AODA Alliance Writes Premier Doug Ford to Urge Actions to Protect the Urgent Needs of Ontarians with disabilities During the Covid Crisis


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

March 25, 2020

SUMMARY

The current COVID crisis is especially threatening for people with disabilities. As a result, we today wrote Ontario Premier Doug Ford to call for strong action to protect the urgent needs of Ontarians with disabilities during this critical time. Our letter is set out below.

In our letter, we:

* Ask Premier Ford to direct his senior officials to act on the recommendations for action in the March 20, 2020 AODA Alliance Update, which lists vital action that Ontarians with disabilities need our governments at all levels to take.

* Ask Premier Ford not to totally freeze during this COVID crisis the work of Standards Development Committees appointed under the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, even if some of their work must briefly be delayed, and

* Urge Premier Ford to convene via virtual meetings the available members of the Standards Development Committees now in place to brainstorm options for The Government could take to address the urgent needs of Ontarians with disabilities during The Governments emergency planning to deal with the COVID crisis.

We again offer The Government our assistance with any efforts to ensure that the needs of Ontarians with disabilities are safeguarded during this crisis.

We also set out below the March 23, 2020 letter to Ontario Accessibility Minister Raymond Cho from NDP MPP Joel Harden. Mr. Harden offers good ideas for Government action during this crisis.

A total of 419 days have passed since the Ford Government received the final report of the Independent Review of the AODAs implementation that former Lieutenant Governor David Onley conducted. We are still waiting for The Government to announce a serious plan of action to implement its recommendations regarding the AODAs implementation and enforcement.

We always welcome your feedback on these issues, and any others! Email us at [email protected]

MORE DETAILS

March 25, 2020 letter from the AODA Alliance to Ontario Premier Doug Ford

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

March 25, 2020

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 that the Urgent Needs of 2.6 Million Ontarians with Disabilities Are Fully Addressed in The Governments emergency Planning for the COVID Crisis

We appreciate all the hard work that the Government has been shouldering in the face of the horrible COVID virus crisis that is engulfing our province and the entire world. We know that at all levels, The Government is working under very difficult circumstances to head off unprecedented health and economic crises that we all now face.

It is vital that The Governments emergency planning include strong and effective measures to ensure that the emergency needs of 2.6 million people with disabilities are effectively met. Ontarians with disabilities are already a vulnerable and disadvantaged part of our society. They will disproportionately suffer this crisiss hardships.

On March 20, 2020, the AODA Alliance made public a comprehensive call for strong government action on this front. We ask you to share it with your Governments senior officials. Please direct them to take the emergency actions listed there to address this part of the crisis.

It is also essential that The Government not over-react to this crisis by taking action that works against the important needs of Ontarians with disabilities. For example, yesterday, in the wake of this crisis, the Accessibility Ministry announced that it has put on hold the ongoing work on developing new accessibility standards for the time being. Its March 24, 2020 email to members of the K-12 Education Standards Development Committee (of which AODA Alliance Chair David Lepofsky is a member) included the following:

Note: SDC stands for Standards Development Committee.

Please be advised that due to the current circumstances, the Ministry for Seniors and Accessibility will be suspending all planned SDC meetings, whether in person or teleconference, as well as any technical sub-committee/small team meetings until further notice.

At the request of the Chair, please release your April dates but continue to hold the May and June dates until further notice. We will keep you updated over the coming weeks.

The Ministry will continue to work on developing a revised workplan, in conversation with yourself on the restart of the SDC meetings when it becomes possible to do so.

It is understandable that The Government cancelled the April 1, 2020 meeting of the K-12 Standards Development Committee, even as a virtual meeting, given the immediacy of the crisis. However, there was no need for The Government to have made an announcement that suspends all work of Standards Development Committees, even the informal work of sub-committees. Those sub-committees use email and conference calls to informally brainstorm ideas to bring forward when the full Standards Development Committee next meets. They have important work now in progress. No Government staff take part in those meetings.

Of course, some Standards Development Committee members may have limited time on hand due to the crisis, as well as work or family obligations. However, for any who are isolated at home, with time on their hands, The Government should encourage them to feel free to carry on with their work. The Government should not send out a message that will sound to some like everything is to be entirely frozen until further notice.

Far from now shutting down the work of Standards Development Committees for the time being, The Government should now hurry to draw on these expert committees for help with emergency planning for the COVID crisis. Their membership was hand-picked based on their expertise in important areas concerning accessibility for people with disabilities.

We call on The Government to quickly convene virtual meetings of these Standards Development Committees to brainstorm ideas for measures that The Government should implement as part of its emergency planning, to help reduce this crisiss disproportionate hardships for Ontarians with disabilities. For example:

1. The Health Care Standards Development Committee should be asked to identify hardships facing people with disabilities in the health care system during this crisis, and to identify urgent measures that The Government could include in its current emergency health care planning to prevent the creation of new barriers against patients with disabilities. A good source of ideas for that discussion is the AODA Alliances recent Framework for ensuring that the health care system is accessible to patients with disabilities.

2. The Post-Secondary Education Standards Development Committee should be asked to identify important emergency steps that colleges and universities can now take to ensure that post-secondary students with disabilities can fully take part in their programs, especially as they rapidly shift to remote online learning and testing.

3. The K-12 Education Standards Development Committee should be asked for ideas on what the Ministry of Education and school boards should be offering for home learning and remote learning opportunities and supports for students with disabilities during school closures.

4. The Employment Standards Development Committee should be asked for recommendations for urgent measures to help ensure that employees with disabilities can continue to work remotely, free from accessibility barriers.

5. The Information and Communications Standards Development Committee should be asked for recommendations for urgent measures that employers, school boards, colleges, universities, health care providers (like hospitals) and governments can take, as so much is moving to the online realm during this crisis, to ensure that digital accessibility is ensured. As well, recommendations for urgent measures could be sought for ensuring that people with communication disabilities can effectively communicate with such critical services as first responders during this crisis.

Some Standards Development Committee members may be unavailable to take part in this brainstorming. Lets just get whomever is available around the virtual table as soon as possible to put their heads together in the public interest.

There is no need to comply with the full procedural strictures that the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act spells out for formal Standards Development Committee proceedings. This is because the aim would not be for these committees to formulate and vote on formal collective recommendations for new accessibility standards to be enacted under the AODA. Rather, The Government should call on their members to simply brainstorm ideas which individual members could offer and which The Government could collect, share with the public, and infuse into its emergency planning where appropriate.

We dont suggest for a moment that only Standards Development Committee members should be consulted on these important issues. However, with the crisis now upon us all, these Committees are an easily-reached and readily available source of expertise that is right at hand.

In conclusion, we repeat what our March 20, 2020 call for action had emphasized. In this crisis, we are all experiencing more than ever the harms caused by past Government failures to effectively act on accessibility for people with disabilities. As but one example, there are real harms now flowing from the Governments having left the work of Standards Development Committees frozen from the day it took office in June 2018 up until months later. Had the work of the Health Care Standards Development Committee not been frozen for over a year after June 2018, The Government would now have the benefit of its final recommendations as it rushes to put in place emergency health care services to combat the COVID virus.

Lets learn the lessons of the past, and not stop the work of Standards Development Committees any longer than necessary and any more than necessary. Lets accelerate their work where it will help us combat the societal effects of the COVID virus.

We remain at your service to help in any way we can. We wish you and all those working for the Government, as well as all Ontarians, health and safety in the wake of this crisis.

Sincerely,

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

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

March 23, 2020 Letter to Ontario Accessibility Minister Raymond Cho from NDP MPP Joel Harden

Hon. Raymond Cho
Ministry for Seniors and Accessibility
College Park
5th Floor
777 Bay St.
Toronto, ON, M5G 2C8

March 23, 2020

Dear Minister Cho,

At this extraordinary time, we must do everything we can to support those who need it most. That is why I am writing to share with you two ideas for your Ministry that will ease the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic for seniors and people with disabilities.

In our constituency of Ottawa Centre, the Good Companions Seniors Centre runs an innovative program called the Seniors Centre Without Walls. The initiative allows seniors and people with disabilities to call a toll-free number and connect with each other remotely, allowing them to participate in educational seminars, music, interactive games and more.

During this public health emergency where seniors and people with disabilities are asked to stay home for their own safety, there is a heightened risk of social isolation. As I write to you, thousands of seniors and people with disabilities are living alone, cut off the from the activities that previously provided them with human to human connection.

That is why I am asking the Ministry of Seniors & Accessibility to work with Seniors Active Living Centres to expand the Seniors Centre Without Walls so that every senior or adult with a disability in Ontario can access this service. In doing so, special consideration should be paid to ensuring that Francophone and minority language speaking seniors are able to participate.

On a related note, we must ensure that Ontarians who are deaf or hard of hearing are able to receive crucial information on the availability of government services, business closures, and public health updates in the midst of this crisis.

Thats why I am requesting ASL interpretation for all government press conferences related to COVID-19, and the publication of official announcements in accessible formats. We need to make sure that all 1.9 million Ontarians with disabilities have the information they need to protect themselves and their families.

Minister, thank you for your consideration of this letter and its requests. I look forward to working with you to support our vulnerable seniors and people with disabilities in the days ahead.

My very best,

Joel Harden
Official Opposition Critic for Seniors, Accessibility and People with Disabilities MPP for Ottawa Centre

CC: Monique Doolittle-Romas
David Lepofsky
Sarah Jama




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Disability Advocacy Coalition Calls for Strong Action by Governments At All Levels to Address the Emergency Needs of People with Disabilities during the Covid Crisis


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

March 20, 2020

SUMMARY

The Covid-19 virus crisis has serious implications for people with disabilities in our community. This cries out for immediate and major action by all levels of government. We call on our federal, provincial and municipal governments and other major public institutions to ensure that planning for the most vulnerable in our society, including people with disabilities, is a key part of all emergency planning in this area. We urge one and all to do what they can to stay isolated and safe.

We here offer concrete ideas. We are ready to help in any way we can. In this Update, we:

* outline some of the serious additional hardships that this Covid crisis is inflicting on over 2.6 million Ontarians with disabilities.

* Offer concrete proposals for immediate action by all levels of government and

* Outline some important lessons that our government must learn after this crisis is behind us all.

We recognize that our governments at all levels are rushing to address an unbelievable crisis. They have many huge pressures on them. They are working around the clock.

We deeply appreciate all the efforts made to date to help protect the public. We here offer constructive suggestions on how to ensure that their efforts include the pressing needs of people with disabilities in this crisis. In offering these ideas, we don’t want to leave any impression whatsoever that no one is doing anything for people with disabilities. We just want to ensure that our public institutions are collectively doing all we and they can on this front. It may well be that more is going on than we have seen. Whatever be the case, we hope the following ideas will help.

MORE DETAILS

1. The Covid Pandemic’s Serious Impact on People with Disabilities

Of the great many people whom the Covid virus will affect, the 2.6 million Ontarians who have a disability will disproportionately feel its harmful effects. We offer a few important reflections on the particular needs of people with disabilities as our society copes with the Covid-19 virus crisis that has so swiftly engulfed us all.

Specific Government Planning for the Needs of People with Disabilities Is especially vital, for several reasons. Here are the ones we’ve identified on short notice. There are, no doubt, many other similar impacts on people with disabilities beyond those listed here.

First, those who are most vulnerable to the dangers of the Covid virus are seniors and people with disabilities. Disproportionately, seniors have disabilities. Whether or not one is a senior, those with fragile or compromised medical conditions are especially at risk. While not all people with disabilities are medically fragile or compromised, there are a higher proportion of medically vulnerable people among our population of people with disabilities.

Second, the media has reported that the virus has had an especially serious impact on some living in care homes. Of course, those living in such facilities are typically (if not entirely) people with disabilities.

Third, self-imposed isolation at home is vital for everyone at this dangerous time, in order to contain this virus. This self-isolation at home can present additional hardships for some people with disabilities. For them, eliminating all close contact with other people may not be possible.

Fourth, the much-needed cancellation of school and day care programs is hard on all kids. For children with certain disabilities, this can be even harder.

For example, for children with disabilities like autism, the need for a structured and predictable day is important. That structured and predictable day has been blown away by the closure of schools and many programs for children with disabilities. Some children with disabilities get critically important services at school, beyond the school’s education program. Their families must now struggle to find those services elsewhere, and try to get them brought into the home, lest they have to venture out into the community. Some of those services will be closed now, due to the economic shutdown that is hitting so much of our economy.

Some of the important support workers and service providers will face serious economic peril as they are closed or laid off during these closures. Their economic survival may be in jeopardy.

Fifth, effective self-isolation requires a person or family to dig into their savings. A disproportionate number of people with disabilities live at or below the poverty line. They won’t have the savings one needs for this.

Sixth, the homeless too often include people with addiction and/or other mental health conditions. For them, self-isolation at home to avoid this virus is not even an option.

Seventh, we have all been told that frequent hand-washing is extremely important to protect ourselves from getting this virus. As one person with a disability pointed out on Twitter, this is hard to do in washrooms where the soap dispenser is not in an accessible location.

Eighth, for those who were away from home as this crisis escalated, and who have to travel to get home, the many disability barriers in our transportation sector will feel even more amplified now. It has at times been hard to get through on the phone to an airline. Now it is even worse. Long waits at airports are hard on everyone. On passengers with disabilities with frail medical conditions or fatiguing conditions, this is much harder.

Ninth, as the spread of this virus gets worse, we are going to need to rely more and more on our health care system. Our governments are expected to plan for a major surge in demand for hospital services.

Yet patients with disabilities now still face far too many barriers in the health care system. After years and years of our advocacy, the Ontario Government is belatedly working on developing a Health Care Accessibility Standard under the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act.
However, at the rate at which the Ontario Government has been going on this issue, a new regulation to set standards for accessibility in the health care system is likely still years away from being enacted and implemented. Last month we made public our detailed Framework that lists what needs to be done to make our health care system truly and fully accessible to patients with disabilities.

Tenth, as schools are closed and post-secondary education organizations such as colleges and universities move their teaching to online platforms, the recurring barriers in education facing students with disabilities become all the more hurtful.

For example, if any colleges and universities have not ensured the full accessibility of their digital learning environment, the move to online learning risks becoming the move to a world of even more education barriers. In that regard, last week the AODA Alliance made public a draft Framework for the promised Post-Secondary Education Accessibility Standard. We seek your input on that draft before we finalize it. Given the crisis facing us all, it is all the more important for post-secondary education organizations to move very fast now to ensure that their digital learning environments are barrier-free for students with disabilities.

Eleventh, the additional burdens of this virus can be felt differently in different disability contexts. For example:

a) We are all warned to avoid touching surfaces if they have not been recently sanitized. Yet for many people with vision loss, their hands can either intentionally or accidentally contact surfaces around them as they navigate.

b) For people with balance issues or fatiguing conditions, they have an increased need to hold on to railings on staircases or other public places.

c) This Covid crisis is happening as the Ontario Government continues its months of delay in deciding and announcing how it is going to fix the chaos it created last year in its Ontario Autism Program. The Ford Government has left parents of children with autism hanging for months, wondering what services their children will receive. As well, for children with other disabilities that have similar needs but do not get similar provincially-supported services, the situation is also very troubling.

2. What Should We As a Society DO?

Today, the maxim “It takes a village” rings loud and clear. As individuals, we can each reach out to others to see what assistance we can rally. Many are doing so. The business sector can also do a great deal to help, by planning measures to ensure that people with disabilities are accommodated during this crisis.

We commend everyone who is trying to help others, on a one-to-one basis, or through more collective efforts. We applaud those retail stores like grocery stores and drug stores that have announced plans to allocate special shopping hours for customers who are seniors or people with disabilities. We encourage the entire business community, and especially those in the food, restaurant, banking, and other retail and service areas, to implement and announce similarly creative strategies to ensure that customers with disabilities are effectively served.

Such commendable localized and individualized volunteer measures are only one part of the picture. it is absolutely essential for our governments at all levels to take a strong lead and to show decisive leadership on these disability concerns. They need to quickly plan and implement specific strategies to ensure that people with disabilities are safe, are fully protected from the community spread of the Covid-19 virus and are able to live in the isolation to which we all must commit ourselves. Our governments at all levels need to proactively build strong and effective disability considerations into all aspects of their emergency planning.

This makes good policy sense. It is so obvious to Ontarians with disabilities. However, over the years, we have found over and over that our governments too often fail to effectively take into account the needs of people with disabilities in their policy planning. This is so even though government after government congratulates itself on supposedly leading by example on disability accessibility and inclusion.

Multiple reports have told the Ontario Government about this serious unmet need and the lack of effective provincial leadership. This has continued even years after enactment of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act.

What we seek is a sensible thing to do. It is also an obligation on the part of our government.

The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms guarantees to people with disabilities the constitutional right to equality before and under to the law, and to the equal protection and equal benefit of the law without discrimination based on disability. The Supreme Court of Canada made this obligation clear almost a quarter century ago in the landmark case of Eldridge v. British Columbia. It held that governments have a strong duty to take into account and accommodate the needs of people with disabilities when they design and implement public programs, including, most notably, health care. The AODA itself is a law which the grassroots disability community fought for over a decade, to turn Eldridge’s powerful language into a reality in the lives of people with disabilities. However, since the AODA was enacted in 2005, Government after Government has achieved progress on accessibility and inclusion for people with disabilities at a glacial pace, according to the 2019 report of the Third Independent Review of the AODA’s implementation conducted by former Lieutenant Governor David Onley.

The accessibility standards enacted to date under the AODA include some requirements regarding emergency planning for people with disabilities. We set these out at the end of this Update. They only cover a small part of what people with disabilities now need in Ontario from their governments and leading public sector organizations like hospitals and public transit providers.

The AODA Alliance has repeatedly revealed that successive governments have done a poor job of enforcing the AODA. In this crisis, the harm to people with disabilities from that failure is even more harmful.

We offer a list of actions that governments should immediately take. This is not the last word on this issue. This list is only the first word. Proper planning and feedback from people with disabilities will reveal other important actions to add to this list.

1. All emergency announcements and supports must be communicated to the public through multiple fully accessible means. Governments must ensure that people with disabilities can learn about them and find them. The public is desperate to know the latest official news, as things keep changing hour by hour.

For example, announcements by the Prime Minister of Canada or Ontario’s Premier should be simultaneously available with captioning and Sign Language interpretation. Public websites where emergency information is posted should be fully barrier-free. Plain language options should be available for persons with intellectual or cognitive disabilities.

2. It is good that there are some government efforts underway to assist people with the serious financial hardships that this crisis is causing. Specific targeted measures need to be announced to address the added needs and vulnerabilities facing people with disabilities as they deal with this crisis.

This could include emergency supplements to social assistance like ODSP, the Disability Tax Credit and other financial supports. Emergency expedited procedures to process those claims should be implemented. There should be a moratorium on Government efforts to cut off such social assistance supports as ODSP. Protections against credit card penalties during this crisis should also be on the agenda. Those who lead the advocacy efforts for income security for people with disabilities should be at the forefront of discussions on this issue.

3. It is good that our health care system is trying to gear up for the anticipated onslaught of patients with the Covid virus. This planning must include emergency efforts to ensure that patients with disabilities will be able to get needed health care services, and to eliminate the barriers that they now must endure throughout the health care system.

As but one example, the Covid testing centres that governments are rushing to open should be designed to be fully barrier-free for patients with disabilities. The AODA Alliance’s Framework for barrier-free health care services is a good starting point for this.

4. It is essential that people with disabilities who need health care services can get prompt accessible transportation to those services. If those services can be delivered at home through new measures, that would avoid this issue. To the extent that patients with disabilities need to use para-transit services to get to our health care system, e.g. for Covid testing, there should now be put in place an expedited process to call into para-transit services and book such urgently-needed transportation. This is all the more urgent since the Ford Government has been sitting on recommendations to strengthen the 2011 Transportation Accessibility Standard since it took office, with no reforms having been announced. See further our long term efforts to ensure accessible public transit in Ontario.

5. While schools are closed, some efforts are underway to provide parents with educational activities for their kids at home. At the same time, specific and dedicated resources need to be provided for parents of students with disabilities who may not be able to benefit from educational resources that too often are only designed to meet the learning needs of students who have no disabilities. For ideas on what is needed to make education accessible in Ontario, consult the AODA Alliance’s Framework for accessible K-12 education.

6. Our health care providers in the community must now cope with an inexcusable shortage of safety health supplies such as masks and gloves. Our governments must now rush to get these mass-produced in huge quantities.

However, these safety masks and gloves must also be made available widely to people with disabilities who need them to be used by care-givers, attendant care providers, group home staff, and other like people with whom they must closely deal.

7. Governments must immediately deploy emergency strategies to protect homeless people from the devastating impact of this health crisis. It must take into account that disproportionately, homeless people have disabilities. This should include an emergency strategy to protect people with disabilities from becoming homeless during this crisis, because they live in a rental apartment but are on the verge of eviction.

8. Emergency strategies must be put in place to assure needed supports to people with disabilities who are self-isolating, such as needed attendant care and other in-home services.

9. From the experience in other countries where the pandemic has quickly spread, we know that horrible decisions may be made about rationing scarce health care services, when the demand for those services out-strips the supply. It is essential that people with disabilities not get the short end of that stick, based on harmful stereotypes about the quality of life when one is living with a disability. Such stereotypes too often have been present in our health care system. We cannot afford for them to surface now, and be used to justify denying needed medical services because a patient has a disability.

10. Our governments should now undertake a quick multi-level coordinated outreach to people with disabilities to ensure that they know what impacts can make a more informed decisions on how to ensure that disability needs are taken into account in this emergency planning. That should include, among other things, establishing and publicizing a hotline for people with disabilities to report hardships they face during this crisis.

11. Government disability or accessibility offices should be immediately included in all emergency planning.

12. Governments should immediately survey readily-available online resources in this area. For example, we set out below a list of recommendations available online from the International Disability Alliance. While we are not familiar with that organization, it offers good ideas.

Governments are scrambling to deal quickly with this Covid crisis. It is vital to ensure that the needs of people with disabilities are not again left out of the policy planning process, where the stakes for everyone are so high.

3. Long Term Disability-Related Lessons that Our Society Can Learn from the Covid Crisis

When we get this crisis behind us, there will be much-needed efforts to figure out what went wrong, and how we can learn from the events that are now unfolding. Our governments, public institutions and private sector organizations must learn some key lessons from the experience of people with disabilities.

One big lesson to be learned is that we are now all suffering the consequences of grossly-inadequate past government efforts at making our society fully accessible to people with disabilities. As one example, for years, the disability community has faced far too much resistance when seeking to get requirements enacted to install such helpful accessibility features as automatic water faucets, soap dispensers and paper towel dispensers in public bathrooms. The same goes for requiring automatic power doors, so that one does not have to either physically open the door or press a button to get the door to open. Yet in the face of the Covid crisis, these basic accessibility features are now vital to protect everyone from the dangerous spread of the Covid virus when we use a public washroom.

Similarly, in the past, some employees with disabilities have encountered resistance when they have asked some employers to let them work from home. Other employers were supportive. With this virus, employers have rapidly made this accommodation widely available to many of their employees, as a good public health measure to prevent the spread of the virus. ` We need to more effectively ensure that no employees with disabilities ever have to face such resistance to such workplace accommodations in the future.

One can imagine many more such illustrations of this broader lesson to be learned. These examples help show that the failure of government after government in Ontario to effectively implement and enforce the AODA must dramatically change in the future. Three successive Government-appointed Independent Reviews of the AODA’s implementation and enforcement have called for major reforms and strong new provincial leadership. The current Ontario Government has had 414 days since it received the most recent of these reports, and still has no effective plan to implement it.

4. Toward a Disability-Inclusive COVID19 Response: 10 recommendations from the International Disability Alliance

March 19, 2020

)Note: The AODA Alliance encourages all governments to consider the following recommendations which one of our supporters brought to our attention.)

In the light of the COVID19 pandemic and its disproportionate impact on persons with disabilities, the International Disability Alliance (IDA) has compiled the following list of the main barriers that persons with disabilities face in this emergency situation along with some practical solutions and recommendations. This document is based on inputs received from our members around the world aiming to assist global, regional, national and local advocacy to more efficiently address the range of risks persons with disabilities face.
If you have any updates on how COVID 19 is affecting persons with disabilities in your area of work, or want to share any good practices or lessons learnt, please contact IDA Inclusive Humanitarian Adviser Ms Elham Youssefian via emailing [email protected]

I. People with disabilities are at higher risk of contracting COVID19 due to barriers accessing preventive information and hygiene, reliance on physical contact with the environment or support persons, as well as respiratory conditions caused by certain impairments.

Recommendation 1: Persons with disabilities must receive information about infection mitigating tips, public restriction plans, and the services offered, in a diversity of accessible formats
* Mass media communication should include captioning, national sign language, high contrast, large print information.
* Digital media should include accessible formats to blind persons and other persons facing restrictions in accessing print. * All communication should be in plain language.
* In case the public communications are yet to become accessible, alternative phone lines for blind persons and email address for deaf and hard of hearing may be a temporary option.
* Sign language interpreters who work in emergency and health settings should be given the same health and safety protections as other health care workers dealing with COVID19.
* There may be appropriate alternatives for optimum access, such as interpreters wearing a transparent mask, so that facial expressions and lip movement is still visible,
* Alternatives are particularly important as remote interpretation is not accessible for everyone, including people with deaf-blindness. Solutions should be explored with concerned people and organizations representing them.
* Assistive technologies should be used such as FM systems for communicating with hard of hearing persons especially important when face masks make lipreading impossible.
Recommendation 2: Additional protective measures must be taken for people with certain types of impairment.
* Disinfection of entrance doors reserved for persons with disabilities, handrails of ramps or staircases, accessibility knobs for doors reserved for people with reduced mobility.
* Introducing proactive testing and more strict preventive measures for groups of persons with disabilities who are more susceptible to infection due to the respiratory or other health complications caused by their impairment.
* The COVID19 crisis and confinement measures may generate fear and anxiety; demonstrating solidarity and community support is important for all, and may be critical for persons with psychosocial disabilities

Recommendation 3: Rapid awareness raising and training of personnel involved in the response are essential
* Government officials and service providers, including emergency responders must be trained on the rights of persons with disabilities, and on risks associated to respiratory complications for people who have specific impairments (e.g. whose health may be jeopardized by coughing).
* Awareness raising on support to persons with disabilities should be part of all protection campaigns.

Recommendation 4: All preparedness and response plans must be inclusive of and accessible to women with disabilities
* Any plans to support women should be inclusive of and accessible to women with disabilities
* Programs to support persons with disabilities should include a gender perspective.

II. Implementing quarantines or similar restrictive programs may entail disruptions in services vital for many persons with disabilities and undermine basic rights such as food, health care, wash and sanitation, and communications, leading to abandonment, isolation and institutionalization.
Recommendation 5: No disability-based institutionalization and abandonment is acceptable
* Persons with disabilities should not be institutionalized as a consequence of quarantine procedures beyond the minimum necessary to overcome the sickness stage and on an equal basis with others.
* Any disruptions in social services should have the least impact possible on persons with disabilities and should not entail abandonment.
* Support family and social networks, in case of being quarantined, should be replaced by other networks or services.
Recommendation 6: During quarantine, support services, personal assistance, physical and communication accessibility must be ensured
* Quarantined persons with disabilities must have access to interpretation and support services, either through externally provided services or through their family and social network;
* Personal assistants, support workers or interpreters shall accompany them in quarantine, upon both parties agreement and subject to adoption of all protective measures;
* Personal assistants, support workers or interpreters should be proactively tested for COVID 19 to minimize the risk of spreading the virus to persons with disabilities
* Remote work or education services must be equally accessible for employees/students with disabilities.
Recommendation 7: Measures of public restrictions must consider persons with disabilities on an equal basis with others
* In case of public restriction measures, persons with disabilities must be supported to meet their daily living requirements, including access to food (as needed with specific dietary requirements), housing, healthcare, in-home, school and community support, as well as maintaining employment and access to accessible transportation.
* Government planners must consider that mobility and business restrictions disproportionately impact persons with reduced mobility and other persons with disabilities and allow for adaptations. For example, Australia has reserved specific opening hours in supermarket for persons with disabilities and older persons
* Providers of support services must have the personal protective equipment and instructions needed to minimize exposure and spread of infection, as well as should be proactively tested for the virus.
* In case of food or hygienic products shortage, immediate measures must be taken to ensure that people with disabilities are not left out as they will be the first group to experience lack of access to such items.
* Any program to provide support to the marginalized groups should be disability-inclusive, e.g. distribution of cash may not be a good option for many people with disabilities as they may not be able to find items they need due to accessibility barriers.

