The Plot Thickens

I received an email from the manager of Mobility Plus. In it, I was told that the difference between them and Toronto’s TTC Wheel Trans is that Wheel Trans buses do not have seat belts. I am not sure where Mobility Plus is getting their information, but someone isn’t doing their homework. Wheel-Trans vehicles have seat belts. Attendants who are “non-registered riders” are permitted to stand, without a seatbelt, just as they would on a conventional service vehicle (TTC bus).

Mobility Plus says that they are following the guidelines of the Highway Traffic Act regarding seat belt usage, but if they are bound by it, then why isn’t Wheel-Trans?

Mobility Plus talks about wanting to ensure the safety of everyone concerned. They have repeatedly said that my attendant standing endangers other people on the vehicle. It is interesting to note that Mobility Plus has acknowledged that customers who can provide a letter of medical exemption are not required to wear a seat belt when on the bus. Following their logic, doesn’t that mean that anyone on the bus with such a customer is at risk? What is the difference?

Mobility Plus has offered two options: have the driver stop whenever needed (totally impractical since he or she would need to stop every few seconds), or have an OT evaluate me and make recommendations. Sigh.

I sent them my thoughts and requested a face-to-face meeting. The reply I received failed to acknowledge a single point I raised. I’m agreeing to meet with an OT to prove my needs once again. Stay tuned.

YORK REGION MOBILITY PLUS LEAVES ME MINUS MOBILITY

In early January, I moved from Toronto to Newmarket. I have severe Muscular Dystrophy and use an electric wheelchair. It took a lot of planning to ensure that I would be able to function in my new home and community.

I applied to Mobility Plus, York Region’s specialized transportation service, in December. Shortly after I moved, I was visited by an Inspector who needed to confirm that I am unable to use a minivan because of my height and chair size. I soon received my registration card and was on my way…or so I thought.

I booked a ride to go to a medical appointment and when the bus arrived, I boarded. My attendant took up her usual position beside me. The nature of my disability requires that I have neck and head support as well as assistance balancing to facilitate my breathing. I was shocked when the driver of the vehicle said my attendant had to sit and wear a seatbelt at all times. After explaining my needs to her, the driver made a phone call and said she couldn’t proceed unless the attendant sat down. Even if my attendant was sitting a couple of feet from me, the driver stated she couldn’t undo her belt to assist me. It’s interesting to note that on the Mobility Plus application, one of the questions asks if the applicant requires an attendant to travel with them, and why. If the accompanying attendant cannot assist the applicant, why would they require an attendant? It boggles the mind. I had no choice but to disembark and miss my appointment.

I immediately contacted the Inspector who had met with me and was told to provide a physician’s letter explaining why the attendant needed to stand. I submitted a letter, was given an amendment by their office, and sent in the revised note. After hearing nothing for 10 days, I contacted the Inspector again. Over the last few weeks, I’ve been given a myriad of reasons why I cannot be accommodated and yes, I am still waiting for resolution. Late last week, the Inspector gave the impression that nothing could be done. On Friday, I received an e-mail from someone in authority who said they are “still investigating“.

Surely I am not the only consumer who requires assistance while on a vehicle? People stand on “regular” busses every day. I can’t help but wonder how many people who do not know how to self-advocate (or have the support of family and friends) are sitting housebound after being told the same thing.

Ironically, I sent my resume to the York Region Accessibility Advisory Committee when I heard that they were looking for members to help make York Region more accessible for people with disabilities. I was delighted when they contacted me for an interview. Unfortunately, I was unable to schedule and attend a meeting with them and have missed a wonderful opportunity to contribute to my new community. I suggested that they consider using my current transportation predicament as a future agenda item.

I’m supposed to receive an update from Mobility Plus today or Tuesday, so watch this space.

Issues

Issues

CWDO focuses on various issues through our Committee Structure. Our work is limited only by the time, energy, skills and experience our members bring to the table. Some of the issues we are working on include:

 


 

 

Interested in an issue that’s not listed here?

