Purple Day for Epilepsy Awareness


Today is Purple Day for Epilepsy Awareness!

Purple Day for Epilepsy Awareness takes place around the world on March 26th every year. On this day, people wear purple to raise awareness about what epilepsy is and the different ways it impacts people. In addition, community organizations host events to help the public learn more about epilepsy.

Purple Day for Epilepsy Awareness

What is Epilepsy?

Epilepsy is a brain disorder that causes people to have seizures. A seizure happens when brain activity is disrupted for a few seconds to a few minutes. Moreover, the kind of seizure a person has depends on which parts of the brain are affected.

Some people experience tonic-clonic seizures, which involve loss of consciousness and convulsions. Alternatively, other people have seizures that cause less severe symptoms, such as:

  • Confusion for a few moments
  • Staring
  • Brief involuntary twitching of one part of the body, such as eyelid movement

After seizures, people’s ordinary brain function returns, although they may be confused at first. They may also need to rest for a few minutes or an hour, depending on the severity of the seizure.

Many people with epilepsy can reduce or eliminate their seizures through medication or other treatments. Increased research may lead to more types of treatment.

Raising Awareness

Many people do not have friends, family members, or colleagues who have epilepsy. As a result, they may assume that someone with epilepsy cannot do every-day things, such as:

  • Work
  • Raise families
  • Make friends and have fulfilling social lives
  • Travel

Furthermore, people may feel uncomfortable when someone discloses that they have epilepsy. This lack of knowledge may lead to discrimination. For instance, someone may not want to hire a person who has epilepsy. Purple Day for Epilepsy Awareness is a chance to help the public learn more about all the things people with epilepsy are capable of. Raising awareness should reduce the discrimination that people with epilepsy may live with.

People who have epilepsy experience it in different ways. As a result, each person who discloses epilepsy may explain:

  • What usually happens during a seizure
  • How often they have seizures
  • Whether seizures usually happen at certain times of day
  • How long their seizures usually last
  • Whether seizures happen randomly or in patterns
  • Whether seizures are triggered by certain environmental conditions, such as:
    • Flashing lights
    • Increased stress
  • If they have warning signs before seizures, and if so:
    • What the warning signs are
    • How much time there is between warning signs and seizures
  • Whether they need to rest after seizures, and for how long

Moreover, some people with epilepsy have service animals, while other people’s epilepsy is invisible. Similarly, some people with epilepsy can drive, while others travel independently by bus, cab, or walking.

In short, epilepsy can affect people’s lives in various ways. Nonetheless, people who have epilepsy can live full lives. When people know how their epilepsy affects them, they can be fully involved in their work, families, and social lives.

Happy Purple Day to all our readers!




Source link

Accessible Online Learning in the COVID-19 Pandemic


As Ontarians continue social distancing in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, colleges and universities are implementing online learning. Moreover, elementary and high schools may also turn in-person classes into remote lessons students access online. Remote learning will allow students to complete their current year of study while staying healthy and safe. To ensure that all students have the benefit of remote learning at this time, schools and school boards must make the process accessible to students and educators with disabilities. Accessible online learning in the COVID-19 pandemic will help all students in Ontario learn in a safe environment.

Accessible Online Learning in the COVID-19 Pandemic

When a school or school board offers lessons online, it must first choose the  educational apps or online platforms that will host courses. To reach every student, schools and school boards must choose platforms that are accessible for students and educators using assistive technology. For example, the website students log onto should be accessible using:

  • Screen readers
  • Screen magnification
  • Keyboard or voice commands, instead of a mouse

However, because schools have turned to online learning quickly, they may not have thought about accessibility when choosing a learning platform. Nonetheless, they must still provide access to lessons for students who cannot access the learning platform. Therefore, they should work with the student, and their school’s accessibility professionals, to find solutions. For instance, schools may need to provide lesson content through email.

Accessible Slides, Audio, and Video

When teachers present lessons in-person, they often use slides, audio, or video. Moreover, teachers should have experience making these formats accessible to learners of all abilities. For instance, students who do not process visual information may not be able to read slides. Instead, they will rely on the spoken words of the lecture. Alternatively, they may find other ways to access visual elements of the lesson, such as:

For instance, a teacher may reproduce them in an accessible format, such as Braille or large print.