III. When ill with COVID19, persons with disabilities may face additional barriers in seeking health care and also experience discrimination and negligence by health care personnel.
Recommendation 8: Persons with disabilities in need of health services due to COVID19 cannot be deprioritized on the ground of their disability
* Public health communication messages must be respectful and non-discriminatory.
* Instructions to health care personnel should highlight equal dignity for people with disabilities and include safeguards against disability-based discrimination.
* While we appreciate that the urgency is to deal with the fast-rising number of people infected and in need of hospitalization, rapid awareness-raising of key medical personnel is essential to ensure that persons with disabilities are not left behind or systematically deprioritized in the response to the crisis.
* Communications about the stage of the disease and any procedures must be to the person themselves and through accessible means and modes of communication.

IV. Organizations of Persons with Disabilities (OPDs) particularly at national and local levels may not be prepared to take immediate action and may not be fully aware how to approach the situation. Some measures OPDs can take include:
Recommendation 9: OPDs can and should play a key role in raising awareness of persons with disabilities and their families.

* Prepare COVID19 instructions and guidance in various accessible formats in local languages; please see existing resources produced by IDA members and their members, which we will keep updating
* Help establish peer-support networks to facilitate support in case of quarantine; * Organize trainings on disability inclusion for responders
* Compile an updated list of accessible health care and other essential service providers in each area

Recommendation 10: OPDs can and should play a key role in advocating for disability-inclusive response to the COVID19 crisis
* Proactively reach to all related authorities including the health system, the national media, the crisis response headquarters and education authorities to:
* Sensitize authorities on how the pandemic as well as the response plans may disproportionally impact persons with disabilities;
* Offer tailored practical tips on how to address accessibility barriers or specific measures required by persons with disabilities
* Based on available resources and capacity, contribute to the national or local emergency response.

*For updated resources on inclusion of persons with disabilities in Covid19 prevention and response, please regularly check the webpage dedicated by the International Disability Alliance at http://www.internationaldisabilityalliance.org/covid-19

5. Key Emergency Provisions in the Integrated Accessibility Standards Regulation 2011 Enacted Under the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act

The Integrated Accessibility Standards Regulation, enacted in 2011 under the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, includes the following emergency-related provisions.

Emergency procedure, plans or public safety information

13. (1) In addition to its obligations under section 12, if an obligated organization prepares emergency procedures, plans or public safety information and makes the information available to the public, the obligated organization shall provide the information in an accessible format or with appropriate communication supports, as soon as practicable, upon request.

(2) Obligated organizations that prepare emergency procedures, plans or public safety information and make the information available to the public shall meet the requirements of this section by January 1, 2012.

Workplace emergency response information

27. (1) Every employer shall provide individualized workplace emergency response information to employees who have a disability, if the disability is such that the individualized information is necessary and the employer is aware of the need for accommodation due to the employee’s disability. O. Reg. 191/11, s. 27 (1).

(2) If an employee who receives individualized workplace emergency response information requires assistance and with the employee’s consent, the employer shall provide the workplace emergency response information to the person designated by the employer to provide assistance to the employee. O. Reg. 191/11, s. 27 (2).

(3) Employers shall provide the information required under this section as soon as practicable after the employer becomes aware of the need for accommodation due to the employee’s disability.

(4) Every employer shall review the individualized workplace emergency response information,

(a) when the employee moves to a different location in the organization;

(b) when the employee’s overall accommodations needs or plans are reviewed; and

(c) when the employer reviews its general emergency response policies.

(5) Every employer shall meet the requirements of this section by January 1, 2012.

28. (1) Employers, other than employers that are small organizations, shall develop and have in place a written process for the development of documented individual accommodation plans for employees with disabilities. O. Reg. 191/11, s. 28 (1).

(2) The process for the development of documented individual accommodation plans shall include the following elements:

1. The manner in which an employee requesting accommodation can participate in the development of the individual accommodation plan.

2. The means by which the employee is assessed on an individual basis.

3. The manner in which the employer can request an evaluation by an outside medical or other expert, at the employer’s expense, to assist the employer in determining if accommodation can be achieved and, if so, how accommodation can be achieved.

4. The manner in which the employee can request the participation of a representative from their bargaining agent, where the employee is represented by a bargaining agent, or other representative from the workplace, where the employee is not represented by a bargaining agent, in the development of the accommodation plan.

5. The steps taken to protect the privacy of the employee’s personal information.

6. The frequency with which the individual accommodation plan will be reviewed and updated and the manner in which it will be done.

7. If an individual accommodation plan is denied, the manner in which the reasons for the denial will be provided to the employee.

8. The means of providing the individual accommodation plan in a format that takes into account the employee’s accessibility needs due to disability. O. Reg. 191/11, s. 28 (2).

(3) Individual accommodation plans shall,

(a) if requested, include any information regarding accessible formats and communications supports provided, as described in section 26;

(b) if required, include individualized workplace emergency response information, as described in section 27; and

(c) identify any other accommodation that is to be provided.

Emergency preparedness and response policies

37. (1) In addition to any obligations that a conventional transportation service provider or a specialized transportation service provider has under section 13, conventional transportation service providers and specialized transportation service providers,

(a) shall establish, implement, maintain and document emergency preparedness and response policies that provide for the safety of persons with disabilities; and

(b) shall make those policies available to the public. O. Reg. 191/11, s. 37 (1).

(2) Conventional transportation service providers and specialized transportation service providers shall, upon request, provide the policies described in subsection (1) in an accessible format. O. Reg. 191/11, s. 37 (2).

(3) Conventional transportation service providers and specialized transportation service providers shall meet the requirements of this section by January 1, 2012.

Regarding para-transit services, the Integrated Accessibility Standards Regulation requires:

Emergency or compassionate grounds

65. (1) Specialized transportation service providers shall develop procedures respecting the provision of temporary specialized transportation services earlier than in the 14 calendar days referred to in subsection 64 (1),

(a) where the services are required because of an emergency or on compassionate grounds; and

(b) where there are no other accessible transportation services to meet the person’s needs. O. Reg. 191/11, s. 65 (1).

(2) A person shall apply for the services described in subsection (1) in the manner determined by the specialized transportation service provider. O. Reg. 191/11, s. 65 (2).

(3) Specialized transportation service providers shall meet the requirements of this section by January 1, 2014.

LKM




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What Barriers Do Students with Disabilities Face in Post-Secondary Education in Ontario? Send Us Feedback on Our Draft Framework for a Post-Secondary Education Accessibility Standard


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

March 11, 2020

SUMMARY

Well, were at it once again! We want and need your feedback! This time, its all about barriers impeding students with disabilities in post-secondary education in Ontario.

Two years ago, the Ontario Government appointed an advisory Standards Development Committee to prepare recommendations on what should be included in an accessibility standard to be enacted under the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, to tear down the barriers that impede students with disabilities in post-secondary education in Ontario. That includes such things as colleges and universities in Ontario.

We want to present ideas to that Standards Development Committee on what it should recommend. We are preparing a Framework for what the Post-Secondary Education Accessibility Standard should include. Below we set out a draft of that Framework, showing our work to date.

This draft Framework is about 38 pages long. The first 22 pages list recommendations on 16 different topics. After that, there is a 16 page appendix with specific proposals for accessibility of the built environment in post-secondary education organizations. If you dont have time to read it all, wed welcome your feedback on any parts of it that you have time to review.

Please look it over and send us your comments by April 3, 2020. What do you like in it? What are we missing? What should we change?

Please email us your thoughts by April 1, 2020. Write us at [email protected] The more specific you can be, the better!

Please dont use track changes to give us feedback, as it can present accessibility problems. Instead, send us an email with your comments. You can mention the number of the recommendation on which you are commenting, or cut and paste the passage on which you are commenting.

Once we get your feedback, we will finalize this Framework, make it public, and send it to the Post-Secondary Education Standards Development Committee.

This is the third such Framework weve prepared in the past 8 or 9 months. Last fall we prepared a detailed Framework on what the promised accessibility standard should include that will cover education in Ontario schools between kindergarten and Grade 12. We have submitted it to the K-12 Education Standards Development Committee.

Last month, we made public our Framework of what should be included in the promised Health Care Accessibility Standard. We have submitted that to the Health Care Standards Development Committee.

These Frameworks are our latest effort to try to provide constructive and leading-edge suggestions on how the Ontario Government could show strong new leadership on accessibility for over 2.6 million Ontarians with disabilities. We hope and trust that those Standards Development Committees found our proposals helpful. We thank everyone who has taken the time to give us feedback up to now as we worked on these important briefs.

To learn about our decade-long campaign to get the Ontario Government to take effective action under the AODA to address accessibility barriers that impede students with disabilities in Ontario’s education system, visit our websites Education page. To learn about our decade-long campaign for similar action under the AODA to address the disability barriers that impede patients with disabilities in Ontarios health care system, take a look at our websites Health Care page.

An inexcusable 405 days have now gone by since the Ford Government received the final report on the implementation and enforcement of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act that was prepared by former Lieutenant Governor David Onley. We are still waiting for the Ford Government to come up with a comprehensive and effective plan of new measures to implement the Onley Reports recommendations, needed to substantially strengthen the AODAs implementation and enforcement. To date, all the Government has offered Ontarians with disabilities is thin gruel.

MORE DETAILS

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

Draft Only
A Framework for the Post-Secondary Education Accessibility Standard

March 11, 2020

Prepared by the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance

Note: This is only a draft. It is still a work in progress. Feedback on it is welcome. By April 3, 2020, please send feedback to [email protected] Please do not use track changes to provide feedback.

Introduction — What is This Proposed Framework?

Students with disabilities face too many barriers at all levels of Ontario’s post-secondary education system. To address this, the Ontario Government has agreed to create an Education Accessibility Standard under the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA). In 2018, the Ontario Government appointed two committees to make recommendations on what the Education Accessibility Standard should include: The K-12 Education Standards Development Committee was appointed for making recommendations on what that accessibility standard should include to address barriers in Ontario’s publicly-funded schools from Kindergarten to Grade 12. The Post-Secondary Education Standards Development Committee was appointed to make recommendations for what that accessibility standard should include to address barriers in Ontario’s post-secondary education institutions, e.g. colleges and universities.

Under the AODA, an accessibility standard is an enforceable regulation. It has the force of law. It spells out the disability barriers that are to be removed or prevented in a sector of society. It identifies the policies, practices or other measures an organization must implement to remove or prevent those barriers, and the timelines required for these actions.

In this Framework, the AODA Alliance outlines the key ingredients and aims for the promised Education Accessibility Standard in the area of post-secondary education. On October 10, 2019, the AODA Alliance made public a Framework for what the Education Accessibility Standard should include to remove and prevent barriers in Ontarios publicly-funded schools from kindergarten to Grade 12. This new Framework builds on and expands upon ideas in that earlier document, and adds additional ideas, all tailored to apply to the post-secondary education context.

Where this Framework states that a post-secondary education organization should or similar wording, this means by this that the Education Accessibility Standard should include a provision that requires the post-secondary education organization to take the step we describe.

To be effective, the Education Accessibility Standard must do much more than require organizations to have a policy on accessibility and to train its employees on that policy. Organizations want and need to know specifically what they must do to comply.

Under the AODA, a Standards Development Committees job is to recommend the contents of an AODA accessibility standard. It should recommend the specific measures, practices and policies that an accessibility standard should require an organization to implement. If a Standards Development Committee chooses to also recommend some non-regulatory measures, that is beyond the Committees core mandate. It should not detract or distract from fulfilling that core mandate. For example, the 2018 final recommendations of the Transportation Standards Development Committee largely focused on recommendations of other measures, outside the revision of the 2011 Transportation Accessibility Standard that that Committee was assigned to review. A recommended practice that are not enshrined in an accessibility standard as a regulation, are not binding on an obligated organization. They cannot be enforced.

It is especially important for the post-secondary education sector to become accessible to students with disabilities. A good post-secondary education is very important for getting a good job, or indeed getting a job at all. This is even more important for people with disabilities. People with disabilities chronically face a substantially higher unemployment rate than the public does as a whole. Barriers in the post-secondary education system can only make this situation worse. A strong and effective post-secondary Education Accessibility Standard is therefore an important measure for increasing employment opportunities for people with disabilities.

1. What Should the Long-Term Objectives of the Post-Secondary Education Accessibility Standard Be?

#1 The purpose of the Education Accessibility Standard should be to ensure that by 2025, post-secondary education in Ontario will be fully accessible and barrier-free for students with disabilities:

A) By removing and preventingaccessibility barriers impeding students with disabilities from fully participating in, being fully included in, and fully benefitting from all aspects of post-secondary education in Ontario, and

B) By providing a prompt, accessible, fair, effective and user-friendly process for students with disabilities to learn about and seek programs, services, supports, accommodations and
placements tailored to the individualstrengths and needs of each student with disabilities.

c) Eliminating or substantially reducing the need for students with disabilities to have to fight against post-secondary education accessibility barriers, one at a time, and the need for post-secondary education organizations to have to re-invent the accessibility wheel one education program at a time.

2. A Vision of An Accessible Post-Secondary Education System

The Post-Secondary Education Accessibility Standard should begin by setting out a vision of what an accessible post-secondary education system should include. It should include the following:

#2.1 The post-secondary education system will be designed and operated from top to bottom for all of its students, including students with all kinds of disabilities, as disability is defined in the Ontario Human Rights Code, the AODA and/or the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

#2.2 The post-secondary education system will no longer be designed and operated from the starting point of aiming to serve the fictional “average” student or students who have no disabilities. Instead, it will be designed and operated to serve all students, including students with disabilities.

#2.3 The built environment in post-secondary education organizations such as colleges and universities, and the furniture and equipment on those premises (such as gym equipment) will all be fully accessible to people with disabilities and will be designed based on the principle of universal design. Where education programs or trips take place outside the post-secondary education organization premises, these will be held at locations that are disability-accessible, unless it is impossible to do so without undue hardship.

#2.4 Courses taught to students, including the curriculum and lesson plans, as well as informal learning activities, will fully incorporate principles of Universal Design in Learning (UDL), and where needed, differential instruction, so that they are inclusive for students with disabilities.

#2.5 Instructional materials used in post-secondary education organizations will be readily and promptly available in formats that are fully accessible to students with disabilities (such as those with print disabilities) who need to use them and will be available in accessible formats when needed, at no extra charge to the student.

#2.6 All digital technology and content used in Ontario’s post-secondary education organizations such as hardware, software and online learning, used in class or from home, will be fully accessible and will fully embody the principle of universal design. Professors and other instructors working with students with disabilities will be properly trained to use the accessibility features of that hardware, software and online learning technology.

#2.7 Inclusion and Universal Design in Learning will extend beyond formal classroom learning to other educational activities, such as experiential learning opportunities.

#2.8 Students with disabilities will have prompt access to the up-to-date adaptive technology and specialized supports they need, and training on how to use it, to best enable them to fully take part in and benefit from post-secondary education related programming. Students with disabilities will have the unobstructed right to bring a qualified service animal with them to post-secondary education programs and activities.

#2.9 Professors and other instructional staff will be fully trained to serve all students, and not just students who have no disabilities. They will be fully trained in such things as Universal Design in Learning and differential instruction.

#2.10 Tests and other forms of evaluation at post-secondary education organizations will be designed based on principles of universal design and Universal Design in Learning, so that they will be barrier-free for students with disabilities and will provide a fair and accurate assessment of their progress.

#2.11 Students with disabilities will encounter a pro-actively welcoming environment at post-secondary education organizations to facilitate their full participation, and a welcoming environment in which they can seek and receive accommodations for their disabilities where needed.

#2.12 Application processes and forms, admission criteria, admission tests or other admission screening to get into any post-secondary education program will be barrier-free for students with disabilities.

#2.13 Students with disabilities will have prompt, effective and easy access to user-friendly information in multiple languages about the post-secondary educational opportunities, options, programs, services, supports and accommodations available for them and their disability, and about the process for them to seek these.

#2.14 Where a student with a disability believes that a post-secondary education organization is not effectively meeting the student’s disability-related needs, (or if the student believes that the post-secondary education organization is not providing an educational program, service, support or accommodation which it had agreed to provide, the student will have access to a prompt, fair, open and arms-length review process, including an offer of a voluntary Alternative Resolution Process if needed. It will be conducted by someone with expertise in the education of students with disabilities who was not involved in the original decision or activity, and who does not oversee the work of those involved in the student’s direct education.

#2.15 There will be no bureaucratic, procedural or policy barriers that will impede the effective placement and accommodation of individual students with disabilities in post-secondary education organizations.

#2.16 Major new Government strategies or initiatives in Ontario’s post-secondary education system, whether adopted by the Ontario Government or otherwise, will be proactively designed from the start to fully include the needs of students with disabilities.

#2.17 Those officials who are responsible in the Ontario Government and within post-secondary education organizations for leading, overseeing and operating Ontario’s post-secondary education system will have strong and specific requirements to address disability accessibility and inclusion in their mandates and will be accountable for their work on this.

3. General Provisions that the Post-Secondary Education Accessibility Standard Should Include

#3.1 The Post-Secondary accessibility standard should cover and apply to disability barriers in all post-secondary education programs in Ontario, and not only to those offered in or by a college or university. Whether or not the terms of reference for the Post-Secondary Standards Development Committee only focus on post-secondary education offered in a college or university, the same barriers and solutions almost always apply to post-secondary education, whether it is offered by a college or university or by some other post-secondary education organization.

For example, for students with disabilities who are studying law, they can encounter the same disability barriers at an Ontario law school, situated in a university, or when they undertake the Bar Admissions Course, which the Law Society of Ontario offers. To train to be a lawyer in Ontario, a student must get a law degree from a law school and then pass the Law Society of Ontarios Bar course and examinations. Accordingly, the Post-Secondary Standards Development Committee should make recommendations regarding any post-secondary programs, whether or not they are offered in a college or university.

#3.2 Where this accessibility standard refers to “students with disabilities “, this should include any student who has any kind of disability, including, for example, any kind of physical, mental, sensory, learning, intellectual, mental health, communication, neurological, neurobehavioural or other kind of disability within the meaning of the Ontario Human Rights Code, the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act or the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

#3.3 Each post-secondary education organization should be required to establish a permanent committee of its governing board to be called the “Accessibility Committee”. This Accessibility Committee should have responsibility and authority to oversee the organizations compliance with the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act and with the requirements of the Ontario Human Rights Code and the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms in so far as they guarantee the right of students with disabilities to fully participate in and fully benefit from the education programs and opportunities that the organization provides.

#3.4 Each post-secondary education organization should be required to establish in each faculty or program, a faculty or program Accessibility Committee. It should include representatives from the facultys or programs instructors, management, staff and students with disabilities. Its mandate should be to identify barriers in the school and its programs and to make recommendations for accessibility improvements to be shared with the faculty, program and post-secondary education organizations senior management and governing board.

#3.5 Each post-secondary education organization should be required to establish or designate the position of Chief Accessibility/Inclusion Officer, reporting to the CEO, with a mandate and responsibility to ensure proper leadership on the organizations accessibility and inclusion obligations under the Ontario Human Rights Code, the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, including the requirements set by this accessibility standard. This responsibility may be assigned to an existing senior management official.

#3.6 Each post-secondary education organization should set up and maintain a network of teaching and other staff with disabilities, and a network of students with disabilities, to get input on accessibility issues at the organization.

#3.7 Beyond the specific measures on removing and preventing barriers set out in the Post-Secondary Education Accessibility /Standard and in other AODA accessibility standards, each post-secondary education organization should be required to systematically review its educational programming, services, facilities, premises and equipment to identify recurring accessibility barriers within that organization that can impede the full and effective participation and inclusion of students with disabilities. A comprehensive plan for removing and preventing these accessibility barriers should be developed, implemented and made public with clear time lines, clear assignment of responsibilities for action, monitoring for progress, and reporting to the organizations governing board and senior management. It should include actions on barriers identified by the organizations faculty or program Accessibility Committees established under this standard. This plan should aim at all accessibility barriers that can impede students with disabilities from full inclusion in the education and other programs and activities at that organization, whether or not they are specifically identified in the Education Accessibility Standard or in any other specific accessibility standards enacted under the AODA.

#3.8 Each post-secondary education organization should have an explicit duty to create a welcoming environment for students with disabilities, to seek accommodations for their disabilities.

#3.9 To further ensure the effective accommodation of students with disabilities and the entrenchment of accessibility at the front lines, while creating and developing expertise in this area, each post-secondary education organization Shall implement the following:

a) in a small post-secondary education organization, such as one that offers only one program, one senior employee within the organization who reports to the organizations chief executive officer, dean or director, should be designated as that organizations Disability Accessibility and Accommodation Coordinator/Champion. Their responsibility is to serve as the one-stop-shopping point person for students with disabilities seeking accommodations, and being the employee to lead efforts at the organization towards incorporating accessibility into plans and decisions from the top down.

b) In a large post-secondary education organization, such as a college or university that has several faculties or programs, each faculty or program should designate a comparable Disability Accessibility and Accommodation Coordinator/Champion with similar responsibilities within that faculty or program.

c) A larger post-secondary education organization that has more than one Disability Accessibility and Accommodation Coordinator/Champion should network these individuals so they can pool expertise and resources.

d) The Council of Ontario Universities and comparable associations of other categories of post-secondary education organizations should establish networks of Disability Accessibility and Accommodation Coordinators/Champions to pool their expertise and resources.

e) Where a post-secondary education organization has an existing support/service centre for students with disabilities it may help serve these roles, but in the case of a larger post-secondary education organization, there should be a Disability Accessibility and Accommodation Coordinator/Champion designated in each faculty or program.

#3.10 Each post-secondary education organization should develop and implement human resources policies targeted at full accessibility and inclusion, such as making knowledge and experience on implementing inclusion an important hiring and promotions criterion especially for senior management.

4. The Right of Students with Disabilities to Know About Disability-Related Programs, Services, and Supports at Post-Secondary Education Organizations, and How to Access Them

Barrier: Students with disabilities can at times find it difficult to get easily accessed and accessible information from post-secondary education organizations and from the Ontario Government on education options, services and supports available for students with disabilities in post-secondary education organizations and how to access them.

#4.1 Each post-secondary education organization should provide the public, including students with disabilities, with easily-located, timely and effective information, in accessible formats, on the available services, programs and supports for students with disabilities and how to access them. Each post-secondary education organization should ensure that students with disabilities are informed, as early as possible, in a readily-accessible and understandable way, about important information such as:

a) That the post-secondary education organization recognizes that it has a duty to ensure that a student with a disability has the right to full participation in and full inclusion in all the post-secondary education organizations programming, and has the right to be accommodated in connection with those programs under the Ontario Human Rights Code and Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. This applies to students with any and every kind of disability.

b) About the menu of options, placements, programs, services, supports and accommodations for students with disabilities available at the post-secondary education organization.

c) About which persons and which office to approach at the post-secondary education organization to get this information, to request placements, programs, supports, services or accommodations for students with disabilities, or to raise concerns about whether the post-secondary education organization is effectively meeting the students education needs.

d) The processes and procedures at the post-secondary education organization for students with disabilities to request disability-related services, supports or accommodations.

#4.2 Each post-secondary education organization should develop, implement and make public an action plan to substantially improve its provision of the important information, described above, to students with disabilities including any who are applying for admission to the post-secondary education organization:

a) This plans objective should be to ensure that all students with disabilities get the information they need to ensure that students of all abilities can fully participate in and benefit from the educational and other opportunities available at the post-secondary education organization.

b) Each post-secondary education organization should ensure that all of this important information is fully and readily accessible in a prompt and timely way to all students with disabilities and applicants for admission, in accessible formats and in jargon-free plain language. in a diverse range of languages. It should be easy to find this information. Among other things, this information should be posted on the post-secondary education organizations website, in a prominent place that is easy to find, with a link to it prominently on the post-secondary education organizations home page. A post-secondary education organization should not simply rely on its website to share this information.

c) Each post-secondary education organization should create a user-friendly package of information to be provided to applicants or prospective applicants for admission to any program at the post-secondary education organization. It should emphasize the need to alert the post-secondary education organization as early as possible to any disability accommodation needs.

5. Ensuring that Students Have a Fair and Effective Process for Raising Concerns About a Post-Secondary Education Organizations Accommodation of the Disability-Related Needs of Students with Disabilities

Barrier: The need for consistent and effective processes within a post-secondary education organization to ensure an easily-accessed and fair procedure to enable students with disabilities to seek and receive needed disability supports and accommodations, and for raising disability-related concerns.

#5.1 Each post-secondary education organization should establish and maintain an effective, fair and user-friendly process for students with disabilities to request and effectively take part in the development and implementation of plans for meeting and accommodating their disability-related needs.

#5.2 As part of this process, students with disabilities should be invited to take part in a joint in-person or virtual meeting to plan for their disability-related supports and accommodations. The student should be invited to bring to the table any supports and professionals that can assist them.

#5.3 If the student had an Individual Education Plan (IEP) from an Ontario school, or a finding by an Ontario school boards Identification and Placement Review Committee (IPRC) that identified them as having a disability (exceptionality), then the post-secondary education organization should treat that as sufficient proof that the student has a disability, without requiring further proof, unless the post-secondary education organization has independent proof showing that the student no longer has that disability. In that case, the post-secondary education organization shall provide the student with that proof and shall provide the student with an opportunity to demonstrate that they have a disability-related accommodation need. If the student had a specific disability-related accommodation while in school, the post-secondary education organization shall treat that as strong proof that they still have the same accommodation need at the post-secondary education organization, unless the post-secondary education organization has convincing proof that this need no longer exists or that an alternative and equally effective accommodation should be preferred.

#5.4 If a post-secondary education organization decides not to provide a requested disability accommodation, service, or support for a student that the student requested, or to meet a disability-related need that the student identified, the post-secondary education organization should promptly provide written reasons for that refusal.

#5.5 If students with disabilities disagree with any aspect of a post-secondary education organizations decision on a request for accommodation, or believe that the post-secondary education organization has not provided supports or accommodations to which it had agreed, the organization should make available a respectful, non-adversarial internal review process for hearing, mediating and deciding on the students concerns. The Post-Secondary Education Accessibility Standard should set out the specifics of this review process. This review process should include the following:

a) It should be very prompt. Arrangements for a student’s accommodations should be finalized as quickly as possible, so that the students needs are promptly met.

b) No proposed services, supports or accommodations that the post-secondary education organization is prepared to offer should be withheld from a student pending a review. The student should not feel pressured not to seek this review, lest they be placed in a position of educational disadvantage during the review process.

c) The review process should be fair. The post-secondary education organization should let the student know all of its issues or concerns with the students request or concerns, and give the student a fair chance to voice their concerns.

d) The review should be by a person or persons who are independent and impartial. They should have expertise in the education of students with disabilities. They should not have taken part in any of the earlier discussions or decisions at that post-secondary education organization regarding the services, supports or accommodations for that child.

e) At the review, every effort should be made to mediate and resolve any disagreements between the student and the post-secondary education organization. If the matter cannot be resolved by agreement, there should be an option for a qualified person who is outside the post-secondary education organization to be appointed at no charge to the student, to consider the review, along prompt timelines.

f) At the review, written reasons should be given for the decision, especially if any of the students requests or concerns are not accepted.

