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David Lepofsky - Accessibility Cafe Queen's University: January 22, 2016

Well, we live in a society which was not designed and is not operated to ensure that people with disabilities can fully participate. We live in a society where far too many of its schools and its university and college buildings and programs are designed on the false assumption that they're only there for students or teachers without disabilities.  And when students or teachers with disabilities come along and say let me in, they're viewed as the exception for whom accommodations have to be worked out, if we can.  We live in a society where our laws are written on the assumption that they are only for people without disabilities.  And if people with disabilities find that those laws, or the programs operated under them, are ones in which we can't fully participate, we're viewed as the exceptions for whom an accommodation can be made, if we can and if you sue.  We live in a society where our workplaces, far too often, our public transit systems, far too often, our public places, our goods, our services, our retail establishments, frankly everything, our healthcare system are all designed on the same false and unfair basis, that they're only there for people without disabilities.  Well, who suffers from this? Ontario has over 1.8 million people right now who have a physical or sensory or mental or learning or intellectual disability or condition, a mental health condition.  That alone makes such an irate situation completely inexcusable and completely unacceptable.  But there's more.  You see, everybody either has a disability or gets a disability eventually, as all you've got to do is live long enough because the natural cause of disability, for most, is the ageing process.  The alternative of avoiding the ageing process is not one I'd recommend just to avoid acquiring a disability.  So ultimately, we are the minority of everyone.  Everyone ultimately suffers from the barriers that we face.  Some of those barriers are physical, like steps to get into a bus or a schoolhouse or a train.  Some of the barriers we face are bureaucratic.  Some of them are legal barriers.  Some of them are technology barriers.  Some of them are just plain stupid barriers, but they're everywhere.  Now the mythology is, oh they come from the olden days before we do better, because of course 50 years ago when we built buildings and designed public transit and so on, back then, there weren't yet people with disabilities, right?  So, it made perfect sense.  But we know better now.  Now, to some extent, we do.  But, believe it or not, even now we are still building buildings and designing technology and operating programs that have new barriers.  It's still going on.  And it shouldn't, because it doesn't help anyone and it hurts everybody.  So what we do about it?  Well, the good news is, these barriers are all illegal.  They've been illegal since 1982, when we, our, our country passed the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, which guarantees equality to people with disabilities at the hands of government.  And we also amended the Ontario Human Rights Code and passed federal human rights legislation just before, which bans discrimination in the public and the private sectors, based on disability.  And these laws are good laws.  They broadly define disability.  They broadly define discrimination. They narrowly define the defences that an organization can raise if they haven't effectively accommodated a person's disability.  But the problem is, with these laws is, that to enforce them you have to fight one barrier at a time as an individual.  And most people with disabilities won't. I know what it's like to bring an individual human rights case.  I brought a claim as a blind individual to get the Toronto Transit Commission to announce all subway stops.  They have windows on every subway car so sighted people can know where they are.  Why not audibly announce all stops so blind people can have the same opportunity?  The TTC fought me tooth and nail.  First, they said no, we're going to put in automation later.  Then, they said yes and then they didn't really do it effectively.  Then they said we'd get better and then they didn't.  And then I had to file a human rights complaint and then they fought me every step of the way, cross-examining me for a full day under oath.  I won that case.  I won that case in 2005.  It's called Lepofsky versus TTC.  Around that time, I also asked them to, if you've got to announce all subway stops, then surely you could announce all bus stops, for the benefit of blind people, so they too could know where they are.  You might think that that's obvious.  So did I, but not the TTC.  I had to fight Lepofsky versus TTC, number two.  I won that in 2007.  People shouldn't have to go through this.  I can tell you it's not fun.  Not only that, but it's typically not a fair fight.  I had the good fortune that I'm a lawyer and I had the benefit of great free pro bono volunteer lawyers to help me out.  On the other side were TTC's legal, TTC's lawyer and a Freedom of Information request I brought showed how much they spent on that lawyer.  To oppose consistently calling all subway and bus stops, TTC spent fully 450,000 of your dollars.  I'm not saying that everybody is going to spend that kind of money opposing these cases, but no one should have to be up against this.  