Send Us Feedback on the Draft AODA Alliance Framework for the Health Care Accessibility Standard


And–Results of The December 3 Celebration of the 25th Birthday of the Grassroots AODA Movement

Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance Update United for a Barrier-Free Society for All People with Disabilities http://www.aodaalliance.org [email protected] Twitter: @aodaalliance

December 5, 2019

SUMMARY

After a very busy year, this may be our last AODA Alliance Update until the New Year. It is full of important news for you.

We thank one and all for your ongoing support for and help with our campaign for accessibility for people with disabilities. We wish one and all a safe and happy holiday season and a barrier-free new year!

1. Send Us Feedback on Our Draft of an AODA Alliance Proposed Framework for the Promised Health Care Accessibility Standard

We have made public a draft of an important brief. We want your feedback on it before we finalize it. This time, we are focusing on disability accessibility barriers in the health care system.

The Ontario Government is working on developing a Health Care Accessibility Standard under the AODA. It would address barriers in the health care system that patients with disabilities and their support people with disabilities face in the health care system. The Health Care Standards Development Committee is developing recommendations for the Ontario Government on what the Health Care Accessibility Standard should include.

To help the Health Care Standards Development Committee with this work, we plan to send it an AODA Alliance Proposed Framework for the Health Care Accessibility Standard. We have written a 24-page draft of this Framework. We are eager for your feedback. This draft is the result of a great deal of work. It builds on feedback that our supporters have shared with us. We’ve gotten tremendous help from the ARCH Disability Law Centre and from a wonderful team of volunteers who are law students at the Osgoode Hall Law School.

Please download and read our draft of this Proposed Framework for the Health Care Accessibility Standard. You can download it in an accessible MS Word format by visiting https://www.aodaalliance.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/12/Dec-2-2019-AODA-Alliance-Draft-of-Proposed-Framework-for-Health-Care-Accessibility-Standard.docx

Send us your feedback by December 20, 2019 by emailing us at [email protected]

Also, please encourage your friends and family members to share their feedback with us. We aim to use that feedback to finalize this Proposed Framework for the Health Care Accessibility Standard and submit it to the Ontario Government and the Health Care Standards Development Committee in early January 2020.

Here are the headings in this draft Framework:

1. What Should the Long-term Objectives of the Health Care Accessibility Standard Be?

2. A Vision of An Accessible Health Care System

3. General provisions that the Health Care Accessibility Standard Should Include

4. The Right of Patients with Disabilities and Their Support People with Disabilities to Know about The Health Care Services Available to Them, about Available Disability-Related Supports and Accommodations, about Important Information Regarding Their Diagnosis and Treatment, and How to Access Them

5. The Right of Patients and Their Support People with Disabilities to Get to Health Care Services

6. The Right of Patients and Their Support People with Disabilities to Get into and Around Facilities Where Health Care Services are Provided

7. The Right of Patients and Their Support People with Disabilities to Accessible Furniture and Floor Plans in Health Care Facilities

8. The Right of Patients with Disabilities to Identify their Disability-Related Accessibility Needs in Advance and Request Accessibility/Accommodation from a Health Care Provider or Facility

9. The Right of Patients with Disabilities to Accessible Diagnostic and Treatment Equipment

10. The Right of Patients with Disabilities to the Privacy of Their Health Care Information

11. The Right of Patients with Disabilities and Support People with Disabilities to Accessible Information and Communication in Connection with Health Care

12. The Right of Patients with Disabilities to the Support Services They Need to Access Health Care Services

13. The Right of Patients and their Support People with Disabilities to Health Care Providers Free from Knowledge and Attitude Barriers Regarding Disabilities

14. The Right of Patients and Support People with Disabilities to Accessible Complaint Processes at Health Care Providers’ Self-Governing Colleges and To Have Those Colleges Ensure that the Profession They Regulate Are Trained to Meet the Needs of Patients with Disabilities

15. The Right of Patients with Disabilities to Systemic Action and Safeguards to Remove and Prevent Barriers in Ontario’s Health Care System

16. The Need to Harness the Experience and Expertise of People with Disabilities Working in the Health Care System, To Expedite the Removal and Prevention of Barriers Facing Patients and Their Support People with Disabilities

2. A Very Successful Day to Celebrate the 25th Anniversary of the Grassroots AODA Movement at the Ontario Legislature on December 3, 2019

On Tuesday, December 3, 2019, the International Day of People with Disabilities, we had a very successful day at Queen’s Park to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the birth of the grassroots movement for the enactment and implementation of strong accessibility legislation in Ontario.

Our 10 a.m. news conference went very well. We are working on getting it posted online. It yielded a detailed article in the December 3, 2019 edition of QP Briefing, an influential news publication about issues at Queen’s Park. We set that article out below.

From 4 to 6 pm, the big birthday party for the grassroots AODA movement was a huge success. Some 200 people signed up to attend. There was also a great turnout of MPPs from all the political parties.

Both the 25th anniversary of the AODA movement and the International Day of People with Disabilities were mentioned several times in the Legislature. Below we set out four key excerpts from the Legislature’s official transcript, called “Hansard.”

Meanwhile, the partying is over and the work must continue. As of today, there have now been 308 days since the Ford Government received the final report of the Independent Review of the AODA’s implementation prepared by former Lieutenant Governor David Onley. The Government did not take the opportunity on December 3 to finally announce a comprehensive plan to implement the Onley Report. This is so even though a spokesperson for Premier Ford’s Accessibility Minister is quoted in the QP Briefing article below as stating that accessibility for people with disabilities is a “top priority.” We are still waiting.

MORE DETAILS

QP Briefing December 3, 2019

On International Day of Persons with Disabilities, advocate says Ontario “nowhere near close” to accessibility goal

Sneh Duggal

Disability advocateDavid Lepofskywarned Ontario is “not on schedule” to meet its goal of becoming fully accessible by 2025 as people across the globe marked the International Day of Persons with Disabilities on Dec. 3.

“That was ambitious, but doable,” Lepofsky said of the goal that is outlined in theAccessibility for Ontarians with DisabilitiesAct, legislation that was passed in 2005.”With just over five years left, we’re not on schedule, we’re nowhere near close.”
The legislation called on the province to develop, implement and enforce accessibility standards “in order to achieveaccessibility for Ontarians with disabilities with respect to goods, services, facilities, accommodation, employment, buildings, structures and premises on or before January 1, 2025.”
The province’s former lieutenant governorDavid Onleywas tasked with reviewing the implementation of the AODA and said in a report tabled earlier this year that the “promised accessible Ontario is nowhere in sight.”

“There’s no question we’ve made progress, but nowhere near the progress we need and nowhere near the progress the law guaranteed to us,” said Lepofsky, who is chair of an advocacy group called the AODA Alliance.

Lepofsky was at Queen’s Park on Tuesday to discuss accessibility issues in the province, although his media availability took on a slightly different format. He was joined byLaura Kirby-McIntosh, president of the Ontario Autism Coalition, who fired numerous questions at Lepofsky about his years of work advocating for people with disabilities. The AODA Alliance also marked the 25th anniversary of the movement its chair helped spearhead on the “enactment and effective implementation of accessibility legislation in Ontario” with a celebration at Queen’s Park.

During his fireside chat with Kirby-McIntosh, Lepofsky noted that barriers remain in many areas for people with disabilities.

“This is a province where many of our buildings are ones that are hard to get into and hard to get around, our public transit systems are full of accessibility barriers,” he said. Lepofsky said the education system meant to serve all students “treats students with disabilities as second-class citizens,” and that the health-care system is “full of barriers” such as getting accessible information about a diagnosis, treatment or medication.

Lepofsky said while the provincial government had a good start at trying to implement the legislation after it was passed in 2005 until about 2011, progress started to slow down “to a virtual snail’s pace.”

“And the new government ofDoug Ford, rather than speed things up, slowed things down,” Lepofsky said. He said while he appreciates statements of support from the government, “this province right now has no plan and this current government has no plan to get us to full accessibility by 2025.”

As part of the implementation of the AODA, various committees were struck and tasked with proposing standards that could be turned into regulation in areas like transportation and customer service.

Lepofsky criticized the Progressive Conservative government for “months of delay” in getting some of the committee work underway. He’s involved in one of the committees and said work is being done.

RaymondCho,the minister responsible for seniors and accessibility, said earlier this year that the government had resumed the Employment Standards Development Committee and the Information and Communications Standards Development Committee last fall.

“I am proud to say that these committees have already met and completed their work,” the minister said at the time.

He said the government also resumed the education and health standard development committees in March, and that the chairs “have been engaged with the ministry and are working to develop new work-plans.”

In response to a query during question period from NDP MPPLisa Gretzkyabout when the government would put forward a “comprehensive plan to improve the lives of people living with disabilities,” Cho thanked Onley for his report and pinned some blame on the previous Liberal government.

“The previous government had 14 years to improve the AODA. Mr. Onley said in his report that they did so little,” Cho said on Tuesday.

“The government knows that a lot of work needs to be done to make Ontario accessible for everyone. Making Ontario accessible is a journey. This government will continue to take an all-of-government approach to tearing down barriers,” he said.

Pooja Parekh,Cho’s spokesperson, said the government sees accessibility as a “top priority.” A lot of work needs to be done to make Ontario accessible for everyone, and it cannot be completed overnight,” Parekh said. “A key part of this journey includes recognizing that there are 2.6 million people in the province that have a disability.”

She pointed to provincial initiatives focused on accessibility such as the EnAbling Change Program, which funds not-for-profit disability and industry associations “to develop practical tools and guides to help communities and businesses understand the benefits of accessibility.”

“As well, families will experience clearer and more transparent processes when requesting service animals accompany their children to school, no matter where they live in Ontario,” Parekh noted. “The updated elementary Health and Physical Education curriculum reflects the diversity of Ontario students of all abilities.”

In May, NDP MPPJoel Hardenproposed a motion in the House calling on the government to “release a plan of action on accessibility in response toDavid Onley’s review of theAccessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act(AODA) that includes, but is not limited to, a commitment to implement new standards for the built environment, stronger enforcement of the Act, accessibility training for design professionals, and an assurance that public money is never again used to create new accessibility barriers.” The motion was struck down by the government.

Speaking just before question period on Tuesday, Lepofsky said he wants to see the provincial government develop a roadmap “on how to get us to full accessibility” and ensure that the government “doesn’t make things worse.”

“We want them to adopt a strategy now to ensure that public money is never used to create new barriers,” he said.

Lepofsky also raised concerns about policies that he feels could post a threat to the safety of those with disabilities. He pointed to the government’s recent announcement to launch a pilot project that would let municipalities allow the use of electric scooters.

He said a priority for him going forward will be on “making sure that the current provincial government doesn’t create a new series of barriers to our accessibility and our personal safety.”

Meanwhile, earlier on Tuesday, the NDP and disability advocates called on the government to boost funding for adults with disabilities, with Gretzky saying the province is facing a “crisis in developmental services.”

Christine Wood, press secretary for Minister of Children, Community and Social ServicesTodd Smith, said the province is providing $2.57 billion in annual funding for developmental services. Wood previously noted that”adults with developmental disabilities may be eligible for funding from the Ontario Disability Support Program and the Passport program.

The Passport program provides funding to adults with a development disability for community classes, hiring a support worker, respite for caregivers or developing skills. Wood noted that “the maximum annual funding an individual can receive through the Passport program is up to $40,250.”

But Gretzky said many young adults face a wait-list for the program and that not every individual receives the maximum amount of support. She said that individuals “fall through the gap” in terms of services when they turn 18.

“The biggest gap that families are facing now and individuals is the fact that they lose all supports and services once an individual celebrates an 18thbirthday,” said Gretzky, who introduced a private member’s bill about a year ago that aimed to address this issue. The bill passed second reading and was referred to committee in February.

“As soon as a person is deemed eligible for adult developmental services, they are automatically approved for $5000 in direct funding through the Passport program,” Wood said. “This allows people to purchase services and support. Following the completion of the developmental services application package, additional funding may be provided as it becomes available.”
She said Smith’s ministry works with the education ministry to provide “transition planning” for youth with disabilities who are transitioning to adulthood.

She also noted that since he took over this file, Smith has been “talking to families, adults with developmental disabilities and service providers about how our government can better serve those who depend on us.”

Excerpts from Ontario Hansard for December 3, 2019

Excerpt 1

Mr. Joel Harden: Today is the International Day of Persons with Disabilities, and we are very privileged in this House to be joined by some of our country’s leaders on that front. I want to mention the great David Lepofsky, who I just got back from a press conference with, Odelia Bay, and Sarah Jama. Thank you for all the work you do for our country, for our province, and for people with disabilities.

Excerpt 2

Hon. Raymond Sung Joon Cho: Today is the International Day of Persons with Disabilities. I would like to invite members to the reception hosted by the All Disability Network later this afternoon in room 228. More than 160 representatives from the disability community will celebrate the 25th anniversary of Ontario’s provincial accessibility legislation. I encourage all members to join me there.

Excerpt 3

Question Period

Assistance to persons with disabilities
Mr. Joel Harden: My question is to the Premier. Today is the international day for people with disabilities. Living with disabilities in Ontario is getting harder for them. This is a crisis, but the actions of this government so far have been to include a cutin halfto planned increases to the Ontario Disability Support Program, and take $1 billion out of the Ministry of Children, Community and Social Services. That has made life worse.

We know that there are 16,000 people waiting for supportive housing in Ontario. We know that people with disabilities experience higher rates of homelessness, violence, food insecurity and poverty. We know that from the time children with disabilities are born to the time they grow old, we’re failing them. We’re failing them right now, and we are failing their caregivers, who suffer from ritual burnout right across this province.

On this day, for the International Day of Persons with Disabilities, will this Premier keep making things worse, or will he finally turn this around and start making life better for people with disabilities?

Hon. Doug Ford: Minister of Children, Community and Social Services.

Hon. Todd Smith: Thanks to the member opposite for the question. It’s very important, particularly on this day. But every day, my ministry is working to ensure that we’re improving supports for those living with disabilities, including all of the types of disabilities that the member opposite mentioned. When it comes to developmental disabilities, we are looking into how we are delivering services to those in the DS sectorthe developmental services sectorto ensure that we get them what they need.

The previous government, for many, many years, didn’t improve supports for these individuals. That’s why we’re taking an approach where we’re looking across all of the different programs that are available. I’ve met with OASISand I know the members opposite were with OASIS when they were here last weekand Community Living and all those different organizations. As a matter of fact, I had a great meeting on Friday with Terri Korkush in my own riding. She is the executive director of Community Visions and Networking in the Quinte region.

There are many different models out there. We’re going to find the ones that work

The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Thank you very much.

Supplementary, the member for Windsor West.

Mrs. Lisa Gretzky: Back to the Premier: The fact of the matter is, there have been numerous studies and reports done. You have the Nowhere to Turn report done by the Ombudsman. You have the housing task force report that was put forward. You have the Deputy Premier, who sat on a select committee and made recommendations about the crisis for people with disabilities.

It’s time for you to actually act to help those people. On International Day of Persons with Disabilities, it is important to take stock of how we as a society support those living with a disability to lead full and happy lives. The reality is that living with a disability in Ontario is hard, and the government is not doing nearly enough to make life better for people living with disabilities. Wait times under the Assistive Devices Program, which helps people access things like hearing aids and wheelchairs, have ballooned to as much as six months under this Conservative government, and there is still no response to the Onley report, or any plan for Ontario to achieve full accessibility by 2025. In fact, this government is going backwards when it comes to accessibility.

When will this government put forward a real, comprehensive plan to improve the lives of people living with disabilities?

Hon. Todd Smith: Minister for Seniors and Accessibility.

Hon. Raymond Sung Joon Cho: I would like to thank the member for raising that question. But first of all, I would like to thank the Honourable David Onley once again for his work with the AODA review. The previous government had 14 years to improve the AODA. Mr. Onley said in his report that they did so little. When I tabled Mr. Onley’s report, I was very pleased to announce the return of the health and education SDCs, which was one of his recommendations.

The government knows that a lot of work needs to be done to make Ontario accessible for everyone. Making Ontario accessible is a journey. This government will continue to take an all-of-government approach to tearing down barriers.

Excerpt 4

Statements by the Ministry and Responses
International Day of Persons with Disabilities
Hon. Raymond Sung Joon Cho: I’m honoured to rise today to mark the United Nations International Day of Persons with Disabilities. Since 1992, countries around the world have observed December 3 as a time to raise awareness about accessibility.

In Ontario, 2.6 million people have a disability.

Mr. Speaker, in Ontario we continue on our journey to make our province accessible. Our government is committed to protecting what matters most to people with disabilities and their families. By helping to remove accessibility barriers, we are empowering everyone to drive their own futures on their own terms.

We are taking a cross-government approach towards accessibility. This includes working with partners in the disability community, business, not-for-profit and broader public sectors. Collaboration is key in making this happen. By working together, we’ll make a positive difference that will impact the daily lives of people with disabilities.

We are helping improve understanding and awareness about accessibility. For example, our EnAbling Change program provides funding to not-for-profit disability and industry associations to develop practical tools and guides to help communities and businesses understand the benefits of accessibility. Many of these free resources are available on a convenient web page at ontario.ca/accessiblebusiness.

One of the resources is a handbook called The Business of Accessibility: How to Make Your Main Street Business Accessibility Smart. It includes helpful tips to help businesses be welcoming to all customers.

When communities and businesses are accessible, everyone benefits. People with disabilities can take part in everyday life, and businesses gain potential talent, customers and higher profits.

As part of our government’s commitment to break down barriers in the built environment, we are providing $1.3 million to the Rick Hansen Foundation to help make buildings more accessible. This accessibility certification program will provide free accessibility ratings of 250 building over two years.

Just two months ago, we announced ways that Ontario is making its education system more accessible. For example, the updated elementary health and physical education curriculum reflects the diversity of Ontario students.

The K-12 and Post-Secondary Education Standards Development Committees resumed their work this fall to provide advice to government on addressing education barriers.

Also, the processes for families requesting service animals to accompany their child to school are clearer.

We’re providing $1.4 billion in funding for the 2019-20 school year to help school boards install accessibility features in learning environments.

Ontario is advancing accessibility. However, we know that a lot of work still needs to be done. It requires changing attitudes about disability.

As we recognize the International Day of Persons with Disabilities, I invite my MPP colleagues to join me as we work to bring positive change to the daily lives of people with disabilities.

The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Responses?

Mr. Joel Harden: This is an important day. This is the International Day for Persons with Disabilities. This is also the 25th anniversary, last Friday, of the accessibility movement in Ontario embodied in the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act.

I want to acknowledge at this moment, as the critic for people with disabilities in this province, that that act was created by sympathetic people in this chamber, pushed by disability rights activists in this province and around this country.

I want to salute in particular David Lepofsky, who is here, who is the current chair of the AODA Alliance. I also want to salute my friend Sarah Jama, who is here with the Disability Justice Network of Ontario, and who is one of this country’s tireless campaigners for disability rights.

I also want to salute the legacy of Gary Malkowski, who was part of the NDP government from 1990 to 1995, who was the first deaf parliamentarian in this space, and who championed the case brought in 1994 to have an act that was finally realized in 2005 with the AODA.

I want to salute people like Laura Kirby-McIntosh, her daughter, Clara McIntosh, and her partner, Bruce McIntosh. I want to salute Sherry Caldwell, with the Ontario Disability Coalition. I want to salute Sally Thomas and I want to salute Kenzie McCurdy, folks back in Ottawa Centre who have fought tirelessly to get people in our profession to pay attention to them so that it might get embodied in an act like the AODA.

But let me be perfectly clear: While we celebrate the AODA, we have to acknowledge, as Mr. Onley acknowledged in his latest report, that we are nowhere near meeting our AODA obligations. Let me be very clear: A $1.3-million investment to look into the building infrastructure of 250 buildings in this province is vastly short of what we need.

Speaker, I want us to ask ourselves how we would feel if we showed up for work in this place and there was a sign, real or imagined, that said, “You don’t get to come into this place today”because what Mr. Onley said in his report is that those signs, real or imagined, exist across this province. They exist for the dyslexic child right now who is sitting in a school somewhere in Ontario and who is being asked or compelled to write or learn in a way that is not accessible to her or to him. They exist right now for people who, as Sarah has mentioned so eloquently, cannot get life-essential devices for them for monthsfor monthswith the absolute gong show that is the Assistive Devices Program. Can you imagine, Speaker, what would happen to any one of us if crucial services essential for our lives spun around in circleswhich happens sometimes when power chairs malfunctionor if crucial devices that allow diabetics to live safely and monitor their insulin level weren’t available to us? What would people who are neurotypical or who are the so-called able-bodied have to say? We wouldn’t put up with it.

Let us be honest on this day for the elimination of all barriers: We do not have sufficient urgency. Who are we looking after? Let’s talk about that for a second.

We returned to this sitting of Parliament to find out that there were five new associate ministers created in this government, each of whom got a $22,000 pay increase. We found out that this government set in place an incentive structure for deputy ministers so that if they met their targets, they got a 14% pay increase. We found out that this government is constantly maintaining tax expenditures created under previous Liberal governments that allow people who are affluent to deduct things like Raptors tickets and Maple Leafs tickets as legitimate business expenses.

We are hemorrhaging hundreds of millions of dollars every year lavishing things upon the already affluent. That’s who Ontario currently serves. What can we spare for people with disabilities? Just $1.3 million; platitudes around education while people who are hurting, who are suffering, are not getting the essential things they need in life.

I want to name something as I close my remarks. This government, as were previous governments before it, is stuck in a charity model when they regard people with disabilities. They want to think that they’re compassionate if they do awareness days or if they do boutique announcements. People with disabilities don’t want our charity. They want solidarity. They want an equal opportunity to be themselves. “Free to be,” as the DJNO folks say: That’s what they want, what any of us would want. What it requires is for us to use the resources of this province fairly and make sure that when we talk about people with disabilities, we empower them to be their fullest selves and we do not create a disabling society.

Mr. John Fraser: It’s a pleasure to speak on the International Day of Persons with Disabilities. We’re encouraged to reflect on how persons with disabilities participate in society and how we evaluate the barriers that lay in front of them. It’s an opportunity to examine what we can do better to help integrate everybody to fully participate in our society in this province. We have a responsibility as legislators to better include all people in this province.

I want to stop now and tell a little story about a woman named Linda Smith. Linda Smith died about four years ago. She was an exceptional person. She lived in Ottawa and she touched the lives of many as a volunteer for politicians of every stripeand as you can imagine, in Ottawa, that’s a lot of politicians.

Linda had a developmental disability or, as I like to refer to it, an exceptionality. That exceptionality filled her with love and acceptance in abundance. She would often call our office several times a day just to check in, and more than one person has said to me, “You could be having an awful day, and Linda would call and you’d forget all your troubles.” She had that effect.

Linda was a regular at city council meetings, often sitting in the front row until the mayor recognized her. There’s a plaque at city hall now in honour of her. She loved to have her picture taken with everybody; it didn’t matter who. There are hundreds of pictures of her with all sorts of politicians from all over Canada, actually.

Linda would help out with any mundane task. I was thinking about it this year, because she loved to do Christmas cards, especially because it came with lunch: two slices of pizza, with one to take home, and a Pepsi.

She was great company. She loved strawberry milkshakes and ice cream.

Her exceptionality left her vulnerable, and she struggled with how people could be cruel, mean and thoughtless, although she was resilient and was always quick to forgive.

Linda was our friend, and we are the better for it. She had this ability to bring everybody together. It was really quite incredible, and we all miss her.

When I think of Linda, I try to understand what the world looked like through her eyes. I’ve never quite gotten to that point; I’ve seen some of that. As legislators, it’s not just for the Lindas of the world who have a developmental exceptionalitywhich also gives them a great gift, in another waybut there are people who have disabilities and exceptionalities that are different than that. We need to try to see the world through their eyes and understand the barriers that are in front of themwhether that’s a device they need to be healthy, as the member from Ottawa Centre said, or whether that’s access to a public building, access to a restaurant.

My eyes were opened when my father-in-law became wheelchair-bound and we tried to find a restaurant where we could get him in and out, with an accessible washroom. The definition of “accessible” is definitely different in many different places.

So our job is to see the world through their eyes and then make laws and investments with that in mind.

I really appreciate the opportunity to speak to this today, and all the members’ words in this House.

Let’s remember to try to see the world through their eyes.




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Disability Activists Mark a Quarter Century of Tenacious Advocacy for Accessibility for Over 2 Million Ontarians with Disabilities


ACCESSIBILITY FOR ONTARIANS WITH DISABILITIES ACT ALLIANCE
News Release – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

December 3, 2019 Toronto:

What does Ontario learn when two veteran disability rights advocates compare their approaches to tenacious non-partisan political activism on disability issues, especially when they do so on the International Day for People with Disabilities, and mark the 25th anniversary of the birth of the grassroots movement for strong provincial accessibility legislation?? At a Queens Park news conference this morning, AODA Alliance Chair David Lepofsky, leading this accessibility campaign, was interviewed by the highly-successful president of the Ontario Autism Coalition, Laura Kirby-McIntosh, that led the relentless campaign against the Ford Governments cuts to the Ontario Autism Program.

Even after a quarter century of tireless advocacy, over 2 million Ontarians with disabilities still face far too many unfair barriers when they try to get a job, ride public transit, get an education shop in stores, eat in restaurants or use public services like our health care system, said David Lepofsky, chair of the AODA Alliance, the non-partisan grassroots coalition that spearheads this accessibility campaign. He earlier chaired the predecessor coalition, the Ontarians with Disabilities Act Committee, that carried this torch from 1994 to 2005. After our first decade we won good accessibility legislation in 2005 that was passed unanimously. Initially, the former Liberal Government acted decisively to implement it. But since the 2011 summer, progress under three successive premiers ground down to a snails pace, with endless delays.

The 2005 Disabilities Act requires the Ontario Government to lead Ontario to full accessibility by 2025, by enacting and enforcing all the accessibility standards needed to show the way to full accessibility, for the public and private sectors. Yet the blistering report of a Government-appointed Independent Review of progress on disability accessibility conducted by former Lieutenant Governor David Onley, delivered to the Ford Government last January, concluded that progress has been at a glacial pace and barely detectable. the report found that “the promised accessible Ontario is nowhere in sight.” And that for most Ontarians with disabilities, Ontario is replete with soul-crushing barriers.

Weve worked together and learned from each others strategies and tactics as we press to make disability issues achieve the prominence they deserve, said Kirby-McIntosh. And we want to be sure that any victories we win benefit people with all kinds of disabilities.

Advocates for accessibility for Ontarians with disabilities are not the least daunted by the fact that Ontario has only five years left to reach full accessibility, while the Ford Government has done nothing new to strengthen the Disabilities Acts implementation and enforcement. Theyve faced insurmountable odds when they launched this campaign on November 29, 1994.

