General Information

The Plot Thickens

Submitted by Fiona Watson on Thu, 03/24/2011 - 19:55

I received an email from the manager of Mobility Plus. In it, I was told that the difference between them and Toronto’s TTC Wheel Trans is that Wheel Trans buses do not have seat belts. I am not sure where Mobility Plus is getting their information, but someone isn’t doing their homework. Wheel-Trans vehicles have seat belts. Attendants who are “non-registered riders” are permitted to stand, without a seatbelt, just as they would on a conventional service vehicle (TTC bus).

Mobility Plus says that they are following the guidelines of the Highway Traffic Act regarding seat belt usage, but if they are bound by it, then why isn’t Wheel-Trans?

Mobility Plus talks about wanting to ensure the safety of everyone concerned. They have repeatedly said that my attendant standing endangers other people on the vehicle. It is interesting to note that Mobility Plus has acknowledged that customers who can provide a letter of medical exemption are not required to wear a seat belt when on the bus. Following their logic, doesn’t that mean that anyone on the bus with such a customer is at risk? What is the difference?

Mobility Plus has offered two options: have the driver stop whenever needed (totally impractical since he or she would need to stop every few seconds), or have an OT evaluate me and make recommendations. Sigh.

I sent them my thoughts and requested a face-to-face meeting. The reply I received failed to acknowledge a single point I raised. I’m agreeing to meet with an OT to prove my needs once again. Stay tuned.


Submitted by Fiona Watson on Mon, 03/07/2011 - 11:00

In early January, I moved from Toronto to Newmarket. I have severe Muscular Dystrophy and use an electric wheelchair. It took a lot of planning to ensure that I would be able to function in my new home and community.

I applied to Mobility Plus, York Region’s specialized transportation service, in December. Shortly after I moved, I was visited by an Inspector who needed to confirm that I am unable to use a minivan because of my height and chair size. I soon received my registration card and was on my way…or so I thought.

I booked a ride to go to a medical appointment and when the bus arrived, I boarded. My attendant took up her usual position beside me. The nature of my disability requires that I have neck and head support as well as assistance balancing to facilitate my breathing. I was shocked when the driver of the vehicle said my attendant had to sit and wear a seatbelt at all times. After explaining my needs to her, the driver made a phone call and said she couldn’t proceed unless the attendant sat down. Even if my attendant was sitting a couple of feet from me, the driver stated she couldn’t undo her belt to assist me. It’s interesting to note that on the Mobility Plus application, one of the questions asks if the applicant requires an attendant to travel with them, and why. If the accompanying attendant cannot assist the applicant, why would they require an attendant? It boggles the mind. I had no choice but to disembark and miss my appointment.

I immediately contacted the Inspector who had met with me and was told to provide a physician’s letter explaining why the attendant needed to stand. I submitted a letter, was given an amendment by their office, and sent in the revised note. After hearing nothing for 10 days, I contacted the Inspector again. Over the last few weeks, I’ve been given a myriad of reasons why I cannot be accommodated and yes, I am still waiting for resolution. Late last week, the Inspector gave the impression that nothing could be done. On Friday, I received an e-mail from someone in authority who said they are “still investigating“.

Surely I am not the only consumer who requires assistance while on a vehicle? People stand on “regular” busses every day. I can’t help but wonder how many people who do not know how to self-advocate (or have the support of family and friends) are sitting housebound after being told the same thing.

Ironically, I sent my resume to the York Region Accessibility Advisory Committee when I heard that they were looking for members to help make York Region more accessible for people with disabilities. I was delighted when they contacted me for an interview. Unfortunately, I was unable to schedule and attend a meeting with them and have missed a wonderful opportunity to contribute to my new community. I suggested that they consider using my current transportation predicament as a future agenda item.

I’m supposed to receive an update from Mobility Plus today or Tuesday, so watch this space.



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Tribute To An Angel

Tribute To An Angel



A Respected Leader with a Gentle touch,

The future ever in her sight,

Always Giving to others so much.

But God called an Angel home tonight.



A Listener both Patient and Kind,

Seeing everyone in a Positive light,

Making sure all had their say,

But God called an Angel home tonight.



A Champion for many causes,

An Advocate for what was right;

Now smiling down from up above,

Because God called an Angel home tonight.



No more waiting for things to be done,

Nor difficulties to keep in sight;

The battle over physical pain has been won,

Because God called an Angel home tonight.



"So wipe the tears from your eyes,

For me, Continue the Fight;

To your heart I will whisper and guide,

Because God called me home tonight."



Written In Memory Of Sousan Zaribaf



Author Friend And CWDO Board Member

Pat Seed

January 2016

Board Member Remembrances of Sousan

I first met Sousan when I moved into Aldebrain Tower in Scarborough. Very quickly I learned what a powerful presence was housed in that petite figure of hers. Sousan had a tremendous amount of self-respect and joy of life. I think this was probably a defining trait for her and powered many of her life decisions.



Sousan fought very hard to have attendant services brought into Aldebrain Tower – a totally accessible apartment building that she helped to design. The building reflected her elegant taste and the services her desire to see people with disabilities live in the community on their own terms. A few years ago I invited her to join the Board of Directors of Citizens with Disabilities Ontario (CWDO), an organization which board members of Aldebrain founded. She agreed to join in honour of her ex-husband, Udo Franz, a founding member who had passed away. In her role as a board member I had the great joy of working together with her on a number of issues. This deepened our friendship as I got to know Sousan better as we worked on common goals. Sousan dove in wholeheartedly to a number of CWDO's projects. She was passionate about our work to provide advice for stronger accessibility standards, protections for attendant services and physician-assisted suicide.



