Ford Government to Spend Over a Half Billion Dollars on New Schools and Major School Additions, Without Announcing Effective Measures to Ensure that These Schools Will be Fully Accessible to Students, Parents and School Staff with Disabilities


Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance Update

United for a Barrier-Free Society for All People with Disabilities

Web: www.aodaalliance.org Email: [email protected] Twitter: @aodaalliance Facebook: www.facebook.com/aodaalliance/

Ford Government to Spend Over a Half Billion Dollars on New Schools and Major School Additions, Without Announcing Effective Measures to Ensure that These Schools Will be Fully Accessible to Students, Parents and School Staff with Disabilities

July 30, 2020

          SUMMARY

Last week, the Ford Government announced that it is investing over half a billion dollars into building new schools and expanding existing ones, without announcing any effective measures to ensure that those schools will be designed to be accessible to students, parents, teachers, or other school staff with disabilities. Public money should never be used to create new barriers against people with disabilities. If new barriers are created, it costs much more to later renovate to remove them.

For years, Ontario’s Ministry of Education has largely left it to each school board to decide what, if anything, to include in the design of a new school building to ensure it is disability-accessible. Each school board is left to decide on its own whether it will include anything in the building’s design for accessibility, beyond the inadequate accessibility requirements in the Ontario Building Code, in standards enacted under the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, and under a patchwork of local municipal bylaws. The Ontario Government does not have a standard or model design for a new school or for an addition to a school, to ensure its accessibility to students, parents and school staff with disabilities.

On July 23, 2020, the Ford Government announced a major plan to build 30 new schools and to construct additions to another 15 schools, to provide both learning venues and more day care locations for students across Ontario (announcement set out below). The Ford Government has not announced any requirement that this new construction must be disability-accessible. It is wasteful, duplicative and counter-productive for the Ontario Government to leave it to 72 school boards to each re-invent the wheel when it comes to the design of a school building to ensure that it is accessible. Moreover, school boards are not assured to have the requisite expertise in accessible building design. Making this worse, too often architects are not properly trained in accessible design.

This is not a situation where each school board is best situated to assess the unique local needs of its community. A student, parent or school staff member with a disability has the very same accessibility needs, when it comes to getting into and around a school building, whether that school is in Kenora or Cornwall.

It has been well established for years that compliance with the insufficient accessibility requirements in the Ontario Building Code, the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act accessibility standards and local municipal bylaws do not ensure that a new building is in fact accessible and barrier-free for people with disabilities. To the contrary, the AODA Alliance has shown how new buildings and major renovations in major public projects can end up having serious accessibility problems. This is illustrated in three online videos, produced by the AODA Alliance, that have gotten thousands of views and extensive media coverage. Those videos focus on:

* the new Ryerson University Student Learning Centre;

* the new Centennial College Culinary Arts Centre and

* several new and recently renovated Toronto area public transit stations.

Over a year and a half ago, the third Government-appointed Independent Review of the implementation of the AODA, conducted by former Lieutenant Governor David Onley, found that progress in Ontario on accessibility has proceeded at a “glacial” pace. Among other things, it recommended that the Ontario Government should treat as a major priority the recurring barriers facing people with disabilities in the built environment. The Onley Report emphasized as an illustration the AODA Alliance’s video depicting serious accessibility problems at Ryerson’s new Student Learning Centre.

Strong, effective and enforceable provincial accessibility standards for the built environment are long overdue. Yet the Government has announced no plans to develop and enact a Built Environment Accessibility Standard under the AODA. Beyond this, for over two and a half years, the Ontario Government has been in direct violation of the AODA. This is because the Government has still not appointed a mandatory Standards Development Committee to review the palpably inadequate “Design of Public Spaces” Accessibility Standard, enacted under the AODA in December 2012. Under section 9(9) of the AODA, the Ontario Government was required to appoint a mandatory Standards Development Committee to review that accessibility standard by December 2017. The former Kathleen Wynne Government is on the hook for failing to appoint that Standards Development Committee for the seven months from December 2017 up to the Wynne Government being defeated in the June 2018 provincial election. The Ford Government is on the hook for violating the AODA for the subsequent two years, from the time it took office up to today.

The Ford Government should now direct all school boards receiving any of the public money that the Government announced on July 23, 2020 that all those new projects must be fully accessible. This must go further than simply meeting the inadequate accessibility requirements in the Ontario Building Code, in AODA accessibility standards enacted to date, and in local bylaws. The Ford Government should set specific accessibility requirements that must be met. A good template for this is set out in the AODA Alliance’s draft Framework for the Post-Secondary Education Accessibility Standard.

There have now been 546 days, or over a full year and a half, since the Ford Government received the ground-breaking final report of the Independent Review of the implementation of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act by former Ontario Lieutenant Governor David Onley. The Government has not announced any comprehensive plan of new action to implement that report. That makes even worse the serious problems facing Ontarians with disabilities during the COVID-19 crisis.

For more background, check out:

* The AODA Alliance website’s Built Environment page, that documents our efforts to get the Ontario Government to enact strong accessibility standards for the built environment.

* The AODA Alliance website’s Education page, documenting the AODA Alliance’s efforts to tear down the many barriers in Ontario’s education system facing students with disabilities.

          MORE DETAILS

 July 23, 2020 Ontario Government News Release

Originally posted at https://news.ontario.ca/opo/en/2020/07/ontario-building-and-expanding-schools-across-the-province-1.html

Ontario Newsroom

News Release

Ontario Building and Expanding Schools across the Province

July 23, 2020

Modern Facilities Will Strengthen Student Learning and Increase Access to Child Care

BRAMPTON — The Ontario government is investing over $500 million to build 30 new schools and make permanent additions to 15 existing facilities, supporting over 25,000 student spaces across the province. These new, modern schools will create the foundation for a 21st century learning environment for thousands of students across the province. This investment will also generate nearly 900 new licensed child care spaces to ensure families across the province are able to access child care in their communities.

Details were provided today by Premier Doug Ford and Stephen Lecce, Minister of Education.

“Our government is making a significant capital investment in our school system,” said Premier Ford. “By making these smart investments today, we will ensure our students and teachers have access to modern facilities to learn with features like high-speed Internet, accessible ramps and elevators, and air conditioning, while providing parents with access to more licensed child care spaces.”