6. Expediting the Early Identification and Accommodation of Students with Disabilities’ Needs

Barrier: Students with disabilities can face delays and administrative/bureaucratic impediments to ensuring that they get all needed disability-related supports and accommodations. This comes in no small part from the fact that post-secondary education organizations are often large organizations with administrative responsibilities distributed over a number of departments and individuals. The effective accommodation of students is far easier to achieve when requests for accommodation are presented and considered as early as possible.

#6.1 The Post-Secondary Education Accessibility Standard should require specific measures to tear down administrative, bureaucratic and other barriers to reduce delays for identifying, seeking and securing needed disability supports and accommodations. For example:

a) post-secondary education organizations should be required to notify all students who apply for admission to any program or who seek information about programs to which they might apply, about the availability of disability-related supports and accommodation and the process for seeking them.

b) The post-secondary education organizations interactive voice response system for receiving incoming phone calls should announce to all callers the organizations commitment to accommodate students with disabilities and the number to press to get introductory information about how to seek such.

c) Programming handouts and broadcast email communications to incoming students should include similar general information.

d) the post-secondary education organizations broadcast email announcements and other communications to the student population should include summary information to this effect with relevant links.

e) Classroom instructors should make announcements in their first week of classes to this effect.

7. Ensuring Digital Accessibility

Barrier: Post-secondary education organizations using classroom technology, such as hardware, software, online learning systems, online courses and internal or external websites that lack digital accessibility; post-secondary education organizations policies and practices that can be obstacles to using adaptive technology designed for people with disabilities; Insufficient staff and instructor training and familiarity with creating accessible documents, with the use of accessibility features of mainstream technology, and with disability-specific adaptive technology.

#7.1 Each post-secondary education organization should ensure that:

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

b) A post-secondary education organizations 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 post-secondary education organization should ensure that no instructor or other staff is able to turn off any feature of the LMS that is accessible in favour of one that is not.

c) Each post-secondary education organizations 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.

d) Electronic documents created at the post-secondary education organization for use in education and other programming and activities should be created in accessible formats unless there is a compelling and unavoidable reason making it impossible to do so. 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.

e) Software used to produce a post-secondary education organizations key documents for use by students should be designed to ensure that they produce these documents in accessible formats.

f) 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 instructors 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.

#7.2 Each post-secondary education organization should establish, implement, publicize and enforce information technology procurement accessibility requirements, to ensure that no technology is purchased 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 post-secondary education organization. It should be a condition of any such procurement that the vender will promptly remediate any accessibility shortcomings at its own expense.

#7.3 Each post-secondary education organization shall ensure that its instructional staff are fully trained in the creation of accessible electronic documents and online content for use by students, and shall periodically and randomly spot-check such documents to assist in ensuring that instructional staff are effectively trained and up-to-date in this area.

#7.4 Each post-secondary education organization shall review its policies and practices to identify, remove and prevent any barriers to the accessibility of its online and digital content that students might use as part of their educational activities.

#7.5 Each post-secondary education organization shall ensure that its information technology support and help staff includes specialists in access technology, and that students with disabilities get prompt access to IT support when needed.

8. Ensuring Universal Design in Learning and Differentiated Instruction Are Used in All Teaching Activities, Both Online and in Classroom Learning

Barrier: Too often, the curricula and lesson plans used in post-secondary education organizations were not designed and delivered based on principles of accessibility, Universal Design in Learning (UDL) and differentiated instruction (DI). Universal design in learning takes the principles of universal design (designing buildings and products so all can use them) and transfers them to the teaching and learning realm. It focuses on ways to ensure that an education program, course or other learning activity is designed to meet the learning needs of all learners, not just those with no disabilities. To provide the starkest example, a drama teacher who has a class play the game Charades is not using UDL principles if their class includes a blind student, for who that activity would be entirely inaccessible.

It may be easier to entrench UDL and differentiated instruction in the K-12 school system. To teach in our publicly-funded schools, a teacher must first complete recognized programs in a teachers college. If those teachers colleges were to make UDL and differentiated instructions core competencys that they taught all of their students, Ontario could end up with schools staffed with teachers that are equipped to teach using these principles. Existing teachers could and should be trained in UDL and differentiated instruction during their PD days.

In contrast, to get a job as an instructor or professor at an Ontario post-secondary education organization, a person does not need to have successfully completed any prior course or training on how to teach. That makes it much more challenging to embed UDL and differentiated instruction principles in the teaching activities at Ontarios post-secondary education organizations.

Principles of UDL and differentiated instruction can be effectively deployed in a manner that respects the academic freedom of those who teach in post-secondary education organizations. Those such as tenured university professors remain free to choose what ideas they wish to convey. UDL and differentiated instruction aim to ensure that all students can effectively learn that content to ultimately serve the goal of academic freedom.

The intent/rationale of the following recommendations is to entrench universal design in learning and differentiated instruction in the curricula and teaching at post-secondary education organizations.

#8.1 Each post-secondary education organization should adopt and publicize a policy committing to the goals and deployment of universal design in learning (UDL) and differentiated instruction (DI) in its education programs, including in the design and delivery of its curricula.

#8.2 Each post-secondary education organization should develop and implement a plan to ensure that all teachers and teaching staff understand, and effectively and consistently use, principles of Universal Design in Learning and differentiated instruction when preparing and delivering courses and other educational programming, to effectively address the spectrum of different learning needs and styles of their students. For example:

a) Each post-secondary education organization should develop, implement and monitor a comprehensive plan to train its instructional staff on using UDL and DI principles when preparing and delivering courses and course content in order to effectively meet their students spectrum of different learning needs and styles.

b) Each post-secondary education organization should include knowledge of UDL and differentiated instruction principles as an important criterion when recruiting or promoting instructional staff.

c) Each post-secondary education organization should ensure that teachers are provided with appropriate resources and support to successfully implement their UDL and DI training. Each post-secondary education organization should monitor how effectively UDL and differentiated instruction are incorporated into their education programs on the front lines.

d) Each post-secondary education organization should provide teaching coaches with expertise in UDL and DI to support instructional staff.

#8.3 The Ontario Government should create templates or models for the foregoing training so that each post-secondary education organization does not have to reinvent the wheel in this context.

9. Removing Attitudinal Barriers Against Students with Disabilities

Barrier: Stereotypes, lack of knowledge and other attitudes among some staff at post-secondary education organizations and among some other students, that do not recognize the right and benefits of students with disabilities to get a full and equal education.

#9.1 To help reduce or eliminate attitudinal barriers that can impede students with disabilities each post-secondary education organization should:

a) Develop and implement a multi-year strategy to publicize the organizations commitment to and the benefits of inclusion and full participation of students with disabilities.

b) Post around the post-secondary education organization announcements of the post-secondary education organizations commitment to inclusion of students with disabilities, and the benefits this brings to all students.

c) Provide specific training to all front-line staff (not limited to instructional staff) on the importance of inclusion.

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

10. 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. This is not limited to digital materials, referred to earlier in this Framework.

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, much stronger measures are needed.

#10.1 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 post-secondary education organization should:

a) Promptly survey students with disabilities who need accessible instructional materials, and their instructional staff, 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 post-secondary education organization, or shared among post-secondary education organizations, to convert instructional materials to an accessible format, where needed, on a timely basis. A student should not be required to show proof that they own a hard copy of an item to be able to get it in an accessible format.

c) Review its procurement practices to ensure that any new instructional materials that are acquired are 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 vendor must remediate any inaccessible materials at its own expense.

#10.2 The Education Accessibility Standard should require the Ontario Government to implement, monitor and publicly report on province-wide strategies to ensure the procurement of and use of accessible instructional materials across post-secondary education organizations.

11. Ensuring Barrier-Free Post-Secondary Program Admission Requirements

Barrier: Admission requirements to a post-secondary program that unintentionally or inadvertently impede access to the program for otherwise-qualified students with disabilities.

The intention/rationale of these recommendations is to ensure that students with disabilities can have their eligibility for admission to a post-secondary program fairly and accurately assessed.

#11.1 Every post-secondary education organization shall review its admission criteria for gaining admission to any of its post-secondary education programs, to identify any barriers that would impede otherwise-qualified students with disabilities from admission, and shall adjust those criteria to either:

a) Remove the admission criteria that constitute a barrier to admission, or

b) Provide an alternative method for assessing students with disabilities for admission to the program.

12. Ensuring Student Testing/Assessment is Free of Disability Barriers

Barrier: Tests or other performance assessments of students that are not designed in a way that ensures that students with disabilities are fairly and accurately assessed.

Throughout the post-secondary education system, students take tests, submit papers, and undertake other assessments of their academic performance. There have been no mandatory provincial requirements of which we are aware to ensure that the ways students’ performance is tested or assessed are barrier-free for students with disabilities, and to ensure a fair and accurate assessment of their performance.

#12.1 The Post-Secondary Education Accessibility Standard should set requirements for proper approaches to ensure tests and other methods of performance evaluation provide a fair, accurate and barrier-free assessment of students with disabilities, and on when and how to provide an alternative evaluation method.

#12.2 To ensure that a school board fairly and accurately assesses the performance of students with disabilities, each post-secondary education organization should:

a) Have a policy that commits to ensure that testing and other assessments of students’ performance and learning are designed to be barrier-free for students with disabilities.

b) Give its instructional staff training resources on how to ensure a test or other assessment method is a fair, accurate and barrier-free assessment for students with disabilities in their class, and where needed, how to provide an alternative evaluation method.

c) Monitor implementation of these.

13. Ensuring Students with Disabilities Have the Technology and Other Supports They Need for Effective Learning

Barrier: Policy and bureaucratic impediments to students with disabilities getting the adaptive technology and other supports they need for learning at a post-secondary education organization.

There are inconsistent practices around Ontario for making available to students with disabilities the adaptive technology and support services they need, and the training required to be able to effectively use that equipment.

#13.1 The Post-Secondary Education Accessibility Standard should require that procedural, bureaucratic and other barriers to the acquisition, training and use of needed adaptive equipment and technology at school should be eliminated. It should require the establishment of a prompt, standardized and consistent provincial system for the procurement and deployment of accessible technology to post-secondary students with disabilities that ensures access to the most appropriate and up-to-date technology that is available on the market.

#13.2 The Post-Secondary Education Accessibility Standard should provide that each post-secondary education organization should ensure that students with disabilities are able to bring a trained service animal to their premises as a disability accommodation.

14. Removing Barriers to Participation in Experiential Learning

Barrier: Experiential learning programs that do not ensure that accessible and inclusive experiential learning placements are made available to students with disabilities, and insufficient supports to help organizations, providing experiential learning placements, to facilitate the placement of students with disabilities.

#14.1 To ensure that students with disabilities can fully participate in a post-secondary education organizations experiential learning programs, each such organization should:

a) Review its experiential learning programs to identify and remove any accessibility barriers.

b) Put in place a process to affirmatively reach out to potential placement organizations in order to ensure that there will be a range of accessible placement opportunities in which students with disabilities can participate.

c) Ensure that its partner organizations that accept its students for experiential learning placements are effectively informed of their duty to accommodate the learning needs of students with disabilities.

d) Create and share supports and advice for placement organizations who need assistance to ensure that students with disabilities can fully participate in their experiential learning placements.

e) Monitor placement organizations to ensure they have someone in place to ensure that students with disabilities are effectively accommodated, and to ensure that effective accommodation was provided during each placement of a student with a disability who needed accommodation.

f) Survey students with disabilities and experiential learning placement organizations at the end of any experiential learning placements to see if their disability-related needs were effectively accommodated.

#14.2 The Ontario Government should provide templates for these policies and measures. It should also prepare and make available training videos for post-secondary education organizations and organizations offering experiential learning programs to guide them on accommodating students with disabilities in experiential learning placements.

15. The Need to Harness the Experience and Expertise of People with Disabilities Working in Post-Secondary Education Organizations to Expedite the Removal and Prevention of Barriers Facing Students with Disabilities

Barrier: People with disabilities working in post-secondary education organizations too often face accessibility barriers in the workplace that also hurt students with disabilities.

The intent/rationale of the following recommendations is to ensure that the experience and expertise of people with disabilities working in post-secondary education organizations is effectively harnessed to help root out the accessibility barriers that impede students with disabilities. This is because workplace disability barriers and education service disability barriers often are the same or substantially overlap.

#15-1. Each post-secondary education organization should be required to establish a committee of those employees and volunteers with disabilities who wish to voluntarily join it, to give the organizations senior management feedback on the barriers in the organization that could impede employees or students with disabilities.

16. Ensuring a Fully Accessible Built Environment at Post-Secondary Education Organizations

The intent/rationale of these recommendations is to ensure that as soon as possible, and no later than January 1, 2025, the built environment in the post-secondary education system and the equipment on those premises (such as gym equipment) would all be fully accessible to people with disabilities and would be designed based on the principle of universal design. Where post-secondary education programs or trips take place outside the post-secondary education organization, these will be held at locations that are disability-accessible. The intent/rationale is also to ensure that no public money is used to create new barriers or perpetuate existing barriers in the post-secondary education system.

There can be costs associated with these measures. The Government will need to determine how much it is prepared to spend, and which of these requirements it would thereby adopt. A Standards Development Committee cannot and should not pre-decide that for the Government.

There is a far greater cost of not imposing these requirements. If the built environment at post-secondary education organizations remains inaccessible, or new post-secondary facilities are built with new barriers, there will be later retrofit costs and litigation costs in response to human rights cases.

Providing a barrier-free built environment in post-secondary education organizations benefits everyone. It ensures that all students of all ages and abilities can come to learn there. It enables people with disabilities to be employed in all jobs throughout the post-secondary education organization. It enables the premises of the post-secondary education organization, a public facility, to be used for other important public uses, such as being rented for conferences.

These recommendations do not include specific technical requirements, such as the precise width of doorways or other paths of travel. These recommendations set out the barriers to be addressed and the specific measures to address them. If the Government of Ontario adopts these, it would have to then proceed to set technical requirements where possible. Barriers:

1. Too often, the built environment at post-secondary education organizations has physical barriers that can partially or totally impede some students with disabilities from being able to enter or independently move around.

2. The Ontario Building Code and existing accessibility standards do not set out all the modern and sufficient accessibility requirements for the built environment in Ontario. The Government of Ontario has no accessibility standard for the built environment in post-secondary education organizations. The Government has not agreed to develop a Built Environment Accessibility Standard to substantially strengthen the general accessibility provisions for society as a whole in the Ontario Building Code.

Accordingly, it is left to each post-secondary education organization to come up with its own designs to address accessibility in the built environment at its premises. This is highly inefficient and wasteful.

The AODA Alliance has illustrated this in two widely-viewed online videos that focus on the built environment at two post-secondary education organizations, chosen because they are typical, not worse than others:

a) the new Culinary Arts Centre at Centennial College: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dgfrum7e-_0&t=87s

b) The new Student Learning Centre at Ryerson University: https://youtu.be/4oe4xiKknt0

3. The Ontario Government does not ensure that public money is never used to create or perpetuate disability barriers in the built environment.

Recommendations

Examples of these requirements are set out in the Appendix to this Framework, below.

#16.1 The Post-Secondary Education Accessibility Standard should set out specific requirements for accessibility in the built environment at post-secondary education organizations and other locations where post-secondary education programs are to be offered. These should meet the accessibility requirements of the Ontario Human Rights Code and the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and should meet the needs of all disabilities and not only people with mobility disabilities. These should include:

a) Specific requirements to be included in a new facility to be built.

b) Requirements to be included in a renovation of or addition to an existing post-secondary facility, and

c) Retrofit requirements for an existing post-secondary facility, even if it is not slated for a major renovation or addition, to the extent that they are readily achievable and important to ensure the facilitys accessibility.

#16.2 Each post-secondary education organization should develop a plan to ensure that the built environment of its educational facilities becomes fully accessible to people with disabilities as soon as reasonably possible, and in any event, no later than January 1, 2025. As part of this:

a) As a first step, each post-secondary education organization should develop a plan for making as many of its facilities disability-accessible within its current financial context. Accessibility does not only include the needs of people with mobility disabilities. It includes the needs of people with other disabilities such as people with vision and/or hearing loss, autism, intellectual or developmental disabilities, learning disabilities or mental health disorders.

b) Each post-secondary education organization should identify which of its existing facilities can be more easily made accessible, and which facilities would require substantially more extensive action to be made physically accessible. An interim plan should be developed to show what progress towards full physical accessibility can be made by first addressing facilities that would require less money to be made physically more accessible, and the most high-impact facilities.

#16.3 The post-secondary education organizations review of its built environment shall include a thorough review of the campuss overall layout. Where navigation around the campus, or from building to building, lacks the needed and appropriate cues for people with vision loss or other disabilities, proper way-finding, including tactile walking surface indicators, will be installed to facilitate the ease of safe navigation around the campus

#16.4 When a post-secondary education organization seeks to retain or hire design professionals, such as architects, interior designers or landscape architects, for the design of a new facility or an existing facilitys retrofit or renovation, or for any other infrastructure project, the post-secondary education organization should include in any Request for Proposal (RFP) a mandatory requirement that the design professional must have sufficient demonstrated expertise in accessibility design, and not simply knowledge about compliance with the Ontario Building Code or the AODA. This includes the accessibility needs of people with all kinds of disabilities, and not just those with mobility impairments.

#16.5 When a post-secondary education organization is planning to construct a new facility, or to expand or renovate an existing facility or other infrastructure, a suitably qualified accessibility consultant should be directly retained by the post-secondary education organization (and not by a private architecture firm) to advise on the project from the outset, with their unedited advice being transmitted directly to the post-secondary education organization and not only to the private design professionals who are retained to design the project. Completing the 8 day training course on accessibility offered by the Rick Hansen Foundation should not be treated as either necessary or sufficient for this purpose, as that course is substantially inadequate and has significant problems.

#16.6 The post-secondary education organization should have design specifications or plans for any new construction or major renovations of any of its facilities reviewed by its boards Accessibility Committee and by representatives of its students and employees with disabilities. If the post-secondary education organization rejects any of their recommendations regarding the projects accessibility it shall provide written reasons for its decision to do so.

#16.7 Where possible, a post-secondary education organization should not renovate an existing facility that lacks disability accessibility, unless the organization has a plan to also make that facility accessible. For example, a post-secondary education organization should not spend public money to renovate the second storey of a facility which lacks accessibility to the second storey, if the organization does not have a plan to make that second storey disability-accessible. Very pressing health and safety concerns should be the only reason for any exception to this.

#16.8 Each post-secondary education organization should only hold off-site educational events at venues whose built environment is accessible, unless to do so would be impossible without undue hardship.

#16.9 To ensure that gym, sports, athletic equipment and other like equipment and facilities are accessible for students with disabilities, the Post-Secondary Education Accessibility Standard should set out specific technical accessibility requirements for new or existing outdoor or indoor gym,, sports, athletic and other like equipment, drawing on accessibility standards and best practices in other jurisdictions, if sufficient, so that each post-secondary education organization does not have to re-invent the accessibility wheel.

#16.10 Each post-secondary education organization should:

a) Take an inventory of the accessibility of its existing indoor and outdoor gym, sports, athletic and like equipment and spaces, and make this public, including posting this information online.

b) Adopt a plan to remediate the accessibility of existing gym, sports, athletic or other like equipment or spaces, in consultation with students with disabilities.

c) Ensure that a qualified accessibility expert is engaged to ensure that the purchase of new equipment or remediation of existing equipment or spaces is properly conducted, with their advice being given directly to the post-secondary education organization.

#16.11 The Ontario Government should be required to revise its funding formula or criteria for construction of facilities at a post-secondary education organization to ensure that it requires and does not obstruct the inclusion of all needed accessibility features in that construction project.

Appendix 1 Specific Accessible Design Requirements for the Built Environment Proposed For the Post-Secondary Education Accessibility Standard

The following design features should be required by the Post-Secondary Education Accessibility Standard and in any new construction or renovation at a post-secondary education organization. Where an existing post-secondary facility is undergoing no renovation, any of the following measures which are readily achievable should be required. To fill in the specifics, the Ontario Government should enact technical requirements for the following, as binding enforceable rules, not as voluntary guidelines:

Usable Accessible Design for Outdoor or Exterior Site Elements

1. Access to the site for pedestrians
Clear, intuitive connection to the accessible entrance
a. A tactile raised line map shall be provided at the main entry points adjacent to the accessible path of travel but with enough space to ensure users do not block the path for others
b. Path of travel from each sidewalk connects to an accessible entrance with few to no joints to avoid bumps. The primary paths shall be wide enough to allow two-way traffic with a clear width that allows two people using wheelchairs or guide dogs to pass each other. For secondary paths where a single path is used, passing spaces shall be provided at regular intervals and at all decision points. The height difference from the sidewalk to the entrance will not require a ramp or stairs. The path will provide drainage slopes only and ensure no puddles form on the path. Paths will be heated during winter months using heat from the school or other renewable energy sources.
c. Bike parking shall be adjacent to the entry path. Riders shall be required to dismount and not ride on the pedestrian routes. Bike parking shall provide horizontal storage with enough space to ensure users and parked bikes do not block the path for others. The ground surface below the bikes shall be colour contrasted and textured to be distinct from the pedestrian path.
d. Rest areas and benches with clear floor space for at least two assistive mobility devices or strollers or a mix of both shall be provided. Benches shall be colour contrasted, have back and arm rests and provide transfer seating options at both ends of the bench. These shall be provided every 30m along the path placed adjoining. The bench and space for assistive devices are not to block the path. If the path to the main entrance is less than 30m at least one rest area shall be provided along the route. If the drop-off area is in a different location than the pedestrian route from the sidewalk, an interior rest area shall be provided with clear sightlines to the drop-off area. If the drop-off area is more than 20m from the closest accessible entrance an exterior accessible heated shelter shall be provided for those awaiting pick-up. The ground surface below the rest areas shall be colour contrasted and textured to be distinct from the pedestrian path it abuts
e. Tactile directional indicators shall be provided where large open paved areas happen along the route, or where walking paths are not readily navigable by persons with vision loss, due to a lack of reliable shorelines and landmarks. f. Accessible pedestrian directional signage at decision points
g. Lighting levels shall be bright and even enough to avoid shadows and ensure its easy to see the features and to keep people safe. h. Accessible duress stations (Emergency safety zones in public spaces)
i. Heated walkways shall be used where possible to ensure the path is always clear of snow and ice

1. Access to the site for vehicles
a. Clear, intuitive connection to the drop-off and accessible parking
b. Passenger drop-off shall include space for driveway, layby, access aisle (painted with non-slip paint), and a drop curb (to provide a smooth transition) for the full length of the drop off. This edge shall be identified and protected with high colour contrasted tactile attention indicators and bollards to stop cars, so people with vision loss or those not paying attention get a warning before walking into the car area. Sidewalk slopes shall provide drainage in all directions for the full length of the dropped curb
c. Overhead protection shall be provided by a canopy that allows for a clearance for raised vans or buses and shall provide as much overhead protection as possible for people who may need more time to load or off-load
d. Heated walkways from the drop-off and parking shall be used to ensure the path is always clear of snow and ice
e. A tactile walking directional indicator path shall lead from the drop-off area to the closest accessible entrance to the building (typically the main entrance)
f. A parking surface will only be steep enough to provide drainage in all directions. The drainage will be designed to prevent puddles from forming at the parking or along the pedestrian route from the parking
g. Parking design should include potential expansion plans for future growth and/or to address increased need for accessible parking
h. Parking access aisles shall connect to the sidewalk with a curb cut that leads to the closest accessible entrance to the building (so that no one needs to travel along the driveway behind parked cars or in the path of car traffic)
i. Lighting levels shall be bright and even enough to avoid shadows and to ensure its easy to see obstacles and to keep people safe.
j. If there is more than one parking lot, each site shall have a distinctive colour and shape symbol associated with it that will be used on all directional signage especially along pedestrian routes.

3. Parking
a. The provision of parking spaces near the entrance to a facility is important to accommodate persons with a varying range of abilities as well as persons with limited mobility. Medical conditions, such as anemia, arthritis or heart conditions, using crutches or the physical act of pushing a wheelchair, all can make it difficult to travel long distances. Minimizing travel distances is particularly important outdoors, where weather conditions and ground surfaces can make travel difficult and hazardous.
b. The sizes of accessible parking stalls are important. A person using a mobility aid such as a wheelchair requires a wider parking space to accommodate the manoeuvring of the wheelchair beside the car or van. A van may also require additional space to deploy a lift or ramp out the side or back door. An individual would require space for the deployment of the lift itself as well as additional space to manoeuvre on/off the lift.
c. Heights of passage along the driving routes to accessible parking is a factor. Accessible vans may have a raised roof resulting in the need for additional overhead clearance. Alternatively, the floor of the van may be lowered, resulting in lower capacity to travel over for speed bumps and pavement slope transitions.
d. Wherever possible, parking signs shall be located away from pedestrian routes, because they can constitute an overhead and/or protruding hazard. All parking signage shall be placed at the end of the parking space in a bollard barricade to stop cars, trucks or vans from parking over and blocking the sidewalk.

4. A Buildings exterior doors
a. Level areas on both sides of a buildings exterior door shall allow the clear floor space for a large scooter or mobility device or several strollers to be at the door. Exterior surface slope shall only provide drainage away from the building.
b. 100% of a buildings exterior doors will be accessible with level thresholds, colour contrast, accessible door hardware and in-door windows or side windows (where security allows) so those approaching the door can see if someone is on the other side of the door
c. Main entry doors at the front of the building and the door closest to the parking lot (if not the same) to be obvious, prominent and will have automatic sliders with overhead sensors. Placing power door operator buttons correctly is difficult and often creates barriers especially within the vestibule
d. Accessible security access for after hours or if used all day with 2-way video for those who are deaf and/or scrolling voice to text messaging
e. All exit doors shall be accessible with a level threshold and clear floor space on either side of the door. The exterior shall include a paved accessible path leading away from the building

Accessible Design for Interior Building Elements

1. Entrances
a. All entrances used by staff and/or the public shall be accessible and comply with this section. In a retrofit situation where it is technically infeasible to make all staff and public entrances accessible, at least 50% of all staff and public entrances shall be accessible and comply with this section. In a retrofit situation where it is technically infeasible to make all public entrances accessible, the primary entrances used by staff and the public shall be accessible. 2. Door
a. Doors shall be sufficiently wide enough to accommodate stretchers, wheelchairs or assistive scooters, pushing strollers, or making a delivery
b. Threshold at the doors base shall be level to allow a trip free and wheel friendly passage. c. Heavy doors and those with auto closers shall provide automatic door openers. d. Room entrances shall have doors.
e. Direction of door swing shall be chosen to enhance the usability and limit the hazard to others of the door opening.
f. Sliding doors can be easier for some individuals to operate, and can also require less wheelchair manoeuvring space. g. Doors that require two hands to operate will not be used. h. Revolving doors are not accessible.
i. Full glass doors are not to be used as they represent a hazard.
j. Colour-contrasting will be provided on door frames, door handles as well as the door edges.
k. Door handles and locks will be operable by using a closed fist, and not require fine finger control, tight grasping, pinching, or twisting of the wrist to operate

3. Gates, Turnstiles and Openings
a. Gates and turnstiles should be designed to accommodate the full range of users that may pass through them. Single-bar gates designed to be at a convenient waist height for ambulatory persons are at neck and face height for children and chest height for persons who use wheelchairs or scooters.
b. Revolving turnstiles should not be used as they are a physical impossibility for a person in a wheelchair to negotiate. They are also difficult for persons using canes or crutches, or persons with poor balance.
c. All controlled entry points will provide an accessible width to allow passage of wheelchairs, other mobility devices, strollers, walkers or delivery carts.

