Inclusive Destination Development: Ontario-Style

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Ontario, Canada is practicing Inclusive Destination Development through its EnAbling Change business/government partnership:


Improving accessibility for people with disabilities in employment,
customer service and universal design is the driving force behind the projects
funded under the Ontario government's EnAbling Change partnership program.

The Canadian Standards Association (CSA) developed a customer service
standard for people with disabilities with the help of a grant under the
EnAbling Change partnership program. The standard was voluntary, and was
accompanied by tools and resources to help businesses of all sizes improve
customer service to people with disabilities.

McGuinty Government Builds Better Access for People with Disabilities

Partnership Project Promotes the Shaw Festival to More Tourists and
Theatre-goers

NIAGARA-ON-THE-LAKE, ON, May 30 /CNW/ - The Ontario government, Shaw
Festival and the Canadian Standards Association are changing the way patrons
with disabilities are being served when they go to the theatre.

Ontario Minister of Community and Social Services and Minister
Responsible for Ontarians with Disabilities, Madeleine Meilleur, today joined
Shaw Festival Executive Director Colleen Blake to celebrate the results of the
Shaw Festival's participation in the Building Champions program. Through this
program, the Canadian Standards Association worked with seven "champion"
businesses and organizations to develop and test new customer service training
for businesses to use when serving customers with disabilities.

"Better accessibility can mean more customers, a larger pool of potential
employees and long-term growth for Ontario businesses," said Meilleur. "Our
goal is to make Ontario an accessible province by 2025, but businesses like
the Shaw Festival are showing us that improved accessibility is something we
can achieve right now."

The "champion" companies tested customer service training for people with
disabilities with support from the Canadian Standards Association and the
Province. The goal was to demonstrate how this form of customer service
training would work in their sector and the gains businesses could make
through improved accessibility for their customers.

"The Shaw prides itself on providing the best experience possible for our
patrons from the time they order their tickets to the moment they applaud a
stunning production. The Building Champions program ensures our patrons that
their entire experience is comfortable, respectful and enjoyable," said Blake.

As part of the Canadian Standards Association's Building Champions
program, the Shaw Festival trained employees on how to better serve customers
with a disability. The training included such diverse elements as how to guide
a person with a visual impairment, simple ways to make the premises more
accessible for people with physical disabilities and how to provide service to
someone with a mental health illness.

The Building Champions initiative is one of the innovative projects
funded by the Ontario government under the EnAbling Change partnership
program. It is just one of the ways in which the McGuinty government is
working to break down barriers to help people with disabilities participate
more fully in Ontario's communities. Since 2003, the government has:

<<
- Provided $28.2 million to help universities and colleges provide
services for students with disabilities to help them succeed.
- Improved the Disabled Parking Permit program - now called the
Accessible Parking Permit program
- Committed nearly $276 million in new funding to strengthen community
supports for adults with a developmental disability.
>>

"We're on the side of Ontarians with disabilities. That's why we're
supporting businesses, whether big or small, to improve access for their
patrons with disabilities," Meilleur said. "This is part of our plan to build
a more prosperous Ontario that benefits from the contributions of all our
citizens."

<<
Disponible en français

www.mcss.gov.on.ca/accessibility/index.html

Backgrounder
-------------------------------------------------------------------------

BUILDING ACCESSIBILITY CHAMPIONS
>>

Improving accessibility for people with disabilities in employment,
customer service and universal design is the driving force behind the projects
funded under the Ontario government's EnAbling Change partnership program.

The Canadian Standards Association (CSA) developed a customer service
standard for people with disabilities with the help of a grant under the
EnAbling Change partnership program. The standard was voluntary, and was
accompanied by tools and resources to help businesses of all sizes improve
customer service to people with disabilities.

CSA has recently finished piloting customer service training for serving
customers with disabilities with seven business "champions" through its
Building Champions program. The inaugural "champions" include small, medium
and large businesses that collectively serve hundreds of thousands of
Ontarians every day and share a commitment to improving customer service and
access for people with disabilities. They include:

<<
- The Shaw Festival
- Eatertainment (including Toronto's Panorama Restaurant and
Bloor Street Diner)
- Delta Chelsea Hotel, Toronto
- Cineplex Galaxy Theatres
- Sears Canada
- Wal-Mart
- Wendy's Restaurants Canada
>>

EnAbling Change

The EnAbling Change partnership program provides funding for strategic
projects that will make a significant impact on improving accessibility for
people with disabilities throughout an industry or sector, or across several
sectors.
EnAbling Change partnerships are selected based on their capacity to
promote change and the extent to which they improve access for people with
disabilities. Projects have a broad range of benefits that will positively
impact people and organizations beyond the immediate project participants.
The Ontario government invests $500,000 annually in EnAbling Change
projects and targets partners who have the expertise to be catalysts for
change.
The focus of EnAbling Change is to improve accessibility for people with
disabilities in three core areas:

<<
- Employment: To improve access to employment for people with
disabilities by increasing the awareness of employers of the benefits
of hiring and retaining employees with disabilities
- Customer Service: To develop and promote voluntary codes of practice
or voluntary standards to improve access to customer oriented
services for people with disabilities
- Universal Design: To promote the benefits of applying new design
principles to create universally accessible products, designs and
environments that everyone can use and enjoy.


Disponible en français

www.mcss.gov.on.ca/accessibility/index.html
>>

For further information: Carole Drouin, Minister's Office, (416)
325-5219; Paul Doig, Communications and Marketing Branch, Ministry of
Community and Social Services, (416) 325-5187

Source:

http://www.newswire.ca/en/releases/archive/May2006/30/c8447.html

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