So, the good news is that 21 years ago last fall, a small group of people with disabilities, and I had to be the privilege -- I happened to be privileged to be one of them, banded together to say, we need a new law in Ontario to ensure that the barriers we face are torn down and new ones are prevented, before they're ever created, without us having to sue one barrier at a time.  We fought for a decade.  We organized around the province, including in Kingston, where I'm proud to be right now.  And we eventually won.  We persuaded one member of the legislature at a time, around the province, all the parties, to eventually unanimously support the passage of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act 2005.  It was really an honour and a privilege in a volunteer capacity to lead this volunteer campaign.  And it was people like you, at meetings just like this, learning about action tips that led to the action that led to that legislation.  And the day it passed, it passed unanimously.  All three parties voted for it and applauded it. And I will tell you, having spent a fair amount of time at Queen's Park, there is rarely occasions where all three parties agree on anything, including what the time of day it happens to be.  To watch them both vote in, unanimously for this law and stand to applaud it  was really quite an amazing event to behold.  There was a real sense of momentum and mission at Queen's Park, not just among us, but among the politicians of all political stripes who support, who voted for that legislation.  Well, what did it do?  It had key ingredients.  Number one, it said that, as a mandatory legal goal, Ontario must become fully accessible to people with disabilities by 2025.  It defined both the term disability and barrier, very broadly.  Number two, it put somebody in charge.  It's not good enough to just say, oh we have a dream.  We've got to put someone in charge of getting us there.  And the someone is the government of Ontario.  Not that the government has to go out and fix every barrier everywhere that they can be found in the public or private sectors, that would make no sense to saddle all of that with the government.  No, this is a group project for all of us.  What the law did is it put the government in charge of leading us there and the government can lead us there through two important ways.  The first, it must develop a series of regulations, they're called accessibility standards.  And they're there to tell organizations what they have got to do and when they've got to do it by to become fully accessible.

And these can be done by, by different sectors of the economy or by different areas of human activity.  The government was required to consult with experts in disability, namely people with disabilities, and experts on how to operate a business, namely people who operate businesses to figure out how to design these standards.  And the law didn't say the government may create these standards, it said it must do so.  And it didn't say they may create a few or must create a few, it said it must create all the accessibility standards needed to ensure that the goal of the act is achieved and the goal of the act is full access by 2025.  The other thing it requires the government to do is to effectively enforce these standards and it gave them ample powers to do so.  So, it set the goal and the roadmap and it put someone in charge and it gave them all the power and duty they need to get us there.  That's quite an accomplishment for the government of Ontario and it's a huge credit.  We're nonpartisan.  We'll praise any politician willing to do good and criticize when they don't, but it's a huge credit to Premier Dalton McGuinty for promising to do this, for leading it, and for turning that legislation around so quickly.  They took power in October of ‘03 and that law was introduced for debate by October of '04 and it was passed by May of '05, after a broad, full, and commendable province-wide consultation process, and an inclusive one.  They deserve a lot of credit.  Even the leader of the, then leader of the opposition Conservatives, John Tory, commended the government for its passage of this legislation.  Opposition parties don't usually commend the government for much.  And it's to his credit that John Tory got his party to support us in this legislation and led a vigorous opposition to try to strengthen it, as it was going before the legislature.  So that's all good.  But, how are we doing now?  Well, credit where it's due, we are making some progress.  I think it's fair to say that there's been more action on accessibility in Ontario than there would've been had we not campaigned for and won this legislation.  But that's not good enough.  The bottom line is that we are now, now not on schedule for full accessibility by '25, 2025.  The legislation gave us 20 years, there's less than nine years left.  As of last year, when we were halfway to that goal in terms of time, we were not halfway to that goal in terms of progress.  And don't take my word for it.  I can turn to a very authoritative source that the government itself selected to take our temperature.  You see, under the Disabilities Act, the government is required, every few years, to appoint an independent review to consult with the public, including people with disabilities, business communities, and so on, to take our temperature, find out how much progress we've made, and recommend any action we need to ensure we reach that goal.  