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Despite Legislative Progress, Accessible Cities Remain Elusive

Published: January 22, 2024
Author Ron Buliung
Professor, Department of Geography, Geomatics and Environment, University of Toronto

Amid a complex web of disability civil rights legislation in Canada and the United States, one could easily be lulled into thinking that the work is done. Some of this legislation is now several decades old; more recent additions include accessible design standards and guidelines and barrier-free elements of building codes.

But if only this were true. Watching Toronto and other cities in North America work on accessibility feels a bit like watching a snail moving through molasses: the best route is unclear, progress is slow and they often become stuck.

Six Flags Faces Lawsuit Over Disability Policies

December 28, 2023,

A California resident is suing Six Flags over its disability access policy. The plaintiff in the case, which has been filed in federal court, is seeking class action status for the case, which ultimately could affect how people with disabilities are accommodated not just at Six Flags but also at Universal and other theme parks that use the same system.

The case, I.L. v. Six Flags Entertainment Corp. and Magic Mountain LLC [1:23-at-01058], was filed Tuesday in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California. The unnamed plaintiff claims to be a disabled veteran who was denied access to rides at Six Flags Magic Mountain on multiple occasions, despite completing an online application for an IBCCES Accessibility Card, as required now by Six Flags.

Patients Benefit When Medical Schools Remove Barriers for Students With Disabilities, Study Says

Study isn’t just about fairness but shows ‘these students actually have strengths,’ Canadian researcher says Bobby Hristova, CBC News
Posted: Jan 21, 2024

She had the highest grade point average (GPA) at the University of Ottawa and a perfect score on her medical exams, but Shira Gertsman had little chance of getting into numerous medical schools across Canada – because of a disability.

“When I was in my undergrad, I went to a career counsellor and they looked at my transcript … they saw some of [my course load] was part-time and told me not to bother applying because there wouldn’t be hope for me,” said Gertsman, who lives with Crohn’s disease, an autoimmune disease that causes inflammation of the lining of the gastrointestinal tract.

The New Year Should Bring in a New Focus on Accessibility

By Spencer van Vloten | Opinion | January 19th 2024

Accessibility has become an increasingly prominent topic over the last few years.

It is one of the leading issues in community design, and cities, provinces and organizations tout their accessibility strategies as evidence of their commitments to inclusion.

But despite this attention, there are still several areas where accessibility gaps are overlooked, two of which I discuss below.

On the surface, these deficits affect people very differently, but common to each is that continuing to neglect them will lead to a host of consequences felt beyond those immediately impacted.

Volt Hockey is Now in Winnipeg, Giving Kids Living With Disabilities a Chance to Play

Devon McKendrick
CTVNewsWinnipeg.ca Digital Editorial Producer
Published Jan. 13, 2024

Kids who wouldn’t be able to play hockey are getting the chance to do so thanks to a new program in Winnipeg.

Volt Hockey is starting up in Winnipeg and gives kids living with disabilities the chance to try the sport that so many Canadians love.

It is played three-on-three in a gymnasium using motorized chairs that can go up to 14 kilometres an hour. The chairs have a blade on the end and the sport uses a whiffle ball.

More Than 1/3 of New Brunswickers Have a Disability: StatsCan

Advocate calls for ‘drastic change’ as N.B.’s disability rate rises 8.6 % in 5 years Clare MacKenzie, CBC News
Posted: Jan 16, 2024

More than a third of New Brunswickers are living with a disability, according to the latest Statistics Canada data. At 35.3 per cent, it’s the second highest rate in Canada. The national average is 27 per cent.

New Brunswick’s disability rate is also increasing faster than anywhere else in the country – rising by 8.6 percentage points between 2017 and 2022.

Haley Flaro is the executive director of Ability New Brunswick, a non-profit organization that advocates for people living with a mobility disability.

A Modern Era of Wheelchair-Accessible Time Travel is Finally Here

In the 60th anniversary series of “Doctor Who,” wait till you see the TARDIS by Halsey Blocher | January 12, 2024

When rumors began circulating years ago that a certain blue police box time machine might be getting an accessible makeover, my interest was more than piqued. Would a ramp truly be added to the TARDIS when the British sci-fi show “Doctor Who” returned to the air late last year for three 60th anniversary special episodes? That would mean people like me with SMA and other disabilities could become The Doctor’s companions.

Air Canada Appeals Decision on Power Wheelchairs After Touting Accessibility Efforts

By The Canadian Press
Posted January 11, 2024

Air Canada has appealed a decision by the country’s transport regulator that seeks to boost accessibility for travellers living with a disability.

If successful, the move would overturn a requirement to fully accommodate passengers whose wheelchairs are too large to move into airplane cargo holds.

The Canadian Transportation Agency’s ruling marks the culmination of a case that has dragged on since 2016, when flier Tim Rose was told his power wheelchair wouldn’t fit on the aircraft, preventing him from travelling to Ohio as planned.

Manitoba Window of Opportunity Open to Boost Accessibility Standards: Advocate

By: Katie May
Posted: Tuesday, Jan. 9, 2024

Manitoba is in a “sweet spot” to advance accessibility standards and the time for action is now, says a leading disability rights advocate and constitutional law expert.

David Lepofsky is a member of the Order of Canada and Order of Ontario, and an adjunct law professor at Western University (London, Ont.). He was in Winnipeg this week to speak to advocates, the public and University of Manitoba law students about the future of accessibility in the province.

“These are always uphill fights, but our capacity to fight them is substantially improved,” the retired lawyer said in an interview Tuesday, following his Jan. 8 talk at the Canadian Museum for Human Rights, through Barrier-Free Manitoba.

People With Disabilities Hope Autonomous Vehicles Deliver Independence

by Tony Leys, KFF Health News | January 3, 2024

GRAND RAPIDS, Minn. – Myrna Peterson predicts self-driving vehicles will be a ticket out of isolation and loneliness for people like her, who live outside big cities and have disabilities that prevent them from driving.

Peterson, who has quadriplegia, is an enthusiastic participant in an unusual test of autonomous vehicles in this corner of northern Minnesota. She helped attract government funding to bring five self-driving vans to Grand Rapids, a city of 11,000 people in a region of pine and birch forests along the Mississippi River.