Author: Jonathan Hung

Register as an Accessibility Advisor

BIG IDeA is interested in your experience and the barriers to participation in your daily activities and in civic engagement that you encounter. You can help us with Feedback, Challenges, Showcase and Reviewing Badge Applications. You can also get a Badge!

    Please note: BIG IDeA does not sell or give away the information you provide when filling out the BIG IDeA forms. Your information is only used for activities in the BIG IDeA project. If you don’t want to include this information or would like your information to be removed from our BIG IDeA database, please contact David Pereyra at dpereyra@ocadu.ca.

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    Featured Businesses

    BIG IDeA showcases businesses that demonstrate exemplary and innovative practices so that they can be recognized by current and potential customers.

    Argonaut Rowing Club

    Location: 1225 Lakeshore Boulevard West, Toronto, Ontario, M6K 3C1.

    This image is a photograph of a person sitting in a rowing scull next to a dock. On the dock is their empty wheelchair.
    Source Argonaut Rowing Club’s website: http://www.argonautrowingclub.com/para-rowing/.

    Innovative Approach: The Argonaut Rowing Club is creating unique access to the lake as well as an excellent source of physical activity right in the heart of the city of Toronto. They provide adaptive rowing opportunities for people with disabilities and have a variety of boats that can be configured to suit an individual’s needs. For more information about the Argonaut Rowing Club, please visit http://www.argonautrowingclub.com/para-rowing/.

     

    Art Gallery of Ontario

    Location: 317 Dundas Street West, Toronto, Ontario, M5T 1G4.

    This image is a photograph taken inside the Art Gallery of Ontario of three individuals touching one of the sculptures using gloves.
    Source Art Gallery of Ontario’s website: https://ago.ca/group-visits/access-art-group-visits.

    Innovative Approach: As a cultural hub of Toronto, the Art Gallery of Ontario has implemented innovative initiatives to make their gallery content more inclusive for their visitors. As noted on their website, a variety of tours are available if you book ahead of time including:

    • multisensory tours,
    • tours for individuals with dementia and their companion,
    • tours for individuals living with challenges to their mental health, and tours that are American Sign Language (ASL) interpreted.

    For more information visit https://ago.ca/group-visits/access-art-group-visits.

    Artscape Wychwood Barns

    Location: 601 Christie Street, Toronto, Ontario, M6G 4C7.

    This image is of a photograph of an aerial view of the Artscape Wychwood Barns building and the grounds surrounding it. The image shows the pathways and park area. There is a chimney coming out of the building that features the PRIDE rainbow colours painted on it.
    Source: http://wikimapia.org/1124493/Artscape-Wychwood-Barns#/photo/1631011.

    Innovative Approach: Artscape Wychwood Barns is fostering a welcoming community and public space in Toronto. Artscape Wychwood Barns is home to groups such as b current, the Disability Channel, and Storytelling Toronto. For information, please visit http://artscapewychwoodbarns.ca.

    Buddies in Bad Times Theatre

    Location: 12 Alexander Street, Toronto, Ontario, MY4 1B4.

    This image is of a photograph that shows three performers using sign language as a promotion for their upcoming show titled: “Deafies’ Unique Time”.
    Source Buddies in Bad Times Theatre Instagram account: https://www.instagram.com/p/BtRWqEEnaZk/.

    Innovative Approach: Buddies in Bad Times Theatre is the longest running queer theatre space in the world. It is a venue with a variety of initiatives that make it an inclusive environment. The theatre hosts events that focus on communities such as the Queer community and the disAbility community. With regards to accessibility, the venue has an elevator, and the washrooms are wheelchair accessible, there are wheelchair accessible dressing rooms available, and the stage can be made accessible using a ramp when needed. For more information visit http://buddiesinbadtimes.com.

    CN Tower

    Location: 301 Front St. West, Toronto, Ontario, M5V 2T6.

    This image is of a photograph that shows a wall of glass that stretches from floor to ceiling, with people standing around looking out. Out the windows, you can see some of Toronto Island and Lake Ontario.
    Source the CN Tower’s website: https://www.cntower.ca/en-ca/plan-your-visit/attractions/lookout.html.

    Innovative Approach: For over 40 years the CN tower has been a tourist destination for Toronto, providing an unparalleled view of the city. Recently, the view has become even better! The CN tower has added an area with floor to ceiling glass which significantly improved visibility. Another exciting feature of the tower is the “Edgewalk” where you can strap on a harness and lean out over the edge of the tower and walk around the exterior of the tower. This exciting feature is also wheelchair accessible, as they provide manual wheelchairs that can be harnessed as well. For more general information, please visit https://www.cntower.ca/en-ca/plan-your-visit/attractions/lookout.html. For more information about the Edgewalk, please visit https://www.cntower.ca/en-ca/plan-your-visit/attractions/edgewalk/edgewalk-overview.html.