There have been two such reviews.  One, in 2010 report -- one reported out in 2010 and the other reported out in 2014.  And just focussing on the 2014 report, it was conducted -- and the government picks who is going to be assessing them.  In 24, and they picked good people for both of them, in 2014, they picked Mayo Moran.  She was then the Dean of the University of Toronto Faculty of Law, bright, hard-working, and dedicated to equality.  A great choice.  Well, her report, which the government received in November of 2014, and it made public just about under, under a year ago, last February 13th, politely worded, but it's quite a damning report.  The upshot of her report is that we are not now on schedule for full accessibility, that while there has been some progress, there hasn't been enough.  She said the government needs to revitalize its implementation of this law and breathe new life into it, words that the review in 2010 by the first reviewer Charles Beer, had also said.  And she pointed directly to Premier Kathleen Wynne and said we need new leadership by the premier.  She also said, from feedback she'd heard from the disability community, that even after a decade and some progress, this law has not made a significant difference in the lives of people with disabilities.  So, it's not just that we haven't made enough progress, it's actually not made a significant difference in our lives.  And after 10 years, I would respectfully suggest, if it had been implemented effectively, it would've made a significant difference.  So what's wrong?  What's gone wrong?  What, what's missing?  What, what, why are we behind?  Well, I'd like to suggest there's, there's really three reasons.  First, the, the government commendably got to work early on, right after 2005, right after the law passed, to develop new access standards, just as it was supposed to.  And it picked the first five areas to work on.  And they were a good choice, transportation, customer service, employment, the built environment, and information/communication.  And they appointed standards development committees working on several of these at the same time.  That's a lot of work and I commend them for getting it going and for trying hard to make it work with really no experience at this.  There were a number of things that could've been done better and we recommended ways to improve it but it was a good start.  But the standards they passed, if all implemented to the letter, would not ensure that we reach full accessibility in those areas by 2025, or ever.  They virtually all deal with preventing new barriers, but virtually deal little, do little or nothing, to remove existing barriers.  And we live in a province full of too many barriers.  There are times, and Dean Moran's report emphasizes this, they're too vague, unclear, hard for organizations to follow.  And we would add, they fall often short of the requirements of the Human Rights Code.  So, even if you comply with these standards, an organization is still exposed to liability for violating the Human Rights Code. And that's, the aim of the AODA was to ensure that we implement the Human Rights Code without having to sue one barrier at a time.  So, the first problem is the standards they've passed so far, while helpful, are in a number of ways too weak.  The second problem is; we need more new standards because the existing ones don't cover the waterfront.  We've identified three that should be the next one develop, being developed and we've been pushing for them since before 2011, that's half a decade.  One, healthcare accessibility.  The government agreed a year ago that they would develop a healthcare accessibility standard but, as far as we've seen, they've taken no public steps under the act to get that going.  They're taking longer to get started than it took Dalton McGuinty to develop the whole statute in its entirety.  And this is after they've been told by their own independent review that we're behind schedule and that things need to be kick-started to move faster.  That's the standard they agreed to develop.  The second one we're pushing for, which you as university community would get, as be close to home, is an education accessibility standard.  We need new standards to ensure accessible educational opportunities for students with disabilities in preschool, school, college/university, and job training.  Just for our schools alone, I can tell you as the chair of the Toronto District School Board Special Education Advisory Committee, that we are labouring under a special education law that is 33 years old and, believe me, it's showing its age.  So far, the government of Premier Wynne has not agreed to develop an education accessibility standard.  The third one we've recommended is a residential housing accessibility standard, because there is a crisis, a crisis in accessible housing.  We don't want to require homeowners to have to go retrofit their own homes, but there are measures that could be implemented to help increase our stock of accessible housing to alleviate this crisis before it gets worse.  The government has done nothing under the AODA to develop a new standard in this area.  But there's a third problem, the existing standards are too weak, insufficient action on new standards, but the third problem is also huge.  The government is required, not only to make the standards but to effectively enforce them because if they're not effectively enforced, they won't be taken seriously.

