Category Archives: Advocacy

PETITION to remove all ramps from highways in Ontario and replace with stairs

Of course we did not actually create a petition to remove all ramps from highways in Ontario and replace them with stairs, that would be ridiculous. However, I do invite you to take a moment to envision such a world where the only access to highways was a set of stairs …. how would people who use cars get around?

This scenario may seem far-fetched, but for millions of people, being unable to gain access to a vital place or service as a result of barriers to access such as a set of stairs, is a daily reality.

This scenario revolves around stairs and ramps, but there are numerous other barriers to access that affect people with disabilities, be they physical, hearing, intellectual, learning, visual or speech related, on a daily basis.

Hopefully, our fake-petition analogy will help some to better understand how barriers affect access.


For more information on barriers to access and accessibility visit


Turns out the TTC has been using video- surveillance from their Wheel-Trans vehicles to conduct ‘investigations’ into misuse by riders and not notifying riders that they were doing so. Reviews have been conducted by an independent panel using only visual observation of a small fragment of a rider’s true lived-experience to determine eligibility for service use. No medical evidence, no interview of the rider, nothing. They just looked at someone for a few minutes and formed an opinion of that person and their abilities.

I would be interested to learn whether the panel even considered where the riders traveled to using the service. I would bet that the majority of use was to medical appointments, banking, groceries, work, or other necessities. Not that this matters in the slightest, if a person with a disability wants to use the service for purely social matters like visiting friends, that should not be an issue, but I would just bet that the majority of use was for necessity purposes and would serve as additional material in defense of rider.

And, as Toronto Ombudsman Fiona Crean stated in The Toronto Star’s “TTC suspends use of Wheel-Trans security camera footage to weed out ineligible users” by Paul Moloney*, “There are lots of diseases where one day you’re okay and the next day you’re not.”  Many people with disabilities, specifically those incorporating chronic pain, are often only able to be seen ‘in public’ on ‘good days’, so basing a decision on eligibility simply on one short video is a ridiculous assumption that this would be standard representation of that rider’s mobility or eligibility. On days where a rider might ‘appear’ eligible, the rider is most likely unable to use the service at all. There is no video evidence of those days. Basing an opinion solely on visual observation of only a few minutes in a riders entire lived-experience is ridiculous beyond words. Not allowing ‘suspect-riders’ the opportunity to even present medical evidence or address the independent panel doing the review is problematic on a multitude of levels.

Obviously there are other serious issues with questionable issues including: failure to adequately notify riders of the true use of such video surveillance; failure to notify riders of investigations against them; and questionable resource allocation on behalf of the TTC on investigations rather than on barrier removal and increasing overall accessibility. According to The Star, 54 out of 47,000 riders were found to be ineligible during the TTC’s investigations. Hardly a high-percentage of TTC deemed ineligibility and certainly not enough misuse of service to warrant the allocation of such resources. Considering the fact that other than door-to-door service, there are no additional benefits to Wheel-Trans usage over their conventional modes of transportation, including cost it is not surprising to find such a low percentage of misuse. In fact, there are so many disadvantages to using Wheel-Trans that it seems obvious use would be only by those requiring it, with no other options.

Fortunately, the TTC has accepted the Toronto Ombusmen recommendations and has suspended the practice of using the video surveillance for review of eligibility for the time being. It will also be notifying all riders deemed ineligible since 2011 to invite re-application for usage. Not good enough by a long-shot.

Simply observing someone for a few minutes before forming an opinion of them and their abilities is wrong. Affecting someone’s quality of life based on this opinion is unconscionable.


*The Toronto Star: TTC suspends use of Wheel-Trans security camera footage to weed out ineligible users, By: Paul Moloney City Hall Bureau reporter, Published on Wed Jul 10 2013.

An accessible educational curriculum that includes accessibility

Our Session @ The Accessibility Conference – Solutions for Inclusion, University of Guelph, May 28 & 29, 2013

Session Date: Wednesday, May 29, 201

Description: Making teaching accessible is as important as teaching accessibility. Re-framing the narrative beyond making the curriculum accessible, we explore the importance of including accessibility in the curriculum, analyzing opportunities and experiences of the Japanese and UK models that strategically implemented accessibility in a broad range of curriculum, thus creating a future generation of accessibility minded individuals. An accessible Ontario by 2025 includes educational curriculum that incorporate accessibility across all disciplines.

