THUMBS UP to the CAF Patrons Council member, Paul Bronfman, for threatening the Air Canada Centre (ACC) with legal action over poor seating for people with disabilities. The esteemed film industry executive, who has been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis and uses a wheelchair, says he has long been making complaints to Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment (MLSE), the ACC’s operator, about sightlines in the accessible seating sections. Bronfman says that every time he goes to an ACC event and a hit song brings everyone in front of him to their feet, or an exciting play has people biting their nails and standing on their tippy toes, he feels “like a second-class citizen” because he can’t see anything. “I am in a privileged position that I have never really used as an advocate for disabled people or multiple sclerosis or anything, but enough is enough,” he says, vowing to be MLSE’s “worst nightmare” until the sightlines are fixed.
THUMBS DOWN to the British parents who complained to the BBC that television personality Cerrie Burnell was scaring their toddlers. Parents claimed that Burnell, who was born with one arm, is not suitable to appear on the children’s channel “CBeebies.”
THUMBS UP to the City of Toronto for hosting the Parapan Am Games this summer and for launching the “Access Now” app. The app, which encourages users to submit reviews and rate venues, helped visitors and para-athletes to navigate a city that embraces everyone but still has barriers. The creator, Maayan Ziv, created the program just in time for the games.
THUMBS UP to an undercover Vancouver police officer who tried to catch violent attackers of wheelchair users by pretending to have a brain injury from a motorcycle accident. Mark Horsley spent five days and nights vulnerable to attack in a borrowed $16,000 wheelchair from the G.F. Strong Rehabilitation Centre. Many individuals felt sympathetic toward him and tried to help. “Essentially, our operator was our bait, as we were trying to catch the predator,” says Inspector Howard Chow.
THUMBS UP to Canadian photographer John Butterill for creating virtual tours of hard-to-reach places for people who cannot venture to them. Butterill’s Virtual Photo Walks bring the world to our screens at home. Viewers can connect using Google+ or Zoom video-conferencing tools and submit requests for certain images and videos. “People can see through the phone what a photographer sees through the viewfinder,” says Butterill.
THUMBS DOWN to the Government of Alberta for making 16-year-old Jo Picard give back a new device that helped her communicate. Picard has Rett syndrome, a condition that limits her speech and movement. The new device increased her confidence and communication skills over the trial period. “I can tell my mom, dad and sister that I love them,” says Picard. “[It’s] something that I hope they knew before, but it was powerful to be able to express it without needing assistance.” Picard will now have to wait for the Alberta government to approve funding for the device.
THUMBS UP to JCPenney for showing that beauty comes in all shapes and sizes. Five unique mannequins recently made their debut in the company’s Manhattan storefront. The mannequins included a woman in a wheelchair, a man with dwarfism and a double-leg amputee. They were designed for TODAY’s “Love Your Selfie” series and JCPenney’s “When it fits you feel it” campaign. The feedback indicates that the storefront has helped to encourage acceptance and promote awareness of disabilities.
THUMBS DOWN to theatre halls in New Delhi, India for not being wheelchair accessible. Although they provide staff assistance, they are not well trained to help people with disabilities because the theatre does not allow individuals to stay in their wheelchair. In order to access your seat, the staff lifts the individual from the wheelchair into their seat.