Anne Rota Now Has Completed Human Rights Training

1762668 Ontario Inc., owned by Rennie and Anne Rota, was added to the Accessibility Hall Of Shame because it failed to comply with a February 20, 2014 Human Rights Tribunal Ontario Order, part of which stipulated, “The landlord must retain a consultant with expertise in human rights, disability and access who will provide training to Mr. Rota, and any managers, on the landlord’s obligations under the Code with respect to accommodating disability, and the landlord must provide to the applicant by June 1, 2014, a copy of a letter from the consultant verifying that the training is completed.

Six and a half months late, a December 20, 2014 letter certified that Rennie Rota completed a Human Rights Training Program; the letter was received via regular mail December 30, 2014.

Now, seven and a half months late, Anne Rota completed a Human rights Training Program.

Bart DiPasquale Added To Accessibility Hall Of Shame

In response to my concerns to Bart DiPasquale, as council’s representative to the Amherstburg Accessibility Advisory Committee, he advised me that the committee’s meetings were rescheduled via several emails as mentioned in this post.

Finally, on December 15, I emailed that he still had not addressed my concerns and requested that he advise me of the outcome; his response was, “I believe your concerns were forwarded to the accessibility committee some time ago. I will check on them.”

I have not received any further response.

For the above reasons, DiPasquale is added to the Accessibility Hall of Shame.

What’s The Point?

In response to the post, Rene Rota Completed Human Rights TrainingBob Rozankovic asked, “Your point in posting this is what?”

My response is: the point is to publicly raise awareness of the equal rights of persons with disabilities and the complaint/enforcement mechanism. Some municipal candidates in the recent election were obviously misinformed about the accessibility legislation so if I can contribute to eradicating some of that ignorance, I will exercise my right to do so, as I have for over the past two decades.

Who would argue that public education isn’t needed?

Rennie Rota Completed Human Rights Training

On December 2, 2014 I posted that 1762668 Ontario Inc., a company owned by Rennie and Anne Rota, was added to the Accessibility Hall Of Shame because it failed to comply with a February 20, 2014 Human Rights Tribunal Ontario Order, part of which stipulated, “The landlord must retain a consultant with expertise in human rights, disability and access who will provide training to Mr. Rota, and any managers, on the landlord’s obligations under the Code with respect to accommodating disability, and the landlord must provide to the applicant by June 1, 2014, a copy of a letter from the consultant verifying that the training is completed.

Six and a half months late, a December 20, 2014 letter certifies that Rennie Rota completed a Human rights Training Program; the letter was received via regular mail December 30, 2014.

shopamherstburg.ca has accessibility issues

The shopamherstburg.ca site has accessibility issues that need to be addressed, which makes me wonder – was accessibility included in any RFP?

There is no accessibility statement on the site, nor does the company that designed the site have any accessibility related information on its site.

One can ‘search’ to find a business but unfortunately, there is also no information regarding accessibility of individual businesses, something people need to know – both residents and tourists.

For example, there are two dollar stores in town, but the Dollar Tree is the only one i visit because of its push button doors and wide uncluttered aisles.

I expect the building department to adhere to its ‘minimum requirements’ position, but I would remind everyone that the Ontario Human Rights Code supersedes all legislation in Ontario.

If businesses want to attract more customers, they need to be more accessible; otherwise, I shop out of town.

Commentary by Linda Saxon

1762668 Ontario Inc. Added To Accessibility Hall Of Shame

1762668 Ontario Inc., owned by Rene and Anne Rota, is being added to the Accessibility Hall Of Shame because, as mentioned in this post, the February 20, 2014 Human Rights Tribunal Ontario Order has not been complied with regarding the hiring of a consultant to provide training to Mr. Rota and any managers on the landlord’s obligations under the Code with respect to accommodating disability.

Equal Access Movement 20 Years Old

Two occasions cause me to reflect on my campaign to improve accessibility in my community.

Last week the AODA Alliance gathered at Queen’s Park to celebrate the November 29, 1994 birth of Ontario’s tireless grassroots movement for a fully accessible Ontario and December 3 is the International Day for People with Disabilities.

Prior to the ODA 2001, I endured a decade long battle with the Town of Amherstburg to obtain equal access to the town’s historic Carnegie library. Funding opportunities were lost because the town prioritized other amenities even when the grants specified accessibility came first.