But, the government has not been effectively enforcing this legislation.  This is not something that is the subject of any dispute.  We brought Freedom of Information applications to reveal that for the past three years, there has been rampant violations of the Disabilities Act by private sector companies with at least 20 employees and those are the ones who are required to file, file audits.  At least, as many as 60% have not, I shouldn't say audits but self-reports, at least 60%, or as many as 60% have not filed the straightforward accessibility self-reports that have been required of them since, since the end of 2012.  And the government knows it.  It's not a subject of debate. They've got the stats.  And with that massive, massive noncompliance known to them, the government has taken paltry steps to enforce.  And then last February wrote us to announce a one third cut, more than a one third cut, in the number of organizations it would audit last year.  Now after they got blasted in the media, they promised to accelerate enforcement starting this year, but we're not seeing any action yet and we've asked for the plans.  So, without a, and the lack of effective enforcement is not because the government's short on money.  I've also revealed through Freedom of Information requests that the budget for the, that's appropriated, for the very government branch or office that's responsible for this since 2005 has been under budget every single year.  And in recent years it's been in -- last year it was in excess of a million dollars under budget, that could buy a lot of enforcement.  They got the money, they got the power, they know of the violations, and yet they're not doing their job.  So, what do we need?  We need the government to, number one, effectively enforce the law, number two, strengthen the standards we now have, and number three, get to work on getting us new standards in the areas we need and a good start is the healthcare standard they promised and the education standard and residential housing standard that they've been thinking about whether they need for five years.  Why has it gone off the rails? I'm going to imagine that some of you, if not all of you, are wondering that.  What's gone wrong?  It's the same government that passed this legislation.  Well, we've been trying to figure that one out.  And I, I've got a couple of ideas.  One of them, and they lead to the action that we need your help with, when this law passed 10 years ago, or almost 11 years ago, as I said, there was real excitement.  There had been a lot of work, lobbying and advocating to members of the legislature, from one community to the next, so there was a real sense of excitement and mission, not among, just among us, but among the politicians.  The day the bill got introduced for first reading, one individual who had fought for this in opposition and later went into Cabinet, came over to me and said that they, they had been thinking to themselves, knowing it would be introduced that day, this is why I went into public life.  It was to be able to accomplish this kind of thing.  There was real sense of mission and accomplishment.  Also, the Ontario Public Service, full of really good people trying to serve the public including the government, their job when these kinds of things are coming forward is often to warn the politicians, oh you better be cautious about this and oh, you better be cautious about that.  But, to its credit, the government's minister leading the development of this law, a woman named Marie Bountrogianni, a really talented individual, she now teaches at Ryerson, she made it clear that she told the public service she wants to go bold.  She wants to go bold.  She basically told the naysayers and the worriers in the public service, sorry, we're moving forward.  Well, where are we now?  Where we are now is 11 years later and if you look at the list of the politicians who voted for this legislation the day it passed on all sides of the House, at least half of them have left public life.  And, if you go further, and look at the politicians who were in the House in the 90s, when we first brought this forward, and we first were advocating for it and who were trying to make, get this message on the agenda of the government of the day, a clear majority of them are gone.  And they've been replaced by new politicians.  Now, I'm not saying the new politicians don't care about people with disabilities, but there's no fire in their belly.  As far as they know, this is just another issue.  For them, there are 750 statutes in Ontario and the AODA is one of them and they got 749 other ones to worry about.  They simply don't see this as a priority.  And the other problem is, in my experience, it was great to set this timeline and this deadline, but politicians tend, I'm just, we're not partisan, whoever's in power, they tend to think about what can I accomplish this day, this week?   How can I get into the crisis that's going on right all over the media right now?  20, 10 years from now, they're probably not going to be in Cabinet, this is probably not their headache.   So, our problem doesn't feel to them like their problem.  So, what are they doing?  How are we seeing this?  How are we seeing this manifested?  