4. Windows, Glazed Screens and Sidelights
a. Broad expanses of glass should not be used for walls, beside doors and as doors can be difficult to detect. This may be a particular concern to persons with vision loss/no vision. It is also possible for anyone to walk into a clear sheet of glazing especially if they are distracted or in a hurry.
b. Window sill heights and operating controls for opening windows or closing blinds should be accessible…located on a path of travel, with clear floor space, within reach of a shorter or seated user, colour contrasted and not require punching or twisting to operate.

5. Interior Layout
a. The main office where visitors and others need to report to upon entering the building shall always be located on the same level as the entrance, as close to the entrance as possible. If the path of travel to the office crosses a large open area, a tactile directional indicator path shall lead from the main entrance(s) to the office ID signage next to the office door.
b. As much as possible, classrooms and or public destinations shall be on the ground floor. Where this is not possible, at least 2 elevators should be provided to access all other levels. Where the building is long and spread out, travel distance to elevators should be considered to reduce extra time needed for students and staff or others who use the elevators instead of the stairs. If feature stairs (staircases included in whole or in part for design aesthetics) are included, elevators shall be co-located and just as prominent as the stairs
c. Corridors should meet at 90 degree angles. Floor layouts from floor to floor should be consistent and predictable so the room number line up and are the same with the floors above and below along with the washrooms
d. Multi-stall washrooms shall always place the womens washroom on the right and the mens washroom on the left. No labyrinth entrances shall be used. Universal washrooms shall be co-located immediately adjacent to the stall washrooms, in a location that is consistent and predictable throughout the building

6. Facilities
a. The entry doors to each type of facility within a building should be accessible, colour contrasted, obvious and prominent and designed as part of the wayfinding system including accessible signage that is co-located with power door openers controls.
b. Tactile attention indicator tile will be placed on the floor in front of the accessible ID signage at each room or facility type. Where a room or facility entrance is placed off of a large interior open area

7. Elevators

a. Elevator Doors will provide a clear width to allow a stretcher and larger mobility devices to get in and out b. Doors will have sensors so doors will auto open if the doorway is blocked
c. Elevators will be installed in pairs so that when one is out of service for repair or maintenance, there is an alternative available.
d. Elevators will be sized at allow at least two mobility device users and two non-mobility devices users to be in the elevator at the same time. This should also allow for a wide stretcher in case of emergency.
e. Assistive listening will be available in each elevator to help make the audible announcements heard by those using hearing aids
f. Emergency button on the elevators control panel will also provide 2-way communication with video and scrolling text and a keyboard for people who are deaf or who have other communication disabilities
g. Inside the elevators will be additional horizontal buttons on the side wall in case there is not enough room for a person using a mobility aid to push the typical vertical buttons along the wall beside the door. If there are only two floors the elevator will only provide the door open, close and emergency call buttons and the elevator will automatically move to the floor it is not on.
h. The words spoken in the elevators voice announcement of the floor will be the same as the braille and print floor markings, so the button shows 1 as a number, 1 in braille and the voice says first floor not G for Ground with M in braille and voice says first floor.)
i. Ensure the star symbol for each elevator matches ground level appropriate to the elevator. The star symbol indicates the floor the elevator will return to in an emergency. This means users in the elevator will open closest to the available accessible exit. If the entrance on the north side is on the second floor, the star symbol in that elevator will be next to the button that says 2. If the entrance on the south side of the building is on the 1st floor, the star symbol will be next to the button that says 1.
j. The voice on the elevator shall be set at a volume that is audible above typical noise levels while the elevator is in use, so that people on the elevator can easily hear the audible floor announcements.
k. Lighting levels inside the elevator will match the lighting at the elevator lobbies. Lighting will be measured at the ground level
l. Elevators will provide colour contrast between the floor and the walls inside the cab and between the frame of the door or the doors with the wall surrounding in the elevator lobbies. Vinyl peel and stick sheets or paint will be used to cover the shiny metal which creates glare. Vinyl sheets will be plain to ensure the door looks like a door, and not like advertising
m. In a retrofit situation where adding 2 elevators is not technically possible without undue hardship, platform lifts may be considered. Elevators that are used by all facility users are preferred to platform lifts which tend to segregate persons with disabilities and which limit space at entrance and stair locations. Furthermore, independent access is often compromised by such platform lifts,, because platform lifts are often require a key to operate. Whenever possible, integrated elevator access should be incorporated to avoid the use of lifts.

8. Ramps
a. A properly designed ramp can provide wait-free access for those using wheelchairs or scooters, pushing strollers or moving packages on a trolley or those who are using sign language to communicate and dont want to stop talking as they climb stairs.
b. A ramps textured surfaces, edge protection and handrails all provide important safety features.
c. On outdoor ramps, heated surfaces shall be provided to address the safety concerns associated with snow and ice.
d. Ramps shall only be used where the height difference between levels is no more than 1m (4ft). Longer ramps take up too much space and are too tiring for many users. Where a height difference is more than 1m in height, elevators will be provided instead.
e. Landings will be sized to allow a large mobility device or scooter to make a 360 degree turn and/or for two people with mobility assistive devices or guide dogs to pass
f. Slopes inside the building will be no higher than is permitted for exterior ramps in the AODA Design of Public Spaces Standard, to ensure usability without making the ramp too long.
g. Curved ramps will not be used, because the cross slope at the turn is hard to navigate and a tipping hazard for many people.
h. Colour and texture contrast will be provided to differentiate the full slope from any level landings. Tactile attention domes shall not be used at ramps, because they are meant only for stairs and for drop-off edges like at stages

9. Stairs
a. Stairs that are comfortable for many adults may be challenging for children, shorter persons seniors or persons of short stature.
b. The leading edge of each step (aka nosing) shall not present tripping hazards, particularly to persons with prosthetic devices or those using canes and will have a bright colour contrast to the rest of the horizontal step surface.
c. Each stair in a staircase will use the same height and depth, to avoid creating tripping hazards
d. The rise between stairs will always be smooth, so that shoes will not catch on an abrupt edge causing a tripping hazard. These spaces will always be closed as open stairs create a tripping hazard.
e. The top of all stair entry points will have a tactile attention indicator surface, to ensure the drop-off is identified for those who are blind or distracted.
f. Handrails will aid all users navigating stairways safely. Handrails will be provided on both sides of all stairs, and will be provided at both the traditional height as well as a second lower rail for children or people who are shorter. These will be in a high colour contrasting colour and round in shape, without sharp edges or interruptions. Rails shall always be at a right angle to the stairs, and shall never be itched at an angle.
g. g) Spiral, curved or irregular staircases shall never be created, as they are a serious tripping hazard.

10. Washroom Facilities
a. Washroom facilities will accommodate the range of people that will use the space. Although many persons with disabilities use toilet facilities independently, some may require assistance. Where the individual providing assistance is of the opposite gender then typical gender-specific washrooms are awkward, and so an individual washroom is required.
b. Parents and caregivers with small children and strollers also benefit from a large, individual washroom with toilet and change facilities contained within the same space.
c. Circumstances such as wet surfaces and the act of transferring between toilet and wheelchair or scooter can make toilet facilities accident-prone areas. An individual falling in a washroom with a door that swings inward could prevent his or her own rescuers from opening the door. Due to the risk of accidents, emergency call buttons are vital in all washrooms.
d. The appropriate design of all features will ensure the usability and safety of all toilet facilities.
e. The identification of washrooms will include pictograms for children or people who cannot read. All signage will include braille that translates the text on the print sign, and not only the room number.
f. There are three types of washrooms. Single use accessible washrooms, single use universal washrooms, and multi-use stalled washrooms. The number and types of washrooms used in a facility will be determined by the number of users. There will always at least be one universal washroom.
g. All washrooms will have doors with power door opening buttons. No door washrooms will be hard to identify for people who have vision loss.
i. In stall washrooms with urinals, all urinals will be accessible with lower rim heights. Universal washrooms will have an upper rim at the same height as typical non-accessible urinals to avoid the mess taller users can make. All urinals will provide vertical grab bars which are colour contrasted to the walls. Where dividers between urinals are used, the dividers will be colour contrasted to the walls as well.
h. Stall washrooms accessible sized stalls At least 2 accessible stalls shall be provided in each washroom to avoid long wait times. Facilities with accessible education programs that include a large percentage of people with mobility disabilities should have all stalls sized to accommodate a turn circle and the transfer space beside the toilet.
i. All washrooms near rooms that will be used for public events shall include a baby change table that is accessible to all users, not placed inside a stall. It shall be colour contrasted with the surroundings and usable for those in a seated mobility device and or of shorter stature.
ii. At least one universal washroom will include an adult sized change table, with the washroom located near appropriate facilities in the facility and any public event spaces. These are important for some adults with disabilities and for children with disabilities who are too large for the baby change tables. This helps prevent anyone from needing to be changed lying on a bathroom floor.
iii. Where shower stalls are provided, these shall include accessible sized stalls.
iv. Portable Toilets at Special Events shall all be accessible. At least one will include an adult sized change table. i. Washroom Stalls:
i. Manoeuvrability of a wheelchair or scooter is the principal consideration in the design of an accessible stall. The increased size of the stall is required to ensure there is sufficient space to facilitate proper placement of a wheelchair or scooter to accommodate a person transferring transfer onto the toilet from their mobility device. There may also be instances where an individual requires assistance. Thus, the stall will have to accommodate a second person. Stall Door swings are normally outward for safety reasons and space considerations. However, this makes it difficult to close the door once inside. A handle mounted part way along the door makes it easier for someone inside the stall to close the door behind them. Minimum requirements for non-accessible toilet stalls are included to ensure that persons who do not use wheelchairs or scooters can be adequately accommodated within any toilet stall. Universal features include accessible hardware and a minimum stall width to accommodate persons of large stature or parents with small children.

j. Toilets:
i. Automatic flush controls are preferred. If flushing mechanisms are not automated, flushing controls shall be on the transfer side of the toilet, with colour contrasted and lever style handles.

k. Sinks:
i. Each accessible sink shall be on an accessible path of travel that other people, using other sinks or features (like hand-dryers), are not positioned to block. Automated sink controls are preferred. While faucets with remote-eye technology may initially confuse some individuals, their ease of use is notable. Individuals with hand strength or dexterity difficulties can use lever-style handles. For an individual in a wheelchair and younger children, a lower counter height and clearance for knees under the counter are required. The insulating of hot water pipes shall be assured to protect the legs of an individual using a wheelchair. This is particularly important when a disability impairs sensation such that the individual would not sense that their legs were being burned. The combination of shallow sinks and higher water pressures can cause unacceptable splashing at lavatories.
ii. Powered hand-dryers shall make minimum noise, to avoid being a barrier to people with vision loss or those with sensory integration issues for whom loud blasting sound can make a bathroom unusable. l. Urinals:
i. Each urinal needs to be on an accessible path of travel with clear floor space in front of each accessible urinal to provide the manoeuvring space for a mobility device. Grab bars shall be provided to assist individuals rising from a seated position and others to steady themselves. Floor-mounted urinals accommodate children and persons of short stature as well as enabling easier access to drain personal care devices. Flush controls, where used, will be automatic preferred. Strong colour contrasts shall be provided between the urinal, the wall and the floor to assist persons with vision loss/no vision. m. Showers
i. Where showers are provided, roll-in or curbless shower stalls shall be provided to eliminate the hazard of stepping over a threshold and are essential for persons with disabilities who use wheelchairs or other mobility devices in the shower. Grab bars and non-slip materials shall be included as safety measures that will support any individual. Hand-held shower heads or a water-resistant folding bench shall be included to assist people with disabilities. These are also convenient for others. Equipment that has contrasting colour from the shower stall shall be included to assist individuals with vision loss/no vision.

11. Drinking Fountains
a. Drinking fountain height should accommodate shorter persons, and that of a person using a wheelchair or scooter. Potentially conflicting with this, the height should strive to attempt to accommodate individuals who have difficulty bending and who would require a higher fountain. Where feasible, this may require more than one fountain, at different heights. The operating system shall account for limited hand strength or dexterity. Fountains will be recessed, to avoid protruding into the path of travel. Angled recessed alcove designs allow more flexibility and require less precision by a person using a wheelchair or scooter. Providing accessible signage with a tactile attention indicator tile will help those who with vision loss to find the fountain.

12. Performance Stages
a. Elevated platforms, such as stage areas, speaker podiums, etc., shall be accessible to all. A clear accessible route will be provided along the same path of access for those who are not using mobility assistive devices as those who do. Lifts will not be used to access stage or raised platforms, unless the facility is retrofitting an existing stage and it is not technically possible to provide access by other means.
b. The stage shall include safety features to assist persons with vision loss or those momentarily blinded by stage lights from falling off the edge of a raised stage, such as a colour contrasted raised lip along the edge of the stage.
c. Lecterns shall be accessible with an adjustable height surface, knee space and accessible audio visual (AV) and information technology (IT) equipment. Lecterns shall have a microphone that is connected to an assistive listening system, such as a hearing loop. The office and/or presentation area will have assistive listening units available for those who may request them, for example people who are hard of hearing but not yet wearing hearing aids.
d. Lighting shall be adjustable to allow for a minimum of lighting in the public seating area and back stage to allow those who need to move or leave with sufficient lighting at floor level to be safe

13. Offices, Work Areas, and Meeting Rooms
a. Offices providing services or programs to the public will be accessible to all, regardless of mobility or functional needs. Offices and related support areas shall be accessible to staff and visitors with disabilities.
b. All people, but particularly those with hearing loss/persons who are hard-of-hearing, will benefit from having a quiet acoustic environment – background noise from mechanical equipment such as fans, shall be designed to be minimal. Telephone equipment that supports the needs of individuals with hearing and vision loss shall be available.
c. The provision of assistive speaking devices is important for the range of individuals who may have difficulty with low vocal volume thus affecting production of normal audible levels of sound. Where offices and work areas and small meeting rooms do not have assistive listening, such as hearing loops permanently installed, portable assistive hearing loops shall be available at the office
d. Tables and workstations shall provide the knee space requirements of an individual in a mobility assistive device. Adjustable height tables allow for a full range of user needs. Circulation areas shall accommodate the spatial needs of mobility equipment as large as scooters to ensure all areas and facilities in the space can be reached with appropriate manoeuvring and turning spaces.
e. Natural coloured task lighting, such as that provided through halogen bulbs, shall be used wherever possible to facilitate use by all, especially persons with low vision.
f. In locations where reflective glare may be problematic, such as large expanses of glass with reflective flooring, blinds that can be louvered upwards shall be provided. Controls for blinds shall be accessible to all and usable with a closed fist without pinching or twisting

14. Outdoor Athletic and Recreational Facilities
a. Areas for outdoor recreation, leisure and active sport participation shall be designed to be available to people of a spectrum of abilities.
b. Outdoor spaces will allow persons with a disability to be active participants, as well as spectators, volunteers and members of staff. Spaces will be accessible including boardwalks, trails and footbridges, pathways, parks, parkettes and playgrounds, parks, parkettes and playgrounds, grandstand and other viewing areas, and playing fields
c. Assistive listening will be provided where game or other announcements will be made for all areas including the change room, player, coach and public areas.
d. Noise cancelling headphones shall be available to those with sensory disabilities.
e. Outdoor exercise equipment will include options for those with a variety of disabilities including those with temporary disabilities undergoing rehabilitation.
f. Seating and like facilities shall be inclusive and allow for all members of a disabled sports team to sit together in an integrated way that does not segregate anyone.
g. Seating and facilities will be inclusive and allow for all members of a sports team of people with disabilities to sit together in an integrated way that does not segregate anyone.

15. Arenas, Halls and Other Indoor Recreational Facilities
a. Areas for recreation, leisure and active sport participation will be accessible to all members of the community.
b. Assistive listening will be provided where game or other announcements will be made for all areas including the change room, player, coach and public areas.
c. Noise cancelling headphones will be available to those with sensory disabilities.
d. Access will be provided throughout outdoor facilities including: playing fields and other sports facilities, all activity areas, outdoor trails, swimming areas, play spaces, lockers, dressing/change rooms and showers.
e. Interior access will be provided to halls, arenas, and other sports facilities, including access to the site, all activity spaces, gymnasia, fitness facilities, lockers, dressing/change rooms and showers.
f. Spaces will allow people with disabilities to be active participants, as well as spectators, volunteers and members of staff.
g. Indoor exercise equipment will include options for those with a variety of disabilities including those with temporary disabilities who are undergoing rehabilitation.
h. Seating and facilities will be inclusive and allow for all members of a sports team of people with disabilities to sit together in an integrated way that does not segregate or stigmatize anyone.

16. Swimming Pools
a. Primary considerations for accommodating persons who have mobility impairments include accessible change facilities and a means of access into the water. Ramped access into the water is preferred over lift access, as it promotes integration (everyone will use the ramp) and independence.
b. Persons with low vision benefit from colour and textural surfaces that are detectable and safe for both bare feet or those wearing water shoes. These surfaces will be provided along primary routes of travel leading to access points such as pool access ladders and ramps.
c. Tactile surface markings and other barriers will be provided at potentially dangerous locations, such as the edge of the pool, at steps into the pool and at railings.

17. Cafeterias
a. Cafeteria serving lines and seating area designs shall reflect the lower sight lines, reduced reach, knee-space and manoeuvring requirements of a person using a wheelchair or scooter. Patrons using mobility devices may not be able to hold a tray or food items while supporting themselves on canes or while manoeuvring a wheelchair.
b. If tray slides are provided, they will be designed to move trays with minimal effort. c. Food signage will be accessible.
d. All areas where food is ordered and picked up will be designed to meet accessible service counter requirements
e. Self-serve food will be within the reach of people who are shorter or using seated mobility assistive devices
f. Where trays are provided, a tray cart that can be attached to seated assistive mobility devices or a staff assistant solution that is readily available shall be available on demand, because carrying trays and pushing a chair or operating a motorized assistive device can be difficult or impossible

18. Libraries
a. All service counters shall provide accessibility features
b. Study carrels will accommodate the knee-space and armrest requirements of a person using a mobility device.
c. Computer catalogues, carrels and workstations will be provided at a range of heights, to accommodate persons who are standing or sitting, as well as people of different ages and sizes.
d. Workstations shall be equipped with assistive technology such as large displays, screen readers, to increase the accessibility of a library.
e. Book drop-off slots shall be at different heights for standing and seated use with accessible signage, to enhance usability.

19. Teaching Spaces and Classrooms
a. Students, instructors and staff with disabilities will have accessibility to teaching and classroom facilities, including teaching computer labs.
b. All teaching spaces and classrooms will provide power door operators and assistive listening systems such as hearing loops
c. Additional considerations may be necessary for spaces and/or features specifically designated for use by students with disabilities, such as accessibility standard accommodations for complex personal care needs.
d. Students instructors and staff with disabilities will be accommodated in all teaching spaces throughout the facility.
e. This accessibility will include the ability to enter and move freely throughout the space, as well as to use the various built-in elements within (i.e. blackboards and/or whiteboards, switches, computer stations, sinks, etc.).
f. Individuals with disabilities frequently use learning aids and other assistive devices that require a power supply. Additional electrical outlets shall be provided throughout teaching spaces to -accommodate the use of such equipment.
g. Except where it is impossible, fixtures, fittings, furniture and equipment will be specified for teaching spaces, which is usable by students, faculty, teaching assistants and staff with disabilities.
h. Providing only one size of seating does not reflect the diversity of body types of our society. Offering seats with an increased width and weight capacity is helpful for persons of large stature. Seating with increased legroom will better suit individuals that are taller. Removable armrests can be helpful for persons of larger stature as well as individuals using wheelchairs that prefer to transfer to the seat.

20. Laboratories
a. In addition to the requirements for classrooms, additional accessibility considerations may be necessary for spaces and/or features in laboratories.

21. Waiting and Queuing Areas
a. Queuing areas for information, tickets or services will permit persons who use wheelchairs, scooters and other mobility devices as well as for persons with a varying range of user ability to easily move through the line safely. All lines shall be accessible.
b. Waiting and queuing areas will provide space for mobility devices, such as wheelchairs and scooters. Queuing lines that turn corners or double back on themselves will provide adequate space to manoeuvre mobility devices. Handrails with high colour contrast will be provided along queuing lines, because they are a useful support for individuals and guidance for those with vision loss. Benches in waiting areas shall be provided for individuals who may have difficulty with standing for extended periods.
c. Assistive listening systems will be provided, such as hearing loops, will be provided along with accessible signage indicating this service is available.

22. Information, Reception and Service Counters
a. All information, reception and service counters will be accessible to the full range of visitors. Where adjustable height furniture is not used, a choice of fixed counter heights will provide a range of options for a variety of persons. Lowered sections will serve children, persons of short stature and persons using mobility devices such as a wheelchair or scooter. The choice of heights will also extend to any speaking ports and writing surfaces.
b. Counters will provide knee space under the counter to accommodate a person using a wheelchair or a scooter.
c. The provision of assistive speaking and listening devices is important for the range of individuals who may have difficulty with low vocal volume thus affecting production of normal audible levels of sound. The space where people are speaking will have appropriate acoustic treatment to ensure the best possible conditions for communication. Both the public and staff sides of the counter will have good lighting for the faces to help facilitate lip reading.
d. Colour contrast will be provided to delineate the public service counters and speaking ports for people with low vision.

23. Lockers
a. Lockers will be accessible with colour contrast and accessible signage
b. In change rooms an accessible bench will be provided in close proximity to lockers.
c. Lockers at lower heights serve the reach of short people or a person using a wheelchair or scooter.
d. The locker operating mechanisms will be at an appropriate height and operable by individuals with restrictions in hand dexterity (i.e. operable with a closed fist).

24. Storage, Shelving and Display Units
a. The heights of storage, shelving and display units will address a full range of vantage points including the lower sightlines of short people or a person using a wheelchair or scooter. The lower heights also serve the lower reach of these individuals.
b. Displays and storage along a path of travel that are too low can be problematic for individuals that have difficulty bending down or who are blind. If these protrude too much into the path of travel, each will protect people with the use of a trip free cane detectable guard.
c. Appropriate lighting and colour contrast is particularly important for persons with vision loss.
d. Signage provided will be accessible with braille, text, colour contrast and tactile features

25. Public Address Systems
a. Public address systems will be designed to best accommodate all users, especially those that may be hard of hearing. They will be easy to hear above the ambient background noise of the environment with no distortion or feedback. Background noise or music will be minimized.
b. Technology for visual equivalents of information being broadcast will be available for individuals with hearing loss/persons who are hard-of-hearing who may not hear an audible public address system.
c. Classrooms, library, hallways, and other areas will have assistive listening equipment that is tied into the general public address system.

26. Emergency Exits, Fire Evacuation and Areas of Rescue Assistance
a. In order to be accessible to all individuals, emergency exits will include the same accessibility features as other doors. The doors and routes will be marked in a way that is accessible to all individuals, including those who may have difficulty with literacy, such as persons speaking a different language.
b. Persons with vision loss/no vision will be provided a means to quickly locate exits audio or talking signs could assist.
c. In the event of fire when elevators cannot be used, areas of rescue assistance shall be provided especially for anyone who has difficulty traversing sets of stairs. Areas of rescue assistance will be provided on all floors above or below the ground floor. Exit stairs will provide an area of rescue assistance on the landing with at least two spaces for people with mobility assistive devices sized to ensure those spaces do not block the exit route for those using the stairs. The number of spaces necessary should be sized by the number of people on each floor. Each area of refuge will provide a 2-way communication system with both video and audio to allow those using the space to communicate that they are waiting there and to communicate with fire safety services and or security. All signage associated with the area of rescue assistance will be accessible and include braille for all controls and information.

27. Space and Reach Requirements
a. The dimensions and manoeuvring characteristics of wheelchairs, scooters and other mobility devices will allow for a full array of equipment that is used by individuals to access and use facilities, as well as the diverse range of user ability.

28. Ground and Floor Surfaces
a. Irregular surfaces, such as cobblestones or pea-gravel finished concrete, shall be avoided because they are difficult for both walking and pushing a wheelchair. Slippery surfaces are to be avoided because they are hazardous to all individuals and especially hazardous for seniors and others who may not be sure-footed.
b. Glare from polished floor surfaces is to be avoided because it can be uncomfortable for all users and can be a particular obstacle to persons with vision loss by obscuring important orientation and safety features. Pronounced colour contrast between walls and floor finishes are helpful for persons with vision loss, as are changes in colour/texture where a change in level or function occurs. c. Patterned floors should be avoided, as they can create visual confusion.
d. Thick pile carpeting is to be avoided as it makes pushing a wheelchair very difficult. Small and uneven changes in floor level represent a further barrier to using a wheelchair and present a tripping hazard to ambulatory persons.
e. Openings in any ground or floor surface such as grates or grilles are to be avoided because they can catch canes or wheelchair wheels. ?
29. Universal Design Practices Beyond Typical Accessibility Requirements
a. Areas of refuge should be provided even when a building has a sprinkler system. b. No hangout steps* should ever be included in the building or facility.
c. Hangout steps are a socializing area that is sometimes used for presentations. It looks similar to bleachers. Each seating level is further away from the front and higher up but here people sit on the floor rather than on seats. Each seating level is about as deep as four stairs and about 3 stairs high. There is typically a regular staircase provided on one side that leads from the front or stage area to the back at the top. The stairs allow ambulatory people access to all levels of the seating areas, but the only seating spaces for those who use mobility assistive devices are at the front or at the top at the back but these are not integrated in any way with the other seating options.
d. There should never be stramps. A stramp is a stair case that someone has built a ramp running back and forth across it. These create accessibility problems rather than solving them.
e. Rest areas should be differentiated from walking surfaces or paths by texture- and colour-contrast f. Keypads angled to be usable from both a standing and a seated position g. Finishes
i. No floor-to-ceiling mirrors
ii. Colour luminance contrast between:
iii. Floor to wall
iv. Door or door frame to wall
v. Door hardware to door
vi. Controls to wall surfaces

h. Furniture Arrange seating in square arrangement so all participants can see each other for those who are lip reading or using sign language




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AODA Alliance’s Toronto Star Guest Column Honours the Memory of the Late Senator David Smith, An Important Hero in the Campaign for Accessibility for People with Disabilities


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

March 3, 2020

SUMMARY

1. Toronto Star Runs A Guest Column by AODA Alliance Chair on the Legacy for Canadians with Disabilities Left by the Late Senator David Smith

The March 3, 2020 Toronto Star includes a guest column by AODA Alliance Chair David Lepofsky, set out below. It recounts the important legacy for people with disabilities in Canada left by the late Senator David Smith, who died last week. Almost 40 years ago, David Smith played a critical role in helping get the Federal Government to amend the proposed Charter of Rights, to entrench in Canada’s Constitution a guarantee of equality for people with disabilities.

The Charter’s guarantee of disability equality underpins the AODA and all other similar accessibility laws across Canada. If you want to know more about the history of the grassroots campaign to win the disability amendment to the Charter back in 1980-82, check out a two-hour captioned online lecture.

2. Liberal Leadership Candidate Brenda Hollingsworth Makes All 10 of the Commitments on Disability Accessibility that the AODA Alliance Seeks

In a tweet to the AODA Alliance last week, Ontario Liberal Leadership candidate Brenda Hollingsworth made all 10 commitments on accessibility for people with disabilities that the AODA Alliance has sought from the six Ontario Liberal leadership candidates. This weekend, the Ontario Liberal Party chooses its next leader, to succeed Kathleen Wynne.

On February 25, 2020, Brenda Hollingsworth tweeted:

“Brenda Hollingsworth @LiberalBrenda
@DavidLepofsky @StevenDelDuca @KateMarieGraham @MitzieHunter @AlvinTedjo Hi David, as I mentioned to you previously, I pledge agreement with all the items in your letter.”

As of now, only two of the six candidates for Ontario Liberal Party leadership have made all 10 pledges we seek, Michael Coteau and Brenda Hollingsworth. Steven Del Duca only made 4 of the 10 commitments we seek. On the other 6, his commitments fell well short of what we asked. Alvin Tedjo only made 1 of the 10 commitments we seek. Mitzie Hunter and Kate Graham have made none of the commitments we seek.