    Daniels Spectrum

    Location: 585 Dundas Street East, Toronto, Ontario, M5A 2B7.

    This image is a photograph that shows the exterior of the building.
    Source Artscape’s website: https://www.artscape.ca/portfolio-item/danielsspectrum/.

    Innovative Approach: Daniels Spectrum is helping to build a more inclusive community in Regent Park. This centre is home to many organizations (such as the Centre for Social Innovation, Pathways to Education and the Regent Park Film Festival) as well as provides multi-use space for activities and events. For more information, please visit http://danielsspectrum.ca/whos-here/.

    Deloitte

    Location: 8 Adelaide Street West #200, Toronto, Ontario, M5H 0A9.

    This image is a photograph of the inside of the Deloitte building in a cafe style room and includes people sitting down some of whom are socializing.
    Source BlogTO: https://www.blogto.com/events/designto-tours-deloitte-toronto/.

    Innovative Approach: Deloitte has gone to great lengths to make an inclusive workplace individual needs at the forefront. Examples of this would be that they have provided areas available to employees for fitness, rest and faith observance. Deloitte also offers many types of communal workspaces which allow for a collaborative environment amongst employees. For more information, please visit https://www.blogto.com/events/designto-tours-deloitte-toronto/.

    Disabled Sailing Association of Ontario

    Location: 283 Queens Quay West, Toronto, Ontario, M5V 1A2.

    This image is a photograph showing a wheelchair user and their service dog. Next to the wheelchair user is someone with their arm around them. They are all beside a sailboat on a dock. In the background is an empty wheelchair, implying that someone is already in a boat, sailing.
    Source Disabled Sailing Association of Ontario’s Instagram account: https://www.instagram.com/p/BiWuaNxDpR_/.

    Innovative Approach: The Disabled Sailing Association of Ontario (DSAO) is opening up the waters of Lake Ontario by making sailing a more inclusive and accessible activity. The DSAO offers sailing experiences for anyone regardless of past sailing experience and has a small fleet of their own adapted boats. For more information about the Disabled Sailing Association, please visit their website: https://disabledsailingontario.com.

    Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts and the Canadian Opera Company

    Location: 145 Queen Street West, Toronto, Ontario, M5H 4G1.

     

    This image is a photograph taken from the outside of the Four Seasons Centre.
    Source Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Four_Seasons_Centre.

    Innovative Approach: The Four Seasons Centre for Performing Arts and the Canadian Opera Company have created some initiatives to make their space and events more inclusive and accessible to their customers. These are some of the features:

    • Main entrance wheelchair access is available at the corner of Queen St. and University Ave.
    • Box office with a low counter window.
    • Go scent-free policy.
    • General information referring to accessibility policies available on their website.
    • Attendant tickets are free.
    • Hearing devices.
    • Single occupancy washrooms available.
    • Designated area for persons who uses a wheelchair at orchestra level.

    For more information about accessibility at the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts and the Canadian Opera Company visit https://www.coc.ca/accessibility-policies.

    Great Hall

    Location: 1087 Queen Street West, Toronto, Ontario, M6J 1H3.

     

    This image is a photograph of the Main Hall in the Great Hall. In the background of the photograph is a stage and in the foreground is a wide open space before it.
    Source the Great Hall website: https://www.thegreathall.ca/main-hall/.

     

    Innovative Approach: The Great Hall is a historical place for different kind of events in Toronto’s Queen West neighbourhood. Offering four spaces capable of hosting events big and small, this space is one of the best venues in the city that is wheelchair accessible. The venue has a wheelchair accessible washroom and an elevator that can be accessed using the side door. For more information about The Great Hall, please visit https://www.thegreathall.ca.

    Hooked Inc. Fish Store

    Location: 888 Queen Street East, Toronto, Ontario M4M 1J3.

     

    This image is of a photograph that shows the entrance to the Hooked Inc. Fish store with a custom blue stopgap.ca ramp that is curved to the right.
    Source StopGap foundation’s Instagram account: https://www.instagram.com/p/BsyUAgNH5NB/.

     

    Innovative Approach: Hooked Inc. Fish Store, located on Queen St. East in Toronto, did not have the room for a straight ramp and rather than giving up they designed this unconventional one with stopgap.ca. This is an excellent example of how small businesses can make a significant change.

    Jeffrey Kerr – Accessible Home Finder

    Contact info: Jeffrey Kerr – Broker – RE/MAX Unique Inc. Brokerage | Telephone: 1.877.946.3966.

    his image is of a photograph of Jeffrey standing and smiling, with his business logo next to him. The logo reads “Barrier Free Real Estate” and features the new dynamic accessibility symbol set within a magnifying glass.
    Source Accessible Home Finder website: http://www.accessiblehomefinder.com/.

    Innovative Approach: Jeffrey Kerr is a realtor who specializes in helping people find accessible homes in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) and beyond. He has been working with people with disabilities for many years now, in providing his expertise to those on the hunt for accessibility in their new home! He has a great understanding of what his clients need, and always makes house calls. For more information, please visit http://www.accessiblehomefinder.com/.