Objectives: Education has an important role to play in fostering the kind of change that will result in the immediate and long-term success of the A.O.D.A. An accessible society begins with strategic implementation of accessibility into curriculum across all disciplines to create a future generation of accessibility minded individuals creating accessible products, services and spaces. We will explore the opportunities and experiences of models that have strategically implemented accessibility and discuss items for inclusion.
The session will:

  • Analyze the opportunities and experiences of other educational models of accessibility curriculum implementation
  • Outline benefits and possibilities presented by the inclusion of accessibility awareness training;
  • Review current Canadian accessibility curriculum such as those being delivered through dedicated disability, healthcare, technological and design programs;
  • Discuss practical solutions for integrating accessibility into the curriculum and explore what a strategically addressed accessible curriculum might look like including who, what, when, where, and how.

Speaker Bio(s): With over a decade spent as a disabled consumer, patient, employee, accessibility advocate, business owner and consultant, first-hand experience with barriers to access and frustration with inaccessibility led Donna to found accessibility firm Roll a Mile and provides her a unique ability to advise on adaptation, accommodation and accessibility from a unique perspective. Or, in the words of her brother, “turns out the soapbox just needed a ramp”.

With a twenty year background as business and marketing advisor, both through her own company and the local Small Business Enterprise Centre, Donna has extensive and proven experience in the wholesale, retail, non-profit, financial, loyalty, online, service, manufacturing, tourism, economic development and public sectors. With a proven track record of developing strategic business and marketing strategy for any business model in any market segment, Donna works assisting businesses, organizations, and institutions implement and improve accessibility and dedicates herself to awareness and advocacy.

For More Information regarding The Accessibility Conference:

First, they came for the strollers and I didn’t speak out because I didn’t use a stroller….

On Tuesday last week, Global News’s Minna Rhee reported a story regarding the banning of strollers from certain spaces, in particular doctor’s offices, ‘War on Baby Strollers’ (

Within the medical building featured in the news story, several pediatricians’ offices within the building had a no stroller’s allowed policy. This resulted in stroller-lined hallways throughout the building. Dr. Aaron Lindzon, a pediatrician interviewed conceded it was, “basically, it’s a space issue”.  The story concludes with “the bottom line is, ask in advance, and don’t be surprised if the doctor asks you to leave the wheels behind, and points out that leaving the strollers in the hallway contravenes the Ontario Fire Code which requires they be clear of impediments.

But the policies of banning strollers concern me greatly, and should be considered an accessibility issue. The use of assistive devices should be permitted in all spaces, and strollers could technically be considered assistive devices. If my wheelchair is permitted, so should a stroller be. They are both mobility devices. And I know a few mothers with disabilities where in that circumstance; the stroller would become an assistive device for the caregiver. I suppose the caregivers of those babies-in-strollers could also technically be considered personal support workers. As well, a person in a wheelchair would not be able to access the stroller-lined hallway in the story, which is a huge issue, and not just in an emergency situation. The strollers themselves become barriers to access.

Awhile back there was a news item out of Ottawa where a bus driver on the public transit system required a woman, her baby, and stroller to disembark a bus in order to accommodate a passenger using a wheelchair. The bus company issued a statement to the effect that the driver had misinterpreted their accessibility policies and the bus line staff would receive more training on the policies.

The aim of the Accessibilities for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, (A.O.D.A.) is for an accessible Ontario by 2025. Progressive implementation of the Act will result in more accessible physical spaces going forward and, hopefully one day, all spaces will be accessible. Benefits and opportunities for all are presented by accessibility, inclusion and diversity, and the unexpected benefit of accessibility on society as a whole is known as the ‘curb-cut phenomenon’. Named from the cuts in curbs originally for wheelchairs that benefited strollers, bicycles, delivery carts, and more. In fact, the typewriter, telephone, tape recorder and email were all developed by, or for, persons with disabilities, and have benefited everyone.

But for now, some common sense approaches could greatly benefit accessibility and strollers. For example, if you are a pediatrician, you should be aware that your patients come with apparatus and find office space accordingly. Medical buildings in particular should know that a large percentage of persons visiting the facility will be ill, have a disability or chronic condition, or use assistive devices. It is a medical facility.

So as an accessibility advocate, I am officially on the side of strollers. And there is, another reason that I think the banning of strollers should become an accessibility issue, if you take the case of the Ottawa bus incident, I do not want to see persons with disabilities demonized by being pitted against babies. Accessibility is not about preferred access it is about equal access.

