June 2, 2011
Media Release

The Regional Municipality of York hosts Accessibility Celebration and Educational Forum

National Access Awareness Week is May 29 to June 4
NEWMARKET – The Regional Municipality of York today hosted a National Access Awareness Week Celebration and Educational Forum.
National Access Awareness Week is an annual event that brings people together to promote and celebrate the work being done to make programs and services more accessible for people with disabilities.
“York Region is committed to creating inclusive communities for everyone to enjoy,” said York Region Chairman and CEO Bill Fisch.  “Our strong tradition of accessibility planning and progress is evident in the work the Region has done to address more than 600 barriers to accessibility.  Today’s event is a reflection of our continued efforts to make services, facilities and programs more accessible for our residents and visitors who have disabilities.”
The celebration included an art exhibit by 15-year-old local artist Emily Bigioni, an appearance by stand-up comedian Gord Paynter and performances by the Alexander Mackenzie High School Sign Language Choir from Richmond Hill.
Following the celebration, pre-registered Accessibility Advisory Committee members participated in an educational forum to learn more about Ontario’s accessibility legislation and the role of Accessibility Advisory Committees in the community. 
“This week, our government announced three new accessibility standards under the groundbreaking Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act,” said Bas Balkissoon, Member of Provincial Parliament Scarborough-Rouge River and Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of Community and Social Services.  “These standards will break down barriers and make employment, communications and transportation more accessible to people with disabilities.”
The York Region Accessibility Advisory Committee acts as an advisor to York Regional Council and York Regional Police on accessibility issues across York Region.  The committee is mainly comprised of citizen volunteers who have a disability. 
“Many members of the York Region Accessibility Advisory Committee bring first-hand experience about what needs to be done to make our communities more accessible,” said Town of Richmond Hill Regional Councillor Vito Spatafora, Chair of the York Region Accessibility Advisory Committee.  “Working with Regional Council and staff, the valuable input and strategic guidance committee members provide, plays a significant role in advancing York Region as a barrier-free community.”
Today’s event was presented by the Municipal Staff Reference Group, a community partnership of accessibility professionals from York Region, York Regional Police, local municipalities, hospitals and school boards.
National Access Awareness Week was established in 1988 in response to a request by Rick Hansen following his Man in Motion World Tour.  Its primary goal is to bring communities together to work towards the full participation of people with disabilities in every aspect of Canadian life.
For more information on The Regional Municipality of York, please visit www.york.ca
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Media Contact: Jennifer Mitchell-Emmerson, Community and Health Services, York Region
Phone: 905-830-4444 Ext. 4016 / After-hours Cell: 905-716-9753
Email: jennifer.mitchellemmerson@york.ca

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