    Lansdowne Cone

    Location: 659 Lansdowne Ave, Toronto, ON M6H 3Y2.

     

    This image is of a photograph that shows someone sitting on a bench outside the Lansdowne Scoop, scooping ice cream from a very large bucket. Visible in the photo is a small green ramp from Stopgap.ca. Also visible on the storefront glass is a message from the store that reads: “The Lansdowne Cone is a purpose-driven social enterprise. We empower individuals with social and developmental barriers to employment by creating training and job opportunities in a supportive, community-based environment; ensuring that everyone has the right to be a productive part of their community through inclusion, support and active engagement. The Lansdowne Cone is proud to be a member of the Bloordale community providing good times, inclusive space and (most importantly) fabulous local ice cream! A Scoop of Ice Cream, and a Heap of Empowerment.”
    Source Lansdowne Cone Instagram account: https://www.instagram.com/p/Bm9wXvyAFxN/.

    Innovative Approach: We would love to write about the Lansdowne Cone, but they have already done such a great job of summarizing their mission that we have included it instead here: [A] big part of the Lansdowne Cone is our Employment Training program: Last year we created 6 paid employment opportunities, and 16 unpaid training positions for youth with barriers to employment!!! We are proud to support the community by offering skill development in a supportive, community-oriented environment, and we’re looking forward to running it again this year with partnerships with the Yonge Street Mission and the Geneva Centre for Autism. We believe that all people should be able to be a part of their community, and we want to help people get there. A Scoop of Ice Cream, a Heap of Empowerment! For more information about Lansdowne Cone visit: https://www.thelansdownecone.ca.

    Miles Nadal Jewish Community Centre

    Location: 750 Spadina Avenue, Toronto, Ontario, M5S 2J2.

     

    This image is of a photograph that shows several children playing basketball, using wheelchairs in a gymnasium setting.
    Source UJA Federation: https://jewishtoronto.com/news-media/torontos-miles-nadal-jcc-receives-prestigious-awards.

     

    This image is of a photograph that shows an indoor swimming pool, with ramp access into the water.
    Source Miles Nadal JCC Twitter account: https://twitter.com/milesnadaljcc/status/773159364878217216.

    Innovative Approach: Located in the heart of the Annex, the Miles Nadal Jewish Community Centre (MNJCC) has some programming initiatives in a wide range of interest areas, from physical activity to artistic expression, that makes it an inclusive environment for people of all abilities. For more information visit: https://www.mnjcc.org/browse-by-interest/accessibility.html.

    Mod Club

    Location: 722 College Street, Toronto, Ontario, M6G 1C4.

     

    This image is of a photograph that shows the front entrance of the Mod Club, with a ramp to the right.
    Source AccessTO’s website: http://www.accessto.ca/home/2014/06/29/virgin-mobile-mod-club?rq=mod%20club.

    Innovative Approach: It is rare to find a trendy music venue in this city that is also wheelchair accessible, but the Mod Club is just that. Constantly providing a stream of performance artists and DJ nights, this is a great place to experience rock, pop, hip hop and electronic music. The MOD Club has a wheelchair accessible entrance and a wheelchair accessible washroom. For more information, please visit http://www.accessto.ca/home/2014/06/29/virgin-mobile-mod-club?rq=mod%20club.

    Padulo X

    Location: 3409 Lake Shore Boulevard West, Etobicoke, Ontario, M8W 1N2.

     

    This image is of a photograph that shows an orange coloured sign planted on a lawn of grass. The sign features an image of the international symbol of access with a superhero cape added to the design.
    Source CBC News article: https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/toronto/accessible-trick-or-treat-sign-for-kids-with-disabilities-1.4882404.

    Innovative Approach: The marketing people at Padulo X have started an initiative around making trick or treating a more inclusive event for children of all abilities. Most front doors present an access barrier for children with a disability; these signs are designed to show houses that are either accessible or are giving out candy from an accessible location outside the home. For more information, please visit http://www.padulox.com/accessible-trick-or-treat/.

    Pro Accessibility Ltd.

    Location: 155 Winges Road, Unit 12, Woodbridge, Ontario, L4L 6C7.

     

    This image is of a photograph showing an in-home elevator that they have installed for a client. It matches the rest of the decor of the home very well.
    Image taken from: http://proaccessibility.ca/lifting-devices/.

    Innovative Approach: Pro Accessibility Ltd. located in Woodbridge, Ontario is a business that provides a unique dedicated service related to construction and renovation practices focused on inclusive design. For more information visit: http://proaccessibility.ca/.

    RARE Theatre Company

    Location: Itinerant company.

     

    This image is a photograph that shows a wheelchair user wearing a mask reaching up with their arms towards a projection of a full moon. Overlayed on top of the image is text reading: “shouldn’t we see on the stage what we see in our world?” Judith Thompson, artistic director.
    Source: http://www.raretheatre.org.

