One in five Canadians have a disability[i] – some we can see and some we can’t. When we talk about accessibility for Canadians with disabilities the focus is to remove barriers, which can be both physical and/or social, so that those living with disabilities can fully participate in everyday society[ii]. Accessibility Awareness Week is an opportunity to celebrate the valuable contributions of Canadians with disabilities, and to recognize the efforts of individuals, communities and workplaces that are actively working to remove barriers to accessibility and inclusion[iii].
A physical disability is something that changes the way our body works. People can be born with a physical disability or experience a loss of physical function at some point in their lives[iv]. Some examples of physical disabilities are the inability to use legs as a result of an accident, slurred speech as a result of a stroke, or being born without an arm or a leg.
Mental or cognitive disabilities are sometimes a little harder to see. A mental disability affects the way our brains work. There are developmental disabilities, which limits a persons ability to learn (ex. Down Syndrome)[v], learning disabilities which affect how we learn or understand (ex. Autism)[vi], and mental illnesses/disorders which affect your mood, thinking and behaviour (ex. depression)[vii].
The government of Ontario currently uses the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act to ensure that people with cognitive/mental and physical disabilities have equal access to goods and services, buildings, information, employment, and accommodation. This means removing barriers or obstacles, which can be both physical and/or attitudinal, so that individuals with disabilities can fully participate in everyday society.
Mississippi Mills works to ensure that barriers are reduced or removed for residents and municipal staff for:
- municipally-owned buildings (e.g. providing wheelchair access to municipal offices),
- direct services to residents (e.g. offering multiple ways to vote in municipal elections),
- communication to residents (e.g. adapting its website so that text readers can be used for visually impaired users) and,
- employment directly with the municipality (e.g. updating HR policies to include the removal of barriers for employees with disabilities).
Did you know that Mississippi Mills has an Accessibility Advisory Committee? This committee is mandated by the province to work with the municipality to help identify priorities within the action areas listed above which could present potential barriers to residents. This committee is also consulted when new municipal projects are undertaken to help identify opportunities ensuring accessibility for disabled residents.
Need more information?
If you have concerns about a municipal building or need information on available services, you can contact the municipality through a form found on the bottom of the following page
Private businesses can also play a role in ensuring better access.
The building department at the municipality ensures that all new builds are constructed according to accessibility standards through the Ontario Building Code[viii]. Buildings that house private businesses that were built before the accessibility standards were introduced are not required to update the accessibility to their buildings.
For these private businesses, the municipality offers “Tips and Tricks” for businesses on how they can remove barriers (both physical and social) in order to improve access to more clients.
If you’re interested in learning more about improved access, watch for our “Tips and Tricks” social media posts between May 29th and June 4th for more information or visit the municipal website at https://www.mississippimills.ca/en/municipal-hall/accessibility.aspx for a list of resources.
Kristen Ray on behalf of the Accessibility Advisory Committee of Mississippi Mills