43 Waterloo businesses fail on accessibility

A Waterloo man is trying to raise awareness about wheelchair accessibility, saying 43 out 100 businesses received a failing grade for accessibility based on how difficult a trip to the store can be for disabled shoppers.

Lyn McGinnis audited 100 businesses up and down King Street for wheelchair accessibility

A picture of the front entrance of the LCBO on King Street in Uptown Waterloo. Just one among 100 photographs taken by Lyn McGinnis of business entrances along the street to gauge their difficulty for the disabled. The LCBO was rated an A++ for its sliding doors. (Lyn McGinnis)

A Waterloo man is trying to raise awareness about how much access disabled people have to shopping in the city's uptown by publishing the results of an audit conducted on 100 businesses along King Street.

Lyn McGinnis found that 43 out of 100 businesses received a failing grade when it came to wheelchair accessibility because of a lack of elevators, ramps or an entrance that was too narrow for a wheelchair.

McGinnis said the idea came after an evening stroll through the uptown area with a friend who using a wheelchair to get around.

"The evening stroll all of a sudden revealed to me places that I'd been to before, all of a sudden I saw them with new eyes," Lyn McGinnis told The Morning Edition host Craig Norris Thursday.

"You have very few options, there are some places you can go in, some places you can't. So a significant portion of the public space is not available to you."

Raise awareness

McGinnis said he can understand that some business owners may be opposed to the idea of installing wheelchair accessible features, such as ramps, automatic doors and elevators because they can come at considerable expense.

"My hope is first and foremost that we're having this kind of awareness and that people are talking about it," he said. "If this doesn't touch your life in some kind of way, then it's completely invisible to you."

McGinnis said that lack of awareness by business owners can translate into lost customers.

"The impact of not being accessible is not the one person in a wheelchair, it's their families, it's their friends. If they want to go out to dinner, they just look for somewhere else. You never hear about it."