    Innovative Approach: As noted on their website, the RARE theatre is a company dedicated to giving voice to communities not often seen on stage, and their goal is activism through exposure (for more information, please visit: http://www.raretheatre.org). Many of their productions have centred around the topic of disability and feature actors with disabilities (for more information, please visit: http://www.raretheatre.org).

    REC Room

    Location: 255 Bremner Boulevard, Toronto, Ontario, M5V 3M9.

     

    This image is of a photograph that shows a large and unobstructed dining area.
    Source AccessTO blog posting: http://www.accessto.ca/home/2017/12/10/the-rec-room.

    Innovative Approach: The REC Room is an entertainment and restaurant venue located in the shadow of the CN Tower. There are some features that they have implemented that make them an inclusive environment for their customers including a wheelchair accessible washroom, which has an adult sized change table. An innovate feature is their virtual reality (VR) attraction, “The Void” wheelchair accessible, by providing a ramp on request as well as clips to attach the equipment required to a wheelchair. For more information visit: http://www.accessto.ca/home/2017/12/10/the-rec-room.

    Saugeen Shafts

    Location: 285 Lansdowne Street East, Peterborough, Ontario, K9J 6X9.

     

    This image is a photograph that shows an instructor teaching a little blond girl archery.
    Source Saugeen Shafts Twitter account: https://twitter.com/PRUSC_2017/status/887473473886486528.

    Innovative Approach: Saugeen Shafts is an archery supply and shooting range located in Peterborough that has been dedicated to finding ways to ensure that anyone, regardless of ability, can participate in this great sport. For example, Saugeen Shafts consulted with individuals with low/no vision then fabricated three metal guides that allow for a reference point for positioning the arrows.

    StopGap Foundation

    Location: The Centre for Social Innovation, 192 Spadina Avenue, Suite 300, Toronto, Ontario, M5T 2C2.

     

    This image is a photograph of Luke Anderson, using a power wheelchair, sitting in between 2 wooden wedge ramps that are standing upright on their sides, one is painted yellow the other painted red. The ramps read stopgap.ca on them.
    Source StopGap’s Instagram account: https://www.instagram.com/p/Bh9cY4Gn8rM/.

    Innovative Approach: StopGap.ca is an organization that is tackling accessibility and inclusion issues with everything that it does. Started in 2011 by Luke Anderson (seen here in the image). StopGap is helping to make communities across Canada barrier-free by building brightly painted ramps that can be deployed at businesses that have a step. In addition to ramp building, they also have begun a school program that aims to bring awareness of their vision of creating a barrier-free world to the next generation. To learn more about StopGap, please visit their website: http://stopgap.ca.

    Tangled Art + Disability

    Location: 401 Richmond St West, Suite S-122, Toronto, Ontario, M5V 3A8.

     

    Image is a photograph of the gallery logo and name “Tangled Art Gallery art + disability” pasted on the glass doors of the gallery. Seen beyond the logo is the actual gallery space showing an open space, as well as art hung on the wall at a lower height than what is seen in most other galleries. This is done to accommodate people in a seated position.
    Source Tangled Art + Disability Instagram account:https://www.instagram.com/p/BJar2iGhpTx/.

     

    Innovative Approach: From its inception, Tangled Art + Disability has been focused on providing a space where the disabled community can showcase itself. They have always put disability at the top of their priorities in anything that they do. The gallery is a space for art created by artists with disabilities to be seen and for the community to participate in arts + disability (for more information, please visit: http://tangledarts.org/about-us/who-we-are/).

    Umbra

    Location: 165 John Street, Toronto, Ontario, M5T 1X3.

     

    This image is a photograph of the outside of the Umbra building taken during the daytime and includes the chairs outside that can be used by the community.
    Source Umbra’s Instagram account: https://www.instagram.com/p/BS59N9SgfSi/.

    Innovative Approach: A modernly designed store, that also brings some modern thinking to the community. Aside from an inclusive and spacious interior, Umbra has gone the extra mile by providing a wonderful outdoor community space, filled with seating and tables outside their store. Providing the public with a free and comfortable place to sit and hang out is a simple idea that can lead to any number of exciting possibilities. For more information visit https://www.umbra.com/flagship-store/.

    Variety Village

    Location: 3701 Danforth Avenue, Scarborough, Ontario, M1N 2G2.

     

    This image is of a photograph that shows the exterior of the Variety Village building during the winter. A sign on the left-hand side of the photo reads “Variety Village A Fitness And Life Skills Facility For People Of All Abilities”.
    Source The Hamilton Spectator website: https://www.thespec.com/news-story/1314794-fundraiser-for-variety-village-slated-for-tara-inn/.

