“…To foster a caring, inclusive and affirming church family…”
Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA): An accessible Ontario by 2025
Ontario is the first Canadian Province to pass a law to improve accessibility in the areas that impact the daily lives of people with disabilities. The Act applies to all businesses and non-profit organizations that employ people. They must work towards implementing the Accessibility Standards that are being developed in consultation with a wide variety of community stakeholders.
What is the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act?
Ontarians with disabilities have the right to the same opportunities as everyone else. Too often, obstacles get in their way of doing the things that most of us do without thinking. These obstacles are called barriers to accessibility. The Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, 2005 requires us (the Ontario Government) to break down barriers to make Ontario accessible by 2025.
We will do this by developing, implementing and enforcing accessibility standards for many of the most important areas of our lives. Source: https://hrs.humber.ca/assets/files/hrs/HRD_AODA_FAQ.pdf
Customer Service Standard
St. Peter’s United Church is committed to providing an equitable and inclusive environment. To achieve this goal, the church depends on the full participation of all members — staff, leaders, volunteers, participants, and those who use our building – to identify, remove and reduce barriers to full participation in the life of the church and community.
Concerns in Accessing Services
More information regarding the AODA is available at www.accesson.ca/ado/splash.htm
Information regarding the Ontario Human Rights Code (OHRC) is available at www.ohrc.on.ca
Disclosing a Disability
Persons with disabilities choose whether or not to disclose a disability based on a number of factors including the relationship, the context of the interaction, their perception of the inquiry (curiosity versus assistance), and their comfort level.
People do not necessarily request service or accommodation or identify themselves as having a disability.
Persons who disclose information about their disability are revealing information regarding their own health and body that would ordinarily be considered private between persons who do not know each other well.
How a disclosure is received can affect how a person will approach a new situation or relationship. For example, how a person’s disclosure is received, may determine whether they attend church services or community programs in our church in the future. It may even affect the development of their faith. Disclosures should always be received with respect and sensitively.
If you are unsure of how to assist someone with a disability, ask them – they are their own expert regarding accommodation!
What is a Disability?
As defined by the by the AODA, a disability is:
- any degree of physical disability, infirmity, malformation or disfigurement that is caused by bodily injury, birth defect or illness and, without limiting the generality of the foregoing, includes diabetes mellitus, epilepsy, a brain injury, any degree of paralysis, amputation, lack of physical coordination, blindness or visual impediment, deafness or hearing impediment, muteness or speech impediment, or physical reliance on a guide dog or other animal or on a wheelchair or other remedial appliance or device;
- a condition or mental impairment or a developmental disability;
- a learning disability, or a dysfunction in one or more of the processes involved in understanding or using symbols or spoken language;
- a mental disorder; or
- an injury or disability for which benefits were claimed or received under the insurance plan established under the Workplace Safety and Insurance Act, 1997.
We all play a role in creating a positive environment at St. Peter’s United Church.
Here are a few helpful accommodation tips for meetings and events.
Assistive devices help a person with a disability do everyday tasks and activities. Some devices include: laptops, pocket recorders, digital audio players; hearing aids, teletypewriters (TTY) for people unable to speak or hear by phone; mobility devices such as scooters, walkers or crutches, magnifiers, white cane; communication boards (which use symbols, words or pictures to create messages), speech generating devices.
Support People and Animals
A Support Person accompanies a person with a disability in order to help with communication, mobility, personal care or medical needs.
Please welcome the support person, but focus service and communication to the individual.
Support Animals are welcome at St. Peter’s.
Please do not distract the service animal – this includes talking, petting or feeding.
Food and drink
Provide straws with beverages.
Request a list of ingredients for food provided, and display it near the food.
As of March 2016, our church has updated its accessibility in the following ways: We have an elevator that reaches all floors and is big enough to accommodate a wheelchair or scooter and a support person. There are accessible washrooms on the main floor and lower hall of the church that are wheelchair accessible. The building is now air conditioned. The kitchen is not designed for wheelchair use. If required, we will attempt to provide American Sign Language for services.
Our public address systems in the Sanctuary and the Fellowship and Heritage Halls have adjustable sound levels and multiple microphone and other sound source options. There are assisted hearing devices available in the sanctuary.
We are called to ensure there is appropriate event signage and adequate lighting.
We are aware that common background noise can be distracting. Hence we do not provide background music at seasonal lunches and events for seniors.
Presenters are reminded to speak in a clear, well-timed manner to allow assistive devices or ASL support to translate properly.
Ushers are instructed to ask the participant where he or she would like an accompanying support person to be seated.
Volunteers are called to respond to accommodation requests in the same manner they would to other event-related questions.
Accessibility information, including parking, ramps and entrances are made available to each person entering St. Peter’s. Please contact the Office Administrator for any accommodation needs.
We send out weekly announcements regarding upcoming events so that participants can plan for any special arrangements. Material for meetings is emailed before the meeting or event so that they can be adjusted to accommodate to particular needs. Large print bulletins are available for Sunday services, and announcements are posted on a large screen in the sanctuary.
If the elevator or automatic door entrances are temporarily out of order, notices will be posted.
Snow will be removed from stairs/ramps when required.
Hallways will be kept clear to ensure easier maneuverability.
Signage indicates entrances that are accessible and clearly state how one would go to the accessible entrance. Both the main door and lower hall entrances are accessible.
Wires that might cross the floor, such as computer or phone lines, will be taped down.