The David C. Onley Award for Leadership in Accessibility was created in 2014 to recognize Ontarians who have demonstrated an outstanding commitment to improving accessibility for people with disabilities.
This year’s award recipients are:
Role Model Award: John Draper, Oshawa
John Draper is committed to creating inclusive communities. In 2006, he founded the socially responsible business, ‘Together We Rock!’ — dedicated to inspiring learning and promoting inclusion for people with disabilities. At the core of his being is the belief that accessibility is not solely a disability issue, but also a community responsibility. He believes we can create extraordinary communities where everyone can participate and belong. Over the past decade, John has led a team of staff and volunteers to help achieve the ‘Together We Rock!’ mission, combining his background in journalism with his trademark humour to spread the message. John has also developed a School Leadership Tool Kit to promote inclusive school communities. Today, the kit is used by schools across Ontario — and as far away as Australia — to inspire students to take on projects that improve inclusion.
Employee Engagement Award: Kenneth J. Fredeen, Oakville
Kenneth J. Fredeen has been a role model of courageous leadership during his tenure at Deloitte LLP (Canada) as General Counsel and Secretary to the Board. He was a founding member and later Chair of the firm’s Diversity Council and has been the founding Executive Sponsor of the group AccessAbility, Deloitte’s employee resource for people with disabilities. Ken was also founding member of Legal Leaders for Diversity and Inclusion, a group of over 100 General Counsel working together to create a more inclusive legal profession, and he now serves as President. In 2012, he was appointed by the Government of Canada to chair a panel that reported on Labour Market Opportunities for Persons with Disabilities. The panel’s findings have become a valuable resource on workplace inclusion. Ken is leading a firm-wide accessibility strategy intended to make Deloitte the leading professional services firm where people with disabilities can thrive. Ken is a tireless advocate of inclusion and has received several awards for his leadership in diversity and inclusion, including the Queen’s Jubilee Medal.
Youth Leadership Award: Alexander German, Whitby
Alexander German is an accessibility leader in the world of competitive sports. After being introduced at the 2015 Parapan Am Games, he volunteered to be a coach and sport assistant to Deanna McInroy, a Boccia athlete with Cerebral Palsy. As a sport assistant, he receives instructions from Deanna on where to aim and how to set the pitch of the ramp to help her compete. At only 19 years of age, Alexander plays a large part in Deanna’s success, applying creative expertise to make the sport accessible to her. Alexander is an active participant in practices and tournaments, using his skills to help Deanna achieve her dream of making it to the Nationals and playing with Team Canada.
Champion Award: Autism Teenage Partnership
The Autism Teenage Partnership (ATP) is a youth- and volunteer-led organization that is helping to change lives by giving individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) an opportunity to be themselves, create friendships, and find their place in the world. To help support individuals as they get older, the partnership offers a free drop-in program, where teenagers can meet weekly to talk and engage in activities. ATP has no paid staff and is entirely run by volunteers under the age of 26. They are trained through Autism Ontario and understand the special needs and circumstances each individual participant may have. They bring kindness and an interest in helping young people with ASD to thrive.
Champion Award: Citizen Advocacy Ottawa
Citizen Advocacy Ottawa is a registered charity and one of the few organizations that supports people of all ages and their families across the disability spectrum. As a pillar in the community, Citizen Advocacy raises awareness, builds bridges, and inspires others to create more opportunities for people with disabilities. Its programs allow individuals with disabilities to access employment opportunities, while its special events, like the annual Celebration of People Award Ceremony, showcase the diverse talents of people with disabilities.
Champion Award: City of Pickering
In planning and executing the inclusive renewal of its Delaney Arena, the City of Pickering has demonstrated leadership and sensitivity to both the letter and spirit of the Ontario Human Rights Code. The city has used a creative and innovative mindset to model exemplary inclusive design elements when renewing its recreational infrastructure. Pickering’s various accessibility improvements have brought economic and social benefits to the city as it becomes a role model for enacting positive urban change.
Champion Award: Community Living York South
Community Living York South provides support services to children, youth, adults and seniors who have an intellectual disability and live in Southern York Region. They are committed to empowering people with disabilities to live, learn, work, and participate in their communities. Their dedicated coordinators work to understand each individual’s specific needs and speak over nine different languages. Their work connects people to important services and workshops that enhance skills and expand opportunities.
Champion Award: Digital Echidna
Digital Echidna is a web design and digital marketing agency that has taken a lead in the promotion of accessibility measures both online and off. The company believes in playing a strong role in the community and has committed its time and resources to supporting accessibility efforts in a number of ways. Led in 2013 by owner Andrew McClenaghan and content strategist Jay Menard, the agency instituted an organization-wide focus on accessibility. Thanks to their efforts, Digital Echidna has received the 2015 London Chamber of Commerce Corporate Social Responsibility Award and the 2015 TechAIIiance Community Engagement Award.
Champion Award: Le Phénix
For over three decades, Le Phénix has worked to ensure that Francophones with disabilities are full participants in Ontario communities. Through a variety of focused programs, services, and resources, Le Phénix has helped promote the inclusion of people with disabilities, while highlighting the importance of universal accessibility. One of Le Phénix’s major achievements has been to increase organizations’ awareness of accessibility requirements. Through their workshops and training on employment practices, the recruitment process, and professional training, they have helped improve accessibility in workplaces across the province.
Champion Award: Ontario Council of Agencies Serving Immigrants
The Ontario Council of Agencies Serving Immigrants’ Accessibility Initiative helps to improve services, raise awareness, and share information and tools that support people with in/visible disabilities, including immigrants and refugees. The Council’s training is fundamental to enhancing the capacity of member agencies. It provides them with new skills and knowledge in areas related to service provision for immigrants and refugees with in/visible disabilities. This makes them more aware of how they can realistically increase accessibility in the long- and short-terms, and helps them create inclusive environments through policies, practices and procedures.
Champion Award: Town of Ajax
The Town of Ajax Accessibility Advisory Committee’s motto is: “Cultivate Inclusion. When we appreciate the unique gifts inside people of all abilities, everyone grows.” To help beautify the Ajax community, the committee is dedicated to planting seeds of understanding — even handing out seed packets at town events to promote accessibility awareness. Members of the accessibility committee are dedicated to engaging their colleagues throughout the town and are devoted to educating the public about the benefits of accessibility. From newsletters and customer service training, to developing an Accessibility for Business toolkit, the Town of Ajax demonstrates exceptional leadership and passion towards creating a more inclusive and accessible community for all.
Champion Award: Town of Arnprior
Over the past four years, accessibility has driven many upgrades and design decisions that have taken place in the Town of Arnprior. Significant accessibility enhancements can be seen at municipal facilities and public spaces throughout the town, which results in a community with fewer barriers and more inclusivity. Recently, the town undertook an ambitious two-year Downtown Revitalization project focused on enhanced accessibility measures for both the public and private realms. To persuade businesses to become more accessible, the town also pioneered a new Downtown Accessibility Incentive Grant. The grant will create greater inclusion for patrons and employees, and is a key element in Arnprior’s accessibility agenda.