3. Making Regional Services More Accessible
York Region is committed to making sure that people with disabilities have access to the full range of services and programs the Region provides. This is an integral part of making our communities more inclusive and welcoming. As the following summary of our 2009 accomplishments indicates, we are improving accessibility in a variety of ways.
Accessibility Achievements in 2009
Community and Health Services addressed a range of barriers from practice and policy barriers to informational and physical barriers in 2009 by:
- Completing staff training on making recreation programs more accessible to children with disabilities for the Positive Leisure Activities for Children and Youth (PLAY) and summer camp programs.
- Finishing an accessibility audit using the corporate Accessible Meeting Guidelines of all four Breastfeeding Clinics.
- Seeking advice from people with disabilities on how to improve access to the Ontario Works Employment Program.
- Adopting the CNIB clear print design standard as a guide to improve the accessibility of department publications.
- Configuring workplace computers to default to a larger screen and printing font to improve accessibility for staff with low vision.
- Re-designing the department's pages on the corporate website making them available in a variety of formats.
- Implementing professional standards to guide Emergency Medical Services personnel when interacting with individuals with mental illness.
Corporate Services is responsible for implementing high-priority accessibility improvements at York Region's Administrative Centre and other prioritized facilities. In 2009, the department continued to make accessibility improvements to the Region's various properties by:
- Designing and installing a new ramp and handrails at the ceremonial entrance of the Administrative Centre.
- Creating a more accessible salad bar area and improving wayfinding at the Administrative Centre.
- Adding a new ramp and accessible parking spot at 22 Prospect Street, Newmarket.
- Installing brighter lighting and smaller handrails on York Regional Police's elevator.
Environmental Services provides services that protect health and the environment and meet the needs of our communities. This includes providing universal access at our department's public depots, public events and communications efforts. Over the past year, the department addressed accessibility barriers by:
- Reviewing existing brochures to identify ways to create a new, more accessible brochure outlining waste management services.
- Re-designing the New Water for Tomorrow website to include a larger font, more colour and contrast and plain language use.
- Implementing accessibility recommendations in the design of the new Community Environmental Centre in Vaughan.
Among its many responsibilities, the Finance department deals with all aspects of procurement for the Region, including issuing tenders and contracts. In 2009, the department continued engaging staff in assessing existing and new products for accessibility features and is investigating the possibility of converting the Region's existing TTY devices to one with more advanced and improved technology.
Office of the Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) is responsible for corporate administration, strategic planning, internal and external communication, the corporate Customer Service Strategy and emergency management. In 2009, the Office of the CAO acted as the departmental lead for the implementation requirements of the AODA Accessibility Standards for Customer Service Regulation. The department established a temporary disruption process and included it in the Accessible Customer Service training and the corporate Accessible Customer Service Policy.
Planning and Development Services reached a major accessibility milestone in 2009. All of the department's current meeting venues are now accessible as follows:
- Sound amplification is used at all meetings.
- All printed materials are available in accessible font colours.
- All meeting transcripts, brochures and display and presentation materials are available in accessible formats on the York Region website.
- Public notices of meetings now include a clause to contact the Region for any special accommodation requests.
- Sign Language Interpreters are available upon request, through a partnership with the Canadian Hearing Society and notices of meetings are included in the Society's newsletter.
- Print and electronic maps of venue locations are more accessible as a result of using the most readable and largest fonts and providing features such as intelligent navigation, text-to-speech and mouseless keyboards for computer maps.
- Integrating the requirements for accessible public meetings and materials as policy in the Regional Official Plan.
Transportation Services worked with York Region Transit (YRT) to increase the accessibility of its marketing products and services by:
- Revising the YRT route map to include improved layout, colour contrast and larger fonts based on feedback from the CNIB and travel training partners.
- Improving the accessibility of the YRT Mobility Plus Service website by adding a font size option.
- Hosting Public Information Centres in facilities that are readily accessible to people with mobility devices.
