Ontario’s David C. Onley Awards for Leadership in Accessibility have been bestowed for 2018, recognizing champions of inclusion and efforts to remove barriers in workplaces and communities. This year’s recipients include three individuals who have influenced attitudes and policy, two Greater Toronto Area municipalities and two not-for-profit organizations that have implemented programs and technologies to support employees and/or clients with disabilities.
“You are making a difference and, as a result, many more Ontarians have the opportunity to realize their real potential,” Elizabeth Dowdeswell, Lieutenant Governor of Ontario, noted as she congratulated the accessibility leaders.
Linda Niksic, a senior advisor with Natural Resources Canada, received the Employee Engagement Award for her role in supporting federal public servants with disabilities and in promoting accessibility to policy makers.
Michael Mulligan, founder of London’s Moving Forward Rehabilitation and Wellness Centre, received the Role Model Award for both his professional work, as an engineer designing accessible spaces and in providing neurological supports for the recovery of movement, and his advocacy and peer support.
Dylan Itzikowitz received the Youth Leadership Award for co-founding The Forward Movement, an initiative to promote the Dynamic Symbol of Access, and his work to consult with community organizations and all levels of government.
The cities of Pickering and Vaughan, Ottawa’s Heartwood House/Au coeur de la vie and the Toronto-based Hospitality Workers Training Centre received the Champion Award for a range of initiatives that exceed the requirements set out in the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act for removing barriers in workplaces and communities. Notably, Vaughan introduced Canada’s first Innovative Path System (IPS) at City Hall, a technology that provides customized vocal directions to people with impaired vision via a phone app that communicates with a cane.
The non-profit organizations, Heartwood House and the Hospitality Workers Training Centre, stress inclusion in their own hiring practices, and provide training and supports for hiring and retaining workers with disabilities in the sectors they serve.
“The leaders we’ve recognized have worked tirelessly to improve opportunities for people with disabilities across the province,” observes David Onley, Ontario’s Lieutenant Governor from 2007 to 2014, for whom the awards are named. “I applaud these dynamic accessibility ambassadors for their innovative programming and personal commitment.”