There are still four days left for all of the Liberal leadership candidates to make all the commitments we seek. We will let you know if any more commitments are made.

3. Twenty-Two Years After the Supreme Court of Canada Ordered that Hospitals Provide Sign Language Interpretation Services to Patients with Disabilities, Problems Still Persist

Here is a stunning illustration of the barriers that patients with disabilities continue to face in Ontario’s health care system. A December 26, 2019 Hamilton Spectator article reported on problems that can be faced when a deaf hospital patient seeks Sign Language interpretation services in connection with a hospital visit. We set out that article below.

This is yet more proof why Ontario needs a strong and effective Health Care Accessibility Standard to be enacted under the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act. We have been pressing for the Government to do that for over a decade.

Back in 1997, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled in the landmark case of Eldridge v. B.C. that governments must ensure that hospitals provide Sign Language interpretation services to deaf patients when this is needed to receive health care services. Over two decades later, Ontario still has problems fulfilling this constitutional obligation under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

For more background check out the AODA Alliance’s Framework that sets out what the Health Care Accessibility Standard should include. Watch a captioned one-hour talk by AODA Alliance Chair David Lepofsky on what the promised Health Care Accessibility Standard should include, which has already been seen over 1,000 times!

Queen’s Park Briefing Podcast Features an Episode On Our Accessibility Campaign

The Sunday, March 1, 2020 edition of the QP Briefing podcast (a product of the Toronto Star) features an in-depth interview with AODA Alliance Chair David Lepofsky. QP Briefing has, to our knowledge, not posted a transcript of this audio recording.

It’s great that we have been included in this podcast. QP Briefing focuses on key issues getting attention in the halls of Queen’s Park!

The Ford Government’s Delay on Accessibility Continues

A seemingly-endless 397 days have now slipped by since the Ford Government received the blistering final report on the implementation and enforcement of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act that was prepared by former Lieutenant Governor David Onley. We are waiting and waiting for the Ford Government to come up with a comprehensive and effective plan of new measures to implement the Onley Report’s recommendations, needed to substantially strengthen the AODA’s implementation and enforcement. To date, all the Government has offered Ontarians with disabilities is thin gruel.

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March 3, 2020 Toronto Star Guest Column by AODA Alliance Chair David Lepofsky

Toronto Star March 3, 2020

Originally posted at https://www.thestar.com/opinion/contributors/2020/03/02/sen-david-smith-an-unsung-hero-of-disabled-canadians.html

OPINION
Sen. David Smith an unsung hero of disabled Canadians
By David Lepofsky Contributor

Canada mourns the passing of Sen. David Smith, who dedicated decades to public service as a municipal and federal politician. Let’s ensure that his eulogies recognize his enduring and incredible achievement for millions of Canadians with disabilities.

It is known to far few that he played a decisive role in the successful grassroots battle to get Parliament to include equality for people with disabilities in Canada’s proposed Charter of Rights. He championed that cause not on the front pages of newspapers, but where we needed help the most, in the backrooms of the halls of federal political power.

Forty years ago, prime minister Pierre Trudeau proposed to add a Charter of Rights to Canada’s Constitution. His proposed Charter of Rights included a guarantee of equality rights, to protect against discrimination by laws and governments. However, that proposed equality clause left out equality for people with disabilities.

A number of us in the disability community rushed to campaign to get Parliament to add disability equality rights to the Charter. We contended that otherwise, the Charter would only guarantee equality for some. Equality for some means equality for none.

It was a near hopeless uphill battle. Trudeau was racing to blitz his constitutional reforms through Parliament. We had no internet, email, social media or other such campaigning tools. The media gave us scant attention.

Thankfully, along came a new Liberal backbench MP David Smith. Entirely unconnected to our campaign, earlier in 1980 he had been appointed to chair an all-party Parliamentary committee to hold public hearings on disability issues, because the UN had declared 1981 to be the International year of the Disabled Person. Those hearings were undoubtedly a Government PR gesture, of which we people with disabilities, have seen many.

Yet those hearings galvanized Smith. He learned about the pressing need to amend the proposed Charter of Rights to protect equality for people with disabilities, before Parliament passed the Charter. With no public fanfare, and known only to a few, he took it on himself to work the backrooms on his own impetus, buttonholing MP after MP, pressing our case.

The result of all these efforts? On Jan. 28, 1981, another Parliamentary Committee (of which Smith was not a member) was debating the Trudeau constitutional reforms, when it held a historic vote. It unanimously voted to amend the proposed Charter of Rights to entrench equality for people with disabilities as a constitutional right.

Smith was likely not even in the room where that committee was meeting. Yet he was arguably the most important MP, relentlessly and successfully advocating for our cause, behind-the-scenes. Equality for people with disabilities was the only right that was added to the Charter during those debates.

To my knowledge, Smith sought no limelight for this achievement. Yet as we look back on his life of accomplishments, this should rank very high among them.

Decades later, the grassroots campaign across Canada to win strong disability accessibility legislation at the federal and provincial levels traces itself back to that historic amendment to the proposed Charter of Rights. It spawned accessibility laws enacted in Ontario, Manitoba, Nova Scotia and federally. Other provinces are now playing catch up.

Rest in peace David Smith, with our undying gratitude for what you have done for everyone in Canada for generations to come

David Lepofsky is chair, Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance and visiting professor, Osgoode Hall Law School.

Hamilton Spectator December 26, 2020

Originally posted at https://www.thespec.com/news-story/9789405–do-you-want-to-live-or-die-son-forced-to-interpret-for-his-deaf-parents-at-hamilton-health-sciences/

‘Do you want to live or die’: Son forced to interpret for his deaf parents at Hamilton Health Sciences

John Davidson says both of his parents were denied an American Sign Language interpreter when they were patients at Hamilton hospitals.

News Dec 26, 2019 by Joanna Frketich The Hamilton Spectator

Mary Davidson, a 62-year-old Hamilton advocate for the deaf, experienced communication barriers during her last weeks in hospital before she died Dec. 24, 2018. This year, her son said he had the same issues getting an interpreter again when his father was in a Hamilton hospital. – submitted by Catherine Soplet

A second deaf patient at Hamilton Health Sciences was denied an American Sign Language interpreter despite repeated requests, alleges the family.

“I’ve gone so far as to look up the number and say ‘Here, call,’” said John Davidson, who was left interpreting difficult conversations about cancer and do-not-resuscitate orders by video chat from work for his dad, Grant Davidson, during a nearly two-week stay at Hamilton General Hospital at the beginning of December.

His dad has a legal right to a qualified interpreter paid for by the hospital and the Canadian Hearing Society (CHS) has the ability to fill 99 per cent of urgent requests within 40 minutes.

The catch is that the hospital has to be the one to call because it’s footing the bill.

It’s the same loophole that left his mother, Mary Davidson, with limited ability to communicate at the end of her life one year ago at Juravinski Hospital.

“I’m going through the same thing one year later,” said Davidson. “It hasn’t changed.”

A statement from Hamilton Health Sciences (HHS) says it “abides by and supports all provincial legislation and regulations related to disability and accessibility.”

But HHS didn’t answer questions about why two patients at two of its hospitals within one year have been unable to get American Sign Language (ASL) interpreters for key discussions around diagnosis, treatment and end-of-life decisions.

Davidson describes being at a construction site working when a doctor contacted him by video chat to ask his 64-year-old dad whether he wanted to sign a do-not-resuscitate order while in the hospital being treated for an infection.

“I don’t know how to say resuscitate in sign language,” said Davidson. “A professional probably does and probably knows a lot more words … I just showed him someone pumping on a chest like CPR.”

The end result was a lot of confusion, said Davidson.

“My father didn’t understand the question well. His answer was, ‘My heart is strong. Why would it stop?’”

Davidson said the doctor then accused him of not properly interpreting his dad’s answer.
“The doctor had the nerve to question whether I was answering for him,” said Davidson. “I was frustrated. Why did you make me ask the question if you are going to question what the answer is?”

He said the doctor had no regard for how difficult it would be for a son to interpret such a conversation. Davidson said it was the same when his mom was in hospital from Nov. 3, 2018, until she died Dec. 24 last year.

The CHS says it’s inappropriate for family members to be used as a go-between, particularly when a patient’s health is being discussed and medical terms used.

“I’m asking my parents, ‘Do you want to live or die’ and I’ve had to do it twice less than a year apart,” he said.

He also had to tell his dad that he might have cancer and would be undergoing tests.

“I spelled it,” said Davidson. “My dad showed me the sign for cancer, so now I’ve learned that one.”

The family said it took nearly four weeks for Davidson’s mother to get minimal translation services before she died. Davidson said his dad never got an interpreter before he left the hospital.

The CHS has no waiting list and fulfils around 90 per cent of the roughly 19,000 requests it gets in Ontario each year for interpreters for medical reasons.

Interpreters can come for key discussions or as much as 24-hours-a-day, but the hospital gets to set the parameters.

Hospitals can also go to any service provider as long as the interpreter is qualified.

“I think that’s the problem, the hospital has to pay for it,” said Davidson. “With all these budget cuts, they can’t afford to give people their rights.”

The HHS statement says that staff and physicians “work very hard to meet the unique needs of every patient in our care on a daily basis. It is an important part of our organization’s values to show respect, caring and accountability in the services we provide … We have polices and tools in place organizationwide to help our staff and physicians arrange interpretation services which would include ASL for any patients in our care.”

But Davidson says that statement is a far cry from his family’s experience.

Instead, staff got by “with writing on pieces of paper and me,” said Davidson, who lives in Toronto.

“From a very young age, I started to translate for them when we went places. For me, it’s the status quo, but it shouldn’t be.”

by Joanna Frketich

Spectator reporter Joanna Frketich covers health. She lives in Hamilton and has been a journalist for more than 20 years, earning many Ontario Newspaper Awards including journalist of the year. She was also a National Newspaper Award finalist. Her Hamilton investigations have revealed past dysfunction among cardiac surgeons, dangerously low vaccination rates, students increasingly failing math standardized testing and hospital overcrowding. Email: [email protected]




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The QP Briefing Podcast: Welcoming David Lepofsky


01.03.2020
Sneh Duggal

David Lepofsky, chair of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance, joins the QP Briefing podcast this week to discuss accessibility issues in the province.

Lepofsky, who is also a visiting professor at York University’s Osgoode Hall Law School, says Ontario is “absolutely not” on track to meet its goal of becoming fully accessible by 2025.

He talks about how the accessibility landscape has changed throughout the decades, progress that has been made and barriers that people with disabilities still face.

Lepofsky also assesses the provincial government’s actions on accessibility, including why he thinks a funding commitment to the Rick Hansen Foundation to conduct accessibility audits of buildings is flawed. He voices concern about the training the foundation offers individuals sent in to rate buildings, saying “you can’t learn to be an accessibility auditor professional in eight days.”

For its part the foundation says it’s worked with more than 1,200 sites to “provide a snapshot of their current level of accessibility and shift the design culture toward more universal approaches in their projects.”

Brad McCannell, the foundation’s vice-president of access and inclusion, said in a statement to QP Briefing that its training course is “only available to industry professionals already working in the field with a strong knowledge of the built environment” and teaches participants to “see the built environment through an accessibility lens: it does not claim to produce accessibility experts. ”

“Our ongoing goal is to help create an accessible built environment for people of all abilities,” McCannell said.

Email [email protected]

Original at https://www.qpbriefing.com/2020/03/01/the-qp-briefing-podcast-welcoming-david-lepofsky/




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The Ford Government Claims to Be Leading Ontario By Its Example on Achieving Accessibility for 2.6 Million Ontarians with Disabilities, But a Closer Look Shows That It Is Leading By a Poor Example


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

March 2, 2020

SUMMARY

Last Friday, February 28, 2020, at a media event to which the AODA Alliance was not invited, the Ford Government made an announcement, set out below, unveiling how it says it is leading Ontario by example to achieve accessibility for 2.6 million Ontarians with disabilities-
people who face far too many barriers on a daily basis when they try to get a job, ride public transit, shop, or use public services. Yet a closer look shows that the example by which the Ford Government says it is leading is a very poor one. It lacks key ingredients that Ontarians with disabilities need.

“There is nothing new in The Ford Government’s February 28, 2020 announcement,” said David Lepofsky, chair of the non-partisan AODA Alliance, Ontario’s voluntary grassroots watchdog on disability accessibility. “The Government once again staged an event to re-announce measures that are already in place or that have previously been announced, dressing them up as if this were some bold new initiative. Such pre-existing measures, while potentially helpful to a point, do not get Ontario on schedule for becoming accessible by 2025, or ever.”

A month ago, on January 28, 2020, the Ford Government held an earlier media event where it made another announcement on accessibility. It was thin gruel, mostly if not entirely made up of actions that were previously announced. That even included a program that has been in effect for over a quarter century, when Bob Rae was Ontario’s premier.

This is not the leadership on accessibility that Ontarians with disabilities deserve. Below we provide six amply documented examples that illustrate this. The AODA Alliance continues to offer the Government constructive ideas, and remains eager to work with the Government on this. To date, Premier Doug Ford continues to refuse to meet with us.

A troubling 396 days have now gone by since the Ford Government received the final report on the implementation and enforcement of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act that was prepared by former Lieutenant Governor David Onley. We are still waiting for the Ford Government to come up with a comprehensive and effective plan of new measures to implement the Onley Report’s recommendations, needed to substantially strengthen the AODA’s implementation and enforcement. To date, all the Government has offered Ontarians with disabilities is thin gruel.

MORE DETAILS

Six Illustrations of the Poor Example that the Ford Government has Set on Accessibility for 2.6 Million Ontarians with Disabilities

The Ontario Government has for over a decade, under Conservative and Liberal leaders alike, and under Minister after Minister, repeatedly congratulated itself with the same incorrect claim that Ontario is leading by example on accessibility. The Ford Government’s February 28, 2020 announcement is the most recent repetition of that claim. Yet the AODA Alliance has researched and documented in great detail how the Ontario Government has for years been leading by a poor example on accessibility an example which others should not follow. We documented this in Chapter 10 of the AODA Alliance’s June 30, 2014 brief to the Mayo Moran 2nd AODA Independent Review, and in Chapter 10 of the AODA Alliance’s January 15, 2019 brief to David Onley’s 3rd AODA Independent Review. Neither the current Ontario Government nor the previous Government disputed the accuracy of the facts in those briefs.

Both the Mayo Moran and David Onley AODA Independent Reviews concluded that the Ontario Government needed to show revitalized new leadership on accessibility. They found that the disability community recognizes that the Ontario Government’s leadership on this issue has been wanting. Their findings directly echo the submissions we made to those AODA Independent Reviews.

The 2014 final report of the 2nd Independent Review of the AODA’s implementation, conducted by former University of Toronto Law Dean Mayo Moran, made this pivotal finding:

“One of the prominent themes that emerged from the consultations was the belief of the disability community that the Government of Ontario has not succeeded in embedding accessibility into its internal operations.”

Five years later, the 3rd AODA Independent Review by former Lieutenant Governor David Onley made the same findings in its report:

“Government Leadership Missing

Many stakeholders called on the Ontario government to revitalize and breathe new life into the AODA, echoing both the Beer and Moran Reviews. As far as government leadership goes, little has changed. The government largely has been missing in action.”

The Onley Report also found:

“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. I am hopeful the current one will.”

Yet Premier Ford has not done so. He has to date refused to even meet with the AODA Alliance’s leadership.

The Ford Government’s February 28, 2020 re-announcement of pre-existing measures does not show the revitalized new leadership on accessibility for which the Moran and Onley AODA Independent Reviews called.

Here are six examples arising from the Ford Government’s announcement on February 28, 2020 that illustrate that it is not leading by the good example that it claims:

1. This announcement includes measures that sound far better on paper than they have proven to be in practice. For example, the Ford Government said on February 28, 2020 that it is leading by example by “(e)nsuring ministries are taking accessibility into account as a key consideration when developing policies.” The Ford Government did just the opposite late last fall. Despite our pleas, it palpably ignored serious disability accessibility and safety concerns when it enacted a regulation allowing municipalities to permit electric scooters (e-scooters) on roads, sidewalks and other public places. An unlicensed, untrained and uninsured e-person as young as 16 silently racing towards people with disabilities endangers them, as an open letter from 13 disability organization attests.

The ford Government chose to listen only to corporate lobbyists for e-scooter rental companies. It side-lined the safety of people with disabilities. Check out the AODA Alliance’s web page on the e-scooter issue.

The Ford Government’s e-scooter regulation threatens to create new and serious barriers against people with disabilities. That is not the leadership example that Ontarians with disabilities deserve.

2. To lead by example in this area, the Ford Government needs to put in place a detailed plan that will ensure that Ontario will become accessible by 2025, the AODA’s deadline. Yet it still has no such plan. No plan was announced on Friday, February 28,2020, nor has the Government announced any plan to create a plan. That is not the leadership example that , Ontarians with disabilities deserve.

3. To support its claim that it is leading by example on accessibility, the Ford Government’s February 28, 2020 announcement points to the fact that there are Standards Development Committees now developing recommendations on what the Government should enact in new AODA accessibility standards to address barriers in Ontario’s education system and health care system. We campaigned for years for those Standards Development Committees to be established.

However, this is hardly an illustration of the Ford Government leading by a good example. It was the previous Liberal Government under Premier Wynne that appointed those Standards Development Committees. In a very harmful move, the Ford Government kept those Standards Development Committees frozen for over a year after it took power. That freeze unjustifiably set back progress on accessibility. The AODA Alliance had to lead a tenacious campaign for many months just to get the Ford Government to lift that freeze. That is not the leadership example that Ontarians with disabilities deserve.

4. The Onley Report found that the recurring barriers that people with disabilities face in the built environment must become a major Government priority. It called for new accessibility regulations to fix this. Doug Ford recognized the importance of this need in his May 15, 2018 letter to the AODA Alliance where he set out his party’s 2018 election promises on disability accessibility.

Yet last Friday’s announcement did not commit to develop new regulations, under the AODA or in the Ontario Building Code or both, to ensure that the built environment becomes accessible. Existing legal requirements are inadequate. Last May, during National Accessibility Week, Doug Ford’s Government hurtfully derided such an idea as “red tape,” as if the rights to accessibility for Ontarians with disabilities were red tape.

Making this worse, The AODA required the Ontario Government to appoint an AODA Standards Development Committee over two years ago to review a weak accessibility standard that deals with barriers in public spaces, mainly outside buildings. The Ford Government continues to be in open, flagrant breach of that obligation. That is not the leadership example that Ontarians with disabilities deserve.

5. The Ford Government’s announcement last Friday spoke of accessibility as being one of the criteria for assessing applications for some infrastructure spending. However, it did not commit to ensure that public money is never used to create barriers against Ontarians with disabilities. Yet the Government has emphasized its commitment to be responsible in the use of public money. Spending public money in a way that creates new barriers against people with disabilities, as the Ontario Government has been doing for years, is not the leadership example that Ontarians with disabilities deserve.

6. In last Friday’s announcement, the Ford Government pointed to measures to improve accessibility in public transit. However, it has made no commitment and announced no plan to ensure that its new public transit infrastructure will be fully accessible to passengers with disabilities. Metrolinx, the Ontario Government’s key agency in that area, has a troubling track record in this regard. Moreover, after over one and a half years in power, the Ford Government has announced no plans to strengthen the weak 2011 Transportation Accessibility Standard. The Ontario Government received recommendations from the Transportation Standards Development Committee in the 2018 spring, around two years ago. This inaction is also not the leadership example that Ontarians with disabilities deserve.

Ford Government’s February 28, 2020 News Release
Ontario Leading by Example in Improving Accessibility
Government Continues Progress Through Cross-Government Actions NEWS
February 28, 2020
WHITBY Ontario is continuing to work towards an inclusive and barrier-free province through its comprehensive accessibility framework.
Today, Raymond Cho, Minister for Seniors and Accessibility, announced the second area of focus under the Advancing Accessibility in Ontario framework government leading by example at the Abilities Centre in Whitby. This area demonstrates the government’s commitment and leadership in improving accessibility in its role as a policy maker, service provider and employer.
“Our government is committed to protecting what matters most, and this means removing barriers in Ontario so we can empower people with disabilities,” said Minister Cho. “We are continuing to develop and enforce accessibility laws to help deliver critical services to Ontarians. It’s crucial that we set a strong example of moving accessibility forward to make a positive difference in the daily lives of people with disabilities.”
The government is taking leadership on this issue by applying an accessibility lens when evaluating capital project applications and spending public tax dollars. For example, while developing the provincial criteria for the Investing in Canada Infrastructure Program (ICIP), the Ministry for Seniors and Accessibility worked closely with the Ministry of Infrastructure to establish accessibility as one of the four main objectives that applications will be evaluated on under the program’sCommunity, Culture and Recreation stream. Projects will additionally be evaluated based on exceeding minimum standards; use of Universal Design Principles, accessible guidelines and innovative solutions to increasing accessibility.
“We are extremely pleased with the direction the Government of Ontario is taking with its Advancing Accessibly in Ontario framework,” said Stuart McReynolds, President and Chief Executive Officer of Abilities Centre. “We must all work together as partners to advance inclusion and accessibility throughout the province.”

As part of Ontario’s work towards creating a more accessible and inclusive province today and for future generations, the government formed a dedicated Ministry for Seniors and Accessibility in June 2018. QUICK FACTS
* There are 2.6 million people in Ontario that have a disability.
* The Ontario Public Service Accessibility Office serves as an accessibility centre of excellence, elevating accessibility as a top priority within and beyond government. It supports ministries to meet their legislated obligations and embed accessibility into government policies, programs, services and internal activities.
* The Advancing Accessibility in Ontario framework was informed by the recommendations made by the Honourable David C. Onley in the third legislative review of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, as well as input from key partners, organizations and people with disabilities.
* Further information on the other key areas in Advancing Accessibility in Ontario will be announced in the coming weeks. BACKGROUND INFORMATION
Advancing Accessibility in Ontario: Government to lead by example ADDITIONAL RESOURCES
Advancing Accessibility in Ontario: Breaking down barriers in the built environment Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act
Accessibility in Ontario: Information for Businesses web page MEDIA CONTACTS
Pooja Parekh
Minister’s Office
[email protected]
Matt Gloyd
Communications Branch
647-268-7233
[email protected]
Ford Government’s February 28, 2020 Backgrounder
Advancing Accessibility in Ontario: Government to lead by example BACKGROUNDER
February 28, 2020
Enhancing accessibility is a priority for the government. The province has elevated accessibility as a commitment by creating a dedicated Ministry for Seniors and Accessibility to work towards a more accessible and inclusive Ontario today and for future generations.
Advancing Accessibility in Ontario is a cross-government framework that will help focus the government’s work in four key areas: * breaking down barriers in the built environment
* government leading by example in its role as a policy maker, service provider and employer * increasing participation in the economy for people with disabilities and * improving understanding and awareness about accessibility
The government leading by example demonstrates Ontario’s leadership in improving accessibility in its role as a policy maker, service provider and employer.
In its role as a policy maker, the government is making significant progress in implementing the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) and as an organization is leading the way by:
* Ensuring ministries are taking accessibility into account as a key consideration when developing policies.
* Addressing barriers in the health care sector, such as a greater need for sensitivity when communicating with people with disabilities, by resuming the Health Care Standards Development Committee to develop recommendations for proposed accessibility standards for hospitals in regulation under the AODA. This committee is comprised of people with disabilities, disability organizations and sector experts.
* Making sure students with disabilities have the supports they need to transition from one school system to another by resuming the K-12 and Post-Secondary Education Standards Development Committees to provide recommendations on how to make the education sector more inclusive. These committees will develop recommendations for proposed accessibility standards in regulation under the AODA.
* Considering recommendations from the Information and Communications Standards Development Committee to assess how to make information and digital communications more accessible.
* Creating more inclusive learning environments by providing educators with accessibility training, lesson plans and resources through the TeachAble Project website. The site was created with funding from the government’s EnAbling Change Program and gives people who work with students ways to create awareness about accessibility in the classroom.
* Providing clearer and more transparent processes for families requesting service animals accompany their children to school, no matter where they live in Ontario. As of January 1, 2020, Ontario school boards are required to implement their service animal policies. This support will help all students be successful.
* Providing organizations and the public with practical tips on how to be more accessible by delivering regular free webinars on various topics, such as accessible transit and creating accessible tourism experiences and customer service in Ontario.
* Improving accessibility as part of broader efforts being made with the federal government and other provinces.
In its role as a service provider, the government is working to provide barrier-free services through initiatives including:
* Better serving transit users and commuters by investing in improvements to the GO transit experience as part of the GO Expansion program. Progress continues at the five remaining GO stations in the Greater Toronto Area that are not yet accessible, including installing ramps and platform elevators as needed.
* Continuing to improve accessibility on trails, beaches and provincial parks in Ontario by adding features like mobility mats to make it easier for everyone to use public spaces.
* Streamlining the Accessible Parking Permit process to reduce misuse while ensuring access by making it easier for people 80 years of age and older, Canadian veterans of any age and certain people with disabilities to apply for an accessible parking permit.
* Investing $1.07 million in 2019-20 to support Abilities Centre in Whitby to advance inclusion and accessibility for people of all ages and abilities. Initiatives include: o researching social inclusion and social enterprise
o developing a pre-employment skills program
o piloting a 12-week pan-disability program for adults with disabilities
o supporting local private and non-profit sector organizations to develop inclusion and accessibility plans
* Improving community agencies across Ontario through the annual Partner Facility Renewal program, which includes an investment totalling $11.5 million that goes towards more than 350 upgrade and repair projects. This program includes an investment of more than $1.6 million for building repairs and upgrades at community agencies across northern Ontario so they can continue providing services to children and families. For example, a new elevator will be installed at Ontario Native Women’s Association, helping to make the building more accessible.
* Continuing to help Ontario residents with long-term mobility disabilities remain in their homes and participate in their communities by funding theHome & Vehicle Modification Program, which is administered by March of Dimes Canada. With an annual investment of $10.6 million, this program reduces safety risks by approving grants up to $15,000 to make basic home and vehicle modifications.
* Addressing barriers in the digital environment to move towards a modern digital approach so that our accessibility resources, reports and publicly available data are easier to access. For example:
o We’re making it easier for people who are blind to use Ontario GeoHub, a website that provides descriptive information about the characteristics, quality and context of Ontario’s geospatial data. For this project, the Ministry of National Resources and Forestry collaborated with the Canadian National Institute of the Blind, which led to helpful adjustments to the site that make it more user friendly for people with disabilities. The ministry will use these learnings to inform how it delivers digital services moving forward.
In its role as an employer and as an organization, the government is working to establish a more inclusive employment culture in the OPS by:
* Supporting OPS employees roughly 12 per cent of which self-identify as having a disability and ministries to meet the requirements of the AODA and embed accessibility into internal activities through the Ontario Public Service Accessibility Office, which serves as an accessibility centre of excellence.
* Addressing systemic barriers and gaps through Deputy Ministers’ committees within the OPS. These groups work on accessibility planning and implementation across government, as well as ensure accessibility is meaningfully reflected in government policies, programs and initiatives. This helps to improve access to government services for the public, which enhances health, employment and social inclusion.
* Using the OPS’ annual Multi-Year Accessibility Plan Report to summarize the OPS’ work to prevent and remove barriers to accessibility. The OPS also works to help foster a culture of inclusion both within the organization and across the province.
* Increasing opportunities for hands-on work experience and training in the OPS for youth with disabilities by expanding eligibility for the Ontario Internship Program. The criteria have recently changed so that students with disabilities that have graduated within the last five years rather than two years can now apply to the year-long program.
* Expanding the professional networks of youth with disabilities by connecting them with mentors across the OPS and broader public sector through Connexions, an annual session that helps post-secondary students and graduates with disabilities prepare for the job market by practicing job-seeking skills.