    Innovative Approach: Variety Village began in the fall of 1949, providing a school for boys with disabilities to learn a vocation and gain life skills to become productive members of society. As the years went on their focus shifted towards becoming a centre where anyone of any ability could come and participate in physical activity. They offer a wide range of programming from track and field sports, to swimming, to martial arts and general fitness. It has always been a place where ability is the focus and inclusion for all is the goal. For more information about Variety Village, please visit http://www.varietyvillage.ca.

    Register your Business in Accessibility Maps

    Create a business listing on the accessibility map

    Help others learn about accessibility features at Ontario businesses. Complete the brief form below to get a listing on Accessibility Cloud–the database for accessibility maps.

     


    Nominate an Accessible Business for Recognition

    Have you seen some great accessibility ideas and innovations at an Ontario business? Nominate this business to be included in our BIG IDeA showcase. First, please tell us about you by using the form bellow.

      Tell us about the Business you want to nominate

      We want to make sure we showcase the right business. Please give us some details about your nominee.

      Business Name (required)

      Street Address (required)

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      Accessibility Innovation and Leadership

      Please tell us why you think that this business should be showcased by BIG IDeA.

      Please describe how this business is an accessibility leader or innovator:

      Please note: BIG IDeA does not sell or give away the information you provide when filling out the BIG IDeA forms.

      Tell us about you:

      We respect your privacy: BIG IDeA does not sell or give away the information you provide when filling out the BIG IDeA forms. Your information is only used for activities in the BIG IDeA project.

      Your First Name

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      Showcase your Accessible Business

      Have you seen some great accessibility ideas and innovations at an Ontario business? Nominate this business to be included in our BIG IDeA showcase. First, please tell us about you by using the form bellow.

        First Name (required)

        Last Name (required)

        Your Email (required) (We will only use this email if we want to know more about your nomination submission.)

        Tell us about the Business you want to nominate

        We want to make sure we showcase the right business. Please give us some details about your nominee.

        Business Name (required)

        Street Address (required)

        City (required)

        Phone number (if you know it)

        Web site

        Accessibility Innovation and Leadership

        Please tell us why you think that this business should be showcased by BIG IDeA.

        Please note: BIG IDeA does not sell or give away the information you provide when filling out the BIG IDeA forms.

        Suggest an Accessibility Challenge

        Have you experienced and accessibility challenge that you would like to submit to our next Inclusive Design Challenge? Please tell us about it using this form. We take your privacy seriously and will not share your name or contact information with anyone without your permission.

          First Name

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          Please tell us where this accessibility design challenge occurs. If possible, please provide the name of the business and the address. (required)

          How did you learn about this accessibility challenge? (please select all that apply)

          Be part of the BIG IDeA Community

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          Please note: BIG IDeA does not sell or give away the information you provide when filling out the BIG IDeA forms.

          AODA

          Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act second Legislative Review in 2014

          Report of Mayo Moran, Provost and Vice-Chancellor of Trinity College at the University of Toronto, who reviewed the Act and conducted consultations between 2013 and 2014.

          Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, 2005

          Integrated accessibility standards in Ontario.

          Accessibility Laws

          Ontario’s accessibility laws and standards, action plan and progress in becoming accessible for people with disabilities by 2025.

          This 2009 review of AODA has some tips on improving its effectiveness

          A 2009 report of the Independent Review of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, by Charles Beer on his findings and recommendations for improving the effectiveness of Ontario’s accessibility laws.

          Read this for the answer to the question: what is disability?

          An easy to read brochure outlining the requirements of the Code as it relates to people with disabilities. It can be used as a supplementary resource to the Working Together module, or small organizations might use it to train their employees and volunteers.

          This 2009 review of AODA has some tips on improving its effectiveness

          A 2009 report of the Independent Review of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, by Charles Beer on his findings and recommendations for improving the effectiveness of Ontario’s accessibility laws.

          What is the Ontario Human Rights Code?

          Ontario Human Rights Code. The Ontario Human Rights Code is a law in the Canadian province of Ontario that gives all people equal rights and opportunities without discrimination in specific areas such as housing and services.

          Ontario government Partnership Council on Employment Opportunities for People with Disabilities Initial Report 2015

          Report on how to enhance employment opportunities for Ontarians with disabilities.

          Ontario government Partnership Council on Employment Opportunities for People with Disabilities Initial Report 2016

          Report about advising the government on how to improve employment opportunities for people with disabilities.

          Learn about your rights and responsibilities under the Code and the AODA

          The training module on the Code as it relates to people with disabilities was developed to address the requirement under section 7 of the IASR.

          Inclusive Design Challenge: with TELUS

          Designing Inclusive Retail Experiences

          TELUS commitment to diversity and inclusiveness has been a cornerstone of their award winning culture and they are now partnering with BIG IDeA to build a more accessible retail store experience. A diverse groups of creative minds have gathered to solve a set of design challenges that will improve the way that all customers but particularly persons with mobility disabilities, hard of hearing, and Deaf, navigate and interact with team members at TELUS stores.