She wrote: “The only way persons with disabilities can have the opportunity to live with respect and dignity is to have the services and supports they need.” Even though she had never done it before, she led two online webinars, facilitating consultations between officials who were reviewing accessibility legislation and members of CWDO. Sousan took her role as a board member seriously, faithfully attending CWDO’s online meetings, supporting our telephone blitzes to contact members across Ontario and treated everyone with respect. She volunteered for every committee and working group we had going, made positive contributions and never forgot to thank other board members for their efforts.



Board members past and present shared their memories of Sousan when they learned she passed away. She made a profound impact on us. I would like to take a moment to share with some of the comments board members made at the time:



  • “Sousan was a wonderful Board member and held CWDO's best interests close to her heart.”
  • “There are some board members who are like family to me. She was definitely one.”
  • “To me, Sousan was like a breath of fresh air. She was thoughtful in her contributions to discussions. She had an insight into issues that was unique. She was compassionate about what she did and most often had hidden abilities that needed just a little encouragement to come out."
  • "I am certainly going to miss her as we move forward and do our best to implement what she was so emotionally driven to see put in place for all Ontarians."
  • "This is such heartbreaking news for CWDO and her family and friends. I didn't know her very well, just from our [online] meetings, but from what I learned through those, she was an amazing person with a great passion for CWDO and helping people with disabilities."
  • “I only had the pleasure of working with her for a short time. I joined [the board] just recently and yet I truly count Sousan as one of the kindest and most welcoming people I'd ever worked with.”
  • “I may have only heard her voice through digital means but that was more than enough to convey the stellar person she was – such a positive and driven human who was so well-liked and so dedicated. I wish I could say that I met her in person. I wish I could say I told her how welcome she made me feel. In the end there are no words that can sum up such a loss of someone so incredible.”
  • "My sincerest condolences and sadness go out to all of you in CWDO, those of you who knew her as a personal friend, and her family." 
  • And finally: “I hope we can forge on and help to honour Sousan’s memory and determination in all that we do together.”



Sousan left us far too soon. But she left knowing that she was loved by her husband, Jack, that she was capable of working as a professional, making and keeping a strong circle of friends and she left us knowing she had done good things for her community and for people with disabilities.



Sousan lived well and her life was well lived. She was a good friend who was always willing to listen and make gentle, practical suggestions whenever she saw a need. May she be an example for all of us and inspire us to make more room in our lives to help others – even if it means stepping outside our own comfort zone at times, like Sousan did.



God bless you, Sousan. Rest in peace. ~ Tracy Odell

Celebrating the Life of Sousan Zaribaf (1956-2015)

The following was printed in the booklet distributed at Sousan's Memorial Service held January 9, 2016 at The Cathedral Church of St. James, Toronto, Ontario .



Sousan was positive, passionate, and courageous.  Her zeal for life inspired those around her and her optimism was infectious.  She contracted juvenile rheumatoid arthritis as an infant, which impaired her mobility, yet her ability to bring joy to those around her and to achieve her dreams was never curtailed by her physical limitations.  Born in Tehran, Iran on August 25, 1956,  she was the youngest in her family.  In the fall of 1974, at the age of 18, Sousan emigrated with her parents to the United States.  They settled in Miami, Florida, where her brother Khosrow had established a home some years earlier.  Nine years later she moved to Los Angeles and then, in 1990, to Toronto.



Sousan was determined from a young age to gain her independence and to live as abundantly and passionately  as any able-bodied person could.  As we have all observed, she achieved this objective fully.  In Miami, Sousan obtained a degree in psychology and learn to drive (her first car was a Ford Mustang).  She moved to California with her parents to be part of the larger Iranian community in Los Angeles.  There, she worked for the Internal Revenue Service and moved into her own apartment in Covina.  At this time she also became very involved with the Little People of America, an organization that works to improve the quality of life of, and celebrates the contributions and diversity that little people bring to society.



In 2000, Sousan adopted her beloved African Grey parrot, Plato, who would become her inseparable companion and a great source of joy.  It broke her heart when she acquired a rare chronic allergy in 2011,  which compelled her to move Plato to a bird sanctuary and bring him home only for short infrequent visits.  She continued to love him with her characteristic passion until her final days.



Sousan had a keen interest in fashion and interior design.  She loved to decorate and make the world around her more beautiful.  Sousan was also a talented gourmet cook.  She enjoyed cooking French dishes and also teaching those around her about her favorite Persian dishes, especially ghormeh sabzi.



in Toronto, Sousan contributed to realize her goal of working to help people with disabilities by assisting to bring the Aldebrain Tower project to reality in 1993.  Aldebrain is a residential apartment building in East Toronto, which incorporates units that remove barriers to independent living for disabled tenants.  A high quality attendant care services providing organization is also located onsite.  In addition, Sousan worked actively with Citizens with Disabilities Ontario, a not for profit organization promoting quality of life for disabled persons.



For the last 10 years, Sousan worked at TD Canada Trust, where she was recognized as an exemplary customer experience enabler.



Sousan met her second husband, Jack, in 2005 and they were married in 2011.  She and Jack shared similar interests: travel, entertaining, spending times with friends and family, cooking, fine dining and film.  They committed themselves to their work and serving others.



Sousan is survived by Jack, two brothers Khoshrow and Saeed, half-sister Mavash, stepdaughters Erica and Andrea, and grandsons Henry and Callum.   She has nine nieces and two nephews, 3 grand nephews and 4 grand nieces.