The government is investing over $12 billion in capital grants over 10 years, including over $500 million invested in this year alone to build critical new school capital projects and permanent additions. Today’s announcement continues to build upon the government’s commitment to invest up to $1 billion over five years to create up to 30,000 licensed child care spaces in schools, including 10,000 spaces in new schools. These new projects will also result in the creation of new jobs in the skilled trades as over $500 million of major infrastructure projects break ground in short order.

“It is unacceptable that too many schools in our province continue to lack the investment that our students deserve,” said Minister Lecce. “That is why this government is making a significant investment to build new schools, to extensively renovate existing schools, and expand access to licensed child care spaces in our province. Our government is modernizing our schools, our curriculum, and the delivery of learning, to ensure students are set up to succeed in an increasingly changing world.”

QUICK FACTS

list of 4 items

  • The Ministry of Education reviews all Capital Priorities submissions for eligibility and merit prior to announcing successful projects.
  • The Ministry is working in partnership with school boards to deliver high-speed Internet to all schools in Ontario, with all high schools having access to broadband by September 2020, and all elementary schools having access by September 2021. As of March 31, 2020, broadband modernization has been completed at 1,983 schools, including 403 Northern schools. Installation is currently in progress at 2,954 schools, including 99 northern schools.
  • The Ministry is investing $1.4 billion in renewal funding, which continues to meet the recommended funding level by the Auditor General of Ontario to preserve the condition of Ontario’s school facilities.
  • To find out more about projects in your community, visit the Ontario Builds map.

list end

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES

list of 1 items

  • Learn more about Ontario’s commitment to modernizing schools and child care spaces.

list end

CONTACTS

Ivana Yelich

Premier’s Office

[email protected]

Alexandra Adamo

Minister Lecce’s Office

[email protected]

Ingrid Anderson

Communications Branch

437 225-0321

[email protected]

Office of the Premier

http://www.ontario.ca/premier



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To Honour National AccessAbility Week, the Ford Government Announces Nothing New to Address the Unmet Urgent Needs of 2.6 Million Ontarians with Disabilities During the COVID-19 Crisis


ACCESSIBILITY FOR ONTARIANS WITH DISABILITIES ACT ALLIANCE

NEWS RELEASE – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

To Honour National AccessAbility Week, the Ford Government Announces Nothing New to Address the Unmet Urgent Needs of 2.6 Million Ontarians with Disabilities During the COVID-19 Crisis

June 5, 2020 Toronto: The Ford Government’s self-congratulatory June 1, 2020 announcement to mark National AccessAbility Week (set out below) announces no comprehensive plan of new action to address the unmet urgent needs of 2.6 million Ontarians with disabilities during the COVID-19 crisis. Instead it once again simply re-announces measures that have been in place for months or years and that have failed to redress the serious additional hardships that COVID-19 inflicts on many people with disabilities.

“For almost three months, we’ve been pleading with the Ford Government to announce a plan of action to address the disproportionate hardships that people with disabilities face in Ontario’s health care, education, housing and income support programs during the COVID-19 crisis, but neither Premier Ford nor the Premier’s office have even answered our March 25, 2020 letter or our pleas for help,” said David Lepofsky, Chair of the non-partisan AODA Alliance, a grassroots disability coalition that has tenaciously campaigned on this issue. “Instead, the Ford Government claims to be ‘leading by example’ on accessibility for people with disabilities. This hurtful, protracted neglect is not the example by which we deserve to be led.”

Patients with disabilities, who are at greater risk of contracting COVID-19, are now facing new and stressful barriers in our health care system. Students with disabilities as well as their parents, teachers and school boards are left by the Ford Government to struggle and flounder, each trying to figure out how to help these students learn at home during the COVID-19 crisis. The Ford Government announced nothing new for any of these people with disabilities during National AccessAbility Week.

Instead, the Government’s June 1 announcement pointed to such failed strategies as its diverting public funds into the seriously flawed Rick Hansen Foundation’s private accessibility certification program. Neither the Ford Government nor the Rick Hansen Foundation has publicly refuted the serious problems with that program that the AODA Alliance publicly documented last summer. Since then, the Government has not pointed to a single barrier in any building in Ontario that has been removed as a result of its commitment to spend 1.3 million public dollars on that program.

This is part of a bigger picture. On May 30, 2019, during last year’s National AccessAbility Week, the Ford Government used its majority in the Legislature to defeat a resolution that called on the Government to create a plan to implement the report of former Lieutenant Governor David Onley’s Independent Review of the implementation and enforcement of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act. The Government then invoked false and hurtful stereotypes about the Disabilities Act, unfairly disparaging its implementation and enforcement as “red tape.”

The Government’s June 1, 2020 statement, set out below, is transparently incorrect where it claims that “we are making significant progress in implementing the AODA.” There have been 491 days since the Ford Government received the blistering Onley Report. That report documented that progress on accessibility in Ontario has proceeded at a “glacial” pace for years. The Government has still announced no plan of action to effectively implement that report. That failure has weakened the Government’s ability to respond to the needs of people with disabilities during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“As the COVID-19 crisis drags into its fourth month, with no clear end in sight, it is more important than ever for the Ford Government to announce and implement comprehensive plans targeted at meeting the additional needs that people with disabilities are suffering during this pandemic,” said Lepofsky. “National AccessAbility Week would be a great time to do so. We remain eager to help.”

Contact: AODA Alliance Chair David Lepofsky, [email protected]

Twitter: @aodaalliance

For more background, check out:

* The AODA Alliance’s COVID-19 web page, listing all that coalition’s efforts to raise these issues since mid-March.

* The April 7, 2020 virtual Town Hall on the impact of COVID-19 on people with disabilities, jointly organized by the AODA Alliance and the Ontario Autism Coalition, now viewed almost 3,000 times.

* The May 4, 2020 virtual Town Hall on how to teach students with disabilities during the COVID-19crisis, also jointly organized by the AODA Alliance and the Ontario Autism Coalition, viewed over 1,500 times.

The May 27, 2020 online virtual fireside chat on the impact of , COVID-19 on Ontarians with disabilities with AODA Alliance Chair David Lepofsky and Green Party Leader Mike Schreiner.

June 1, 2020 Mass Email Announcement by the Minister of Seniors and Accessibility Raymond Cho

To our valued partners:

This year, National AccessAbility Week comes during a particularly challenging time. COVID-19 has forced many people to stay home and practice physical distancing. This can be stressful and lonely, and we must pay close attention to ensuring accessibility remains a priority and be mindful of potential barriers.