Finally, as a result of my human rights settlement in 2004, an elevator was installed at the library. I was not invited, but the council of the day held a ribbon cutting ceremony and unveiled a plaque crediting council.

A second human rights complaint, merged with the library complaint, resulted in the creation of two accessible parking spaces in the rear parking lot of General Amherst High School.

I recently filed another complaint when I encountered difficulty entering a physiotherapy clinic in a building owned by a corporation. Following a September 2013 Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario Hearing, a February 20, 2014 decision was issued against two Respondents: the landord, 1762668 Ontario Inc., owned by Rene and Anne Rota, and the tenant Anna Maria Fiorito Physiotherapy.

The Tribunal ordered both respondents to pay monetary compensation and install an automatic door with a 4 inch diameter push button. Additionally, the landlord was ordered to retain a consultant with expertise in human rights, disability and access who will provide training to Mr. Rota, and any managers, on the landlord’s obligations under the Code with respect to accommodating disability, and the landlord must provide to the applicant by June 1, 2014, a copy of a letter from the consultant verifying that the training is completed.

The adjudicator noted, “It is obvious that the landlord does not appreciate its obligations under the Code with respect to making its facilities accessible to people with disabilities.”

Mr. Rota did not comply with the training requirement by June 1, nor did he respond to my July 21, 2014 letter reminding him of his obligation.

Any discussion regarding the removal of barriers should include the lack of redress for the non-compliance of an HRTO Order without imposing any additional bureaucracy and/or expense to the victim of discrimination.

Commentary by Linda Saxon

MAKING NIAGARA THE ACCESSIBLE DESTINATION OF CHOICE

Comments have been made regarding transforming Amherstburg into a Niagara-on-the-Lake, but the topic of the community’s lack of accessibility has never been mentioned.

Thankfully, more open minds exist; the Niagara Parks recently conducted an audit of all its attractions to ensure inclusion and accessibility for both visitors and staff and even updated the agency’s websites to meet Web Content Accessibility Guidelines. Full story at the Niagara Falls Review.

The poll at the bottom of the article indicates that 57% are limited of places because of lack of accessibility.

If there were no attitudinal barriers, there would be no barriers – Linda Saxon

Verdi Club Did Not Meet Elections Ontario’s Accessibility Standards

Commentary by Linda Saxon. The following response to my input regarding barriers at the Verdi Club was received today via email.

November 13, 2014

Dear Ms. Saxon,

Please accept our apologies for the delay in responding to you with respect to your feedback from the June 12, 2014 Provincial General Election and our investigation of it.

Elections Ontario is committed to providing accessible elections for persons with disabilities and is responsible for administering provincial elections in Ontario based on the Election Act as well as the Election Finances Act. Our priority is to serve the citizens of Ontario by overseeing the provincial electoral process, and to make the voting process a positive experience. As a result, we aim to consistently identify opportunities for improvement.

We are sorry to read of the accessibility issues you encountered with the entry door at the Verdi Club in Amherstburg, on Election Day. We apologize for the less than satisfactory experience, as we strive to provide a high level of service to each and every elector, and we appreciate your feedback in this matter.

Elections Ontario’s standard procedure for circumstances such as doors not being automated at a voting location, in accordance with the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA), is to post an Information Assistant at the entrance to assist electors heading to the polling station.

Regrettably, it appears that your polling station did not fully meet our accessibility standards. To prevent such issues from reoccurring in future elections, we are forwarding this letter, along with your feedback, to the provincial Returning Officer responsible for administering the election for your electoral district for her follow-up review. We will also take your feedback into consideration as we review our voting location selection process for future elections.

You also noted that signage at your location was poor and that the colours used did not provide adequate contrast. While we make every effort to develop clear and distinct signage for all voting locations, due to the range of locations used to administer a province-wide election, it is challenging to develop materials that are ideal for every venue across the board. For this reason, we sincerely appreciate your bringing this matter to our attention, especially with respect to how we can make signs more visible and accessible for future elections. Moving forward, we will carefully review our signage to make it as effective as possible for all electors.

In addition to providing Ontarians voting locations for casting their vote on Election Day, it may be of interest to you to know that Elections Ontario also offers several alternative methods for voting in the provincial general election, including voting by mail. For more information on these and other voting options, please feel free to visit our website at: http://www.wemakevotingeasy.ca/en/special-ballots.aspx.

