Living In Toronto

Access Award for Disability Issues

The Access Award was established in 1982 and is given to a person, group or organization that has made a significant contribution towards improving access for people with disabilities in Toronto.

'Access' can include new or renovated structures, an employment program, a transportation system, a recreational or leisure program, or anything that contributes significantly to people with disabilities living independently.

2016 Access Award recipient

Maayan Ziv

Maayan Ziv is a visionary young leader. She is an activist, a photographer and an entrepreneur. From a young age, Maayan challenged norms and worked within her community to increase awareness of disability issues and improve accessibility.

Living with Muscular Dystrophy, Maayan is a passionate and relentless advocate for creating a more accessible world. In 2015, Maayan founded AccessNow, a crowdsourced app to map the accessibility status of locations worldwide. She has since been a regular media commentator and a journalist for CBC on topics such as disability and inclusion. In 2016, Maayan received the David C. Onley Leadership in Accessibility Award in recognition of her innovative solutions and commitment to improving the lives of people of all abilities.

As a photographer, she has worked with celebrities, fashion models and other influential individuals. Her photography has been featured in galleries, magazines and on television. Maayan received a Queen’s Diamond Jubilee medal in recognition of her work to increase awareness of disabilities in the arts.

Maayan also sits on the boards of the Centre for Independent Living in Toronto and the Toronto Arts Council.

She earned a Bachelor's degree in Radio and Television Arts and a Master's degree in Digital Media at Ryerson University.

2015 Recipient Access Award

Farah N. MawaniFarah Mawani

Farah N. Mawani fhas been a long time champion of human rights and equity, particularly marginalized populations experiencing mental and physical disabilities. Most notably Ms. Mawani founded and leads a growing program in Toronto called Building Roads Together.  Building Roads is a community-based peer support walking (and rolling with mobility aids) program designed to reduce mental health inequalities and promote inclusion and empowerment by building capacity for people to lead peer walking groups. It is based on a strong body of evidence demonstrating that peer support, physical activity and exposure to nature/green space improve mental health and well-being. It also developed from a personal experience of prolonged complex trauma and recovery. With the collaboration of a growing number of community-based health and social organizations, the program maximizes accessibility to populations facing barriers to exercising due to mental health issues and inequalities associated with low income, racialized status, migration status, disability and other dimensions of diversity by focussing on urban walking close to people's homes. The program is based Farahway Global, s Social Media Public Engagement, Human Rights and Mental Health agency founded by Ms. Mawarni at the Centre for Social Innovation (CSI – Regent Park). It brings together peer group leaders, people with living experience of mental health issues, service providers, trainers and researchers. For this work, Ms. Mawani was awarded a Healthier Cities and Communities Hub Seed Grant (from the Dalla Lana School of Public Health at the University of Toronto, Wellesley Institute and Toronto Public Health) and was made a Agent for Change: City Builder by CSI in collaboration with 15 city partners to help support her work strengthening social inclusion and well-being for often underserved populations.

2014 Recipient Access Award

Luke AndersonLuke Anderson

Luke Anderson is an engineer, accessibility consultant, community builder, innovator and advocate for the creation of a more inclusive society. 

A graduate in Civil Engineering from the University of Waterloo, Luke sustained a spinal cord injury in 2002. Employed at Blackwell Engineering since 2006, his frustration with the inaccessibility of the built environment led to activism. 

In 2011, Luke and a colleague founded the StopGap Foundation. The main focus of the foundation is the Community Ramp Project, a volunteer-run campaign that creates awareness about barriers to the built environment. 

The group offers a free ramp to businesses with single-step storefronts. Brightly coloured, and with the website painted on the side, the ramps increase accessibility and create conversations about the importance of designing spaces that everyone can enjoy. Locally, ramps have been installed in the Junction area, Kensington Market and the Annex, along Roncesvalles, College and Danforth Avenue, as well as in Leslieville/Riverside and the Beach. 

Inspiring others to take on their own Community Ramp Projects has led to ramp projects popping up in communities from across Canada, including Stouffville, Orillia, Guelph, Stratford, Belleville and Hamilton, Ontario, as well as Charlottetown, PEI, Vernon, Cranbrook and Steveston, British Columbia. 