MEDIA CONTACTS
Matt Gloyd
Communications Branch
647-268-7233
[email protected]




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What Must Be Done to Make Ontario’s Health Care System Fully Accessible to Patients with Disabilities? Check Out the AODA Alliance’s Finalized Framework for the Promised Health Care Accessibility Standard


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

February 25, 2020

SUMMARY

What must be done to make Ontario’s health care system accessible to patients with disabilities and to any patients’ support people with disabilities? What should be included in the Health Care Accessibility Standard that the Ontario Government is now developing under the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act?

Here we unveil our most thorough and comprehensive brief on this topic. Below please find the AODA Alliance’s finalized Framework on what the Health Care Accessibility Standard should include.

We have submitted this new Framework to the Ford Government. We have also submitted it to the Health Care Standards Development Committee. The Government appointed that Committee under the AODA. That Standards Development Committee has the job of developing recommendations on what the Government should include in the promised Health Care Accessibility Standard to make Ontario’s health care system disability-accessible. This Framework sets out what we urge that Standards Development Committee to recommend to the Ford Government.

Last December we made public a draft of this Framework and invited your feedback. We thank all those who sent us feedback. We’ve done our best to use that feedback as we finalized this Framework. This final brief includes everything that was in our December draft. It has added recommendations, drawing on the excellent feedback we received from our supporters.

So what’s next? The Health Care Standards Development Committee is now writing a set of draft recommendations for the Government on what the Health Care Accessibility Standard should include. Later this year, that Committee is expected to make its draft recommendations public, and to invite public feedback on it. After that, the Health Care Standards Development Committee is required to consider that public feedback as it finalizes its recommendations to the Government.

The Health Care Standards Development Committee certainly knows about our efforts on this issue. Last December, we sent our earlier draft of this Framework to that Committee. On January 16, 2020, AODA Alliance Chair David Lepofsky made a 15 minute presentation to the Health Care Standards Development Committee on our recommendations. As noted above, we have now provided this finalized Framework to the Standards Development Committee.

We have asked the Health Care Standards Development Committee to adopt all of our recommendations. At the very least, we have asked that Committee to append this framework to its draft recommendations and to invite public feedback on it.

Once the Health Care Standards Development Committee makes its draft recommendations public for our feedback, we will circulate it to you. We will prepare a submission to the Standards Development Committee, using this Framework as our foundation.

Please share this Framework with people you know who work in the health care system. It would be great if Ontario’s health care system starts taking action on our recommendations now, because they are good ideas!

In addition to this Framework, you may wish to check out the captioned 1-hour talk on barriers in the health care system by AODA Alliance Chair David Lepofsky. For all our efforts in recent years, leading the campaign to get Ontario to enact a much-needed Health Care Accessibility Standard to make the health care system accessible to patients with disabilities, check out the AODA Alliance’s health care page on our website.

A grand total of 390 days have now gone by since the Ford Government received the final report on the AODA’s implementation and enforcement that was prepared by former Lieutenant Governor David Onley. We are still waiting for the Ford Government to come up with an effective plan to implement the Onley Report’s recommendations to strengthen the AODA’s implementation and enforcement.

A Framework for the Health Care Accessibility Standard

February 25, 2020

Proposed by the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance
www.aodaalliance.org [email protected] Twitter: @aodaalliance Facebook: www.facebook.com/aodaalliance/

Introduction — What is This Framework?

The Ontario Government has committed to develop a Health Care Accessibility Standard under the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA). In 2017, the Ontario Government appointed a Health Care Standards Development Committee to make recommendations on what the Health Care Accessibility Standard should include. On March 7, 2019, the Doug Ford Government committed to resume this Committee’s work.

The AODA requires the Ontario Government to lead Ontario to become accessible to people with disabilities by 2025. The Government is required to do so by enacting and effectively enforcing accessibility standards, which are enforceable regulations. Under the AODA, an accessibility standard is required to specifically spell out the barriers that are to be removed or prevented, what specifically must be done to remove or prevent them, and the timelines required for these actions.

In this Framework, the AODA Alliance proposes key ingredients and aims that should be included in the Health Care Accessibility Standard. We hope this will assist the Health Care Standards Development Committee.

The Health Care Accessibility Standard should set detailed requirements for specific actions that health care providers and organizations shall take. It is not sufficient for this accessibility standard to vaguely require health care facilities or providers to simply make plans and policies on accessibility, or to vaguely require obligated organizations to consider or include accessibility features in their health care facilities or services. The details of what this accessibility standard will require are vital to its success.

Some needed actions will have to be taken by each health care facility and/or health care provider. Some will need to be taken by the self-governing bodies that regulate each of the health professions in Ontario. Some of the needed actions will have to be taken by the Ontario Government. The Government funds, centrally plans and oversees Ontario’s health care system.

It is especially pressing to now effectively address disability barriers in Ontario’s health care system. In 2020, Ontario’s health care system is still replete with serious accessibility barriers, even fully 15 years after the AODA was enacted. Too often, it has been designed and operated on the unspoken or unarticulated premise that it is largely if not totally meant for patients without disabilities. Yet disproportionately, those who use and need the health care system are people with disabilities.

We each make the greatest use of health care services towards the end of our lives. Disabilities are far more prevalent among seniors. Disability most often is caused by aging.

Twenty-three years ago, in Eldridge v. British Columbia [1997] 3 SCR 624, the Supreme Court of Canada established the broad principle that patients with disabilities have a constitutional right to accessible health care services in Canada. Yet since then, the Ontario Government has not undertaken a comprehensive effort or strategy to identify the recurring disability barriers in the health care system. It has not implemented a comprehensive plan to remove and prevent those barriers. In the meantime, old barriers remain while new ones keep being created.

Even the very barrier that the Supreme Court ordered provincial governments to fix almost a quarter century ago too often remains in place. In the Eldridge case, the Supreme Court ruled that the Charter of Rights makes provincial governments responsible to ensure the provision of Sign Language interpreter services for deaf patients in hospitals that need them to effectively communicate with health care providers. This is a constitutional right of those patients. Yet in its December 26, 2019 edition, the Hamilton Spectator reported on recent incidents where this vital service was not assured in a Hamilton, Ontario hospital.

Ontario needs a strong, comprehensive and enforceable Health Care Accessibility Standard enacted under the AODA so that patients with disabilities don’t have to fight an endless number of legal cases under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and the Ontario Human Rights Code to tear down these many barriers, one at a time. Health care facilities and providers should not have to each separately re-invent the accessibility wheel, trying to figure out how to address the known and recurring disability barriers in Ontario’s health care system.

In her case, it took Ms. Eldridge up to seven years to win the right to a sign language interpreter in a hospital’s emergency room where she gave birth to twins. A pregnant woman about to give birth in a hospital emergency room cannot be expected to wait seven years for such a needed accessibility service.

Achieving accessibility in Ontario’s health care system should be doable for several compelling reasons. The system receives enormous public funding. Health funding is always a high priority for government after government. There is substantial centralized government planning of the health care system. This issue bears on the lives and health of everyone in Ontario. This is because everyone is bound to eventually get a disability as they age.

Moreover, Ontario’s health care system is undergoing ongoing and substantial reforms and innovation. Every year, new health care facilities are established or built. Change is always in the wind. That makes changes in favour of accessibility easier to implement.

We hope the Health Care Standards Development Committee finds this Framework helpful. We ask the Health Care Standards Development Committee to vote separately on each of these recommendations. In any event, we encourage the Standards Development Committee to attach this Framework to its forthcoming package draft recommendations that it will be required to circulate and post for public comment. That would enable the Health Care Standards Development Committee to get public input on this Framework to guide its development of its final recommendations.

This Framework reflects our years of efforts at gathering input from the grassroots of Ontario’s disability community and consulting experts here and abroad. Last December, we made public a draft of this Framework for public comment. We are indebted to those who read it so carefully and offered suggested improvements. We’ve done our best to incorporate the excellent feedback that we received.

It has taken our substantial multi-year grassroots effort to reach the point of having a Health Care Standards Development Committee appointed and now working on developing recommendations on what the promised Health Care Accessibility Standard should include. Since 2009, the AODA Alliance has led the campaign to get the Ontario Government to develop a Health Care Accessibility Standard. This is documented on our website’s Health Care page. It took the previous Ontario Government up to six years just to decide in 2015 to develop a Health Care Accessibility Standard. It took another two years to get the previous Government to take the first step of appointing this Health Care Standards Development Committee. We then had to fight for up to a year to get the current Government to lift the freeze on the work of the Health Care Standards Development Committee.

The AODA Alliance spearheaded all of these grassroots efforts. At the same time, we have had to campaign against the Ontario Government’s efforts to substantially narrow the range of disability accessibility barriers that the Health Care Standards Development Committee would be free to consider.

In this Framework, the term “health care facility” means any organization that provides any kind of health care service, from a major hospital to a local physician’s office. It includes an organization whose primary purpose is not provision of health care, but which includes a health care service within it. For example, a university may include a health clinic, which, for the purpose of this Framework, is treated as a health care facility. The term “major health care facility” refers to larger health care facilities and centres, not smaller operations like an office for a single physician, dentist or other health care professional.

In this Framework, “health care provider” means anyone who helps provide any kind of health care service, including any health care professional (whether or not their profession is regulated), any support staff or volunteers that assist them and any drug store staff that assist a patient with getting and using medications.

In this Framework, we address barriers in the health care system that can impede patients with disabilities, and/or any patients’ support people (whether family members, friends or others) where the support person or care giver has a disability. Whether or not a patient has a disability, some of their care givers or support people (such as family members) may have disabilities. The disability barriers in the health care system that impede patients with disabilities can also often impede a care giver or support person who has disabilities.

This framework sets out recommendations for actions that the Health Care Accessibility Standard should require. In this Framework, when we state that a health care provider or facility or other organization “should” do something, we mean that the Health Care Accessibility Standard should require this action. We do not propose these actions as guidelines or best practices. “Best practices” or guidelines are not mandatory or enforceable. This Framework proposes actions which need to be mandatory and enforceable.

We acknowledge with thanks the tremendous help provided to us by the ARCH Disability Law Centre and by an amazing team of volunteer law students at the Osgoode Hall Law School who made a huge difference in the preparation of this Framework.

The following are the headings in this 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 of Any Patients’ Support People with Disabilities to Know About Available Health Care Services, about Available Disability-Related Supports and Accommodations, about Important Information Regarding Their Diagnosis and Treatment and about How to Access Them

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

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

7. The Right of Patients with Disabilities and of Any Patients’ 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 to 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 of Any Patients’ Support People with Disabilities to Accessible Information and Communication in Connection with Health Care Services and Products

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

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

14. The Right of Patients with Disabilities and of Any Patients’ 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 and of Any Patients’ Support People 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 with Disabilities and Any Patients’ Support People with Disabilities

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

#1-1. The objective of the Health Care Accessibility Standard should be to ensure that Ontario’s health care system and the services, facilities and products offered in it, become fully accessible to all patients with any kind of disabilities and to any support people with disabilities for any patient, by 2025, the AODA’s deadline, by requiring the removal and prevention of accessibility barriers that impede people with disabilities, and by providing a prompt, accessible, fair, effective and user-friendly process to learn about and seek disability-related accommodations tailored to a person’s individual disability-related needs. It should aim to ensure that patients with disabilities can fully benefit from and be fully included in the health care services and products offered in Ontario’s health care system on a footing of equality. It should aim to eliminate the need for patients with disabilities and any support people with disabilities to have to contend with and fight against health care accessibility barriers, one at a time, and the need for health care providers to have to re-invent the accessibility wheel one health care facility or one health care provider at a time. It should aim for health care services, facilities and products in Ontario to be designed and operated based on accessibility principles of universal design.

This is what the AODA requires this accessibility standard to achieve. This goal also lives up to the Charter of Rights’ and Ontario Human Rights Code’s accessibility requirements. Some incorrectly think that the AODA imposes new requirements for accessibility. In fact, it seeks to get obligated organizations to do what the Ontario Human Rights Code and the Charter of Rights have required them to do for well over three decades.

It would be grossly inadequate for the Health Care Accessibility Standard to set a weaker and less specific goal, e.g. merely to “improve accessibility” in the health care system. It would fulfil that weaker goal to simply remove only one barrier somewhere in Ontario’s huge health care system. It would leave our health care system with far too many accessibility barriers.

2. A Vision of An Accessible Health Care System

To begin, the Health Care Accessibility Standard should set out a vision of what an accessible health care system should include. An accessible health care system should include the following:

#2-1. The health care system will be designed and operated from top to bottom for all its patients, including patients with all kinds of disabilities, as disability is defined in the Ontario Human Rights Code and/or the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The health care system will no longer be designed and operated from an implicit starting point of aiming predominantly to serve the fictional “average” patient, who is too often imagined as having no disabilities.

#2-2. Patients with disabilities, and where needed, any patients’ support people with disabilities will be able to easily find out what health care services are available and how and where to get them.

#2-3. Places where health care services are offered will be reachable by accessible public transit routes and will have sufficient accessible parking immediately adjacent to them.

#2-4. The built environment in the health care system, such as hospitals and any other places where health care services are provided, including the furniture there, will all be fully accessible to people with disabilities, and will be designed based on the principle of universal design.

#2-5. Patients with disabilities will be able to seek, receive and fully benefit from the health care services and products that are available in the health care system and which they require.

#2-6. Health care providers will consistently and reliably know how to meet the needs of patients with disabilities and where needed, any patients’ support people with disabilities, to ensure that patients with disabilities fully benefit from their health care services.

#2-7. Patients with disabilities, and where needed, any patients’ support people with disabilities, will be able to effectively communicate with health care providers and health care staff in connection with requesting or receiving health care services and products throughout each stage of the healthcare process. This will include face-to-face interactions, telephone or alternates to telephone use, accessible information and forms as well as alternate arrangements for providing one’s signature. For example, health care facilities and ambulances will be equipped with needed equipment to ensure effective communication with people with communication-related disabilities.

#2-8. Patients with disabilities, and where needed, any patients’ support persons with disabilities, will have prompt, effective and easy access to user-friendly information in accessible formats and in multiple languages on the health care options, programs, services, supports and accommodations available for their disability, and on the process for seeking these. As well, printed, online and other written information about available health care services, diagnoses, prognosis, treatments, exercises, medications, and other information provided to or available to patients with disabilities and, where needed, any patients’ support people with disabilities in connection with health care services and products, will be readily and easily available in an accessible format. This includes, for example, a patient’s health care records and labels/instructions for prescription drugs.

#2-9. Patients with disabilities, and where needed, any patients’ support people with disabilities will be able to get and receive information relevant to their health care needs in private, e.g. when giving information at a health care provider’s office or when seeking or receiving information about their medication at a pharmacy, rather than in a public place where others can overhear. Effective procedures will protect the confidentiality of private information relating to patients with disabilities who rely on others to assist them with communication.

#2-10. Information technology and applications which patients can use at home, or at a health care facility in connection with seeking and receiving health care services, will be designed based on principals of universal design and will be accessible to and usable by patients with disabilities, and where needed, to any patients’ support people with disabilities. Where needed for effective communication, health care facilities will also provide alternatives to telephone use including email, text, video and authorized human assistance.

#2-11. Health care products, and any instructions for their use, will be designed and available based on principles of universal design so that people with disabilities and not just people with no disability can use and benefit from them.

#2-12. Diagnostic and treatment equipment and furniture will be designed based on principles of universal design and will be fully accessible to patients with disabilities.

#2-13. Support services such as sighted guides for visually impaired patients and attendant care will be available to patients with disabilities who need them while going to or at a facility to receive health care services.

#2-14. Publicly funded appointments for receiving health care services will be sufficiently long to enable a patient with a disability, who needs more time, to be able to receive the health care services they need. If a patient with disabilities cannot attend a health care provider’s premises due to their disability, there will be in place measure whenever possible for remote appointments or home visits.

#2-15. Where patients with disabilities or any patients’ support people with disabilities need a disability-related accommodation in connection with health care services, there will be a prompt, user-friendly process for requesting and obtaining the needed accommodations.

#2-16. Patients will be free to use their own accommodation supports, such as service animals, when seeking or obtaining health care services and products.

#2-17. Where patients with disabilities or where needed, any patients’ support people with disabilities, believe that a health care provider is not effectively meeting the patient’s disability-related needs, they will have access to a prompt, fair, open and arms-length review process, including an offer of a voluntary Alternative Resolution Process if needed, conducted by someone who was not involved in the original decision or activity and who does not oversee the work of those involved in the patient’s health care services.

#2-18. There will be no bureaucratic, procedural or policy barriers that impede the effective accommodation of individual patients with disabilities or, where needed, any patients’ support people with disabilities, at any levels of Ontario’s health care system.

#2-19. New Government strategies, services and facilities in Ontario’s health care system will be proactively designed from the start and operated to fully include the needs of patients with disabilities. Those responsible at the provincial and local levels for leading, overseeing and operating Ontario’s health care system will have strong and specific requirements to address disability accessibility and inclusion in their mandates and will be accountable for their work on this issue. Ontario’s disability community will have ongoing and effective input into public decisions on the design and operation of Ontario’s health care system to ensure that existing disability accessibility barriers are removed and no new ones are created.

#2-20. An accessible health care system is one where people with disabilities can work in a barrier-free workplace. The barriers which impede people with disabilities as patients and their family members and caregivers often also impede health care providers and workers with disabilities.

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

The intent or rationale of the following recommendations is for the Health Care Accessibility Standard to include general requirements across the health care system that will ensure that its specific accessibility requirements are effective.

#3-1. The Health Care Accessibility Standard should address the accessibility needs of patients with any kind of disability, and the accessibility needs of any patients’ support people with any kind of disability. The term “disability” should be defined broadly to include any disability within the meaning of the AODA or the Ontario Human Rights Code.

#3-2. The Health Care Accessibility Standard should cover and apply to all public and private health care programs, services and products available in Ontario, whether or not they are offered in a hospital and whether or not OHIP covers them. It should cover all health care providers and professions, whether or not Ontario recognizes, regulates or licenses them. It should cover every location or facility where health care services can be delivered in Ontario, including e.g. hospitals, long term care facilities, offices and clinics for physicians, dentists, physiotherapists, psychologists, occupational therapists, speech language pathologists, and all other health care professions and providers. It should cover ambulances and other vehicles which can transport patients in connection with health care services. It should cover all parts of Ontario. It should address accessibility barriers that are distinctive to the north, to remote communities, as well as the distinctive barriers facing different racialized, ethnic or other communities within Ontario.

#3-3. The Health Care Accessibility Standard should not be limited to hospitals and the hospital sector. Most people get most health care services outside of hospitals. If the Health Care Accessibility Standard were limited to barriers in hospitals, it would leave out most of the health care system and most of the barriers in the health care system. It would force people with disabilities to go to overcrowded hospitals to get their health care services, since hospitals would be the only place where accessible services would be assured to them.

The fact that the Government’s terms of reference for the Health Care Standards Development Committee focus on the hospital sector does not prevent this Standards Development Committee from making recommendations that go beyond the hospital sector. A number of earlier AODA Standards Development Committees have made recommendations beyond their terms of reference. We ask the Health Care Standards Development Committee to do the same.

Most if not all of the barriers identified in this Framework occur both in hospitals and in other places where health care services and products are provided. At the very least, the Health Care Standards Development Committee should make recommendations about all of these barriers proposed in this Framework as they relate to hospitals, and then should recommend that the Health Care Accessibility Standard require the same action on the same barriers where they occur anywhere else in the health care system where health care services or products are provided to patients.

#3-4. The Health Care Accessibility Standard should cover ambulances and other vehicles that transport patients in connection with the receipt of health care services.

#3-5. The Health Care Accessibility Standard should cover all parts of Ontario. It should address accessibility barriers that are distinctive to the north, to remote communities, as well as the distinctive barriers facing different racialized, ethnic, indigenized or other communities within Ontario.

#3-6. The Health Care Accessibility Standard should require the removal of existing barriers, and not only the prevention of new barriers.

#3-7. If the Health Care Standards Development Committee identifies a recurring accessibility barrier in Ontario’s health care system, it should make recommendations on how to remove or prevent that barrier, even if there is a less effective or comprehensive existing health care regulation or statute that may already apply to it in whole or in part.

The Health Care Accessibility Standard will take precedence and prevail over any other laws, if those other laws either create or permit health care accessibility barriers, or if they do not effectively remedy those barriers, or if they provide less accessibility than the Health Care Accessibility Standard. If an existing law, such as a statute or regulation governing the health care system, creates an accessibility barrier or impedes the removal or prevention of a health care barrier, the Health Care Standards Development Committee should recommend measures to be included in the Health Care Accessibility Standard that would remove or prevent those barriers. It should recommend the modification or repeal of any law that itself creates or permits health care barriers. Any provincial legislation or regulations that create accessibility barriers against patients with disabilities are contrary to the guarantees of equality to people with disabilities in the Ontario Human Rights Code and the Charter of Rights.

#3-8. The Health Care Accessibility Standard should require each health care facility and health care provider to create a welcoming environment for patients with disabilities and any patients’ support people with disabilities to seek accommodations for their disabilities when receiving health care services.

#3-9. Each major health care facility such as each hospital should be required to establish a permanent committee of its board to be called the “Accessibility Committee.” This Accessibility Committee should have responsibility for overseeing the facility’s compliance with the AODA, and with the requirements of the Ontario Human Rights Code and the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms in so far as they guarantee the right of people with disabilities to fully participate in and fully benefit from the health care services that the facility provides. It should endeavour to reflect the spectrum of disability needs.

#3-10. Each major health care facility such as each hospital should be required to establish or designate the position of Chief Accessibility/Accommodation Officer, reporting to the Chief Executive Officer. Their mandate, responsibility and authority should be to ensure proper leadership on the facility’s accessibility and accommodation obligations under the Ontario Human Rights Code, the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and the AODA, including the requirements of this accessibility standard. This responsibility may be assigned to an existing senior management official.

#3-11. Beyond the specific measures to remove and prevent barriers set out in the Health Care Accessibility Standard and in other accessibility standards enacted under the AODA, each health care facility and health care provider should be required to periodically and systematically review its health care services, facilities, equipment and products to identify recurring accessibility barriers that can impede the provision of health care services to patients with disabilities. A comprehensive plan for removing and preventing these accessibility barriers should be developed, implemented and made public with clear timelines, with clear assignment of responsibilities for action, monitoring for progress, and reporting to the facility’s accessibility committee. This plan should aim at all accessibility barriers that can impede patients with disabilities from fully benefiting from the facility’s health care services, whether or not they are specifically identified in the Health Care Accessibility Standard or in any other AODA accessibility standards.

4. The Right of Patients with Disabilities and of Any Patients’ 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 About How to Access Them

Barriers: Patients with disabilities and support people with disabilities too often find it difficult to get accessible information to find out from their health care facility from their health care provider, from the health care system at large and/or from the Ontario Government about the health care services that are available, or about where and how to get them.

The intent/rationale of the following recommendations is to ensure that patients with disabilities and any patients’ support people with disabilities can find out what health care services are available to them and where to obtain them.

#4-1. Each health care provider or facility should be required to make readily available, in an accessible format, information about the health care services or products they offer and about where and how to arrange to get them. If the health care provider or facility has a website, this information should be accessibly posted prominently on that facility or provider’s website in plain language. Where communication supports or assistance is needed to access this information, those supports should be made available (See below regarding communication supports).

#4-2. The Ontario Government or any provincial organization mandated to oversee or deliver health care services should be required to make readily available to the public in accessible formats, including on the internet, detailed information on the menu of health care services available in Ontario, and on how and where to arrange to get those services.

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

Barriers: Obstacles that impede people with disabilities from physically getting to places where they need to go to receive health care services and products, include, such things as:

a) The many public transit barriers that the Transportation Accessibility Standard has not removed or prevented. This results in such things as health care facilities and providers that are not on an accessible public transit route, and restrictions on para-transit services being able to cross over municipal boundaries to get to them. The Transportation Standards Development Committee’s spring 2018 final report to the Ontario Government left out many important revisions needed to the 2011 Transportation Accessibility Standard (part of the 2011 Integrated Accessibility Standards Regulation), that were identified in the July 31, 2017 joint brief by the AODA Alliance and the ARCH Disability Law Centre.

b) Health care funding conditions that require that a patient must attend a physician’s office to receive health care services can impede access to health care services for whose disability prevents them from travelling to that office.

c) “One issue per visit” policies in physicians’ offices can prevent those with multiple disabilities, or disabilities plus illness/ailment from receiving adequate treatment. This discourages them from seeking treatment.

d) The new ‘mega hospitals’ that replace smaller, older hospitals create transportation barriers for those who live in rural areas. They also create access barriers for people with lung disease or fatiguing conditions who must walk long distances from the parking lot to the entrance and through the building to get to elevators.

e) Limited accessible parking lots and spaces near hospitals i.e. which cannot accommodate modified vans with raised roof or side lift for wheelchair.

f) When a para-transit service fails to show up on time, a patient can arrive late to a doctor’s office, and have the doctor’s office impose a financial penalty for supposedly missing the appointment.

g) Reductions or elimination of funding for house visits by a health care provider preclude the possibility of home visits for patients who are physically incapable of going to the health care provider’s office or facility to get treatment. For 2019 provincial cuts to OHIP coverage for a physician’s house visit to a patient, see http://www.health.gov.on.ca/en/pro/programs/ohip/bulletins/11000/bul11214.aspx

The intent/rationale of the following recommendations is to ensure that patients with disabilities and any patients’ support persons with disabilities can get to the places where health care services and products are provided.

We ask the Health Care Standards Development Committee to make the following recommendations. These could be incorporated either or both into the promised Health Care Accessibility Standard or into the Transportation Accessibility Standard, to address those transportation barriers in the health care context. In 2011, the Ontario Government enacted the Transportation Accessibility Standard, as part of the 2011 Integrated Accessibility Standards Regulation.

In 2016, the Ontario Government appointed the Transportation Standards Development Committee to review the 2011 Transportation Accessibility Standard and to make recommendations where needed, to strengthen it. In 2018, the Transportation Standards Development Committee made very weak recommendations for revisions to the 2011 Transportation Accessibility Standard. The Transportation Standards Development Committee did not recommend many if not most of the improvements that the AODA Alliance and the ARCH Disability Law Centre called for, in their joint July 31, 2017 brief to the Transportation Standards Development Committee. In over two years since then, the Ontario Government has announced no plans to implement any improvements to strengthen the 2011 Transportation Accessibility Standard.

The Transportation Standards Development Committee’s 2018 recommendations to revise the 2011 Transportation Accessibility Standard, if adopted, would not fix any of the deficiencies in the 2011 Transportation Accessibility Standard. Since receiving the final recommendation of the Transportation Standards Development Committee over one and a half years ago, the Ontario Government has not announced any revisions to the 2011 AODA Transportation Accessibility Standard. It is therefore still open to the Ontario Government to make improvements under the AODA to the 2011 Transportation Accessibility Standard beyond the weak ones that the Transportation Standards Development Committee recommended in 2018.

#5-1. Wherever possible, any new health care facility or provider receiving public funds that is setting up a new location should be required to locate at or near an accessible public transit stop on an accessible public transit route, with an accessible path of travel from the public transit stop to the health care facility or provider. Similarly, where an existing health care facility or provider is going to move to another location, it should be required to attempt to relocate to a location that is on an accessible public transit route.

#5-2. Where it is medically possible for a patient to take part in a health care service without physically attending at the health care facility or provider, an option should be provided for taking part remotely, e.g. via Facetime or other remote video conferencing. The Health Care Accessibility Standard should also require the removal of the OHIP barrier to funded physicians house calls.

#5-3. Where OHIP or a health care facility or provider has a policy or practice of permitting only one health issue per visit, an exception should be created for patients with disabilities for whom transportation to the health care facility is impeded by accessibility barriers.

