Disability & Accessibility
Disability and Accessibility is one of the 4 main focus areas within the YMCA of Greater Toronto's Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging Strategy. The YMCA of Greater Toronto is committed to achieving the goals under this focus area and fulfilling its obligations under Ontario’s Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, 2005 (AODA), by providing accessible environments that respect the rights of every individual.
- To ensure the YMCA of Greater Toronto is accessible to disabled communities, adopting and promoting universal design principles.
- To advance a strength-based and intersectional approach to disability.
Adopting a strength-based understanding of disability is a cultural shift that the Y will foster in order to shape an inclusive environment for disabled folks – one that doesn’t centre ableism or ageism, or set norms that ignore or create shame related to differences in ability. In tandem with the cultural shift to strength-based thinking, we will work to apply universal design principles to program development, indoor and outdoor spaces and services. We will also dismantle existing systems that reinforce barriers to accessibility. This work will make our Y more barrier-free, meaning disabled people can participate fully and rely less on seeking accommodations. We will also develop targeted programs for disability across our service areas to address specific needs and barriers that communities face in accessing YMCA services and programs.
An example of the Y's equity programming under this focus area is the YMCA Academy, a school designed and offered by the YMCA specifically for children and youth with learning disabilities.
It’s important to note the term disability includes all types of disability – physical, sensory and learning disabilities as well as mental health, neurodivergence, brain injuries and medical conditions, to name a few – and we’ll consider the different needs of folks with different disabilities in this work. Although we may not have the capacity to develop highly targeted programs or interventions for every situation, we’re committed to considering the diverse experiences of people with visible and invisible disabilities across the disability spectrum. If the Y can effectively achieve our goals in this area, we can advance more equitable outcomes and reduce stigma for disabled people who work or volunteer at the Y, as well as those who interact with the Y across the GTA.
If you have questions, feedback or would like to learn more about disability and accessibility at the Y, please contact