BIG IDeA showcases businesses that demonstrate exemplary and innovative practices so that they can be recognized by current and potential customers.
Argonaut Rowing Club
Location: 1225 Lakeshore Boulevard West, Toronto, Ontario, M6K 3C1.
Innovative Approach: The Argonaut Rowing Club is creating unique access to the lake as well as an excellent source of physical activity right in the heart of the city of Toronto. They provide adaptive rowing opportunities for people with disabilities and have a variety of boats that can be configured to suit an individual’s needs. For more information about the Argonaut Rowing Club, please visit http://www.argonautrowingclub.com/para-rowing/.
Art Gallery of Ontario
Location: 317 Dundas Street West, Toronto, Ontario, M5T 1G4.
Innovative Approach: As a cultural hub of Toronto, the Art Gallery of Ontario has implemented innovative initiatives to make their gallery content more inclusive for their visitors. As noted on their website, a variety of tours are available if you book ahead of time including:
- multisensory tours,
- tours for individuals with dementia and their companion,
- tours for individuals living with challenges to their mental health, and tours that are American Sign Language (ASL) interpreted.
For more information visit https://ago.ca/group-visits/access-art-group-visits.
Artscape Wychwood Barns
Location: 601 Christie Street, Toronto, Ontario, M6G 4C7.
Innovative Approach: Artscape Wychwood Barns is fostering a welcoming community and public space in Toronto. Artscape Wychwood Barns is home to groups such as b current, the Disability Channel, and Storytelling Toronto. For information, please visit http://artscapewychwoodbarns.ca.
Buddies in Bad Times Theatre
Location: 12 Alexander Street, Toronto, Ontario, MY4 1B4.
Innovative Approach: Buddies in Bad Times Theatre is the longest running queer theatre space in the world. It is a venue with a variety of initiatives that make it an inclusive environment. The theatre hosts events that focus on communities such as the Queer community and the disAbility community. With regards to accessibility, the venue has an elevator, and the washrooms are wheelchair accessible, there are wheelchair accessible dressing rooms available, and the stage can be made accessible using a ramp when needed. For more information visit http://buddiesinbadtimes.com.
Location: 301 Front St. West, Toronto, Ontario, M5V 2T6.
Innovative Approach: For over 40 years the CN tower has been a tourist destination for Toronto, providing an unparalleled view of the city. Recently, the view has become even better! The CN tower has added an area with floor to ceiling glass which significantly improved visibility. Another exciting feature of the tower is the “Edgewalk” where you can strap on a harness and lean out over the edge of the tower and walk around the exterior of the tower. This exciting feature is also wheelchair accessible, as they provide manual wheelchairs that can be harnessed as well. For more general information, please visit https://www.cntower.ca/en-ca/plan-your-visit/attractions/lookout.html. For more information about the Edgewalk, please visit https://www.cntower.ca/en-ca/plan-your-visit/attractions/edgewalk/edgewalk-overview.html.
Location: 585 Dundas Street East, Toronto, Ontario, M5A 2B7.
Innovative Approach: Daniels Spectrum is helping to build a more inclusive community in Regent Park. This centre is home to many organizations (such as the Centre for Social Innovation, Pathways to Education and the Regent Park Film Festival) as well as provides multi-use space for activities and events. For more information, please visit http://danielsspectrum.ca/whos-here/.
Location: 8 Adelaide Street West #200, Toronto, Ontario, M5H 0A9.
Innovative Approach: Deloitte has gone to great lengths to make an inclusive workplace individual needs at the forefront. Examples of this would be that they have provided areas available to employees for fitness, rest and faith observance. Deloitte also offers many types of communal workspaces which allow for a collaborative environment amongst employees. For more information, please visit https://www.blogto.com/events/designto-tours-deloitte-toronto/.
Disabled Sailing Association of Ontario
Location: 283 Queens Quay West, Toronto, Ontario, M5V 1A2.
