Few would argue the importance of accessibility and yet travel remains an experience that is difficult to navigate for peoples with disabilities. Helping visitors identify barrier-free businesses can improve the overall accessibility of our city and further bolster Toronto’s reputation as an inclusive and welcoming destination. 

To help visitors find accessible businesses, Destination Toronto has partnered with Toronto-based AccessNow, an accessibility mapping company that assesses businesses for their physical and sensory accessibility.

Attached to business listings on DestinationToronto.com, an AccessNow badge signals that the listing includes a detailed accessibility review by a professional AccessNow mapper, with information on its entrances, washrooms, barrier-free services, physical space, staff, and audio/visual experiences.

"Finding accessibility information about the places I travel to can be a stressful and time consuming process. It’s hard to know if I’m getting reliable information given that everybody has different standards of accessibility. As a power wheelchair user, it’s not only crucial that everywhere I go has step free access, but also that the washroom meets my needs, that I can enter/exit the space independently and that there is enough space for me to maneuver freely.” 

- Tori Hunter, AccessNow user

Thus far, 47 Toronto businesses have been verified by AccessNow and have an accessibility badge attached to their Destination Toronto business listing. 

We spoke to some of the businesses who participated in the AccessNow Verified program to discover how they’re resolving accessibility gaps and to ask about the learnings that came out of their assessment.


How did you initially assess accessibility within your business and has your approach changed at all after going through the AccessNow Verified program; did you learn anything you’d like to improve for the future?


Diane Dupuy, CM President and Founder, Famous PEOPLE Players, Etobicoke

Famous PEOPLE Players operates a fully accessible Dine & Dream Theatre designed to inspire and enchant. The dining room, theatre, and washroom (and family washroom) are all on one level including an entry ramp to accommodate patrons who use wheelchairs, walkers, and canes. 

“Our mission and mandate has always been, since our inception in 1974, to implement various accessibility efforts and adaptable services to ensure inclusivity for all patrons, especially when we remodelled 343 Evans Ave, adopting all government accessibility bylaws required at that time. We were thrilled to receive accolades from the Access Now Committee for our efforts. We offer a welcoming atmosphere regardless of our guests abilities or needs.”

Famous PEOPLE Players


Tracy Jenkins, Lulaworld Records & Artist Management, Lula Music & Arts at Lula Lounge

The front entrance to Lula is fully accessible. There is one step down onto the dance floor and one or two steps to the elevated dining areas. We have a movable ramp that allows wheelchairs and walkers to access the dance floor and the elevated dining area on the east side. There is a fully accessible universal washroom on the main floor off the lobby. The coat check, basement washrooms and mezzanine areas are not yet accessible.

“Our initial impulse to increase accessibility and add adaptable series was fueled by a desire to better serve our existing clientele, which was already very diverse in terms of culture, gender, age, and ability. After we increased the accessibility of the venue, we realized that the improvements had further expanded our clientele, allowing us to host a greater diversity of events and welcome more visitors. Participation in the AccessNow Verified program led us to clarify and better communicate our existing policies and highlighted the importance of training staff about the accommodation of service animals and discounts for support people. In the future, we would love to offer a sign language interpreter and are exploring possible funding to implement this.”


Corey Palmer, Director of Operations, Second City Toronto

The brand new location at 1 York St. was intentionally designed with accessibility in mind. The space is fully accessible with elevator access to the lobbies/lounge from the street level and an accessibility lift is provided to help performers access the green rooms and stages. Accessible features provided to patrons include complimentary hearing devices, bariatric chairs by request, complimentary companion tickets for those who require a companion, and with prior arrangement, live-captioning through the use of a tablet.

“Accessibility was at the top of mind in designing our new location, particularly as our previous location had some physical hurdles being in an older building. Having worked through those challenges in the past we knew the importance of providing an arts space with as few barriers to access as possible. The AccessNow Verified program gave us some great insights into things that we have improved on and has reminded us the value of continuing to work and adapt to a changing landscape. As new technologies and understandings arise we feel it’s important to continue to pay attention to advances and listen to voices from within our community to understand how we can better serve them.”


