PATH Employment Services, along with representatives from Able Living, Sunshine Abilities, McMaster University, Redeemer University College, and some local volunteers, embarked on the third annual accessibility tour of Hamilton on On Aug. 5 and 6.
PATH is a non-profit agency in Hamilton that helps people with disabilities find meaningful jobs. The tour focused on the accessibility features used at places visited on a typical day, such as campuses, hospitals, retail stores and parks. DARTS, (Disabled and Aged Regional Transit System) facilitated the tour, taking participants to each tour stop.
Chris Craviero, an employee with cerebral palsy, led the tour of The Works: Gourmet Burger Bistro. He discussed the ways that the restaurant worked to accommodate staff and customers with disabilities, such as offering a menu with bigger font for the visually impaired.
The Westmount Recreation Centre profiled many features, such as accessible parking spaces, automatic entry doors, wide corridors, wide change-room stalls, and washrooms built with wheelchair users in mind. The centre has special wheelchairs that can enter the pool and a pool ramp for easy access.
McMaster University, Mohawk College and Redeemer University College all gave tours of their campuses’ accessibility features, including a testing centre used to accommodate students who need lowered desks, scribes, tests with larger font, or a quiet testing area.
McMaster showed off its library accessibility services, a space used for converting books into PDF files with larger print for the visually impaired. Mohawk showed off their multi-sensory room, which provides recreation space and features to help community members with behavioural disabilities explore and develop their senses. Redeemer showed off its accessible lecture rooms, with moveable desks to fit various assistive devices such as wheelchairs and walkers, as well as their Braille signs.
The St. Joseph’s Health Care Centre gave a tour of its new facility, emphasizing the importance of getting rid of the stigma often related to mental health. The tour group took note of their Braille-labeled floors and lowered counters.
The 541 Eatery and Exchange, a non-profit restaurant, drew attention to its accessible doors. Even more impressive was how the proceeds from their restaurant go directly to the community, through free programs hosted in their facility, like a homework club.
Marydale Park, Ontario’s first barrier-free outdoor recreation centre, provided a tour of its renovated pathways, hydrotherapy pool and multi-sensory room. Currently, text-to-speech software is being installed into signs around the park for the visually impaired.
Target Canada gave a tour of its Ancaster store. The group was impressed with a checkout lane designated for individuals with disabilities that featured lowered serving counters and multiple ‘assistance requested’ buttons.
The number of people with disabilities is growing and the tour strived to profile positive examples of accessibility and these organizations deserve recognition for their efforts.