Toronto’s Top Attractions Partner with Easter Seals Canada to Launch Access Program
At an event held during National Access Awareness Week (May 29 to June 3), Easter Seals Canada announced that seven of Toronto’s top arts, entertainment and cultural attractions— the Art Gallery of Ontario, Casa Loma, the CN Tower, Ontario Place, the Ontario Science Centre, the Royal Ontario Museum and the Toronto Zoo—have joined forces to bring the Access 2 Entertainment (A2E) program to their visitors. The A2E program offers complimentary admission for attendants of people with permanent disabilities.
This is the first time that Toronto’s top tourism attractions have partnered together around a unified accessibility initiative. In addition to honouring complimentary admission, these seven major attractions have committed to providing an accessible, meaningful and enjoyable experience for all visitors.
This announcement launches phase two of the A2E program, managed by Easter Seals Canada. Phase one began in 2005, when Cineplex Entertainment, Empire Theatres and Landmark Cinemas introduced A2E at their movie theatres.
Through the A2E program, applicants receive A2E wallet cards, which allow simple identification, removing the onus from visitors to explain their need for an attendant. The cardholder pays regular admission, while the attendant receives a complimentary ticket when visiting participating attractions.
“We are thrilled that Toronto’s major tourist attractions, which have already made impressive strides to make their venues more physically accessible, have joined our cinema partners in enhancing the visitor experience for the disability community,” says Max Beck, CEO of Easter Seals Canada. “Now, Toronto citizens [as well as] tourists with disabilities can enjoy barrier-free visits to some of Canada’s top attractions.”
Easter Seals Canada continues to manage the A2E program, which is committed to offering Canadians with disabilities barrier-free experiences at cinemas and attractions. The A2E card costs $20 and is valid for a five-year period at Toronto’s movie theatres in Canada. To date, Easter Seals Canada has issued 40,000 A2E cards (almost half of these in Ontario) to people with disabilities.
“Great initiatives like Access 2 Entertainment support the McGuinty Government’s Open Ontario Plan to ensure that all Ontarians have an opportunity to participate fully in society,” says Michael Chan, Minister of Tourism and Culture.“Our government is working to ensure that residents and visitors alike will have opportunities to experience Ontario’s world-class entertainment and internationally acclaimed attractions.”
Andrew Weir, vice president, communications of Tourism Toronto adds, “As we encourage travellers from around the world to discover Toronto’s outstanding attractions we need to be ready to welcome all of those visitors. This is an important step that helps to ensure that every person can have the fullest possible experience in Toronto.”
In addition to automatic doors, wheelchair-friendly spaces and accessible washrooms, Toronto’s top attractions offer special features so that patrons with disabilities may enjoy exceptional visits. Highlights include the AGO’s multisensory tours for visitors with vision loss, offered twice a month, and audio guides for selected exhibitions; Ontario Place’s interactive accessibility map and Park Smart Tracker, available free of charge; the Ontario Science Centre’s large, easy-to-read signs and lowered customer-service counters, as well as assistive listening devices and accessible seating areas at the Shoppers Drug Mart OMNIMAX Theatre and Imperial Oil Auditorium, and the Access Guide for Visually Impaired Persons; the ROM’s large-format floor plans, American Sign Language (ASL) interpreted tours, descriptive audio guides, tactile reproductions in the galleries and increased seating throughout the museum; and the Toronto Zoo’s ramps, accessible rides and seating in the Waterside Theatre,as well as access for trained and accredited service dogs in designated areas.
Serving more than 100,000 Canadians with disabilities, Easter Seals Canada is dedicated to fully enhancing the quality of life, self-esteem and self-determination of Canadians with disabilities. Through its provincial organizations, Easter Seals Canada offers transformative programs and services at the local level, the best known of which are Easter Seals camp programs. Other services include year-round active living opportunities, as well as the provision of specialized mobility and access equipment, such as mobility aids, assistive technology, adaptive computers, augmentative and alternative communication devices and adaptations to homes and vehicles for wheelchair accessibility.