Christina studied environmental sciences and was working in the north when she was diagnosed with an auto immune disorder and she had to change direction.  Her experience dealing with a disability introduced her to questions of access and she joined Independent Living Simcoe.
She explained the her organization works in partnership with United Way to support adults who want to stay at home and they currently provide attendant care services to 140 or so people.  Independent Living also provides training, access audits, a resource centre and, with help from Rotary and others, it provides access to beds and wheelchairs, etc for those of limited means.  It is building, now, an exchange/resale service for equipment as well.
 
Access is good for the community and the economy.  It is cheap, it is the law and it is the right thing to do.  1 in every 7 suffers from limitations and of those that do suffer, 82% are afflicted with more than one condition.  It is the largest minority group in Ontario.
Seniors also have difficulty with access and other age related problems and as the boomers get older the issue will become more sensitive.  There will be more age friendly facilities and success will spill over to their friends and families.
 
8 out of 10 with disabilities use an assistive device which one speaker compared to a shopping cart in a store, very helpful in the wide aisles and on the smooth floor but take it into the parking lot, put it in your car, take it into your house - not so easy then.  Access has a spin off that makes life easier for people with strollers or for deliveries.
 
Accessibility generates new spending, both retail and tourist, as much as $600.00 per person added to the GDP in Ontario.  It can be achieved through easy steps.  First, have a welcoming staff, install clear signage, improve lighting.  Major changes for ramps or elevators do need to be budgeted and there are questions if you rent your space but the legislation says the Province will be accessible by 2025.  Municipalities are in compliance already but about 70% of businesses are not.  New building and renovations will be covered by the Building Code that takes effect next year.
Seek out comments, listen to complaints, ask how you can help.
 
Bob Campbell thanked Christina and said that until you've experienced it, you can't know what difficulties a person with disabilities faces or how much even a little thing can make a difference.