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Please Support a Strong & Effective ODA


ODA Committee Update
dated September 23, 2001
posted July 8, 2003


Reaching Out To Your Business Community - Some Helpful Materials

September 23, 2001


For the Ontarians with Disabilities Act to be strong and effective, it must address barriers in the private sector as well as those in the public sector. The ODA Committee is urging ODA supporters across Ontario to reach out to your local business community to
show them that a strong, effective ODA is good for business.

To supplement our recent Action Kit's materials on this topic we provide you here with the following:

* A sample letter that you could send the president of your local chamber of commerce or other business association. This was prepared by London ODA Regional Contact Cathy Vincent Linderoos.

* A news release and the text of speeches given at a news conference last March 8, 2001 by Tourism Toronto, committing their members to the goal of a barrier-free Toronto. Tourism Toronto is an association of Toronto businesses involved in the tourism field.

Their news conference demonstrated that removing and preventing barriers is good for business. You might wish to share these speeches with people involved with business in your community.

There are now only 61 days, or exactly 2 months, until the November 23, 2001 deadline for a strong and effective Ontarians with Disabilities Act to be enacted.



As prepared by London ODA Committee Regional Contact Cathy Vincent Linderoos

To: _____

Dear ____

I am writing to you in your capacity as President of the ____ Chamber of Commerce.

The Ontarians with Disabilities Act Committee (ODA Committee), a non-partisan province-wide coalition, has prepared a bulletin (see enclosed) about the ODA and how it will work to enhance the interests of businesses in this province. It is this positive message that I hope you and the Chamber's Executive Committee will openly support as we quickly approach the government's own November 23, 2001 deadline for this long-awaited law.

Many people from diverse walks of life, as well as organizations and municipalities, have voiced their support over the past six (6) years for a strong, effective ODA. The provincial government's own public opinion poll of June 2000 showed widespread public support for a mandatory ODA. Here in London, we have long had the support of City Council for our repeated recommendations for action to the Harris government. The London Free Press expressed its strongly supportive editorial opinion on the ODA on March 26, 2001, as did United Way Executive Director Helen Connell in her June 16, 2001 opinion column.

I would welcome a chance to discuss this topic with you on the phone at your convenience. Perhaps you could let me know when it might be convenient for us to speak.


CC: David Lepofsky, Chair, ODA Committee, lepofsky@echo-on.net


Tourism Toronto News Release

For Immediate Release
March 8, 2001

TORONTO: Tourism Toronto has announced its initiative to create a barrier-free city both physically as well as attitudinally. With its new Director of Product Innovation, Catherine Smart, the initiative is not only new to Toronto, but also to the Canadian tourism industry.

The reasons for creating a barrier-free city are clear.

According to the Society for Accessible Travel and Hospitality
(SATH) of New York, there are over 800 million people with disabilities in the world and as the population increases this number will increase. This market has an aggregate income of 1 trillion US dollars.

Tourism Toronto will start this initiative by informing and educating its tourism industry members of the opportunity and how to seize it. Universal accessibility affects all sectors of the tourism industry, including hotels, restaurants, tour operators, attractions and many areas of transportation. Tourism Toronto not only recognizes the magnitude of this effort; it embraces the potential visitor impact to its members and partners of promoting universal access within the city.

Tourism Toronto is the official destination, sales, marketing arm of the City of Toronto. Tourism Toronto focuses on promoting and selling the city as a destination for tourists, convention delegates, and business travellers. Officially operating as a not- for-profit agency, Tourism Toronto has more than 850 members in the GTA, and is a partnership of public and private sectors.


Media Contacts:

Tricia Hosking Cathy Smart
Media Relations Manager Director, Product Innovation
(416) 203-3803 (416) 203-3811


Speeches for March 8 Tourism Toronto Press Conference

(please note that the following text has been reformatted to allow for paragraph breaks and does not appear in its original form or as it was received for posting to the site -- the content remains unedited)

1st Speaker - Lynda Friendly

Good morning and welcome! On behalf of Tourism Toronto and its 850 members, I thank you for coming to and for participating in this conference.

Tourism Toronto, the Toronto Convention and Visitors Association, is the official destination, sales and marketing arm for the City of Toronto. It focuses on promoting and selling this city as a destination for tourists, convention delegates and business travellers officially operating as a not-for-profit agency.

We are here this morning to officially announce and celebrate the fact that Tourism Toronto has taken initiative with regards to creating a barrier-free city.

Driven by Cathy Smart, our new Director of Product Innovation, strategies are being developed with Tourism Toronto members, industry members and associations to increase accessibility in Toronto. Incidentally, the Product Innovation position is not only new to Tourism Toronto; it is new to Canada. Collectively, these improvements will make Toronto a more attractive city for visitors from the disabled and mature travel markets. Our ultimate goal is to create a barrier-free city both physically, as well as attitudinally. Most people live each day unaware that the world has been designed for able-bodied, right-handed young adults of average height and weight, with perfect sight and hearing capabilities and the ability to verbally communicate their needs.