Well, we're seeing it manifested a couple of ways, one of which is this falloff in action.  They haven't enacted a new accessibility standard in years. There are no standards development committees developing any of them.  It takes them longer to appoint one to develop the healthcare standard that it took the government to develop the entire Disabilities Act from scratch, and five years and they're still trying to decide if students with disabilities have equal access in our schools.  Please, it takes 30 seconds to look and you can see that we need some progress.  And the other thing that I see happening at Queens Park, and my members of our coalition see, is the rhetoric is changing.  It's going -- the rhetoric is now about two things, one is self-congratulation.  Last year, the government announced when they released Mayo Moran's report that said that this law hasn't made a significant difference in our, in the lives of people with disabilities, the same day the same minister issued a news release saying Ontario is a global leader on accessibility.  In other words, let's, let's change the channel by patting ourselves on the back with exaggerated claims that are absolutely disproven by the very report that's being issued and made public at the exact same time.  Same thing happened when they hosted the Parapan and Pan-American games in Toronto last summer.  There was some progress on accessibility but some real bungling.  The website wasn't accessible for blind or dyslexic users.  I could -- if you got their iPhone app, the link that you went to, to find out about accessibility features at the game, the link wasn't accessible.  It's hard to be that bad.  So what are they say?  These are the most accessible games in the world, they proclaimed.  That's only true if the other ones were even worse.  And what did the government do?  They hosted parties in the spring to celebrate the tenth anniversary of the AODA.  It's great to celebrate it but we need less parties and more enforcement.  We need less self-congratulation and more new standards.  It's pretty simple.  So what do we do?  What do we do?  The first thing we do, and that's what I want to focus on, is we've gotta roll up our sleeves and remember our middle name is tenacious.  We never give up. It may seem frustrating, but the fact is we won this battle from 1994 to 2005.  When we started out looking for the, trying to get a law passed, it was an impossible task.  But in communities just like this people just like you rolled up their sleeves, shared ideas for action, banded together and persuaded one politician at a time to act.  And we need to start that now, once again.  But there's also room for excitement and optimism because as much as Queens Park is mired in bureaucratic lethargy on this issue and self-congratulation in lieu of effective action, what we're seeing in Ottawa is very different.  See, we don't just need an Ontario, Ontario Accessibility Law, which we need, and we need it effectively implemented, we also need a National Disability Act to cover the areas that the province can't regulate, like federal government services, like banking, like air travel.  And the good news on this is, using the very same strategies we used back in the 90s but with the technologies that weren't available then, a group of us banded together a bit over a year ago to form a coalition called Barrier Free Canada to campaign for a Canadians with Disabilities Act.

And along with other major disability organizations, we entered the election last fall, the federal election, and we collectively, mainly using Twitter, got a commitment from the New Democrats, the Greens and then the Trudeau Liberals to pass a Canadians with Disabilities Act.  There's a real sense of optimism and momentum on this and -- at the federal level.  I have the privilege of serving as the co-chair of Barrier Free Canada, working with other folks with, within the Community and other disability organizations, to advance this.  We have a new Federal Minister responsible for people with disabilities, Carla Qualtrough, first time ever.  The provincial government doesn't have a minister designated as responsible for people with disabilities, but to its credit, the federal government does and that minister, Carla Qualtrough, has got the mandate to develop the Canadians with Disabilities Act and has told the media how excited she is to work on it.  So there's a real sense of momentum federally, in sharp contrast to the real sense of lethargy provincially.  What we do?  All right. Enough of the why we need action, let's talk about what we need to do.  We need to launch a campaign and we want to start it right here and right now and in Kingston and we want it to spread right across the province of Ontario of folks just like you getting our message to your local media and to your member of the legislature.  We need our disabilities act effectively implemented, we need the barriers gone.  The minority of everyone deserves better.  So what do we do?  Let me offer you some ideas, then I'm going to conclude and take some questions, then we're going to take a break and then we want to spend the balance of the time collectively talking about planning for action.  What do we need you to do?  First, we need you to connect up with us.  We do not charge membership fees.  