When we started 25 years ago, no one thought we had any hope of uniting a movement behind us and winning legislation. Weve beat the odds before, and were determined to beat the odds again, said Lepofsky. Whether its opposing the provincial plan to unleash electric scooters in Ontario that threatens our safety and accessibility or the Ontario Government wastefully using public money to create new barriers against people with disabilities in the built environment, our sleeves remain rolled up and ready for action.

Contact: AODA Alliance Chair David Lepofsky, [email protected] Twitter: @aodaalliance
All the news on the AODA Alliance’s campaign for accessibility in Ontario is available at: www.aodaalliance.org

Check out the background on the actual events at Queens Park on November 29, 1994 that led to the birth of the AODA movement. Read a timeline of major events over the first 20 years of this campaign.




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Tomorrow 4-5 pm EST Watch Live Stream of the Birthday Party for the 25th Anniversary of the Birth of the AODA Movement at Queen’s Park


Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance Update United for a Barrier-Free Society for All People with Disabilities http://www.aodaalliance.org [email protected] Twitter: @aodaalliance

Toronto Star Publishes Letter to the Editor from the AODA Alliance on the Dangers to People with Disabilities Posed by the Ford Government’s Allowing E-scooters in Ontario

December 2, 2019

SUMMARY

1. If You Did Not RSVP to Attend the AODA Movement’s 25th Birthday Party Tomorrow at the Ontario Legislature, You Can Watch the Speeches Streamed Live

Tomorrow from 4 to 6 pm EST will be the big birthday party for the 25th anniversary of the birth of the grassroots non-partisan campaign to get a strong Ontario accessibility law enacted and implemented. It takes place at the Ontario Legislature at Queen’s Park, as we earlier announced.

If you have not already registered to attend, the event is now filled to capacity. There won’t be room for any others to be added.

However, don’t fret or feel left out! You can watch the speeches live-streamed on the AODA Alliance’s Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/aodaalliance/

There will be live captioning of the speeches. They will be available online in real time. You need to open them in a separate window. They will not be streaming with the video itself. For the captions, visit https://2020archive.1capapp.com/event/marchofdimes/

We will only be streaming the speeches, and not the rest of the event. We expect them to begin around 4:30 pm and to go for no more than 30 minutes. The video will come on the Facebook live stream just before the speeches begin, and not beforehand.

We hope to later archive this video. We hope that it all works as planned. Of course, with technology, we regret that you can never be sure! We will do our best.

To read about the historic events that got this movement started 25 years ago, visit our website.

2. Toronto Star Publishes the ‘AODA Alliances Letter to the Editor on the Dangers that the Ford Government Has Created for Ontarians with Disabilities by Allowing Electric Scooters

The December 1, 2019 Toronto Star published a somewhat edited version of the letter to the editor that AODA Alliance Chair David Lepofsky sent to the newspaper. We set it out below. It addresses the dangers to Ontarians with disabilities that the Ford Government has created by allowing e-scooters in Ontario. We have been raising this issue with the Government and the media over the past three months since the Ford Government made public its troubling intentions.

We will keep up the pressure and invite you to do the same. Please raise these issues you’re your member of the Ontario Legislature. Send your own letter to the editor of the Toronto Star. Email it to [email protected]

3. Will the Ford Government Ever Implement the Onley Report?

There have now been 305 days since the Doug Ford Government received the final report of the Independent Review of the AODA’s implementation that former Lieutenant Governor David Onley conducted. The Government has announced no plans to implement that report. The AODA’s mandatory 2025 deadline for Ontario to become accessible to people with disabilities is only 5 years and one month away.

MORE DETAILS

Toronto Star December 1, 2019

Originally posted at https://www.thestar.com/opinion/letters_to_the_editors/2019/12/01/ontarios-e-scooter-regulations-will-endanger-people-with-disabilities.html Letters to the Editor

E-scooter rules will endanger people with disabilities

Rules that make sense, Editorial, Nov. 29

The Star was wrong to applaud the Doug Ford government’s decision to let municipalities pilot electric scooters.

Ford ignored serious safety and accessibility concerns, documented by Ontarians with disabilities, by allowing dangerously fast e-scooters on roads, sidewalks and other places. We and others will be exposed to the danger of serious injuries, if not worse. E-scooters will be unforeseeable new barriers blocking the accessibility of public spaces for people with disabilities.

As a blind person, I want to walk safely in public. I fear an inattentive, unlicensed, uninsured person, as young as 16, with no training, experience or knowledge of the rules of the road, silently rocketing towards me at 24 km/h. Ford will even let municipalities allow e-scooters on sidewalks, endangering pedestrians.

Ford paid lip service to safety and disability accessibility. He created weak, unenforceable provisions to limit how e-scooters are ridden and whether they may be left on sidewalks. He appears to have bowed to e-scooter rental companies. Ontarians with disabilities are disproportionately poor and disadvantaged. We don’t have the resources to fight corporate lobbyists in hundreds of municipalities to fend off these dangers.

David Lepofsky, Chair, Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance, Toronto




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Today Is the AODA Movement’s 25th Birthday!


Watch Our Movement’s Latest Interview on TVO’s “The Agenda with Steve Paikin” Any Time on YouTube and Toronto Star Runs Very Troubling Editorial that Wrongly Applauds the Ford Government’s Unleashing Electric Scooters on Ontarians, Despite their Proven Dangers to Safety and Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities

Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance Update United for a Barrier-Free Society for All People with Disabilities http://www.aodaalliance.org [email protected] Twitter: @aodaalliance

November 29, 2019

Summary

1. A Quarter-Century of Tenacious Advocacy Started on this Date in 1994

Twenty-five years ago today, a group of some twenty people with disabilities spontaneously gathered in a meeting room at Queen’s Park, feeling that they had to do something. The “something” that they did was to create a new and enduring grassroots non-partisan movement to campaign for strong accessibility legislation in Ontario.

Twenty-five years later, we have a lot to show for our efforts, but a lot more that we need to accomplish. Next Tuesday, on December 3, 2019, the International Day for People with Disabilities, we will have more to say about the past 25 years and about the future that we must create. For today, however, we encourage you to remember–or learn for the first time–about how it all got started and to reflect on where we need to go.

You can read about the events that led up to the birth of Ontario’s enduring disability accessibility movement by visiting https://www.aodaalliance.org/whats-new/come-to-a-birthday-party-on-december-3-2019-the-international-day-for-people-with-disabilities-at-queens-park-to-celebrate-the-25th-anniversary-of-the-birth-of-the-non-partisan-grassroots-movemen/

You can watch a captioned one-hour video of the celebration we held on November 28, 2014, the 20th anniversary of the birth of the AODA movement

2. Watch on YouTube the Interview on TVO’s “The Agenda with Steve Paikin” Reflecting on the 25th Anniversary of the AODA Movement

Did you miss the live broadcast of the November 28, 2019, edition of TVO’s “The Agenda with Steve Paikin”? It included an interview with AODA Alliance Chair David Lepofsky and expert accessibility consultant Thea Kurdi. No worries! You can watch it anytime on YouTube. Encourage others to do the same.

We understand that TVO typically takes a few days to upload its captioning for these interviews. It may be available now only with YouTube’s less reliable automated captioning.

Encourage others to watch the video, including your Member of the Ontario Legislature. Encourage your local media to cover this too! That interview was taped the day before the Ford Government announced its new regulation permitting electric scooters in Ontario, despite their proven dangers to safety and accessibility for people with disabilities.

3. A Painful Irony on Our 25th Birthday! A Very Disturbing Toronto Star Editorial Today Applauds the Ford Government’s Unleashing Dangerous E-scooters on Ontarians When it Should Have Condemned Them

Regrettably, we can never rest when it comes to advocating for accessibility for people with disabilities! It is a painful though undoubtedly an inadvertent irony that today, the 25th anniversary of the AODA movement, is when the Toronto Star ran a very troubling editorial, set out below. It applauds the Ford Government’s decision to unleash e-scooters on Ontario, despite their dangers to safety and accessibility for Ontarians with disabilities. This is a very disturbing departure from the Star’s long and commendable tradition of strongly supporting our accessibility cause.

We encourage everyone to write a letter to the editor at the Toronto Star to take issue with this editorial. Below we set out the letter to the editor that AODA Alliance Chair David Lepofsky has already sent to the Toronto Star. We hope the Star will include it in both the hard copy and online version of the paper.

If you want ideas of what to say, check out the AODA Alliance’s November 28, 2019 news release on this topic. Letters can be emailed to the Star by writing [email protected]

We also set out below the November 28, 2019 report in the Toronto Star on the Ford Government’s e-scooter announcement, and the November 27, 2019 report on this topic in the Mississauga News. The Star made a general reference to disability concerns, while the Mississauga News quoted the AODA Alliance.

We will keep up pressure on the Ford Government to get them to rein in its e-scooter plans so that the safety and accessibility of people with disabilities are protected. We have not yet heard back regarding our request earlier this week to meet with Premier Ford. We will also press local municipalities not to expose their communities and people with disabilities who live in them to the safety and accessibility dangers that e-scooters have been proven to pose.

As of this 25th anniversary of our campaign, 302 days have passed since the Ontario Government received the final report of the Independent Review of the AODA’s implementation that was conducted by former Lieutenant Governor David Onley. We are waiting for the Ontario Government to announce a plan to implement that report.

We always welcome your feedback. Write us today or any day at [email protected]

MORE DETAILS

The Toronto Star November 29, 2019

Originally posted at https://www.thestar.com/opinion/editorials/2019/11/28/the-ford-government-e-scooter-pilot-gets-better.html Editorial

Rules that make sense

The Ford government made the right decision this week in giving municipalities the final say on whether to allow two-wheeled electric scooters on their roadways and what local rules rental companies must follow.

That gives cities like Toronto and Mississauga time to come up with bylaws that can, hopefully, balance the needs of those who want to use e-scooters to commute around town and those who have serious safety concerns about them.

The government got it right, too, for the most part, on the rules the vehicles must operate under in all jurisdictions.

It sensibly reduced the maximum allowable speed to 24 km/h, down from the 32 km/h it originally proposed.

Other smart rules include: no riders under 16, mandatory helmets for riders under 18, no passengers and mandatory bells and lights.

It’s individual cities that will now have to decide the thorny issue of where the scooters can be used – roads, bike lanes or sidewalks. And, just as crucially, where the dockless scooters can be parked.

In cities around the world where e-scooter rentals have already been rolled out, there’s been considerable controversy over the devices that have a tendency to be strewn all over sidewalks and paths, creating tripping hazards. (Montreal has tried to get around that problem by designating parking spots where scooters must be left.)

The province still missed the mark on one major point: Its e-scooter pilot project, which begins Jan. 1, is five years long.

That’s too long considering the problems and safety concerns that have cropped up elsewhere.

Ontario needs to review the results of the pilot sooner than that. And the province and cities need to be ready to pull the plug if e-scooters prove to be a serious danger to pedestrians, especially those with disabilities, and to the users themselves.

Letter to the Toronto Star Editor from AODA Alliance Chair David Lepofsky Via email: [email protected]
November 29, 2019

The Star was wrong to applaud Doug Ford’s decision to let municipalities pilot electric scooters (Editorial Rules that make sense.) Ford ignored serious safety and accessibility concerns documented by Ontarians with disabilities, by allowing dangerously fast e-scooters on roads, sidewalks and other places. We and others will be exposed to the danger of serious injuries, if not worse. E-scooters will be unforeseeable new barriers blocking the accessibility of public spaces for people with disabilities.

As a blind person, I want to walk safely in public. I fear an inattentive, unlicensed, uninsured person, as young as 16, with no training, experience or knowledge of the rules of the road, silently rocketing towards me at 24 KPH. Ford even lets municipalities allow e-scooters on sidewalks, endangering pedestrians.

Ford says one of his priorities is to “build safer communities.” He claims this regulation makes it easier for people to get around. Yet rental e-scooters, strewn in public places, do the opposite for people with disabilities.

Ford paid lip service to safety and disability accessibility. He created weak, unenforceable provisions to limit how e-scooters are ridden and whether they may be left on sidewalks.

Ford appears to have bowed to e-scooter rental companies. The regulation reads as if their corporate lobbyists wrote it.

We oppose e-scooters. If permitted, provincial laws should require each e-scooter and driver to have a license, a helmet (even if over age 17) and insurance. If an e-scooter is left in a public place like a sidewalk, it should be forfeited and confiscated. E-scooter rental companies should be liable for injuries e-scooters cause, and caps on numbers of e-scooters.

Ontarians with disabilities are disproportionately poor and disadvantaged. We don’t have the resources to fight corporate lobbyists in hundreds of municipalities, to fend off these dangers.

David Lepofsky CM, O.Ont
Chair Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance Visiting Professor, Osgoode Hall Law School

The Toronto Star, November 28, 2019
News

Ontario to allow e-scooters on streets in 5-year trial
But province leaves final say to municipalities

David Rider Toronto Star Chief

Electric scooters are quietly gliding closer to becoming a transportation option on GTA streets.

The Ontario government on Wednesday released “broad rules and requirements” for e-scooters, including maximum speed and helmet use, as part of a five-year pilot project beginning Jan. 1.

But the province is leaving the final say to Toronto and other municipalities on allowing and regulating e-scooter sharing services that are slowly spreading across Canada after rapid rollout across the world, including cities that have had them and later banned them.

“It is now up to the municipalities to pass bylaws to allow their use and determine where they can operate most safely in each unique environment,” the transportation ministry said in a new release.

In a video posted on Twitter, MPP Vijay Thanigasalam, parliamentary secretary to Transportation Minister Caroline Mulroney, rolls up to the camera and calls the devices “a cool new way for people to get from point A to point B in their communities.”

Provincial rules include: no riders under age 16; mandatory helmet use for riders under 18; top speed of 24 km/h, down from 32 km/h in earlier provincial documents; no passengers; a mandatory horn, bell, white light in front and red light in back.
Rules for cities to decide, if they allow the service, include whether riders can go on roads, sidewalks or bike lanes, and the thorny question of where people can leave them when they walk away.

Lime and Bird, the world’s two biggest e-scooter sharing services in the world, are eager to add the biggest city in Canada to their service maps. They
both welcomed the Ontario announcement, saying they await detailed regulations and hope to have Torontonians whizzing around by next spring.

“What Ontario is saying is consistent with other provinces, and the regulatory change will enable cities in Ontario to proceed if they wish to have scooter-share operations in 2020,” said Chris Schafer, a Lime Canada senior executive.

Bird Canada chief executive Stewart Lyons told the Star: “Overall we’re extremely excited that the government is taking this first step for Ontario following in the footsteps of where Alberta and Quebec have gone,” with pilot projects underway on the streets of Calgary, Edmonton and Montreal.

“The feedback from (Toronto) city staff and councillors has been positive, that they want to bring the scooter program to Toronto for next spring.”

At Toronto City Hall, however, Mayor John Tory said his city won’t be rushed into anything. Last month city council voted to ban the e-scooter services until city staff release a report, with recommendations on e-scooter rules, early in 2020.

Tory said his main concerns are safety – Toronto is already dealing with a spike in pedestrian and cyclist deaths, and Calgary saw a rush of people to hospital emergency wards after e-scooters debuted there – and “clutter if there aren’t rules in place and provisions to ensure they are stored properly when not in use.”

Advocates for disabled Ontarians have voiced concerns about e-scooters being left on sidewalks and other places that could block access. The Ontario NDP blasted Premier Doug Ford’s government for failing to address their feedback in the guidelines released Wednesday.

Councillor Paul Ainslie, head of the Toronto’s licensing committee that will receive the e-scooter report, said: “I would appreciate the province working on a number of other areas first – housing, poverty reduction, red-light cameras.”
Mississauga city council in late October tasked staff with a report to come back with recommendations on e-scooter regulations next year.

“Staff are currently looking at a variety of options and models including publicly owned and operated, privately owned and operated as well as mixed publicly and privately owned and operated programs,” said a statement from Mayor Bonnie Crombie’s office.

“We look forward to exploring how we can expand transportation options for our residents while ensuring road safety remains a top priority.”
Edmonton and Calgary’s pilot projects share similar rules, with no helmet requirement and speeds capped at 20 km/h. But Calgary users can glide along sidewalks, something forbidden in Edmonton.

Montreal adopted more rules than the Alberta cities, including designated parking spots where e-scooters must be left, mandatory helmet usage and no sidewalk riding. Authorities there have expressed dismay with riders ignoring the helmet rule.

The e-scooter craze first exploded in the U.S., sometimes in cities caught by surprise when the devices appeared, and quickly spread internationally as a fun and relatively inexpensive way to take short urban trips.

But there has been a backlash and rule tightening, as well as bans in some places. Germany, where scooter regulations passed in June, has reported serious injuries, impaired riders and one user following his GPS onto a highway.

The council for Elizabeth, N.J., on Tuesday voted to immediately end that city’s e-scooter pilot project after a 16-year-old riding a scooter was struck and killed by a tow truck.

Mississauga News November 27, 2019

Originally posted at https://www.mississauga.com/news-story/9738260-mississauga-considering-how-to-encourage-bike-e-bike-and-e-scooter-share-systems/ Mississauga considering how to encourage bike, e-bike and e-scooter share systems Province starts 5-year e-scooter pilot in 2020
NEWS Nov 27, 2019 by Steve Cornwell, Mississauga News

Next summer, Mississauga residents and visitors might have a few more options to get around.
City council directed its staff to look at how Mississauga can encourage “micromobility” sharing systems, including e-scooters, e-bikes and bicycles.

The city hopes that the devices could help residents and visitors travel short distances in the downtown core, along the future Hurontario LRT and in Mississauga neighbourhoods like Meadowvale and Lisgar.

According to Matthew Sweet, the city’s active transportation manager, all vehicles, docking systems and operational models are under consideration.

We’re not prescribing the type of vehicle or device at this point,” he said. “Not least because the industry is so fast moving and changing.”

Sweet said the most important aspect for the city is not the device, how it’s parked or whether it’s publicly or privately owned.
“Really the first thing you should think about is how do these systems meet the city’s goals,” he said.

According to a staff report, micromobility systems align with City of Mississauga goals including promoting environmental sustainability and equity by “increasing access to viable transportation options for all.”

The move comes as the province is set to start a five-year pilot allowing e-scooters on Ontario roadways. Municipalities can opt-in to allowing e-scooters after Jan. 1, 2020. Bikes and e-bikes are already allowed on roadways in Ontario.

E-scooters abandoned on sidewalks, roadways and other undesignated parking spots have been an issue in several cities where they’ve launched in North America, including Calgary and Edmonton.

Accessibility advocate and lawyer David Lepofsky said that e-scooters are a “blight” wherever they are deployed and have been a consistent tripping hazard for people with disabilities.
“(E-scooter shares) are a brilliant business model for a company that wants free parking at the taxpayer’s expense,” he said.

Lepofsky is also the volunteer chair of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance and the group has asked the province to forbid rental e-scooters.

The city staff report from August 2019 recommends that the city accept micromobility sharing systems be introduced in phases and that bikes and e-bikes be favoured over e-scooters for now.

City staff is anticipating the next phase of the micromobility study will be finalized in June 2020.




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Ford Government Endangers Safety and Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities in E-Scooter Pilot Regulation


ACCESSIBILITY FOR ONTARIANS WITH DISABILITIES ACT ALLIANCE
NEWS RELEASE – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

November 28, 2019 Toronto: The Ford Government ignored serious safety and accessibility concerns documented by Ontarians with disabilities. A new regulation announced yesterday allows dangerously fast electric scooters (e-scooters) on roads, sidewalks and other public places. Ontarians with disabilities and others will be exposed to the danger of serious personal injuries, if not worse. E-scooters will become unpredictable new barriers blocking the accessibility of public spaces for people with disabilities.

“As a blind person, I want to walk safely in public. I fear an inattentive, unlicensed, uninsured person, as young as 16, with no training, experience or knowledge of the rules of the road, silently rocketing towards me at 24 KPH on an e-scooter,” said David Lepofsky, chair of the non-partisan AODA Alliance. The Alliance has spoken out against the dangers that e-scooters pose to people with disabilities. “Last August, the Ford Government gave the clear impression that e-scooters would only be allowed on roads. But this new regulation lets municipalities allow them on sidewalks, at serious risk to pedestrians.”

Last summer the Ford Government said it’s committed to the “highest level of safety.” Premier Ford’s website proclaims that one of his Government’s priorities is to “build safer communities.” Yet unlicensed, untrained, and uninsured people racing on silent e-scooters in public places, including our sidewalks, endanger the public, especially people with disabilities.

The Government’s November 27, 2019 news release says that this regulation “will make it easier for people to get around.” Yet rental e-scooters, strewn in public places, do the exact opposite for people with disabilities.

The Ford Government only paid lip service to safety and disability accessibility. Its regulation includes weak, unenforceable provisions to limit how e-scooters are ridden and whether they may be left on sidewalks. It will be extremely difficult if not impossible to ever convict anyone of violating these restrictions, even in the unlikely event that overworked police will have time to investigate e-scooter offences.

The Government appears to have bowed to e-scooter rental companies. The regulation reads as if those companies’ corporate lobbyists wrote it. Earlier this fall, the Ford Government told City News that its proposed e-scooter pilot involved a “compromise” between public safety on the one hand, and the interests of businesses and consumers on the other. The Government’s November 27, 2019 news release proclaimed this policy as expanding business opportunities, featuring one of the e-scooter rental companies that no doubt lobbied for this regulation.

The regulation imposes no obligations on e-scooter rental companies. They need no license or insurance. They are not made liable for their customers leaving e-scooters lying strewn all over our public sidewalks. They do not require those companies to have e-scooter parking docks, to keep them off sidewalks. There’s no cap on the numbers of e-scooters they can flood onto city streets and sidewalks.

We seek an urgent meeting with Premier Ford. We call on the Government to suspend this pilot for at least six months, to conduct a proper consultation and to listen to the people, not just corporate lobbyists. No one wants or needs to ride e-scooters in Ontario in January of 2020, when this pilot begins.

We oppose e-scooters altogether. However, if permitted, mandatory provincial laws should require each e-scooter and driver to have a license, a helmet (even if over age 17) and insurance. If an e-scooter is left in a public place like a sidewalk, it should be forfeited and confiscated. E-scooter rental companies should have mandatory liability for any injuries that e-scooters cause, and limits on the number of e-scooters.

The Government lets any municipality allow e-scooters. Ontarians with disabilities, who are disproportionately poor and disadvantaged, don’t have the resources and capacity to fight the corporate lobbyists in hundreds of municipalities, to fend off these dangers that the Ford Government unleashed. We call on mayors and city councils to protect the public and not allow e-scooters.

It is wrong for the Government to experiment on non-consenting people in this pilot. The Government should instead visit cities that already exposed their population to e-scooters’ risks, to gather data about the injuries they have caused.

Contact: AODA Alliance Chair David Lepofsky, [email protected] Twitter: @aodaalliance
All the news on the AODA Alliance’s campaign for accessibility in Ontario is available at: www.aodaalliance.org

Background information:

The Ford Government’s November 27, 2019 news release and backgrounder.
The Ontario New Democratic Party’s November 27, 2019 news release, slamming the Ford Government’s e-scooters announcement that didn’t even mention disability concerns. The text of the Ford Government’s new regulation on e-scooters.




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AODA Alliance Writes Premier Ford to Ask for a Meeting and AODA Alliance to Appear Tomorrow on TVO’s ?The Agenda with Steve Paikin?


Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance Update United for a Barrier-Free Society for All People with Disabilities http://www.aodaalliance.org [email protected] Twitter: @aodaalliance

November 27, 2019

SUMMARY

1. AODA Alliance Seeks a Meeting with Premier Doug Ford

On November 26, 2019, the AODA Alliance wrote Premier Doug Ford to ask for a meeting with him. That letter is set out below.

We have never before met with Premier Ford. We are eager to ask him to speed up action on the AODA’s implementation. We wish to emphasize that there is a pressing need for his leadership on the accessibility issue. We had meetings with each of the past Ontario premiers who have been in power since the AODA Alliance was formed in 2005, Dalton McGuinty and Kathleen Wynne.

2. Tune Into TVO’s “The Agenda with Steve Paikin” Tomorrow Night to See an Interview Focusing on the 25th Anniversary of the Birth of the Grassroots AODA Movement

We encourage you to watch TVO’s leading public affairs show “The Agenda with Steve Paikin” at 8 or 11 pm on November 28, 2019. Get others to watch!

The program will include a 20 minute interview with AODA Alliance Chair David Lepofsky and Thea Kurdi, an expert accessibility consultant who is the vice president of DesignAble Environments. The interview was recorded on November 26, 2019.

Based on past practice, we expect that this interview will be posted on Youtube shortly after it goes to air, and will eventually have captioning. We will circulate the link once we get it.

We thank TVO, including The Agenda with Steve Paikin, for again focusing attention on our accessibility campaign. The “hook” for this story is the fact that this Friday is the 25th anniversary of the birth of the grassroots movement that has campaigned for strong accessibility for people with disabilities in Ontario.

As of today, 300 days have passed since the Ontario Government received the final report of the Independent Review of the AODA’s implementation that was conducted by former Lieutenant Governor David Onley. We are still waiting for the Ontario Government to announce a plan to implement that report.

MORE DETAILS

Text of the November 26, 2019 Letter from the AODA Alliance to Premier Doug Ford

ACCESSIBILITY FOR ONTARIANS WITH DISABILITIES ACT ALLIANCE
1929 Bayview Avenue
Toronto, Ontario M4G 3E8
Email: [email protected]
Visit: www.aodalliance.org

November 26, 2019

Via Email: [email protected]
To: Hon. Doug Ford, Premier
Room 281, Legislative Building
Queen’s Park
Toronto, Ontario
M7A 1A1

Dear Premier Ford,

RE: Ensuring Ontario Becomes Fully Accessible to Over 2 Million Ontarians with Disabilities by 2025

I write on behalf of the AODA Alliance. We are a widely-recognized non-partisan grassroots community coalition that advocates for accessibility for over 2 million Ontarians with disabilities.

We write to request a meeting with you. We seek your help.

Ontario is now falling further and further behind the goal of becoming accessible to Ontarians with disabilities by 2025. That is the deadline that all Ontario’s political parties voted to enshrine in the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act in 2005. Ontarians with disabilities are too often losing out, as do Ontario’s businesses that lose the chance to benefit from Ontarians with disabilities as their customers and employees.

This troubling state of affairs is amply documented in the Government-appointed Independent Review of the AODA’s implementation that was conducted by former Lieutenant Governor David Onley. He found that Ontario remains full of “soul crushing” barriers facing people with disabilities, and that the goal of full accessibility is nowhere in sight.

Your Government received Mr. Onley’s report on January 31, 2019, ten months ago. It has announced no plan to implement that report’s constructive recommendations.