The idea of products and environments designed with everyone in mind is the goal of an approach called "Universal Design". Last June the Design Exchange proudly displayed the first museum exhibition of universally designed residential interiors, recreation systems and consumer products. "Unlimited by Design" was a hands-on exhibit that displayed over 250 products, almost a third of which were Canadian. I was personally involved in this project and embraced the challenges and opportunities this exhibit represented. Tourism Toronto is proud and excited to have taken on this business initiative. We not only recognize the magnitude of this effort we embrace the potential impact of promoting universal access within this city. Again, thank you for your participation and your support. I would now like to introduce our next speaker. Olympian; Paralympian; Co-chair of the Paralympic Toronto Olympic Bid; and spokesperson for Tourism Toronto with regard to accessibility issues. Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome Jeff Adams.

2nd Speaker - Jeff Adams

Thank you, Lynda. Good morning and welcome. It is indeed my pleasure to be here today not only to support the efforts of Tourism Toronto, but to reinforce the fundamental priority that I have been communicating for most of my adult life and that is "EQUAL ACCESS FOR EVERYONE".

Over the past couple of years, I have actually been asked to leave a couple of establishments because I was told that I was a fire hazard. Instead of suing these establishments, I decided that I would focus my energies on sending out positive messages to Toronto and beyond. I spend every day of my life fighting against discrimination, struggling to overcome barriers erected by segregation, and a lack of access to places and
programs. When I speak of the disabled, I don't just mean just people who use a wheelchair.

People, who are deaf, blind, developmentally disabled; as well as psychiatric survivors also experience roadblocks daily. The public has a fear of dealing with the disabled. It is a mindset and it' s a case of misconceptions. Our first step is to educate and relay specific information to people who operate businesses and services. This shift in perception will not happen until we understand what has to be done. I meet people who are interested in adapting their businesses to accommodate people with disabilities but worry that the necessary renovations will cost too much and the return will be marginal. These are valid concerns.

Nevertheless, if the following steps are taken into consideration, the prospect of barrier-free design may seem less daunting. Create a wish list including all the areas you would like to be "user friendly" Decide which areas need attention first.Your front entrance for example may be your first priority. Once you have this list, designate a certain amount of money over a three to five year period to cover the costs of
barrier- free renovations. Remember that everything does not have to be done overnight. Choose projects that work into your financial plan. Before you start the renovations, do your homework. Research the subject thoroughly and contact Tourism Toronto for advice and assistance.

The position that Tourism Toronto has taken is a very real way for me along with other consumers and stakeholders to reach our goal - to experience a barrier-free city. I would like to leave you with how experiencing the Olympics has so influenced my life today along with my life for the future. When I win a medal, I bring some of that excellence home with me, and share it. I love the look on people's faces when they start to understand what it 's like to be a part of something amazing.once they catch the glimmer, there 's nothing they can do but chase after it, and try to surround themselves with excellence as well. I am making a commitment today to Tourism Toronto to continue to share the excellence with the communities in Toronto; so that we become the city of excellence; the barrier-free city. I would now like to take the opportunity to invite Rod Seiling, President of the Greater Toronto Hotel Association to say a few words. Rod.

3rd Speaker - Rod Seiling

Thank you, Jeff. As the President of the Greater Toronto Hotel Association representing 130 hotels, it is our belief that creating a barrier-free city is not only the right thing to do-it makes good business sense. There are over 800 million people with disabilities in the world and as the population ages this number will increase. This market has an estimated aggregate income of $1 trillion US dollars.

These are clear indications that these markets are present, have the financial resources and are ready for business. I would like to highlight an initiative that the GTHA started last year in cooperation with the Ministry of Citizenship, Culture and Recreation and the Ontario March of Dimes. The Sensitivity Awareness Program consisted of full day "train the trainer" sessions.

A comprehensive manual including an instructors guide, a tool kit and power point presentation will become an integral part of the existing human resource program for all GTHA members and their staff. The feedback from the program participants was extremely positive. The GTHA has formed an Access Committee comprised of representatives from hotels to ensure equal access for all guests.

The committee will create an industry standard checklist so that our hotels will have specific benchmarks to work from when creating barrier-free spaces. It is the goal of the accommodation sector to implement this program across Ontario with the cooperation of the Ontario Restaurant Hotel/Motel Association. The position that Tourism Toronto has initiated is bold and exciting.

As the president of the GTHA, I salute Tourism Toronto's efforts and will most certainly assist with the very clear commitment of creating a "barrier-free" city for visitors. It is now my pleasure to introduce the person behind this initiative, Catherine Smart, Director of Product Innovation with Tourism Toronto.

