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unsustainabledevelopmentgoals_brand-01The third of December marks the United Nations International Day of Persons with Disabilities. This year’s theme is the 17 Sustainable Development Goals, which were adopted by countries all over the world on September 25th, 2015. These goals look to move towards the ending of  poverty, protecting the planet, and ensuring prosperity for all as part of a new sustainable development agenda.

We asked our friend and colleague Lana Miley to speak to one of the Sustainable Development Goals and tell us what it means to her as someone who lives with a disability. Lana chose goal number nine: Industry, innovation and infrastructure. Here’s what she had to say about it:

e_sdg_icons-09Equal opportunity for people with disabilities to access, use, and benefit from infrastructure is critical, which is why designing accessible spaces is so paramount.  As someone who has muscular dystrophy and uses a wheelchair, I find that ‘inclusive infrastructure’ is not just a group of words, but an important part of my life. It’s the difference between saying, “I can,” or “I cannot,” to simple and essential decisions such as where and how I will live, work, study or travel. Every day when I leave home, I have to make sure that my destination will be wheelchair accessible – that sidewalks and street crossings have ramps, that buildings have accessible entrances and elevators.

Living in such a big city as Toronto, it is amazing to see how much thought, energy, and investment has been put into retro-fitting or creating new spaces with accessibility in mind. I’m glad to know that my city takes care of people like myself. Torontonians with disabilities can rely on Wheel Trans accessible transit service whose accessible buses and accessible taxi minivans provide over 3 million door-to-door trips each year. Wheel Trans is a huge help for all people with disabilities and older people, because Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) system is partially accessible. Of course, there are always enhancements to be made, including making all subway stops and streetcars accessible, as well as improving the reliability of the TTC system.

Unfortunately, even in such a great city like Toronto, people with disabilities meet daily challenges. Many buildings are still not accessible, which creates critical barriers in searching for jobs or living accommodations, dining and entertainment, attending seminars, workshops and community events. I’ve had to decline invitations to attend professional or social events so many times that just thinking about it makes me feel bitter.

Accessible infrastructure is beneficial to everyone, because it creates inclusive environments for personal/recreational, educational and work spaces where people with disabilities don’t have to worry about accessibility and can be an equal part of society.


Lana Miley is 38 years old, and has been affected by muscular dystrophy since her late teens. Lana immigrated to Canada 10 years ago, and currently lives in Toronto, Ontario and works as an interactive designer.


Previous IDPD blogs:

2015: AccessNow

2014: JACO Robotic Arm

Keith using technology for good


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