A new hero

Posted by jennifer gibson on Thursday, February 18, 2016 Under: February 2016

I know that I've mentioned this many times before but I will say it again: people with disabilities have the right to request a more accessible platform at school, work, sports, as well as services such as restaurants and theatres. They have every right to speak up about what services are creating a barrier that is preventing them from being included like everyone else. There cannot be any form of discrimination towards people with a disability. There is a law in place that helps enforce more appropriate accessibility standards that helps us participate in all aspects of the society.

Meet the newest hero in this regard, Lorin MacDonald, a human rights lawyer who has a hearing loss. She is the one that helped created the Accessibilities for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA). She is a very big supporter of removing barriers that impede the abilities of someone with disability. In fact, she received the AODA 10th Anniversary Champion Award for being a leader in accessibility. During her time at Western University, she helped make the campus and the Grand Theatre more inclusive towards people with a hearing loss - Bravo! In a recent interview for the Alumni Gazette, she stated that even though she had to work extremely hard to overcome challenges, she strongly believes in not letting anyone else endure the difficulties of she went through. As a result of her determination, she is opening more doors, literally, for people like us.

Her persistence for accessible service led to her opening her own private practice in Toronto, representing people and children with disabilities who faced discrimination. She openly states that she is appalled at how many organizations and businesses refuse to accommodate people with disabilities, including wheelchair users. Lori gave an example how a restaurant would tell a customer who is in a wheelchair to go around the back and through the kitchen or not come in at all since they are not able to use the front steps.

She is hoping that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will create a Canadian version of the American with Disabilities Act which will help promote accessibility in areas such as airlines, banks and transportation.

I think it's absolutely amazing that she has found a way to use her disability to help so many others at a national level, that is astounding! I know what it takes to try to change a business or organization to make it more accessible. It's hard work and it doesn't happen overnight. It takes time, an inordinate amount of patience, community co-operation and lots of paperwork. I know this because I've been on an Accessibility Committee myself. I've learned that it's up to us, as people with disabilities, to educate others about issues that they may not be aware of. It's not until they discover why we can't shop in certain stores or eat at specific restaurants or attend a local theatre, that they realize they are losing customers. That being said, one of the biggest obstacle we've encountered is people who lacked having an open mind or the ability to see things from our perspective. It's not until they've literally walked a mile in our shoes that they realize just how much of a barrier they've created by not listening to us. All it takes is compassion and the willingness to embrace us with open arms.

I love this quote of hers "Attitudes are always the biggest barriers of all." That is so true.

Great links to check out:

Lorin MacDonald, Western Alumni:

CHHA, Director:

Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act:

Accessibility News for the Deaf:

Accessibility News:

Alumni Gazette:

In : February 2016 

Tags: "lori macdonald" lawyer  advocate  "western alumni" "alumni gazette" 
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