In contrast, learners who do not process audio information may not hear a lecture or the sound on a video. Instead, they will rely on the text and images on the slides. Alternatively, they may access information through communication supports, such as Sign language interpretation or real-time captioning.

As teachers turn their in-person lectures into online lessons, schools and school boards must ensure that all students can continue to receive the support they need to access lesson content. For instance, students may connect to a Sign language interpreter remotely. Likewise, teachers can create detailed verbal descriptions of visual elements.

Exercises and Tests

In addition, schools and school boards should ensure that the online versions of class activities and tests are accessible to all students. For instance, educators should avoid activities that rely on seeing, hearing, or moving and clicking a mouse. Types of exercises to avoid include questions that ask learners to:

  • Choose one item in a picture
  • Identify a sound
  • Click and drag items on the screen to move them around

There are easy ways to avoid these kinds of questions. Educators can:

  • include lists of choices and ask students to select all that apply
  • use buttons screen readers recognize, such as radio buttons or checkboxes

A range of question types, such as multiple choice, true or false, check-all-that-apply, and short-answer, can provide variety while remaining accessible.

Accessible online learning in the COVID-19 pandemic should be available for learners of all abilities. There are many things schools, school boards, and teachers can do to make online courses that everyone can learn from.




Source link

Accessible Remote Work in the COVID-19 Pandemic


As Ontarians continue social distancing in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, workplaces are encouraging people to work from home. In addition, some workplaces are providing workers with the technology they need to do their jobs at home. For many Ontario workers, remote work may be a new and strange experience. However, some workers with disabilities already benefit from the accommodation of remote work. Employers who already accommodate employees who work remotely may have an advantage as they extend the same accommodation to non-disabled workers. Workers and employers with previous remote work experience may be able to offer best practices for accessible remote work in the COVID-19 pandemic.

Accessible Remote Work in the COVID-19 Pandemic

When the world is healthy, working from home is useful or preferable for some workers, but not for everyone. Likewise, remote work is usually helpful for some workers with disabilities, but not others. Nonetheless, remote work can be a valuable accommodation for many reasons, such as:

  • Enhanced focus in quiet locations
  • Physical barriers in the workplace

Alternatively, some people may work part of the time from home and come to their workplace for specific job tasks. This is another accommodation that may increase the health and safety of workers who need to be on the worksite for part but not all of the day during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The accommodation of remote work ensures that people can continue to earn their living and use their skills to help colleagues. Remote work also helps people keep busy and gives them a reason to interact with others despite physical isolation. These benefits have allowed many remote workers in the past, with or without disabilities, to thrive at work. Now, this useful option has become a necessity throughout the province. Here are a few best practices for accessible remote work in the COVID-19 pandemic.

Best Practices

Remote workers can easily miss the social benefits of working and of being part of a team. In a traditional worksite set-up, workers greet each other when they walk in together and wish each other a good evening when they all leave. They chat and get to know each other when they work in the same space and they keep each other posted about major and minor life events. Now that workers are avoiding in-person contact, they may miss this level of social interaction with colleagues. However, workers can find ways to have that same interaction at a distance. For instance, they can extend any Skype meetings or conference calls they have arranged. Remote workers can then stay online for a few extra minutes and chat. When conference calling is not a good option, workers may set up departmental email threads, group chats, or group texts. Having these channels open throughout the workday creates an atmosphere where colleagues can casually turn to each other and ask questions, point things out, or share jokes and stories just as they would when in the same physical space.

Workplaces that try one or more of these strategies should find that morale is boosted during this difficult time. In this way, all people can do their best work while also feeling valued and supported socially.




Source link

Incentives for Housing Accessibility


In the third review of the AODA, the Honourable David Onley recommends needed improvements to the Act. One of these improvements is the need for housing that is accessible for people with disabilities. Currently, there are no AODA standards that require houses and apartments to be accessible. Most housing developers do not think about the needs of people with disabilities when they build living spaces. Instead, they assume that everyone living in the spaces they design can use features like stairs and narrow doorways. As a result, there is a shortage of accessible housing. Therefore, Onley’s review recommends that the government should create an AODA standard for housing. In addition, the review recommends that the government create incentives for housing accessibility.