4th Speaker Cathy Smart

Thank you Rod. I have spent most of my career working with persons with a disability and was most
recently the Manager of Recreation and Integration Services for 14 years with the Ontario March of Dimes. For the past 20 years, I have had numerous opportunities to work with businesses, consumers, communities, and government bodies to encourage accessibility for all. The time is right to create a
barrier-free city.

Tourism Toronto and its members encourage travel to Toronto and are committed to making travel experiences pleasant and wonderful for all visitors. That is why we're in business. To date, we have been able to identify and begin implementing some key strategies to becoming a barrier-free city. They include:

1) Informing and educating our tourism industry members by providing them with statistics and information so that they can make better business decisions through facilitating relationships and encouraging open lines of communication.

2) Marketing to the disabled and mature traveler markets once the properties and products in Toronto are updated. The statistics regarding these markets speak for themselves. Toronto has the opportunity to become the Canadian leader in providing barrier-free access; in turn, we can become the primary Canadian destination for these markets.

Currently we are involved in the following: Tourism Toronto has created an advisory committee whose first meeting will take place at the end of March. This committee will work with disability groups and the Tourism Toronto members with regard to current government legislation, training, on-going education; along with barrier free design updates.

Tourism Toronto will be developing "stand alone" marketing tools that will be available by June 2001. These
tools will provide concrete information with regard to what is currently accessible in Toronto for our members and potential visitors. These tools will be updated regularly. The following are some statistics that encouraged Tourism Toronto to create my position and undertake our current initiatives.

The Society for Accessible Travel and Hospitality (SATH) in New York City estimates that 39 million Americans have a disability AND the capacity to travel. In Canada, approximately 4.6 million people have a disability. The emerging mature traveler market is affluent and has high expectations in terms of accessibility and safety when choosing a destination. People with or without disabilities will travel if
destinations are accessible to them.

Transportation and accommodation are the two most important components to achieve a positive travel experience for these markets. Accessibility is not only an attraction or hotel issue; it affects all sectors of the Tourism industry in Toronto. There are many areas that require the attention and support from consumers, stakeholders and politicians in this city. At this point I would like to introduce you to some Tourism Toronto members who are here today. They include restaurants, tour operators, convention and meeting services, transportation, attractions, as well as the Toronto Police and the City of Toronto.

They Are: Gordon Chong- (title)-The Greater Toronto Services Board Peter Greg-(title) -The Greater Toronto Airport Authority Staff Sergeant Brian Keown-Disabled Unit Liaison-Toronto Police Patrick McCarthy - Public Relations Director for the Toronto Zoo Irene Kavcik-Public Relations Director for the CN Tower Bob Thacker - General Superintendent of Wheel-Trans Operations from the Toronto Transit Commission Terry Mundell - President of the Ontario Restaurant Hotel and Motel Association Marilyn Smith-LA Costa restaurant
Rob Berry, Economic Development City of Toronto

You are here because you understand how vital accessibility is to this city as well as your operations. You have all made initiatives to improve accessibility. Thank you for being here today and we appreciate your dedication. This initiative is BIG and EXCITING. The intent is for Toronto to embrace the notion of a barrier free city and then run after it with passion and enthusiasm. Thank you so much for your time, your
interest, and your commitment. Toronto is wonderful and it will only get better.

Lastly, on behalf of Tourism Toronto, I would sincerely like to thank Joe Millage, Executive Director of
Variety Village and his staff for hosting this event. We will now take questions from the media.. If any members of the media would like to arrange one on one interviews please visit our media table. We will now take questions from the floor. Thank you all for coming and we look forward to working together to make
Toronto a barrier-free city.


Toronto The World within a city

Accessibility Key Facts

People with disabilities don't travel
People with disabilities don't have financial resources to travel

People with or without disabilities will travel if destinations are accessible to them. In 1995 alone, people with disabilities spent $ 81.7 billion US dollars in travel

Interesting Facts:

Global Market: There are over 800 million people with disabilities in the world and as the population gets older, this number increases.

This market has an estimated aggregate income of over $1 Trillion US dollars.

US Market: SATH (Society for Accessible Travel and Hospitality) estimates that 39 M Americans have a disability and the capacity to travel.

In 1997, 20.5 M (74%) had a high school diploma or higher education, representing 85% of all people with disabilities employed.

The average income ranged from $19,700 to $37,500 US dollars depending on education.

Canadian Market: Over 15% of the Canadian population have a disability.

This percentage is growing as the population ages. For example, 13% of the population between the ages of 15-64 years have a disability, compared with 46% of those over 65 years.

This emerging senior market is affluent and has high expectations in terms of accessibility and safety when choosing a destination.

Sources: CTC, Keroul, US Census Bureau, Fortune Magazine

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Last updated July 8, 2003