We apologize for the difficulty you experienced at your voting location and we thank you for contacting us to inform us of your concerns. Your feedback is valuable to us as we continually review our voting location selection process and customer service procedures for areas where improvements may be made.

Sincerely,

Ilona Boutros

Limited Accessible Voting Options?

Accessibility information is included on the back of the voter registration: “Accessible voting equipment is available on all advance voting days to assist voters who cannot negotiate a paper ballot. On Election Day this equipment will be available at the Libro Credit Union Centre.”

What will it take for Amherstburg to become as progressive as other municipalities and switch to the more accessible online voting option?

Give Phipps His Walking Papers

Commentary by Linda Saxon

In May, Phipps confirmed he was leaving (The Windsor Star) before reaching the end of his two-year contract but said, “I feel an obligation to hang in there to see that the election is run properly and legally.” I do not recall any reports that any elections were not run properly and legally, nor do I recall that additional positions were needed to run an election. Besides, if the new CAO is capable, Phipps can leave; he has overstayed his welcome.

Too much emphasis has been placed on the ‘negative’ people in this community and the negative media coverage but when Phipps, as CAO, behaves in an antagonistic manner, how much negativity is created?

I posted Phipps’ email, “So by notice Ms Saxon, you will no longer have to deal with any “insolent” staff because you will deal with me only.”

Unless someone advises me that all the town hall staff have been let go and Phipps will do it all, I will contact whomever I wish and whenever I want to request information as a free citizen. As I advised Phipps and everyone on council, “historically, there has never been a requirement to provide a reasonable explanation for a request for information. However, if council has established a policy for how administration deals with requests, i am not aware of such a policy.”

No one is obliged to disclose any reason for a request, even when filing an official FOI request form, which is rarely necessary where information is freely available through an open and transparent policy. Oh, but the town has no such policy according to Phipps, “With respect to accountability and transparency, I believe the Town has done as much as is reasonably possible to ensure both. There are no written policies.”

Regardless of the decree, “We will not be providing you with hiring policies or the procurement of goods and services unless you can provide me with a reasonable explanation for the request,” my explanation is that i am a person with a disability and i wish to scrutinize my municipality’s policies.

Phipps’ iphone response was, “I will consider your request based on the limited info you have provided.”

As of January 1, 2008, S.270 of the Municipal Act required that municipalities adopt policies in each of the areas that I requested; Section 224 of the act explicitly includes accountability and transparency as part of the role of council.

I imagine the new council will be busy ensuring compliance with legislative requirements and hopefully establishing a policy for dealing with inquiries from the public that would include training in customer service. Phipps is, after all, a civil servant.

Candidates’ Website Accessibility Issues Revisited

Commentary by Linda Saxon

I am not expressing my opinion as Chair of the Essex County Accessibility Advisory Committee, but rather as an individual with a disability and advocate.

On August 21, I mentioned that Lora Petro’s and Ken Grant’s websites had problems with accessibility issues that may present barriers to persons with disabilities.

Since then, mayoral candidate John Sutton’s site was activated and all three candidates were advised of the barriers.

The results of pointing out the problem?

Lora Petro – Answered, Changes Made
Lora Petro quickly made changes; although a minor issue was found, it was also corrected when pointed out.

Note: thank you!

Ken Grant – Answered, No Changes Made
October 2, response: 
I understand your concerns about my website, I do support residents/persons with accessibility/disability issues.  My website was not created by a professional web builder, I had purchased the site space thru a company (host) where you build the site yourself.  After purchasing my space and building the site with the software they provide I began looking at the “Options Category” before activating the site.  I noticed that there was no “Option” to allow such capabilities.  I contacted the company to see if there was anything that can be done for persons with disabilities who wanted to view the site.  The company had advised me that there was no option available for what I wanted and that I would have to hire a code developer thru a professional business to revamp my site.  Unfortunately the cost was extremely high and out of my price range for the two months that the site would be active.  Again I apologize!
Ken Grant

Note: I expect candidates to be knowledgeable about accessibility because it is a municipal issue and council is the decision making body. However, when a candidate’s platform includes, “Continue to develop and support accessibility issues,” I expect more. WordPress.com is free, domain registration is minimal and so is WordPress for Badeyes: A Beginners Guide at $9.99. The guide provides information about how to secure a domain name, network host, and install and maintain WordPress for both individuals and enterprises. The language is simple, lucid, for those who use a Screen Reader or those who don’t.

