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Letters

Letter to the President & CEO of Walmart Canada

12 June 2019

Lee Tappenden, President & CEO

Wal-Mart Canada Corp.

1940 Argentia Road

Mississauga, ON L5N 1P9

Dear Mr. Tappenden,

Recently, it came to our attention Walmart Canada made policy changes greatly affecting your employees, disabled customers, and First Nations customers.

I was visiting your South Barrie store the other day when I discovered it no longer had express checkouts. Instead, I had the option to use the job-stealing self-checkouts or wait in line at one of the beer-toting checkouts. Either had me behind other customers with carts full of stuff vs my three items I was purchasing.

The problem, Mr. Tappenden, is that I have a hidden disability. Waiting in line can actually be unsafe for me, especially as of late due to tiring quickly, there is no where I can wait while the three to ten people in front of me take more than ten minutes each to pay for their purchases.

I further worry for your First Nations and People of Colour customers who may not feel safe in your stores. Who may only come in for two or three things and then quickly leave, now, your new policy forces them to stay longer with no visible security present. Your staff is inadequately trained for this. A First Nations youth shoved into the shelf of an over-crowded aisle might be seen as an “accident” instead of the assault that was intended by the perpetrator.

Your South Barrie store was difficult to navigate as your normally wide primary aisles were crowded in the middle with stock or other items making it difficult to get around.

As a result of this situation, we would like:

  1. The restoration of (at a minimum 3) express checkouts at all Walmart stores in Canada.
  2. Your aisles clear so as to minimize safety issues for your customers.
  3. All staff trained in First Aid, CPR, and AED.
  4. All Walmart stores in Canada equipped with an AED.
    1. All staff informed of its location.
  5. Assistance for customers with disabilities, visible or hidden.

Regards,

 

Peter V. Tretter

President & CEO

Journey to Diversity Workplaces

Categories
Voices of our Nation

Attitudinal Barriers in the Workplace

Attitudinal barriers are the challenges, or barriers, experienced by people with disabilities in the workplace. Attitudinal accessibility refers to eliminating attitudinal barriers that discriminate against people with disabilities. Attitudinal barriers include thinking that people with disabilities are inferior or assuming that a disabled person with a speech impairment never understands you. Discrimination is an action or a decision that treats a person or a group negatively based on their race, age or disability. Canadian employers are not allowed to discriminate against their employees. Employers are required to make every reasonable effort to accommodate an employee’s individual circumstances that relate to discrimination.

Discrimination can be decreased when there is awareness of the potential misconceptions or negative attitudes towards employees, including disabled persons, within the workplace. Employers must not discriminate on the basis of a disability or a perceived disability. Employers must make it clear that harassment in the workplace will not be tolerated. Harassment must be investigated and corrected as soon as employers become aware of it. An effort must be made to eliminate the various types of discrimination, and the associated social stigmas, that can exist in workplaces.

Attitudinal barriers are the most basic barrier and contribute to other barriers. People may not be aware that difficulties in getting to or into places can limit a disabled person from participating in everyday life and common daily activities. People sometimes will categorize or stereotype disabled people while assuming their quality of life is poor or that disabled people are unhealthy because of their impairments. Some types of disabilities may be similar, but can pose different challenges or impairments for disabled people within the workplace. Employees should be aware of the individual needs of all of their employees to be able to maximize workplace productivity.

An inclusive workplace environment should be created where each employee is valued and respected. Every employee will bring various skills, strengths, and weaknesses to the workplace. For a workplace to be successful, employers must be aware of how to properly manage these skills, strengths, weaknesses, along with the individual needs of their employees. Attitudinal barriers are behaviours, perceptions, and assumptions that discriminate against people with disabilities. Attitudinal barriers are also ways of thinking or feeling resulting in behaviour that limits the potential of people with disabilities to be independent individuals. Attitudinal barriers usually lead to illegal discrimination which cannot be easily overcome.

To eliminate attitudinal barriers, the best solution is for employers and employees to familiarize themselves with employees living with a disability. Do not assume what employees or clients with disabilities can or cannot do. Members of a workplace should be trained to effectively interact and communicate with people with different types of disabilities. Employers must understand the types of accommodations for disabled people, some of which are low cost to the workplace. Being aware of attitudinal barriers allows the workplace to cooperatively develop strategies to overcome the barriers. Workplaces will be more successful when employers and employers are able to cooperatively work together as a cohesive unit in an inclusive workplace environment that encourages respect and an awareness of each employee’s individual needs.