It should be noted that I am not saying that a person in a wheelchair is in a similar circumstance to a baby in a stroller, certainly everyone has very different mobility options, I am only saying that in terms of accessibility and assistive devices, accommodation should be made for both. Accessibility for all, cradle to grave.


If you are a resident of the Province of Ontario, we would love to include your original signature (ie. Non-electronic) on the petition that will be presented to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario. To do this, please print and sign a hardcopy of the petition (any additional signatures provided are greatly appreciated) and mail to: Roll a Mile, 933 Kelsowood Lane, Fergus, ON N1M 3R8.

Please only sign one version of this petition, either the electronic petition or the hardcopy petition.

Thank you for your support of accessibility.


To: The Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

And to: The Minister of Community and Social Services

And to: Accessibility Standards Advisory Council (Standards Development Committee)

And to: Municipal Accessibility Advisory Committees

And to: Accessibility Directorate of Ontario

WHEREAS, it is the duty and responsibility of the Ministry of Community and Social Services to oversee and enforce accessibility standards and requirements set forth under the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, 2005 (AODA)

WHEREAS, the AODA sets out compliance enforcement powers and processes as well as administrative penalties for non-compliance with the Act, and grants the power to appoint inspectors for the purposes of the Act and regulations setting out the power, authority and process of inspectors and inspections

WHEREAS, the undersigned petitioners desire to have accessible places, spaces and products and recognize that accessibility requirements will be more widely adapted if proper enforcement and penalties are enforced

NOW THEREFORE the undersigned hereby request that the recipients of this petition establish the necessary programs and procedures for the enforcement, reporting and increased awareness.

WE the undersigned petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario as follows:

“That the Province of Ontario request that the Ministry of Community and Social Services expand current AODA enforcement activities beyond the assessment of voluntarily submitted Accessibility Reports, and use the powers, authority and penalties set forth under the Act to ensure compliance with the requirements therein”


“That the Province of Ontario request the Ministry of Community and Social Services set up a feedback / reporting process for non-compliant and / or inaccessible businesses in Ontario similar to the feedback requirements required of businesses under the Act”


That the Province of Ontario request the Ministry of Community and Social Services increase awareness efforts pertaining to the AODA, accessibility and compliance”

Open Letter to The Honourable John Milloy, Minister of Community & Social Services regarding the AODA


September 10, 2012

The Honourable John Milloy, Minister

Ministry of Community & Social Services

6th Floor, Hepburn Block

80 Grosvenor Street

Toronto, Ontario

M7A 1E9

Re: Endorsement of Accessibility Firms

Dear Honourable Minister:

As the Minister in charge of the Ministry overseeing the AODA, I am writing to address the warning on your Ministry’s website advising that the Ministry does not endorse accessibility firms, and in fact warns using such firms “at your own risk”.

Interestingly, it was only this week that the Financial Post featured an article on the World Economic Forum’s annual report which “ranks a country’s competitiveness according to factors such as the state of its infrastructure and its ability to foster innovation” and said “Canada’s economic competitiveness on the world stage is being pulled down by — among other things — government handling of the innovation file”. The non-support of your Ministry of an innovative industry, and an industry that supports and implements your accessibility regulations, is a perfect example of how, “too often, Canada fails to commercialize its good ideas into marketable products and services or capture the value from growth” as the article outlines.

In “Releasing Constraints: Projecting the Economic Impacts of Improved Accessibility in Ontario”, The Martin Prosperity Institute (MPI) & Adaptive Technology Resource Centre (ARTC) at OCAD University & The Institute for Competitiveness & Prosperity (ICP) report that the improved educational attainment, workforce participation and societal access combined with the curb-cut effect and reduction on reliance of social programs, community and family resources that result from the implementation of accessibility leads to more innovative, productive and healthier societies.

With inclusion and diversity driving growth, and the combined purchasing power of persons desiring accessible products and services estimated at $2 trillion dollars, the increase in spending in the next five years in the Tourism Sector projected to increase up to $1.5 million dollars and Consumer Retail Sector up to $9.6 billion dollars, the assistance of accessibility firms that improve accessibility seems like a positive thing to be encouraged, not publicly discouraged.

Accessibility firms, in addition to having extensive experience implementing accessibility programs and having expansive knowledge of the A.O.D.A., its Standards and compliance requirements as well as Federal and Provincial Building Codes, accessibility firms know accessibility. And we don’t just advise on legislated accessibility, we focus on actual accessibility. No legislation is ever going to advise big box stores to wash the wheel handrails on their courtesy wheelchairs, but such small, cost-effective solutions demonstrate the difference between legislated and actual accessibility.

