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Accessibility advocates tweet their barriers | Toronto Star

Disability advocates are hoping social-media campaigns will publicly shame organizations into taking action on accessibility.

Tim Rose made headlines this month when he posted on Facebook about his harrowing back-and-forth with Air Canada, who refused to let him take a direct flight from Toronto to Cleveland because they said his wheelchair was too big to fit in the plane.

Rose started tweeting with the hashtag #wheelchairsarentluggage, in response to an Air Canada employee comparing his wheelchair to an oversized bag.

The hashtag has racked up hundreds of tags, including some by David Lepofsky, the chair of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) Alliance.

Lepofsky started his own campaign a few months ago called #AODAfail. It asks Ontarians to point out narrow wheelchair ramps (or non-existent ones), uneven sidewalks and signs low in colour contrast — anything that creates obstacles for people with disabilities.

Lepofsky, who is blind, said he relies on traffic sounds to navigate the city as a pedestrian. He’s comfortable walking with a cane on the street, but wayfinding in some newer buildings is another story.

Navigating the wide, curved atrium at the Women’s College Hospital is like wading through the Atlantic Ocean, he said.

Before entering the atrium, there’s the matter of getting through the front doors. The hospital’s front entrance has poles on either side of the doors with sensors, so that when a guest waves a hand in front of the sensor, the door opens — dissimilar to most hospital doors, which open automatically.

The washrooms nearest the front entrance of the hospital have signs written in Braille, but Lepofsky points out the Braille only indicates room numbers — not whether the washrooms are meant for men, women or families.

“It’s hard to be that bad. It’s one thing not getting better, but it’s another thing making (accessibility) substantially worse,” Lepofsky said.

Curated by (Lifekludger)
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