Sources:
Disability Barriers
Discrimination and Other Workplace Barriers
Overcoming Attitudinal Barriers
Solutions to Attitudinal Barriers

This article was written by volunteer blogger Shan Simpson and edited by volunteer editor Scott Jacobsen.

Categories
Founder's Blog

The Heart of Election Day

The Heart of Election Day

Working for Elections Ontario

In Ontario we recently participated in the exercise of democracy by casting ballots for members of the Legislative Assembly of Ontario. From there, the leader of the party with the most members becomes Premier of Ontario. Thus, democracy functions once more.

It was rather late in the election period, about two weeks before election day, when I decided I wanted a one-day job, which was on election day, working for Elections Ontario.

On June 7th, 2018 Elections Ontario was Ontario’s largest employer.

Elections Ontario is an independent agency of the Legislative Assembly of Ontario. However, the agency does have to follow all applicable laws with regards to employment and, in particular, in accessibility.

When I first called and spoke with the recruiter, she was excited. It was probably because she had one less person to find. Admittedly, Elections Ontario did a fantastic job advertising its open jobs for election day.

So, this recruiter and I talked for some time. It looked as if I was going to be a Deputy Returning Officer (DRO) in Oro-Medonte. This was driven by the fact that I both have a valid drivers license and a vehicle I can drive to the location.

However, when I revealed to the recruiter (whom I will not name,) that I was unable to help set up the polling location I would be working at the night before, due to medical requirements of a disability, the role of DRO was taken off the table.

No one mentioned to me about Elections Ontario’s “Workplace Accommodation Policy and Procedures” brochure, nor that there was a form (FO273) that I could file to ask for help. Does one expect the applicant to leap through all those hoops?

I do not know the training this recruiter had, but I imagine that it was similar to the training for my downgraded role as Information Assistant. (Jokingly referred to as Greeter.) So she must have read the brochure (FO277). It was mandatory.

Elections Ontario policy is to accommodate applicants and employees with disabilities who need workplace accommodations.

On June 7th, I arrived bright and early at my polling station, ready for the next 13 hours. The actual voting hours are 9 am – 9 pm. However, we had to be there an hour before for any final setup items. We also could not leave the premises at all during those times. Bathrooms were on site.

While I am frustrated that I did not get to carry out the DRO role, originally offered, I had a great day. I got to greet voters, help them with the process, and send them merrily on their way afterwards.
Poll Official - Elections Ontario

Since employment is short-term, individual accommodation plans will not be reviewed after the election is over.

I firmly believe that Elections Ontario has gone to great lengths to accommodate voters exercising their democratic right to vote. However, I do not believe that Elections Ontario has gone far enough to accommodate their very short term, one day employees, who just want to help out to ensure democracy prevails.

I think if I could talk directly to Greg Essensa, Ontario’s Chief Electoral Officer, then I would make the following recommendations:

  • Make the brochure on Workplace Accommodation Policy and Procedures available online. (FO277) (In doing my research for this article I could not find this brochure on the Elections Ontario or the Ontario Government websites.)
  • Make the requisite forms available online. (FO273)
  • Train your Recruitment Team to make mention of the brochure (FO277) one of the first things they talk about, just like the greeters ask for accessibility assistance when they greet voters at the door.
  • Ensure all polling stations have facilities for storing medications needed during the day both in regular temperatures and those requiring refrigeration.
  • Make a plan for DRO’s that cannot set up the night before.
  • Internally review individual accommodation plans post-election to spot opportunities for improvement.
  • In the end, we all want democracy to prevail! So, let us give democracy a hand and accommodate those one-day employees.

    This article was written by J2DW CEO Peter V Tretter and edited by volunteer editor Scott Jacobsen.

    Categories
    Voices of our Nation

    Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act – What you need to know!

