The Access Award for Disability Issues is intended to honour people or organizations that have made or are making a significant or ongoing contribution, beyond legislated requirements, to the well-being and advancement of people with disabilities.
Examples of contributions include consideration of access requirements in the design of a new or renovated building, a job training or creation program, a transportation service, a recreational program, etc. – virtually anything that permits people with disabilities to lead more independent, fulfilling and productive lives.
Recipients must be residents of Toronto, or a program or service provided for city residents, or a building located in the city.
Asif Syed is a recent recipient.
His commitment towards working with people with disabilities stems from his values.
He often says that his parents raised him to value and respect people regardless of their circumstances and abilities, and this is reflected in his volunteer and professional life.
He is fluent in English, Urdu as well as augmentative alternative communication (AAC) which he uses to increase access to participation in various programs.
Like many other Torontonians, Asif is an immigrant and is proud to call Toronto his home. He was born and raised in Karachi, Pakistan, and came to Toronto with his parents in 1992.
He carries out his work in an activist manner by addressing the barriers that people with disabilities encounter in their daily living activities.
As part of his dedication and commitment to creating on-going access for people with disabilities in all aspects of civic life, Asif has organized many activities.
He developed accessible recreational trips for many people with disabilities who would not have been able to take part in these activities.
Asif has assisted youth with disabilities to participate in the Dragon Boat Festival and facilitated the participation of people with disabilities in programs such as Doors Open and Nuit Blanche.
He is an active member of the committee for the International Day for People with Disabilities and worked towards developing barrier-free environments for the Ability Arts Festival and the Simply People Festivals.
Whenever Asif attends an event, he can be counted upon to jump in and to resolve disability access barriers.
Asif has worked with and volunteered with many organizations including the Ontario March of Dimes, the Canadian Paraplegic Association of Canada, the Ethno-Racial Disability Coalition of Ontario, Easter Seals Telethon and the Festival of International Conferences on Caregiving, Disability, Aging and Technology.