Check our Committees List or write to us at cwdo@tbaytel.net. Please write ISSUES in the subject line.

 


 

 

Newly disAbled? – Now what?

Collectively, CWDO members have a tremendous amount of knowledge and experience to share. Check out the schedule of gatherings in the Members’ Lounge and get involved with a CWDO Committee. These are two great ways to connect with real experts on handling a disability.

Otherwise, just write to us at cwdo@tbaytel.net, and we will try to connect you to someone in our network who can help answer an immediate question you may have.

Member Recommended Links

Feedback

 

Updated February 21, 2015

 

 

CWDO's Board of Directors for 2016-17

14 people were elected to CWDO's board on June 14, 2016 with election of Officers on June 28th.

 

PAT SEED - Thunder Bay, Ontario (Chairperson)

 

Interests: strategic planning, technology, marketing, information technology and communications, aging and disability, attendant service quality committee, built environment, education, employment, fundraising, housing, mental health, recreation, and transportation

 

Background: Pat holds her B.A. in Speech Communications. She has taught and continues to teach Speaking with Confidence and Public Speaking to Broadcasters and other Professionals. She is also a professional Public and Motivational Speaker, as well as a Writer. Pat is totally blind from birth. She originally used a white cane for mobility, but has been travelling with Guide Dogs at her side since November of 1996. Pat has worked for Bell Canada and Confederation College. She also was employed as the Information and Referral Coordinator of the Thunder Bay Independent Living Resource Centre for seven and a half years. Pat began her Professional volunteering career for non-profit organizations, her Parish church, and other organizations in 1980. She still volunteers today and is now a Consultant and Resource person in many areas for many organizations. Pat is currently the Senior Technical Support and Resource Person for IDEAL Registered Online Conferencing, A member of the Steering and Logistics Committees for the Thunder Bay Leadership Forum 2007, a member of the Business Women's Network of Thunder Bay, as well as many other organizations. "If you think you can, you might; if you Know and Believe you can, you Will!" © May 2004 by Pat Seed.

 

MICHELE GARDNER - Toronto, Ontario (Vice-Chairperson)

 

CWDO's 11th Annual General Meeting

This is CWDO's Notice to Members of our 11th Annual General Meeting on Tuesday, June 14, 2016 at 7:30 p.m., EDT. The meeting will be held on-line, in our accessible conferencing system.

 

How to join the AGM

 

Meeting Materials:

 

 

Notice posted on March 31, 2016

 

Take Action on Safeguards for Vulnerable Persons in a New Regime of Physician-Assisted Suicide

A Vulnerable Persons Standard campaign has been launched in support of assisted dying safeguards that will protect vulnerable people from harm.  It is being endorsed by organizations across the country - including CWDO.
 

Endorse the Vulnerable Persons Standard

 

Write your member of Parliament to express your concerns:

 

 

 

CWDO Call for Nominations

In anticipation of our 11th Annual General Meeting on June 20, CWDO is inviting talented and passionate people with disabilities to consider joining CWDO as a member of our Board of Directors to drive change that will impact on our quality of life.

 

As a board member, you will attend monthly meetings, lead one or more working groups that support our mandate, contribute content to our webpage, organize informative webinars, help develop position papers/submissions, interact with our members and more. Read our new, 5-year Strategic Plan to find out more about what CWDO will be doing.

 

Ontario needs your active involvement to make our province a leader in accessibility, inclusion and participation of people with disabilities. Please consider completing a nomination form for yourself or an individual that you would recommend to join CWDO as a board member.

 

 

 

 

Tribute To An Angel

Tribute To An Angel

 

 

A Respected Leader with a Gentle touch,

The future ever in her sight,

Always Giving to others so much.

But God called an Angel home tonight.

 

 

A Listener both Patient and Kind,

Seeing everyone in a Positive light,

Making sure all had their say,

But God called an Angel home tonight.

 

 

A Champion for many causes,

An Advocate for what was right;

Now smiling down from up above,

Because God called an Angel home tonight.

