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November 17, 2014

Accessibility Legislation in under 200 words

Most people hear the words "accessibility legislation" and think of a wheelchair.   Unquestionably, people with disabilities need access, but so does the FedEx person, the mom with a stroller, the tourist from Boston, and your aging parent.  Those people use the access, but they don't think twice about it.

People with disabilities are willing to share the curb cuts with the FedEx person and don't mind when the home handyperson, laden with building supplies, pushes the power door button at Rona.

Change is coming, so instead of complaining about the cost, lets get ready!  All those baby boomers in Toronto who just turned 65 won't settle for the inconvenient bathtubs at the Wandlyn.  Those dads with kids in strollers won't be happy changing a diaper in the tiny washroom downstairs.  That nice young couple asking about a new house with a ground floor bedroom for the visiting parents are the future.  Accessibility is where it's at. and good businesspeople will recognize it.

Here is the rationale and a simple design for accessibility legislation in under 200 words:

Why

These three simple and important messages bear repeating:
  1. It's good for citizens
    1. We're all getting older
    2. Many accessible amenities are just better ideas that everyone takes advantage of
      1. Level entrances
      2. Low-floor buses
      3. Curb cuts
      4. Family washrooms
    3. Nova Scotia is emptying out - we need to match our priorities with our people and rely on ourselves
  2. It's good for business
    1. There is a huge and growing demand for accessible tourism 
    2. With housing starts down considerably in Nova Scotia, builders need to turn their attention elsewhere
    3. More access means more retail customers
  3. It's good for government, whose highest purpose is the equal treatment of all citizens
    1. More jobs mean more taxes and less costly support of the presently hard-to-employ
    2. Ditto more economic activity 
    3. More aging at home means less expensive alternatives to nursing homes.
    4. Safer infrastructure means reduced healthcare costs

How & When

These are the components of good legislation:
  1. Standards
    1. Independently defined
    2. Exceptions allowed
    3. Exemptions not considered
  2. Enforcement is the responsibility of government
  3. Meaningful Penalties
  4. Incentives
  5. Swiftly accomplished

Where

Covering public and private activities in these domains
  1. The built environment
    1. for private dwellings, incentives, not penalties
  2. Employment
  3. Transportation
  4. Information
  5. Services

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