          Team Radar

          Challenge

          Researching Accessibility Of A Location. It’s hard for customers with disabilities to know in advance how accessible a store may be if they’ve never been there before but this shouldn’t be kept as a surprise. Customers want easy access to descriptive information about store accessibility as it relates to their individual needs so that they can make an informed decision about traveling to the store; or what they need to know to prepare to go.

          Solution

          To reduce the number of steps needed to find available accessibility information by making sure the information is visible, locatable, and understandable using icons and descriptions. By providing a 360-degree annotated experience with images Team Radar hopes to avoid surprising customers by being able to highlight store accessibility features ahead of visits. This could be substituted by VR or AR environments in the future.

          Prototype

          Team Radar’s Prototype

          Team L.E.D.

          Challenge

          Communications Options. Customers looking to research purchase or get support may need to contact TELUS at one of its channels (web, phone, and store). In some cases, a customer contacting one of these channels maybe redirected to a different channel (e.g. from phone to web site). This can be challenging for customers who are deaf or hard of hearing, because of communication barriers with staff and/or low literacy level in English; or for customers with a mobility disability that must now make the extra effort to travel to a store. Throughout their entire interaction with TELUS, customers need to be able to complete tasks they want to do using the channels and communication methods that is most comfortable and natural to them.

          Solution

          L.E.D. developed multi-channeled system that starts with a website that displays accessibility information that leads into a sign language accessible video. This video would be captioned and also showcased outside of TELUS storefronts on large LCD screens to invite deaf customers. By also providing written blurbs and tablets that present the information in sign language beside products the deaf community is able to easily access phone and plan information. In store customers would be greeted by a TELUS representative who is either from the deaf community, an interpreter, or a person who signs. TELUS could also implement Video Remote Interpreting Service so that deaf customers can communicate directly via a screen to a representative regardless of whether staff in store can sign themselves.

          Prototype

          Team L.E.D.’s Prototype

          Team INTELUS

          Challenge

          Choosing Phones and Plans. Customers with disabilities are often left on their own to determine what phone and plans fit their specific accessibility needs. Because of the diverse set of products sold through TELUS stores and the frequency of accessibility related questions being less, it is difficult for the store staff to keep on top of all accessibility features of products, plans, and offerings at TELUS. For example, just look at the long list of accessibility setting available on your phone. Customers need to know about special features of devices or service, including accessibility features so that they can make an informed decision about which phone and plans are best suited to their specific needs.

          Solution

          Virtual system called the T-MATE to match customers with phones and TELUS plans that fit their needs. The T-MATE collects and builds a database of customer needs to suggest certain phones and plans. It also connects users with a community of other TELUS customers and gives them access to TELUS resources based on what they are looking for.

          Prototype

          Team INTELUS’s Prototype

          Team Elephant

          Challenge

          Dignified Access to Interpreter Services. Being able to communicate in your own native language can make a world of a difference. For example, customers whose first language is sign-language (ASL) feel much freer to express themselves when they can communicate through sign-language rather than writing and reading. However, having staff at the store to communicate fluently in the customers native language is not always possible. Customers want a way to guarantee they will have easy access interact in their preferred language as part of an integrated experience.

          Solution

          Team Elephant created an device to use in store so that customers do not need to disclose their language barrier to TELUS representatives. The devices allow customers to interact freely with ease. Based on their preferred method of communicating with the device, a notification is sent to a customer rep about their preferred method of communication.

          Prototype

          Team Elephant’s Prototype

          Team IMANI

          Challenge

          Building Confidence of Store Employees. The attitude of the retail staff can make or break the experience for a customer. The staff may have best intentions about helping the customer but they are afraid of saying or doing the wrong thing. As a result, customers with disabilities can sometimes feel that retail staff reacts negatively when they first approach them. Customers want to feel welcome and appreciated when interacting with retail staff.

          Solution

          Team IMANI plans to develop a mentor mentee system to support TELUS representatives so that representatives are better equipped for assisting people with disabilities. By creating a space that allows for TELUS representatives to relax during situations of high tension and giving them the ability to contact their mentor within a safe space will improve TELUS’s relationship with their customers.

          Prototype

          Team IMANI’s Prototype

          Team USHOP

          Challenge

          Shopping Independently. Customers who have a mobility disability often have to ask for help just to browse through the stores and look at the merchandise. As individuals, they want to be empowered to browse and shop in the store independently.

          Solution

          By redesigning the interior space of TELUS stores in the form of adding in additional resting areas, electronic directory services, accessible signage, and top to bottom product organization USHOP has proposed a more accessible space for those of all abilities.

          Prototype

          Team USHOP’s Prototype

          Accessibility Guidelines for BIG IDeA’s Events

          The Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) is committed to facilitate access to communities for persons of disabilities. One in seven Ontarians currently experiences a disability and this number is expected to increase as population ages. Disability is diverse, it might be someone who: has low or no hearing, has low or no vision, experiences a physical challenge, lives with a mental health issue, lives with speech-challenge or struggles with learning demanding.

