Each year, Ontario universities compile and submit an accessibility plan to the provincial government that examines existing and potential barriers on campus to persons with disabilities. Last year, 57 initiatives were undertaken in the hopes of making the University of Toronto more accessible for all.

These are some highlights from the University’s 2006 Ontarians with Disabilities Acts submission.

• Buildings: One main area of focus has been the accessibility of physical facilities, whether it be buildings, large classrooms, or exam rooms. Improvements are underway for students with physical disabilities, as well as those with mental health issues and chronic illnesses.

It is hoped that the Universal Design Standards will make life easier for those with non-physical disabilities by providing consistent lighting levels as well as more quiet spaces. There is also an uncertainty as to the accessibility of some large classrooms and exam spaces to students with physical disabilities. In response to this, an on-going evaluation is underway so as to improve the accessibility to both kinds of rooms.

• Learning resources: Access to the internet and computers seems to be an invaluable resource to students, but, those with disabilities have had to deal with several obstacles in gaining access to technology. Websites now must meet an accessibility criteria before being published through the university, making the internet more accessible for every student. Lack of access to workstations and necessary software to meet the needs of disabled students has been an issue as well, and although a feasibility study was undertaken, space and funding limitations have placed a constraint on resolving this issue.

Government funding for removing accessibility barriers continues to be a limiting factor, according to the university. The university’s three accessibility offices spent nearly $2.5 million last year, while receiving only $1.6 million from the province.

See our print edition for a graphic representation of the campus’s accessibility situation.