Luke is also a motivational speaker with the Rick Hansen Foundation and through StopGap's School Presentation Program. Working with school children and the broader public, Luke shares his story as a way to raise awareness and affect social change. 

Over the past decade, Luke has been leading through action across the country and especially in Toronto through his professional and personal life. Luke delivers key messages to the public through outreach and design solutions, ensuring that society's collective understanding of accessibility continues to advance and grow. 

Luke is a recipient of a Queen's Diamond Jubilee Medal; in April 2014, he was recognized as a 'Difference Maker' by the Rick Hansen Foundation.

2013 recipient

Lucia Costa

Lucia CostaWhile she may not realize it, Lucia is a mentor and role model to many young people in Toronto with psychiatric disabilities. She is well-known as a leader in the psychiatric consumer/survivor community often acting as a point person, bringing people together from various sectors, whether they are service providers, community activists, academic researchers, or young people with psychiatric disabilities.

Lucia is a fierce advocate for the Empowerment Council – an organisation representing the voice and rights of clients at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH). Through her work at the Empowerment Council, she has assisted in the dissemination of a Bill of Clients Rights and co-produced a DVD on the same topic. She also developed a ten-week educational primer on mental health and the law entitled Mad about Rights. The intent of the video is share in plain language important Charter cases and legal principles (such as equity) with clients of the hospital.

In 2005, Lucia founded the Mad Students Society, a peer support and advocacy group for students who have used mental health services. This group operates unfunded, is entirely peer-run, and is currently over 200 members strong. Her high expectations for the next generation of mad activists and scholars, and her unwavering pursuit of equity for people with psychiatric disabilities have inspired many others to learn how to fight alongside her.

Over the years, she has worked and collaborated on numerous advocacy and research projects that are focused on access to human rights and social justice. In 2011, she co-initiated the Recovering our Stories Collective as a means to critically examine the ethics and over-use of patients' personal narratives in the mental health sector. In 2012, she began work on the Psychiatric Disabilities Anti-Violence Coalition whose goal has been to promote visibility of, and response to, the broad range of violence experienced by persons with psycho-social disabilities.

Lucia Costa is a Board member at ARCH Disability Law Centre and is also currently Co-Chair at Sound Times Support Services. Alongside fulltime employment and her board commitments, Lucia is also currently working to complete a Masters thesis at Osgoode Hall Law School.

Past recipients

Award recipient Year
Luke Anderson 2014
Lucia Costa 2013
Archie Allison 2012
Ruth Ruth Stackhouse 2011
Catherine Leitch, Asif Syed, START Smart Program at Centennial College 2010
John Rae, Birchmount Bluffs Neighbourhood Centre, Committee for Accessible AIDS Treatment (CAAT) 2009
Out from Under - Ryerson University and Royal Ontario Museum, Centre for Independent Living in Toronto (CILT) 2008
Parkdale Activity Recreation Centre 2007
Best Buddies/Vrais Copains Canada, Ontario Track 3 Ski Association 2006
Argonaut Rowing Club, Community Head Injury Resource Services, VoicePrint Canada - Toronto Broadcast Centre volunteers 2005
William A. L. Brown, William Meider, Ing Wong-Ward 2004
Michelle Amerie, Lembi Buchanan, Ethno-Racial People with Disabilities Coalition of Ontario (ERDCO) 2003
Brian Keown, David Lepofsky 2002
Carolyn Lemon, Frank Prospero 2001
Jeff Adams, Wayne Christopher Burgess, Ontario Council for Alternative Businesses 2000
Link-Up Employment Services 1999
New Visions Homes for Children and Adolescents 1998
The Great Lake Race for Charity-Community Centre 55 1997
Worker's Compensation Board, Canadian Council on Rehabilitation and Work 1996
Pegasus Community Project 1995
Kids on the Block Parent Puppet Program 1994
Davenport-Perth Neighbourhood Centre 1993
Play and Learn 1992
Students' Administrative Council of the University of Toronto 1991
The Radio Connection 1990
Toronto with Ease 1989
Independence Afloat 1988
Windward Housing Co-op 1997
Queen's Quay Terminal 1986
Metro Toronto Convention Centre 1985
Toronto Eaton Centre 1984
Roy Thompson Hall 1983