Our government is proud to work towards creating a society and economy that is accessible and inclusive for all Ontarians. Our work has been especially significant during the COVID-19 outbreak, and it is more important than ever that we come together to support our communities, including people with disabilities and seniors.

I am proud to share that we recently invested $11 million into the Ontario Community Support Program, which helps deliver hot meals, medicine and other essentials to low-income seniors and people with disabilities. We’ve also partnered with SPARK Ontario and invested $100,000 towards a provincial hub that connects volunteers to community organizations that support seniors and people with disabilities.

In 2005, Ontario passed the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) and our commitment to making the province barrier-free continues today.

We recently announced a new cross-government framework called Advancing Accessibility in Ontario, which will help focus our work in four key areas as we move forward working with partners inside and beyond government.

Our government is working hard to lead by example and improve accessibility in our role as policy maker, service provider and employer. For example, we are making significant progress in implementing the AODA. As an organization, we are ensuring Ontario’s own ministries are taking accessibility into account as a key consideration when developing policies.

This includes supporting Ontario’s Standards Development Committees as they continue their important work to develop proposed accessibility standards in the Kindergarten to Grade 12 and post-secondary education sectors, as well as a proposed accessibility health care standard for hospitals.

We are also dedicated to breaking down barriers in the built environment. To do this, we are working with key partners in architecture, design and building to enhance curriculum and training on accessibility to help ensure new and existing buildings can be planned and built to be more accessible. We recently invested $1.3 million over two years for the Rick Hansen Foundation to launch a certification program in Ontario to help remove barriers in buildings.

Part of our Advancing Accessibility in Ontario framework focuses on increasing participation in the economy for people with disabilities. We have helped businesses in Ontario realize the benefits of employing people with disabilities through working with our Employers’ Partnership Table. As our government turns towards recovery efforts, we will work to ensure it includes innovative and focused approaches for people with disabilities.

Another key area in our new framework is about improving understanding and awareness about accessibility. We know this is a key focus for many of your own groups. Our government provides free webinars with practical tips on accessibility for organizations and the public. We also fund the development of many free resources and training materials through our EnAbling Change Program to further educate businesses and communities.

Many of the guides and resources about how to make businesses and organizations more accessible and inclusive can be found at the webpage

ontario.ca/AccessibleBusiness.

From May 31 – June 6, I ask everyone to take time to recognize the importance of accessibility and inclusion in our communities and workplaces, as well as acknowledge the contributions of Canadians with disabilities. I would also like to thank all of the individuals, groups and partners working together towards creating a barrier-free Ontario.

Each step we take together to remove barriers will make a difference today and in the future.

Sincerely,

Raymond Cho

Minister for Seniors and Accessibility



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Virtual Public Forum Reveals Serious Hardships Facing People with Disabilities During COVID-19 Crisis and Makes Practical Recommendations for Urgent Government Action – But Will Governments Listen and Act?


ACCESSIBILITY FOR ONTARIANS WITH DISABILITIES ACT ALLIANCE

ONTARIO AUTISM COALITION

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

April 7, 2020

Virtual Public Forum Reveals Serious Hardships Facing People with Disabilities During COVID-19 Crisis and Makes Practical Recommendations for Urgent Government Action – But Will Governments Listen and Act?

April 7,2020 Toronto: A ground-breaking 2-hour virtual public forum held online this morning, and now permanently archived on Youtube, organized by Ontario grassroots disability advocates, revealed that people with disabilities are disproportionately exposed to the risks of COVID and the hardships this pandemic is causing. Ten experts, listed below, gave the government practical priority measures needed now to alleviate these hardships. Anchored by Ontario Autism Coalition president Laura Kirby-McIntosh and AODA Alliance chair David Lepofsky (an Osgoode Hall Law School visiting professor), today’s virtual public forum shone a spotlight on critical needs facing 2.6 million Ontarians with disabilities and over 6 million Canadians with disabilities, such as:

* If critical medical care must be rationed during shortages in this crisis, a patient’s disability should not be used as a criterion for refusing treatment, nor should a health care provider’s stereotypes or personal views about the quality of life of living with that disability;

* Government should provide personal protective equipment to attendant care workers who come to the homes of people with disabilities to help them get out of bed, dress and handle other basic tasks of daily living;

* Governments should ensure that long-term care homes like nursing homes can’t unilaterally decide not to send a resident with COVID to hospital, without getting a decision from the resident or their family members authorized to decide for them;

* An exemption should be made to the rules that bar people from entering a hospital (if not a patient) for family members, attendant care workers or others who provide needed supports to a patient with disabilities;

* COVID testing should be made available in the home for patients with disabilities who face barriers trying to travel to COVID testing sites;

* When selecting and setting up new emergency sites for treating overflows of patients coming to hospital, the most physically accessible sites should be selected. Readily-achievable priority steps should be taken to make those temporary sites disability-accessible;

* Remote and distance supports, and if possible, on-site respite supports should be centrally created to assist the families of persons with developmental or intellectual disabilities living with them, to provide some sort of respite for family members during mandatory periods of isolation at home;

* Emergency increases to social assistance should be made to alleviate the hardships facing those living in poverty, including impoverished people with disabilities;

* Government should coordinate community mental health services, using such things as readily-achievable walk-in sites for homeless individuals needing crisis help, who don’t have the technology and data plans to do this remotely;

* Schools, colleges and universities that are rapidly moving to online learning must ensure that their virtual meeting platforms, websites and digital documents are formatted to be accessible to students and staff with disabilities using adaptive technology to read that content. Poorly-enforced Ontario accessibility regulations have required this for almost a decade, but the reality on the ground is sadly inconsistent;

* The Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Colleges and Universities must urgently create action plans and resources to help school boards, colleges, and universities provide accessible online education programs so that hundreds of thousands of students with disabilities are not again relegated to second-class status. Government should not leave it to each school board, college and university to have to try to figure this out on their own, in the middle of this crisis;

* Governments must immediately and actively consult with the grassroots of the disability community to learn what they are now facing and to help plan to address their urgent needs in this crisis.

We regret that the Ontario Government declined to send anyone to speak at this virtual public forum about what it is doing. The Government’s line ministries that are working on crisis planning have not answered the AODA Alliance’s offers to work with them.

The Media is free to use excerpts from the virtual public forum in their coverage.