Innovative Approach: The Disabled Sailing Association of Ontario (DSAO) is opening up the waters of Lake Ontario by making sailing a more inclusive and accessible activity. The DSAO offers sailing experiences for anyone regardless of past sailing experience and has a small fleet of their own adapted boats. For more information about the Disabled Sailing Association, please visit their website: https://disabledsailingontario.com.
Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts and the Canadian Opera Company
Location: 145 Queen Street West, Toronto, Ontario, M5H 4G1.
Innovative Approach: The Four Seasons Centre for Performing Arts and the Canadian Opera Company have created some initiatives to make their space and events more inclusive and accessible to their customers. These are some of the features:
- Main entrance wheelchair access is available at the corner of Queen St. and University Ave.
- Box office with a low counter window.
- Go scent-free policy.
- General information referring to accessibility policies available on their website.
- Attendant tickets are free.
- Hearing devices.
- Single occupancy washrooms available.
- Designated area for persons who uses a wheelchair at orchestra level.
For more information about accessibility at the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts and the Canadian Opera Company visit https://www.coc.ca/accessibility-policies.
Location: 1087 Queen Street West, Toronto, Ontario, M6J 1H3.
Innovative Approach: The Great Hall is a historical place for different kind of events in Toronto’s Queen West neighbourhood. Offering four spaces capable of hosting events big and small, this space is one of the best venues in the city that is wheelchair accessible. The venue has a wheelchair accessible washroom and an elevator that can be accessed using the side door. For more information about The Great Hall, please visit https://www.thegreathall.ca.
Hooked Inc. Fish Store
Location: 888 Queen Street East, Toronto, Ontario M4M 1J3.
Innovative Approach: Hooked Inc. Fish Store, located on Queen St. East in Toronto, did not have the room for a straight ramp and rather than giving up they designed this unconventional one with stopgap.ca. This is an excellent example of how small businesses can make a significant change.
Jeffrey Kerr – Accessible Home Finder
Contact info: Jeffrey Kerr – Broker – RE/MAX Unique Inc. Brokerage | Telephone: 1.877.946.3966.
Innovative Approach: Jeffrey Kerr is a realtor who specializes in helping people find accessible homes in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) and beyond. He has been working with people with disabilities for many years now, in providing his expertise to those on the hunt for accessibility in their new home! He has a great understanding of what his clients need, and always makes house calls. For more information, please visit http://www.accessiblehomefinder.com/.
Location: 659 Lansdowne Ave, Toronto, ON M6H 3Y2.
Innovative Approach: We would love to write about the Lansdowne Cone, but they have already done such a great job of summarizing their mission that we have included it instead here: [A] big part of the Lansdowne Cone is our Employment Training program: Last year we created 6 paid employment opportunities, and 16 unpaid training positions for youth with barriers to employment!!! We are proud to support the community by offering skill development in a supportive, community-oriented environment, and we’re looking forward to running it again this year with partnerships with the Yonge Street Mission and the Geneva Centre for Autism. We believe that all people should be able to be a part of their community, and we want to help people get there. A Scoop of Ice Cream, a Heap of Empowerment! For more information about Lansdowne Cone visit: https://www.thelansdownecone.ca.
Miles Nadal Jewish Community Centre
Location: 750 Spadina Avenue, Toronto, Ontario, M5S 2J2.
Innovative Approach: Located in the heart of the Annex, the Miles Nadal Jewish Community Centre (MNJCC) has some programming initiatives in a wide range of interest areas, from physical activity to artistic expression, that makes it an inclusive environment for people of all abilities. For more information visit: https://www.mnjcc.org/browse-by-interest/accessibility.html.
Location: 722 College Street, Toronto, Ontario, M6G 1C4.
Innovative Approach: It is rare to find a trendy music venue in this city that is also wheelchair accessible, but the Mod Club is just that. Constantly providing a stream of performance artists and DJ nights, this is a great place to experience rock, pop, hip hop and electronic music. The MOD Club has a wheelchair accessible entrance and a wheelchair accessible washroom. For more information, please visit http://www.accessto.ca/home/2014/06/29/virgin-mobile-mod-club?rq=mod%20club.
Location: 3409 Lake Shore Boulevard West, Etobicoke, Ontario, M8W 1N2.
