February 22, 2007
Media Release

York Region receives Ontario Mainstreet Accessibility Award

 
York Region declared a leader in removing barriers for people with disabilities
 
NEWMARKET The Regional Municipality of York has been awarded an Ontario Mainstreet Accessibility Award for 2006 for outstanding leadership and vision for improving accessibility within diverse communities.  The award was presented to Regional Chair and CEO Bill Fisch by representatives from the Toronto Association of Business Improvement Areas (TABIA) at today's Regional Council meeting.
 
"I am very proud to accept this award on behalf of York Regional Council," said Bill Fisch.  "The Region has successfully improved accessibility to many regional services and programs which is crucial to enable all York Region residents to participate fully in all the Region has to offer."
 
The Ontario Mainstreet Accessibility Award recognizes the efforts of small businesses and Ontario communities that significantly improve accessibility and reduce barriers for people with disabilities. The awards program was developed through a partnership between TABIA, the Ontario Business Improvement Areas Association and the Ontario Government.
 
"These awards provide us with an opportunity to recognize outstanding leadership and initiative in making businesses and services more accessible for everyone," said John Kiru, Executive Director of the Toronto Association of Business Improvement Areas.
 
York Region's approach to accessibility planning has resulted in improved access to all aspects of the Region's programs and services, including transit, police services, Regional facilities, policies, programs and services.  The Region also has made strides in identifying and removing barriers that impact on people with not just physical disabilities but also those with cognitive and sensory disabilities.
 
Since the enactment of the Ontarians with Disabilities Act, 2001, York Region has created four accessibility plans and implemented three, which have resulted in more than 250 accessibility planning initiatives.  These initiatives work towards achieving the Region's accessibility planning objectives of:
- Helping people live independently
- Making it easier to move around the Region
- Making Regional services more accessible
- Making it easier to participate in Regional government
- Changing attitudes and raising awareness

BACKGROUNDER
York Region's initiatives to make programs and services more accessible to people with disabilities

Ontario Mainstreet Accessibility Award recognized York Region's commitment
 
NEWMARKET The Regional Municipality of York has significantly increased access to Regional programs, services and facilities.  York Region's residents, including people with different types of disabilities, will benefit from these improvements, both now and in the future.  Specifically, improvements have been made to:
 
- Buses, bus stops and crosswalks - through the purchase of new buses, which include accessible features such as electronic signs and audible stop announcements.  Concrete pads at bus stops have been replaced and curbs have been changed to allow for mobility devices and audible crossing technology has been installed to assist those who are blind or have low vision to cross the streets safely
- Buildings, housing and long term care facilities through renovations to entrances, accessible washrooms, walkways and signage, allowing more people with disabilities to access these buildings
- Policing services through the establishment of a mental health support team to assist our officers in responding to calls or incidents involving people with mental health disabilities
- Regional policies and practices - through the development of accessibility meeting and multiple format guidelines, allowing more people to participate in Regional Government and to make procurement practices more accessible
- Training programs - through the development of a corporate sensitivity and inclusivity training program.  To date, 400 staff across York Region have completed this course
- York Region's website through continuous monitoring to improve technologies, allowing more access for persons with low vision
 
These and other accessibility initiatives from each of York Region's departments are outlined in detail in the Region's three accessibility plans Understanding Barriers (2004), Moving Forward (2005) and Removing Barriers (2006).  These plans are available on York Region's website.  Work is under way on the Region's fourth accessibility plan, which will be released shortly.
 
In 2004, York Region received an investing in Abilities Award from Future Abilities and Creative Employment (FACE) for ongoing efforts to remove barriers for people with disabilities as both an employer and a promoter of accessibility.  York Region was recognized further by the provincial government, which identified York Region's process for establishing its Accessibility Advisory Committee and accessibility planning process as a best practice and model to be used by other organizations.
 
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Media Contact: Tim Paleczny, Corporate Communications, York Region
 Phone: (905) 830-4444 Ext. 1238, (416) 297-9696 or Toll free 1-877-464-9675
 Cell Phone: (905) 251-6413  Email: tim.paleczny@york.ca
 
 
 
 

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