WHITBY – Durham Region celebrates accessibility accomplishments


Published April 28, 2022 at 10:02 am

Nearly 20 years after implemented its first accessibility plan the Region of Durham gets to crow a little bit about its accomplishments.

In June 2005, the Ontario Government passed the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act with a vision of being fully accessible by 2025. The goal was to develop standards in five areas:

  • Customer service
  • Information and Communication
  • Employment
  • Transportation and
  • Design of public spaces

The Region started working on their first accessibility plan two years before the Act was passed and has been releasing annual progress reports since. The latest four-year cycle (2022-2025) is the final phase before the fully accessible deadline of 2025.

Achievement highlights of the current cycle include:

  • Conducting a survey for the Multi-Year Accessibility Plan; asking residents to weigh in on accessible options for people with disabilities and taking note of their feedback.
  • Ensuring existing Durham Region websites and web content conformed to the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0 Level AA.
  • Launched more than 20 online eForms that allow customers to apply for services online, including the purchase of garbage bag tags.
  • Offering barrier-free access to facilities via the Workplace Modernization Project.

The elimination of accessibility barriers across the Region’s operations relate to attitudes, technology, policies, and procedures; as well as those involving physical accessibility to buildings, services and transportation, noted Durham Chair John Henry.

“Our commitment to being inclusive and accessible involves working together to ensure dignity and independence for individuals of all abilities,” he said. “It’s about making sure we consider the needs of others; observing obstacles through an accessibility-based lens to help every person truly feel at home in their community.”

The Region also put an increased emphasis on the importance of the myDurham 311 customer service modernization project during the latest phase, which strives to offer customers a single point of contact with consistent, seamless service – regardless of the method or device used.

Durham was able to transition 25 Social Services telephone numbers into one number to create that single point of contact, ensuring voice prompts are easy to understand and follow, and the Region was also able to launch the myDurham 311 Smart Home Device Voice Service, which allows residents to access information about Regional services, and frequently asked questions, via Google Home or Amazon Alexa.

To assist Regional Council and staff with the process, the Durham Accessibility Advisory Committee (AAC) provides advice on accessibility issues on a wide range of  municipal processes.

Visit durham.ca/accessibility to learn more.

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