We train staff and businesses to provide adaptive, accommodating service to all customers. We modify website layouts and programming to ensure they are accessible and compatible with assisstive technologies. We go ‘Beyond the Building Code’ and explain the rationale behind the regulations, providing practical strategies and solutions for accommodation. We improve accessibility by increasing awareness with informative seminars, speaking engagements, training sessions, workshops, and marketing and publicity efforts to explain obligations and compliance requirements. In addition, as a fledgling industry, we also have to spread awareness and demonstrate the need for, and benefits of, accessibility. Since most barriers to access exist simply as a result of lack of awareness, accessibility awareness is key to accessibility and can greatly improve understanding and accommodation.

And accessibility firms are comprised of teams including: professional trainers; architects, engineers and designers; disability specialists, project managers, technical specialists, and persons with disabilities. Certainly there may be a few bad apples in the bunch, and businesses can implement the AODA without assistance, however many businesses recognize the opportunities and benefits of accessibility and choose to hire accessibility professionals with practical experience to advise them and help ensure their business is accessible to everyone.

We are not looking to exploit the law and make a quick buck, we are just looking to make Ontario accessible for all. We are also employees with disabilities looking to earn a living at an accommodating, adaptable career in accessibility that highlights our unique skill-sets, and quite frankly, feel it is unfair of the overseeing government body to try and limit the ability of it’s citizens, particularly those with disabilities, from the ability to earn a living.

Accessibility firms aren’t actually expecting your endorsement, but does any other government website warn against a person, product, business or industry sector? Perhaps it is time to read up on Human and Charter Rights. It should also be noted that while your Ministry does not endorse private accessibility firms, it does endorse Accessibility Works, an arm of the government entity Industry Canada. In addition, many Human Resources firms are also assisting businesses to implement accessibility, yet you do not warn against these, or any other firms on your site. Rather than supporting private accessibility firms advocating for, and assisting with making Ontario accessible to all, firms that employ and improve conditions for persons with disabilities, you specifically discourage businesses from using such firms.

The possibilities and opportunities accessibility and inclusion provide are immeasurable and benefit everyone, not just persons with disabilities. Accessibility addresses the core principles of independence, dignity, integration, and equality of opportunity so encouraging and enabling participation and integration for all citizens in all aspects of society including employment, consumerism, and recreation, accessibility is becoming increasingly important as our population ages. For businesses, accessibility expands the reach of their product or service to the entire market resulting in improved and repeat sales while improving corporate perception, customer satisfaction and consumer loyalty. Accessibility firms are working to achieve all of this for Ontario.

And while accessibility firms recognize and appreciate the benefits of the AODA and any efforts the Ministry makes in increasing awareness and improving accessibility, we also understand that the true accessibility involves more than just the implementation of your regulations. Under the regulations currently required, businesses have to provide accessible customer service. Quite frankly, accessible customer service doesn’t help those of us still stuck in the parking lot and lip-service doesn’t get us in the door.

So it’s okay that your Ministry doesn’t endorse accessibility firms, because here at Roll a Mile, we endorse ourselves. We pride ourselves on the fact that in addition to our professional designations, all of our consultants and accessibility professionals have first-hand knowledge of disabilities providing a unique ability to advise clients on barriers to access, adaptation, accommodation and accessibility from a unique perspective. In the words of one of our consultants, “You have to live it to know it”, and this unique perspective is incorporated into all of our accessibility efforts. And really, who better to advise on accessibility than those who encounter barriers to access on a daily basis?

At Roll a Mile, we don’t need government endorsement, we have our PwD’s.

Yours Sincerely,

Donna M. Jack

President, Roll a Mile

Accessibility ~ That’s how we roll

(519) 823-3046


Disability ABC’s

How accommodating is your business?

Business owners often tell me they don’t have enough customers with disabilities to warrant accommodation, but this is statistically improbable, with 1 in 7 Canadians having a disability. And as you can see from the following list, the majority of disabilities are non-visible. So really, how can you possibly know which of your customers have a disability?

Disability covers a broad range and degree of conditions. Some are temporary while others are permanent. Some will have been present from birth, while others may develop over time or occur as the result of an event or accident. Each disability comes with it’s own set of barriers to access and accommodation issues which then vary between individual.

While the following list is extensive, there are hundreds of disabilities that have not been included (please add in Comments section).