We do not raise money; we don't ask for money.  We don't want your money.  If you send it to us, we'll send it back.  The way you connect up with us is to sign up for our email updates.  I'm going to ask Andrew to pass a list around and, if you would like to get our email updates, just print your email address.  If you have a disability that prevents you from doing that, ask someone for help or Andrew or someone will offer you help.  Because this is being video recorded, others are going to watch this who are not in the room today.  If you want our updates, just send an email to AODAfeedback@gmail.com.  I'll repeat that, AODAfeedback@gmail.com.  And all you have to say is, sign me up.  By the way, the AODA Alliance is the Ontario affiliate of Barrier Free Canada, so we'll keep you posted both on the federal and provincial action.  So sign up and help us get other people to sign up.  If you send me an email, us an email, that says add so and so to the list, we won't do that.  We need to hear from the individual themselves, so we're not spamming people.  But that's the first and really important way you can find out what to do.  We are going to make available action ideas and keep you posted on what's going on.  The second thing I invite you to do, and you can do it right now, is follow us on Twitter.  If you have a smart phone, this is where I sound like I'm doing some kind of televangelist event, but take out your smart phones now.  Go to your Twitter client and follow "at AODA Alliance", "at AODA Alliance."  I also have a Twitter feed, but if you're on one, you don't need the other, as we just retweet the same stuff through both.  Follow at AODA Alliance.  And what we really need you to do is to retweet our tweets.  I'm going to talk to you about Twitter for just a minute.  The Canadian campaign during the federal election was amazing.  We could not get much media coverage during the federal election and that's understandable because it was only twice as long as any other federal election.  And the media, they didn't have any new issues for most of the time, so it's understandable why an important issue that affects 4 million Canadians would get virtually no airplay.  However, that didn't stop us.  We went out on Twitter.  We tweeted every single candidate from the major parties and a number of wonderful people around the country would come on every morning.  This is where you- if all you've got is five minutes, they came on and they just rapid-fire, retweeted our tweets to those candidates.  Click, click, click, click, click can make a huge difference, can make a huge difference.  A wonderful story, before Justin Trudeau promised the Canadians with Disabilities Act, a number of liberal candidates individually did.  One was named Adam Vaughan, he's in Toronto.  So he tweets back to us that he supports us.  So I retweeted that.  And then I started, we started tweeting Liberal candidates, saying if Adam Vaughan can do it, so can you and a number of them did.  One day Adam was at the, at the Blue Jays game and tweeted to the world that he was at the Blue Jays game with Justin Trudeau, so I hit reply on Twitter and I said, hey Adam, why don't you ask Justin Trudeau to, to support a Canadians with Disabilities Act too?  And just -- and Adam tweeted right back, this is all public.  I will.  It's amazing what we can accomplish.  A couple of weeks -- a couple days ago, Barrier Free Canada, we wrote a letter to Carla Qualtrough offering her some practical recommendations on how to consult on the development of the Canadians with Disabilities Act.  They promised the Act, but here's, here's some good, and we pointed to the government of Ontario as giving a good model 10 years ago on how to do those consultations, credit where it's due.  We criticize them now, when they're doing a bad job, but back then they did a good job and they deserve the credit.  But, here's the deal, I sent out a tweet that says, Carla Qualtrough, at Carla Qualtrough, I support the Barrier Free Canada's recommendations on, on consulting in the act with a link.  All you've got to do is retweet that and you've joined us.  You've added your message.  You don't have to worry about how to compose it and say it in 140 characters, we've done that for you.  So we need you to follow us on Twitter.  And, if you're a Facebook person not a Twitter person, no excuse.  We have a Facebook page and all our tweets come out there, you can share them there with your Facebook friends.  It's got a longer name.  It's not AODA Alliance, it's Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance.  Sorry, I didn't write the name.  But, in any event, social media is a fabulous way to get the word out.  But okay, so that's a couple of things you can do just to start.  Signing up you can do right here.  Following us on Twitter you can do right here before you leave, leave the room.  If you check your Twitter feed, or your Facebook page every other day and you see tweet -- messages from us and you share them, that is hugely helpful.  That's something you could do literally in a minute or two.  You can do it when you're on the bus or you're bored in class, unless you're teaching.  Even if you're teaching.  But on top -- by the way, I think someone may be live tweeting this.  One way to start is retweeting the live tweets.  