It’s the law: accessibility news, funding and training

Creative Trust and Picasso PRO have been getting lots of kudos for our new handbooks on audio described and American Sign Language interpreted performances, including this from our friends at the Canada Council. “WOW. At last! a Canadian support document for arts orgs. Bravo.” We’re hoping that more than a few companies, both here and outside Toronto, will be integrating accessible performances into their upcoming seasons.

For those needing inspiration, there’s still time to take in the final activities of the 10th Anniversary Abilities Arts Festival which began September 20th with a full program of films, photography, theatre and performance. Still on: a visual art exhibition at Carlton Cinema Gallery – but check their website for info on the fascinating shows presented at this year’s and past festivals.

We know that the Province’s Accessibility Legislation focuses, to date, on Information and Customer Service standards. Accessibility Ontario, a new organization helping small and large nonprofits understand what they need to do, has all the details and offers educational seminars and webinars. (If your board is eager to get on top of the legal requirements, ED Constance Exley does brief and helpful board presentations, and hands out nifty Service Animals Welcome door stickers.)

Meanwhile, it’s clear that the greatest concern in our community is with the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act’s upcoming built form requirements. While existing buildings are exempt (unless, and here’s the interesting part, when undertaking major renovations) it would be just sad if performance spaces wound up among the last remaining inaccessible buildings in the Province…

There’re not many sources of funding to help companies get a jump on the requirements, but remember that Human Resources and Skills Development Canada has grants of up to $50,000 per project to improve accessibility through renovation, construction and retrofitting of buildings; the modification of vehicles for community use; and enhancements to make information and communication technologies more accessible.

The deadline for this year is coming up really soon on October 5, 2012. The application form and guidelines are here , or contact or call 1-866-268-2502 or TTY: 1-800-926-9105.

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