Service Ontario is the provincial-government “retail” service where you can renew your driver’s licence and health card and so forth. Of interest here are their storefront locations, and of especial interest is the Service Ontario ministore located inside the Canadian Tire at the godforsaken intersection of Leslie and Lake Shore.

Here is the sign that greets you while you’re waiting in line (close-ups).

Three-foot-tall sign with mishmash of other signs plastered over it

I’d be playing into these incompetents’ hands by listing everything that’s wrong with this sign, which is, at root, everything. It shouldn’t exist, and if there really is a need to impart any of this information, that needs to be done with legitimately designed signage in a comprehensible information hierarchy. Note also that this malarkey was clearly banged out on the same horrific Windows machines that “typeset” the Canadian Tire store signage.

Atrocious? Yes. But it’s actually worse, since the Canadian Tire location is one of the few in the province where one can apply for the Ontario Photo Card, which was specifically designed for blind people who can never hope to secure a driver’s licence. Anyone can apply for it, but the task of getting down to Leslie and Lake Shore is formidable even for someone who can walk to it from Leslieville. I prefer not to. In fact, I’ll wait for the Jones bus to carry me what on paper seems to be a distance of three blocks that in fact takes over 20 minutes to traverse on foot.

Service Ontario has a beautifully designed full-service store inside College Park, right on top of a subway station. Blind people get around on the subway just fine. It is inconceivable that a blind person could navigate to Donlands station, take the Jones bus, get off at the strangely-located southbound Lake Shore stop, and somehow find their way inside a strip mall and upstairs inside a store, all in the name of applying for the only photo ID card they can reasonably use.

The entire process and the entire retail environment, then, are hostile and ill-considered. This sort of incompetence and user contempt could happen only in Canada.

I tried to complain about the signage on site. Nobody would listen, but they did hand me a printed comment form I could fill out and mail in. What did Service Ontario have to say about this when I contacted them? Nothing, because Alan Cairns (“Spokesperson, ServiceOntario”) wouldn’t confirm which media rep handles questions (it’s obviously him) and implied I was wasting his time unless I were “with the media.”

Try this on for size, Alan Cairns

Next week I’ll be writing about the “design” of the Ontario Photo Card itself. Cairns can mend fences by telling me exactly who “designed” it and how these “design” decisions were reached. Extra credit for defending the typography, which is unreadable for a person with normal vision and hopeless for anyone else. One more bonus point for explaining the incorrect French hyphenation, itself obviously banged out by an anglo.

The foregoing posting appeared on Joe Clark’s personal Weblog on 2012.02.03 12:51. This presentation was designed for printing and omits components that make sense only onscreen. (If you are seeing this on a screen, then the page stylesheet was not loaded or not loaded properly.) The permanent link is:

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None. I quit.

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