create a "Barrier Wall." A barrier wall is a portable standing surface, made up to look like a brick wall. Students should attach on each "brick" or section of bricks of this wall,
pictures, stories, or other kinds of representations of barriers that people with disabilities face in Ontario. As more barriers are identified, they can be added to the wall.
Barrier Walls can be displayed in public places and at events, to help educate the public about the many barriers faced by people with disabilities. This idea was begun by the Windsor Essex Region of the ODA Committee, who have already started building
their own Barrier Wall.
Attachments can include pictures, collages, drawings, paintings, newspaper articles or anything else that portrays an example of a real life barrier that people with disabilities face in Ontario. These barriers might, for example, be in the areas of education, recreation, employment, transportation, housing, communication... They might be physical or attitudinal barriers. They could be faced all Ontarians with disabilities, or only people with one
particular kind of disability.
10) Get in touch with others. If there is an ODA Committee region in your community, contact them and see if they have plans to build a Barrier Wall in your community. You can find a list of the Regional Contacts and how to get in touch with them on the ODA Committee's Web site at www.odacommittee.net or by contacting Marg Thomas at (voice) (416) 480-7686, (Fax) 416-480-7014, (E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org, or via TTY by Contacting Susan Main at
(416) 964-0023 ex. 343.
Send an online message to Premier Harris
List of MPPs by Riding
Regional Contacts of the ODA Committee
December 1999 Action Tip
November 1999 Action KIT
November 1999 Action Tip
previous Action Act re: ONTARIO ELECTION ACTION KIT dated August 12, 1999
previous Action Act re: ONTARIO ELECTION ACTION KIT dated April 15, 1999
previous Action Act re: GETTING READY FOR NEW BILL ACTION KIT dated March 1, 1999
previous Action Act re: NEW YEAR'S ACTION KIT
previous Action Act re: BILL 83 ACTION KIT
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