Incentives for Housing Accessibility

During the public meetings Onley held while preparing his review, attendees outline barriers they have encountered in inaccessible housing. For instance, some common barriers in houses and apartments are:

  • Steps without ramps, elevators, or lifts
  • Lack of automatic or push-button doors at apartment-building entrances
  • Narrow entrances, doorways, or hallways
  • No accessible Parking in apartment buildings or condominiums
  • Bathrooms without room for people in wheelchairs to turn around
  • Counters, cabinets, and other fixtures too high for people to access from their wheelchairs

For example, people sometimes live in houses where bathrooms are too small for their wheelchairs. As a result, they cannot use the bathrooms in their own homes independently. Furthermore, many people must live in these conditions for ten years or more, because of the accessible housing shortage. Although new houses and apartments are built every year, few of them are accessible. In addition, when houses are built accessibly, they are not always affordable. Therefore, Onley’s review recommends rules and incentives for housing accessibility.

Rules for Accessibility in New Housing

Onley’s review recommends that the barrier-free requirements of the Ontario Building Code should apply to living spaces. Moreover, review attendees suggest that a certain percentage of new living spaces should be accessible. For instance, in a new apartment building, a certain percentage of the apartments should be barrier-free. Likewise, a certain percentage of the houses in a subdivision should also be built without barriers. These requirements would ensure that people with accessibility needs have places to live that meet those needs. In addition, attendees suggest that living spaces should be built in ways that allow accessible features to be easily added later. For example, someone who gains a disability as they age may need an elevator in their home.

Furthermore, the review recommends tax deductions for the sale or land transfer of buildings or subdivisions offering accessible housing. These deductions will encourage developers to include accessible living spaces in new apartment buildings or subdivisions.

Incentives for Retrofitting Existing Housing

To meet the need of retrofitting existing houses for accessibility, Onley’s review recommends grants and tax incentives. For instance, the review mentions that twenty years ago, the government offered grants for people to add accessible features to their homes. This grant program allowed people to buy inaccessible houses and make the changes needed to live in them independently. Furthermore, older adults who gained disabilities could make their houses accessible and remain living in their homes. Therefore, the review recommends that the government should offer this home renovation program again. In addition, owners of rental properties should have access to similar funding to make their properties accessible to tenants with disabilities.




Source link

Retrofitting Buildings


In the third review of the AODA, the Honourable David Onley recommends needed improvements to the Act. One of these improvements is the need to remove many barriers in buildings throughout Ontario. Currently, the barrier-free requirements in the Ontario Building Code only apply to new or renovated buildings. Similarly, the Aoda’s Design of Public Spaces Standards apply only to spaces that are new or being redeveloped. As a result, these legal limitations mean that older buildings and spaces are closed or unwelcoming to people with certain disabilities. However, incentives for retrofitting buildings can encourage accessibility by making retrofitting buildings more affordable.

Incentives for Retrofitting Buildings are Needed

During the public meetings Onley held while preparing his review, attendees outlined the many barriers they have encountered in buildings. For example, some of these barriers are:

In addition, some cities have bylaws forbidding businesses from installing ramps that stick out onto sidewalks. All these barriers send the message that these building owners do not want people with disabilities to use their spaces. Many business owners may not intend to send this message. On the contrary, they may wish to welcome workers, customers, clients, or visitors with disabilities. However, they may find that retrofitting is more costly or complicated than making a new building accessible. Nonetheless, inaccessibility is just as time-consuming and inconvenient for people with disabilities. Furthermore, the growing number of people who have disabilities will choose to work or do business in a place where they feel welcome. Therefore, Onley’s review recommends that the Ontario Building Code must create rules and incentives for retrofitting buildings.

Rules for Retrofitting Buildings

Under the AODA, businesses must comply with standards unless complying would create “undue hardship”. In other words, businesses must remove barriers unless the cost is high enough to put the company out of business. If the company has enough money to stay in business after removing a barrier, the company must remove it. Onley’s review states that the undue hardship rule may not be suitable for barriers in buildings. For instance, the government would need a process to determine what “financial hardship” means for every organization. Moreover, the process would also need to include rules about granting businesses more time to remove barriers. Therefore, Onley’s review recommends that the revised Building Code use a different measure for requiring businesses to retrofit buildings.