When we have written you over the past months, your office has referred us back to the Accessibility Minister, Raymond Cho. We have met a number of times with Minister Cho and his officials. He and his ministry do not have the responsibility and authority to take a good number of the key actions that are needed. It is the Premier whose action and leadership we need.

Three successive Independent Reviews of the AODA’s implementation have been conducted. The first reported in 2010. The second reported in 2014. The third, by David Onley, reported earlier this year. They all called for Ontario’s Premier to show new leadership on this issue. We regret that neither of the two previous premiers showed the leadership that over 2 million Ontarians with disabilities need. We are turning to you to make the difference we need.

We are eager to meet with you to discuss this, and offer constructive ideas on how to make the progress that Ontarians need. Everyone in Ontario either has a disability now, or is bound to get one later in life as they age. They all need your leadership and your help on this important issue.

We look forward to hearing from you, and to an opportunity to meet in person. We would be delighted if you wished Minister Cho or any other of your colleagues to be part of a meeting with us.

David Lepofsky CM, O. Ont
Chair, Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance

The Hon. Raymond Cho Minister for Accessibility and Seniors [email protected]
Christine Elliott, Minister of Health and Deputy Premier [email protected]




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Help Us Make Information and Communication Accessible to Ontarians with Disabilities


Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance Update United for a Barrier-Free Society for All People with Disabilities http://www.aodaalliance.org [email protected] Twitter: @aodaalliance

Please Tell the Ford Government If You Support the AODA Alliances Finalized Brief to the Information and Communication Standards Development Committee on that Committees Draft Recommendations to Improve the 2011 Information and Communication Accessibility Standard

November 26, 2019

SUMMARY

Its finished and delivered! The AODA Alliance has submitted its final brief to the Information and Communication Standards Development Committee. In that brief we give that Committee our feedback on its July 24, 2019 draft recommendations for improving Ontarios 2011 Information and Communication Accessibility Standard that was enacted under the (AODA).

Our detailed brief, which we set out below, includes all the content that was in our draft brief that we circulated for public comment on November 5, 2019. There has been minor editing and a small amount of additional material, thanks to the helpful feedback we received on that draft. Thanks to all who read our draft and offered their feedback.

Lets build support for our cause. Help in a snap, by notifying the Information and Communication Standards Development Committee if you support the AODA Alliances brief. We encourage individuals and disability organizations to do so. Even though the deadline for submitting feedback to the Committee has passed, nothing stops you from sending a short email stating your support. Write the Information and Communication Standards Development Committee at [email protected]
You could simply say: I support the November 25, 2019 brief on the Information and Communication Accessibility Standard.

Here is a short summary of what we say in this brief. This is the summary that is also included in the brief itself.

1. The 2011 Information and Communication Accessibility Standard was the strongest of the accessibility standards that the Ontario Government has enacted under the AODA. Despite this, it has several significant deficiencies. If every organization fully complied with it, it would not ensure that information and communication is accessible to people with disabilities by 2025, or ever.

2. The Information and Communication Accessibility Standard, while helpful, does not address all of the recurring information and communication barriers that people with disabilities face. Where it does address a known recurring accessibility barrier, its guarantees are too often too weak. They have too many exemptions that are too broad, and that fall below requirements in the Ontario Human Rights Code.

3. We agree with many, if not most or all, of the Information and Communication Standards Development Committees findings of deficiencies in the Information and Communication Accessibility Standard. Many, if not most, of the Committee s draft recommendations in its Phase 1 discussion are quite good and commendable. For the most part, we approve them as is or make recommendations for modest refinements or additions to them.

4. We also offer additional recommendations to address deficiencies in the Information and Communication Accessibility Standard that the Committees draft recommendations do not fix. Overall, our recommendations aim to ensure that the Information and Communication Accessibility Standard is strengthened so that it addresses the full range of accessibility barriers that people with disabilities face in relation to information and communication, to ensure that it specifies the actions that organizations need to take to ensure that information and communication becomes accessible, and to narrow the excessively broad exemptions in the standard.

5. In its draft Phase 2 recommendations, the Information and Communication Accessibility Standard Makes a commendable effort to find ways to make the AODA work more effectively. We do not endorse certain parts of the Committees Phase 2 recommendations, because they raise legal issues that we have not had time to address, and because they would necessitate amendments to the AODA itself. We would object to any effort to re-open the AODA in the Ontario Legislature or any effort to amend it, as we do not want to risk having the AODA weakened by the Legislature.

6. Some of the Committees specific suggestions that form part of its Phase 2 draft recommendations can be implemented without requiring amendments to the AODA. We identify those that fit this description and with which we agree.

If you want more background on this issue, you can explore the time line of our efforts to get a strong Information and Communication Accessibility Standard enacted in Ontario by visiting https://www.aodaalliance.org/category/infoandcom/

Now 299 days have passed since the Ford Government received the blistering final report of the Independent Review of the AODAs implementation and enforcement conducted by former Lieutenant Governor David Onley. The Onley Report found that the Governments implementation and enforcement of the AODA has been too weak. The Ford Government has announced no plan to implement that report.

MORE DETAILS

Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance
United for a Barrier-Free Society for All People with Disabilities www.aodaalliance.org [email protected] Twitter: @aodaalliance

Brief to the Ontario Information and Communication Standards Development Committee on Its Draft Recommendations for Revisions to the 2011 Information and Communication Accessibility Standard

November 25, 2019

Via email to: [email protected]

A. Introduction

1. Overview

This is the AODA Alliances brief to the Information and Communication Standards Development Committee on its draft recommendations for revisions to the 2011 Information and Communication Accessibility Standard.

The Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) requires the Government to lead Ontario to become fully accessible by 2025. The Government must enact and effectively enforce all the accessibility standards needed to ensure that the AODAs goal is achieved. An accessibility standard is a provincial regulation that spells out what an obligated organization must do to prevent and remove accessibility barriers and that sets timelines for action.

In 2011, the Ontario Government passed the Integrated Accessibility Standards Regulation (IASR) under the AODA. Among other things, that regulation includes a series of provisions on the accessibility of information and communication. That is usually referred to in this brief as the Information and Communication Accessibility Standard. At other points, this brief at times refers to the IASR, of which that Standard is a part.

In 2016, the Ontario Government appointed the Information and Communication Standards Development Committee under the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) to review the 2011 Information and Communication Accessibility Standard, enacted under the AODA, and to recommend any revisions needed so that this accessibility standard would best achieve the AODAs purposes.

The Information and Communication Standards Development Committee has developed draft recommendations on how to strengthen the 2011 Information and Communication Accessibility Standard. On July 24, 2019, the Ontario Government posted those draft recommendations online and invited public input on them. The Ontario Government was required to do this under the AODA. The feedback which the Government receives is to be submitted to the Information and Communication Standards Development Committee. That committee is then required to consider that feedback, as it finalizes its recommendations to the Government.

This brief provides the Information and Communication Standards Development Committee with our feedback on the Committees draft recommendations. Our 49 recommendations throughout this brief are also gathered together in one place in Appendix 1. We hope that this feedback will assist the Committee as it finalizes its recommendations to the Government.

This brief embodies the accumulated input that we have received over the years from a broad and diverse spectrum of sources across the disability community. That includes feedback both disability organizations and individuals with disabilities. Over the years, we have found that many from within the disability community have come to rely on the AODA Alliances work formulating briefs such as this.

^The AODA Alliance welcomes this opportunity to offer our input. We ask that the Accessibility Ministry ensure that all members of the Information and Communication Standards Development Committee receive this brief as a whole, and not just a summary of it that the Accessibility Directorate of Ontario prepares. We have received informal word that in the past, at least some Standards Development Committees only receive a summary of feedback from such mandatory public consultations. That summary was evidently prepared by the Accessibility Directorate of Ontario. To fulfil the spirit and purposes of the AODAs public consultation provisions, it is important for all Standards Development Committee members to hear directly from the public, including the AODA Alliance, without having their input filtered by the Ontario Government.

We have offered to make an in-person presentation directly to the Information and Communication Standards Development Committee on our feedback. We thank the Information and Communication Standards Development Committee for accepting this offer, and look forward to presenting to the Committee on January 22, 2020. Given the extensive detail in this brief, we would appreciate it if the Committee was able to give us more than 15 minutes to present. The Transportation Standards Development Committee and Employment Standards Development Committee each gave us 30 minutes to present. We realize that the Committees time is limited, and welcome whatever time can be provided. We would also welcome guidance from the Committee on which topics, covered in this brief, would be most helpful for us to concentrate on during our presentation.

When it comes time for the Information and Communication Standards Development Committee to vote on the recommendations that it will present to the Ontario Government, we ask the Committee to vote separately on each of the recommendations that we present in this brief.

We thank the members of the Information and Communication Standards Development Committee for their commendable efforts to strengthen the Information and Communication Accessibility Standard. We also acknowledge with thanks the feedback and input that we regularly receive from our supporters that enable us to provide informed feedback to the Government and the public in areas such as this. For example, we publicly circulated a draft of this brief on November 5, 2019 for comment. We have incorporated the feedback received into this finalized brief.

2. Who Are We?

The AODA Alliance is a voluntary non-partisan coalition of individuals and organizations. Our mission is:

To contribute to the achievement of a barrier-free Ontario for all persons with disabilities, by promoting and supporting the timely, effective, and comprehensive implementation of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act. To learn about us, visit: http://www.aodaalliance.org.

Our coalition is the successor to the Ontarians with Disabilities Act Committee. The ODA Committee advocated more than ten years for the enactment of strong, effective disability accessibility legislation. Our coalition builds on the ODA Committees work. We draw our membership from the ODA Committee’s broad, grassroots base. To learn about the ODA Committees history, visit: http://www.odacommittee.net.

We have been widely recognized by the Ontario Government, by all political parties in the Ontario Legislature, within the disability community and by the media, as a key voice leading the non-partisan campaign for accessibility in Ontario. In every provincial election since 2005, parties that made election commitments on accessibility did so in letters to the AODA Alliance.

Our efforts and expertise on accessibility for people with disabilities have been recognized in MPPs speeches on the floor of the Ontario Legislature, and beyond. Our website and Twitter feed are widely consulted as helpful sources of information on accessibility efforts in Ontario and elsewhere. We have achieved this as an unfunded volunteer community coalition.

Beyond our work at the provincial level in Ontario, over the past four years, the AODA Alliance has been active, advocating for strong and effective national accessibility legislation for Canada. Our efforts influenced the development of the Accessible Canada Act. We have been formally and informally consulted by the Federal Government and some federal opposition parties on this issue.

The AODA Alliance has also spoken to or been consulted by disability organizations, individuals, and governments from various parts of Canada on disability accessibility issues. For example, we have been consulted by the Government of Manitoba and by Barrier-Free Manitoba (a leading grassroots accessibility advocacy coalition in Manitoba) in the design and implementation of the Accessibility for Manitobans Act 2013. We twice made deputations to a Committee of the Manitoba Legislature on the design of that legislation. We have been consulted by the BC Government on whether to create a BC Disabilities Act, and by Barrier-Free BC in its grassroots advocacy for that desired legislation.

We have also been consulted outside Canada on this topic, most particularly, in Israel and New Zealand. In addition, in June 2016, we presented on this topic at the UN annual international conference of state parties to the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

The AODA Alliance has played a leading and highly-visible role in Ontario in raising a wide range of accessibility issues, including in the information and communication context. We have connections across Canada and internationally with, and are regularly consulted by accessibility advocates and governments as they grapple with how to tackle these kinds of issues.

As but one example, the AODA Alliance played a leading role in campaigning to enable the Information and Communication Standards Development Committee to get back to work in 2018 after the work of all Standards Development Committees was frozen in the wake of the 2018 Ontario election. We were happy and relieved when the Ontario Government lifted that freeze on the Information and Communication Standards Development Committee in the fall of 2018 and allowed it to go back to work.

3. Summary of this Brief

The AODA Alliance has solicited input from its supporters through its website, its mass email list, and on Twitter. Drawing on that feedback and on our extensive involvement in advocacy on accessibility issues in Ontario, this brief provides our feedback on those draft recommendations.

Our feedback set out in this brief is summarized as follows:

1. The 2011 Information and Communication Accessibility Standard was the strongest of the accessibility standards that the Ontario Government has enacted under the AODA. Despite this, it has several significant deficiencies. If every organization fully complied with it, this would not ensure that information and communication would be accessible to people with disabilities by 2025, or ever.

2. The Information and Communication Accessibility Standard, while helpful, does not address all the known recurring information and communication barriers that people with disabilities face. Where it does address a known recurring accessibility barrier, its guarantees are too often too weak. There are too many exemptions that are too broad, and that fall below requirements of the Ontario Human Rights Code.

3. We agree with many, if not most or all of the Information and Communication Standards Development Committees findings of deficiencies in the Information and Communication Accessibility Standard. Many, if not most of the Committees draft recommendations in its Phase 1 discussion are quite good and commendable. For the most part, we agree with them as is or make recommendations for modest refinements or additions to them.

4. We also offer additional recommendations to address deficiencies in the Information and Communication Accessibility Standard that the Committees draft recommendations do not fix. Overall, our recommendations aim to ensure that the Information and Communication Accessibility Standard is strengthened so that it addresses the full range of accessibility barriers that people with disabilities face in relation to information and communication. We aim to ensure that it specifies the actions that organizations need to take to ensure that information and communication becomes accessible, and to narrow the Standards excessively broad exemptions.

5. In its draft Phase 2 recommendations, the Information and Communication Accessibility Standard Makes a commendable effort to find ways to make the AODA work more effectively. We do not endorse certain parts of the Committees Phase 2 recommendations, because they raise legal issues that we have not had time to address, and because they would necessitate amendments to the AODA itself. We strongly oppose any effort to re-open the AODA in the Ontario Legislature or any effort to amend it. This is because we do not want to risk the Legislature weakening the AODA.

6. Some of the Committees suggestions in its Phase 2 draft recommendations can be implemented without requiring amendments to the AODA. We identify those that fit this description and with which we agree.

4. Preliminary Thoughts Before Proceeding to Our Specific Recommendations

Here are three important themes which we ask the Committee to bear in mind as it reviews our recommendations.

a) A Commendable Start

First, we strongly commend and congratulate the Committee for its efforts and for the draft recommendations. As will become evident, we agree with many if not most of the Committees Phase 1 draft recommendations. We urge adjustments to several of those recommendations to further strengthen them. These are in a number of cases minor adjustments or refinements to the Committees work. We also point out several additional improvements to the Information and Communication Accessibility Standard, to supplement those which the Committee suggested.

Based on its work so far, the Information and Communication Standards Development Committee has done by far the best job of any Standards Development Committee that has been appointed to review an existing AODA accessibility standard. It prepared far stronger draft recommendations for reform than did the Accessibility Standards Advisory Council (ASAC) when it reviewed the 2007 Customer Service Accessibility Standard or the Transportation Standards Development Committee when it reviewed the 2011 Transportation Accessibility Standard.

b) Committees Job Not Merely to Assess if the Information and Communication Accessibility Standard Has Been Working As Intended

Second, it appears that several Standards Development Committees that reviewed an existing AODA accessibility standard got substantially erroneous advice from the Accessibility Directorate of Ontario. The Transportation Standards Development Committee, Employment Standards Development Committee and the current Information and Communication Standards Development Committee, each stated that its job, when reviewing an existing AODA accessibility standard, is to determine if the standard is working as intended. The Information and Communication Standards Development Committees draft recommendations state in the introduction:

The Act requires that each of Ontarios accessibility standards be reviewed within five years of becoming law, to determine whether they are working as intended and to allow for changes to be made if they are required.

Substantially the same erroneous language was included in the initial draft recommendations of the Transportation Standards Development Committee that were circulated in 2017 for public comment and the draft recommendations of the Employment Standards Development Committee which were circulated earlier this year for public comment.

For a Standards Development Committee to merely look to see if the standard is working as intended seriously and substantially understates the goal of this mandatory review of the 2011 Information and Communication Accessibility Standard. The AODA does not limit a Standards Development Committee to inquiring on such a review to see if the standard is working as intended.

Rather, this mandatory reviews purpose is to ascertain whether the Information and Communication Accessibility Standard is working sufficiently to ensure that information and communication will become fully accessible to people with disabilities by 2025, the AODA’s goal. This Review should recommend any improvements needed to ensure that the Standard will achieve that goal.

It is not sufficient for the Standards Development Committee to just ask if the Information and Communication Accessibility Standard is working as intended. By that lesser and palpably weak approach, the Information and Communication Accessibility Standard would be fine, and would need no improvements, if it led obligated organizations to merely do whatever the original 2011 Information and Communication Accessibility Standard spelled out. That would leave information and communication in Ontario full of disability barriers long after 2025.

As this brief documents, the 2011 Information and Communication Accessibility Standard, while helpful, was not capable of ensuring that information and communication will become fully accessible by 2025, or ever. We have publicly shared our strong disagreement with the Accessibility Directorates substantial dilution of the aim of these five year reviews of AODA accessibility standards. We have alerted the Directorate about our concerns. Despite this, and with no explanation or justification, that Directorate appears to have persisted in pressing Standards Development Committees to adopt this incorrect and unduly restrictive understanding of their mandate. We identified this concern in our briefs to the Transportation and Employment Standards Development Committees. We also identified it in Chapter 5 of our January 15, 2019 brief to the Third AODA Independent Review conducted by David Onley. It appears under the heading: Inappropriate Government Attempts to Unduly Restrict the Work of Standards Development Committees.

Even though the Information and Communication Standards Development refers to this erroneous working as intended approach to its review, it is clear from the draft recommendations that the Committee did not allow itself to be improperly hog-tied by the Directorates erroneous advice or direction. We congratulate the Committee for this.

c) Committee Should Use the Findings in the Moran and Onley Reports As Its Starting Point

Third, we agree with the Standards Development Committees draft recommendations general assessment of the 2011 Information and Communication Accessibility Standard, as summarized in this paragraph:

The Committees discussions reflected a consensus that the current standards are not keeping pace with technology. There was mention that the standards are not always strong enough and are often too difficult to apply. The Committee also discussed the fact that the standards are confusing and prevent innovation in accessible technology. Overall, Committee members agreed that the standards need to be modernized and crafted to ensure they remain relevant in the future, as technology changes at an increasingly rapid pace.

However, it is vital for the Committee to proceed from the starting point that the Information and Communication Accessibility Standard is substantially more deficient than that, even though it is the strongest of the accessibility standards enacted to date. The Committee should work from the starting point established by the second AODA Independent Review conducted by Mayo Moran and the third AODA Independent Review conducted by David Onley. The key findings in the reports of those reviews appear to come directly from the detailed briefs that the AODA Alliance submitted to those reviews.

In 2014, the second mandatory Independent Review of the AODA, conducted by Mayo Moran, found that there are very serious deficiencies in the accessibility standards enacted to date. These included the 2011 Information and Communication Accessibility Standard. Nothing in that accessibility Standard has been changed since that report to address those concerns. Appendix 1 to this brief sets out key excerpts from the Moran Report.

The third Independent Review of the AODA, conducted by David Onley, reinforced and supplemented the Moran Reports overall findings. It did not disagree with the Moran Reports findings regarding the IASRs deficiencies. In 2019, the third AODA Independent Review conducted by David Onley accepted the earlier Moran Report as a correct starting point. It did not contradict any of the Moran Reports findings about the problems with the accessibility standards enacted to date. It did not find that in the intervening four years, the Ontario Government had done anything to reduce those serious deficiencies.

To the contrary, the Onley Report made even more pointed and blistering findings about the AODAs overall implementation. It did not exempt the Information and Communication Accessibility Standard from those blistering findings.

Based on public feedback, Onleys report found that the pace of change regarding accessibility since 2005 for people with disabilities has been glacial. With then under six years left before 2025, the report found that the promised accessible Ontario is nowhere in sight. He concluded that progress on accessibility under this law has been highly selective and barely detectable.

David Onley found this province is mostly inaccessible. The Onley report correctly concluded:

For most disabled persons, Ontario is not a place of opportunity but one of countless, dispiriting, soul-crushing barriers.

The Onley report had damning things to say about years of the Ontario Governments implementation and enforcement of the AODA. It in effect found that there has been a protracted, troubling lack of Government leadership on this issue, even though two prior Government-appointed AODA Independent Reviews called for renewed, strengthened leadership. The Onley Report recommended:

The Premier of Ontario could establish accessibility as a government-wide priority with the stroke of a pen. Our previous two Premiers did not listen to repeated pleas to do this.

Since the Onley Report was received some ten months ago, the Ontario Government has announced no comprehensive plan to implement it, nor has it publicly said that it will do so in the future. Ontario keeps slipping further behind the goal of full accessibility, while the 2025 deadline looms closer.

d) The Bottom Line for This Committee

As such, the Information and Communication Standards Development Committees job is pivotal. It should recommend fixes to the Information and Communication Accessibility Standard that will rectify the substantial deficiencies in the AODAs implementation in so far as they pertain to the accessibility of information and communication. This brief aims to help the Committee with that task.

If the Information and Communication Accessibility Standard is to be strengthened in order to ensure that the AODAs goal is achieved by 2025 in relation to information and communication, this must happen now. The next mandatory review of the Information and Communication Accessibility Standard does not have to be appointed until the eve of the 2025 deadline. By then, if Ontario is not back on schedule for the 2025 deadline in connection with the accessibility of information and communication, it will be too late to meet that deadline.

Substantial progress on accessibility is easier to achieve in the area of information and communication than in many other areas like the built environment. Information technology is rapidly evolving and replacing earlier products. The inaccessible technology, websites or mobile apps of last year will often be superceded in the next months or years.

In the following discussion, our recommendations track the sequence of the Committees draft recommendations. We insert additional topics where they best fit, following the structure of the Information and Communication Accessibility Standard itself.

B. Our Specific Feedback on the Draft Recommendations Phase 1 Proposals

1. Accessibility Standards Long Term Objective

We commend the Committee for reviewing the Information and Communication Accessibility Standards long term objective, and for trying to simplify it. We believe that all that needs to be added to the Committees proposed simplified language is the AODAs 2025 deadline.

We therefore recommend that:

#1. The Standards long term objective should be:

By no later than 2025 and thereafter, people with disabilities will be able to participate fully and equally in the creation and use of information and communications.

2. Section 2 – Definitions

The term accessible formats should be clarified so that organizations know that digital formats are an option, but only if they are in a format that is screen-reader-friendly.

We therefore recommend that:

#2. The Committees recommendations should recommend that the definition of accessible formats in s. 2 of the Standard should be expanded to add digital accessible formats that are readily readable on computers and portable technologies such as smart phones, using adaptive technology, but does not include documents in PDF format unless also accompanied by other accessible digital formats.

3. Definition of Electronic Self-Serve Kiosks

The IASRs definition of an electronic self-serve kiosk is far too narrow.

We therefore recommend that:

#3. Section 5(5) of the IASR should be amended to provide:

(5) In this section, kiosk means an interactive electronic terminal intended for public use that allows users to access one or more services, facilities, or products or a combination of them, and, without limiting the generality of the foregoing, includes any device used by a member of the public to make in whole or in part a transaction relating to a product, good, service or facility or combination thereof, such as a point of sale device that allows the customer to pay for items with a debit, credit or other electronic funds card.

4. Committees Recommendation 1 Consolidating the Regulations Feedback Requirements

We agree with the Committees Recommendation 1 that it would be good to immediately consolidate in one place in the IASR all feedback requirements, in language that makes them clear and consistent as long as this makes it clear that this that does not reduce any existing obligations.

5. Section 9 – Definitions and Exceptions

The Standards definition of conversion-ready information is too loose. Section 9 provides:

conversion ready means an electronic or digital format that facilitates conversion into an accessible format;

That definition does not ensure that the material is capable of ready conversion into an accessible format.

We therefore recommend that:

#4. The Committee should recommend that section 9(1) of the Standard should be amended to define conversion-ready as follows:

conversion ready means an electronic or digital format that ensures ready conversion into an accessible format that effectively retains the information content that can be read on a computer using widely available adaptive technology, and on hand-held or portable digital technology such as smart phones;

Section 9(4) of the IASR defines unconvertible information in a manner that is far too broad. It weakens the rights of people with disabilities. Section 9(4) provides:

For the purposes of this Part, information or communications are unconvertible if,
(a) it is not technically feasible to convert the information or communications; or (b) the technology to convert the information or communications is not readily available.

That provision dramatically reduces obligations of organizations below what they are required to do under the Human Rights Code, and, where applicable, the Charter of Rights. Our proposal for amending s. 9(2) makes s. 9(4) unnecessary.

We therefore recommend that:

#5. The Committee should recommend that either:

(a) Section 9(4) should be deleted, or
(b) Section 9(4) should be amended to provide as follows:

(4) For purposes of this Part, information or communications are unconvertible if,
a) It is not possible to convert the information or communications without undue hardship; or
b) The technology to convert the information or communications is not available without undue hardship.

6. Committees Draft Recommendation 2 PDF Documents

We agree with the Committees draft recommendations where they conclude that PDF documents are often inaccessible and that the required expertise to make them accessible is seldom present in obligated organizations.

The Committees draft recommendations indicate that they do not propose banning PDF formats. We have never proposed banning anyone from creating a PDF document. It has always been our position, which we urge here, that if an obligated organization creates a pdf document in connection with activities to which this accessibility standard would apply, an accessible alternate format document, such as an MS Word, txt or HTML document should also be posted and made available at the same time.

The Committees draft recommendations state that the Committee considered non-regulatory measures such as education for Government employees, but did not vote on this. We do not believe that such non-regulatory measures are sufficient. They would not solve this persistent but easily-remedied problem.

As an example, we have been struggling for well over a decade to get the Ontario Government to change its own practices with PDFs, so that it will always simultaneously post an accessible format for a document whenever it publicly posts a PDF. This has too often been a frustrating and futile effort, even after we repeatedly raised this at the highest levels within the Ontario Public Service. We still continue to face serious problems.

The Ontario Government has repeatedly claimed to be leading Ontario by its example on accessibility. Yet its poor example in this context is not one by which we would want Ontario to be led. For example, the Ontario Government even released in inaccessible PDF documents such important things as the 2014 final report of Mayo Morans Independent Review of the AODA, and the previous Governments long-awaited anti-poverty strategy. Years after being told that PDFs present an accessibility problem, the Ministry of Education continues to make important publicly-facing documents regarding Ontarios education system available via PDF documents.

A simple, clear enforceable rule in the Information and Communication Accessibility Standard is the only effective measure that will have a hope of success, not only for the Ontario Government, but for other obligated organizations as well.

Some may think that a PDF can be made fully accessible. With such a view, we strongly and respectfully disagree, based on years of ample experience. However, this is a moot point.

