Commentary by Linda Saxon
The River Town Times reports that the Town of Amherstburg has given the go-ahead for Miracle League billboards, awaiting final OK from the county and ERCA.
The article includes comments from Mayor Aldo DiCarlo and Councillors Diane Pouget, Joan Courtney and Rick Fryer praising the work of the Miracle League and its volunteers, all misguided in my opinion.
The Ontarians with Disabilities Act 2001 (ODA), the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act 2005 (AODA), The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, signed by Canada, the Canadian Charter of Rights and the Ontario Human Rights Code all promote integration, not segregation.
Mandatory training of Essex County Council included presentations by the Essex County Accessibility Advisory Committee that specifically addressed the full and equal participation of every member of society and attitudinal barriers that interfere with the human right to do so.
Has anyone wondered why there was only one Miracle League in Canada? Has anyone wondered if negative stereotypes were being perpetuated?
As an accessibility advocate, I have often criticized the Town of Amherstburg for its lack of commitment to removing barriers in the community, including attitudinal barriers. As a few examples: for the past thirteen years I have advocated for an accessible town website, for accessible voting stations, for an accessible front entrance to the town hall – would any other minority group tolerate an enter at the back sign? No progress regarding these items was made to this day.
In my opinion, the approval of these billboards indicates to me that council needs to learn how to provide a more inclusive community in terms of full and equal access to recreation, festivals, communications, facilities and more.
Kathie Snow, of Disability is Natural, and a previous keynote speaker at the Essex County Accessibility Advisory Committee Accessibility Workshop has published several informative articles on her site, including Separate And Unequal, about segregated sports, which I highly recommend.
All the information is readily available in legislation and resources; those should be guiding council’s actions, not emotions and misguided intentions.