Alternatively, a web developer could have been hired for under $500.

John Sutton – No Answer, No Changes Made
Twice I contacted Mr. Sutton. In addition to the site accessibility issues, I asked, “if you’re offering rides to the polls, does that include accessible transportation?” I subsequently remInded Mr. Sutton, “to date you have neither answered my question nor corrected the issues.”

Note: One could conclude that Mr. Sutton is indifferent.

IS IT TIME FOR LOCAL AODA ALLIANCE CHAPTERS?

Commentary by Linda Saxon
Published in Accessibility News – THE PREMIER ONLINE MAGAZINE FOR DISABILITY ACCESSIBILITY

The AODA Alliance has been a very effective voice for the disability community, raising awareness of barrier removal with provincial leaders, but has it trickled down?

I feel somewhat isolated and frustrated that action taken at the provincial level has little effect on my community – a small southwestern Ontario town that boasts about its history and the need to preserve it.

For over two decades, I appeared before town council, wrote letters to the editor, and campaigned for a more inclusive community. To date, I have had to rely on the human rights complaints system twice to have my rights enforced.

Following the AODA Alliance’s suggestion, I urged candidates to commit to, among other items, a municipal policy that no public funds will ever be used to create or perpetuate barriers against persons with disabilities.

Eight of the twenty-nine candidates responded; only one would support a policy, one would “commit to not place public barriers against persons with disabilities, unless it is for THEIR safety” and one would obtain further details before committing to a policy that would potentially limit the possibilities of the entire population.

In answer to the other accessibility related questions, not one candidate provided any specifics as to how she or he would improve accessibility. Some offered to consult with the Accessibility Advisory Committee or improve accessibility as budget permits.

As for the question to commit to specific plans to ensure fully accessible public transit and taxi services, a couple believed in full accessibility; others felt a taxi service is private enterprise and therefore we must always be careful in how and what we legislate if we are adding costs then the enterprise may not be viable and they simply shut down, thus affecting an even greater percentage of the population.

Another stated that public transportation, accessible or not, should not be a cost born by the town.

I also sought pledges from the candidates that no candidate will agree to attend an All Candidates event to be held in an inaccessible location. Only two of the twenty-nine responded; it has been there for some time, but personal assurances were made to have someone there to open doors for anyone who requires assistance and one will try to facilitate the installation of accessible entrances for the future.

Three candidates were advised their websites had accessibility issues; one made the required changes, one did not respond and one said he was told by the company he purchased the space from that he had no option other than to hire a code developer to revamp his site. Furthermore, the cost was extremely high and out of his price range for the two months that the site would be active, but he apologized.

I am really tired of hearing apologies and half-assed commitments to move forward; I want action taken regarding my right to equal access without having to fight for it or waiting for it to happen.

I would like for regional chapters of the AODA Alliance to be established with the hope that local voices would be just as effective at the local level as David Lepofsky’s is at the provincial level.

Aldo DiCarlo’s Followup Comment Re Inaccessible Verdi Club Debate

Aldo DiCarlo submitted a follow up comment to his answer that is repeated here.

As a follow up, I have spoken to the new President of the Verdi Club and apparently the Club is in the process of having the accessible doors installed. They were already aware of the need for the upgrade and the issue raised here. They assured me that there would be people there to assist those who require it. Hope this helps in the interim.
Aldo DiCarlo

Aldo DiCarlo’s Answer to Inaccessible Verdi Club Debate

Aldo DiCarlo submitted the following via the comments to the original post and it is being repeated here.

I spoke with a representative at the Amherstburg Chamber who explained to me that the Libro Centre was not available for the scheduled nights. I cannot speak to rescheduling as that is the will of the Chamber. After being told that someone would try to keep watch for individuals who need assistance, I suggested using high school students, who could allocate the time as community hours. This would ensure having someone specifically for access and providing an opportunity for high school students to accrue hours while being exposed to the challenges of people with disabilities. Although I do not have a physical disability, I am sensitive to those that do, and that not all disabilities are visible. As a Facilitator for CUPE National, I’ve attended and teach workshops specifically about disabilities in the workplace, as well as many others. Having grown up on Texas Road I have an emotional, as well as a community, attachment to the Verdi Club and would like to help keep events there. I thank you for raising this issue, and in turn, I will also contact the Verdi Club and try to facilitate the installation of accessible entrances for the future.
Sincerely,
Aldo DiCarlo