For further information, please contact:

David Lepofsky, Chair, AODA Alliance, [email protected] Twitter: @aodaalliance

Laura Kirby-McIntosh President Ontario Autism Coalition [email protected]

416-315-7939 www.ontarioautismcoalition.com Twitter @OntAutism

—30—

—3—

Background

Link to the April 7, 2020 online virtual public forum on COVID and people with disabilities: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gJ23it9ULjc

Link to background resources offered in connection with the virtual public forum: www.ontarioautismcoalition.com/covid

Speakers at the April 7, 2020 Virtual Public Forum:

  1. Co-anchor: Laura Kirby-McIntosh, President, Ontario Autism Coalition and teacher
  2. Co-anchor: David Lepofsky, AODA Alliance chair and Osgoode Hall Law visiting professor
  3. Robert Lattanzio, Executive Director ARCH Disability Law Centre
  4. Jane Meadus, counsel, Advocacy Centre for the Elderly ACE
  5. Wendy Porch, Executive Director, Centre for Independent Living in Toronto CILT
  6. Barbara Collier, Executive Director of Communication Disabilities Access Canada CDAC
  7. James Janeiro, Director of Community Engagement and Policy at Community Living Toronto
  8. Thea Kurdi, Vice President of DesignABLE Environments Inc.
  9. Yona Grant, Executive Director of the Income Security Advocacy Centre ISAC
  10. Lana Frado, Executive Director of Sound Times Support Services
  11. Karen McCall, Adjunct Faculty at Mohawk College’s Accessible Media Production Program and owner of Karlen Communications
  12. Irwin Elman, special advisor for the Laidlaw Foundation and formerly Ontario’s Provincial Advocate for Children and Youth



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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

Web: www.aodaalliance.org Email: [email protected] Twitter: @aodaalliance Facebook: www.facebook.com/aodaalliance/

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

March 11, 2020

          SUMMARY

Well, we’re at it once again! We want and need your feedback! This time, it’s 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 don’t have time to read it all, we’d 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 don’t 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 we’ve 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 website’s 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 Ontario’s health care system, take a look at our website’s 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 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

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 aodafeedba[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 Ontario’s 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 Committee’s 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 Committee’s 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:

  1. A) By removing and preventing accessibility 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

  1. 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 individual strengths and needs of each student with disabilities.”

  1. 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 Ontario’s 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 organization’s 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 faculty’s or program’s 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 organization’s 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 organization’s 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 organization’s governing board and senior management. It should include actions on barriers identified by the organization’s 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:

  1. 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 organization’s chief executive officer, dean or director, should be designated as that organization’s 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.
  1. 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.
  1. 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.
  1. 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.
  1. 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:

  1. 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 organization’s 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.
  1. b) About the menu of options, placements, programs, services, supports and accommodations for students with disabilities available at the post-secondary education organization.
  1. 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 student’s education needs.
  1. 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:

  1. a) This plan’s 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.
  1. 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 organization’s website, in a prominent place that is easy to find, with a link to it prominently on the post-secondary education organization’s home page. A post-secondary education organization should not simply rely on its website to share this information.
  1. 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 Organization’s 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 board’s 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 organization’s 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 student’s concerns. The Post-Secondary Education Accessibility Standard should set out the specifics of this review process. This review process should include the following:

  1. a) It should be very prompt. Arrangements for a student’s accommodations should be finalized as quickly as possible, so that the student’s needs are promptly met.
  1. 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.
  1. 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 student’s request or concerns, and give the student a fair chance to voice their concerns.
  1. 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.
  1. 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.
  1. f) At the review, written reasons should be given for the decision, especially if any of the student’s 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:

  1. 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.
  1. b) The post-secondary education organization’s interactive voice response system for receiving incoming phone calls should announce to all callers the organization’s commitment to accommodate students with disabilities and the number to press to get introductory information about how to seek such.
  1. c) Programming handouts and broadcast email communications to incoming students should include similar general information.
  1. d) the post-secondary education organization’s broadcast email announcements and other communications to the student population should include summary information to this effect with relevant links.
  1. 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:

  1. 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.
  1. b) A post-secondary education organization’s 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.
  1. c) Each post-secondary education organization’s 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.
  1. 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.
  1. e) Software used to produce a post-secondary education organization’s key documents for use by students should be designed to ensure that they produce these documents in accessible formats.
  1. 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 teacher’s college. If those teacher’s colleges were to make UDL and differentiated instructions core competency’s 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 Ontario’s 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:

  1. 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.
  1. 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.
  1. 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.
  1. 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:

  1. a) Develop and implement a multi-year strategy to publicize the organization’s commitment to and the benefits of inclusion and full participation of students with disabilities.
  1. b) Post around the post-secondary education organization announcements of the post-secondary education organization’s commitment to inclusion of students with disabilities, and the benefits this brings to all students.
  1. c) Provide specific training to all front-line staff (not limited to instructional staff) on the importance of inclusion.
  1. 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:

  1. 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.
  1. 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.
  1. 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:

  1. a) Remove the admission criteria that constitute a barrier to admission, or
  1. 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:

  1. 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.
  1. 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.
  1. 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 organization’s experiential learning programs, each such organization should:

  1. a) Review its experiential learning programs to identify and remove any accessibility barriers.
  1. 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.
  1. 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.
  1. 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.
  1. 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.
  1. 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 organization’s 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.
  1. 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:

  1. a) the new Culinary Arts Centre at Centennial College: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dgfrum7e-_0&t=87s
  1. b) The new Student Learning Centre at Ryerson University: https://youtu.be/4oe4xiKknt0
  1. 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:

  1. a) Specific requirements to be included in a new facility to be built.
  1. b) Requirements to be included in a renovation of or addition to an existing post-secondary facility, and
  1. 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 facility’s 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:

  1. 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.
  1. 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 organization’s review of its built environment shall include a thorough review of the campus’s 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 facility’s 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 board’s 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 project’s 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:

  1. 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.
  1. 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.
  1. 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

