National AccessAbility Week
National AccessAbility Week is a time for Canadians to promote inclusion and accessibility in our communities and workplaces, and celebrate the contributions of Canadians with disabilities. (Photo: Courtesy of Accessible Canada)

A staff member making way for a person with a disability and service animal to pass.

A Registered Nurse on a busy unit asking "how may I help?" and then taking the time to not just offer directions, but show the person where to go.

Another staff member taking the time to reassure a patient their service animal is welcome.

These are all examples of how UHN has made progress in our interactions with people with disabilities and creating more accessible environments.

These examples were observed through a "mystery" tracer exercise led by UHN's Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) Council earlier this year. The exercise was used to better understand the experience of persons with disabilities and service animals at UHN.

 "Accessibility starts with taking the time to consider a perspective other than your own," explains one AODA Council member.

To gain this perspective, the AODA Council partnered with selected UHN departments, Patient Partners, people with disabilities, service animal training schools and observers to note various interactions during the day, nights and weekends.

Accessibility refers to the design of products, devices, services, or environments for people with disabilities.

While the group learned about outstanding instances of respectful interactions, the exercise also revealed there is still more work to do.

Instances such as not holding an elevator door while someone with a service animal tried to enter or staff being dismissive of a person with a disability were also observed.

National AccessAbility Week (May 27-June 2) is a perfect time to remind the UHN community about the organization's accessibility policy and continue to learn new ways to improve our environment. 

National AccessAbility Week is dedicated to promoting inclusion and accessibility in Canada. AccessAbility Week is a time to highlight the contributions of people, communities, education, research, service and workplaces creating accessible environments.

What can you do to promote a more accessible UHN?

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