First, as the Committee correctly recognizes, obligated organizations mostly do not have the expertise to make a PDF accessible, even if it is assumed that this goal can be accomplished. Second, when a person receives a PDF, there is no way to know from the file name whether anyone has even attempted to incorporate accessibility features in it, and if so, how many such features. Third, it makes no sense to ask obligated organizations to divert their resources into trying in vain to remediate a new PDF, when they could instead quickly, easily and at no cost simply post the document in an accessible format like MS Word, whenever they post a PDF.

It would take enormous resources to try to persuade obligated organizations to voluntarily change their practices. It is far more effective to set a simple rule which obligated organizations can readily understand and which is easy to enforce.

Documents are not written in PDF. They are written in another application like MS Word. Typically, they are accessible when initially created. After they are written, accessibility is stripped from that document when it is converted to a PDF.

We therefore recommend that:

#6. The Committee should recommend the addition to the standard of a requirement that if an obligated organization posts a PDF online, it should also simultaneously post the same document in an accessible format such as MS Word, txt or html.

7. Committees Draft Recommendation 4: Products and Product Labels

We agree with the Committees Draft Recommendation 4 that the loophole in the 2011 Information and Communication Accessibility Standard must be closed which exempts products and product labels from information and communication accessibility. Section 9(2) of the Standard states:

(2) The information and communications standards do not apply to the following:
1. Products and product labels, except as specifically provided by this Part.

We commend the Committee for attempting to address this. However the draft recommendations do not go far enough to address this. The Committees draft recommendations call on the Ontario Government to try to work out a shared regulatory solution with the Federal Government and/or in the interim, that the Ontario Government explore non-regulatory solutions with obligated organizations.

Here again, an enforceable mandatory and specific standard is needed to change practices on the ground. Almost 15 years into the AODA, Ontarians with disabilities do not have time to hope that non-regulatory voluntary measures will change practices that have not substantially changed. In this context, we re-emphasize the finding in the Onley Report that progress on accessibility has been far too slow, and that Ontario remains a province full of soul-crushing barriers.

To hold off any regulatory action on this pending Ontario working out a coordinated action by the Federal Government would, we regret, indefinitely delay any regulatory action. Getting agreement with the Federal Government will predictably take years. The Federal Government will no doubt want to try to work out a common approach for all the provinces. While that might at first seem appealing, it will take even longer. It will risk the standard being diluted down to the lowest common denominator among the provinces. Ontario should lead with the strongest standard, and not follow others to the weakest standard.

In the recent federal election, most of the federal parties were not prepared to make any commitments at all on new measures they would take to promote accessibility for people with disabilities. Only one party was prepared to make commitments with any detail or that embodied real change for disability accessibility. After the election, there is little reason to expect that they will become more eager to make accessibility a priority.

There is no compelling reason to await federal regulatory action in this sphere, as the Committees draft recommendations propose. The Committee is worried about the possible overlap between federal and provincial jurisdiction. Yet in any area of public regulation of economic activity, there are innumerable situations where there may be an overlap between federal and provincial jurisdiction. Ontario nevertheless regularly takes action, without waiting for the Federal Government. We have a federal labour board and a provincial labour board. We have a national building code and the Ontario Building Code. The list goes on.

Our constitution fully accommodates this without a province having to withhold regulatory action. In 2011, it is commendable that the Ontario Government did not withhold enacting regulatory standards for the accessibility of websites. For the same reason, it can and should act now in the area of the accessibility of product labels. If the Federal Government later decides to take action in this area, Ontario can then of course discuss ways to harmonize their requirements. However this should not reduce Ontarios accessibility protections.

While it would be helpful for the Ontario Government to work with industries to come up with creative new solutions in this area as the Committee proposes, that too is no reason to withhold the enactment now of a regulatory requirement. Indeed, the presence of a mandatory Ontario regulatory accessibility requirement would help motivate industries to develop creative new solutions, including harnessing new technologies.

We therefore recommend that:

#7. The Committees Draft Recommendation 4 should be revised to recommend that the Information and Communication Accessibility Standard should be amended now to set enforceable accessibility standards for products and product labels. This should not await Ontario working out a joint approach to this with the Federal Government, or the Ontario Government working with the private sector on developing non-regulatory innovations in this area. Section 9(2) (should be amended to provide an exemption only for:

Products and product labels, where compliance with the information and communication requirements would impose an undue hardship on the organization.

8. Committees Draft Recommendation 5 Alternative Formats and Communication Supports

We agree with the Committees concern with s. 12 of the Information and Communication Accessibility Standard. It requires an obligated organization to consult with a person with a disability on a needed accessible document format. It leaves the ultimate decision to the obligated organization in unilateral terms. The Committees draft recommendation commendably found:

The Committee noted that this is resulting in the provision of formats that do not meet the needs of people with disabilities.

We agree with the Committee that this provision needs to be strengthened. We also agree with the Committees proposal that the obligated organization should endeavour to get the agreement of the person requesting the alternative format. However, we are concerned that this does not go far enough.

The Supreme Court of Canada has held that obligated organizations have a duty to investigate alternative solutions in duty to accommodate cases. (See D. Lepofsky Ontarios Human Rights Tribunal Bungles the School Boards Human Rights Duty to Accommodate Students with Disabilities J.F. v Waterloo District Catholic School Board An Erroneous Rejection of A Students Request to Bring His Autism Service Dog to School to be published in 2020 40.1 National Journal of Constitutional Law) We anticipate that many obligated organizations do not know of their existing procedural duty to accommodate that includes investigating alternative solutions up to the point of undue hardship.

We therefore recommend that:

#8. The Committees Draft Recommendation 5 should be expanded to propose that s. 12 of the Information and Communication Accessibility Standard be amended to state that where an obligated organization does not agree to provide the accessible format which the person with a disability requested, the obligated organization must investigate alternative ways to meet this need, up to the point of undue hardship.

9. Committees Draft Recommendation 6 and 7

We agree with the Committee where it states that s. 12 of the Information and Communication Accessibility Standard is unduly vague, where it requires that an alternative format document must be provided in a timely manner. We also agree with the Committees Draft Recommendation 6 that the obligated organization and the requesting individual should endeavour to reach an agreement on the time frame for this.

However we do not agree with the Committees Draft Recommendation 5 through 7 where these propose to refer to the Accessibility Standards Advisory Council (ASAC) the task of developing an alternative dispute resolution mechanism for addressing situations where the obligated organization and requesting individual cannot reach an agreement. We commend the Committee here for trying to be creative. Yet we fear that it might take years to develop that new mechanism.

Moreover, it is not clear to us that ASAC even now exists. At the time of writing, the Governments website only lists one person as a member of ASAC. We do not know if ASAC has been meeting since the 2018 Ontario election, much less that it has been meeting with sufficient frequency to do this work in a timely way. ASACs membership has, in the past, not been selected based on its expertise in designing alternative dispute resolution mechanisms.

The creation of the required legal machinery to which the Committees draft recommendations refer might require a legislative amendment, if there is to be an enforceable requirement and monetary penalties for non-compliance. We have not had a chance to investigate that complex question. As further addressed later in this brief, we do not want the Government to re-open the AODAs provisions in the Legislature.

The development of recommendations for the content of an element of an accessibility standard should not be sub-delegated to ASAC. The AODA requires that the development of such ideas and recommendations for accessibility standards be developed initially through a Standards Development Committee which is subject to the AODAs procedural safeguards and openness requirements (including requirements for public input). ASAC is not bound by any of those safeguards, for which we fought so hard. For example, its meeting minutes are not required to be made public. In contrast, the minutes of meetings of a Standards Development Committee must be made public, according to the AODA.

To strengthen requirements in this area to address the shortcomings which the Information and Communication Standards Development Committee commendably identified, it would be helpful for the Information and Communication Accessibility Standard to be amended to set clear timelines, or presumptive timelines for an organization to respond to a request. This could vary depending on the organizations size and the importance of the requested information. For example, if the information is to come from a hospital and relates to a patients medical condition, then the required response time should be very short. Given the readily-available availability of technology to produce alternative formats for documents, and the low cost for doing so, there is no reason for such timelines to ever be lengthy. If the Ontario Government were to post online helpful information on how to convert documents to accessible formats, and a list of venders who can be retained to do this, then an obligated organization should easily be able to act quickly when a request is received.

We therefore recommend that:

#9. Section 12 of the Information and Communication Accessibility Standard should be amended to set specific fixed or presumptive timelines for an obligated organization to provide an accessible alternative format for a document when requested. If the timeline is to be a presumptive one, rather than a categorical one, it should only be subject to an undue hardship defence for non-compliance. The Committee should recommend timelines that are short e.g. 48-72 hours, where the obligated organization is a large one, and/or where the requested information relates to important matters such as health, safety, or other vital services. Otherwise, nothing longer than a 7-day timeline should apply.

10. Committees Draft Recommendation 8

We agree with the aim of the Committees Draft Recommendation 8. It calls for the IASRs requirements to provide accessible formats and communication supports to be brought together in one place in the IASR, as long as nothing is done to weaken them. We would want to screen the proposed wording of any regulatory changes to be sure that they do not reduce any rights of people with disabilities.

11. Committees Draft Recommendation 9: On-Demand Conversion Ready Formats

We agree with the Committees Draft Recommendation 9. It would require the Ontario Government and the Legislature to immediately ensure that all publicly-facing documents are available in an accessible format. If this is required for new documents, this is not a major burden for the Ontario Government. As noted earlier, documents are typically first created in an accessible format like MS Word, and then are counterproductively rendered inaccessible by converting them to formats such as PDF.

12. Committees Draft Recommendation 10: On-Demand ASL and LSQ Translations

The Committees Draft Recommendation 10 commendably aims to find a creative way to address the need for on-demand Government information in ASL and LSQ. We share the intent of that proposal. We believe it should be strengthened.

We therefore recommend that:

#10. The Committees Draft Recommendation 10 should be expanded to:

a) propose an amendment to the Information and Communication Accessibility Standard to require the Committees proposed measures regarding the Ontario Government translating certain information into the Sign Languages ASL and LSQ on demand, and

b) expand that requirement to include captioning for any such video content, for the benefit of people with hearing loss who need captioning and not Sign Language.

13. Other Deficiencies with Section 12 that the Committees Draft Recommendations Do Not Fix

Section 12(1)(a) of the Standard sets the obligation too low. It states:

12. (1) Except as otherwise provided, every obligated organization shall upon request provide or arrange for the provision of accessible formats and communication supports for persons with disabilities,
(a) in a timely manner that takes into account the persons accessibility needs due to disability; and (b) at a cost that is no more than the regular cost charged to other persons.

It is not sufficient for an obligated organization to take into account the needs of people with disabilities. The requirement should be to provide supports that meet the needs of people with disabilities unless to do so is shown to cause the organization undue hardship.

We therefore recommend that:

#11. The Committee should recommend that section 12(1) of the Standard be amended to provide:

12. (1) Except as otherwise provided, every obligated organization shall upon request provide or arrange for the provision of accessible formats and communication supports for persons with disabilities,
(a) in a timely manner that meets the persons accessibility needs due to disability, except where doing so would cause an undue hardship to the organization; and
(b) at a cost that is no more than the regular cost charged to other persons.

It is commendable that section 12(3) requires organizations to notify the public about the availability of accessible formats and communication supports. However the provision is too vague. It requires more detail to make it effective. Section 12(3) provides:

(3) Every obligated organization shall notify the public about the availability of accessible formats and communication supports.

We therefore recommend that:

#12. Section 12(3) of the Standard should be amended to provide:

(3) Every obligated organization shall notify the public in an accessible format about the availability of accessible formats and communication supports, and, without limiting the generality of the foregoing, shall post such notification in an accessible format on the organizations website, if it has one.

Unlike the clear language used in a number of other parts of the IASR, section 12(4) is unintelligible. An organization needs a lawyer to figure it out. It states:

(4) Every obligated organization that is required to provide accessible formats or accessible formats and communication supports by section 3, 4, 11, 13, 19, 26, 28, 34, 37, 44 or 64 shall meet the requirements of subsections (1) and (2) but shall do so in accordance with the schedule set out in the referenced section and shall do so only to the extent that the requirements in subsections (1) and (2) are applicable to the requirements set out in the referenced section.

We do not know what this provision means. We fear others will also not know what it means. Whatever it means to say, it should be said in much clearer language language that lets an organization and persons with disabilities understand it without needing to pay a lawyer to decipher it.

We therefore recommend that:

#13. Section 12(4) of the Standard should be re-written in plain language to make it intelligible.

We commend and endorse the concerns and advice that Communication Disabilities Access Canada CDAC provided to Accessibility Minister Raymond Cho in its January 19, 2019 letter to the minister. CDAC is an amazing and well-respected expert in its field. It has cutting-edge knowledge and good ideas on how to make progress.

We quote from the key part of that letter here:

Communication Disabilities Access Canada (CDAC) is a national and provincial, non-profit organization that addresses accessibility for people who have speech, language and communication disabilities. Over 165,000 Ontarians have disabilities that affect their communication, that are not caused primarily by deafness or significant hearing loss. Diverse disabilities such as physical, neurological, cognitive, learning, hearing, vision, and linguistic disabilities can affect one or more areas of a persons speech, comprehension, reading and writing.

Communication access to goods and services is as important as physical access for people who have little or no speech and who use picture, symbol, letter boards and devices to convey their messages.

The current integrated standards do not provide sufficient directives for businesses and organizations on ways to make their services accessible for people with speech, language and communication disabilities. For example, most people with speech and language disabilities experience significant barriers to services in face-to-face and telephone interactions, group meetings and forums and written communication. These contexts are not adequately or comprehensively addressed in any of the standards. They are either oversimplified or omitted.

At this time, the Information and Communications Standard primarily focuses on making written information (print and digital) accessible. Examples of accessible formats cited on the Accessibility Directorates website, include human assistance, large print, text transcripts of audio or visual information, handwritten notes instead of speech, plain language and electronic documents.

Many of these accessibility accommodations are extremely useful and appropriate for people who have speech and language disabilities. However, the accessibility needs of people with speech and language disabilities go beyond access to written information and occur in face-to-face and telephone interactions, group meetings and written communication. Many of these contexts are critical communication situations, such as police, legal and justice services, where communication barriers can have serious consequences.

To address this significant gap in the standards, we propose that the Information and Communications (IC) Standard expand its mandate to include regulations that address two-way, interactive communication for people who have disabilities that affect their communication.

We are recommending:

* The IC Standards Development Committee should include people who have a thorough knowledge and proven track record to represent the communication access needs of people with diverse speech and language disabilities.

* The mandate of this committee should go beyond processes that businesses and organizations must follow to create, provide, and receive information and communications that are accessible to people with disabilities to include processes, and resources to ensure effective two-way communication in face-to-face, telephone and group interactions and written communication.

* Development of regulations, guidelines and resources for: Face-to-face, telephone and group interactions. Standards and guidelines are required for all service providers who interact with the public within these contexts, so that they have the knowledge, skills and resources to interact with people who communicate in ways other than speech. They need to know how-to make telephone services accessible and how to make meetings and public forums inclusive for people who have communication disabilities.

* Communication supports: Service providers need information about how and when to provide and work with communication assistants, communication intermediaries, Sign Language interpreters and other formal communication support services. Formal communication assistance services are essential in critical communication contexts such as health care, police, legal and justice services. In these situations, appropriate communication support services must be mandatory.

* Communication accommodations: Service providers need information about simple, non-technical communication tools that they may provide when a person has no effective means to communicate. They need clarification on the use of communication devices that people may use.

* Writing: Regulations are required to address writing activities for people who cannot physically write or who cannot write due to learning or linguistic disabilities. Writing includes accessible forms, procedures for note taking and signatures.

* Environmental accommodations: Services need guidelines on creating and designing accessible signage and wayfaring, counter spaces, and elevators with a communication access lens.

* Policies are required for communication procedures in emergency evacuation situations, as well as authentic assistance in critical contexts, including medical assistance in dying, police, legal and justice settings.

We believe that many of these accessibility features could be included in the IC Standard to provide a foundation upon which sector-specific communication standards could be developed, such as transportation, healthcare, education and employment. An example of a generic baseline communication standard would-be mandatory training for all service providers on how to communicate with a person who has unclear speech or who uses a communication device. An example of a sector-specific communication standard would be that health care providers must ensure that a communication assistant is authorized by a patient when supporting them in the provision of informed consent to treatment.

Existing resources:

CDAC has developed a range of free guidelines and resources on ways to make services communication accessible. These resources are available for the Accessibility Directorate to promote and use across the province, resources include:

1. A database of qualified Communication Intermediaries to assist people with speech and language disabilities communicating in police, legal and justice situations http://www.cdacanada.com/communication-assistance-database/.

We have information about making justice services accessible at http://www.access-to-justice.org/

2. A database of communication assistants who are available to support people with speech and language disabilities communicating at meetings, forums and on committees at http://www.cdacanada.com/communication-assistance-database/

3. A webinar on making services accessible at
http://courses.cdacanada.com/courses/making-your-services-accessible-for-people-with-communication-disabilities/

4. Written guidelines on communication access at
http://www.communication-access.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/12/Guidelines-for-Communication-Access-1.pdf

We therefore recommend that:

#14. The Information and Communication Standards Development Committee should seek direct input including a face-to-face meeting with Communications Disabilities Access Canada and address its concerns regarding the Standard.

14. Part 3: Section 13 Emergency Plans Generally

We share the Committees commendable call for greater action to ensure the accessibility of information regarding emergency plans and procedures.

15. Committees Draft Recommendation 11: Emergency Requirements

We agree with the Committees Draft Recommendation 11 that all the IASRs various provisions regarding emergency plans and procedures should be consolidated in one part of the regulation. We add that nothing should be done to weaken these provisions.

16. Committees Draft Recommendation 12: Unacceptable Emergency Outcomes and Preparedness

The Committee concluded that the preparedness of all levels of Government for emergencies involving people with disabilities is unacceptable. We share this concern.

The Committee commendably recommended that the Government should review overall emergency preparedness measures from a disability perspective. However, it did not recommend anything to strengthen s. 13 of the Information and Communication Accessibility Standard. We turn attention to that here.

Section 13 does not spell out a most obvious and important aspect of emergency procedures in this area. It does not explicitly require an organization to incorporate in any emergency procedure, a process for ensuring that it makes emergency announcements in an accessible format or manner during an emergency or crisis. Even if it is implicitly covered by earlier provisions in the IASR, it is very important to have a specific, clear and strong requirement here.

We therefore recommend that:

#15. Section 13 of the Standard should be expanded to impose a requirement that an organization include in any emergency procedures plan, specific measures to ensure that emergency announcements (such as fire alarms) are provided in an accessible means (e.g. flashing lights for the benefit of persons with hearing loss).

17. Part 4: Section 14 Website and Web Content Accessibility Generally

We share the Committees view that the Standards website accessibility provisions need to be strengthened.

18. Committees Recommendation 15: Differentiating Organizations/High Impact Organizations

We strongly and heartily endorse the Committees proposal that an organizations number of employees should not be the sole determinant of an organizations accessibility obligations. We have been urging that view upon the Ontario Government for over a decade without success.

The Committees idea of defining high impact organizations for purposes of defining their accessibility obligations has merit. We would add a few refinements.

First, the Information and Communication Accessibility Standard, as now constituted, has an erroneous upside-down approach to organizations duties and timelines. As in all other areas of the IASR, the Information and Communication Accessibility Standard starts from a mechanistic approach whereby the bigger the organization, the more it must do, and the sooner it must do it.

That is inappropriate here. In the case of small organizations, such as smaller businesses, website and mobile app accessibility should be attainable more quickly than by larger organizations, especially where the measures are required on a go-forward basis. A small company with a small website can ensure the accessibility of its entire web footprint much more quickly than the Ontario Government. Yet the Information and Communication Accessibility Standard erroneously places the least obligations on that small company and gives it the longest timelines. It places the greatest obligations on the Ontario Government and gives it the shortest timelines. This makes no sense.

The Information and Communication Accessibility Standard should be revised where needed to correct this incorrect approach. It is irrelevant for those timelines that have already expired.

Second, the measure of what constitutes a high impact organization should include more than does the Committees Draft Recommendation 15.

We therefore recommend that:

#16. The Committees Draft Recommendation 15, to create a category of high-impact private organizations, should be refined to:

a) Create criteria that will be easily measured and enforced, where possible.

b) measure the number of an organizations users, customers or interactions inside or outside Ontario. If for example, the organization has a huge customer base around the world, the fact that a smaller number of users in Ontario should not militate against it being categorized as a high-impact organization.

c) Make the threshold revenue as $1 million not $10 million as the Committees draft recommendations propose.

d) Recommend the revision of s. 14 (website accessibility) to make website requirements extend further within the private sector, beyond the proposed new category of high impact organizations.

19. Extending the Information and Communication Accessibility Standard to Require WCAG 2.1, Not the Current 2.0

At present, the specific standard for website accessibility that the Information and Communication Accessibility Standard sets is Web Content Accessibility Group (WCAG) 2.0. That was established by the W3C consortium at least a decade ago. Since then, we understand that it has been updated much more recently to WCAG 2.1. As we read it, the Committees recommendations merely refer to the old WCAG 2.0. They do not recommend updating the Information and Communication Accessibility Standard to require WCAG 2.1. The Committees draft recommendations do not explain this. It is critically important.

We therefore recommend that:

#17. Section 14 of the Standard should be revised to require websites to comply with the new international standard of WCAG 2.1, not the old WCAG 2.0 which the Information and Communication Accessibility Standard now requires.

As well, it is entirely unjustifiable in late 2019 for the standard to lead any organization to think that it is sufficient in the interim to only meet WCAG 2.0 Level A, and not, as a bare minimum, Level AA. Yet s. 14(3) still provides as follows, with an end date of 2021:

(2) Designated public sector organizations and large organizations shall make their internet websites and web content conform with the World Wide Web Consortium Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0, initially at Level A and increasing to Level AA, and shall do so in accordance with the schedule set out in this section.

No organization should now waste its efforts at merely meeting Level A as an interim goal, when it makes more sense to set Level AA as its goal from the outset.

We therefore recommend that:

#18. As an alternative, section 14(2) should be amended to eliminate WCAG 2.0 Level A, and not Level AA, as a bare minimum for any organization, in the event that WCAG 2.1 is not set as the new standard to meet.

20. Committees Draft Recommendation 13: Mobile Applications & New Technologies

We agree with the Committees Draft Recommendation 13. It would extend the Information and Communication Accessibility Standards website accessibility requirements to mobile applications. However we do not agree that all small organizations should be exempted from this requirement, just as we do not believe that all small organizations should be categorically exempted from the Information and Communication Accessibility Standards website accessibility requirements.

If anything, a well-resourced small organization could at least in some cases find it easier to make its website and mobile apps accessible than can a larger organization. The IASR arbitrarily defines the size of an organization solely by its number of employees, regardless of the organizations resources or its impact on the market. If for example a small organization has a broadly-selling app, there is no reason why it should not meet accessibility requirements. The Ontario Human Rights Code does not grant any such exemption for small organizations.

We therefore recommend that:

#19. The Committees Draft Recommendation 13 should recommend that section 14 of the Standard should be amended to set full accessibility requirements to mobile applications, and to the websites, web applications and mobile applications of small organizations where compliance would not pose an undue hardship.

21. Committees Recommendation 16: Significant Refresh

The Committee’s draft recommendations correctly identify another serious deficiency with s. 15 of the Information and Communication Accessibility Standard, namely that key requirements are only triggered by an obligated organization creating a new website or undertaking a significant refresh of an existing site. We agree with the Committee that this vague threshold provides obligated organizations with an easy, undeserved and unacceptable end-run around the provision.

We also agree with the Committee’s Draft Recommendation 16 to fix this, and the stated intent underlying it, namely:

Any content that is new or which an obligated organization changes, updates or adds to a web site must meet the accessibility requirements of Section 14
Furthermore, when content is added, changed or updated, it is recommended that organizations take the opportunity to make all content accessible
The Committee recommends that content should include all functions, interactions and branding (look and feel) for a site. It is recommended that Section 14 include examples for the sake of clarity
Timeline: Regulation to be changed immediately, to be effective six months after the new regulation comes into force.

22. Committees Recommendation 17: Practicability

We agree with the Committees concern that s. 14(5) includes too broad an exemption to its website accessibility requirements, by only requiring obligated organizations to take the required action to make websites accessible where practicable. We agree with the Committee that

this term is too vague and might allow some organizations to avoid doing something they are actually able to do.

We encourage the Committee to fortify and further reinforce this serious concern. The sweeping where practicable exemption is far broader than the relevant Human Rights Code exemption from the duty to accommodate people with disabilities, which is only available where it is impossible to provide more accessibility without undue hardship. Undue hardship is a much more exacting requirement than mere practicability. Moreover the Standards failure to use the stronger undue hardship terminology sends a harmful and erroneous signal to obligated organizations that they need not meet this higher undue hardship test. It misleads obligated organizations. This is a disservice to obligated organizations and people with disabilities.

To define the existing term practicable in s. 14(5) to mean the same as undue hardship, as the Committee is contemplating, risks confusing obligated organizations or suggesting to them that undue hardship means the same as merely not practicable. It is neater and cleaner, and less risk-prone, to simply replace the term not practicable in the Standard with the correct undue hardship.

We would prefer if no exception clause was included. Compliance with well-established international standards for new web postings simply does not create an undue hardship. At the very least, if there is to be an exemption clause, the exemption should be no broader than that provided under the Human Rights Code.

We therefore recommend that:

#20. The Committees Draft Recommendation 17 should be replaced with a recommendation that the Standards not practicable exception from website accessibility is removed from section 14. As a weaker and less desirable alternative, if there is to remain some sort of exemption in s. 14(5), it should provide that an obligated organization need not meet these accessibility requirements only if it can show that it would be impossible to meet such requirements without causing that organization undue hardship, and that the obligated organization has the duty to never less take all accessibility action that is possible up to the point of undue hardship.

It is important for the Standard to make it clear that all organizations covered by this provision have a clear duty to promptly provide people with disabilities, on request, in an accessible format, with any information on their website that is inaccessible. This would include, for example, any information that need not yet be made accessible because of the timelines in the regulation, or any archival material that need never be made accessible on the website.

We therefore recommend that:

#21. Section 14 of the Standard should be amended to require any organization to promptly make available, on the request of a person with a disability, and in an accessible format that meets his or her needs, any information on the organizations website that is not accessible to that person because of his or her disability.

23. Part 4, Subpart 1: Section 14 Exemptions Generally

We agree that the Standards exemptions are too broad and need to be narrowed.

24. Committees Recommendation 19: Extranet Exemption

We agree with the intent and content of the Committees Draft Recommendation 19 that the exemption for public-facing websites with a log-in should be removed and that these types of websites should be required to comply with the Information and Communication Accessibility Standard. We however believe that the proposed 2023 deadline for all publicly-facing websites, other than new ones, is too long a timeline, especially where meeting it would not provably pose an undue hardship.