  1. 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
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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
  5. 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.
  6. Accessible pedestrian directional signage at decision points
  7. Lighting levels shall be bright and even enough to avoid shadows and ensure it’s easy to see the features and to keep people safe.
  8. Accessible duress stations (Emergency safety zones in public spaces)
  9. 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
  2. Clear, intuitive connection to the drop-off and accessible parking
  3. 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
  4. 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
  5. Heated walkways from the drop-off and parking shall be used to ensure the path is always clear of snow and ice
  6. 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)
  7. 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
  8. Parking design should include potential expansion plans for future growth and/or to address increased need for accessible parking
  9. 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)
  10. Lighting levels shall be bright and even enough to avoid shadows and to ensure it’s easy to see obstacles and to keep people safe.
  11. 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.
  1. Parking
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  1. A Building’s exterior doors
  2. Level areas on both sides of a building’s 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.
  3. 100% of a building’s 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
  4. 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
  5. 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
  6. 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
  2. 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.
  3. Door
  4. Doors shall be sufficiently wide enough to accommodate stretchers, wheelchairs or assistive scooters, pushing strollers, or making a delivery
  5. Threshold at the door’s base shall be level to allow a trip free and wheel friendly passage.
  6. Heavy doors and those with auto closers shall provide automatic door openers.
  7. Room entrances shall have doors.
  8. Direction of door swing shall be chosen to enhance the usability and limit the hazard to others of the door opening.
  9. Sliding doors can be easier for some individuals to operate, and can also require less wheelchair manoeuvring space.
  10. Doors that require two hands to operate will not be used.
  11. Revolving doors are not accessible.
  12. Full glass doors are not to be used as they represent a hazard.
  13. Colour-contrasting will be provided on door frames, door handles as well as the door edges.
  14. 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
  1. Gates, Turnstiles and Openings
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. All controlled entry points will provide an accessible width to allow passage of wheelchairs, other mobility devices, strollers, walkers or delivery carts.
  1. Windows, Glazed Screens and Sidelights
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  1. Interior Layout
  2. 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.
  3. 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
  4. 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
  5. Multi-stall washrooms shall always place the women’s washroom on the right and the men’s 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
  1. Facilities
  2. 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.
  3. 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
  1. Elevators
  1. Elevator Doors will provide a clear width to allow a stretcher and larger mobility devices to get in and out
  2. Doors will have sensors so doors will auto open if the doorway is blocked
  3. Elevators will be installed in pairs so that when one is out of service for repair or maintenance, there is an alternative available.
  4. 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.
  5. Assistive listening will be available in each elevator to help make the audible announcements heard by those using hearing aids
  6. Emergency button on the elevator’s 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
  7. 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.
  8. The words spoken in the elevator’s 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.)
  9. 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.
  10. 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.
  11. Lighting levels inside the elevator will match the lighting at the elevator lobbies. Lighting will be measured at the ground level
  12. 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
  13. 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.
  1. Ramps
    1. 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 don’t want to stop talking as they climb stairs.
    2. A ramp’s textured surfaces, edge protection and handrails all provide important safety features.
    3. On outdoor ramps, heated surfaces shall be provided to address the safety concerns associated with snow and ice.
    4. 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.
    5. 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
    6. 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.
    7. Curved ramps will not be used, because the cross slope at the turn is hard to navigate and a tipping hazard for many people.
    8. 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
  1. Stairs
  1. Stairs that are comfortable for many adults may be challenging for children, shorter persons seniors or persons of short stature.
  2. 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.
  3. Each stair in a staircase will use the same height and depth, to avoid creating tripping hazards
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. g) Spiral, curved or irregular staircases shall never be created, as they are a serious tripping hazard.
  1. Washroom Facilities
    1. 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.
    2. 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.
    3. 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.
    4. The appropriate design of all features will ensure the usability and safety of all toilet facilities.
    5. 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.
    6. 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.
    7. All washrooms will have doors with power door opening buttons. No door washrooms will be hard to identify for people who have vision loss.
      1. 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.
    8. 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.
      1. 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.
      2. 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.
  • Where shower stalls are provided, these shall include accessible sized stalls.
  1. Portable Toilets at Special Events shall all be accessible. At least one will include an adult sized change table.
  1. Washroom Stalls:
  1. 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.
  1. Toilets:
  1. 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.
  1. Sinks:
  1. 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.
  2. 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.
    1. Urinals:
  3. 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.
    1. Showers
  4. 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.
  1. Drinking Fountains
  2. 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.
  1. Performance Stages
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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
  1. Offices, Work Areas, and Meeting Rooms
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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
  1. Outdoor Athletic and Recreational Facilities
  2. Areas for outdoor recreation, leisure and active sport participation shall be designed to be available to people of a spectrum of abilities.
  3. 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
  4. 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.
  5. Noise cancelling headphones shall be available to those with sensory disabilities.
  6. Outdoor exercise equipment will include options for those with a variety of disabilities including those with temporary disabilities undergoing rehabilitation.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  1. Arenas, Halls and Other Indoor Recreational Facilities
  2. Areas for recreation, leisure and active sport participation will be accessible to all members of the community.
  3. 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.
  4. Noise cancelling headphones will be available to those with sensory disabilities.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. Spaces will allow people with disabilities to be active participants, as well as spectators, volunteers and members of staff.
  8. Indoor exercise equipment will include options for those with a variety of disabilities including those with temporary disabilities who are undergoing rehabilitation.
  9. 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.
  1. Swimming Pools
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  1. Cafeterias
  2. 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.
  3. If tray slides are provided, they will be designed to move trays with minimal effort.
  4. Food signage will be accessible.
  5. All areas where food is ordered and picked up will be designed to meet accessible service counter requirements
  6. Self-serve food will be within the reach of people who are shorter or using seated mobility assistive devices
  7. 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
  1. Libraries
  2. All service counters shall provide accessibility features
  3. Study carrels will accommodate the knee-space and armrest requirements of a person using a mobility device.
  4. 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.
  5. Workstations shall be equipped with assistive technology such as large displays, screen readers, to increase the accessibility of a library.
  6. Book drop-off slots shall be at different heights for standing and seated use with accessible signage, to enhance usability.
  1. Teaching Spaces and Classrooms
  2. Students, instructors and staff with disabilities will have accessibility to teaching and classroom facilities, including teaching computer labs.
  3. All teaching spaces and classrooms will provide power door operators and assistive listening systems such as hearing loops
  4. 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.
  5. Students instructors and staff with disabilities will be accommodated in all teaching spaces throughout the facility.
  6. 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.).
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  1. Laboratories
  2. In addition to the requirements for classrooms, additional accessibility considerations may be necessary for spaces and/or features in laboratories.
  1. Waiting and Queuing Areas
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. Assistive listening systems will be provided, such as hearing loops, will be provided along with accessible signage indicating this service is available.
  1. Information, Reception and Service Counters
  2. 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.
  3. Counters will provide knee space under the counter to accommodate a person using a wheelchair or a scooter.
  4. 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.
  5. Colour contrast will be provided to delineate the public service counters and speaking ports for people with low vision.
  1. Lockers
  2. Lockers will be accessible with colour contrast and accessible signage
  3. In change rooms an accessible bench will be provided in close proximity to lockers.
  4. Lockers at lower heights serve the reach of short people or a person using a wheelchair or scooter.
  5. 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).
  1. Storage, Shelving and Display Units
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. Appropriate lighting and colour contrast is particularly important for persons with vision loss.
  5. Signage provided will be accessible with braille, text, colour contrast and tactile features
  1. Public Address Systems
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. Classrooms, library, hallways, and other areas will have assistive listening equipment that is tied into the general public address system.
  1. Emergency Exits, Fire Evacuation and Areas of Rescue Assistance
  2. 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.
  3. Persons with vision loss/no vision will be provided a means to quickly locate exits – audio or talking signs could assist.
  4. 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.
  1. Space and Reach Requirements
  2. 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.
  1. Ground and Floor Surfaces
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. Patterned floors should be avoided, as they can create visual confusion.
  5. 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.
  6. Openings in any ground or floor surface such as grates or grilles are to be avoided because they can catch canes or wheelchair wheels.
  1. Universal Design Practices Beyond Typical Accessibility Requirements
  2. Areas of refuge should be provided even when a building has a sprinkler system.
  3. No hangout steps* should ever be included in the building or facility.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. Rest areas should be differentiated from walking surfaces or paths by texture- and colour-contrast
  7. Keypads angled to be usable from both a standing and a seated position
  8. Finishes
  9. No floor-to-ceiling mirrors
  10. Colour luminance contrast between:
  1. Door or door frame to wall
  2. Door hardware to door
  3. Controls to wall surfaces
  1. 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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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: www.aodaalliance.org Email: [email protected] Twitter: @aodaalliance Facebook: www.facebook.com/aodaalliance/