          The purpose of this guide is to provide information for event planners to identify and to overcome access challenges in relations to its participants. Planning access should minimize the need for last minute accommodations and it should foster full participation for persons of disabilities. As well, this is in line with AODAs requirements to ensure disability access for program participants, if the organizer has at least one employee.

          You can download the Accessibility Guidelines for BIG IDeA’s Events here.
          An Accessible Checklist can be consulted here.

          Advertising/Registration

          • Provide ample notice for the upcoming event to allow people to arrange for transportation, assistants or other supports they may require.
          • Include a disability accommodation statement on all event advertising (eg. “For disability accommodations please contact X name, phone number/e-mail by date Z”).
          • Include space on registration form or on the event notice for people to identify their accommodations or special needs (eg. “If you have a disability that may require accommodations to participate please indicate here ___. How would you like to be contacted to discuss your needs (phone, email)?” | “Please check the accommodations needed in order to participate: ____interpreting (ASL, oral, signed English) ____large print ____captioned videos ____an assistance dog will accompany me ____a personal care attendant will accompany me ____communication access in real time (CART) ____Braille ____handouts in electronic format ____ wheelchair access”).
          • If you are serving food, give participants a chance to request dietary preferences.
          • Include contact information (e.g., phone number and e‐mail address) so that attendees can contact you with their special, confidential requests. (see previous examples).
          • Follow up with people who request accommodations in a timely fashion to inform them whether or not these will be available.
          • Indicate whether there are any fees for admission or materials, note that fees should not apply to any accompanying support persons.
          • On posters or information sheets, include international accessibility symbols indicating accessibility (e.g. wheelchair access, captioning, sign language interpretation).
          • Promote a scent‐free practice for all events.

          Planning ahead

          • Train event volunteers about how to respectfully assist people with disabilities and to respond to any accessibility issues that may arise.
          • Make sure that volunteers are easily identified (use name tags and/or other identifiers).
          • Remind your volunteers not to make assumptions about what a person with a disability can or cannot do. Tell them to simply ask, “How may I help you?”
          • Book any access supports being provided in plenty of time to ensure availability. (e.g. Sign Language interpreters, real-time captioning, note-takers, attendants etc.).
          • Provide interpreters, captioners and note takers with agendas and presentation outlines in advance of the event.
          • At the event, be sure the interpreters and/or captioners are introduced and explain what they will be doing during the event.
          • If many of your attendees have children and the event is being held during non‐business hours, you may want to offer childcare services.
          • If food is provided, ensure the count includes interpreters, attendants, child‐minders, etc.
          • Remind participants as well as volunteers and service providers of the scent‐free practice.

          The Venue

          • Make sure transport options for getting to the venue are realistic for persons with disabilities (event venue close to public transportation, transit vehicles serving the route should be accessible, knowledgeable to indicate pick-up/drop off areas).
          • Provide info about accessible parking and create a sufficient number of accessible parking spaces. Determine approximate distance between accessible parking and the venue. It’s helpful to use arrival, exit and directional signs that are clear and can be read in all light conditions.
          • Make sure that wheelchair access is via the main entrance. Alternatively, post clear, legible signs at the main entrance showing alternative, safe and accessible entrances.
          • Make sure outdoor and indoor paths are barrier-free (move garbage cans, sandwich boards if needed). Avoid soft, thick pile carpeting or loose mats.
          • Make sure persons with disabilities can reach all areas used at the event independently or with assistance from volunteers (e.g., doors, the registration desk, washroom, change room etc.). Check the space inside washroom to see if a wheelchair can manage, check for grab bars and the access to sink, soap and paper towels. Make sure accessible washrooms are available within a reasonable distance.
          • Preferably, elevators should have low buttons for wheelchair users, Braille/raised number markings or audible floor announcements for people who are blind or with low vision, and visual floor indicators for people who are Deaf, deafened or hard of hearing.
          • Post clear and easy-to-read signs showing locations of accessible washrooms, elevators, phones, etc.

          Room Set-up

          • Allow for easy movement for wheelchair and scooter users (rearrange furniture if needed). Choose a room with wide aisles and plenty of space around tables.
          • Include accessible seating areas interspersed throughout the room where possible – front, middle and back.
          • Reserve seating for people with various disabilities, and consider the nature of their disability when doing so (people who rely on lip reading will need to sit closer to speakers).
          • Provide a variety of chairs with and without armrests if available. Provide seating for those who can’t stand for long periods at events where people will be mostly standing.
          • Good lighting (bright, without glare and allows for adjustment).
          • Good acoustics (minimal echo). If possible, arrange for provision of Assistive Listening Devices (e.g., an FM system). Wherever possible, try to eliminate or reduce background noise during proceedings.
          • Make sure accessible washrooms are available within a reasonable distance.
          • Cover electrical cables or cords that cross over aisles or pathways so wheelchair users as well as people who use canes and walkers can traverse easily and safely across them.
          • Ensure that all parts of the event are smoke‐free.
          • Make sure organizers, presenters and volunteers are aware of emergency evacuation procedures.