 

 

No more waiting for things to be done,

Nor difficulties to keep in sight;

The battle over physical pain has been won,

Because God called an Angel home tonight.

 

 

"So wipe the tears from your eyes,

For me, Continue the Fight;

To your heart I will whisper and guide,

Because God called me home tonight."

 

 

Written In Memory Of Sousan Zaribaf

 

 

Author Friend And CWDO Board Member

Pat Seed

January 2016

Board Member Remembrances of Sousan

I first met Sousan when I moved into Aldebrain Tower in Scarborough. Very quickly I learned what a powerful presence was housed in that petite figure of hers. Sousan had a tremendous amount of self-respect and joy of life. I think this was probably a defining trait for her and powered many of her life decisions.

 

 

Sousan fought very hard to have attendant services brought into Aldebrain Tower – a totally accessible apartment building that she helped to design. The building reflected her elegant taste and the services her desire to see people with disabilities live in the community on their own terms. A few years ago I invited her to join the Board of Directors of Citizens with Disabilities Ontario (CWDO), an organization which board members of Aldebrain founded. She agreed to join in honour of her ex-husband, Udo Franz, a founding member who had passed away. In her role as a board member I had the great joy of working together with her on a number of issues. This deepened our friendship as I got to know Sousan better as we worked on common goals. Sousan dove in wholeheartedly to a number of CWDO's projects. She was passionate about our work to provide advice for stronger accessibility standards, protections for attendant services and physician-assisted suicide.

 

 

She wrote: “The only way persons with disabilities can have the opportunity to live with respect and dignity is to have the services and supports they need.” Even though she had never done it before, she led two online webinars, facilitating consultations between officials who were reviewing accessibility legislation and members of CWDO. Sousan took her role as a board member seriously, faithfully attending CWDO’s online meetings, supporting our telephone blitzes to contact members across Ontario and treated everyone with respect. She volunteered for every committee and working group we had going, made positive contributions and never forgot to thank other board members for their efforts.

 

 

Board members past and present shared their memories of Sousan when they learned she passed away. She made a profound impact on us. I would like to take a moment to share with some of the comments board members made at the time:

 

 

  • “Sousan was a wonderful Board member and held CWDO's best interests close to her heart.”
  • “There are some board members who are like family to me. She was definitely one.”
  • “To me, Sousan was like a breath of fresh air. She was thoughtful in her contributions to discussions. She had an insight into issues that was unique. She was compassionate about what she did and most often had hidden abilities that needed just a little encouragement to come out."
  • "I am certainly going to miss her as we move forward and do our best to implement what she was so emotionally driven to see put in place for all Ontarians."
  • "This is such heartbreaking news for CWDO and her family and friends. I didn't know her very well, just from our [online] meetings, but from what I learned through those, she was an amazing person with a great passion for CWDO and helping people with disabilities."
  • “I only had the pleasure of working with her for a short time. I joined [the board] just recently and yet I truly count Sousan as one of the kindest and most welcoming people I'd ever worked with.”
  • “I may have only heard her voice through digital means but that was more than enough to convey the stellar person she was – such a positive and driven human who was so well-liked and so dedicated. I wish I could say that I met her in person. I wish I could say I told her how welcome she made me feel. In the end there are no words that can sum up such a loss of someone so incredible.”
  • "My sincerest condolences and sadness go out to all of you in CWDO, those of you who knew her as a personal friend, and her family." 
  • And finally: “I hope we can forge on and help to honour Sousan’s memory and determination in all that we do together.”

 

 

Sousan left us far too soon. But she left knowing that she was loved by her husband, Jack, that she was capable of working as a professional, making and keeping a strong circle of friends and she left us knowing she had done good things for her community and for people with disabilities.

 

 

Sousan lived well and her life was well lived. She was a good friend who was always willing to listen and make gentle, practical suggestions whenever she saw a need. May she be an example for all of us and inspire us to make more room in our lives to help others – even if it means stepping outside our own comfort zone at times, like Sousan did.

 

 

God bless you, Sousan. Rest in peace. ~ Tracy Odell