    The Ontario government enacted the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act in 2005, which set out a clear goal to make Ontario accessible by 2025. The Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, or AODA, aims to identify, remove, and prevent barriers for people with disabilities. A barrier is a circumstance or obstacle that keeps people apart. Barriers can take many forms including attitudinal, communication, physical, policy, programmatic, social, and transportation. Standards are the laws that individuals, governments, businesses, non-profits, and public sector organizations must follow in order to become more accessible. A disability is a physical or mental condition that limits a person’s movements, senses, or activities.

    The accessibility standards contain a timeline for the implementation of required measures. The standards also help organizations to identify, remove, and prevent barriers in order to improve accessibility for people with disabilities. This act lays the framework for the development of province-wide mandatory standards on accessibility in all areas of daily life. The start of a new year brings new AODA regulations for 2017. Under the AODA, employees include full-time, part time, seasonal, and contract workers that are being paid wages.

    There are AODA requirements already in place, but Ontario workplaces must comply to additional requirements as of January 1st, 2017. An accessibility compliance report confirms that a workplace has met the current accessibility requirements for the AODA. If a workplace does not complete an accessibility compliance report, the business could receive severe punishments which can include substantial financial penalties. Small businesses, consisting of one to nineteen employees, must make public information accessible when asked. These small businesses must make public employment practices accessible, including workplace hiring policies along with retaining and providing career development opportunities to employees. This would include adding a notification in job advertisements and on job postings. Small businesses, consisting of twenty to forty-nine employees, are required to file an Accessibility Compliance Report, before the December 31, 2017 deadline in addition to the requirements to make public employment practices accessible, including workplace hiring policies along with retaining and providing career development opportunities to employees. Large businesses, of fifty or more employees, must make new or redeveloped public spaces accessible, including parking lots, public outdoor paths of travel, service counters, fixed waiting lines and waiting areas with fixed seating. Large businesses are required to also submit an Accessibility Compliance Report by December 31, 2017.

    Everyone can benefit when more people with disabilities have access to places, people, and experiences. Ontario benefits daily from the many contributions made by people with disabilities. Improving accessibility is the right thing to do. It’s also the smart thing to do. People with disabilities have an estimated spending power of about $25 billion annually across Canada. People with disabilities also represent a large pool of untapped employment potential. When Ontario becomes more accessible to people with disabilities everyone benefits. Greater accessibility will also continue to assist Ontario preparing for the future. As the Canadian population ages, the number of people with disabilities will increase. Seniors and people with disabilities are projected to represent twenty to twenty-five percent of the Canadian recreation, retail, entertainment, workplace and housing marketplaces in the next ten years and beyond.

    The AODA is made up of five standards with a standard covering an aspect of daily living. These standards are the customer service, employment, design of public spaces, transportation, information and communication standards. The AODA standards are part of the Integrated Accessibility Standards Regulation. The IASR covers accessibility standards in information and communication, employment, transportation and built environment. There are specific deadlines for compliance that will range from 2010 to 2021. AODA standards change annually in an effort to make Ontario more accessible, and additional requirements will be coming in 2018. Organizations are still required to accommodate employees with disabilities to the point of undue hardship. Independent contractors are not employees, but their work under a workplace must also be AODA compliant and you may need to train them in the standards. The AODA’s broadest workplace requirements had only applied to large organizations. However, in 2017, the AODA will now require smaller organizations of up to fifty employees to implement a new set of standards.

    The customer service standard is intended to make an organization’s customer service operations accessible to disabled people. Accessible customer service is about understanding that people with disabilities may have different needs while implementing the best way to help them access goods and services. The Accessibility Standard for Customer Service applies to all organizations that provide goods or services either directly to the public or to other organizations in Ontario and that have one or more employees in Ontario.

    The design of public spaces standard covers a variety of public spaces such as exterior sidewalks and walkways, entrances to buildings, outdoor public eating areas and play spaces, accessible parking, waiting areas, and service counters. These standards sets requirements for specific features of public structures that allow for easier access for disabled persons. Considering the needs of disabled people is important from the earliest stages of designing, planning, and constructing public buildings to ensure that Ontario is more accessible for everyone. The built environment standard for public spaces only applies to new construction and planned redevelopments. Accessible public spaces will make it easier for people with disabilities to move through and use the environment.