We therefore recommend that:

#22. The Committees Draft Recommendation 19 should be revised to set the deadline for all publicly-facing websites to meet accessibility requirements as 2022, not 2023.

25. Committees Recommendation 20: Intranet Exemption

We agree with the Committees important finding that technology has advanced to the point where all organizations should be able to make their websites accessible under Section 14. We therefore agree with extending this requirement to the broader public sector and large organizations, including employee-facing websites. As such, we agree with the Committee that all definitions related to a type of website be removed and that Section 14 simply apply to all websites, internet or intranet for all obligated organizations. Indeed this is a critical reform to strengthen the current weak Employment Accessibility Standard. As indicated earlier, we would go further and urge that it be extended to at least some small organizations, even if they do not fit within the proposed definition of a high impact organization.

26. Committees Recommendation 21: Pre-2012 Exemption

We agree with the Committees view that the Information and Communication Accessibility Standards exemption for pre-2012 web content is overbroad and should be narrowed. The Committees Draft Recommendation 21 seems on first examination to be sensible. We would add that where historic, archived content is available on the web, and where a customer or employee needs it in an accessible format for purposes of seeking or using an obligated organizations goods, services or facilities, or for purposes of their employment, the obligated organization should be required to make that content available on request in an accessible format.

We therefore recommend that:

#23. The Committees Draft Recommendation 21 should be expanded to require an obligated organization to provide an item of pre-2012 inaccessible online content or document in an accessible format on request if needed for purposes of seeking or using that organizations goods, services or facilities or for purposes of employment.

27. Committees Recommendation 22: Live Captioning and Audio Description

We agree with the Committees Draft Recommendation 22 that sets out requirements so that by 2025, the Standards live captioning and audio description exemptions will be eliminated. We would add that by 2021, this exemption should be lifted for the city of Toronto, a public sector organization which is larger and more resourced than a number of entire provinces in Canada.

We therefore recommend that:

#24. The Committees Draft Recommendation 22 should be revised to provide that the current exemption for live captioning and audio description should be lifted by 2021 for the City of Toronto.

28. Committees Recommendation 23: Web Hosting Location

We agree with the Committees Draft Recommendation 23 which would clarify that s. 14 obligations apply to a website whether or not it is hosted in Ontario. This is a loophole that should not be permitted to remain.

29. Chief Information Officer

A number of larger organizations in the public and private sector now have a senior executive position often called the Chief Information Officer (CIO) or Chief Technology Officer (CTO). This is a critical position that could be decisive in enhancing the accessibility of information, especially digital information.

At present, there is nothing in place in the Standard to help ensure that a CIO or CTO has sufficient knowledge and training on digital accessibility, or that requires them to have lead responsibility for digital accessibility or that ensures that they know that they have that lead responsibility. There is similarly nothing in place to require that a CIO or CTO is held accountable within the organization for the organizations efforts at ensuring digital accessibility.

We therefore recommend that:

#25. a) Where a large organization, a high impact organization or a public sector organization has a Chief Information Officer or Chief Technology Officer position or their equivalent:

a) The CIO is responsible and accountable for leading the organizations efforts at ensuring digital information accessibility in the organizations internal and external digital communications.

b) If the organization has a performance contract or performance review process for its officers, it shall be a condition of the CIOs or CTOs performance contract that the CIO or CTO is responsible and accountable for ensuring digital information accessibility and for ensuring that Accessibility is an integrated component of Performance and Security design requirements.

c) In any performance review, performance-based pay review or promotion processes, the CIOs or CTOs performance on digital information accessibility shall be considered as a relevant factor.

d) In considering whom to hire as CIO or CTO, a hiring factor or criterion should be a candidates knowledge and experience with respect to digital information accessibility and assistive technology.

30. Teleconference Platforms Used by Public Sector Organizations

Increasingly, organizations use web-based teleconferencing and meeting platforms for internal meetings of their employees or officials, and for public-facing meetings, such as electronic town hall meetings. Some of these platforms are more accessible than others. It is critical that organizations only use the most accessible ones. A requirement to this effect in the Standard would help pressure all such platforms to become accessible.

We therefore recommend that:

#26. The Standard should be amended to require that when any public sector organization, large organization or high impact private sector organization uses a web-based teleconferencing platform, it should only use a platform that is accessible. If no such platforms are fully accessible, then such organizations should be required to use the most accessible platforms of those which are available. The Standard should provide key criteria for assessing the accessibility of such platforms.

31. Digital Information Accessibility Statement

The Standard does not require any obligated organization to prepare and make public a comprehensive statement of the status of the accessibility of its website or related mobile apps. This might be covered to some extent in an accessibility plan or progress report on accessibility that the organization must prepare under the IASR. However, there is no assurance that the needed information will be included and will be comprehensive.

Excellent research provided to the AODA Alliance by Emily Prosser, an Osgoode Hall Law School, which she prepared at the ARCH Disability Law Centre, includes the following:

The United Kingdom Statutory Instrument 2018 No.952, entitled The Public Sector Bodies (Websites and Mobile Applications) (No. 2) Accessibility Regulations 2018 (the Regulation) is comparable to certain provisions within the AODA Information and Communication Accessibility Standard. There is also a Directive (EU) 2016/2102 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 26 October 2016 on the accessibility of the websites and mobile applications of public sector bodies (the Directive) which is relevant.

Both the Regulation and the Directive require public organizations to create an Accessibility Statement.1

That research also stated:

An Accessibility Statement as defined by the Regulation and Directive is: a detailed, comprehensive and clear statement produced by a public sector body on the compliance of its website or mobile application with these Regulations.2 The Accessibility Statement is a useful tool especially where an organization determines it is unable to meet accessibility standards. The Regulation requires a public sector body to explain in its Accessibility Statement any instances where it cannot comply with the accessibility requirement and provide accessible alternatives where appropriate.3

Under the AODA Information and Communication Accessibility Standard, obligated organizations are required to provide a requesting party with an explanation when it determines that it is unable to convert information and communications to an accessible format.4 This requirement is similar to the Accessibility Statement required under the Regulation and Directive. However, Accessibility Statements are more robust. Accessibility Statements outline both an organizations compliance and lack thereof meaning they go beyond simply addressing instances where an organization cannot comply with standards. Additionally, Accessibility Statements are required whether or not there is a requesting party who has been denied accessible/convertible information. Further, the term explanation is undefined in the Information and Communication Standard and so it lacks the formal requirements of an Accessibility Statement. As a result, there is no guarantee as to the quality of an explanation given to a requesting party under the Information and Communication Accessibility Standard.

We therefore recommend that:

#27. The Standard should be revised to require that public sector organizations, large private sector organizations and high impact private sector organizations shall prepare an annual or biennial accessibility statement and make it public on its website which:

a) Specifies in detail the extent to which the organizations website and mobile apps are accessible and specifies where they are not and

b) Gives reasons for any deficiencies in the accessibility of the website or mobile apps and indicates what the organization plans to do to rectify this, and by when.

32. Committees Recommendation 14: Procurement

We agree with the Committees draft recommendations that the IASRs general provisions regarding procurement of accessible goods, services and facilities are not strong enough to result in accessible digital procurement. We also agree with the general thrust of the ideas in the Committees Draft Recommendation 14 on the substantive requirements to add to the IASR regarding procurement of accessible information technology. We need the Information and Communication Accessibility Standard to go further. It should spell out specifics of what kinds of accessibility features or functionality should be required. These should be expressed in terms of end-user-usability, and not the specific technology to include. This is so because technology in this area is so rapidly evolving. In other words, these amendments to the Standard should not only set process requirements, but also requirements for end results in terms of functional end-user experience. We anticipate that obligated organizations often know little or nothing about this and need as much regulatory direction as possible.

We therefore recommend that:

#28. Beyond the measures in the Committees Draft Recommendation 14, the IASRs general procurement provisions should be strengthened to specify end-user functionality requirements that are sufficiently flexible to accommodate emerging technologies.

We agree with the Committee that beyond the specific context of procuring information technology, the IASRs general provisions regarding procurement need to be strengthened. We do not agree with the Committees suggestion that this be referred to ASAC. As noted earlier, under the AODA, the review of any accessibility standard must be conducted at least every five years by a Standards Development Committee that is appointed for that purpose.

The members of the Standards Development Committee appointed to conduct that review should be chosen based on their expertise and experience in this specific area. No Standards Development Committee has been appointed since 2011 to review any of the IASRs general provisions, such as its procurement provisions. It would be open to the Government to assign that review to an existing Standards Development Committee that was already appointed to review any other parts of the IASR or to recommend new accessibility standards.

The Government is in violation of the AODA for not having done so. That review was required to have been started in 2016. As noted earlier, the Standards Development Committee that conducts such a review should comply with all the procedural safeguards in the AODA that involve conducting a review of an accessibility standard.

We therefore recommend that:

#29. The Government should fulfil its overdue duty under the AODA to appoint a Standards Development Committee to review all the general provisions in the IASR, sections 1 through 8.

We agree that the Government and public sector organizations need to be given some time to implement any changes in the area of procurement. However, we do not agree that this should extend out to 2021, as the Committees draft recommendations propose. This is so for several reasons.

First, public sector organizations have had accessible procurement duties under the AODA for years. They are not starting from scratch.

Second, their duty not to create new barriers is enshrined in pre-existing human rights law. It is not a new creation of the AODA or the IASR.

Third, 2025 is not far away. We cannot afford any delays, especially on the part of public sector organizations that are supposed to be leading by example.

Fourth, any such delay inappropriately suggests to public sector organizations that it is okay for them to continue to use public money to create new disability barriers. Yet that harmful use of public money must stop.

This is especially so as it applies to the Ontario Government that is the very body that is creating this regulation. As noted earlier, the Ontario Government has claimed for years to be leading Ontario by example in the area of accessibility. The Ontario Government is hardly caught by surprise by new regulatory provisions in this area.

For the same reasons, we respectfully disagree with the Committees Draft Recommendation 14 where it proposes that an obligated organization should be exempt from any of this new requirement if it has entered into a contract regarding the matter before January 1, 2021. That would let an obligated organization disregard this new requirement even if it was amply aware that it was coming e.g. because it was earlier posted in a draft regulation.

We therefore recommend that:

#30. Any changes to the requirements for procurement of goods, services or facilities should go into effect within six months of the new regulation being enacted, and should apply to any procurement thereafter, or for which a contract was signed after the draft of this new regulation was publicly posted for comment, unless the obligated organization can show that to comply would cause it an undue hardship.

We propose further measures to strengthen the IASR procurement provisions, whether they apply to information technology or other goods, services or facilities.

Section 5 of the IASR falls well short of the duty to prevent the creation of new barriers that the Supreme Court of Canada recognized years ago in Council of Canadians with Disabilities v. VIA Rail Canada Inc., [2007] 1 S.C.R. 650.

This section of the Standard unjustifiably exempts any organization from even having to ask for accessible goods, services or facilities when seeking to procure them, where it is not practicable to do so. We know of no situation where it is impracticable to even ask vendors for accessible goods, services or facilities, as part of procurement. Moreover, the not practicable standard erroneously falls substantially short of the without undue hardship standard in the Human Rights Code. It is counterproductive and harmful for the Standard to point obligated organizations to a test that is transparently lower than the Human Rights Code.

If there were to be any exemption clause in this part of the IASR at all, it should be considerably narrowed. We here draw on the Committees commendable recommendation, further addressed later in this brief, that the Standard should also be amended to create a class of high impact private sector organizations.

We therefore recommend that:

#31. Section 5(1) of the IASR should be amended to read:

5. (1) The Government of Ontario, Legislative Assembly and designated public sector organizations shall

(a) Incorporate accessibility criteria and features when procuring or acquiring goods, services or facilities, for purposes of acquiring or procuring goods, services or facilities that are accessible to persons with disabilities, and

(b) Acquire or procure goods, services and facilities for use in their organization, or for the benefit of the public, that are accessible to persons with disabilities, except where it is not possible to procure or acquire them without undue hardship.

#32. Section 5(2) of the IASR should be amended to provide:

(2) If the Government of Ontario, Legislative Assembly or a designated public sector organization determines that it was not able to acquire or procure accessible goods, services or facilities without undue hardship in accordance with paragraph 5(1) (b), it shall provide, upon request, an explanation in writing.

The duty to procure accessible goods, services and facilities should be extended to large or high impact private sector organizations. This is important for ensuring accessibility of goods, services, facilities and employment.

We therefore recommend that:

#33. Sections 5(1) and (2) should be amended to extend their requirements to large private sector organizations and high-impact private sector organizations.

Moreover, these procurement requirements should be extended to apply to any private sector organization when engaging in a project or contract for the Ontario Government. The Government should not be able to get around these procurement requirements by contracting out some of its work to the private sector.

We therefore recommend that:

#34. The IASRs procurement requirements should be amended to apply to any private sector organization in connection with any work it is doing for or on behalf of the Ontario Government.

33. Section 6 – Self-Service Kiosks

Related to the issue of procurement, the IASRs section regarding electronic kiosks, s.6, remains far too weak. Its requirements should be strengthened. Features of the Information and Communication Accessibility Standard bear on such kiosks, just as they can apply to other customer-facing technology. These requirements should extend further in the private sector than at present.

We therefore recommend that:

#35. Section 6(1) of the IASR should be amended to read:

6. (1) Without limiting the generality of section 5, the Government of Ontario, Legislative Assembly, designated public sector organizations, large private sector organizations and high impact private sector organizations shall incorporate accessibility features when designing, procuring or acquiring self-service kiosks or any point-of-sale technology for use by the public, to ensure that they are accessible to and usable by persons with disabilities.

It is also important for private sector organizations with less than 50 employees to take serious action on this front, especially where they offer technology for use by the public during point-of-sale transactions.

We therefore recommend that:

#36. Section 6(2) of the IASR should be amended to read:

(2) Small organizations shall have regard to the accessibility for persons with disabilities when designing, procuring or acquiring self-service kiosks or any other point-of-sale technology for use by the public, and in any event, shall use accessible point-of-sale equipment when acquiring new point-of-sale equipment for use by customers, or replacing existing point-of-sale equipment.

#37. Section 5(5) of the IASR should be amended to provide:

(5) In this section,

kiosk means an interactive electronic terminal intended for public use that allows users to access one or more services, facilities, or products or a combination of them, and, without limiting the generality of the foregoing, includes any device used by a member of the public to make in whole or in part a transaction relating to a product, good, service or facility or combination thereof, such as a point of sale device that allows the customer to pay for items with a debit, credit or other electronic funds card.

34. Committees Recommendation 18: Harmonization and Application across Requirements

We agree with the Committees Draft Recommendation 18 that the IASR should be amended to make it clear that its website accessibility provisions in s. 14 apply to all websites that are referred to across the IASR. We go further. The IASR should be refined to make it clear that these website accessibility requirements apply to any website specified in any provincial legislation or regulations, such as any provincial law that requires anything to be posted on a website.

We therefore recommend that:

#38. The Committees Draft Recommendation 18 should be amended to call for the website accessibility requirements in s. 14 to apply to any website to which provincial legislation or regulations apply, such as a provincial law that requires specified information to be posted on a website.

35. Part 5: Sections 15, 16, 17 and 18 Generally

It is inexcusable that in 2019, over 14 years after the AODA was enacted, students continue to face difficulties in getting timely access to needed educational materials in an accessible format that they can read.

The AODA Alliance has released a proposed Framework for the Education Accessibility Standard and has submitted it to the K-12 Education Standards Development Committee. We set out the relevant passages below. We do however urge the Information and Communication Standards Development Committee to press forward with its recommendations in this area, as elaborated upon below. If the K-12 Education Standards Development Committee or the post-Secondary Education Standards Development Committee opt to make further recommendations on point, that can only enrich the discussion. However, we ask the Information and Communication Standards Development Committee not to hold off proceedings on these recommendations due to the forthcoming work of the two Education Standards Development Committees.

In the key part of the AODA Alliances proposed Framework for the Education Accessibility Standard, a vision is offered of what an accessible education system would look like. This vision includes, among other things:

2.5 Instructional materials used in Ontarios education system would be available in formats that are fully accessible to students with disabilities who need to use them and would be available in accessible formats when needed.

2.6 All digital technology used in Ontarios education system, such as hardware, software and online learning, used in class or from home, would be fully accessible and would fully embody the principle of universal design. Education staff working with students with disabilities would be properly trained to use the accessibility features of that hardware, software and online learning technology, and to effectively assist students with disabilities to use them.

Among the recommendations in that proposed Framework for the contents of the Education Accessibility Standard is the following:

8. Ensuring Digital Accessibility at School

Barrier: School boards using classroom technology, such as hardware, software, online learning systems and internal or external websites that lack digital accessibility; school board policies that can be obstacles to using adaptive technology designed for people with disabilities; Insufficient staff training and familiarity with the use of accessibility features of mainstream technology, and with disability-specific adaptive technology.

8.1 Each school board should ensure that:

Educational equipment and technology, including hardware, software, and tablet/mobile apps deployed in educational settings should be designed based on universal design principles, to ensure that students with disabilities can use them.

a) A school boards Learning Management Systems (LMS) should be accessible to staff and students with disabilities, including those who use adaptive technology. They should have all accessibility features turned on and available to ensure that information posted through them will be accessible to students with disabilities, including those using adaptive technology such as screen readers or voice recognition tools. Each school board should ensure that no teacher is able to turn off any feature of the LMS that is accessible in favour of one that is not.

b) Each school boards internal and external websites and intranet content, including internet content available to students for learning purposes, including all online learning programs, should be fully accessible, with all new information posted on them to be fully accessible.

c) Electronic documents created at the school board for use in education and other programming and activities should be created in accessible formats unless there is a compelling and unavoidable reason requiring otherwise. PDF format should be avoided. If a PDF document is created, an alternate version of the content should be simultaneously provided and posted in an accessible Microsoft Word or HTML format.

d) Software used to produce a school boards documents such as report cards, Individual Education Plans, or other key documents should be designed to ensure that they produce these documents in accessible formats.

e) Textbooks and learning software should be procured only if they include full information technology accessibility. Any textbook used in any learning environment must be accessible to teachers and students with disabilities at the time of procurement. Here again, PDF should not be used unless an accessible alternative format such as MS Word is also simultaneously available. For example, if a textbook is available in EPUB format, the textbooks must meet the international standard for that file format. For EPUB it is the W3C Digital Publishing Guidelines currently under review. If a textbook is available in print, the publisher should be required to provide the digital version of the textbook in an accessible format at the same time the print version is delivered to the school/Board.

8.2 The Ministry of Education and each school board should establish, implement, publicize and enforce information technology procurement accessibility requirements, to ensure that no technology is purchased either by a school board, or by the Ministry for use by school boards, unless it ensures full digital accessibility. Digital and information technology accessibility should be included in all Requests for Proposal (RFP) or other tenders for sale of products and services to a school board or the Ministry.

The proposed Framework also includes:

12. Ensuring Accessibility of Instructional Materials that Students with Disabilities Use

Barrier: Instructional materials, such as textbooks and other instructional materials and teaching resources that are not provided at the same time in an accessible format for students with disabilities.

Section 15 of the Integrated Accessibility Standards Regulation, enacted in June 2011, and in force for school boards since 2013 or 2015 (depending on their size) requires education organizations to provide instructional materials on request in an accessible format, and to make this part of their procurement of such resources. However, this provision has not been effective and sufficient to effectively ensure that students with disabilities face no barriers in this context. Therefore, stronger measures are needed.

12.1 To ensure that instructional materials are fully accessible on a timely basis to students with disabilities such as vision loss and those with learning disabilities that affect reading, each school board should:

a) Survey students with disabilities who need accessible instructional materials, and their teachers and families, to get their front-line experiences on whether they get timely access to accessible instructional materials, and to get specifics on where this has been most lacking.

b) Establish a dedicated resource within the school board, or shared among school boards, to convert instructional materials to an accessible format, where needed, on a timely basis, either alone or in combination with other school boards.

c) Review its procurement practices to ensure that any new instructional materials that are acquired is fully accessible or conversion-ready and monitor to ensure that this is always done in practice. A condition of procurement should be a requirement that the supplier or vender must remediate any inaccessible materials at its own expense.

12.2 The Education Accessibility Standard should require the Ministry of Education to implement, monitor and publicly report on province-wide strategies to ensure the procurement of and use of accessible instructional materials across school boards.

We therefore recommend that:

#39. Sections 15 to 18 of the Standard should be amended to ensure the accessibility of instructional and other information in Ontarios education system, in accordance with Recommendations 8.1, 8.2, 12.1 and 12.2 of the AODA Alliances October 10, 2019 proposed framework for the contents of the K-12Education Accessibility Standard.

36. Committees Recommendation 24: Purchase of Accessible Teaching/Training Materials

We agree with the Committees Draft Recommendation 24 that obligated organizations that are educational or training institutions be required to order textbooks or other printed curricula materials from producers who agree to provide accessible or conversion-ready versions, in the same time frame as print copies. This should apply to both print and electronic teaching materials.

We therefore recommend that:

#40. The Committees Recommendation 24 should be expanded to also require that obligated organizations that are educational or training institutions be required to order electronic textbooks or other electronic curricula materials from producers who agree to provide accessible or conversion-ready versions, in the same time frame as non-accessible versions.

37. Section 15 – Educational and Training Resources and Materials

Beyond this, s. 15, on providing accessible educational and training materials, while helpful, needs to be strengthened. It now provides:

15. (1) Every obligated organization that is an educational or training institution shall do the following, if notification of need is given:
1. Provide educational or training resources or materials in an accessible format that takes into account the accessibility needs due to a disability of the person with a disability to whom the material is to be provided by,
i. Procuring through purchase or obtaining by other means an accessible or conversion ready electronic format of educational or training resources or materials, where available, or
ii. Arranging for the provision of a comparable resource in an accessible or conversion ready electronic format, if educational or training resources or materials cannot be procured, obtained by other means or converted into an accessible format.
2. Provide student records and information on program requirements, availability and descriptions in an accessible format to persons with disabilities.

(2) For the purposes of this section and sections 16, 17 and 18, an obligated organization is an educational or training institution if it falls into one of the following categories:
1. It is governed by the Education Act or the Private Career Colleges Act, 2005.
2. It offers all or part of a post-secondary program leading to a degree pursuant to a consent granted under the Post-secondary Education Choice and Excellence Act, 2000.
3. It is a designated public sector organization described in paragraph 3 or 4 of Schedule 1.
4. It is a public or private organization that provides courses or programs or both that result in the acquisition by students of a diploma or certificate named by the Minister of Education under paragraph 1 of subsection 8 (1) of the Education Act. 5. It is a private school within the meaning of the Education Act.

We therefore recommend that:

#41. Section 15 of the Standard should be amended to:

(a) Amend the opening words of section 15(1) to provide:

1. Provide educational or training resources or materials in an accessible format that meet the accessibility needs due to a disability of the person with a disability to whom the material is to be provided by

(b) Require each obligated organization that is an educational or training institution to notify their students, applicants for admission and faculty/teachers, via accessible means, of their commitment to provide accessible curriculum and teaching materials;

(c) Post on their website, if any, their commitment to provide accessible teaching and curriculum materials, and an indication of who within the organization is responsible for their provision;

(d) Add to ss. 15(1) and (2) a requirement that these teaching and curriculum materials are to be available at the same time as the same teaching or curriculum materials are provided to students in the same program or course, except in exceptional cases where it is impossible to do so, in which case alternative measures will be immediately taken to enable a person with a disability to fully participate in the course or program.

(e) Add to section 15 a requirement that where curriculum materials such as textbooks are to be ordered from other sources, the curriculum materials shall be in an accessible format or conversion-ready, except where it can be shown that these cannot be obtained without undue hardship.

(f) Add to section 15 a requirement that notwithstanding the timelines for accessible websites, any information posted to a website for use by students shall be in an accessible format and shall comply forthwith with WCAG 2.0 Level AA unless it can be shown that to do so is impossible without undue hardship, in which case accessible alternative format materials shall be provided immediately on request.

(g) No school, college or university shall provide books or other like materials via paperless technology such as on mobile apps on the iPad or Kindle unless that technology has become accessible for persons with disabilities.

38. Section 17 – Producers of Educational or Training Material

It is helpful that s. 17 requires publishers to make accessible educational textbooks and certain other printed instructional materials available on request, in an accessible format. It however needs to be expanded. It now only applies to textbooks. Section 17 provides:

17. (1) Every obligated organization that is a producer of educational or training textbooks for educational or training institutions shall upon request make accessible or conversion ready versions of the textbooks available to the institutions. O. Reg. 191/11, s. 17 (1).
(2) Every obligated organization that is a producer of print-based educational or training supplementary learning resources for educational or training institutions shall upon request make accessible or conversion ready versions of the printed materials available to the institutions. O. Reg. 191/11, s. 17 (2).

It should also apply to any other course materials produced in printed form, as well as course materials and books produced in electronic form. With the spread of e-books, this is increasingly important.

We therefore recommend that:

#42. Section 17(1) and (2) of the Standard should be amended to provide:

17. (1) Every obligated organization that is a producer of education or training textbooks or other teaching materials (whether in printed form or electronic form) for educational or training institutions shall upon request, promptly make accessible or conversion ready versions of the textbooks or other teaching materials available to the institutions.
(2) Every obligated organization that is a producer of print-based or electronic educational or training supplementary learning resources for educational or training institutions shall upon request, promptly make accessible or conversion ready versions of the printed or electronic materials available to the institutions.

39. Committees Recommendation 25: Definition of Educational and Training Institutions

We agree that the Standards requirements for educational organizations should extend to any organization that provides any education or training programs, whether or not they meet the Standards current definition of an education organization.

We therefore recommend that:

#43. The Committees Recommendation 25 should be expanded to define the scope of education programs to which its obligations should attach. This should be tied to the nature of the program and the extent to which ensuring accessibility would trigger an undue hardship

40. Section 18 – Libraries of Educational and Training Institutions

Section 18 is a helpful provision addressing accessibility at public libraries. However, it has an exception for special collections that, if not defined, could sweep away much-needed protections. Section 18 provides:

18. (1) Subject to subsection (2) and where available, the libraries of educational or training institutions that are obligated organizations shall provide, procure or acquire by other means an accessible or conversion ready format of print, digital or multimedia resources or materials for a person with a disability, upon request.

(2) Special collections, archival materials, rare books and donations are exempt from the requirements of subsection (1).

(3) Obligated organizations to which this section applies shall meet the requirements under this section in accordance with the following schedule:
1. In respect of print-based resources or materials, January 1, 2015.
2. In respect of digital or multimedia resources or materials, January 1, 2020.

A law school at a university might argue that its entire law library is a special collection, that is thus exempt from any accessibility requirements. We do not anticipate that this was what the Government meant to achieve here.