But, in any event, there are, there's a lot more you can do.  Our goal is to basically build on what we did 20 years ago effectively.  So, what we've made available, in fact, we've made available a year ago, it's up on our website, we have some copies here and Andrew can get links to it if you don't, if there aren't enough to go around, we put together an action kit.  In just a few pages, it's, it's all you need to know.  You never done political action before, you never done advocacy before, everything you need is in those few pages.  Use the action kit for your students.  Get together with a couple of your classmates, or your faculty, your staff.  Get together with some of your colleagues.  Use some of the ideas.  You're a member of a community organization, a church, mosque, synagogue, get your community colleagues active to use our ideas.  Everything you need is there.  But we really want to focus you on a couple of main, two, two really main activities.  One of which is getting to your MPP here and when you go back home to your communities around the province, get back to your MPPs there.  But while you're here, you've got an MPP named Sophie Kiwala.  We're not picking on her because of any party or whatever.  She happens to be the MPP.  We need as many of you as possible calling her office, asking for meetings.  I mean separately, individually.  The more they hear from people, the better.  Go and tell them, the action kit gives you all the ideas, about barriers that people with disabilities face, that either you face if you have a disability or that you've looked around and seen if you don't have a disability or that affects your friends or family.  Tell them you need this Act enforced.  Tell them we need an education standard.  Tell them we need more action.  All the action we need is all spelled out on our website, AODAalliance.org.  AODAalliance.org.  So all the details are available there and in our action kit.  But the simple message, we need the government doing more really matters.  And it's important when you talk to an individual MP, I'll tell you what happens.  If they know you're coming, they write, they email within the government.  The email goes back to the ministry responsible for the act.  They send them a briefing note.

You'll walk in and they'll read a speech about all the wonderful things they're doing.  Tell them to put it down.  Say I don't want to hear your briefing note.  I want to hear what you're going to do.  And the most effective way you can get to them and persuade them is to show examples of barriers.  So, I want to introduce you to the most important weapon in the totally nonviolent battle for accessibility.  You know what that weapon is?  It's your smartphone.  It's your smartphone.  And if any of you are younger than me, and I suspect many of you are younger than me, you know way better than my generation how to use them.  That's why we need you out in front on this, teaching us how to do it.  What we want you to do is to take pictures or videos of barriers in the community.  It could be physical barriers.  It could be technology barriers.  It could be any kind of barriers and that we want you to tweet them.  We want you to send them to the local media and send them to your MPP.  Now we haven't yet, we're work, I'm going to announce a contest for a hashtag.  We've been working on what hashtag we can use to bring all this all together.  If you've got ideas, let us know, AODAfeedback@gmail.com and send me hashtag ideas.  We'll call it a contest; the prize is a thank you email.  That's the joy of being, you know, unfunded.  It can be a signed thank you email, but it's, that's as good as it gets.  But, in any event, what we want to do is start getting these -- people react to, understandably, journalists, politicians they react to individual barriers, real human being's stories.  So, any stories you know about accessibility barriers in your community, just take them, put them out on Twitter and Facebook, get them spread.  Send them, tweet them to the local media.  Tweet them to, the, the MPP in your community.  And when you go back home, or even when you're here, tweet them to your MPP back home.  A tweet can have a link to a photo or a video, the name of the politician or the journalist you want to aim it at, a couple of words saying accessibility barrier, by the way hashtag before the word accessibility barrier.  We need the AODA implemented.  And of course you've got to get that all under 130 characters, go for it.  And we will be following these and retweeting them.  And if other people tweet them, you should retweet them too.  The beauty of it is a barrier scavenger hunt with your smart phone can happen any time you are anywhere in the community, or if you're on a train, or a bus, or an air -- wherever it is.  You see a barrier, take a picture or a video, post it online and then tweet it.  And then when you go to see a politician, they take out their briefing note about why they're doing the best job and why the world leaders and all that stuff and say that's nice but here, can you look at this little picture I got here?  Or this video?  Is this global leader on accessibility when, when, when these kinds of things are going on in our, our, in our own community?  Do think we deserve better?  