    The transportation standard requires transportation services to prevent and remove barriers so that people with disabilities can more easily access transportation services across the province. Requirements for accessible transportation apply to organizations that offer transportation services to the public or to employees. Organizations providing transportation services are required to establish, implement, maintain, and document accessibility training policies or procedures that are specific to transportation-related duties concerning disabled people.

    The information and communication standard helps people with disabilities access sources of information that many of us rely on every day. The main goal of this standard is to promote an inclusive design of information and communication platforms. The information and communication standard specifies requirements to prevent and remove barriers to persons with disabilities when creating, conveying, distributing, obtaining and receiving various information or communication by organizations.

    The employment standard requires an organization that is an employer to engage in the identification, removal, and prevention of barriers hindering the full participation in employment of persons with disabilities. The purpose of the employment standard is to integrate accessibility into regular workplace process. The employment standard also requires that an organization have policies and procedures for establishing individual accommodation plans where barriers cannot be removed and shifts the responsibility from the individual, who needs the accommodation, to the person who provides it. This standard should be implemented to ensure that employers provide for accessibility across all stages of the employment cycle.

    The AODA requires every employer and employee in Ontario to take training on the AODA and the Ontario Human Rights Code. Accessibility Ontario offers AODA training in many different formats and can also customize training to meet the specific training needs of a workplace. The Ontario Human Rights Code took effect in 1962, and it was the first Human Rights Code of its kind in Canada. This code prohibits actions that discriminate against people based on a protected ground in a protected social area. This law, in Ontario, gives all people equal rights and opportunities without discrimination in specific areas. The Human Rights Code prohibits discrimination on grounds of race, ancestry, place of origin, color, ethnic origin, citizenship, creed, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, age and marital status, family status, disability, public assistance for housing, reprisal, and association. The Code is divided into an introductory section, or “preamble,” followed by seven parts.

    Workplaces must be compliant with the AODA standards and new regulations for 2017. Ontario should be a place where everyone has a chance to be successful. An improvement in the accessibility of workplaces could create more job opportunities for disabled people which would significantly benefit Ontario workplaces. Training can be implemented that will allow workplaces to understand these standards. Canada will benefit if everyone has access to places, people, and experiences.

    Sources:
    Access Ontario
    Canadian Society of Association Executives
    Employment and Human Rights Law in Canada
    Royal Bank of Canada
    Statistics Canada

    This article was contributed by volunteer blogger Shan Simpson

    Categories
    Founder's Blog

    Video Blog #2 – Diversity in the tech sector

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    Categories
    Founder's Blog

    Why you should forget everything you learned about medical appointments!

    I was thinking in the shower today about medical appointments. I have previously written on this topic.

    Many, or most, hospitals in Toronto now offer diagnostic tests 24/7 by appointment. My own father has had several at Princess Margaret Hospital to follow cancer treatment he had a few years ago. These include CT scans, MRI, x-rays, etc.

    Nurses, as you well know, work eight or twelve-hour shifts. So why can’t doctors?

    Let’s say we have two oncologists. Why can’t Oncologist A work days Weeks 1 and 3, and nights Weeks 2 and 4. With Oncologist B working days Weeks 2 and 4, and nights weeks 1 and 3. And when I say nights, I mean 8 pm to 3 am to accommodate those who work evenings and nights.

    The funny thig is, I’m certain you won’t have a problem finding people who want this!

    So why aren’t we doing it already? So many professionals work shift work. Emergency Department doctors work shift work. So why can’t the doctors who run our oncology clinics, or renal clinics work shift work?

    I think we need to have a conversation on how our healthcare providers work with our professors/school, employers, landlords, etc. Everyone probably tells you that “your health comes first.” That’s total BS. Without money to pay the rent, and purchase groceries, the treatment means nothing.

    It’s time we put patients first. It’s time for us to stand up and ask for better services.

    Case in point – Here in Barrie we didn’t have in-centre dialysis. That meant if you were admitted to the hospital, you had to be transported to another hospital for dialysis. Almost 2 years ago I started writing letters to the CEO of the local hospital, and this past April I cut the ribbon for the new dialysis unit.

    So let’s have the conversation and improve patient health by offering clinical appointments 24/7.

    Categories
    Voices of our Nation

    You would not believe what types of disabilities they have in the workplace!