We therefore recommend that:

#44. Section 18(2) of the Standard should be amended to include a clear and narrow definition of special collection, or that exemption should be removed from this provision.

41. Committees Recommendation 26: Increasing Captionist Capacity

We share the Committees concern that there is a limited number of trained captionists in Ontario. We agree with the need for new efforts to increase their numbers. The Committee appears to make a non-regulatory recommendation.

We add that technology exists now to facilitate off-site captioning from distant locations. The captionist can be anywhere in the world. An audio hookup is set up via the web so the captionist can hear the spoken words to transcribe.

The Government can further facilitate this by either creating or funding a start-up that would crowdsource these services, so that captionists around Ontario, or indeed around the world, could get quick and easy access to customers in Ontario. This could be part of an economic development strategy. A well-run Ontario-based service could sell its services around the world, bringing in new revenues to Ontario.

We therefore recommend that:

#45. The Committees Recommendation 26 should be expanded to recommend that the Government create or fund the creation of an Ontario-based remote captioning service that could service clients in Ontario and around the world by remotely-located captionists, providing their services online.

42. Committees Recommendation 27: Accessibility in Education

We agree with the Committees advice that the disability accessibility curriculum should be included at all levels of Ontarios education system.

We therefore recommend that:

#46. The Committees Recommendation 27 should be expanded to incorporate the AODA Alliances proposed Framework for the Education Accessibility Standard, which includes:

11.1 To eliminate attitudinal barriers among students, school board employees and some families of students, each school board should:

a) Develop and implement a multi-year program/curriculum for teaching students, school board staff and families of school board students, about inclusion and full participation of students with disabilities, tailored to age levels. Because online courses are inadequate for this, where possible, this should include hearing from, meeting and interacting with people with disabilities e.g. at assemblies and/or via guest presentations.

b) Post in all schools and send information to all families of the school boards students, on the school boards commitment to inclusion of students with disabilities, and the benefits this brings to all students.

c) Provide specific training to all school board staff that deal with parents or students, on the importance of inclusion.

d) Implement human resources policies and practices to expand school board staff knowledge and skills regarding inclusion.

43. Committees Recommendation 28: Accessibility in Information and Communications Tools and Systems

We agree with the Committee that:

There is often a lack of knowledge regarding the needs of people with disabilities on the part of the designers of information and communications tools and systems, and this leads to a lack of accessibility in these products.

We also agree with the Committees Draft Recommendation 28 where it proposes that all obligated organizations which provide education or training on the design, production, innovation, maintenance or delivery of information and communication tools and systems shall include curricula that address the needs of people with disabilities We see value in this recommendation being further refined.

We therefore recommend that:

#47. The Committees Draft Recommendation 28 (calling for obligated organizations which provide education or training on the design, production, innovation, maintenance or delivery of information and communication tools and systems to include curricula that address the needs of people with disabilities) should give some specific examples of the needed training, including differently affected disabilities, beyond its reference to Sign Language.

The Ontario Governments economic development strategy has tried to promote the development of the information technology sector in Ontario, to serve both the Ontario market and markets around the world. However, as far as we can tell, the Ontario Government has never acted on our advice in this area, which we repeatedly gave over several years. We had recommended to the Ontario Government that it should attach strings to its funding in that sector that require that sector to develop expertise in accessible information technology design. That would promote the expansion of Ontarios technology sector so that it has more accessible design expertise to offer organizations around the world.

We therefore recommend that:

#48. The Committee should recommend that the Ontario Government should now adopt a concerted strategy, as part of its economic development efforts, of promoting the expansion of Ontarios technology development sector with expertise in accessible design.

44. Committees Recommendation 29: Accessibility in Provincially Regulated Professions

We endorse the Committees Draft Recommendation 29. It provides:

Certification requirements of provincially regulated professions must include knowledge and application of accessibility (including accessible formats, language, communication and IT support) and the prevention of attitudinal barriers.

The AODA Alliances proposed Framework for the Education Accessibility Standard points in a similar direction. It includes:

Barrier: Too often, teachers and other school staff who work with students are not sufficiently trained on how to teach all students, including students with disabilities. Teachers colleges and other programs that are publicly funded to train professionals who will work with students in Ontario schools are therefore creating new generations of barriers that will impede students with disabilities.

The solution requires both reforms to the required training of future new teachers while they are in teachers college, and measures to expand the training of those who are already graduates of teachers college and who are already working as teachers. This also applies to other school staff with teaching-related roles, such as principals and education assistants.

9.2 The Ontario Government should require that to be qualified to teach or serve as a principal in an Ontario-funded school, a teacher or principal must have specified training in the education of students with disabilities, covering the spectrum of different learning needs and learning styles. Any teachers college or like program that receives any provincial funding should require, as part of its degree programming, specified course contents on the education of students with disabilities for all teachers, and not only for special education teachers. Time lines for implementing this should be specified for the transition to this new approach. Each school board should be required to train school board staff, including teachers and other staff who work with students, on ensuring digital/information technology accessibility in the classroom, on the use of access technology (where needed) and on steps how to create accessible documents and web content.

Section 16 of the Standard commendably requires training organizations to provide for their teachers, training on the needs of students with disabilities. However, it does not require any of their employees to ever take that training.

Regarding teacher training, we therefore recommend that:

#49. Section 16(1) of the Standard should be amended to provide:

16. (1) In addition to the requirements under section 7, obligated organizations that are school boards or educational or training institutions shall provide educators with accessibility awareness training related to accessible program or course delivery and instruction, and their educators shall satisfactorily complete that training.

It is essential that the Committees proposal take the form of a mandatory regulation, and not merely a policy or best practice. Too many professions need this reform to try to convince them voluntarily, one profession at a time.

Moreover, the AODA Alliance has been trying without success to secure voluntary action by the Ontario Government for over a decade. In the 2007 Ontario election, the AODA Alliance asked the parties to commit to ensure that relevant professions require their members to have sufficient accessibility training. In that election, the McGuinty Government promised to advocate to self-governing professions on this. In the ensuing 11 years that the Liberal Government was in power, we repeatedly asked it to keep this promise. We never saw or were shown any Government action to act on this promise.

45. Committees Recommendation 30: Education Standards

This recommendation only deals with where to locate certain requirements within the IASR. We take no issue with this as a pure housekeeping matter.

C. Our Feedback on The Committees Proposed Phase 2

In Phase 2 of the Committees draft recommendations, it proposes a major overhaul of how accessibility barriers should be regulated under the AODA. We commend the Committee for trying to take a broad and creative look at how progress is going under the AODA, and for trying to come up with innovative solutions, thinking beyond the regulatory status quo. Any effort in that regard should be encouraged.

Below we offer a few general responses to the Committees proposed reforms to the AODAs overall design. These are only preliminary thoughts. A fuller response requires substantially more time and research than is currently available. The Committees Phase 2 proposal goes far beyond the scope of the Information and Communication Accessibility Standard.

The Committees Phase 2 reforms call, among other things, for the creation of a new public authority. The Committee calls it the Trusted Authority. That new public agency would have a series of new powers, including powers which bear directly on the AODAs interpretation, implementation and enforcement.

These reforms would require the Legislature to amend the AODA itself. These are not measures which can be enacted as accessibility standard regulations under the AODA, as it is now written.

As noted earlier, we are opposed to the Ontario Legislature re-opening the AODA and considering making any amendments to it at this time. We dont want there to be any risk that the Government would try to weaken or reduce any provisions in the AODA. Re-opening the legislation would create such a risk. We would react very strenuously against any Government effort to re-open the AODAs terms in any way.

Even if we had wanted the Government to re-open the legislation, the likelihood of it doing so now is extremely low. Throughout the first third of its mandate the current Government treated the AODA as a very low priority. It took months and months for the Government just to unfreeze the work of existing AODA Standards Development Committees, including the Information and Communication Standards Development Committee. It took more months after that to get the Government to re-start the important work of the Education and Health Care Standards Development Committees. This was so even though while in opposition, the Conservatives criticized the former Ontario Government for dragging its feet on appointing an Education Standards Development Committee.

Over two thirds of a year has passed since the Government received the blistering report of David Onleys AODA Independent Review. Despite our pressure, the Government has announced no comprehensive plan to implement the Onley Report.

As such, we would not agree to the Government proceeding with the Committees Phase 2 proposal, in so far as it requires legislative amendments. There is a second important reason why the Committees Phase 2 proposal should not proceed at this time. The Committees Phase 2 proposal contemplates delegation of certain powers to the proposed Trusted Authority which itself raises a number of significant legal concerns, beyond any policy discussion over the proposals pros and cons. We have not had the time or opportunity to explore those issues in preparation for this brief. They would have to be resolved before a profitable discussion of the proposals pros and cons should be undertaken.

There are other important avenues and arenas for such proposals regarding reform of the AODA to be presented. For example, there have been three successive Government-appointed Independent Reviews of the AODA, by Charles Beer in 2010, by Mayo Moran in 2014 and by David Onley in 2018-19. Another AODA Independent Review will have to be appointed by March 7, 2022. Those are but one appropriate place to present such suggestions. We do not know if the Information and Communication Standards Development Committee or any of its members presented these ideas to any of the three AODA Independent Reviews for their consideration.

As a visible player on the provincial front regarding the AODA, the AODA Alliance would want to be a major player in any such discussions. For our part, we pointed out serious problems with the way the AODA has been operating, in our proposals to the Federal Government regarding the design of the new Accessible Canada Act. See for example our Discussion Paper on what Canadas national accessibility law should include, published in the National Journal of Constitutional Law and available at https://www.AODAalliance.org/whats-new/click-here-to-download-the-discussion-paper-on-what-canadas-promised-accessibility-legislation-should-include-as-published-last-year-in-the-national-journal-of-constitutional-law/ The same goes for our recent proposals to the BC Government on what the promised BC accessibility law should include, available at https://www.AODAalliance.org/whats-new/the-british-columbia-government-commits-to-provincial-accessibility-legislation-and-seeks-public-input-on-a-proposed-framework-for-a-bc-disabilities-act-read-the-AODA-alliances-submission-to-the-b/

Despite the foregoing concerns, some parts of the Committees Phase 2 proposal can be undertaken now, without needing any reforms to the AODA or to any accessibility standards. For example, the Committee raises concerns about the use of the term obligated organization. The term obligated organization can be changed, in the Governments communications on the AODA. The term obligated organization does not itself appear in the AODA.

Similarly, the Government could do a far better job of outreach to and inclusion of people with disabilities in its ongoing AODA consultation and implementation efforts, including in its consultation on the Information and Communication Standards Development Committees draft recommendations which are the focus of this brief. That too requires no amendment to the AODA.

The Government could now create far better resources to guide obligated organizations. At least two of the AODA Independent Reviews have called for that very action. We strongly support the need for that.

Finally, it is open to the Government to review the Information and Communication Accessibility Standard more frequently than every five years, in order to keep it up to date in connection with new developments, such as new developments in the world of information technology or the creation of new international standards for the accessibility of information technology.

We also want to alert the Committee that we respectfully disagree with some of the key points in its Phase 2 discussion. We agree that the AODAs implementation has fallen far short of what we all expected, what we all need and what the AODA promised. Our 450-page January 15, 2019 brief to the David Onley Independent Review may be the most detailed documentation of this failure. It explores in detail the causes of this failure and offers constructive proposals to get the AODA back on track. The Onley Report echoes our analysis in key ways, as did the 2015 Moran AODA Independent Review Report that proceeded it and on which it built.

The Committees Phase 2 discussion seems in no small part to be constructed on the premise that the AODA has failed because it has been undertaken as an exercise of a regulator compelling compliance through enforcement, rather than by trying to get obligated organizations to understand that it is in their self-interest to ensure that their goods, services, facilities, and employment are accessible. For example, the Committees Phase 2 discussion states:

In the current model, the primary participants are the participating organizations and the provincial government compliance authority. The relationship is one of obligation and policing. The primary questions from obligated organizations are about what is required of them, and whether there might be exemptions. Their primary motivation for complying is avoiding penalties and/or reputational damage.

It is hard to blame organizations for this approach, because accessibility and inclusive design have traditionally been framed primarily as something that organizations must be legally compelled to do, rather than something that is also in their best interests. The fact is however, that there is significant evidence showing that inclusive design is in the interests of business. Research has shown that an organization that attends to inclusive design and accessibility, for customers and employees with disabilities, will garner economic, social and innovation benefits. There are both micro and macro-economic gains to be made for the participating company and for Ontario society as a whole, but that case is not being made clearly or often enough.

As our brief to the Onley AODA Independent Review and our website amply documents, the opposite has in fact been the case. We have demonstrated over and over that the Ontario Government has throughout this decade taken an extremely weak and minimalist approach to AODA enforcement. For years, it would barely if ever even utter the word enforcement in public in connection with the AODA. It conducts audits of very few organizations each year.

These are only paper audits. We have only seen documentation of one on-site AODA audit or inspection from the day the AODA was passed up to at least 2017. That was a pre-announced inspection of one Government ministry by another Government ministry. In that case, the deputy minister of the inspecting ministry gave written prior notice to the deputy minister of the ministry to be inspected, that an inspection would be upcoming.

Despite knowing year after year about rampant AODA violations since 2013, the Government has only imposed a tiny number of monetary penalties. In 2015, 2016 and 2017 combined, for the thousands of private sector organizations known to have violated this legislation, the Government only imposed a total of five monetary penalties. Thats less than two monetary penalties for each of those years. That conveys the clear message to violators that their risk of a monetary penalty is extremely slim.

The Toronto Star has run editorials that support our concern in this regard. It has slammed the Ontario Government for its weak AODA enforcement. Contrary to the Committees characterization of events, Minister after Minister responsible for the AODA has publicly said that their primary focus is on doing exactly what the Committee proposed in the passage quoted above, i.e. showing businesses the business case for accessibility. A good example of this is the following passage from the February 26, 2015 interview on CBC Radio Torontos flagship Metro Morning program by the previous Liberal Governments Economic Development Minister Brad Duguid (then responsible for AODA implementation and enforcement):

[Matt Galloway] But her, her real, her real thrust in this, in the report, is that Ontarios not moving quickly enough to reach the 2025 goal of full accessibility. I wanna read something to you that one of your predecessors put together, which was Marie Bountrogianni, who, uh, when the legislature passed the disabilities act said, What was missing in the previous act was enforcement compliance.

When you leave it to the good will of the people, it doesnt get done. Whats changed since then?

[Brad Duguid] Well, there- theres two things. Number one, you cant enforce that if the businesses arent aware of what their responsibilities are. So, the first thing we need to do is make businesses more aware, and were doing that through a number of different initiatives. Theres the advertising campaign. We also have a partnership with the Ontario Chamber of Commerce where were reaching out to businesses an- and educating them on what they need to do.

Secondly, and this is the key, and when you, and I, I just recently appointed David Onley as our special advisor, and this is something were working very, very closely on. We need to make sure that businesses are, are aware of why theres a competitive advantage for them to become accessible.

We dont want businesses just to reach a standard, we want them to go beyond the standard and theres every- theres a really good business case for businesses across this province to do this. In fact, the Martin Institute indicates that theres 7.9 billion dollars in our economy if we can become more accessible.

So, that- what I’m saying there is, I dont want to come in and, and take a really hard approach on businesses and turn them off. What I wanna do is get businesses to embrace what this will do to their bottom line. Theres a really good business case.

No minister responsible for this legislation has publicly proclaimed a contrary approach to AODA enforcement. No minister coming after Mr. Duguid has ever disagreed with his view, criticized it, or proclaimed a different approach. Certainly, the new Ford Government has not repudiated it.

The Committees Phase 2 discussion addresses a criticism at the AODA itself, which should instead be directed at the Accessibility Directorate of Ontario and the Ontario Government. The Committees Phase 2 discussion includes:

The current model also does not harness the significant energy, knowledge and support of many community stakeholders who are deeply committed to accessibility. These include:
Students, many of whom participate in projects such as mapathons, design challenges and curriculum-based assignments
Ontarios world-leading cluster of researchers specializing in accessibility and inclusive design
Non-obligated organizations that recognize the importance of accessibility without being compelled to comply by law Persons with disabilities and their families or support communities Professional organizations
Community volunteers
Civil society

Similarly the Committees Phase 2 discussion later states:

Ontario is home to many innovators, many of whom have turned their ingenuity to addressing accessibility challenges. Unfortunately, there is currently no easy way for these innovators, including obligated organizations or other stakeholders, to propose new and better strategies for addressing barriers. The relationship is strictly one way, with the Act essentially telling organizations what to do. This removes an incentive to innovate in accessibility.

The Committee has commendably identified a legitimate area for improvement, but is identifying the wrong culprit. Under the AODA as now written, it is open to the Government to do a far more inclusive job of consulting and including the diverse voices to which the Committee points, in its work on the AODAs implementation and enforcement. For example, Standards Development Committees could readily engage more such voices in their work developing standards. The Accessibility Directorate of Ontario can and should do much more of this within the ample mandate that the AODA gives it. Nothing in the AODA prohibits the Ontario Government from doing so.

As well, the Committee presents a very good series of suggestions for reform in its Appendix B. No Trusted Authority or other amendments to the AODA or to its current overall structure are needed to implement them. The IASR can and should be amended, such as in ss. 5 and 6, to incorporate the very helpful requirements that the Committee formulated in its Appendix B. With such a revision to the IASR we would be in clear support. Appendix 1 Excerpts from the Mayo Moran Second Independent Review of the AODA

The 2014 Moran Report included;

However, the Review also heard considerable discussion about the content of the standards. In particular, members of the disability community emphasized that the five standards in place so far even if complied with to the letter will not get us to full accessibility by 2025, or in fact ever. They identified two problems. First, the current standards have serious gaps and deficiencies. And second, important aspects of everyday life fall entirely outside the scope of the current requirements. At the same time, obligated organizations also provided valuable feedback about the content of the current standards and some of the challenges that they pose. Below, I summarize the central themes of the feedback on these issues, including both suggestions about where there may be gaps in the existing standards as well as recommendations for additional standards.

Proposed Revisions to Current Standards

The Review heard many comments that suggested revisions to existing standards. Various disability groups advocated specific changes to the standards to better reflect the needs of their members and clients. More generally, many participants believed that timelines in the standards are too long, several requirements are weak, little is being done to remove existing barriers, and exemptions and exceptions are too broad. One disability stakeholder considered the deficiencies in the IASR so serious that the mandatory review of the Transportation, Employment and Information and Communications standards should begin in 2015 instead of 2016 as currently planned. Many obligated organizations in both the public and private sectors had other concerns, emphasizing that the overall AODA regime is too complex and should be simplified as much as possible.

Members of the disability community emphasized that the five standards in place so far even if complied with to the letter will not get us to full accessibility by 2025, or in fact ever.

IMPACT ON SPECIFIC DISABILITIES

The Review was told by some participants that they do not believe that the AODA has been effective in addressing non-visible disabilities, such as mental illness, autism, learning disabilities, traumatic brain injuries and others. They suggested that more extensive training requirements to recognize and respond to the needs of people with these disabilities were essential.

The mental health community feels strongly that mental health and other non-visible disabilities should be better integrated into the content of standards. For example, it was suggested that the Employment standard should provide clear guidelines for accommodating employees with mental health disabilities.

Groups supporting people who are deaf or have hearing loss pointed out that the vagueness about support persons leaves doubt about an organizations responsibility to provide interpreters or other communication facilitators. Individuals with speech and language disabilities not caused by hearing loss believe standards should more fully outline requirements for communications assistance, especially in essential services.

People with environmental sensitivities and multi-chemical sensitivities want to see these conditions explicitly included in the definition of disability. Participants with episodic or fluctuating disabilities likewise urged a direct reference to their type of disability in the definition. Representatives of people with bowel disorders called for a network of open, accessible public toilets to be established through the Customer Service, Transportation and Design of Public Spaces standards.

The Review was told that the AODA has not been effective in addressing non-visible disabilities.

EXEMPTIONS AND EXCEPTIONS

The existing regulations set different requirements based on the size of the organization. Where the line should be drawn between small and large businesses was a major source of contention in the feedback received by this Review. In fact, some felt it was a mistake to create any exemptions on the basis of the number of employees, as very small organizations can have huge revenue streams.
At present, there are many exemptions under the IASR for organizations with under 50 employees. For example, they are exempt from requirements to prepare multi-year accessibility plans, make their websites accessible, develop a written process for employment accommodation, provide accessible exterior paths of travel, prepare written accessibility policies and file compliance reports, among other obligations. It was suggested that one reason the AODA has not lived up to its potential is the number of organizations that are exempt from such obligations.

The Customer Service standard currently sets the threshold for certain requirements at 20 employees rather than 50. Currently, organizations with under 20 employees are exempt from requirements to prepare documents on their accessibility policies including policies on service animals and support persons and the handling of service disruptions and to produce copies on request, as well as from obligations to document training policies, keep training records and file accessibility reports. In its review of the Customer Service standard which coincided with this Review ASAC proposed to raise that threshold to 50 employees instead of 20 to align with the IASR, and several disability groups voiced their concerns about this proposal to this Review.

In addition to the exemptions based on organizational size, the Review also received some feedback on several other provisions that were questioned including the following:
Exemption of owner-operated sole proprietorships from the entire IASR as they have no employees.
Exclusion of the entire private sector from the duty to incorporate accessibility criteria and features when acquiring goods, service and facilities.
Exclusion of products and product labels from the Information and Communications standard.
Exclusion of unconvertible information from accessible format requirements, which some described as a loophole that should be closed.
Exemptions for all organizations except the provincial Government from the website provisions on live captioning and pre-recorded audio descriptions.

As well, disability stakeholders took issue with various exceptions that are less exacting than undue hardship under the Human Rights Code. This issue will be addressed later in the section on the AODAs Relationship with Other Legislation.

GAPS IN STANDARDS

Beyond exemptions and the impact on certain disability groups, participants highlighted a host of gaps in existing standards and put forward numerous suggestions to close them.

Information and Communications

One of the gaps identified that was among the most serious sources of concern was the exclusion of extranets from the website standards. An extranet is a controlled extension of an organizations internal network that allows access to outside users over the internet. It was pointed out that the standards development committee expected everything behind the log-in to be covered. The fact that this was not done is seen as a step backward.

Unless Ontario keeps standards in line with evolving information technology, we risk reaching 2025 and realizing we have made Ontario accessible, but for the citizens of 2005.

The importance of keeping the Information and Communications standards in line with evolving international standards was also stressed. Unless a mechanism is created to do this, the Review was told, we risk reaching 2025 and realizing we have made Ontario accessible, but for the citizens of 2005.

Some participants raised concerns about the provision of accessible formats for various purposes on request. They proposed that all educational resources should be accessible, with no need for a request. On the other hand, some post-secondary stakeholders pointed out that this might not be a wise use of resources as there may turn out to be no demand for many of the materials.

Appendix 2 List of the AODA Alliances Recommendations in this Brief

#1. The Standards long term objective should be:

By no later than 2025 and thereafter, people with disabilities will be able to participate fully and equally in the creation and use of information and communications.

#2. The Committees recommendations should recommend that the definition of accessible formats in s. 2 of the Standard should be expanded to add digital accessible formats that are readily readable on computers and portable technologies such as smart phones, using adaptive technology, but does not include documents in PDF format unless also accompanied by other accessible digital formats.

#3. Section 5(5) of the IASR should be amended to provide:

(5) In this section, kiosk means an interactive electronic terminal intended for public use that allows users to access one or more services, facilities, or products or a combination of them, and, without limiting the generality of the foregoing, includes any device used by a member of the public to make in whole or in part a transaction relating to a product, good, service or facility or combination thereof, such as a point of sale device that allows the customer to pay for items with a debit, credit or other electronic funds card.

#4. The Committee should recommend that section 9(1) of the Standard should be amended to define conversion-ready as follows:

conversion ready means an electronic or digital format that ensures ready conversion into an accessible format that effectively retains the information content that can be read on a computer using widely available adaptive technology, and on hand-held or portable digital technology such as smart phones;

(b) Section 9(4) should be amended to provide as follows:

(4) For purposes of this Part, information or communications are unconvertible if,
a) It is not possible to convert the information or communications without undue hardship; or
b) The technology to convert the information or communications is not available without undue hardship.

#6. The Committee should recommend the addition to the standard of a requirement that if an obligated organization posts a PDF online, it should also simultaneously post the same document in an accessible format such as MS Word, txt or html.

#7. The Committees Draft Recommendation 4 should be revised to recommend that the Information and Communication Accessibility Standard should be amended now to set enforceable accessibility standards for products and product labels. This should not await Ontario working out a joint approach to this with the Federal Government, or the Ontario Government working with the private sector on developing non-regulatory innovations in this area. Section 9(2) (should be amended to provide an exemption only for:

Products and product labels, where compliance with the information and communication requirements would impose an undue hardship on the organization.

#8. The Committees Draft Recommendation 5 should be expanded to propose that s. 12 of the Information and Communication Accessibility Standard be amended to state that where an obligated organization does not agree to provide the accessible format which the person with a disability requested, the obligated organization must investigate alternative ways to meet this need, up to the point of undue hardship.

#9. Section 12 of the Information and Communication Accessibility Standard should be amended to set specific fixed or presumptive timelines for an obligated organization to provide an accessible alternative format for a document when requested. If the timeline is to be a presumptive one, rather than a categorical one, it should only be subject to an undue hardship defence for non compliance. The Committee should recommend timelines that are short e.g. 48-72 hours, where the obligated organization is a large one, and or where the requested information relates to important matters such as health or safety or other vital services. Otherwise nothing longer than a 7 day timeline should apply.

#10. The Committees Draft Recommendation 10 should be expanded to:

a) propose an amendment to the Information and Communication Accessibility Standard to require the Committees proposed measures regarding the Ontario Government translating certain information into the Sign Languages ASL and LSQ on demand, and

b) expand that requirement to include captioning for any such video content, for the benefit of people with hearing loss who need captioning and not Sign Language.

#11. The Committee should recommend that section 12(1) of the Standard be amended to provide:

12. (1) Except as otherwise provided, every obligated organization shall upon request provide or arrange for the provision of accessible formats and communication supports for persons with disabilities,
(a) in a timely manner that meets the person’s accessibility needs due to disability, except where doing so would cause an undue hardship to the organization; and
(b) at a cost that is no more than the regular cost charged to other persons.

#12. Section 12(3) of the Standard should be amended to provide:

(3) Every obligated organization shall notify the public in an accessible format about the availability of accessible formats and communication supports, and, without limiting the generality of the foregoing, shall post such notification in an accessible format on the organization’s website, if it has one.

#13. Section 12(4) of the Standard should be re-written in plain language to make it intelligible.

#14. The Information and Communication Standards Development Committee should seek direct input including a face-to-face meeting with Communications Disabilities Access Canada and address its concerns regarding the Standard.