Acrophobia ~ ADD / ADHD ~ Addictions ~ Agoraphobia ~ Allergies (Scent, Food, Environmental, Chemical) ~ Alzheimer’s Disease ~ Amputation ~ Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) ~ Angina ~ Anxiety Disorders ~ Arthritis ~ Asperger Syndrome ~ Assistive Device Reliance ~ Asthma ~ Autism & Autism Spectrum Disorders ~ Auto-Immune Disorders


Back Injury ~ Bi-Polar Disorder ~ Bladder Disorder ~ Blindness ~ Blood Diseases & Hematological Disorders ~ Blurred Vision ~ Bowel Disorder ~ Brain Tumour ~ Breathing Issues ~ Broken Bone(s) ~ Bullous Diseases ~ Burns


Cancer & Neoplastic Disorders ~ Carpal Tunnel Syndrome ~ Cataract ~ Cavus Foot ~ Celiac Disease ~ Cerebral Hemorrhage ~ Cerebral Palsy ~ Chemical Sensitivities ~ Chromosome Anomaly ~ Chronic Fatigue Syndrome ~ Chronic Illnesses ~ Chronic Infections ~ Chronic Inflammatory Demyelinating Polyneuropathy ~ Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease ~ Chronic Pain ~ Circulatory Disease ~ Cognitive Impairment ~ Color Blindness ~ Congenital Adrenal Hyperplasia ~ Congenital Heart Defect / Failure ~ Coronary Artery Disease ~ Crohn’s Disease ~ Curvature of the Spine ~ Cystic Fibrosis


Deafness ~ Degenerative Disc Disease ~ Dementia ~ Depression ~ Dermatitis ~ Developmental Disabilities ~ Dexterity Issues ~ Diabetes ~ Digestive System Disorders ~ Down Syndrome ~ Dyscalculia ~ Dyslexia


Eating Disorder ~ Echolalia ~ Electrocution ~ Emphysema ~ Endocrine System Disorders ~ Endometriosis ~ Environmental Sensitivities ~ Epilepsy


Failed Back Syndrome ~ Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder ~ Fibromyalgia ~ Foot Ulcers ~ Friedreich’s Ataxia ~ Fused Wrist


Genetic Photosensitivity Disorders ~ Genitourinary Disorders ~ Gravis


Hard Of Hearing ~ Head Injury ~ Hearing Loss ~ Heart Attack ~ Heart Defect / Disease ~ Hemophilia ~ Hepatitis ~ Herniated Discs ~ Hidradenitis Suppurativa ~ Hip Injury/Pain ~ HIV AIDS ~ Huntington’s Chorea ~ Hyperactivity ~ Hyperthyroidism ~ Hypoglycemia


Ichthyosis Diseases ~ Ileostomy ~ Immune Disorders ~ Intellectual Disabilities ~ Interstitial Cystitis


Joint Or Connective Tissue Problems


Kidney Disorders ~ Knee Injury/Pain


Learning Disabilities ~ Literacy Issues ~ Lumbar Disc Disease ~ Lupus ~ Lyme Disease


Malnutrition ~ Memory Loss ~ Meniere’s Disease ~ Mental Disabilities ~ Mobility Impairment ~ Mood Disorders ~ Multiple Sclerosis (MS) ~ Muscular Dystrophy (MD) ~ Musculoskeletal Disorders ~ Myasthenia


Nerve Damage ~ Neurological Disorders


Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) ~ Osteoarthritis


Pain ~ Paralysis ~ Parkinson’s Disease ~ Personality Disorder ~ Phobias ~ Physical Disabilities ~ Polycystic Kidney Disease ~ Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) ~ Post-Polio Syndrome ~ Psychological Disabilities



Reflex Symmetry Disorder ~ Renal Failure ~ Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA)


Scent Allergies ~ Schizophrenia ~ Scoliosis ~ Selective Mutism ~ Skin Impairments ~ Sleeping Disorder ~ Social Anxiety Disorder ~ Spastic Paralysis ~ Speech Disorder ~ Spina Bifida & Hydrocephalus ~ Spinal Cord Lesions ~ Spinal Injury/Pain ~ Spinal Stenosis ~ Spino-Cerebellar Degeneration ~ Stroke ~ Substance Abuse ~ Surgery


Tinnitus ~ Tourette’s Syndrome ~ Traumatic Brain Injury ~ Trigeminal Neuralgia Spinal Disorder ~ Tuberculosis




Vasculitis ~ Visual Impairment


Walking Impairment




~ For more information on accessibility compliance and accommodation ~