    A disability can be defined as the consequence of an impairment that may be physical, cognitive, mental, sensory, emotional, developmental, or some combination of these. A disability may be present from birth, or occur at any time during a person’s lifetime. A progressive disability is an illness or medical condition that is expected to worsen over time. Well known examples of progressive disabilities include multiple sclerosis, carpal tunnel syndrome, Parkinson’s disease, dementia, and Alzheimer’s disease. Intermittent disabilities are short-term impairments or temporary conditions that do not permanently disable a person. Examples of intermittent disabilities include arthritis, chronic fatigue or depression. Any person can be directly or indirectly affected by an intermittent or progressive disability at some point in their life.

    Disabilities are a significant concern in Canada due to an aging Canadian population. Approximately 3.8 million Canadians have a disability. Disabilities are categorized as visible or invisible. A visual disability is an impaired condition or function that is noticeable to other people. Seventy percent of Ontarians have a visual disability including autism, down syndrome, and epilepsy. Invisible disabilities are impairments that are not immediately perceivable by other people. Thirty percent of Ontarians have an invisible disability. Examples of invisible disabilities include fatigue, pain, cognitive dysfunctions and mental disorders, as well as hearing and eyesight impairments.

    People with disabilities in Canada represent a large, untapped, labor pool. There are reportedly 443,900 people with disabilities who are ready and able to work but are unable to find employment. Almost half of these individuals have a post-secondary education. In order to have a fully inclusive workplace, a work environment must be created that is physically, technologically, and attitudinally accessible. Ontario was the first Canadian province to implement accessibility legislation. The Accessibility for Ontarians with Disability Act, or AODA, was designed to improve the accessibility standards for Ontarians with disabilities. The goal of this legislation is to provide people of all abilities the opportunity to participate in everyday life and to eliminate the barriers that limit the effectiveness of an employee. These barriers include physical, architectural, informational or communicational, and attitudinal barriers.

    Physical barriers are feature of a building or premises which puts a disabled person at a substantial disadvantage compared to non-disabled people when accessing employment opportunities. These barriers limit or impede access to an area of a building or denies access altogether to services that a person may require to effectively complete their job. Architectural barriers are architectural features that are not compliant with accessibility for disabled users or prohibits usage or access to a building. Reasonable accommodations or adjustments should be made to eliminate these barriers so that each employee can maximize their potential and workplace’s goals for success can be achieved.

    Communication barriers are obstacles in a workplace that prevent an effective exchange of ideas or thoughts. These barriers to communication can substantially distort or prevent communication within a workplace. The ability for workplaces to recognize the communication issues and come to a resolution can drastically improve working conditions and business culture of a workplace. Status differences can also be a barrier to workplace communication. This type of communication barrier exists due to differences in workplace hierarchy where employees have difficulty communicating either up or down the corporate ladder. This difficulty can be eliminated by management personnel who are able to understand their employees and address concerns about the important issues that must be addressed in the workplace.

    Attitudinal barriers are behaviors or perceptions that prevent employees from communicating properly. Attitudes are commonly formed by an individual’s opinions or personal feelings on a subject or person. Sometimes these opinions may be difficult to alter. Attitudinal barriers may take the form of imposing a preconceived inferiority upon a disabled worker. This inferiority can root from causes entirely outside the work environment and be attributed to a person’s bias or bigotry. Attitudinal barriers can lead to people with disabilities being patronized by those around them. Employees with disabilities should be hired based on their ability to do the job. There are no special processes or procedures for disciplining or firing employees with disabilities who are not meeting performance expectations. An effective way to decrease a workplace’s attitudinal barriers is to increase the level of awareness and knowledge of disability issues.

    Employers should be proactive and make accessibility part of the workplace culture. It is critical to assure that the workplace is accessible for current employees and for future employees. The workplace can become more successful when strategies are implemented that increase the accessibility and eliminate the barriers within a workplace.

    This article was contributed by volunteer blogger Shan Simpson and edited by volunteer editor Parul Datta.

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    Categories
    Blog Events

    Board of Directors: An exciting volunteer leadership opportunity

    Journey to Diversity Workplaces is both an experiment and a project. Haven’t you ever wished you could work somewhere better? Somewhere where they went out of their way to not only appreciate you, but treat you right, and pay you fairly? We want a different kind of workplace where diversity is championed and so is the worker.