#5-4. A health care facility or provider should not be permitted to charge a late fee or a missed appointment fee where a patient with a disability has in good faith attempted to attend on time but was made late or precluded from attending by transportation barriers (such as being made late for the appointment by the community’s para-transit service).

#5-5. When the Ontario Government is undertaking planning for new health care services, or for improvements to health care services, it should be required to include in those plans, and to make public, requirements to ensure that wherever possible, health care services and facilities are provided in locations on accessible public transit routes, with an accessible path of travel from the accessible public transit stop to the facility or provider.

#5-6. The 2011 Transportation Accessibility Standard should be amended to set accessibility requirements for public transit stations and stops, as the joint July 31, 2017 AODA Alliance/ARCH brief to the Transportation Standards Development Committee recommended.

#5-7. The Health Care Accessibility Standard should set technical specifications to ensure the full accessibility of ambulances and other vehicles that transport patients, including patients with disabilities, to or from health care services. See also below re: the need to include in those vehicles equipment for communication with patients with communication-related disabilities.

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

Barriers: Barriers in the built environment where health care services are provided that impede people with disabilities from getting into places where health care services and products are offered, or from safely and independently getting around these places, such as:

a) Older hospitals and other facilities where health care services are provided that lack obvious and basic accessibility features like ramps, accessibility features in washrooms like transfer spaces at toilets, grab bars, accessible signage to departments or elevators, etc.

b) New hospitals, such as Toronto’s Women’s College Hospital, that have obvious accessibility problems despite being opened eleven years after the AODA was passed.

c) Parking facilities with automated parking payment kiosks that are inaccessible to wheelchair users.

d) Health care facilities with inaccessible doors to the check-in/waiting areas.

e) Health care facilities including reception areas that use print signs to communicate important information or directions to patients and which offer no accessible means for people with vision loss or dyslexia to obtain this information, e.g. dim signage lighting making it hard to read the sign for people with low vision, signage that does not use plain language for those with intellectual or cognitive disabilities.

f) Facilities where health care services are provided that are obstacle courses, e.g. with chairs, tables, signs or other obstacles blocking parts of hallways or other paths of travel.

g) Diagnostic, isolation, consultation, waiting and/or treatment rooms that are too small to accommodate wheelchairs or other mobility devices or support people or service animals.

h) Reception desks behind windows with “speakers”, making it hard to communicate for those with hearing loss, and which are placed too high for those in wheelchairs or those having smaller stature. These also can cause privacy issues.

i) Reception desks, where access to them is blocked, or where knee space is blocked, preventing face to face access.

j) Doorways within a health care facility that are too tight to allow a wheelchair or other mobility device to pass through.

k) Elevators lacking audio floor announcements and elevator buttons that lack braille and colour-contrasted large print for use by persons with vision loss.

l) The absence of way-finding guidance such as tactile floor strips or signage to direct people with vision loss or cognitive or intellectual disabilities through a health care facility, e.g. through large open areas like hospital lobbies.

m) Health care facilities that have fragrances or other substances affecting those with environmental sensitivities.

n) Equipment e.g. commode, alternating mattresses, nurse call switches, etc., that are not accessible for use by a person with a motor disability.

o) Children’s play areas in a health care facility that lack furniture that accommodates children using a mobility device like a wheelchair.

The Ontario Building Code and current AODA accessibility standards are substantially inadequate to meet the need for fully accessible facilities where health care services are provided. A new building in which health care services are provided, that is fully compliant with the Ontario Building Code and current AODA accessibility standards, can still have serious accessibility barriers. See generally https://www.aodaalliance.org/category/built-environment/

As such, the promised Health Care Standards Development Committee needs to set built environment accessibility standard requirements to address existing barriers, and to prevent the creation of new barriers, in places where health care services and products are provided to patients. As far as we can tell, the Ontario Government has in place no mandatory accessibility standard, required for the design of a new health care facility such as a hospital or long-term care facility, beyond the inadequate Ontario Building Code, to ensure that it is fully accessible. Similarly, the Government has no such accessibility standard, beyond the inadequate Ontario Building Code, for retrofitting an existing health care facility which is undergoing a major renovation. As well, the Government has in place no detailed accessibility standard whatsoever for a health facility to be retrofitted for accessibility, if that facility has no major renovation underway.

The Ontario Government has announced no plan to develop a comprehensive Built Environment Accessibility Standard under the AODA. Yet the Ontario Human Rights Code, and in some cases, the Charter of Rights, require these facilities to become disability-accessible.

As a result, each time a new hospital or other health care facility is built, or a renovation to one is undertaken, the organization needs to individually hire consultants to reinvent the accessibility wheel. Their advice need not be followed, or even disclosed to the public. This wastes public money. It leads to patchworks of varying levels of accessibility from organization to organization.

The 2019 final report of David Onley’s Independent Review of the AODA concluded that Ontario’s laws on the accessibility of the built environment are inadequate and that design professionals such as architects are not trained to ensure that they design buildings that everyone can access. However, the Ontario Government has announced no plans to upgrade the Ontario Building Code ‘s accessibility provisions, or to enact an AODA Built Environment Accessibility Standard, despite our repeated requests.

The Health Care Standards Development Committee should get direct input for technical requirements on these issues from qualified accessibility consultants, preferably ones who have experience giving advice regarding the accessibility of health care facilities.

The intent/rationale of the following recommendations is to ensure that patients and their support people with disabilities can get into and around facilities or other built environment where health care services and products are provided. The following lists examples of needed requirements but is not exhaustive.

#6-1. The Health Care Accessibility Standard should set specific and detailed accessibility requirements to ensure the accessibility of the built environment where health care services and products are provided, beyond the weak Ontario Building Code and the existing AODA accessibility standards. These should include accessibility requirements in new construction and major renovations. These should also include readily achievable retrofit requirements for existing facilities that are not undergoing a major renovation. Here is a sample of requirements for which detailed standards should be set:

#6-2. The front area or drop-off areas for a hospital or other health care facility should be accessible, with automatic power doors that do not require a button to be found and pressed, and with tactile walking surface indicators both to warn when a person is walking into a driving area and to guide a person to the facility’s entrance. All other entrances and exits should be fully accessible, with automatic power door operators and an accessible path of travel to the door. This includes entrances from indoor or underground parking to the health care facility.

#6-3. Inside the health care facility, major public areas such as emergency room doors should always be fully accessible and have automatic power door openers.

#6-4. For the benefit of patients and others with learning and cognitive disabilities, vision loss or other disabilities that can affect mobility or way-finding, hospitals and other health care facilities should have way-finding markings in important areas such as the main lobby from the front door to the help desk and other major routes such as to main elevators, including colour contrasted markings such as a carpeted path or tactile walking surface indicators.

#6-5. Hospitals and other health care facilities with elevators should have accessible elevators that can accommodate people using mobility devices. They should also have accessible elevator buttons (with braille and large print on or beside each button), braille and large print floor numbers just outside elevator doors, and audible floor announcements on elevators. Elevator button panels should be consistent in layout from one elevator to the next.

#6-6. Health care facilities, including hospitals, should never install “destination elevators” which require a person to pre-select the floor to which they are going before entering the elevators. These present unfixable accessibility problems.

#6-7. Hospitals and other health care facilities should have accessible signage throughout, including braille and large print, for key locations. For example, public bathrooms should have accessible braille and large print signs on them. These signs should be placed in consistent and predictable locations.

#6-8. Where a health care facility has power doors that require a button to be pushed (i.e. they don’t open automatically), the button should always be located throughout the health care facility in a consistent place to make it easier to find. The button should be located near the door, so that a slow-moving individual can make it through the open door after pressing the button before the door closes. The button should always be located on the wall, and not on a free-standing post or bollard.

#6-9. Despite weaker requirements in other AODA accessibility standards, the Health Care Accessibility Standard should set out specific and strong requirements for the accessibility of any electronic kiosks in hospitals and other health care facilities, such as:

a) specifying their required end-user functionality that effectively address recurring known needs arising from specific disabilities, and,

b) ensuring that they are at an accessible height e.g. for those using a wheelchair or other mobility device.

As a starting point, see the US Access Board’s standard for accessible electronic kiosks.

#6-10. Patient consultation or treatment rooms should have enough space to enable people using mobility devices to navigate in them and reach any treatment or consultation area. They should have enough space to enable a Sign Language interpreter to be positioned in the room to interpret for a deaf patient or support person.

#6-11. Movable furniture such as desks, tables or chairs should not obstruct accessible paths of travel around a facility where health care services are delivered, such as a doctor’s office, e.g. in their hallways or treatment rooms.

#6-12. Major health care facilities should provide accessible waiting areas for accessible transit pickup and drop-off, close to the pickup/drop-off point, with clear sight lines.

#6-13. Major health care facilities such as hospitals should be designed to avoid major sensory overstimulation or acoustic overloads, such as bright lights, loud music, large atrium areas, or frequent loud announcements. This is especially important in treatment areas or hospital rooms.

#6-14. Throughout a health care facility, proper colour contrasting should be required to assist people with low vision and cognitive disabilities, such as around elevator opening, doorways, and on the edge of stairs and handrails.

#6-15. Health care facilities should be required to have accessible bathrooms so that all patients can use the facilities, including adult change tables, sufficient transfer space and maneuvering room for mobility devices.

#6-16. Major health care facilities should include sensory rooms for people with sensory overload issues, such as in hospital emergency rooms.

#6-17. In a health care facility, all stairs and staircases, including “feature staircases” (included as aesthetic design enhancements) should be accessible, e.g. with tactile warnings at the top and bottom of each set of stairs, no open risers and with proper colour contrast on railings and step edges. There should never be curving staircases.

#6-18. Health care facilities should provide charging areas for electric mobility devices.

#6-19. Hospital rooms should be able to accommodate a patient’s mobility device so they can keep theirs with them and readily available when admitted to hospital.

#6-20. In a health care facility, waiting areas, isolation areas, breastfeeding rooms, staff areas and volunteer areas should be designed to be accessible.

#6-21. Accessible and bariatric paths of travel should be provided in health care facilities.

#6-22. Despite the more limited provisions regarding the provision of accessible parking spaces in other AODA accessibility standards, the Health Care Accessibility Standard should set higher and more specific requirements for accessible parking spaces for health care facilities, such as:

a) requiring a greater number of accessible parking spots for the facility, where possible.

b) requiring that the accessible parking spots be located as close as possible to the doors of the health care facility.

c) requiring that at least some of the accessible parking spots have larger dimensions to accommodate larger accessible vans, so that a passenger with a disability can park in that spot and have sufficient room to exit the vehicle, and

d) requiring that there be accessible curb cuts and an accessible path of travel from the accessible parking spots to the health care facilities’ entrances.

#6-23. Health Care facilities should have designated snow-piling areas outside, to prevent snow from being shoveled onto accessible paths of travel.

#6-24. Major health care facilities such as hospitals should provide service animal relief areas close to the facility’s door, covered wherever possible, with an accessible path of travel to them.

#6-25. When a major new health care facility like a hospital is being designed, or a major new wing or renovation is being planned, especially if public money is helping fund it, a properly trained and qualified accessibility consultant should be required to be engaged on the project from the very beginning. Their accessible design advice should be transmitted unedited to the Government or other organization for whom the project is being built and should be made public. Direct consultation with end-users with disabilities should be part of the design process from the beginning.

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

Barrier: Furniture, related equipment and floor plan layouts in health care facilities too often were chosen or designed without taking into account the accessibility needs of patients with disabilities and any patients’ support people with disabilities.

The intent/rationale of the following recommendations is to ensure that health care facilities create barrier-free spaces for patients and support people with disabilities. The following list of examples of needed requirements is not exhaustive.

#7-1. Each hospital patient’s bed should have an accessible means for a patient with disabilities to notify the nursing station of a health care need, not just a button or pull-string that they may not be able to reach and operate.

#7-2. Furniture such as seating in health care facilities should be designed with accessibility features and positioned in a manner that does not block accessible paths of travel.

#7-3. A Help Desk should be positioned immediately inside the main entrance of any major health care facility, including hospitals, to assist patients, including patients with disabilities, to get directions or help to their destination within the facility, or to request other accommodation supports.

#7-4. In any discrete department or area where health care services are provided, (such as an area for day surgery), the check-in desk should be located immediately adjacent to the entrance to that area, so that patients and support people with disabilities can easily reach it after entering the room or area.

#7-5. Accessible public service counters should be installed, even in existing health care facilities, with a specified height requirement, no glass barrier creating barriers for people with hearing loss and knee space for people using a mobility device.

#7-6. A large health care facility like a hospital should have rest areas along routes through the building so that people with fatiguing conditions can stop and rest along their route to get health care services.

#7-7. Health care facilities such as hospitals should have emergency areas of refuge with separate ventilation in case of fire, so that people with disabilities who cannot escape the building have safe areas to wait, while being protected from life-threatening smoke.

#7-8. The Ontario Government should make available to health care facilities and providers:

a) guides on accessible procurement including procurement of accessible furniture

b) lists of venders of accessible furniture

#7-9. The Ontario Government should provide a hub for procuring accessible furniture to help health care facilities and providers reduce the cost of their acquisition.

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

Barrier: Health care providers, and especially large facilities, too often do not provide an easy-to-access way for a patient with disabilities or for any patients’ support people to notify the health care provider of their need for a disability accommodation or accessibility, so that these can be provided in a timely fashion.

The intent/rationale of the following recommendations is to ensure that patients with disabilities and their support people can easily alert a health care facility or provider, in advance, of any disability-related accessibility or accommodation needs, and can arrange to have these met in connection with their receiving health care services and products.

#8-1. Each health care provider and facility should be required to put in place a system and designate a person to solicit and receive requests from patients or their support people for disability accommodations in connection with health care services or products.

#8-2. Each health care provider or facility should be required to make readily-available to the public, including to their patients, in an accessible format, information about how to identify themselves in advance to the health care provider as having disability-related accessibility or accommodation needs, and to ask to arrange for these needs to be met.

#8-3. Each hospital and larger health care facility should be required to collect anonymized information on disability-related accessibility and accommodation requests received from or on behalf of patients with disabilities, to assist that health care provider or facility in planning for future disability accessibility and accommodation. This anonymized information should be available for study by the Government or other health policy planners.

#8-4. The Chief Executive Officer of any hospital or large health care facility should annually review the information that the facility has collected on the requests for disability accessibility and accommodation that the facility has received and report to the board of directors on measures that could improve the facility’s capacity to meet these needs.

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

Barrier: Too often, diagnostic and treatment equipment used by health care facilities or health care providers are not designed based on principles of universal design. Too often they are instead designed without sufficient regard to the needs of patients with disabilities.

The intent/rationale of the following recommendations is to systematically replace inaccessible diagnostic and treatment equipment over time with accessible equipment, while maximizing patient access to accessible equipment in the meantime.

#9-1. The Health Care Accessibility Standard should set specific technical requirements for the accessibility of diagnostic and treatment equipment. As a starting point, the Health Care Standards Development Committee should consider the accessible medical diagnostic equipment standards that the US Access Board has formulated. The needs of patients with all kinds of disabilities, and not only those with mobility disabilities, should be met by the technical requirements that the Health Care Accessibility Standard sets.

#9-2. The Ontario Government should impose a strict funding condition on the purchase or rental of any new health care diagnostic or treatment equipment anywhere in the health care system requiring that it must be accessible to patients with disabilities and designed based on principles of universal design, in compliance with the technical standards to be included in the Health Care Accessibility Standard.

#9-3. The Ontario Government should be required to make readily available to health care providers and facilities, and to the public, an up-to-date list of accessible health care diagnostic and treatment equipment and venders, so that each health care provider and facility does not have to re-invent the wheel by re-investigating these same issues.

#9-4. To save money, the Ontario Government should be required to attempt to negotiate bulk purchasing of accessible diagnostic and treatment equipment so that health care facilities and providers can obtain them at lower prices.

#9-5. When health care facilities and providers purchase, rent or otherwise acquire new or replacement diagnostic or treatment equipment, these should be required to be accessible to patients with disabilities and to be designed based on principles of universal design.

#9-6. Health care facilities and providers should survey their existing diagnostic or treatment equipment, and take the following steps to address any accessibility problems they have, if that equipment is not now being replaced:

a) Identify where the nearest place is where a patient can get diagnosis or treatment services where there is accessible diagnostic and treatment equipment, and to help facilitate the access of the patient with disabilities to health care services from that provider or facility.

b) Adopt and implement an interim plan to make any readily achievable accessibility improvements to the health care facility’s or provider’s existing diagnostic or treatment equipment.

c) Develop plans to purchase, rent or otherwise acquire accessible diagnostic or treatment equipment over a period of up to five years.

#9-7. These accessibility/universal design requirements should also apply to consumer health care products, such as for example, pill bottles.

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

Barrier: Too often, patients with disabilities are not assured a chance to give and receive information regarding their health care needs in private, when dealing with health care providers or facilities. This can include e.g. having a health professional’s assistant assist a patient with disabilities to fill out a printed medical history form in the office’s open reception area rather than in private. Another common example is a pharmacy giving private information about medications to a patient over the counter in a pharmacy, where others can easily overhear this.

The intent/rationale of the following recommendations is to ensure that the privacy of patients with disabilities is fully respected in connection with health care services.

#10-1. Any health care facility or provider, including such places as doctors’ offices and pharmacies, should be required to designate an accessible private area where patients with disabilities can give and receive private information in connection with their health care services or products without others being able to overhear this.

#10-2. Health care facilities and providers should be required to notify all patients, including patients with disabilities, of their right to have their health care needs and issues discussed and information exchanged in a private location, and should instruct their staff, including any who deal with patients or the public, of their duty to fully respect this right.

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

Barrier: Too often, critical health care information in the health care system is provided in inaccessible formats, or via inaccessible websites or other technology, or without the communication supports that people with communication-related disabilities need.

The 2011 Information and Communication Accessibility Standard, enacted as part of the 2011 Integrated Accessibility Standards Regulation, has not ensured that these barriers to health care-related information are removed and prevented. The July 24, 2019 draft recommendations of the Information and Communication Standards Development Committee, while helpful, would not fully address all the concerns identified here. See further the AODA Alliance’s November 26, 2019 brief to the Information and Communication Standards Development Committee.

The intent/rationale of the following recommendations is to ensure that patients with disabilities and their support people with disabilities can effectively communicate with health care providers in connection with receiving health care services and products and will get accessible information needed for that purpose.

Beyond the following recommendations, we strongly encourage the Health Care Standards Development Committee to get input on detailed requirements to include regarding accessible information and communication in connection with health care from Communication Disabilities Access Canada. CDAC is a widely respected and leading national expert in this area.

#11-1. Without limiting the information and communications to which this part of the Health Care Accessibility Standard should apply, it should address:

a) Information or communications needed to provide a health care provider with the patient’s history, needs, symptoms or other health problems.

b) Information and communications regarding the patient’s diagnosis, prognosis or treatment, including any risks, follow-up or other health care services to secure.

c) A health care facility’s discharge instructions.

#11-2. Health Care facilities should be equipped with assistive listening devices to enable patients with hearing loss and support people with hearing loss to be able to effectively communicate e.g. at nursing stations, help desks, and when dealing directly with health care providers.

#11-3. Health care-related products such as prescription and non-prescription medications should be provided when needed with accessible labels, instructions or users’ manuals, available in accessible formats. Those who sell or rent these to the public should be required to regularly notify the public, including their customers, that accessible labels, instructions, and users’ manuals are available on request. See e.g. work on developing standards and practices for accessible prescription drug container labels by the US Access Board. See also the February 6, 2020 news release announcing that the Empire chain of stores, including all Sobeys Stores, will provide accessible prescription labels to customers with disabilities free of charge on request. If they can, so can all other drug stores.

#11-4. Where a health care facility or health care provider provides information about their services or facilities in print or via the internet, they should be required to ensure that their website meets current international accessibility requirements along prompt time lines, even if the Information and Communication Accessibility Standard does not now require this. Currently, the Information and Communication Accessibility Information and Communication Accessibility Standard has too many exemptions, leaves out too many providers of goods and services, and has timelines that are too long. Whether or not those exemptions, exclusions and long timelines are justified for other sectors, they are unjustified for a sector as important as the health care sector.

#11-5. Ambulances and other vehicles that transport patients should include equipment to facilitate communication with patients with communication disabilities, such as remotely-accessed sign language interpretation and other communication supports.

#11-6. The Health Care Accessibility Standard should set more specific and detailed requirements than the Information and Communication Accessibility Standard, to require hospitals, other health care facilities and other health care providers to ensure that patients with communication-related disabilities get the communication supports they need in a timely fashion to ensure that they can effectively communicate with their health care provider in connection with their health care services and products.

#11-7. The Ontario Government should be required to set up hubs or centralized services to enable health care facilities and providers, including small providers, to quickly and easily access communication supports needed for patients with communication-related disabilities (for example Sign Language interpreters and real time captioning). The Ontario Government should fund these services as part of its funding of the health care system, in furtherance of the Supreme Court of Canada’s Eldridge decision.

#11-8. Any prepared information on health care conditions, treatment instructions, prognoses, risks, laboratory or other test results and the like which a health care facility or provider makes available to patients, whether in print or electronic form, should be made available at the same time on request in an accessible format. The standard should direct that PDF format is not sufficient to be accessible, and that if information is available in a PDF document, it should also be posted in an accessible format such as HTML or MS Word. Health care facilities and providers should be required to notify patients, including patients and their support people with disabilities, that any hard copy or electronic documents provided to them can be requested and obtained in an accessible format on request.

#11-9. Where a health care facility or provider asks patients or their support people to use information technology hardware or software in connection with the delivery of health care services (such as asking them to fill out their medical history on a portable computer or tablet device), the facility or provider shall:

a) In the case of new or updated information technology or equipment to be acquired, ensure that it is accessible to people with disabilities and is designed based on principles of universal design;

b) In the case of existing information technology now being used, retrofit to be accessible except where this would pose an undue hardship and,

c) As an alternative, ensure that patients with disabilities or their support people with disabilities are assisted to use that technology, in private, at the same time as others would use it, where this would not reduce their access to the health care services to which it pertains.

#11-10. Because Ontario’s system for electronic health care records has been centrally created, the Health Care Accessibility Standard should require the Ontario Government and any provincial agency that is responsible for overseeing the design, procurement or operation of the system for electronic health care records in Ontario to ensure that these records will be kept and available in accessible formats for patients and support people with disabilities, and, as a related benefit, to health care providers and their staff with disabilities. The same requirement as above should apply regarding the use of PDF format.

#11-11. Individual health care organizations or facilities, including laboratories, that create their own health care records in electronic form should also be required to ensure that they are readily available in accessible formats for patients with disabilities and any patients’ support people with disabilities, and, as a side benefit, for health care providers and their staff with disabilities.

#11-12. The Ontario Government should be required to develop and make public a strategy for ensuring that health care promotion initiatives in Ontario are accessible to people with disabilities. For example, it should require that:

a) All advertisements for health care promotion should have captioning and audio description.

b) All mail-out, printed and online materials focusing on health promotion should be required to be in accessible formats, regardless of any exemptions in the Information and Communication Accessibility Standard.

Barrier: Healthcare providers:

a) may not recognize a patient who has an invisible communication disability;

b) may not know how to communicate with a patient if the patient uses ways other than speech to communicate;

c) may overestimate or underestimate a patient’s comprehension and ability to give informed consent;

d) may erroneously assume the patient’s incapacity based on their communication disability;

e) may not know how and/or when to provide communication accommodations and supports for effective communication.

The intent/rationale of the following recommendations is to ensure that patients who have disabilities that affect their communication have timely accommodations and supports for their effective two-way communication at all times with healthcare providers and throughout the healthcare process.

#11-13. The Healthcare Accessibility Standards should require:
a) Intake procedures that identify, document and share a patient’s communication profile with their healthcare team. For example, the patient’s preferred communication method, home language and authorized communication assistant.

b) Procedures to ensure privacy and confidentiality of information if third parties are present to assist with communication.

c) Provision of required communication accommodations and supports. Accommodations include items that patients need to communicate, such as pen, paper, boogie board, picture, letter board and communication devices. Supports include strategies that healthcare providers can use to facilitate communication with a patient as well as assistance from people who know the patient well, a sign language interpreter, a language translator, a speech language pathologist.

d) Engagement when needed of Speech-Language Pathology services to provide appropriate accommodations and supports, in situations where a patient has no means to communicate or to ensure authenticity of communication in high stake consent situations.

e) Access to generic, commercial picture/word displays for emergency, ICU and inpatient use.

#11-14. To facilitate the provision of these communication supports and accommodations to patients with communication disabilities and to reduce or eliminate wasteful duplication of efforts, the Ontario Government should be required to:

a) Ensure in any education program for health care providers or professionals (including first responders and emergency care staff), training on core competencies on communicating with patients who may have unclear speech, reduced comprehension of spoken language or who may use sign language, writing, picture, letter boards, communication devices and/or someone else to assist a patient with communication.

b) Establish and fund a central hub for rapid provision of communication supports referred to here, which health care facilities and providers can use.

c) Create, widely distribute and publicize readily available and easy-to-use kits and guides for health care facilities and providers, including first responders, on how to arrange for effective communication with a patient with communication disabilities.

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

Barrier: Too often, health care facilities can lack the essential support services that patients with disabilities need to be able to access the health care services that the facility offers. Examples include hospital patients with disabilities who need help with eating, patients who need attendant care, or patients with vision loss who need to be guided to and from their destinations within a health care facility.

The intent/rationale of the following recommendations is to ensure that patients with disabilities get the support services they need to be able to make use of and fully benefit from the health care services and facilities that are offered to the public in Ontario’s health care system.

#12-1. Hospitals and other major health care facilities should be required to provide support services for patients with disabilities when needed to ensure that those patients can fully access and benefit from the health care services that the facility offers, such as:

a) Attendant care.

b) Assistance with meals.

c) Assistance being guided to and getting around the health care facility e.g. for patients with vision loss or cognitive disabilities.

#12-2. In a hospital or other major health care facility, there should be one nurse at each nursing station designated to receive training and to be responsible for addressing the needs of patients with complex needs due to their disability.

#12-3. No health care facility or provider will refuse to allow a patient with disabilities or any patients’ support people with disabilities to use their own needed accommodations, such as a service animal, when seeking or obtaining health care services or products.

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

Barrier: Too often, front-line workers in Ontario’s health care system including professional health care providers and their staff and volunteers have knowledge and attitude gaps regarding patients with disabilities that create barriers to equal services, due to the lack of sufficient training on this.

The intent/rationale of the following recommendations is to ensure that those who work directly with patients with disabilities and with any patients’ support people with disabilities have proper training on how to meet the needs of people with disabilities so that people with disabilities are freed from stereotypes, patronization and paternalism.

#13-1. Each of the self-governing colleges that regulates a health care profession in Ontario should set detailed requirements for specific and sufficient training that must be obtained before a person can qualify to get a license to practice in Ontario in that profession, such as for physicians, nurses, dentists, etc. For those who already have a license to practice, those colleges should be required to set mandatory specific training to be obtained in this area, with time lines for doing so, as part of their licensees’ continuing professional development requirements. This training should include requirements for the health care professional to train their staff who interact with patients and the public.

#13-2. The Ontario Government should be required to impose a condition of its funding for post-secondary education programs to train anyone in a health care discipline, profession or field that the college or university must include a sufficient designated and mandatory curriculum on meeting the needs of patients with disabilities.

#13-3. The training requirements under the 2011 Integrated Accessibility Standards Regulation should be revised to provide that the training for any employees or volunteers in an organization of any size that provides any health care services or products must include training specific to the barriers facing patients with disabilities and any patients’ support people with disabilities in the health care system.

14. The Right of Patients with Disabilities and of Any Patients’ 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

Barrier: The self-governing colleges that govern some 26 kinds of health care professionals in Ontario are not assured to have in place sufficient ways to ensure that their members are providing accessible health care services to patients with disabilities.