          Suggestions for effective presenters

          • Remind presenters to end meetings or presentations on schedule (important for people making advance transit arrangements and for pre-booked support people).
          • Produce materials in large print (16‐point type or larger) and have available electronically in case of a request for such a format.
          • It is always good to have a few print copies on hand. Encourage and support presenters to offer copies of their material in different formats before their presentation starts.
          • Ideally lectern heights and audio/visual controls should be adjustable to meet the needs of different speakers.
          • During the session, presenters should verbally describe contents of videos, or any written materials, including overheads or chalkboard notes for audience members with vision loss.
          • Encourage presenters to use captioned videos.
          • Organizers or presenters should check with the audience about the need for breaks.

          Food and Refreshments

          • If it is a buffet-style event, be sure to place food, drinks and utensils in easy reach of a person using a wheelchair.
          • Provide bendable straws as well as some cups with handles. People who have limited use of their hands have difficulty grasping or holding objects such as cups.
          • Ask volunteers to offer assistance or seated service to guests with disabilities.

          Service Animals

          • Do not pet service animals.
          • Make sure there is a relief area for them and make sure their owners know where it is.
          • Provide a water bowl on hand.

          Budgeting the event

          • Set aside some funds early in the planning stage for accessibility and in the event of requests for communication supports and accessible formats. event

          Evaluating the event

          • Be sure evaluation forms are accessible and include a section about accessibility of the event. This can provide valuable information for use in planning future event plans.

          Accessibility Checklist

          The “Accessible BIG IDeA Checklist” entails a list of suggestions that would make the events running under BIG IDeA project more accessible. It is based on the Accessibility Guidelines for BIG IDeA’s Events, a guide that provides information for event planners to identify and to overcome access challenges in relations to its participants.

          Contact Details

          – Name of the Event
          – Date and Time
          – Location
          – Number of attendees

          Advertising/Registration

          – Have you provided ample notice to allow people to arrange accommodations?
          – Have you included a disability accommodation statement on all advertising?
          – Have you collected info about special needs through registration forms?
          – Has your staff identified dietary preferences of the participants?
          – Does your advertising include contact information for accessibility requests?
          – Has your staff followed up with responses to accommodation requests?
          – Does your advertising include international accessibility symbols?
          – Is your place scent-free, as a rule?

          Planning ahead

          – Have you trained volunteers to accommodate accessibility issues?
          – Can people with disabilities clearly identify those volunteers?
          – Have you reminded your volunteers to ask guests, “How may I help you?”
          – Have you booked accessibility supports in advance?
          – Have you informed interpreters, captioners and note-takers in advance?
          – Will you explain the tasks of interpreters/captioners during worship?
          – Have you considered childcare outside of business hours?
          – Have you considered food for interpreters, attendants, and child‐minders?
          – Have you reminded organizers and staff of your scent‐free practice/policy?

          The Venue

          – Has your staff suggested realistic transport options?
          – Have you provided info about accessible parking?
          – Have you offered main wheelchair access and alternatives?
          – Have you made outdoor and indoor pathways free of barriers?
          – Have you given access to all needed indoor space independently or with assistance?
          – Have you made elevators fully-inclusive for diverse end-users (ideally, at least)?
          – Have you provided inclusive, clear, high-contrast signage?

          Room Set-up

          – Have you set up the space to be generous to users of wheelchairs and scooters?
          – Have you provided accessible seating areas in front, middle and back, if possible?
          – Have you reserved seating for people with disabilities?
          – Do/es your room/s include adjustable lighting?
          – Do your acoustics provide minimal echo?
          – Are washrooms accessible, and at an adequate distance for all users?
          – Are electrical cables/cords covered securely for safe crossover?
          – Does your community promote a smoke‐free environment?
          – Are organizers, presenters and volunteers trained for emergency evacuations?

          Suggestions for effective presenters

          – Have you reminded presenters to end meetings or presentations on schedule?
          – Have you offered participants materials in large-print and digital formats?
          – Have you had extra hardcopies printed?
          – Are audio/visual controls adjustable?
          – Can you offer verbal descriptions of visual contents?
          – Are any and all videos captioned?
          – Have you provided participants with necessary bio or dietary breaks?

          Food and Refreshments

          – Would persons using wheelchairs find your food, drinks and utensils easy to reach?
          – Are bendable straws and cups with handles available?
          – Is food/buffet assistance available?

          Service Animals

          – Remember to discourage participants from petting service animals!
          – Have you offered a relief area for service animals?
          – Have you provided service animals with a water-bowl?

          Budgeting the event

          – Have you considered in advance funds for planning and providing accommodations?

          Evaluating the event

          – Have you considered and provided evaluation forms in accessible formats?