The Toronto Star’s 25 Metroland Online Local Newspapers Announce New Monthly Disability Rights Column by AODA Alliance Chair David Lepofsky

Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance Update United for a Barrier-Free Ontario for All People with Disabilities Website: https://www.aodaalliance.org
Email: aodafeedback@gmail.com
Twitter: @aodaalliance
YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/user/aodaalliance

June 27, 2024

SUMMARY

When the mainstream media reports on the disability barriers that still plague Ontarians with disabilities, it really helps our advocacy efforts to tear down those unfair barriers. Yet the media employs fewer and fewer reporters. How do we get them to cover our issues?

We need to become citizen journalists and write the stories ourselves. One way to do that is to send letters to the editor of media organizations like newspapers. The gateway for doing this is when the media run a story on which you can comment.

Below is an example. It’s a letter to the editor that the Toronto Star printed on May 29, 2024. AODA Alliance Chair David Lepofsky applauded the City of Toronto for banning electric scooters. The gateway that opened the door to his writing this letter was a guest column that the Toronto Star had published earlier that blasted Toronto for banning e-scooters.

Another way to contribute is to submit a guest column to a newspaper or news website on a disability topic. We are delighted to announce that the Toronto Star’s Metroland newspapers, posted on 25 websites and addressing local communities around Ontario, has invited AODA Alliance Chair David Lepofsky to write a monthly guest column on disability issues. Below you can read the first such column.

^How You Can Help

Whenever you read a news story on a website or in a newspaper, think of ways you could respond to it by a letter to the editor in which you raise a disability issue that relates to the story. Check out the news publication’s website to see what the email address is for sending a letter to the editor. You should also read their rules or guidelines for letters to the editor. Usually, the letter needs to name the story that you are responding to and be no more than 300 words long.

If you are more ambitious, try submitting a guest column to the news publication. Before you do that, you should also consult its website to see what guidelines they have for guest columns.

Let us know what you try. Write us at aodafeedback@gmail.com

There are now only 188 days until 2025, the deadline when the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act requires Ontario to have become accessible to Ontarians with disabilities. Where’s Premier Ford’s plan of action?

MORE DETAILS

Metroland Simco.com June 19, 2024

Originally posted at https://www.simcoe.com/opinion/contributors/welcome-to-metroland-s-new-monthly-guest-columnist-on-disability-issues/article_2e82d61c-01e8-59f8-ba09-70282e31ad1b.html OPINION Welcome to Metroland’s new monthly guest columnist on disability issues.
This monthly column, written by a retired lawyer who is blind, offers insights into various disability issues faced by individuals in Ontario. It emphasizes the importance of advocating for the rights of persons with disabilities.

By David Lepofsky
Wednesday, June 19, 2024

David Lepofsky is a retired lawyer who chairs the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance.

I’m delighted that Metroland invited me to write a monthly guest column on disability issues. Let me introduce myself. I’m 67, a lifelong Toronto resident, and a retired or better put a recovering lawyer. I’ve been totally blind since my early 20s. Before that I had no vision in one eye, and gradually dwindling partial vision in the other eye.

During my 33 years of law practice, I worked as counsel for the Ontario government. I argued civil cases, constitutional cases, and for the last 23 years, criminal cases. I appeared in the Supreme Court of Canada on 30 cases, and in the Ontario Court of Appeal on around 200 appeals.

I spent much of my free time over those years, and much of my retirement, doing voluntary advocacy to fight for new laws to protect the 2.9 million Ontarians who now have a disability, and all the rest of Ontarians who eventually will get a disability as they get older.

Because I don’t know how to slow down after retiring, I teach law part-time. I’m now the visiting research professor of disability rights at the law school at Western. In whatever spare time is left, I religiously get my 10,000 steps per day and can never watch enough “Star Trek.”

Why a column on disability issues? It’s because we are the minority of EVERYONE! Everyone has a disability now, or gets one later. Disability issues are everyone’s issues.

Disabilities include physical disabilities, sensory disabilities (like my blindness), mental health conditions, learning disabilities, developmental disabilities, communication disabilities, neurological disabilities, and many more. We all face too many disability barriers, whether in public transit, in our education system, in our health-care system, or when we try to get a job or go shopping. Those barriers hurt us all.

I aim to identify recurring barriers that need to be fixed. I also believe in offering practical, workable, constructive solutions.

Here’s just one example: Thirty years ago, I asked the Toronto Transit Commission to audibly announce all subway stops, so we blind folks could know what stop we had arrived at. Their answer was not very helpful. What did I do? I brought a legal case against them and won it. I later had to bring another case to force TTC to announce all bus stops. Now they’re doing it, but only after years of battling me.

Why do I do this advocacy? I suppose it’s because I care about it and I’m fortunate enough to be able to do it. I’m also doing what I can to reach the next generation to help them carry on with the cause.

The one thing I don’t now do is to represent or advise clients. This is because I retired from the practice of law.

So what are the big disability issues facing us in this province and this country over the next weeks and months, you might ask? Well, that is the question that this column will try to answer. I hope you enjoy it.

Toronto Star May 29, 2024

Originally posted at https://www.thestar.com/opinion/e-scooters-create-more-dangers-than-benefits-especially-for-people-with-disabilities/article_27196b84-1c4a-11ef-a545-8f8e71a1eae5.html

Letters to the Editor

E-scooters create dangers for those with disabilities

Why Toronto needs to embrace e-scooters: a path to a more connected and a sustainable Toronto, May 26

Guest columnist Walied Khogali got it crushingly wrong when he blasted city council for saying no to e-scooters. E-scooters especially endanger vulnerable seniors and those with disabilities. Blind people like me can’t tell when e-scooters, a silent menace, rocket at them at more than 20 km/h, driven by unlicensed, untrained, uninsured, often unhelmeted fun-seeking joyriders. Left strewn on sidewalks, e-scooters are tripping hazards for blind people and accessibility barriers for wheelchair users. Toronto has become less accessible to people with disabilities. Allowing e-scooters would make that worse.

Allowing e-scooters would impose significant costs on taxpayers for new law enforcement, OHIP for treating those injured by e-scooters, and lawsuits by the injured. Toronto has more pressing budget priorities.

Toronto’s official Accessibility Advisory Committee has three times pressed city council to say no to e-scooters. More than 20 major disability organizations representing a diversity of disabilities pleaded with city hall to say no to e-scooters. The dangers e-scooters pose to the public have been repeatedly proven in cities that allow them. We thank an overwhelming majority of city councillors for listening.

We support battling climate change and strongly applaud micromobility to help with this. But we don’t need e-scooters for this, with all the dangers they create. Other forms of micromobility, like cycling, amply meet our needs. Where they are allowed, e-scooters don’t add substantial new benefits. They just add new dangers.

David Lepofsky, Chair Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance, Toronto