The intent/rationale of the following recommendations is to ensure that health care professionals’ self-governing colleges effectively oversee the profession that they govern to ensure that they are providing accessible services to patients with disabilities, and have a fully accessible complaint process for the public to use.

#14-1. Each health care profession’s self-governing college should be required to:

a) Review its public complaints process to identify any barriers at any stage in that process that could adversely affect people with disabilities filing a complaint, or about whom a complaint is filed.

b) Develop a plan for removing and preventing any accessibility barriers identified whether or not those barriers are specified in any current AODA accessibility standards.

c) Publicly report to its governing board of directors and the public on these barriers and the college’s plans to remove and prevent such barriers, in order to achieve a barrier-free complaints process.

d) Establish and maintain a standing committee of its governing board of directors responsible for the accessibility of the services that the college offers the public, including, but not limited to its public complaints process.

e) Regularly consult with the public, including people with disabilities, on barriers that people with disabilities experience when seeking the services of the health care professionals that that profession regulates, to be shared with the board’s Accessibility Committee.

f) As provided in Recommendation #13-1 above, set specific curriculum requirements that a person must complete on providing accessible services to patients with disabilities, in order to qualify to get a license to practice in the profession they regulate.

g) As required by Recommendation #13-1 above, for those already licensed to practice in the profession they regulate, set continuing professional development training requirements on providing accessible services to patients with disabilities that a licensed professional must complete.

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

Barrier: Too often, the Ontario Government and individual health care facilities go about their business planning for and operating Ontario’s health care system without taking into account the needs of patients with disabilities. This results in systemic barriers being left in place and new ones being created.

The intent/rationale of the following recommendations is to ensure that each health care facility and the Ontario Government effectively take into account the needs of patients with disabilities when designing and planning for Ontario’s health care system and when operating it on a day-to-day basis, and have safeguards in place to catch recurring accessibility gaps. The Supreme Court’s Eldridge decision requires the Government to do this.

#15-1. The Ministry of Health should be required to designate a senior official at the “Assistant Deputy Minister” level as the leading public official who is responsible for ensuring accessibility, accommodation and inclusion for patients with disabilities in Ontario’s health care system. They should be responsible for ensuring that any policies, plans or proposals regarding the health care system are screened to ensure that they will not create any new barriers for patients with disabilities, and will instead remove barriers.

#15-2. The Ministry of Health should be required to conduct a system-wide review of the health care system for any systemic barriers, in consultation with the public including people with disabilities. It should identify and make public a plan to remove and prevent systemic or system-wide barriers that impede patients with disabilities from receiving accessible health care, along time lines that the Health Care Accessibility Standard will set.

#15-3. Each hospital and other major health care facility should be required to establish and regularly publicize a dedicated disability accessibility/accommodation complaints hotline, to trigger prompt action when problems are raised.

#15-4. The Ministry of Health should be required to establish and regularly publicize a hotline to receive complaints about accessibility problems facing patients and support people with disabilities in Ontario’s health care system. The Ministry should be required to annually publish a report with an anonymized summary of the substance of complaints received and action taken to prevent their recurrence.

Barrier: OHIP fee schedules for medical services that assume a patient has no disability and requires no additional time for the health appointment. For example, some patients with disabilities need more time to undress, get on the assessment table, and then get dressed again. Communication disabilities may lead to needing more time to discuss a patient’s condition with them, including such things as their medical history, diagnosis, and treatment options. Patients with complex disabilities can require more time for their condition to be medically assessed and treatment to be provided or discussed. The individual physician should not be required to personally finance all of this. The current OHIP funding model creates a harmful economic incentive for physicians to avoid taking on patients with significant or complex disabilities as their patient.

#15-5. The OHIP fee schedule should be revised provide for added time to serve the needs of patients with disabilities who need more time for assessment, diagnosis and treatment, to eliminate the harmful financial incentive that the Ontario Government now creates for physicians to avoid treating taking on those patients.

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

Barrier: People with disabilities working or volunteering in the health care system too often face accessibility barriers in the workplace that also hurt people with disabilities who seek health care services.

The intent/rationale of the following recommendations is to ensure that the experience and expertise of people with disabilities working for pay or as volunteers in the health care system is effectively harnessed to help root out the accessibility barriers that impede patients with disabilities and any patients’ support people with disabilities. This is because workplace disability barriers and health care service disability barriers often are the same or substantially overlap.

#16-1. Each hospital and major health care facility should be required to establish a committee of those employees and volunteers with disabilities who wish to voluntarily join it, to give the facility’s senior management feedback on the barriers in the health care facility that could impede patients with disabilities or any patients’ support people with disabilities, and/or employees/volunteers with disabilities.




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Montreal Halts Pilot Project that Allowed Electric Scooters Due to Rampant Violations


Will Toronto City Council Learn from Montreal or Will It Expose Torontonians with Disabilities and Others to Dangers that E-Scooters Pose?

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

February 20, 2020 Toronto: This week, Montreal restored its ban on electric scooters, halting its pilot project that allowed them, due to rampant violations of the rules on their use. the AODA Alliance, a leading Ontario disability rights coalition, calls on Toronto City Council to put the brakes on its consideration of whether to lift the ban on e-scooters and to make public safety and accessibility for Torontonians with disabilities their top priority.

A new Ford Government regulation passed last fall allows municipalities to permit dangerously fast e-scooters, driven by uninsured, unlicensed and untrained drivers as young as 16 years old, on roads, sidewalks and other public places. Ontarians with disabilities, seniors 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 sidewalks and other public spaces for people with disabilities.

Since last August, the AODA Alliance has been in the lead in showing that e-scooters pose a serious danger to the physical safety of people with disabilities and others, and will create new and troubling accessibility barriers on our sidewalks and other public spaces, said David Lepofsky, chair of the non-partisan AODA Alliance. We call on Toronto City Council to learn from Montreal, rather than exposing vulnerable people with disabilities, seniors and others to the dangers that e-scooters pose in yet another unnecessary pilot project.

If Toronto City Council does nothing, the current ban on e-scooters remains in place. That ban can only be lifted if the Toronto City Council passes a new bylaw permitting e-scooters.

Two weeks ago, Torontos official Accessibility Advisory Committee sent City Council a strong message, when it passed a unanimous motion calling on City Council to leave in place the ban on e-scooters . As well, 13 major disability organizations signed a compelling open letter to the mayors and city councils of all Ontario municipalities, with the same message. Yet corporate lobbyists for thee-scooter rental companies are no doubt lobbying hard to have their business interests prevail over public safety and disability accessibility. They had the inside track with Premier Ford last fall, and can be expected to try to get the same with Toronto City Council.

At the February 3, 2020 meeting of Torontos Accessibility Advisory Committee, City staff advised that their preferred option is to unleash e-scooters on Torontonians, with the Toronto Parking Authority managing them. The AODA Alliance quickly wrote Mayor John Tory, objecting to this seriously-flawed option. It saddles Toronto taxpayers with new staffing and law enforcement costs public money that could be more wisely spent on other priorities.

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

CBC News February 19, 2020

Originally posted at https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/montreal/scooters-banned-1.5468206

Shared e-scooters to be banned in Montreal in 2020
City says mass noncompliance with the rules means the scooters won’t be coming back this year

Montreal will ban shared,docklesse-scooters in the city for 2020.
The announcement was made at Wednesday’s executive committee meeting byCoun. Éric Alan Caldwell, citing mass noncompliance with the city’s rules for the vehicles.

“Our rules were not respected and the operators did not ensure they were respected,” Caldwell said.

Caldwell said that while e-scooters can have a place in cities such as Montreal, they must not come at the expense of impeding other modes of transportation in the city. “And that’s what happened last year,” he concluded.

“That’s why, in 2020, there will be no e-scooters in the streets of Montreal.”

The e-scooters operated by companiesincludingBird Canada and Limehad been allowed last summer as part of a pilot project.

But a city report, which was tabledat Wednesday’s executive committee meeting, found that during the pilot,scooters were only parked in their designated zones 20 per cent of the time.

Montreal to fine Lime, Jump and their users for bad parking of e-scooters and e-bikes

“Eight e-scooters on 10 did not respect our rules… which ledto problems,” Caldwell said. “Security issues. Issues for other modes of transportation, be it pedestrians, cyclists, or drivers. Issues that led to disorder in the city.”

Those issues led the city of Montreal to bring in new fines during the pilot project,with MayorValérie Plante saying she was “not satisfied with how the e-scooters were being implemented.

Montreal police also issued 333 tickets to e-scooter users for not respecting the Highway Safety Code, according to the report. Tickets for not wearing a helmet accounted for 324 of them.

Caldwell did not close the door on allowing e-scooters to return to the city in the future, but said the city was not interested in policingwhether or not they’re being parked properly.

He said it was the operators’ responsibility to ensure that users complied with the rules which did not happen last year.

In a statement, Lime general managerMichael Markevichsaid the move was “incredibly disappointing” and a “major step backwards.”

“It’s clear there was a real demand for a greener, more convenient transportation option,” the statement read. “We remain open to solutions that address the city’s concerns and are eager to bring the program back as soon as possible.”

Lime acknowledged that cases of improper parking were high, but claimed the city’s designated parking spots were not conveniently placed and there were
not enough of them to meet demand. There were 410 designed spots across Montreal, according to the city.

In a statement, Bird Canada said it was disappointed but hopes to bring the e-scooters back “when the City will have resolved its parking issues.” Shared electronic bikes,such as Jump bikes,will still be allowed to operate this year.




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Ontario Liberal Leadership Candidate Steven Del Duca Only Makes Four of the Ten Full Commitments on Accessibility for 2.6 Million Ontarians with Disabilities that the AODA Alliance Seeks, and Gives Weaker Commitments on the Other Six Issues


We Analyze Del Duca’s Responses Compared to Leadership Candidate Michael Coteau Who Made All Ten Commitments We Seek

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

February 17, 2020

SUMMARY

On January 11, 2020, the AODA Alliance sent an open letter to all Ontario Liberal leadership candidates. We asked for 10 pledges to ensure that Ontario becomes accessible for 2.6 million Ontarians with disabilities. On February 15, 2020, Steven Del Duca became the second Ontario Liberal leadership candidate to write to the AODA Alliance in order to spell out his specific responses regarding those commitments. We set out his letter below.

The first Ontario Liberal leadership candidate to give a detailed response to us, Michael Coteau, earlier made all ten commitments on disability accessibility that we sought. In contrast, Mr. Del Duca in substance made only four of the ten commitments we sought. On the other six issues, his commitments fell short of what we seek. Below we provide an issue-by-issue comparison.

We urge Mr. Del Duca and all the Liberal leadership candidates who have not yet done so to now make all the commitments we seek. There is still time for them to do so.

We will be closely watching the televised Liberal Leadership Candidates Debate on February 19, 2020 at 8 pm and 11 pm on TVO’s The Agenda with Steve Paikin to see what the candidates have to say about disability rights, including accessibility for 2.6 million Ontarians with disabilities.

As always, in this leadership race or in similar races in other parties, we do not support, endorse or oppose any candidate. We seek their commitments and make public their responses. We aim to get strong commitments from all of them.

The issue of achieving accessibility for Ontarians with disabilities is important as the Ontario Liberal Party seeks to rejuvenate itself after it so resoundingly lost the 2018 Ontario election. It is our hope that their rejuvenation includes a strengthened approach to accessibility for Ontarians with disabilities. As always, we aim to get all parties to take as strong an approach to accessibility as we can achieve.

Turning brief attention to the current Ontario Government, as of today, 382 days have passed since the Ford Government received the blistering final report of the Independent Review of the implementation and enforcement of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act. It called for strong new action to strengthen the AODA’s implementation and enforcement. The Ford Government has still not announced a plan of action to strengthen the implementation and enforcement of the AODA. On January 28, 2020, the Ford Government held a media event where it mainly re-announced some measures that will not strengthen the AODA’s implementation and enforcement, measures which we describe as thin gruel for 2.6 million Ontarians with disabilities

Would you like to send us feedback? Email us at [email protected]

MORE DETAILS
Analysis of Steven Del Duca’s Commitments on Disability Accessibility Compared to the Other Five Liberal Leadership Candidates

Mr. Del Duca in effect fully made four of the ten commitments we sought, and gave more general answers on the other six. Michael Coteau made all ten commitments we seek.

It is good that Mr. Del Duca committed to meet with accessibility advocates should he become party leader, and again should he become Ontario premier (our request #1). It is also good that he promised to press the Ford Government on accessibility issues (our request #2), and that in advance of the next election, he would set out policies on accessibility for people with disabilities (our request #3). When asked for commitments to ensure that elections become accessible to people with disabilities (our request #10), he committed that he would “work hard to ensure that elections in Ontario are accessible to everyone.”

However, Mr. Del Duca did not make six of the specific commitments we sought. His responses on those issues were more limited.

Mr. Del Duca did not commit to fully maintain the implementation of the AODA 2005 nor did he commit not to weaken or reduce any provisions or protections in that legislation or regulations enacted under them, or any Government policies, practices, strategies or initiatives that exist to implement them or achieve their objectives (our request #4). Michael Coteau gave the commitment we sought. So did Kathleen Wynne when she was running in 2012 for Ontario Liberal Party leadership, though she did not later keep that promise. On this issue, Mr. Del Duca more generally pledged: “my government will fulfill the AODA standards and will strive to implement fair policies that advance accessibility for all Ontarians.”

Unlike Michael Coteau in this race and Kathleen Wynne in the last Liberal leadership race, Mr. Del Duca did not commit to honour past Liberal Party commitments on accessibility (our request #5). He only committed to enforce the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA), just one of those prior Liberal Party commitments.

When asked if he would show new leadership on accessibility and breathe new life into the AODA’s implementation (our request #6), Mr. Del Duca more generally said “my government will consult closely with all stakeholders to ensure that the AODA is implemented and enforced effectively.”

Mr. Del Duca did not specifically commit to direct cabinet ministers, the Secretary of Cabinet and other senior public officials in his mandate letters to them to implement his Government’s duties and commitments on disability accessibility (our request #7) . He gave the more limited commitment that “I will expect all members of my government to work in a coordinated fashion to advance our accessibility policies.”

Here again, Michael Coteau gave the commitment we sought. In substance, so did the Kathleen Wynne Government in the 2014 Ontario election. The Wynne Government did not keep that pledge in many cases.

Unlike Michael Coteau, Mr. Del Duca did not commit to ensure that Ontario is on schedule for full accessibility for persons with disabilities by 2025, the deadline that the AODA requires. Should the Liberals form the Government at a time when it is too late to achieve that deadline, he did not commit to get Ontario as close to being accessible as reasonably possible by 2025. In that event, he did not commit to work with us and to take any needed action, including passing new legislation, to set a new achievable deadline and to institute measures that will ensure that it is achieved (and that will not weaken or reduce any provisions or policies then in place,our request #8).

Mr. Del Duca gave this more limited commitment:

“I will consult closely with all stakeholders to determine how Ontario can achieve greater accessibility, and I will work with all stakeholders to implement accessibility policies that achieve our goals.”

We note that “greater accessibility” is a very weak goal. Merely installing one more ramp somewhere in Ontario fulfils that goal. The AODA has the far more substantial goal of making Ontario accessible to people with disabilities by 2025.

Mr. Del Duca did not categorically commit that under his leadership, public money will not be used to create or perpetuate barriers against people with disabilities (our request #9). He gave this more limited commitment:

“I will work closely with all stakeholders to ensure that public buildings are accessible to all Ontarians.”

This is helpful, but limited. Accessibility concerns many different kinds of barriers, not only those in the built environment.

Once again, Michael Coteau gave the commitment we sought. Kathleen Wynne’s Government also gave this commitment in the 2014 Ontario election, but broke that promise during its time in office.,

As for the four other Liberal leadership candidates, Mitzie Hunter has not responded to us at all. Kate Graham thanked us for sharing our requests with her, but did not answer any of them.

Brenda Hollingsworth sent us a message on Facebook around January 14, 2020. She said she would send us a letter making all the commitments we seek. However, we have not yet gotten a letter to that effect from her.

Finally, on January 11 or 12, 2020, Alvin Tedjo sent us a tweet on Twitter. He said that

“As leader, I’ll consult with Ontarians with disabilities, advocates and service providers to make sure our party puts forward a robust and achievable accessibility platform in 2022.”

That answer does not give most of the ten commitments we sought.
February 15, 2020, Letter to the AODA Alliance from Ontario Liberal Leadership Candidate Steven Del Duca

Steven Del Duca Leadership Campaign

February 15, 2020

Mr. David Lepofsky, CM, O. Ont.
Chair, AODA Alliance

Dear David,

Thank-you for your letter. You and the AODA Alliance have been tireless champions for accessibility in Ontario, and I am pleased to respond to your important questions.

Achieving real accessibility for all Ontarians is vital to building an Ontario where everyone can fully enjoy our province’s social and economic prosperity. If I am honoured to be elected leader of the Ontario Liberal Party and Premier of Ontario, I am committed to working closely with all Ontarians to make Ontario accessible.

1. We have welcomed face-to-face meetings with the past two Premiers, Dalton McGuinty and Kathleen Wynne, to discuss accessibility issues (in addition to face-to-face meetings with different cabinet ministers, successive Secretaries of Cabinet, and other senior government officials). If you become your Party’s leader, will you maintain the practice of personally meeting with us to discuss accessibility issues, in addition to our meetings with your appropriate caucus members? As part of this, will you meet with us within 60 days of becoming your party’s leader, so that we can brief you on these issues? If your Party is elected to form the Government, will you as Premier agree to periodically meet with us, in addition to our meeting with appropriate cabinet ministers?

If I am honoured to be elected leader, I will meet with accessibility leaders and advocates within 60 days. If I am honoured to be elected Premier of Ontario, I will meet regularly with the accessibility leaders and advocates to hear concerns and develop policies that advance accessibility in Ontario.

2. Under your leadership, will your Party make it a priority to press the current Government to keep its commitments and fulfil its duties on accessibility for Ontarians with disabilities?

If I am honoured to be elected leader, the Ontario Liberal Party will advocate for real action by the Ford Government to advance accessibility in Ontario and will demand that the Ford Government fulfill its obligations to all Ontarians with disabilities.

3. In Ontario elections, will you continue the practice of the last three Ontario Liberal Party leaders, of making specific election commitments to us on the issue of achieving an accessible province for persons with disabilities, in letters to us?

If I am honoured to be elected leader, I will set out policies in advance of the 2022 election that will demonstrate real leadership by the Ontario Liberal Party on accessibility, in stark contrast to the regressive policies of the Ford Government.

4. Under your leadership, will the Liberal Party fully maintain the implementation of the AODA 2005 and not weaken or reduce any provisions or protections in that legislation or regulations enacted under them, or any Government policies, practices, strategies or initiatives that exist to implement them or achieve their objectives?

If I am honoured to be elected leader and Premier of Ontario, my government will fulfill the AODA standards and will strive to implement fair policies that advance accessibility for all Ontarians.

5. Will you keep the past commitments that your Party has made to Ontarians with disabilities regarding disability accessibility, including e.g. its previous commitments to effectively enforce the AODA? We set out links to those commitments below.

If I am honoured to be elected leader and Premier of Ontario, my government will work with all stakeholders to ensure that the AODA is enforced effectively and fairly.

6. Under the AODA, three Government-appointed mandatory Independent Reviews have examined the Government’s implementation of the AODA. These were conducted in 2009-2010 by Charles Beer, in 2013-2014 by Prof. Mayo Moran and in 2018-2019 by former Lieutenant Governor David Onley. All three reports called on the Government to revitalize and breathe new life into the implementation of the AODA, and for the Government to show strong new leadership on this issue. The Moran report and the Onley Report specifically recommended that Ontario’s Premier should show strong new leadership on disability accessibility. (See a quotation later in this letter) If you become Ontario’s Premier, will you show new, strong leadership on accessibility and breathe new life into and revitalize the Government’s implementation of the AODA?

If I am honoured to be elected leader and Premier of Ontario, my government will consult closely with all stakeholders to ensure that the AODA is implemented and enforced effectively and fairly. It is essential that we build an Ontario where everyone can fully participate in our society and economy.

7. Each premier sends Mandate Letters to each of his or her cabinet ministers, setting out their priorities. In your Mandate Letters, will you direct your cabinet ministers, the Secretary of Cabinet and other senior public officials to implement your Government’s duties and commitments on disability accessibility?

If I am honoured to be elected leader and Premier of Ontario, I will expect all members of my government to work in a coordinated fashion to advance our accessibility policies.

8. If you become Premier, will you ensure that Ontario is on schedule for full accessibility for persons with disabilities by 2025, the deadline that the AODA requires? Should your party form the Government at a time when it is too late to achieve that deadline, will you commit to get Ontario as close to being accessible as reasonably possible by 2025? In that event, will you also commit to work with us and to take any needed action, including passing new legislation, to set a new achievable deadline and to institute measures that will ensure that it is achieved (and that will not weaken or reduce any provisions or policies then in place)?

If I am honoured to be elected leader and Premier of Ontario, I will consult closely with all stakeholders to determine how Ontario can achieve greater accessibility, and I will work with all stakeholders to implement accessibility policies that achieve our goals.

9. The Moran and Onley reports expressed concerns that public money has been used to create new accessibility barriers against people with disabilities. Will you commit that under your leadership, public money will not be used to create or perpetuate barriers against people with disabilities?

If I am honoured to be elected leader and Premier of Ontario, I will work closely with all stakeholders to ensure that public buildings are accessible to all Ontarians.

10. Ontario voters and candidates with disabilities still face too many barriers in provincial and municipal elections. Under your leadership as premier, will the Government bring forward new measures, including new legislation, to ensure that provincial and municipal elections in Ontario are fully accessible to voters and candidates with disabilities?

If I am honoured to be elected leader and Premier of Ontario, my government will work hard to ensure that elections in Ontario are accessible to everyone.

Sincerely,

Steven Del Duca
Candidate for the Leadership of the Ontario Liberal Party




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Help Us Get Towns and Cities Around Ontario to Leave in Place the Ban on Electric Scooters (E-scooters)


They Are a Danger to Ontarians with Disabilities On Our Sidewalks, Roads and Other Public Places.

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

February 12, 2020

SUMMARY

This is an AODA Alliance call to action, wherever you live in Ontario, and especially right now if you live in or near Toronto! Please help us get your local politicians to not allow electric scooters (e-scooters) in your city, town or region of Ontario. They endanger safety and accessibility for Ontarians with disabilities and others. We don’t need any new barriers created in Ontario against Ontarians with disabilities. This Update gives you quick, easy-to-use tips on how to help. It also gives background to this issue.

MORE DETAILS

How You Can Help Protect Ontarians Against the Dangers of E-scooters

We are asking Ontario’s cities and towns something simple but important: Don’t allow e-scooters in your community! They are a danger to safety and accessibility for people with disabilities and others, as we explain later in this Update! It’s easy to do. City and town councils don’t have to do anything! If they do nothing, the ban on e-scooters stays in place in their community. The trouble only starts if a city or town council passes a bylaw that allows e-scooters in that community. We know the e-scooter rental companies are working hard to get them to do so, starting with Toronto. We need our municipal politicians to give priority to the people, including people with disabilities, rather than those corporate lobbyists.

The City of Toronto is now considering whether to allow e-scooters. Other cities will watch Toronto to follow its lead, and may be looking into this issue right now. It is therefore especially important to keep e-scooters out of public places in Toronto, such as our roads and sidewalks.

Here’s what to do, wherever you live in Ontario, and especially if you live in Toronto.

* Phone, email, write OR TWEET your member of City Council and your mayor. Tell them you don’t want e-scooters in your community. If you don’t know their name or contact information, call your community’s city hall, or dial 311 to ask for this information.

* Send your mayor and municipal council members the powerful January 22, 2020 open letter on the dangers of e-scooters to people with disabilities, from 13 major disability organizations. It is meant for all the mayors and councilors in Ontario municipalities. It explains in full detail why e-scooters are such a problem and what they should do to protect the public, including people with disabilities. Tell them to listen to you, a voter, and not to the corporate lobbyists for the e-scooter rental companies. At the end of this Update, we list the 13 disability organizations that have already signed this important open letter. The link to our open letter is: https://www.aodaalliance.org/whats-new/major-disability-organizations-open-letter-to-the-ford-government-and-ontario-municipalities-dont-allow-electric-scooters-on-our-roads-sidewalks-and-public-places-because-they-endanger-our-safe/

* Ask your municipality’s Municipal Accessibility Advisory Committee to pass a motion that recommends that the municipality not allow e-scooters. On February 3, 2020, the Toronto Accessibility Advisory Committee unanimously passed just such a motion. If you are a municipal accessibility advisory committee, you can present this motion yourself! Share our open letter on e-scooters with this committee to give them all the background they need, as well as the Toronto Accessibility Advisory Committee’s February 3, 2020 motion .

The Toronto motion unanimously stated:

“The Toronto Accessibility Advisory Committee recommends to the Infrastructure and Environment Committee that:

1. City Council prohibit e-scooters for use in public spaces including sidewalks and roads, and direct that any City permission granted to e-scooter companies be guided by public safety, in robust consultation with people living with disabilities, and related organizations serving this population.”

* Let us know if your municipality advisory committee passes a motion against e-scooters, so we can keep track of these.

* If you live or work in Toronto, you should also send your member of Toronto City Council the AODA Alliance’s February 6, 2020 letter to Toronto Mayor John Tory. For that matter, send it to Mayor Tory too, just as we did. Let the mayor and your member of council know you agree with it.

* Let your local news media and call-in radio stations know that you don’t want e-scooters in your community. Share our e-scooters open letter with them.

* Spread the word on social media like Facebook and Twitter. If you follow our Facebook and Twitter feeds, you can share or retweet our regular posts on this important topic.

* Tell your family and friends about this issue. Share this Update with them. Urge them to swing into action too!

* Get a disability organization with which you have a connection to add its name as a signatory to our e-scooters open letter. They just need to give us permission to add their organization’s name, by writing us at [email protected]

* Let us know what you do, and what answers you get. And let us know about any other ideas for action that you try.

Background on The E-Scooter Problem

As recent AODA Alliance Updates have reported, last fall, the Ford Government passed a new law which threatens to create serious new barriers for Ontarians with disabilities . It enacted a new regulation that lets any municipality in Ontario permit people to ride electric scooters in public places in their communities. Up until now, e-scooters were banned from public places in Ontario.

Under this new provincial regulation, a municipality can lift that ban on e-scooters just by passing a bylaw allowing e-scooters in that community, including on roads and sidewalks. If a municipality does this, an uninsured, untrained unlicensed person as young as 16 years old could be silently racing towards you at 24 KPH. You won’t hear them coming because e-scooters are silent. If you are blind, you won’t see them coming. In other communities where e-scooters have been allowed, they have led to people being injured or even killed.

Corporate lobbyists convinced the Doug Ford Government to allow this in Ontario, and to ignore our serious disability concerns. They represent companies that rent e-scooters. Their businesses make money because they have e-scooters left around a city in public places like sidewalks, for people to rent on the spot. For people with mobility disabilities, these can block an otherwise-accessible sidewalk. For people with vision loss, they are a tripping hazard. For everyone, they are a blight and an eyesore.

List of the 13 Disability Organizations that Signed the January 22, 2020 Open Letter on Electric Scooters

Note: Since we initially released this letter, two additional organizations have signed it, the Ontario Disabilities Coalition and the Brain Injury Society of Toronto. They are included in this list. 1. Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance 2. March of Dimes of Canada
3. Canadian National Institute for the Blind
4. ARCH Disability Law Centre
5. Spinal Cord Injury Ontario
6. Ontario Autism Coalition
7. Older Women’s Network
8. Alliance for Equality of Blind Canadians
9. Guide Dog Users of Canada
10. Views for the Visually Impaired
11. Citizens With Disabilities Ontario
12. Ontario Disability Coalition
13. The Brain Injury Society of Toronto




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