The Strength and Potential of Municipal Accessibility Advisory Committees (MAACs)

By Geof Collis
June 1, 2010
After reading the above named section from the Report of the Independent Review of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, 2005 http://www.mcss.gov.on.ca/en/mcss/publications/accessibility/charles_beer/tableOfContents.aspx it has become even more apparent that a venue like www.coaac.ca along with its ListServe is exactly what Charles Beer is referring to.

It is also something that David Lepofsky of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance said in a recent article:

“It is really very helpful to bring together people working around Ontario to make Ontario fully accessible to its over 1.5 million residents who have a disability, so that each person doesn’t have to re-invent the same wheel.”
www.aoda.ca/?p=410

From the Report

I was struck by the number of examples of best practices from municipalities and MAACs that were cited throughout the consultations. There does not, however, appear to be any formal process for documenting or making these examples available to other municipalities. In fact, the consultations for the review provided an opportunity for representatives from various municipalities and MAACs to come together to discuss how they were approaching the new responsibilities under the AODA, as well as innovative ideas their communities had developed and the challenges they were facing.

Municipalities ranging in size from large urban to small rural provided examples of innovative and comprehensive accessibility plans. I was told of one
interesting initiative from the City of Thunder Bay. Twice a year the MAAC brings together representatives from the local hospitals, colleges and universities
to share opportunities, best practices and challenges with respect to the broader public sector’s responsibilities under the ODA and the AODA.

Now that the private and not-for-profit sectors are also covered by accessibility requirements, informal local collaborative structures can support them
in meeting their new obligations. I see tremendous strength and potential for MAACs to effect change at the community level and to support the work of
the more informal advisory committees set up by many hospitals, colleges, universities and school boards, and over time the efforts of the private and
not for profit sectors. In particular, the MAACs can serve as an excellent resource for the chambers of commerce in their communities. I see this as a
key factor in supporting the province to meet its 2025 goal for accessibility, as the provincial government alone cannot effect the level of change required.

Cited from http://www.aoda.ca/?page_id=468

For more information on the Coalition of Accessibility Advisory Committees (COAAC) and its ListServe visit www.coaac.ca

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