For instance, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requires that businesses remove building barriers when doing so is “readily achievable”. In other words, when American businesses can remove barriers with little cost or difficulty, they must remove them. In addition, the ADA includes a list of ways to remove barriers that most businesses can afford, such as:

  • Ramps
  • Curb cuts
  • Raised markings on elevator buttons
  • Widened doors and washroom stalls

Therefore, Onley’s review recommends that when the Ontario government mandates building retrofits, it should use the “readily achievable” limit. Moreover, the previous review of the AODA, in 2014, made a similar recommendation. In other words, Ontarians with disabilities have waited at least six years for a way to retrofit buildings affordably.

Tax Incentives for Retrofitting Buildings

In addition, Onley’s review also recommends tax incentives for retrofitting buildings. Again, the review recommends that Ontario base these incentives on a system of business tax credits and tax deductions that the United States has implemented. In this system, businesses can receive tax credits to fund part of the cost of removing barriers in buildings. Furthermore, businesses can receive tax deductions every year when they remove barriers.

Furthermore, Onley’s review also notes that other provinces have systems in place to fund barrier removal in buildings. For example, British Columbia provides grants of twenty thousand dollars ($20,000) or less to businesses retrofitting their buildings for accessibility. Similarly, Nova Scotia will fund two-thirds of the cost of a renovation project under fifty thousand dollars ($50,000). Onley’s review recommends that Ontario government departments work together to create a system of tax incentives as soon as possible. Moreover, both previous reviews of the AODA, in 2010 and 2014, have made a similar recommendation. In other words, Ontarians with disabilities have waited at least ten years for tax incentives to remove building barriers.

Finally, Onley’s review recommends offering similar tax incentives to entrepreneurs who develop ways to remove barriers. For example, the Stop Gap Foundation provides ramps for businesses with one step leading to their front doors. Tax incentives could encourage further entrepreneurship and offset costs for more barrier removal.




Source link

Stronger AODA Standards Governing Buildings


In the third review of the AODA, the Honourable David Onley recommends needed improvements to the Act. One of these improvements is the need for stronger AODA standards mandating accessibility in buildings and public spaces. During the public meetings Onley held while preparing his review, attendees outline how weak building accessibility is today. Therefore, Onley’s review recommends stronger AODA standards governing buildings and public spaces.

Stronger AODA Standards Governing Buildings and Public Spaces are Needed

Onley’s review states that many new buildings in Ontario are not accessible. Instead, these buildings are full of physical and information barriers, including:

  • Lack of elevators
  • No ramps or railings
  • Weak colour contrast
  • Incorrect Braille on signs

For example, the review describes a new Student Learning Centre at Ryerson University in Toronto. According to Ryerson’s Vice-President of Equity, building designers constructed the centre “for style and less for accessibility”.

Onley’s review states that all new buildings in Ontario should be accessible for all people to enter and use. In other words, it should not be possible for a new Ontario building designer to create a building full of barriers. However, Onley’s review also states that the Ontario Building Code’s current barrier-free requirements do not prevent enough accessibility barriers. As a result, the review recommends changes to strengthen these requirements, as well as the AODA’s Design of Public Spaces Standards.

Strengthening the Ontario Building Code

Onley’s review points out that the AODA’s Design of Public Spaces Standards undergo a review process every five years. In this process, a standards development committee examines the current standard and decides whether it is achieving its goals. If the standard is not achieving its goals, the committee recommends changes to the standard. In other words, if the Design of Public Spaces Standards leave too many barriers in place, they are strengthened.

In contrast, the barrier-free design requirements of the Ontario Building Code do not undergo a review process. Therefore, the Code’s requirements continue to allow designers to create buildings full of barriers. For this reason, Onley’s review recommends that the Code’s barrier-free design requirements should undergo the AODA review process. Moreover, the previous review of the AODA, in 2014, made a similar recommendation. In other words, Ontarians with disabilities have waited at least six years for the government to implement this process.