#15. Section 13 of the Standard should be expanded to impose a requirement that an organization include in any emergency procedures plan, specific measures to ensure that emergency announcements (such as fire alarms) are provided in an accessible means (e.g. flashing lights for the benefit of persons with hearing loss).

#16. The Committees Draft Recommendation 15, to create a category of high-impact private organizations, should be refined to:

a) Create criteria that will be easily measured and enforced, where possible.

b) measure the number of an organizations users, customers or interactions inside or outside Ontario. If for example, the organization has a huge customer base around the world, the fact that a smaller number of users in Ontario should not militate against it being categorized as a high-impact organization.

c) Make the threshold revenue as $1 million not $10 million as the Committees draft recommendations propose.

d) Recommend the revision of s. 14 (website accessibility) to make website requirements extend further within the private sector, beyond the proposed new category of high impact organizations.

#17. Section 14 of the Standard should be revised to require websites to comply with the new international standard of WCAG 2.1, not the old WCAG 2.0 which the Information and Communication Accessibility Standard now requires.

#18. As an alternative, section 14(2) should be amended to eliminate WCAG 2.0 Level A, and not Level AA, as a bare minimum for any organization, in the event that WCAG 2.1 is not set as the new standard to meet.

#19. The Committees Draft Recommendation 13 should recommend that section 14 of the Standard should be amended to set full accessibility requirements to mobile applications, and to the websites, web applications and mobile applications of small organizations where compliance would not pose an undue hardship.

#20. The Committees Draft Recommendation 17 should be replaced with a recommendation that the Standards not practicable exception from website accessibility is removed from section 14. As a weaker and less desirable alternative, if there is to remain some sort of exemption in s. 14(5), it should provide that an obligated organization need not meet these accessibility requirements only if it can show that it would be impossible to meet such requirements without causing that organization undue hardship, and that the obligated organization has the duty to never less take all accessibility action that is possible up to the point of undue hardship.

#21. Section 14 of the Standard should be amended to require any organization to promptly make available, on the request of a person with a disability, and in an accessible format that meets his or her needs, any information on the organization’s website that is not accessible to that person because of his or her disability.

#22. The Committees Draft Recommendation 19 should be revised to set the deadline for all publicly-facing websites to meet accessibility requirements as 2022, not 2023.

#23. The Committees Draft Recommendation 21 should be expanded to require an obligated organization to provide an item of pre-2012 inaccessible online content or document in an accessible format on request if needed for purposes of seeking or using that organizations goods, services or facilities or for purposes of employment.

#24. The Committees Draft Recommendation 22 should be revised to provide that the current exemption for live captioning and audio description should be lifted by 2021 for the City of Toronto.

#25. a) Where a large organization, a high impact organization or a public sector organization has a Chief Information Officer or Chief Technology Officer position or their equivalent:

a) The CIO is responsible and accountable for leading the organizations efforts at ensuring digital information accessibility in the organizations internal and external digital communications.

b) If the organization has a performance contract or performance review process for its officers, it shall be a condition of the CIOs or CTOs performance contract that the CIO or CTO is responsible and accountable for ensuring digital information accessibility and for ensuring that Accessibility is an integrated component of Performance and Security design requirements.

c) In any performance review, performance-based pay review or promotion processes, the CIOs or CTOs performance on digital information accessibility shall be considered as a relevant factor.

d) In considering whom to hire as CIO or CTO, a hiring factor or criterion should be a candidates knowledge and experience with respect to digital information accessibility and assistive technology.

#26. The Standard should be amended to require that when any public sector organization, large organization or high impact private sector organization uses a web-based teleconferencing platform, it should only use a platform which is accessible. If no such platforms are fully accessible, then such organizations should be required to use the most accessible platforms of those which are available. The Standard should provide key criteria for assessing the accessibility of such platforms.

#27. The Standard should be revised to require that public sector organizations, large private sector organizations and high impact private sector organizations shall prepare an annual or biennial accessibility statement and make it public on its website which:

a) Specifies in detail the extent to which the organizations website and mobile apps are accessible and specifies where they are not and

b) Gives reasons for any deficiencies in the accessibility of the website or mobile apps and indicates what the organization plans to do to rectify this, and by when.

#28. Beyond the measures in the Committee’s Draft Recommendation 14, the IASRs general procurement provisions should be strengthened to specify end-user functionality requirements that are sufficiently flexible to accommodate emerging technologies.

#29. The Government should fulfil its overdue duty under the AODA to appoint a Standards Development Committee to review all the general provisions in the IASR, sections 1 through 8.

#30. Any changes to the requirements for procurement of goods, services or facilities should go into effect within six months of the new regulation being enacted, and should apply to any procurement thereafter, or for which a contract was signed after the draft of this new regulation was publicly posted for comment, unless the obligated organization can show that to comply would cause it an undue hardship.

#31. Section 5(1) of the IASR should be amended to read:

5. (1) The Government of Ontario, Legislative Assembly and designated public sector organizations shall

(a) Incorporate accessibility criteria and features when procuring or acquiring goods, services or facilities, for purposes of acquiring or procuring goods, services or facilities that are accessible to persons with disabilities, and

(b) Acquire or procure goods, services and facilities for use in their organization, or for the benefit of the public, that are accessible to persons with disabilities, except where it is not possible to procure or acquire them without undue hardship.

#32. Section 5(2) of the IASR should be amended to provide:

(2) If the Government of Ontario, Legislative Assembly or a designated public sector organization determines that it was not able to acquire or procure accessible goods, services or facilities without undue hardship in accordance with paragraph 5(1) (b), it shall provide, upon request, an explanation in writing.

#33. Sections 5(1) and (2) should be amended to extend their requirements to large private sector organizations and high-impact private sector organizations.

#34. The IASRs procurement requirements should be amended to apply to any private sector organization in connection with any work it is doing for or on behalf of the Ontario Government.

#35. Section 6(1) of the IASR should be amended to read:

6. (1) Without limiting the generality of section 5, the Government of Ontario, Legislative Assembly, designated public sector organizations, large private sector organizations and high impact private sector organizations shall incorporate accessibility features when designing, procuring or acquiring self-service kiosks or any point-of-sale technology for use by the public, to ensure that they are accessible to and usable by persons with disabilities.

#36. Section 6(2) of the IASR should be amended to read:

(2) Small organizations shall have regard to the accessibility for persons with disabilities when designing, procuring or acquiring self-service kiosks or any other point-of-sale technology for use by the public, and in any event, shall use accessible point-of-sale equipment when acquiring new point-of-sale equipment for use by customers, or replacing existing point-of-sale equipment.

#37. Section 5(5) of the IASR should be amended to provide:

(5) In this section,

kiosk means an interactive electronic terminal intended for public use that allows users to access one or more services, facilities, or products or a combination of them, and, without limiting the generality of the foregoing, includes any device used by a member of the public to make in whole or in part a transaction relating to a product, good, service or facility or combination thereof, such as a point of sale device that allows the customer to pay for items with a debit, credit or other electronic funds card.

#38. The Committees Draft Recommendation 18 should be amended to call for the website accessibility requirements in s. 14 to apply to any website to which provincial legislation or regulations apply, such as a provincial law that requires specified information to be posted on a website.

#39. Sections 15 to 18 of the Standard should be amended to ensure the accessibility of instructional and other information in Ontarios education system, in accordance with Recommendations 8.1, 8.2, 12.1 and 12.2 of the AODA Alliances October 10, 2019 proposed framework for the contents of the K-12Education Accessibility Standard.

#40. The Committees Recommendation 24 should be expanded to also require that obligated organizations that are educational or training institutions be required to order electronic textbooks or other electronic curricula materials from producers who agree to provide accessible or conversion-ready versions, in the same time frame as non-accessible versions.

#41. Section 15 of the Standard should be amended to:

(a) Amend the opening words of section 15(1) to provide:

1. Provide educational or training resources or materials in an accessible format that meet the accessibility needs due to a disability of the person with a disability to whom the material is to be provided by

(b) Require each obligated organization that is an educational or training institution to notify their students, applicants for admission and faculty/teachers, via accessible means, of their commitment to provide accessible curriculum and teaching materials;

(c) Post on their website, if any, their commitment to provide accessible teaching and curriculum materials, and an indication of who within the organization is responsible for their provision;

(d) Add to ss. 15(1) and (2) a requirement that these teaching and curriculum materials are to be available at the same time as the same teaching or curriculum materials are provided to students in the same program or course, except in exceptional cases where it is impossible to do so, in which case alternative measures will be immediately taken to enable a person with a disability to fully participate in the course or program.

(e) Add to section 15 a requirement that where curriculum materials such as textbooks are to be ordered from other sources, the curriculum materials shall be in an accessible format or conversion-ready, except where it can be shown that these cannot be obtained without undue hardship.

(f) Add to section 15 a requirement that notwithstanding the timelines for accessible websites, any information posted to a website for use by students shall be in an accessible format and shall comply forthwith with WCAG 2.0 Level AA unless it can be shown that to do so is impossible without undue hardship, in which case accessible alternative format materials shall be provided immediately on request.

(g) No school, college or university shall provide books or other like materials via paperless technology such as on mobile apps on the iPad or Kindle unless that technology has become accessible for persons with disabilities.

#42. Section 17(1) and (2) of the Standard should be amended to provide:

17. (1) Every obligated organization that is a producer of education or training textbooks or other teaching materials (whether in printed form or electronic form) for educational or training institutions shall upon request, promptly make accessible or conversion ready versions of the textbooks or other teaching materials available to the institutions.
(2) Every obligated organization that is a producer of print-based or electronic educational or training supplementary learning resources for educational or training institutions shall upon request, promptly make accessible or conversion ready versions of the printed or electronic materials available to the institutions.

#43. The Committees Recommendation 25 should be expanded to define the scope of education programs to which its obligations should attach. This should be tied to the nature of the program and the extent to which ensuring accessibility would trigger an undue hardship

#44. Section 18(2) of the Standard should be amended to include a clear and narrow definition of special collection, or that exemption should be removed from this provision.

#45. The Committees Recommendation 26 should be expanded to recommend that the Government create or fund the creation of an Ontario-based remote captioning service that could service clients in Ontario and around the world by remotely-located captionists, providing their services online.

#46. The Committees Recommendation 27 should be expanded to incorporate the AODA Alliances proposed Framework for the Education Accessibility Standard, which includes:

11.1 To eliminate attitudinal barriers among students, school board employees and some families of students, each school board should:

a) Develop and implement a multi-year program/curriculum for teaching students, school board staff and families of school board students, about inclusion and full participation of students with disabilities, tailored to age levels. Because online courses are inadequate for this, where possible, this should include hearing from, meeting and interacting with people with disabilities e.g. at assemblies and/or via guest presentations.

b) Post in all schools and send information to all families of the school boards students, on the school boards commitment to inclusion of students with disabilities, and the benefits this brings to all students.

c) Provide specific training to all school board staff that deal with parents or students, on the importance of inclusion.

d) Implement human resources policies and practices to expand school board staff knowledge and skills regarding inclusion.

#47. The Committees Draft Recommendation 28 (calling for obligated organizations which provide education or training on the design, production, innovation, maintenance or delivery of information and communication tools and systems to include curricula that address the needs of people with disabilities) should give some specific examples of the needed training, including differently affected disabilities, beyond its reference to Sign language.

#48. The Committee should recommend that the Ontario Government should now adopt a concerted strategy, as part of its economic development efforts, of promoting the expansion of Ontarios technology development sector with expertise in accessible design.

#49. Section 16(1) of the Standard should be amended to provide:

16. (1) In addition to the requirements under section 7, obligated organizations that are school boards or educational or training institutions shall provide educators with accessibility awareness training related to accessible program or course delivery and instruction, and their educators shall satisfactorily complete that training.

1 The Public Sector Bodies (Websites and Mobile Applications) (No. 2) Accessibility Regulations 2018, S.8(1). Retrieved at http://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/2018/952/made#f00004; Directive (EU) 2016/2102 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 26 October 2016 on the accessibility of the websites and mobile applications of public sector bodies, S.7(1). Retrieved at http://www.legislation.gov.uk/eudr/2016/2102/contents
2 The Public Sector Bodies (Websites and Mobile Applications) (No. 2) Accessibility Regulations 2018, s.3; Directive (EU) 2016/2102 of the European Parliament and of the Council, Article 7(1).
3 The Public Sector Bodies (Websites and Mobile Applications) (No. 2) Accessibility Regulations 2018, section 4(a)(b). 4 Integrated Accessibility Standards, s.9(3)(a).




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Is the Ford Government Obeying the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act?


Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance Update United for a Barrier-Free Society for All People with Disabilities http://www.aodaalliance.org [email protected] Twitter: @aodaalliance

November 25, 2019
SUMMARY

Here is a sampling of news from the grassroots of Ontarios non-partisan campaign for accessibility for people with disabilities.

1. Two Illustrations of How the Ford Government Has Not Obeyed the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act

For years, the Ontario Government has proclaimed that it is leading Ontario by its example when it comes to achieving accessibility for people with disabilities. Yet is the Government itself fully obeying Ontarios key accessibility law, the AODA? We here highlight two ways in which the Ontario Government is not now in compliance with the AODA:

First, as far as it has announced, the Government has not fulfilled its mandatory and important duty under s. 9 of the AODA to appoint a Standards Development Committee to review the Design of Public Spaces Accessibility Standard that was enacted in December 2012. We have not even seen a public posting inviting people to apply to serve on that Standards Development Committee.

In our July 17, 2018 letter to Ontarios Accessibility Minister Raymond Cho, we alerted the minister to this obligation. Fully 16 months later, we have seen no action on this. In that letter, we identified this as a priority for the minister:

4. Get a Standards Development Committee appointed to develop recommendations on accessibility standards needed to address barriers in the built environment, in residential housing, and in existing buildings whether or not they are undergoing major renovations.

One effective way to do this would be to fulfil the Government’s overdue obligation under the AODA, which the previous Government failed to fulfil, to appoint a new Standards Development Committee to make recommendations on any revisions needed to the 2012 provisions of the Integrated Accessibility Standards Regulation which address disability barriers in public spaces.

That review had to be started within five years, i.e. by December 2017. Both the previous Wynne Government and the current Doug Ford Government have each failed to do so. Section 9 of the AODA provides:

(9) Within five years after an accessibility standard is adopted by regulation or at such earlier time as the Minister may specify, the standards development committee responsible for the industry, sector of the economy or class of persons or organizations to which the standard applies shall,
(a) re-examine the long-term accessibility objectives determined under subsection (2);
(b) if required, revise the measures, policies, practices and requirements to be implemented on or before January 1, 2025 and the time-frame for their implementation;
(c) develop another proposed accessibility standard containing such additions or modifications to the existing accessibility standard as the standards development committee deems advisable and submit it to the Minister for the purposes of making the proposed standard public and receiving comments in accordance with section 10; and
(d) make such changes it considers advisable to the proposed accessibility standard developed under clause (c) based on the comments received under section 10 and provide the Minister with the subsequent proposed accessibility standard.

Second, the Ford Government is not obeying the mandatory requirement to have an Accessibility Standards Advisory Council (ASAC) in place. The previous Government had appointed an ASAC. It met over the years since the AODA was enacted in 2005.

However, there has been no meeting of ASAC since the Ford Government took office in June 2018. At present, according to the Governments website, there is only one member left on ASAC and no chair or vice chair of that Council.

Section 31 of the AODA provides:

Accessibility Standards Advisory Council
31. (1) The Minister shall establish a council to be known in English as the Accessibility Standards Advisory Council and in French as Conseil consultatif des normes d’accessibilité. Members
(2) A majority of the members of the Council shall be persons with disabilities. Remuneration and expenses
(3) The Minister may pay the members of the Council the remuneration and the reimbursement for expenses that the Lieutenant Governor in Council determines. Duties
(4) At the direction of the Minister, the Council shall advise the Minister on,
(a) the process for the development of accessibility standards and the progress made by standards development committees in the development of proposed accessibility standards and in achieving the purposes of this Act; (b) accessibility reports prepared under this Act; (c) programs of public information related to this Act; and
(d) all other matters related to the subject-matter of this Act that the Minister directs. Public consultation
(5) At the direction of the Minister, the Council shall hold public consultations in relation to the matters referred to in subsection (4). Reports
(6) The Council shall give the Minister such reports as the Minister may request.

Of these two clear contraventions of the AODA, the first is by far the most important. However, the Government should never disobey our accessibility legislation, especially at a time when Ontario keeps slipping further and further behind the AODAs mandatory goal of becoming an accessible province for people with disabilities by 2025.

2. Act Quickly to RSVP to Come to the December 3, 2019 Birthday Party to Celebrate the 25th Anniversary of the Birth of the Grassroots Non-Partisan Campaign for Strong Ontario Accessibility Legislation

Available spaces are quickly filling up to attend the December 3, 2019 birthday party at Queens Park to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the birth in that very building of the non-partisan grassroots campaign for strong accessibility legislation in Ontario for over 2 million people with disabilities. For information about this event, and how to RSVP, and for a summary of the historic events on November 29, 1994, visit https://www.aodaalliance.org/whats-new/come-to-a-birthday-party-on-december-3-2019-the-international-day-for-people-with-disabilities-at-queens-park-to-celebrate-the-25th-anniversary-of-the-birth-of-the-non-partisan-grassroots-movemen/

Once the maximum of 150 people is reached, anyone who RSVPs will get a spot on the waiting list.

3. The Doug Ford Government Has Still Not Announced a Plan to Implement the Report of David Onleys Independent Review of the AODA

A total of 298 days or almost ten months have now passed since the Doug Ford Government received the blistering final report of the Independent Review of the AODAs implementation and enforcement conducted by former Lieutenant Governor David Onley. The Onley Report found that the Governments implementation and enforcement of the AODA has been far too sluggish and ineffective. The Ford Government has still announced no plan to implement that report, nor has it said that it will do so.

4. A Successful Public Forum on Accessibility Was Held Earlier this Month in the County of Essex

On November 5, 2019, the County of Essex and its Accessibility Advisory Committee held a very successful public forum on disability accessibility. It focused on practical things that can be done to make accessibility a reality for people with disabilities.

Below we set out news coverage of that event. We were delighted that in attendance were the mayor or deputy mayor of several local municipalities, as well as people with disabilities, senior municipal public servants and representatives of disability community organizations. We encourage other local communities to organize similar events. Wed be happy to help and to provide a speaker if possible.

5. Carla Qualtrough is Back as the Minister Responsible for Implementing and Enforcing the New Accessible Canada Act

After the recent federal election, Prime Minister Trudeau has announced his new Cabinet. He has again appointed Carla Qualtrough to serve as the federal minister responsible to lead the implementation and enforcement of the new Accessible Canada Act. Her title has been modified. She is now Canadas Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Disability Inclusion.

We congratulate Minister Qualtrough on her new appointment. We look forward to working with her on our proposal which we announced on November 18, 2019 , that a short bill be introduced into Parliament to better enable the Accessible Canada Act to achieve its important goals.

MORE DETAILS

The Windsor Star November 6, 2019

Originally posted at https://windsorstar.com/news/local-news/accessibility-advocate-david-lepofsky-urging-people-to-highlight-access-deficiencies

Accessibility advocate David Lepofsky urging people to highlight access deficiencies CHRIS THOMPSON, WINDSOR STAR Updated: November 5, 2019

David Lepofsky, a prominent champion of accessibility and the rights of persons with disabilities, speaks at an event hosted by the Essex County Accessibility Advisory Committee at the Civic Centre, Tuesday, Nov. 5, 2019. DAX MELMER / WINDSOR STAR

Accessibility advocate David Lepofsky came to Essex Tuesday to promote a Twitter campaign aimed at affecting change by identifying barriers to mobility for the disabled.

Lepofsky, chairman of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Alliance, spoke to about 60 people at the Essex Civic Centre.

We have made progress, but we are not on schedule for accessibility in 2025, nowhere close, said Lepofsky. Our accessibility and our rights should not be dismissed as red tape.

Lepofsky is encouraging all Ontarians to use social media to expose accessibility barriers with photographs using the hashtags #DialDoug and #AODAFail.

Lepofsky is calling on the Progressive Conservative government of Doug Ford to make the province fully accessible for the 1.9 million Ontarians with disabilities by 2025.

He said the disabled community is the minority of everyone because you either have a disability, know someone with a disability or will get a disability later in life.

The biggest cause of disability is getting older, Lepofsky said.

The Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act was enacted in 2005 to improve accessibility standards for Ontarians with physical and mental disabilities to all public establishments by 2025.

Compliance deadlines depend on the size of the institution and the sector in which it operates.

[email protected]

Excerpt from Ontario Governments Website Listing the Membership of the Accessibility Standards Advisory Council as of November 24, 2019

Originally posted at: https://www.pas.gov.on.ca/Home/Agency/1 1. Chair (Part-Time)
2. Vice-Chair (Part-Time)
3. Member (Part-Time) OLGA DOSIS, 03-Jan-2018 – 02-Jan-2020, Woodbridge 4. Member (Part-Time)
5. Member (Part-Time)
6. Member (Part-Time)
7. Member (Part-Time)
8. Member (Part-Time)
9. Member (Part-Time)
10. Member (Part-Time)
11. Member (Part-Time)
12. Member (Part-Time)
13. Member (Part-Time)
14. Member (Part-Time)
15. Member (Part-Time)
16. Member (Part-Time)




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AODA Alliance Asks Federal Party Leaders For a New Bill to Strengthen the Accessible Canada Act


Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance Update United for a Barrier-Free Society for All People with Disabilities http://www.aodaalliance.org [email protected] Twitter: @aodaalliance

November 18, 2019

SUMMARY

We today kick off the next phase in our campaign for accessibility at the federal level in Canada.

The AODA Alliance today wrote the leaders of the federal parties in Canadas newly-elected Parliament. We have asked them to pass a proposed new bill that we have outlined to strengthen the Accessible Canada Act that Parliament passed last June. We set out that letter below. It includes our framework for the new short but punchy bill that we are proposing and explains why we need it. In summary, we want this bill to:

a) ensure that enforceable accessibility standards are enacted under the Accessible Canada Act within five years;

b) remove an unfair and discriminatory provision So that passengers with disabilities who are the victims of accessibility barriers in federally-regulated travel (like air travel) are always able to seek monetary compensation when they deserve it;

c) ensure that the Accessible Canada Act never reduces the rights of people with disabilities, and that in any conflict between laws, the one that provides the highest level of accessibility prevails;

d) ensure that federal laws never create or permit accessibility barriers;

e) ensure that federal public money is never used to create or perpetuate barriers against people with disabilities;

f) simplify the Accessible Canada Acts unnecessarily confusing and complicated enforcement process;

g) eliminate the Federal Governments power to exempt itself from some of its duties under the Accessible Canada Act, and

h) require the Federal Government to apply a disability lens when it makes decisions or policies.

As our letter to the party leaders explains, it is good that Parliament unanimously passed the Accessible Canada Act. However, it needs to be strengthened to ensure that it fulfils its goal of making Canada barrier-free for over six million people with disabilities by 2040. While the Acts commendable goal is a barrier-free Canada, it does not require any disability accessibility barriers to ever be removed or prevented.

The recent federal election has opened the door to a tremendous new opportunity for us to advocate for this proposed new bill. Canada now has a minority government. All parties supported the goal of a barrier-free Canada and recognized the need for strong legislation to achieve this. The opposition Conservatives, NDP and Greens have all supported amendments to strengthen this bill. However, because our last government was a majority government, the opposition parties did not have the ability to make this happen.

The new minority government situation changes all that, and creates a new window of opportunity for us. However, minority governments typically only last for two or, at most, three years. We must move quickly. We are eager to work with any and all parties on this issue, in our well-known tradition of non-partisanship.

As our framework for this bill shows, our proposals for this bill are intentionally short and limited. They are the most high-impact changes with the best chance of getting them through Parliament. They reflect concerns that disability organizations repeatedly pressed for over the past year during public hearings in the House of Commons and the Senate on Bill C-81. Our experience with provincial disability accessibility legislation amply shows that these are top priorities.

Some might think it will be an uphill battle to get Parliament to amend the Accessible Canada Act now, so soon after it was enacted. We are used to uphill battles, including very daunting ones! For example, just one year ago, many thought it would be impossible to get the Senate to strengthen Bill C-81, especially so close to an election, and then to get the House of Commons to ratify any Senate amendments. Yet we and many others from the disability community tenaciously persisted. As a result, the Senate passed some amendments to strengthen Bill C-81 last spring. After that, the House of Commons approved all the Senates amendments.

We have nothing to lose in presenting this new proposal, and a lot to gain! Please urge your Member of Parliament to support this proposal for a new bill. Help us get all parties to make this a priority in the forthcoming session of Canadas new Parliament.

Stay tuned for more on this issue. For more background on the non-partisan campaign for a strong and effective Accessible Canada Act, visit www.aodaalliance.org/Canada

We welcome your feedback. Email us at [email protected]

MORE DETAILS — AODA Alliance Letter to Federal Party Leaders on a New ACA Bill

ACCESSIBILITY FOR ONTARIANS WITH DISABILITIES ACT ALLIANCE
1929 Bayview Avenue,
Toronto, Ontario M4G 3E8
Email [email protected] Twitter: @aodaalliance www.aodaalliance.org United for a Barrier-Free Society for All People with Disabilities

November 18, 2019

To:
The Right Honourable Justin Trudeau
Via email: [email protected]
Office of the Prime Minister of Canada
80 Wellington Street
Ottawa, ON K1A 0A2
Twitter: @JustinTrudeau

The Hon. Andrew Scheer, Leader of the Loyal Opposition and of the Conservative Party Via email: [email protected]
Leader of the Conservative Party
House of Commons
Ottawa, ON K1A 0A6
Twitter: @AndrewScheer

The Hon. Yves-François Blanchet, Leader of the Bloc Québécois Via email: [email protected]
House of Commons
Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0A6
3750 boul. Crémazie Est, bureau 402
Montréal Quebec H2A 1B6
Twitter: @yfblanchet

The Hon. Jagmeet Singh, Leader of the NDP
Via email: [email protected]
300 279 Laurier West
Ottawa, Ontario K1P 5J9
Twitter: @theJagmeetSingh

The Hon. Jo-Ann Roberts, Interim Leader of the Green Party; MP, Saanich-Gulf Islands Via email: [email protected]
House of Commons
Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0A6
Twitter: @JoAnnRobertsHFX

Dear Federal Party Leaders,

Re: Strengthening the Accessible Canada Act to Achieve a Barrier-Free Canada for Over Six Million People with Disabilities

As the new Parliament prepares to meet, we ask your parties to ensure that its agenda includes a new short, but vital bill to strengthen the Accessible Canada Act. This is important for over six million people with disabilities who face too many accessibility barriers every day. It is also important for everyone else in Canada, since everyone is bound to get a disability as they grow older.

