Physical access for persons with disabilities
Robson, Patrick Joseph.
MetadataShow full item record
For persons with disabilities, the activities that able-bodied people take for granted can be major, often insurmountable challenges. Attempting to enter a restaurant for lunch with friends can result in lengthy and adversarial litigation if the facility is not accessible to a person with a disability or other mobility impairment. This litigation would be initiated after the individual was effectively refused service; a refusal based on hislher personal physical characteristics. If a shopping mall is not equipped with "access amenities", then the disabled person may be excluded from shopping there and thus exercising consumer freedom. If workplaces are not equipped to accommodate the access needs of persons with disabilities, then those people are effectively barred from gainful employment there. If a municipal goveniment building is inaccessible to disabled persons, then they may be excluded from participating in council meetings. These are all activities that the majority of the population enjoys as a matter of course, in that they represent the functions of a free citizen in a free society. If a person is excluded from such activities because of some personal characteristic, then that person is subjected to differential or discr~minatory treatment. The guarantees provided in Canadian feden! and provincial rights legislation, are such that people are not to be discriminated againsL Where buildings and facilities othen\iise open to the public are not accessible for persens with disabilities, then those people are being discriminated against. To challenge these discriminatory practices, individuals initiate complaints through the administrative justice system. To address the extent to which this is a problem, many sources were consulted. Constitutional lawyers, tribunal members, advocates for the disabled and land use planners were interviewed. Case law and legislation were reviewed. Literature on citizenship theory, dispute resolution and dispute avoidance was compiled and assessed. And, the field of land use planning was analyzed (drawing on the WTiter's educational and experiential background) as a possible alternative method for effecting systemic access for persons with disabilities. The conclusion of this study is that there does exist a proactive method for assuring access, a method that can apply the systemic remedy needed to deal with this problem. The current method, which is an adversarial and piecemeal complaint process, has proven ineffective in remedying this discrimination problem~ Failure to provide an appropriate remedy means that persons with disabilities will not enjoy the degree of citizen status enjoyed by the able-bodied. This is the current circumstance, and since equity is the aim of rights legislation, and since such legislative and administrative frameworks have failed in that purpose, then an alternative method is necessary. An alternative model is the one in which land use planning is based. It has conflict avoidance and conflict minimization as underpinnings. And, most importantly, land use planning is already a proyen method of combatting discrimination.