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

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.

  1. 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.
  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.
  1. 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’s Community, 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:
    • researching social inclusion and social enterprise
    • developing a pre-employment skills program
    • piloting a 12-week pan-disability program for adults with disabilities
    • 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 the Home & 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:
    • 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: www.aodaalliance.org Email: [email protected] Twitter: @aodaalliance Facebook: www.facebook.com/aodaalliance/

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

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?
  1. A Vision of An Accessible Health Care System
  1. General Provisions that the Health Care Accessibility Standard Should Include
  1. 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
  1. The Right of Patients with Disabilities and of Any Patients’ Support People with Disabilities to Physically Get to Health Care Services
  1. 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
  1. The Right of Patients with Disabilities and of Any Patients’ Support People with Disabilities to Accessible Furniture and Floor Plans in Health Care Facilities
  1. 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
  1. The Right of Patients with Disabilities to Accessible Diagnostic and Treatment Equipment
  1. The Right of Patients with Disabilities to the Privacy of Their Health Care Information
  1. 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
  1. The Right of Patients with Disabilities to the Support Services They Need to Access Health Care Services
  1. 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
  1. 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
  1. 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
  1. 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:

  1. 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.
  1. 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.
  1. 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.
  1. 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.
  1. e) Limited accessible parking lots and spaces near hospitals i.e. which cannot accommodate modified vans with raised roof or side lift for wheelchair.
  1. 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.
  1. 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:

  1. 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.
  1. 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.
  1. c) Parking facilities with automated parking payment kiosks that are inaccessible to wheelchair users.
  1. d) Health care facilities with inaccessible doors to the check-in/waiting areas.
  1. 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.
  1. 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.
  1. 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.
  1. 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.
  1. i) Reception desks, where access to them is blocked, or where knee space is blocked, preventing face to face access.
  1. j) Doorways within a health care facility that are too tight to allow a wheelchair or other mobility device to pass through.
  1. k) Elevators lacking audio floor announcements and elevator buttons that lack braille and colour-contrasted large print for use by persons with vision loss.
  1. 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.
  1. m) Health care facilities that have fragrances or other substances affecting those with environmental sensitivities.
  1. n) Equipment e.g. commode, alternating mattresses, nurse call switches, etc., that are not accessible for use by a person with a motor disability.
  1. 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:

  1. a) specifying their required end-user functionality that effectively address recurring known needs arising from specific disabilities, and,
  1. 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:

  1. a) requiring a greater number of accessible parking spots for the facility, where possible.
  1. b) requiring that the accessible parking spots be located as close as possible to the doors of the health care facility.
  1. 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
  1. 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:

  1. a) guides on accessible procurement including procurement of accessible furniture
  1. 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:

  1. 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.
  1. 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.
  1. 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:

  1. a) Information or communications needed to provide a health care provider with the patient’s history, needs, symptoms or other health problems.
  1. b) Information and communications regarding the patient’s diagnosis, prognosis or treatment, including any risks, follow-up or other health care services to secure.
  1. 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:

  1. 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;
  1. b) In the case of existing information technology now being used, retrofit to be accessible except where this would pose an undue hardship and,
  1. 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:

  1. a) All advertisements for health care promotion should have captioning and audio description.
  1. 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:

  1. a) may not recognize a patient who has an invisible communication disability;
  1. b) may not know how to communicate with a patient if the patient uses ways other than speech to communicate;
  1. c) may overestimate or underestimate a patient’s comprehension and ability to give informed consent;
  1. d) may erroneously assume the patient’s incapacity based on their communication disability;
  1. 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:

  1. 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.
  1. b) Procedures to ensure privacy and confidentiality of information if third parties are present to assist with communication.
  1. 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.
  1. 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.
  1. 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:

  1. 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.
  1. b) Establish and fund a central hub for rapid provision of communication supports referred to here, which health care facilities and providers can use.
  1. 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:

  1. a) Attendant care.
  1. b) Assistance with meals.
  1. 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:

  1. 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.
  1. 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.
  1. 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.
  1. 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.
  1. 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.
  1. 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.
  1. 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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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: www.aodaalliance.org Email: [email protected] Twitter: @aodaalliance Facebook: www.facebook.com/aodaalliance/

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

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.

  1. 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.

 

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

 

  1. 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.

 

  1. 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.