Accessibility Achievements in 2009
York Regional Police (YRP) serves York Region by delivering community-based policing, investigative and specialized services to both the urban and rural communities. YRP considers accessibility planning as a significant component when reviewing and developing its programs and services. In 2009, YRP completed a number of accessibility initiatives including:
- Hosting a workshop with mental health professionals to discuss ways to better respond to the needs of children with mental illness.
- Creating a new position to oversee implementation of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, 2005 (AODA).
- Re-designing the entrance at the Customer Service Centre to include barrier-free features and an accessible parking space.
- Adding accessible play equipment and bikes and making improvements to the walkway at the Community Safety Village.
- Implementing CopLogic, an online program for reporting minor incidents/crimes via the Internet.
- Expanding NexTalk, a 911 reporting system for people with disabilities and becoming the first and only police agency in North America to install this technology in a 911 Call Centre.
Barrier Identification for 2010
Community and Health Services will continue to review all client communication materials (including the corporate website) and processes to include accessibility guidelines. The department will conduct a focus group with parents of children with special needs that participated in York Region's summer camp and Positive Leisure Activities for Children and Youth (PLAY) programs to see how service delivery and accessibility of the programs can be enhanced.
Environmental Services will present the architectural design plans for the Community Environmental Centre in Richmond Hill to the York Region Accessibility Advisory Committee for review and feedback.
York Regional Police will hire an accessibility consultant to review accessibility designs and best practices to ensure accessibility measures are included in all YRP facilities that are to be either modified or constructed.
|Proposed Information and Communications Standard|
The scope of the proposed Information and Communications Standard outlines how businesses and organizations will be required to provide public information (online, print, verbal and digital) in various accessible formats like Braille, large print, audio-format and CD
Barrier To be Addressed in 2010
Community and Health Services will hold another Ontario Works Consumer Reference Group meeting to gather further customer feedback on ways to enhance service, including feedback from program participants with disabilities. The department will complete improvements to its Intranet so that by the end of 2010, staff with low vision will have access to written and digital communication and information in formats appropriate to their needs. The department will continue to support the York Region Accessibility Advisory Committee to ensure that the Region is meeting all requirements under both the Ontarians with Disabilities Act, 2001 (ODA) and the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, 2005 (AODA).
Corporate Services will convert two washrooms in the Administrative Centre to one unisex accessible washroom located closer to the Seminar Room and Council Chambers. A distress alarm will be installed in the washroom making it easier for a person with a disability to get assistance from security, if needed. Activated floor announcements will be installed in the Administrative Centre's elevators. The department will act as the departmental lead for the implementation of the proposed AODA Built Environment and Employment Standards when they become law.
Environmental Services will investigate the addition of an audio file option to its web pages on the corporate website and review its pages to ensure business critical information is accessible.
The Finance department will modify its website pages related to public contracts and tenders to clearly indicate that contracts and tenders are available in alternate formats. The department will also support the IT and finance needs of the Office of the Chief Administrative Officer as it moves forward to implement the proposed AODA Information and Communications Standard when it becomes law.
Transportation Services will act as the departmental lead for the corporate implementation of the requirements of the proposed AODA Accessible Transportation Standard when it becomes law. The department's finance group will identify ticket agents who operate on an accessible property and list them on the YRT website using the accessible symbol. The website will be updated to meet the requirements of the proposed AODA Information and Communications Standard. Pending review and approval of Council, the department will establish an accessible forest trail.
York Regional Police will create the Persons with Disabilities Safety Unit to provide people with disabilities greater access to police resources and the information they need to increase their personal safety and home security. YRP will also continue to make accessibility improvements at the Community Safety Village by replacing the pea-stoned surface at the base of the playground with rubberized surfacing, allowing for easier mobility. YRP will expand NexTalk at the front desks of all five districts to allow individuals who are deaf, deafened or hard of hearing to contact the police for non-emergent matters.