    At J2DW, our employees are our members. Period.

    Respecting differences ethically, morally, and legally.

    We are a member of Volunteer Canada, and Charity Village, CIRA, OnGood, and a partner with Get Involved, and VolunteerMatch.

    Journey to Diversity Workplaces invites residents living in Simcoe County (including the cities of Barrie & Orillia,) to submit an expression of interest to join the organization’s board of directors to guide us into a bold, promising future. As a Board member you are strongly committed to J2DW’s vision, mission, and values. You have a strong personal and professional integrity, and have experience with, or are comfortable with, the governance – as opposed to management – role. In an era of fiscal constraint, combined with extraordinary population growth, governance leadership will be a significant and rewarding challenge.

    Through your professional skills and experience, you will:

    – Ensure J2DW lives its values, mission and vision.
    – Guide J2DW to achieve its strategic directions
    – Be responsible for making decisions in the best interests of J2DW
    – Be accountable for the monitoring and oversight of J2DW’s performance standards and other outcome measures
    – Ensure financial accountability, providing feedback and guidance to the CEO
    – Provide a link with J2DW to ensure effective communication of community perceptions and needs

    You must be at least 18 years of age and not have the status of bankrupt. Meeting are held in Barrie on the third Thursday of the month usually via Skype, though we do meet in person at least twice per year.

    For more information on our board please contact Peter V. Tretter, President & CEO at http://scr.im/2zq4. If you are interested in serving on the J2DW Board, apply by 15 May 2016 by visiting http://j2dw.co/1nsHqRC.

    Categories
    Current board Profiles of Diversity

    Profiles of Diversity -:- Shan Simpson

    Shan Simpson
    Profiles of Diversity is a series in which we profile in each post one of the members of our Board of Directors or volunteers.

    Today’s profile is Shan Simpson.

    Shan has a physical disability. He tell us his greatest strength is resiliency. He is driven to succeed. He earned his Eagle Scout badge at age 14.

    Shan’s hobbies include sports, reading, listen to music, and blogging. He really enjoys basketball as he can play it with his disability.

    Shan got interested in J2DW because he thought it was a good idea. He lives in a small area with little accessibility. His proudest achievement was going back to school and earning his Bachelor’s degree in criminal justice. He’s also proud of his Eagle Scout Award.

    In 5 years Shan sees J2DW having expanded to more areas and with a more global reach, especially to smaller communities.

    E-mail Shan!

    Categories
    Voices of our Nation

    Diversity in Disabilities

    Diversity consists of the ways that people differ from each other.  There are diverse types of disabilities including physical disabilities, mental disabilities, and even emotional disabilities. These disabilities can create several challenges for disabled employees. Every person, whether disabled or not disabled, possesses diverse individual strengths and weaknesses. Workplaces obviously need to become aware of the strengths and weaknesses of each employee.   

    A physical disability is a limitation on a person’s physical functioning, mobility, dexterity or stamina

    A mental disability is a significant behavioral or psychological syndrome characterized by a lower mental ability than an average person. An emotional disability is a condition that, over a long period of time, consistently interferes with a person’s learning process and adversely affects the person’s workplace performance.

    I was born with the physical disability Spina Bifida which has caused my lower body to be weak.

    I have used a wheelchair for several years. It has also been difficult for me to find job in the small community where I live due to accessibility issues. It is also challenging for me to be as mobile during the winter months due to bad weather. However, I do have skills and abilities that could be useful within a workplace.   

    Workplaces need to be aware of disability issues and address these issues properly so that the workplace can function as effectively as possible. Training is one of the most important aspects that will eventually deal with most of the factors concerning disabilities in a workplace. When a person with a disability is hired this person may require different training methods to help this person to be successful within the workplace. Specific training strategies for him to sharpen his skills faster. Reasonable accommodation is another important element. Employees with disabilities deserve an accommodation that suits their rational requirements for expected productivity. Communication with these employees is another factor you need to pay heed to. If an employee has problems with speech, ask him again what you don’t understand. Just because he cannot take active part, doesn’t mean he/she isn’t allowed to participate in activities/discussions/meetings. These strategies could be useful to allow the workplace to function more effectively and efficiently.

    This article was contributed by volunteer blogger Shan Simpson.