Open door to accessibility, says Lieutenant Governorhttp://mississauga.com/article/27672
Open door to accessibility, says Lieutenant Governor
Attitude is an important part of changing disability into accessibility, Ontario's Lieutenant Governor David Onley told a gathering hosted by the Mississauga-based Canadian Association of Muslims with Disabilities.
The Planning for the Future: Disability Rights and Responsibilities symposium was held at the Mississauga Islamic Centre of Canada yesterday afternoon.
Onley is a champion for people with disabilities and has himself overcome challenges associated with polio and post-polio syndrome, including paralysis. He said accessibility has to mean full inclusion in society and access starts with people's attitudes.
"It means that we must not form value judgments based on what a person looks like," he said. "I'm sure it has happened to many of you and it has happened to me. It's not pleasant and in many cases its hurtful."
He gave examples such as if an employer rejected an applicant because he or she had one leg, the employer would reject Terry Fox; if the employer rejected someone in a wheelchair, they would have rejected Rick Hansen and if the employer rejected someone who needs a computer to speak for him or her, the employer would be passing up on Stephen Hawking.
Onley said in order for people to participate fully in their religions, places of worship such as mosques and churches must also become more accessible. He added that more than half of complaints to the Ontario Human Rights Commission come from people with disabilities, which means people with disabilities are not experiencing full equality.
The day-long symposium included other speakers, a video presentation, entertainment and other activities.
The event was organized to, "bring families, community leaders and community members together to talk about planning for the future of people with disabilities and their families as they're aging," said the association's founder and chair Rabia Khedr. Khedr, who is blind, formed the association about three years ago.
"This is a grassroots effort," Khedr said of the association. "Grassroots efforts are always important because they really reflect the voices of the people and bring forward the experiences of actual families and engage in a process where's its all participatory to take people to a level where the solutions are created by and for the people who are affected by those solutions." CAMD is a non-profit association of Muslims with disabilities that works to create an inclusive society. firstname.lastname@example.org