A Successful International Day of Persons with Disabilities
On December 1, the City of Ottawa hosted their fourth annual International Day of Persons with Disabilities event virtually over Zoom. While the recognized day itself is observed on December 3, the City held its event 2 days before to accommodate participants wishing to attend multiple virtual events held across the City or around the world.
Over 160 participants attended this year’s event. We celebrate this day annually to promote the rights and well-being of persons with disabilities and to increase awareness of the barriers that persons with disabilities face.
The UN’s theme for this year’s International Day of Persons with Disabilities is Transformative Solutions for Inclusive Development: The Role of Innovation in Fuelling an Accessible and Equitable world.
Mayor Sutcliffe kicked off the event by delivering opening remarks regarding the City’s focus on accessibility heading into this new term of Council, as well as delivered the Proclamation of the day. We also heard from interim City Manager, Wendy Stephanson, who summarized just some of the accessibility initiatives the City has implemented over the past year. A full list of 2022 accessibility accomplishments will be included in the City of Ottawa’s Municipal Accessibility Plan (COMAP) update report next spring.
The event featured two speakers, Philip Rizcallah, Chief Executive Officer of Accessibility Standards Canada, who provided an update on the development and progress of federal accessibility standards, including a review of the built environment standard, and Rich Donovan, who outlined the focus and direction related to the fourth legislated review of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, 2005 (AODA), currently taking place.
Additionally, the latter half of the event featured speeches from community representatives who work closely and collaboratively with the City on numerous accessibility initiatives.
We first heard from Phillip Turcotte, chair of the Accessibility Advisory Committee, who spoke about the numerous projects he and his fellow members reviewed with an accessibility lens over the past 4 years, as well as spoke to the upcoming recruitment of new committee members. Closing the event, we heard from Jerry Fiori, former-chair of the Ottawa Disability Coalition, on how this group came to be, as well as the importance of formal and informal networks, and their need to collaborate with the City to increase awareness and remove all types of barriers for people with disabilities in our community.
If you missed the event, a recording is available on the City’s YouTube channel.
City of Ottawa Municipal Accessibility Plan update
Under the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA), the City provides an annual update on its progress towards the goals of our multi-year accessibility plan, currently the 2020-2024 City of Ottawa Municipal Accessibility Plan (COMAP).
This annual report was approved by Council on June 22.
Some highlights from this year’s annual report include:
- Accessibility continues to be a focus for COVID-19 community vaccine clinics. All clinics were assessed using the City’s Accessibility Design Standards (ADS). A process for responding to disability-related accommodation requests continues to this day.
- Sixteen (16) accessible benches were installed in numerous wards across the City to continue to increase the availability of rest stops and assist with the improved mobility of Older Adults and persons with disabilities in the city.
- Through the Accessible Programming initiative, Recreation and Cultural Services increased participation in recreational programs for individuals with disabilities by continuing to assess and revise recreational programming options throughout 2021. This included the development and delivery of a virtual “Variety at Home” program for adults with developmental and intellectual disabilities when other programming was paused during the lockdown period. They also offered adapted summer programs, which provided an opportunity for persons with disabilities to continue recreational activities when community programs were limited.
- Changes to the City’s Accessibility Policy and Accessible Formats and Communication Supports Procedure were also approved. American Sign Language (ASL) and Langue des signes quebecoise (LSQ) has been provided for all municipal media availabilities and emergency-related events since mid-March, 2020. This provision will continue for all verbal state of emergency and other large-scale emergency-related communications, moving forward.
- The pilot program that assists Members of Council to provide accessible formats and communication supports when communicating with their constituency will continue in 2022.
The Accessibility Office acknowledges the significant work achieved by the Accessibility Advisory Committee. This group of resident volunteers continue to play a vital role in supporting accessibility initiatives and providing disability perspective to City programs, services and infrastructure.
Though priorities remain responsive and flexible, the City continues to work towards the goals of the 2020-2024 COMAP. We continue to promote “nothing without us” in City projects, services and programs. Engagement with persons with disabilities is critical in our vision of a fully inclusive and accessible City.
The City will continue to update the Province, Council, the AAC and the general public on the accessibility of our services, programs and facilities through these annual updates.
A Successful 19th Annual City of Ottawa AccessAbility Day
As part of National AccessAbility Week (NAAW), the City of Ottawa held its 19th annual AccessAbility Day event on Wednesday, June 1, 2022. The theme of this year’s event was "Intersectionality – celebrating diversity within our community."
Attendees of this virtual event were joined by Deputy Mayor Laura Dudas, who proclaimed June 1 as AccessAbility Day in Ottawa, and City Manager Steve Kanellakos, who emphasized the key message to "fully embrace disability as part of an inclusive society."
The event also featured keynote speaker Sarah Jama, Executive Director of the Disability Justice Network of Ontario, who provided a realistic and thought-provoking overview of some of the institutional, systemic, environmental and physical barriers still faced by those with disabilities in our province.
The event concluded with a panel discussion on intersectionality and disability. Panelists spoke about their lived experiences as people with disabilities and intersectional identities. They discussed daily barriers and challenges and how we can all be more inclusive in our personal and professional lives.
In addition to it being AccessAbility Day in Ottawa, June 1 was also Red Shirt Day, an Easter Seals initiative that encourages everyone to wear red in support of people with disabilities, accessibility and inclusion.
If you missed it, a recording of the event is posted on the City’s YouTube page.
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