 

  1. 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.

 

  1. 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.

 

  1. 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.

 

  1. 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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For 2.6 Million Ontarians with Disabilities, Today is a Frustrating Anniversary of Inaction by the Ford Government – We Are Still Waiting for the Government to Announce an Effective Plan of Action to Implement the David Onley Report Received One Year Ago Today


Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance Update

United for a Barrier-Free Society for All People with Disabilities

Web: www.aodaalliance.org Email: [email protected] Twitter: @aodaalliance Facebook: www.facebook.com/aodaalliance/

For 2.6 Million Ontarians with Disabilities, Today is a Frustrating Anniversary of Inaction by the Ford Government – We Are Still Waiting for the Government to Announce an Effective Plan of Action to Implement the David Onley Report Received One Year Ago Today

January 31, 2020

          Summary

Fully one year after the Ford Government received a compelling report that shows a need to substantially strengthen the implementation and enforcement of Ontario’s 2005 disability accessibility law, the Government continues its foot-dragging, with no end in sight. For example, it continues its failure to take important action required under that legislation.

At the same time, the Ford Government instead pushes forward with an unhelpful distraction, its plan to divert 1.3 million public dollars to the problem-ridden Rick Hansen Foundation private accessibility certification program. That public money would be far better spend funding such things as the development and enactment of long-overdue new regulations that would ensure that Ontario’s built environment becomes accessible to Ontarians with disabilities .

While this anniversary of inaction is very frustrating, we remain unstoppably tenacious. We will continue and redouble our efforts in our non-partisan campaign for accessibility for people with disabilities.

1. A Deeply Troubling One Year Anniversary of Government Foot-Dragging

One year ago today, the Ford Government received the blistering final report of the Government-appointed Independent Review of the implementation of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, conducted by former Ontario Lieutenant Governor David Onley. That ground-breaking report called on the Ontario Government to show strong new leadership on accessibility for over 2 million Ontarians with disabilities. It found that Ontario remains a province full of “soul-crushing barriers” that daily impede Ontarians with disabilities. It recommended specific, long-overdue actions to speed up and strengthen the AODA’s implementation and enforcement. We and the Ford Government agreed that Mr. Onley did a marvelous job.

For an entire year, we have pressed the Ford Government to release a strong and comprehensive plan of action to implement the Onley Report. It still has not done so.

Earlier this week, on January 28, 2020, the Ford Government staged a media event to unveil its response to the Onley Report that has been a year in the making. Our news release that day showed that the Ford Government’s announcement offered thin gruel for 2.6 million Ontarians with disabilities. It largely re-announced existing programs. Progress on accessibility will continue at the glacial rate that the Onley Report documented to have been the case in Ontario for years.

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

No one can credibly deny that the Ontario Building Code’s accessibility provisions are inadequate. A new building can be built that fully complies with the Ontario Building Code and AODA accessibility standards, and still be replete with serious accessibility barriers. For example, thousands of people know this to be the case from viewing three captioned online videos produced by the AODA Alliance. They show serious accessibility barriers in the new Ryerson University Student Learning Centre, the new Centennial College Culinary Arts Centre, and the new subway stations recently opened on Toronto’s subway line – all public buildings.

At its media event earlier this week, the Ford Government said that action on barriers facing people with disabilities in the built environment was one of its four priorities. Yet, the Ford Government still has not announced any plans to create a long-overdue Built Environment Accessibility Standard under the AODA. 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.

Under the AODA, a very limited and weak accessibility standard was enacted by the previous Ontario Government in 2012 to address some barriers in public spaces, mainly outside buildings. The AODA required the Ontario Government to appoint a Standards Development Committee to review that weak accessibility over two years ago. That committee is needed and required to advise the Government on any revisions to it that are needed to ensure that Ontario becomes accessible by 2025, the AODA’s mandatory deadline. The Government continues to be in open, flagrant and ongoing breach of that obligation. No such Standards Development Committee has been appointed. The previous Wynne Government was in breach of that duty for its last six months in power. The Ford Government has been in breach of it for its entire 19 months in power.

In its weak January 28, 2020 announcement, the Ford Government did not say that it would create a Built Environment Accessibility Standard. Instead, it only re-announced that it would harmonize the weak Ontario Building Code with the weak national building code. That could make things worse for people with disabilities.

So far, the Ford Government’s thin gruel for Ontarians with disabilities has not been well received by people with disabilities. The feedback we have received from people with disabilities has been quite critical of the Government’s announcement. Similar sentiments were expressed in the January 29, 2020 Thunder Bay Chronicle Herald (article set out below) and in a Radio 610 CKTB interview on January 28, 2020 with AODA Alliance Chair David Lepofsky. Ontario NDP Disability Critic Joel Harden issued a news release on January 28, 2020, set out below, that was to the same effect.

2. Instead of Embarking on Developing Long-Overdue New Regulations for the Accessibility of Ontario’s Built Environment, the Ford Government is Going Ahead with Its Wasteful Investment in the Rick Hansen Foundation’s Private Accessibility Certification Program

Making this situation even worse, instead of investing public money into developing new, modernized and effective accessibility regulations for the built environment, whether under the Ontario Building Code, the AODA or both, the Ford Government is going ahead with its seriously flawed plan to divert 1.3 million public dollars into the problematic Rick Hansen Foundation (RHF) private accessibility certification program. Last year, we exhaustively documented that the RHF program has major deficiencies. Public money should not be spent on it:

*  The RHF purports to “certify” a building as accessible. In reality, it certifies nothing. The fact that the RHF proclaims that a building is accessible does not mean that it is accessible.

* The RHF has an unfair, selective approach to accessibility which, per its own news release, looks at barriers facing people with disabilities relating to mobility, vision and hearing. Yet to properly assess a building’s accessibility, it is important to look at the needs of people with all disabilities, not just those that the RHF has unfairly chosen to prioritize.

* The Standard and process that the RHF uses to assess a building  are deficient and unreliable.

* The RHF’s meager 8-day training program for its assessors is entirely inadequate to qualify a person to conduct such assessments.

Neither the RHF nor the Ford Government have disproven our serious and fully documented concerns. Nevertheless, the Ford Government is forging ahead with this improper use of public money. On January 30, 2020, the RHF issued a news release. We set it out below. It obviously was coordinated with the Ford Government.