At the end of this letter we set out a framework detailing what this new bill should include. In summary, this new bill should:

a) ensure that enforceable accessibility standards are enacted under the Accessible Canada Act within five years;

b) remove an unfair and discriminatory provision So that passengers with disabilities who are the victims of accessibility barriers in federally-regulated travel (like air travel) are always able to seek monetary compensation when they deserve it;

c) ensure that the Accessible Canada Act never reduces the rights of people with disabilities, and that in any conflict between laws, the one that provides the highest level of accessibility prevails;

d) ensure that federal laws never create or permit accessibility barriers;

e) ensure that federal public money is never used to create or perpetuate barriers against people with disabilities;

f) simplify the Accessible Canada Acts unnecessarily confusing and complicated enforcement process;

g) eliminate the Federal Governments power to exempt itself from some of its duties under the Accessible Canada Act, and

h) require the Federal Government to apply a disability lens when it makes decisions or policies.

Founded in 2005, the AODA Alliance is a non-partisan community coalition that advocates for accessibility for people with disabilities in Ontario and Canada. We presented to the House of Commons and Senate to ask for amendments to strengthen Bill C-81. During debates in Parliament, MPs and Senators quoted and relied on our submissions.

In June, before rising for the election, Parliament unanimously passed Bill C-81, the Accessible Canada Act. We appreciate and commend its unanimous passage. Many people with disabilities were encouraged by Parliaments unanimity in recognizing that Canada has too many barriers impeding people with disabilities, and that the needed legislative solution to this problem must be based on the principle of Nothing about us without us!

It is good that the Accessible Canada Act sets the goal of Canada becoming barrier-free by 2040, and that it gives the Federal Government a range of important powers to achieve that goal. However, there was also commendable recognition from many in Parliament that the bill needs to include more to achieve its goal. Even though the Accessible Canada Act has the goal of ensuring that Canada becomes barrier-free by 2040, it does not require that a single disability barrier ever be removed.

In the House of Commons Standing Committee hearings, many disability advocates identified ways Bill C-81 needed to be strengthened. During clause-by-clause debate in the House last fall, the Conservatives and NDP presented a substantial number of proposed amendments at the request of disability organizations. The Federal Government presented a shorter package of amendments. The Federal Governments amendments were passed.

After that, the bill came to the Senate last spring. A Senate Standing Committee held a second round of public hearings. The Senate heard that there was ample support for the need for this legislation, but that the bill still needed strengthening.

Commendably, the Senate passed a short package of improvements to the bill, before returning it to the House of Commons. Senators saw that the bill needed improvements. They were reluctant to pass more than a bare number of amendments, because they did not want to risk the bill dying on the order paper when the imminent election was called.

The Senate did what little it could to strengthen the bill within these substantial constraints. However, it did not fix all the key deficiencies with Bill C-81. When the bill was returned to the House of Commons last spring, it was commendable that the House unanimously passed the Senates improvements.

The job of coming up with an Accessible Canada Act that meets the needs of over six million people with disabilities in Canada is therefore still unfinished. We urge Parliament to now finish this important work, by strengthening the Accessible Canada Act. We propose amendments. Set out below, these amendments echo key requests from the disability community to the House of Commons and later to the Senate before the election. For Parliament to now act on them is true to the parties commitment to the principle Nothing about us without us.

To past a modest bill now to strengthen the Accessible Canada Act is consistent with the calls last year by the Conservative, NDP and Green Parties for Bill C-81 to be strengthened. During Third Reading debates on Bill C-81 in the House of Commons, the Conservatives promised, if elected, to make the strengthening of this bill a priority. The NDP promised specific amendments to this bill during the 2019 federal election. The Liberals promised that this new law would be historic and would ensure that Canada becomes accessible to people with disabilities. The Liberals also promised during the recent election to apply a disability lens to all government decisions. When a disability lens is applied to the Accessible Canada Act itself, it brings into sharp focus the fact that the amendments we seek are needed now.

These amendments would not delay the Federal Governments current activity on implementing the Accessible Canada Act. Parliamentary debate over this short amendments package need not hold up other pressing Parliamentary business.

We anticipate that some within the Federal Public Service may push back that this should all await an Independent Review of the Accessible Canada Acts operations. Yet people with disabilities cannot wait the seven or more years for that review to begin. The need for these amendments is clear and present now. Any delay in making them will only slow Canadas progress towards the goal of full accessibility.

In the new minority Parliament that voters elected, your parties have committed to work together. Our proposed bill is an excellent opportunity for this. It reflects what your parties have said about accessibility for people with disabilities and to what many disability advocates told Parliament.

We would welcome the opportunity to speak to any of your parties officials about this. Please let us know with whom we should speak within your party.

We urge you to support the bill we seek, and to make this a priority on Parliaments agenda. We are eager to work together with you on this positive proposal in the spirit of non-partisanship that is the hallmark of our many years of grassroots disability advocacy.

Sincerely,

David Lepofsky CM, O. Ont
Chair Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance

Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance Update United for a Barrier-Free Society for All People with Disabilities www.aodaalliance.org [email protected] Twitter: @aodaalliance

Framework of a Proposed Federal Bill to Strengthen the Accessible Canada Act

November 18, 2019

Introduction

We call on Canadas Parliament to pass a new bill to strengthen the Accessible Canada Act. The Accessible Canada Act is federal legislation that has the purpose of ensuring that Canada becomes barrier-free for over six million people with disabilities by 2040. This framework explains the amendments to the Accessible Canada Act that we seek via a new bill.

A. Enforceable Accessibility Standard Regulations Should Be Enacted Within Five Years

The Accessible Canada Act’s centerpiece is the enactment and enforcement of accessibility standard regulations. These regulations will specify what an organization must do, and by when to become accessible. The Act lets the Federal Cabinet, the Canadian Radio, Television and Telecommunication Commission (CRTC) and the Canadian Transportation Agency (CTA) enact these regulations. However, it does not require them ever to be enacted. If they are not enacted, the Act will fail.

Our proposed bill would amend the Accessible Canada Act to require the Federal Government, the CTA and the CRTC to enact regulations to set accessibility standards in all the areas that the Act covers within five years. We therefore propose:

1. The Accessible Canada Act should be amended to add this subsection to section 117:

“Obligation

(1.2)?The Governor in Council must make all the regulations under paragraphs 1(c) and (d) necessary to achieving the purposes of this Act, and, without limiting the generality of the foregoing, must make at least one regulation under paragraphs (1c) and (d) in each of the areas referred to in section 5 within the period of five years that begins on the day on which this subsection comes into force.

B. The Accessible Canada Act Should Never Reduce the Rights of People with Disabilities

The Accessible Canada Act includes insufficient protections to ensure that nothing under the Act reduces the rights of people with disabilities and that if there is a conflict between two laws regarding accessibility, the stronger one will prevail.

Our proposed bill would amend the Accessible Canada Act to provide that if a provision of that Act or of a regulation enacted under it conflicts with a provision of any other Act or regulation, the provision that provides the highest level of accessibility shall prevail, and that nothing in the Accessible Canada Act or in any regulations enacted under it or actions taken under it shall reduce any rights which people with disabilities otherwise enjoy under law. We therefore propose:

2. Section 6 of the Accessible Canada Act should be amended to add the following to the principles set out in it that govern the Act:

“(2) (a) If a provision of this Act or of any regulation under this Act conflicts with or guarantees a different level ofaccessibility for people with disabilities than a provision of any other Act or regulation, the provision that provides the highest level of accessibility for persons with disabilities with respect to goods, services, facilities, employment, accommodation, buildings, structures or premises shall prevail.

(b) Nothing in or under this Act or regulations enacted under it may be construed or applied to reduce the rights of people with disabilities enjoyed at law.

C. An Unfair and Discriminatory Provision of the Accessible Canada Act Should Be Removed So that Passengers with Disabilities Who Are the Victims of Accessibility Barriers in Federally-Regulated Travel (Like Air Travel) are Always Able to Seek Monetary Compensation When They Deserve It

An unfair and discriminatory provision, section 172, was included in the Accessible Canada Act. It is helpful that the Senate somewhat softened it, after tenacious pressure from disability advocates. However, it should be repealed altogether.

Specifically, section 172(3) of the Accessible Canada Act unfairly takes away important rights from people with disabilities in a discriminatory way. It bars the CTA from awarding justly-deserved monetary compensation to a passenger with a disability, even if the CTA finds that an airline or other federally-regulated transportation-provider imposed an undue barrier against them, so long as a federal transportation accessibility regulation says that the airline did not have to provide the passenger with that accommodation.

This unfairly protects huge, well-funded airlines and railways from having to pay monetary compensation in situations where they should have to pay up. Our proposed bill would repeal the offending portion of section 172(3). We therefore propose:

3. To ensure that the Canadian Transportation Agency can decide whether there is an undue barrier that makes federal transportation inaccessible for persons with disabilities and can always order the full range of remedies to remove and prevent such barriers, and to ensure that s. 172(3) of the Canada Transportation Act does not reduce rights of persons with disabilities, subsection 172(3) of the Accessible Canada Act and the corresponding s. 172(3) of the Canada Transportation Act should be amended to remove the words but if it does so, it may only require the taking of appropriate corrective measures.

Section 172(3) of the Canada Transportation Act currently reads: Compliance with regulations
(3)If the Agency is satisfied that regulations made under subsection 170(1) that are applicable in relation to a matter have been complied with or have not been contravened, the Agency may determine that there is an undue barrier in relation to that matter but if it does so, it may only require the taking of appropriate corrective measures.

With this amendment, section 172(3) would read:
Compliance with regulations
(3)If the Agency is satisfied that regulations made under subsection 170(1) that are applicable in relation to a matter have been complied with or have not been contravened, the Agency may determine that there is an undue barrier in relation to that matter.

D. No Federal Laws Should Create or Permit Disability Barriers

The Accessible Canada Act does not ensure that federal laws never impose or permit the creation of barriers against people with disabilities.

Our proposed bill would amend the Accessible Canada Acts definition of “barrier” to include laws that create or permit disability barriers. We therefore propose:

4. Section 2 of the Accessible Canada Acts definition of “barrier” should be amended to add the words “a law”, so that it will read in material part:

“barrier means anything??including anything physical, architectural, technological or attitudinal, anything that is based on information or communications or anything that is the result of a law, a policy or a practice??that hinders the full and equal participation in society of persons with an impairment, including a physical, mental, intellectual, cognitive, learning, communication or sensory impairment or a functional limitation. (obstacle)”

E. Federal Public Money Should Never Be Used to Create or Perpetuate Barriers

The Accessible Canada Act does not require the Federal Government to ensure that federal money is never used by any recipient of those funds to create or perpetuate disability barriers. For example, the Act doesn’t require the Federal Government to attach accessibility strings when it gives money to a municipality, college, university, local transit authority or other organization to build new infrastructure. Those recipients are left free to use federal public money to design and build new infrastructure that is not fully accessible to people with disabilities. Also, the Act doesn’t require the Federal Government to attach any federal accessibility strings when it gives business development loans or grants to private businesses.

It is helpful that the Act lets the Federal Government impose accessibility requirements when it buys goods or services. However, it doesn’t require the Federal Government to ever do so.

This allows for a wasteful and harmful use of public money. The Senate’s Standing Committee on Social Affairs that held hearings on Bill C-81 made this important observation in its May 7, 2019 report to the Senate:

“Your committee heard concerns that despite this legislation, federal funding may continue to be spent on projects that do not always meet accessibility standards. Therefore, we encourage the federal government to ensure that when public money is spent or transferred, the funding should never be used to create or perpetuate disability-related barriers when it is reasonable to expect that such barriers can be avoided.”

Our proposed bill would amend the Accessible Canada Act to require that no one may use public money distributed by the Government of Canada in a manner that creates or perpetuates barriers, including e.g., payments by the Government of Canada to any person or entity to purchase or rent any goods, services or facilities, or to contribute to the construction, expansion or renovation of any infrastructure or other capital project, or to provide a business development loan or grant to any person or entity. We therefore propose:

5. The Accessible Canada Act should be amended to add the following provision:

11.1.

(1) No one shall use public money distributed by the Government of Canada or any agency thereof by loan, grant, or other like payment in a manner that creates or perpetuates barriers.

(2) Without limiting the generality of the foregoing, subsection 1 includes payments by the Government of Canada to any person or entity to purchase or rent any goods, services or facilities, or to contribute to the construction, expansion or renovation of any infrastructure or other capital project, or to provide a business development loan or grant to any person or entity.

(3) Within the period of two years that begins on the day on which this subsection comes into force, the minister must establish and make public policies and procedures to implement, monitor compliance with, and report to the public on compliance with subsections 1 and 2.

(4) The power to make regulations under clauses 117 (1) (c) and (d) includes the power to make regulations to implement this section.

F. The Confusing and Complicated Implementation and Enforcement of the Accessible Canada Act Should be Simplified

The lengthy Accessible Canada Act is very complicated and confusing. It will be hard for people with disabilities to navigate it. It splinters the power to make accessibility standard regulations and the power to enforce the bill among a number of federal agencies, such as the new federal Accessibility Commissioner, the CTA, and the CRTC.

This makes it much harder for people with disabilities to navigate the system, to find out what rights they have, and to get violations fixed. People with disabilities have to learn to navigate as many as three or four different sets of accessibility rules, enforcement agencies, procedures, forms and time lines for presenting an accessibility complaint.

Our proposed bill would require that the CRTC, CTA and the Federal Public Sector Labour Relations and Employment Board, within six months, establish policies, practices and procedures for expeditiously receiving, investigating, considering and deciding upon complaints under this Act which are the same as or as reasonably close as possible to those that the Accessible Canada Act sets out for the Accessibility Commissioner. We therefore propose:

6. The following provision should be added to the Accessible Canada Act:

“Section 123.1.

(1) The Canadian Transportation Agency, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission, and the Federal Public Sector Labour Relations and Employment Board must within the period of six months that begins on the day on which this subsection comes into force, establish policies, practices and procedures for expeditiously receiving, investigating, considering and deciding upon complaints under this Act which are the same as or as reasonably close as possible to, those set out for the Accessibility Commissioner in sections 94 to 110 of the Act.”

G. The Accessible Canada Acts Power to Exempt the Federal Government from Some of the Acts Requirements Should be Eliminated

The Accessible Canada Act has too many loopholes. For example, it lets the Federal Government exempt itself from some of its duties under the Act. The Government should not ever be able to exempt itself.

Our proposed bill would eliminate the Federal Governments power to exempt itself from some of its duties under the Accessible Canada Act. We therefore propose:

7. Section 72(1) of the Accessible Canada Act should be amended to add the words “except any entity referred to in paragraphs 7(1) (a), (b) and (c) (the Government of Canada, or a department or agency of the Government of Canada)”, so that the provision will read in material part:

“72?(1) The Minister may, by order, exempt any regulated entity or class of regulated entities except the any entity referred to in paragraphs 7(1) (a), (b) and (c) (the Government of Canada, or a department or agency of the Government of Canada) from the application of all or any part of sections 69 to 71, on any terms that the Minister considers necessary. The order ceases to have effect on the earlier of the end of the period of three years that begins on the day on which the order is made and the end of any shorter period specified in the order.”

H. The Federal Government Should Be Required to Apply a Disability Lens to All Its Decisions

In the 2019 election campaign, the Liberal Party of Canada promised that it would apply a disability lens to all Federal Government decisions. Proposed opposition amendments to Bill C-81 last year would have made this a permanent legal requirement, not a voluntary practice that future governments could ignore.

Our proposed bill would amend the Accessible Canada Act to entrench in law a disability lens, that must be applied to all Government policies and decisions and would make it binding on both the current Government and future governments. We therefore propose:

8. The following provision should be added to the Accessible Canada Act:

In order to systemically entrench the full inclusion of people with disabilities in all opportunities available in Canada, the government shall implement a disability lens whereby:

(a) Within two years the government shall have reviewed all existing policies to ensure that they do not exclude or adversely affect persons with disabilities.

(b) within 3 months of completing this review, the Minister shall submit a report to Parliament on the findings of the review and corrective measures taken.

(c) the government shall review all new policies and decisions to ensure that they do not exclude or adversely affect persons with disabilities.

(d) Before the Government of Canada adopts any new policies or makes any new decisions, the Minister shall certify that the policy has been reviewed to ensure that it does not exclude or adversely affect persons with disabilities, and shall annually report to Parliament on the reviews conducted and corrective measures taken




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Come to A Birthday Party On December 3, 2019 (the International Day for People with Disabilities) at Queen’s Park to Celebrate the 25th Anniversary of the Birth of the Non-Partisan Grassroots Movement for Accessibility Legislation in Ontario!


Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance Update United for a Barrier-Free Society for All People with Disabilities http://www.aodaalliance.org [email protected] Twitter: @aodaalliance

November 13, 2019

SUMMARY

Everyone loves a birthday party! Please come to the Ontario Legislature Building at Queen’s Park on Tuesday, December 3, 2019 from 4 to 6 pm, for a birthday party! It will celebrate the 25th anniversary of the birth of the non-partisan grassroots movement for the enactment and effective implementation of accessibility legislation in Ontario.

A quarter of a century ago, on November 29, 1994, a group of about twenty people with disabilities gathered together at a spontaneous meeting at the Ontario Legislature. On the spot, they decided to form an organization to campaign for Ontario to pass a strong accessibility law. What has followed has been an extraordinary twenty-five years of vibrant, creative, tenacious non-partisan grassroots advocacy across Ontario for accessibility for people with disabilities.

What better day could there be to celebrate this important birthday than December 3? It is recognized around the world as the International Day for People with Disabilities! What better way could there be to celebrate it, then to turn our prime attention to the next generation that will carry the torch forward in this cause. For that reason, a key focus at this birthday party will be on the next generation of people with disabilities!

Please come! Get others to come, and especially kids, teens and young adults! Our thanks to the March of Dimes, Spinal Cord Injury Association of Ontario and several other organizations who are helping to throw this party!

To attend, it is essential to RSVP in advance, so we can ensure that Queen’s Park security officials have the names of those who are coming. Also, space is limited, so RSVP fast! You must RSVP by November 26, 2019. To RSVP, go to this link https://sciontario.org/an-accessible-future-our-commitment-to-the-next-generation/

We also encourage individuals and organizations around Ontario to organize their own local celebrations of this historic anniversary. Let us know what you have planned. We would be happy to spread the word.

Over these twenty years, we can be proud that we have put disability accessibility on the political map. We’ve obtained lots of positive media coverage from one end of Ontario to the other. We put forward constructive proposals for action. We hold politicians accountable on this issue. We have waged non-partisan disability accessibility campaigns during every Ontario election since 1995, and have gotten election pledges on disability accessibility from at least two parties, if not more, in every one of those seven provincial elections.

Our strength, from beginning to end, is our many wonderful grassroots supporters, both individuals and organizations, selflessly toiling away, tirelessly, right across Ontario. Each one has helped our cause by writing or meeting their MPP, telling the media about a barrier in their community, educating their local businesses and community organizations on accessibility, serving on a municipal or provincial accessibility advisory committee, council or other body, tweeting about our campaign, posting on the web about accessibility, calling a phone-in radio program, writing a letter to the editor or guest newspaper column, organizing a local accessibility event, submitting briefs to the Government, reading and forwarding our email Updates, or sending us feedback and ideas. This is a chance to celebrate all these collective efforts. We have learned over and over that tenacity and courage in the face of barriers pays off.

So what happened back on November 29, 1994, to kick-start this movement? We set out a description of the key events. It comes from a law journal article that describes the first eight years of this movement, entitled “The Long Arduous Road to a Barrier-free Ontario for People with Disabilities: The History of the Ontarians with Disabilities Act – The First Chapter,” found in volume 15 of the National Journal of Constitutional Law. It was written by David Lepofsky, who led the ODA Committee from 1995 to 2005, and who has chaired the AODA Alliance since 2009. Footnotes are omitted from this excerpt. Back then, we were campaigning for a law to be called the Ontarians with Disabilities Act or ODA. In 2005, the Legislature passed the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act or AODA. That is why in 2005 the ODA Committee wound up and was succeeded by the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act

Please sign up to attend this birthday party and get others to do so!

MORE DETAILS

EXCERPT FROM “THE LONG ARDUOUS ROAD TO A BARRIER-FREE ONTARIO FOR PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES: THE HISTORY OF THE ONTARIANS WITH DISABILITIES ACT – THE FIRST CHAPTER” BY DAVID LEPOFSKY, PUBLISHED IN THE NATIONAL JOURNAL OF CONSTITUTIONAL LAW, VOLUME 15.

a) The Birth of the Organized ODA Movement

The realization within Ontario’s disability community that a new law was needed to tear down the barriers facing persons with disabilities did not take place all at once as the result of a single catastrophic event. Rather, it resulted slowly from a simmering, gradual process. That process led to the birth of Ontario’s organized ODA movement.

How then did the organized ODA movement get started? Most would naturally think that it is the birth of a civil rights movement that later spawns the introduction into a legislature of a new piece of civil rights legislation. Ironically in the case of the organized ODA movement, the opposite was the case. The same ironic twist had occurred 15 years before when the Ontario Coalition for Human Rights for the Handicapped formed in reaction to the Government’s introduction of a stand-alone piece of disability rights legislation.

In the early 1990s, after the enactment in the U.S. of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) in 1990, sporadic voices in Ontario began discussing the idea of seeking the enactment of something called an “Ontarians with Disabilities Act.” There was little if any focused attention on what this new law would contain. It was understood from the outset that an ODA would not be a carbon copy of the ADA. For example, some parts of the ADA were already incorporated in the Ontario Human Rights Code. There was no need to replicate them again.

In the 1990 Ontario provincial election campaign (which happened to take place just days after the U.S. had enacted the Americans with Disabilities Act) NDP leader Bob Rae responded to a disability rights legal clinic’s all-party election platform questionnaire in August 1990 with a letter which, among other things, supported appropriate legislation along the lines of an Ontarians with Disabilities Act. Rae’s letter didn’t spell out what this law would include. This letter did not get serious airplay in that election campaign. It was not well-known when the NDP came from behind in the polls to win that provincial election. Because the NDP had not been expected to win, it was widely seen as campaigning on a range of election commitments that it never anticipated having the opportunity to implement.

Despite sporadic discussions among some in the early 1990s, there was no grassroots groundswell in Ontario supporting an ODA. There was also no major grassroots political force building to push for one. This was quite similar to the fact that there was no organized grassroots disability rights movement pushing for the inclusion of disability equality in the Ontario Human Rights Code in 1979, before the Ontario Government proposed its new disability discrimination legislation in that year. In the early 1990s, Ontario disability organizations involved in disability advocacy were primarily focused on other things, such as the NDP Ontario Government’s proposed Employment Equity Act, expected to be the first provincial legislation of its kind in Canada. That legislation, aimed at increasing the employment of persons with disabilities as well as women, racial minorities and Aboriginal persons, was on the agenda of the provincial New Democratic Party that was then in power in Ontario.

What ultimately led to the birth of a province-wide, organized grassroots ODA movement in Ontario was the decision of an NDP back-bench member of the Ontario Legislature, Gary Malkowski, to introduce into the Legislature a private member’s ODA bill in the Spring of 1994, over three years into the NDP Government’s term in office. By that time, the NDP Government had not brought forward a Government ODA bill. Malkowski decided to bring forward Bill 168, the first proposed Ontarians with Disabilities Act, to focus public and political interest in this new issue. Malkowski was well-known as Ontario’s, and indeed North America’s, first elected parliamentarian who was deaf. Ontario’s New Democratic Party Government, then entering the final year of its term in office, allowed Malkowski’s bill to proceed to a Second Reading vote in the Ontario Legislature in June, 1994, and then to public hearings before a committee of the Ontario Legislature in November and December 1994.

In 1994, word got around various quarters in Ontario’s disability community that Malkowski had introduced this bill. Interest in it started to percolate. Malkowski met with groups in the disability community, urging them to come together to support his bill. He called for the disability community to unite in a new coalition to support an Ontarians with Disabilities Act. A significant number of persons with disabilities turned up at the Ontario Legislature when this bill came forward for Second Reading debate in the Spring of 1994.

Over the spring, summer and fall months of 1994, around the same time as Malkowski was coming forward with his ODA bill, some of the beginnings of the organized ODA movement were also simmering within an organization of Ontario Government employees with disabilities. Under the governing NDP, the Ontario Government had set up an “Advisory Group” of provincial public servants with disabilities to advise it on measures to achieve equality for persons with disabilities in the Ontario Public Service. In the Spring of 1994, this Advisory Group set as one of its priorities working within the machinery of the Ontario Government to promote the idea of an ODA.

This public service Advisory Group met with several provincial Cabinet Ministers and later with Ontario’s Premier, Bob Rae, to discuss the idea of an ODA. It successfully pressed the Government to hold public hearings on Malkowski’s ODA bill.

As 1994 progressed, Malkowski’s bill served its important purpose. It sparked the attention and interest of several players in Ontario’s disability community in the idea of an ODA. No one was then too preoccupied with the details of the contents of Malkowski’s ODA bill.

Malkowski’s bill had an even more decisive effect on November 29, 1994, when it first came before the Legislature’s Standing Committee for debate and public hearings. On that date, NDP Citizenship Minister Elaine Ziemba was asked to make a presentation to the Committee on the Government’s views on Malkowski’s bill. She was called upon to do this before community groups would be called on to start making presentations to the legislative committee. The hearing room was packed with persons with disabilities, eager to hear what the Minister would have to say.

Much to the audience’s dismay, the Minister’s lengthy speech said little if anything about the bill. She focused instead on the Government’s record on other disability issues. The temperature in the room elevated as the audience’s frustration mounted.

When the committee session ended for the day, word quickly spread among the audience that all were invited to go to another room in Ontario’s legislative building. An informal, impromptu gathering came together to talk about taking action in support of Malkowski’s bill. Malkowski passionately urged those present to come together and to get active on this cause.

I was one of the 20 or so people who made their way into that room. In an informal meeting that lasted about an hour, it was unanimously decided to form a new coalition to fight for a strong and effective Ontarians with Disabilities Act. There was no debate over the content of such legislation at that meeting. However, there was a strong and united realization that new legislation was desperately needed, and that a new coalition needed to be formed to fight for it. This coalition did not spawn the first ODA bill. Rather, the first ODA bill had spawned this coalition.

Days later, in December 1994, the Legislature’s Standing Committee held two full days of hearings into Malkowski’s bill. A significant number of organizations, including disability community organizations, appeared before the Legislature’s Standing Committee to submit briefs and make presentations on the need for new legislation in this area. Among the groups that made presentations was the Ontario Public Service Disability Advisory Group which had pressed for these hearings to be held. Its brief later served as a core basis for briefs and positions that would be presented by the brand-new Ontarians with Disabilities Act Committee.




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