Today marks the United Nations International Day of Persons with Disabilities. This year’s theme is: “Empowering persons with disabilities and ensuring inclusiveness and equality”.
The City of Ottawa is committed to ensuring accessibility, inclusion and equality for persons with disabilities. The City is proud of the strides it has made but recognizes there is more work to be done.
The City launched Key2Access at it’s 15th annual AccessAbility Day at City Hall in 2018 Key2Access is an application that uses a beacon system to help users become aware of their environment by giving them information about the space they are in. Once the app is opened, you will be informed as you approach points of interest throughout the main concourse of City Hall. It allows the blind and partially sighted to get a better sense of City Hall’s physical space.
A new portable FM Loop system and televisions to display captioning have been added at City Hall in order to make public engagement with the City easier and accessible for all residents.
The City has also improved its transportation network. Exterior bus stop announcements help OC Transpo users find and board the right bus. Additional crosswalks have been upgraded with audible pedestrian signals to make it easier and safer for everyone to cross the street.
The City is always looking for ways to make their programs, services and facilities more accessible. In the past year the City has also:
- Made affordable housing more inclusive by requiring new builds to feature accessible units.
- Added an outdoor charging station for wheelchairs at City Hall so those attending festivals and events in Marion Dewar Plaza can charge their batteries.
- Continued meetings of the Accessibility Working Group, a staff working group who ensure accessibility legislation is followed, recommend new initiatives to remove barriers and increase accessibility and inclusion of persons with disabilities in City programs, services and facilities.
- Met regularly with its Accessibility Advisory Committee, an external working group of residents, most of whom are persons with disabilities, who work with Council to recommend changes to programs and services based on accessibility and inclusion.
- Modernized its accessible parking regulations, creating more spaces for persons with disabilities.
- Created a Vehicle-for-Hire Accessibility Fund, which will reinvest monies into accessible transit services and programs.
- Continued to improve the built environments, making City facilities more accessible.
- Trained staff on the provincial legislation and the City’s commitment to accessibility.
Though much work remains, the City of Ottawa remains committed to being an accessible city for all.