Similarly, review attendees state that when the government created the Ontario Building Code’s barrier-free requirements, it did not consult people with disabilities. Therefore, attendees suggest that when the government revises these requirements, it must work with people who have disabilities. These people can help lawmakers understand the types of barriers that buildings can contain and how to prevent them. For example, lawmakers could learn about barriers that impact people who have:

  • Mental health disabilities
  • Learning disabilities
  • Sensory disabilities

Coordinating with Other Levels of Government

In addition, review attendees mention strong standards for buildings and public spaces that already exist in Ontario cities and around the world. For instance, Toronto, Brantford, and London have all developed municipal guidelines for accessible building features and public spaces, including:

  • Offices
  • Places of worship
  • Courthouses
  • Swimming pools
  • Balconies, porches, and terraces
  • Windows

Toronto and Brantford outline more accessibility guidelines for places like:

  • Libraries
  • Cafeterias
  • Residential kitchens

Toronto’s guidelines include additional provisions for accessible:

  • Restaurants
  • Snow removal
  • Mail boxes
  • Traffic islands

Consequently, Ontario could work with these and other cities to develop stronger AODA standards governing buildings and public spaces. Likewise, Ontario could also work with the federal and other provincial governments to coordinate new accessibility laws  for buildings. If cities, provinces, and the country have the same strong standards, all designers would know how to create buildings that all people can use. Alternatively, Ontario could begin developing its own strong standards that other governments could learn from.

Strengthening the AODA’s Design of Public Spaces Standards

Finally, review attendees mention another difference between the Ontario Building Code and the Design of Public Spaces Standards. While the Code requires designs to be approved before construction begins, the Standards do not. As a result, it is easy for barriers designed in a public space to become part of the built space. Therefore, Onley’s review recommends that the government should consider creating a process to approve designs of public spaces to remove accessibility barriers before building. This recommendation also appeared in the previous review of the AODA, six years ago.




Source link

Creating More AODA Standards


In the third review of the AODA, the Honourable David Onley recommends needed improvements to the Act. One of these improvements is the need for more AODA standards. In addition, the review recommends that the government update the General Provisions of the Integrated Accessibility Standards Regulation (IASR). During the public meetings Onley held while preparing his review, attendees outlined the need for creating more AODA standards and updating general ones.

Creating More AODA Standards

Onley’s review states that the AODA has the goal of making Ontario accessible by 2025. To date, there are only five sectors of the economy with standards outlining what accessibility means for those sectors. The sectors are:

In addition, committees are developing standards for two more sectors: healthcare and education. In contrast, many other sectors do not yet have standards. To reach its goal of full accessibility in the province by 2025, the AODA needs to have more standards. As a result, Onley’s review recommends that the government consult the public about sectors that most need standards. Moreover, this government consultation must include people with disabilities, who will know what sectors will most benefit from standards.

Furthermore, review attendees name some of the sectors they believe should have standards. For example, some of these sectors are:

  • Residential Housing
  • Politics and Elections
  • Sports and Recreation
  • Tourism
  • Goods and Products

After the government chooses new sectors for standards, it must create a standards development committee for each standard.

Updating General AODA Standards

In addition, Onley’s review states that all the AODA’s existing standards receive regular reviews from committees. In contrast, the General Provisions of the IASR have not received reviews. The General Provisions outline requirements that organizations from all sectors must follow. Under these requirements, organizations must:

Furthermore, all public-sector organizations and large private organizations must:

Moreover, all public-sector organizations must also:

  • Include accessibility design, criteria, or features when procuring goods, services, or facilities
  • Design, procure, or acquire accessible self-service kiosks

Therefore, Onley’s review recommends that the government begin the overdue review of these important requirements. Moreover, the previous review of the AODA, in 2014, made a similar recommendation. In other words, Ontarians with disabilities have waited at least six years for updates to these requirements.

More Updates for the AODA’s General Requirements

Furthermore, the previous review of the AODA suggests that updated requirements should mandate accessibility plans focusing on barrier removal. Currently, many organizations write accessibility plans that focus on preventing new barriers. However, this type of plan allows them to leave existing barriers in place. In contrast, the requirement to plan barrier removal would show organizations that they should become as accessible as possible. In addition, review attendees suggest that the requirement for accessibility plans should apply to small private organizations.

