Community

Making York Region ‘more accessible for everyone’

York Region has committed to making it easier to travel and move around the region by considering accessibility needs of people with disabilities.

That’s among the highlights of York Region’s 2023 to 2027 Multi-Year Accessibility Plan, which outlines how the region and York Regional Police (YRP) are working to meet and surpass requirements of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA).

“York Region is committed to creating welcoming and inclusive communities, valuing the diversity of residents and allow every person to thrive, free of barriers and without discrimination,” York Region Chairman and CEO Wayne Emmerson says. “Part of this commitment is making the Region more accessible for everyone.”

The plan was developed in consultation with people with disabilities, community members and the York Region Accessibility Advisory Committee (YRAAC), which marked its 20th anniversary this year. It identifies actions across the following five areas: information and communications, employment, transportation, design of public spaces and customer service.

The region has committed to incorporating accessibility practices across all stages of employment, including providing accommodations during recruitment, assessment and selection processes and supporting employees with disabilities in the workplace. It will create, provide and receive information and communications in accessible ways.

The region will update its accessibility design guidelines for buildings and facilities to enhance the accessibility of Regional public spaces. Under the plan, all employees, volunteers and agents will receive training on AODA, Integrated Accessibility Standards Regulation and Ontario’s Human Rights Code as they pertain to people with disabilities.

York Region’s accessibility plans and policy are written to support the AODA, which was passed in 2005 with the goal of creating an accessible Ontario by 2025, and the Ontarians with Disabilities Act, 2001 (ODA), which works to improve opportunities for people with disabilities and help identify, remove and prevent barriers to their full participation in the province. It applies only to the Ontario Public Service and broader public sector.

Since multi-year accessibility planning was first established in 2013, York Region and YRP have implemented and met all AODA requirements for broader public sector organizations, the region reports. The two organizations continue to meet and, in some cases, exceed the AODA requirements. Most actions in the plan are already in place and remain part of regular business practices.

“York Region is enriched by contributions from people of all abilities,” says Tom Vegh, Chair of the YRAAC. “York Region and YRAAC remain passionate about identifying and removing barriers, changing attitudes and the importance of accessibility across all York Region communities.”

According to the Canadian Survey on Disability (2017), roughly one in five residents aged 15 years and over has at least one type of disability. York Region is home to more than 1.2 million people. “Creating communities where every person can participate is important for people, businesses and community life,” the Accessibility Plan says.

“An accessible community allows everyone to develop to their full potential, participate freely in society and live with respect, dignity and freedom from discrimination.” The plan will be updated every four years to coincide with each new term of council and York Region’s Strategic Plan. Visit york.ca/accessibility to learn more.

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