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Dogs and other service animals

There’s an issue with service animals that is not addressed adequately in the new AODA standards. Currently, there is no standing for any service animal other than dogs, and even those must be trained at an accredited school. People using assistive animals (other than Guide Dogs for the Blind) must have a letter explaining that they require the animal, and they must also have a certificate that proves the dog was trained by a school to be a Special Needs dog.

Employers frequently tell me that they don’t want to let dogs (or any other animals) in unless the owners have proof they are trained and licenced as Special Needs assistants. I guess they feel this way due to the perceived risks of the dog making a mess or biting someone. Unfortunately for those of us who use special needs dogs, or other animals, that we may have trained ourselves to provide the assistance we need, we will then run into a ‘brick wall’ of resistance. In the US, under the ADA, the letters and certificates are not required, and it is my understanding that the owner of the animal is only required to state that the animal (dog, cat, ferret, miniature horse, or bird) is necessary for the owner’s accommodation. I understand the fears of the business owners, but what about the need for the p/w/d to get out of the house and proceed with life?

Integrated Accessibility Standards and Customer Service Standards of the AODA

I’ve been doing a lot of training on the Customer Service Standards, and just getting into the Integrated Standards. They don’t impact on too many of my clients, yet, but I mention them when I train, just so people will know there’s more coming.

I’m surprised at how many organizations are only now doing the training for the Customer Service, but of course, I don’t mind. I’m happy to be doing it! I love training – it’s really fun to help people reach that ‘a ha!’ moment, when they finally understand something that has always been a puzzle, and they’ve never had anyone to ask.

My new hearing aid

I just got a hearing aid this week. It’s pretty amazing to finally be able to hear from both sides of my head! I didn’t realize how deaf I was getting, since it was only in one ear. It does take some getting-used-to, since I am now much more sensitive to the level of sound. My husband has to learn to lower his voice and the TV, both of which were pretty loud before, because I couldn’t hear them otherwise!

The first one I got was a tiny thing that went behind my ear and had a little tube that went inside my ear, into the ear canal. It was awful, and I took it back after one day! I couldn’t stand it inside my ear, and it turned out that the ear canal I have is collapsing, and it’s now the size of the tip on a pen! No wonder the tube was bugging me. Now I have the older style that sits in my outer ear. It’s very small and almost invisible. As soon as I’m sure this is the model I’ll keep, I’m going to see about painting it with some pretty colours. I don’t want it to be invisible – I want to show it off! 🙂

Toilets, transfer bars, and why we hate it when non-disabled people use our stalls!

What does a barrier-free toilet look like? That depends on what the barriers are for any particular individual. For those of us who can’t bend our knees much, or at all, and for people transferring from wheelhchairs or scooters, an accessible toilet seat is high – maybe 18 or 19 inches from the floor. For a Little Person an accessible toilet might be really low – maybe 12 inches from the floor. An average toilet is 14 inches high, and for the majority of the world, that works fine. For a bunch of us, it doesn’t work at all, and we really need our accessible seats.

Who I am and what I do

Disability Awareness Consultants – Lauri Sue Robertson – 416-267-5939

The trainers of Disability Awareness Consultants have been working since 1995 to increase awareness of disability issues in not-for-profit and corporate environments.
All of our trainers live with disabilities, and we address the needs of the greatest possible number of disability groups.

Our programs and audits cover the issues relating to people with physical, hearing, speech, learning, intellectual, psychiatric and neurological disabilities. We also discuss the barriers confronting people with chemical sensitivities, facial differences and hearing loss.

Disability Awareness Consultants Services:

Disability Awareness Consultants Team Chart


Lauri Sue Robertson
President and Owner – Team coordinator and primary trainer. She lives with two mobility impairments, a seizure disorder, severe anxiety, and hearing loss. All conditions are in remission or controlled by medication with the exception of the hearing loss, which is only on one side.

Sam Savona lives with Cerebral Palsy, a speech impairment and a facial difference.

Mary Daniel is a Little Person who lives with a speech impairment and hearing loss.

Philip Daniels is profoundly Deaf, and uses American Sign Language.

Carole Robertson lives with adult-onset blindness and a mobility impairment.

Alan Cantor lives with a learning disability.

Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act: Information for Managers

Full Day Workshop Outline

Test Your Knowledge
Objectives of the Workshop
Definitions of Terms and Vocabulary
Range of Disability
Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Compliance Requirements
Customer Service Standards of Inclusion, Respect, Dignity, and Independence
Policy Development
Service Animals
Personal Support Workers
Interruption of Services
Information and Communications
Website Development
Employment Standards
Progressive Discipline

General Awareness and Sensitivity
People with Visual Impairment
People Who Are Deaf, Deafened, Deafblind or Hard-of-Hearing
People with Physical Impairment
People with Mental Illness (Psychiatric Disability)
People with Intellectual Impairment
People with Learning Disabilities
People with Neurological Disabilities
People with Chemical Sensitivities
People with Facial Differences
Older People
Things to Remember
Answers to the Questionnaire

The Impact of Low-Vision or Blindness on Substance Abuse

It is very difficult to find counselling material in Braille or large print;

Being unable to see or read clearly may make it very difficult to follow a substance-withdrawal or treatment program;

Family and friends who are not familiar with symptoms of substance abuse may believe that unusual behaviours are related to the loss of vision, thereby delaying identification and treatment of the problem;

The Impact of Substance Abuse on People Who Have Low-Vision or Blindness

Substance abuse may interfere with the proper use of prescribed medications;

Some drug abuse may cause serious increases in blood pressure, aggravating some of the conditions that lead to blindness or low vision;

Impairment caused by substance abuse would interfere with an individual’s ability to learn Braille;

Substance abuse would have a negative effect on interaction between the consumer and Guide or Assistance animals;

One funny story

I was just reminded of this story, and realized that I hadn’t re-posted it after my previous blog ‘crashed’. Back in the days when I used a wheelchair or a cane, I was driving on Danforth Avenue in the rain. I was in a long line of traffic, and the cars ahead of me were stopped for a light. I stopped too, but the taxi behind me did not! He hit the back of my car. I got out, grabbing my peppermint-pink cane to help me stand up and walk. I went to the back of the car to see if there was any damage to the vehicles, where the taxi driver was standing. There wasn’t any damage, but he wasn’t looking at the cars. He was staring at my cane with a look of horror on his face. He said “Oh my God, lady! Please tell me you were already like that before I hit you!” I laughed all the way home and for days afterwards, whenever I thought of his shocked expression!

Soap and towels

It’s funny that people do not have any idea of how those of us who are disabled actually use things like sinks, toilets, soap dispensers, etc. In the many years (13) that I used a wheelchair, I can’t count the number of times I had to sit in various public washrooms, waiting for another woman to come in, so I could get soap. If that doesn’t make sense to you, it’s because you’ve never noticed how often the soap dispenser is mounted on the back wall, behind the sink. If someone is seated, or of short stature, you can not possibly reach the soap! The same thing happens with the towels or hand-dryers. They’re often hanging on a back wall, or else they are on the othe side of the bathroom from the sinks. If you’ve ever tried to ‘wheel’ or hold a cane with wet, slippery hands, you’ll understand why the towels and sinks must be very close, and the towels can’t be hanging on a wall behind the sink!

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