Similarly, the requirement to procure accessible goods, services, and facilities should apply to private organizations as well as public ones. Moreover, the current version of this requirement is easy for organizations to avoid following. The requirement states that organizations can decide that including accessibility in goods, services, or facilities will not be “practicable”. When an organization makes this decision, it does not need to consider how to design or procure goods, services, or facilities that are accessible. However, the requirement does not explain what “practicable” means, or how an organization should decide whether accessibility is “practicable”. As a result, an organization can easily choose not to consider accessibility when buying or creating goods, services, and facilities.

To solve this problem, attendees suggest expanding this requirement by removing the statement about deciding that accessibility is not practicable. Alternatively, the requirement could include guidelines to help organizations understand what “practicable” means, or help them find ways to make accessibility practicable.




Source link

Updating the Information and Communications Standards


In the third review of the AODA, the Honourable David Onley recommends needed improvements to the Act. One of these improvements is the need for updating the Information and Communications Standards. During the public meetings Onley held while preparing his review, attendees state that the existing standards do not make current technology accessible. As a result, the standards must address the accessibility of new ways that people access information.

Updating the Information and Communications Standards

Currently, the Information and Communications Standards address many important ways of making information accessible to people with disabilities. For instance, the standards include rules about providing:

However, attendees at Onley’s public meetings state that the standards’ website requirements are out of date. The standards will require public-sector organizations, and large private-sector organizations, to make their web content accessible by January 2021. Organizations must do so by complying with Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG 2.0), level AA. However, version 2.0 of these guidelines was created in 2008. As a result, this version of the guidelines does not help make modern technology, such as phone apps, accessible. Onley’s review explains that a new version of these guidelines, version 2.1, was released in 2018. The updated version includes guidelines about:

  • Making websites accessible on mobile devices
  • Web accessibility for people with:
    • Cognitive disabilities
    • Learning disabilities
    • Low vision

Therefore, the review recommends that the Standards require organizations to comply with this updated version of the guidelines. Alternatively, attendees suggest that the Standards require organizations to comply with the most up-to-date WCAG guidelines. This change would mean that the Standards would not have to update this requirement every time a new version of the guidelines is released. In addition, the Information and Communications Standards Development Committee is creating a process to help organizations remain accessible online. This process should support organizations as they adapt to ongoing technology changes while maintaining web accessibility. Consequently, Onley’s review recommends that the government consider making this process part of the updated Information and Communications Standards.

More Updates to the Information and Communications Standards

Furthermore, attendees also state that organizations do not understand how to implement current WCAG guidelines. For instance, workers do not know how to create accessible documents using the programs available in their offices. Likewise, workers do not know how to present visual elements, like maps, in accessible ways. In addition, people have different ideas about what it means to comply with guidelines. Therefore, attendees suggest that the government implement training for people to learn how WCAG applies to their organizations. For instance, the review states that the Enabling Change Program has helped develop courses on this topic. Therefore, the government could offer these courses regularly or develop them further.

Similarly, attendees state that organizations do not have enough awareness about how to provide accessible formats and communication supports. For instance, attendees find that many government communications and processes are not accessible, including:

  • Program intake forms
  • Government social media pages and online discussion forums
  • The Ontario Disability Support Program’s process for reporting earnings

In addition, organizations in the public and private sectors should know more about communicating with people who are:

  • Deaf
  • Hard of hearing
  • Deafblind

The government could increase awareness by updating the Information and Communications Standards and mandating more extensive AODA training.




Source link

Further Development of Education Standards and Healthcare Standards


In the third review of the AODA, the Honourable David Onley recommends needed improvements to the Act. One of these improvements is the need for further development of education standards and healthcare standards. During the public meetings Onley held while preparing his review, the government had postponed work on these AODA standards. Therefore, Onley’s review recommended that the government allow the standards development committees creating these standards to continue their work. Currently, these committees have resumed their work creating education and healthcare standards.