And the request of your politician is simply, will you go to the Premier and say, we've got to be more on the AODA? That's all you need.  Enforce it.  Build new standards.  Keep our promises.  So the action kit gives you the ideas.  Now, some of you may -- this is an institution of higher learning, some of you may want to learn more.  So, let me offer you a couple of places to look if you want to learn more.  First, go to our website, AODAalliance.org. You will see all our past updates.  You can see the story and how it's evolved.  Second, on the homepage of our website, there's a link to a video lecture series that I did at Osgoode Hall Law School two years ago.  It's not, you don't have to be a lawyer or a law student to follow it.  It's meant for a general audience.   We've gotten feedback on it from around the world actually.  Telling the whole history of how we fought for this legislation and about our efforts, our ideas, and a lot more.  So, if you want to learn more, there's lots there.  So, we've provided resources.  Our action kit tells you what you need to know.  What do we do next?  How do we end this meeting? What, what beyond signing up or, or following us on Twitter which are both really important, or liking our Facebook page, what do we do?  Well, I'll tell you, having done a few of these presentations over the past 21 years, there's a result that's good and a result that's not good.  The result that's not good is when peoples genuinely are excited about this, but when they leave they get taken up with other things.  They've got classes to get through or jobs they've got to work on.  They've got families with needs and so on and, and there's a lot of important things in their life and adding one more seems like it's just, it'll fall by the wayside.  It's understandable but we can't afford that.  It's understandable, but we've got to do better.  The result would be good is if we leave here with us determined to take action.  How do we do that?  Well, for one thing, after I finish I want to hear your ideas.  But for another thing, what I'd like to propose is that we establish a Kingston region of the AODA Alliance.  We start it right here and right now.  The good news is we got a huge budget of zero and the better news is I undertake to double it annually.  That's exactly the way we did it before.  What do you do?  Anybody interested simply says, signs up for it.  We will ask among you if anybody would like to be on a steering committee and their aim is to just coordinate action.  How often do you meet?  It's up to you.  And then what we try to do is get a couple of people to have a really zingy sexy title.  It's called regional contact.  It sounds like it's somebody on top of a battery.  Andrew's offered to serve, Andrew has kindly offered to serve as one.  If there's one or two others who'd like to, that's great.  Just so we have a point of contact.  And what this group would aim to do is simply to coordinate action among all of you to help we'll follow up with you to work on possibly doing a barrier scavenger hunt.  But, in any event, coordinating getting to your MPP and getting feedback from among you, what you've heard, reaching out to your local media, maybe even writing a guest column for your local newspaper, all those kind of steps that are in our action kit.  The aim of the local region of the AODA Alliance is simply to come up with ways to follow up.  You'll think of action that we never thought of.  And you can do a really great job on it.  So, I want to open it up to, in a minute to, get your ideas for action and I'd like to hear what you'd be prepared to consider doing to help us but I want you to also consider signing up to be part of a, of a, a Kingston region of the AODA Alliance and consider being a member of our, of a steering group here that can help try to coordinate action.  But let me conclude, let me conclude by saying that it, it wouldn't surprise me if, if some of you, in your hearts, feel like you'd like to do something but feel a bit anxious.  I've never, I've never met a member of the legislature.  They're going to be briefed on what to do and I, I don't, you know, this is, this could be a bit intimidating.  Some of you may think, you know, if I call the newspaper, I've never dealt with the media before, what if, what if I get misquoted or I don't know what to say and all that sort of thing?  I don't know how to do this advocacy stuff.  This Lepofsky guy is up there talking.  His coalition's been doing this for, for years.  He's been involved in it, I'm not up to that stuff.  I want to let you know in conclusion that it's actually easy, because you already know how to do it.  There are three rules of advocacy and it's all you've got to know.  And the best person who most effectively carry, uses those rules and puts them into action, you've already done.  Because the most effective advocate using the three rules of advocacy is a young newborn baby and you were all one once.  What are those three rules of advocacy?  As I list them, picture that newborn baby.  Number one, know what it is that you want to get.  Number two, make your message loud, clear and simple.  And number three, do not stop until they give you what you're after.  Thank you very much for coming this afternoon.

[ Applause ]