Innovative Approach: The marketing people at Padulo X have started an initiative around making trick or treating a more inclusive event for children of all abilities. Most front doors present an access barrier for children with a disability; these signs are designed to show houses that are either accessible or are giving out candy from an accessible location outside the home. For more information, please visit http://www.padulox.com/accessible-trick-or-treat/.
Pro Accessibility Ltd.
Location: 155 Winges Road, Unit 12, Woodbridge, Ontario, L4L 6C7.
Innovative Approach: Pro Accessibility Ltd. located in Woodbridge, Ontario is a business that provides a unique dedicated service related to construction and renovation practices focused on inclusive design. For more information visit: http://proaccessibility.ca/.
RARE Theatre Company
Location: Itinerant company.
Innovative Approach: As noted on their website, the RARE theatre is a company dedicated to giving voice to communities not often seen on stage, and their goal is activism through exposure (for more information, please visit: http://www.raretheatre.org). Many of their productions have centred around the topic of disability and feature actors with disabilities (for more information, please visit: http://www.raretheatre.org).
Location: 255 Bremner Boulevard, Toronto, Ontario, M5V 3M9.
Innovative Approach: The REC Room is an entertainment and restaurant venue located in the shadow of the CN Tower. There are some features that they have implemented that make them an inclusive environment for their customers including a wheelchair accessible washroom, which has an adult sized change table. An innovate feature is their virtual reality (VR) attraction, “The Void” wheelchair accessible, by providing a ramp on request as well as clips to attach the equipment required to a wheelchair. For more information visit: http://www.accessto.ca/home/2017/12/10/the-rec-room.
Location: 285 Lansdowne Street East, Peterborough, Ontario, K9J 6X9.
Innovative Approach: Saugeen Shafts is an archery supply and shooting range located in Peterborough that has been dedicated to finding ways to ensure that anyone, regardless of ability, can participate in this great sport. For example, Saugeen Shafts consulted with individuals with low/no vision then fabricated three metal guides that allow for a reference point for positioning the arrows.
Location: The Centre for Social Innovation, 192 Spadina Avenue, Suite 300, Toronto, Ontario, M5T 2C2.
Innovative Approach: StopGap.ca is an organization that is tackling accessibility and inclusion issues with everything that it does. Started in 2011 by Luke Anderson (seen here in the image). StopGap is helping to make communities across Canada barrier-free by building brightly painted ramps that can be deployed at businesses that have a step. In addition to ramp building, they also have begun a school program that aims to bring awareness of their vision of creating a barrier-free world to the next generation. To learn more about StopGap, please visit their website: http://stopgap.ca.
Tangled Art + Disability
Location: 401 Richmond St West, Suite S-122, Toronto, Ontario, M5V 3A8.
Innovative Approach: From its inception, Tangled Art + Disability has been focused on providing a space where the disabled community can showcase itself. They have always put disability at the top of their priorities in anything that they do. The gallery is a space for art created by artists with disabilities to be seen and for the community to participate in arts + disability (for more information, please visit: http://tangledarts.org/about-us/who-we-are/).
Location: 165 John Street, Toronto, Ontario, M5T 1X3.
Innovative Approach: A modernly designed store, that also brings some modern thinking to the community. Aside from an inclusive and spacious interior, Umbra has gone the extra mile by providing a wonderful outdoor community space, filled with seating and tables outside their store. Providing the public with a free and comfortable place to sit and hang out is a simple idea that can lead to any number of exciting possibilities. For more information visit https://www.umbra.com/flagship-store/.
Location: 3701 Danforth Avenue, Scarborough, Ontario, M1N 2G2.
Innovative Approach: Variety Village began in the fall of 1949, providing a school for boys with disabilities to learn a vocation and gain life skills to become productive members of society. As the years went on their focus shifted towards becoming a centre where anyone of any ability could come and participate in physical activity. They offer a wide range of programming from track and field sports, to swimming, to martial arts and general fitness. It has always been a place where ability is the focus and inclusion for all is the goal. For more information about Variety Village, please visit http://www.varietyvillage.ca.