May 19, 2000
Rating system proposed:
pay phones useless to people in wheelchairs
TORONTO - A simple task like using a pay telephone presents a barrier to people in wheelchairs and supports the need for an effective Ontarians with Disabilities Act, MPP Marilyn Churley said today. Churley began her countdown to May 24th, the fifth anniversary of Premier Mike Harris's pledge to have accessibility legislation in place. Almost five years later, there is still no legislation.
Joining Churley at Queen's Park was William Meider, a community activist who is confined to a wheelchair. Meider demonstrated the difficulty he and others have using Bell pay phones that are just out of reach. Churley's asking Bell to make adjustments.
Churley said she'd also like to see a rating system that requires companies to post the degree of accessibility and the effort they've put into addressing disability issues. The system would be similar to the proposal to post the results of restaurant inspections, Churley said.
Pay phones, along with bank machines, heavy doors and stairs aren't designed with wheelchairs and scooters in mind, Churley said. "We need mandatory standards to ensure that basic services like these are accessible to people with disabilities. I also think a properly developed rating system based on accessibility standards would be helpful to people. They would know at a glance whether the building or company has made the strides
necessary to make itself available to all."
Churley recalled the fight she had with a bank in her community that led it to install automatic front doors. "I came across a person in a wheelchair who was shivering in the winter's cold
outside the bank, waiting until someone came along who could help open the outside door. I assisted the person and then pushed the bank to have a more open door policy," Churley said. "That's an example of why we need an Disabilities Act with the teeth of enforcement."
Information: phone Sheila White at (416) 325-2503
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