Further Development of Education Standards and Healthcare Standards

The AODA does not yet have an education standard or a healthcare standard. However, two committees have been created to recommend what an education standard should include. One committee will find barriers facing students from kindergarten to grade twelve. It will then recommend how an education standard should remove those barriers. In contrast, the other committee will find barriers facing students in university and college. It will then recommend how a standard can support these students. Similarly, a third committee has been created to recommend what a healthcare standard should include. At the time of Onley’s review, the Ontario government had paused the work of all three committees. However, the government has now allowed further development of education standards and healthcare standards. Nonetheless, Onley’s review has more recommendations for the government to better support these three committees. Now that the committees have resumed their work, they can implement the suggestions that Onley’s review recommends.

Recommendations for Education and Healthcare Standards Development Committees

For instance, the review discusses a new education policy from the Ontario Human Rights Commission. This policy indicates many accessibility barriers in the education system. Therefore, Onley recommends that the education standards committees address these barriers through the standards they develop. Moreover, addressing these barriers will help connect the AODA to the Ontario Human Rights Code.

Furthermore, Onley’s review states that the government advised the healthcare standards development committee to address barriers in hospitals. However, this type of mandate means that barriers would continue in other healthcare settings, such as:

  • Doctors’ offices
  • Walk-in clinics
  • Wellness centres
  • Pharmacies
  • Labs
  • Health regulatory colleges

Therefore, Onley’s review recommends that the healthcare standard address barriers throughout the healthcare sector.

Finally, Onley’s review recommends that all three committees introduce best practices for workers in both sectors. These best practices could support education and healthcare workers to make their fields more accessible. Moreover, best practices can reach the public before standards, because they take less time to develop than standards. As a result, workers in both fields can start implementing best practices while they are waiting for the standards. Onley’s review states that the terms of reference for both committees allow them to recommend best practices. Therefore, Onley’s review advises the committees to do so, to allow further development of education standards and healthcare standards.




Source link

Accessibility in Professional Training


In the third review of the AODA, the Honourable David Onley recommends needed improvements to the Act. One of these improvements is the need to help professionals, such as architects or interior designers, create more accessible products. During public meetings Onley held while preparing his review, attendees requested that the government mandate more focus on accessibility in professional training.

Accessibility in Professional Training

Onley’s review states that many types of professionals should learn more about accessibility during the courses they take to qualify in their fields. For instance, some of these professionals are:

  • Architects
  • Urban planners
  • Landscapers
  • Interior designers
  • Information or communications professionals
  • Educators
  • Healthcare workers
  • Engineers
  • Marketing professionals

In earlier articles, we have explored how more training could help educators teach students with disabilities, and work with them outside the classroom. Likewise, we have discussed the need for more training of other workers, such as:

Similarly, other professionals should be prepared to serve all people, including people with disabilities. Therefore, the professional schools that qualify them in their fields should include courses or modules on accessible design.

Accessibility Training for Architects

For instance, when architects design buildings or public spaces, anyone should be able to move through them. Some AODA review attendees state that when architects design spaces with physical barriers, they discriminate against people with disabilities. Therefore, architects should know how to design spaces and buildings without barriers. They should learn about design features that create barriers, such as narrow hallways. In addition, they should also learn about design features that improve accessibility, such as contrasting colours and textures. In addition, they could learn about designing with the dignity of all people in mind. For instance, they could understand that an accessible main entrance allows all people to use the front door. In contrast, an accessible back entrance means that some visitors may always need to search for a useable door. Moreover, this set-up sends the message that people without disabilities are more valued than people with disabilities.

Accessibility Training for Information and Communications Professionals

Likewise, communications professionals should also have accessibility training, so that all people can read the information they create. For example, they should be aware of Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0, which ensure that website content and layouts are accessible. They could also learn about the consequences of inaccessible web design on people’s independence. For instance, they could discover that if a website’s check-out process is not accessible, customers have to reveal banking information that should be confidential. With this knowledge, communication professionals can reach and show respect for everyone in their target audiences.

Onley’s review suggests that the government mandate accessibility in professional training by requiring modules or courses about accessible design. In this way, people could only qualify in their fields if they knew how to make their designs or services accessible to everyone. New graduates would know, at the start of their careers, how to serve people of all abilities. Likewise, the review suggests that universities and colleges with professional schools could only receive government funding if their programs included accessibility. Finally, review attendees also suggest required professional development for people in mid-career. These modules or courses would ensure that practicing professionals add accessibility to their existing areas of expertise.




Source link