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Local group comments on what improvements can be made during National AccessAbility Week

Work continues to make everyday life more accessible for those with disabilities across Waterloo region, and the need for that is especially highlighted on National AccessAbility Week in Canada.

The non-profit group, KW AccessAbility in Kitchener, supports adults with physical disabilities and advocates for accessibility improvements in Waterloo region.

Edward Faruzel, the executive director at KW AccessAbility, said while there have been improvements over the years, there are still hurdles that require more attention.

“Transportation is getting better all the time. There seem to be a lot more door openers and ramps, so all the basics are being looked after,” said Faruzel.

Faruzel said employment for people with disabilities could be improved locally.

“People are afraid of the unknown, and they think if they hire somebody with a disability that they're not going to be as productive or it's going to cost a lot of money to accommodate them when most of the time, that's not the case,” he said.

Faruzel hopes more doors can be opened and emphasized the importance of speaking up for those with disabilities.

“And make sure that people know that we're out there and we'd like to contribute to society and be a part of society still,” Faruzel said.


Amy Ross, the accessibility advocate for the City Of Waterloo, said they’re trying to help.

“We are, as a municipality, looking at an opportunity to work with organizations like KW habilitation for a supported employment program,” Ross said.

Ross admitted progress is in its infancy when it comes to addressing accessibility challenges outlined under the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA).

“The five real AODA standards, they don't cover all aspects of life, and what is there - it doesn't set the bar high enough,” Ross said.

Accessible housing is another key issue Ross said requires renewed focus.

“If you had one unit per floor that was dedicated as a barrier-free space, that's an amazing advancement,” Ross said.


The City of Kitchener pointed to its new accessibility plan, which they said builds on the previous plan by focusing on how to think and plan accessibility first.

“Since there are no new accessibility legislation requirements, this new plan emphasizes how the new plan will go beyond accessibility legislation requirements,” a spokesperson for the City of Kitchener said in part in an emailed statement.

Kitchener staff said they are also part of in-person site visits with agency experts and persons with lived experiences to hear about any barriers and to implement changes where needed.

The City of Kitchener welcomed new members of its Grand River Accessibility Advisory Committee, bringing its membership to 15 people.

Kitchener is also offering a free webinar series on National AccessAbility Week that aims to focus on how businesses can be more inclusive and how to approach accessibility from a hiring, accommodations, and customer service and city design perspective. Top Stories


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