Rachel Horkan, General Manager Steam Whistle Kitchen & Taproom

Steam Whistle Brewing has multiple hospitality spaces within the main floor and offers good accessibility for visitors. The Tap Room (facing Bremner Blvd.), Steam Whistle Kitchen restaurant (entry at the centre turntable of Roundhouse Park) and Locomotive Hall–the largest event space–offer ADA doors and accessible washrooms. Residing in a heritage building on a national historic site has some limitations, with guests traversing on cobblestone patios. However, to avoid the uneven surface, Steam Whistle offers access to the SW Kitchen through the Tap Room and has a moveable ramp to access different patios. The accessible parking spots are close to a permanent ramp at the centre point of their operations, connecting all hospitality rooms. The second floor admin offices and catwalks are not yet accessible, so Steam Whistle adapted the Brewery Tour offering a main-floor-only option to remove barriers to the same educational and entertaining experience.

“Being next to the CN Tower and inside the tourism hub of Toronto, we know it is essential to provide access to diverse visitors and residents of Toronto. From the get-go we built our facility with access in mind, starting first with smooth floors, clear entry ways and accessibility washrooms. That being said, the AccessNow Verified program opened our eyes to more we could be doing to welcome all. We are grateful for the resources and insights shared. With an emphasis on staff training and procuring several movable ramps, our professional Hospitality Team are better prepared to make our site as welcoming as possible for every client and guest.“

“I believe that every small detail matters when thinking about where I am choosing to spend my time and money, which is why AccessNow is an invaluable resource for giving people the accessibility information they need to make these decisions. "

- Tori Hunter, AccessNow user

Lauren Ogle, Manager, Guest Operations, Toronto Zoo

The Toronto Zoo is committed to treating all people in a way that allows them to maintain their dignity and independence, adheres to the principles outlined in the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, and strives to meet and exceed the needs of people with disabilities. Accessible features include accessible parking spaces, wheelchair accessible pavilions, complimentary wheelchairs, automated entry systems on washroom and pavilion doors, ramps, washrooms for people with special needs, and accessible seating available on all rides. The Toronto zoo is a certified Sensory Inclusive Facility through KultureCity and continues to expand its inclusion partnership with Magnuscards, a free mobile app that supports independent community living for autistic and neurodiverse people. The Toronto Zoo Guest Accessibility Guide provides helpful information and visual cues for guests with diverse accessibility needs. The Toronto Zoo Sensory Map, Social Story and information on the Adventure Access Pass supports guests who may have trouble standing or waiting in lines. The Zoo also has an admission package for people with disabilities including free admission for one accompanying support worker.

“In October 2023, we participated in the AccessNow verified mapping process. This experience allowed us to assess our accessibility by receiving valuable feedback on how individuals with disabilities experience our zoo. Rather than simply assessing our codes and standards, the mapping experience was done from the perspective of how individuals with disabilities experience our site. This was extremely helpful because the mappers looked at the guest experience angle from various abilities including physical and sensory. We are a complex site in that we have a dynamic range of walking, indoor and outdoor spaces and rides. The feedback we received about sightlines while viewing animals and increasing inclusive language on ride signs is being considered as we continue to update our site. Our experience with the mapping process has inspired us to showcase accurate information, continue to seek feedback and consultation from individuals of various abilities and to help us better engage with our community.”

AccessNow's mobile app and website has gathered over 1 million accessibility reviews across 107 countries, aiding individuals with disabilities, caregivers, friends, and family in discovering accessible experiences worldwide. Visit AccessNow to learn more about becoming AccessNow Verified or send an expression of interest to learn how you can sign up for a verified business listing to partnerships@destinationtoronto.com. To learn about how you can make your business more accessible, find a list of Helpful Resources under Accessibility.

In addition to the accessibility badge, Destination Toronto also launched eco-friendly and 2SLGBTQIA+ inclusive Certification Badges. If you are eligible for an accessibility, eco-friendly or 2SLGBTQIA+ inclusive certification badge, we invite you to update your business listing in the Partner Portal. Follow the How To Guide for step by step instructions.