Today marks the debut of York’s new Accessibility Hub, a comprehensive online resource that gathers into one place all of the services, information and standards that are related to increasing accessibility at the University.
Accessibility builds and maintains standards for the inclusion of all individuals across the University in daily activities. Whether it is through face-to-face interaction, teaching, web or print materials, everyone has a role to play in making York accessible for people of all abilities.
York’s new Accessibility Hub provides information on accessible website standards, accessibility legislation, tips on interacting with persons with disabilities, training and more, all in one convenient location. As new information becomes available, the hub will be adapted and enhanced. It will serve as a living laboratory to reflect new thinking and developments in accessibility.
The push towards accessibility has its roots in the 1980s, when several provincial laws were passed to increase accessibility in the province. While progress has been made in some areas and by some organizations, accessibility in some areas still remains limited and people with disabilities do not have equal access to services, employment, transportation or buildings that others in Ontario enjoy.
In 2005, the provincial government addressed this inequality with the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA). Under the act, businesses and organizations in Ontario, including all universities and colleges, will have to identify, remove and prevent barriers to accessibility. AODA, which will be reviewed every five years, sets out series of standards designed to move the province forward on accessibility in a number of key areas.
|What does “disability” mean?
Disability refers to any degree of physical disability, infirmity, malformation or disfigurement that is caused by bodily injury, birth defect or illness.
Disabilities can be visible and “invisible” and can include diabetes mellitus, epilepsy, a brain injury, any degree of paralysis, amputation, lack of physical coordination, blindness or visual impairment, or physical reliance on a guide dog or other service animal, or on a wheelchair or other remedial appliance or device.
Disabilities also include a condition of mental impairment or a developmental disability, a learning disability, or a dysfunction in one or more of the processes involved in understanding or using symbols or spoken language. Disabilities include mental disorders, or an injury or disability for which benefits were claimed or received under the insurance plan established under the Workplace Safety and Insurance Act, 1997.
These standards will be rolled out in stages over the next few years with a goal of completion in 15 years. A University AODA coordinating committee was convened to provide leadership for these new standards.
In 2010, York introduced to the University community the first set of standards to be implemented under AODA. The “customer service” standard ensured that goods and services offered by the University and other public sector organizations are provided in ways that are accessible to persons with disabilities, see YFile, April 20, 2010. All individuals who deal with the University’s customers (students, visitors, prospective community members and alumni) are required to complete an online training module.
“York University has an advantage over some institutions as it has been a leader in being an accessible place to work and study for some time,” said Mamdouh Shoukri, York’s president & vice-chancellor. “As Canada’s third largest University, with more than 65,000 students, faculty and staff, we understand how important it is that people of all abilities are able to enjoy what York has to offer.”
York’s Accessibility Hub provides an accessible toolkit of web standards and will evolve as new information and developments become available. The hub also offers a comprehensive list of resources, training, an option to provide feedback and a list of documents community members can use to make the University more accessible.
“The Accessibility Hub is an evolution of the University’s efforts to raise awareness of disabilities and accessibility,” said Leanne De Fillippis, York’s AODA coordinator. “it offers a home for all the services and information available on accessibility.”