That news release invites organizations in ten Ontario cities to apply for a free RHF assessment of their building, entirely at the Ontario taxpayer’s expense. That news release adds new concerns to the many that we have already documented.

Months ago, we asked the Ford Government a number of important questions about this scheme. Many remain unanswered. For example, we have asked who is going to decide which organizations and which buildings will get this free RHF assessment at public expense. From the news release, set out below, we learned that applications for this public benefit go to the RHF, a private foundation, and not to the Ontario Government which will be paying for it. The news release states:

“RHF will be engaging municipalities and their Accessibility Advisory Committees to select finalists in their local communities.”

This strongly implies that the RHF may be the final decision-maker. That would be entirely inappropriate. The RHF is not publicly accountable for such decisions. There is a real risk of conflicts of interest, since the RHF is a charitable foundation that also solicits donations from the public, including those who apply for this publicly-funded offering.

To the extent that the Government is partially downloading the burden to select finalists to municipalities and their accessibility advisory committees, there is no indication that the Ford Government will cover their added costs. Members of the public who serve on municipal accessibility advisory committees are volunteers. They have far more important things to do to serve the needs of their communities.

Neither the Ford Government nor the RHF have announced any criteria for deciding which organizations will get this taxpayer-funded benefit. It is critically important to know how these decisions will be made, with full public accountability for this use of public money.

Because the Ontario Building Codes accessibility provisions are so inadequate, several of these ten Ontario municipalities have their own stronger accessibility standards. Nothing in the RHF program ensures that RHF assessors have the required knowledge and expertise about the technical requirements in the municipal accessibility standards in the relevant municipality. The RHF’s 8-day training course does not ensure that they have that knowledge and expertise. If the RHF certifies a building in London, Ontario that does not comply with London’s accessibility standards, it would be seriously misleading for the RHF to declare it as an accessible building.

We strongly recommend that organizations not apply to the RHF for its assessment of their buildings in this program. There are far better options for taking action to address accessibility issues in their buildings.

If, despite our serious concerns, a municipality and its accessibility advisory committee are still going to get involved in this, they should insist that buildings be assessed for compliance with their own local accessibility standard. They should also insist that the RHF ensure that any RHF assessor that assesses a building in their community proves that they have been properly trained in and have expertise in that municipality’s accessibility standard, well beyond the inadequate 8-day RHF training course.

We welcome your feedback. Write us at [email protected]

t         More Details

Thunder Bay Chronicle Herald January 29, 2020

Originally posted at https://www.chroniclejournal.com/news/local/accessibility-in-ontario-will-take-time-minister/article_5a0f00b4-425e-11ea-bccb-2be18f1bdb14.html

Accessibility in Ontario will take time: minister

BY CARL CLUTCHEY, NORTH SHORE BUREAU Jan 29, 2020

Advocates for Ontario’s 2.6 million disabled people chided the government Tuesday for continuing to move at a “glacial pace” towards a goal of making the province fully accessible by 2025.

The Toronto-based Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Alliance said an announcement by Accessibility Minister Raymond Cho was more like a “re-announcement” of earlier pledges that have yet to be fulfilled.

“This is the best they can do?” Alliance chairman David Lepofsky scoffed in a news release.

See the full story in the print and digital editions of The Chronicle-Journal.

January 28, 2020 News Release by the Ontario New Democratic Party

 

Originally posted at http://www.joelharden.ca/ford_government_announcement_offers_no_real_commitment_to_enforcing_accessibility_ndp_critic_for_accessibility

 

Ford government announcement offers no real commitment to enforcing accessibility: NDP critic for Accessibility

Published on January 28, 2020

 

QUEEN’S PARK — The NDP’s critic for Accessibility and Persons with Disabilities, Joel Harden, made the following statement in response to this morning’s Ford government announcement on accessibility:

 

“Ontarians with disabilities have waited nearly a year for the Ford government to respond to David Onley’s report on the third review of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) with a concrete plan of action for improving Ontario’s accessibility. After years of being let down by the Liberals, who failed to make Ontario more accessible, they were again disappointed today, this time by the Ford government.

 

Not only has the Ford government failed to release a comprehensive plan for ensuring that Ontario achieves full accessibility by 2025 — as the AODA requires — but today’s government announcement falls woefully short of addressing the many barriers that prevent Ontarians with disabilities from living their fullest lives.

 

The framework that Ford’s Minister of Seniors and Accessibility Raymond Cho mentioned today offers no actual commitment to enforcing accessibility standards in Ontario, creates no new standards to ensure that buildings in Ontario are accessible, and makes no pledge to ensure that public money isn’t used to create new barriers to accessibility.

People with disabilities have waited long enough to access the same opportunities as able-bodied Ontarians. The NDP calls on this government to act with urgency to make our province fully accessible, and to release a real plan of action that incorporates the key recommendations from Onley’s report.”

 

January 30, 2020 News Release by the Rick Hansen Foundation

 

Originally posted at https://www.rickhansen.com/sites/default/files/press-release/2020-01/acp-922-rhfac-and-ontarioaccessibleen.pdf

 

Rick Hansen Foundation calls on people of Ontario to improve accessibility

Complimentary accessibility ratings through the Rick Hansen Foundation Accessibility Certification™ program available to 250 sites in Ontario

 

(Toronto) Thursday, January 30, 2020 – Thanks to funding of $1.3 million from the Government of Ontario’s Ministry for Seniors and Accessibility, the Rick Hansen Foundation (RHF) is accepting applications from organizations across 10 municipalities in Ontario to obtain a snapshot of their buildings’ accessibility through the Rick Hansen Foundation Accessibility Certification™ (RHFAC) program.

RHF is calling on non-profit, public and private organizations to apply to receive complimentary RHFAC ratings. This includes spaces such as community centres, libraries, schools, retailers and office buildings. Two hundred and fifty sites will have the opportunity to be rated through the RHFAC program. The 10 eligible municipalities are:

  1. Brampton
  2. Greater Sudbury
  3. Hamilton
  4. Kitchener
  5. London
  6. Markham
  7. Mississauga
  8. Ottawa
  9. Toronto
  10. Windsor

RHFAC rates the level of meaningful access of the built environment, keeping in mind user experience of people with varying disabilities affecting their mobility, vision and hearing. This means attracting more consumers and potential employees for organizations across the province. According to the Conference Board of Canada, improvements to workplace access would allow more than half a million Canadians with disabilities to work more hours, increasing GDP by $16.8 billion by 2030. To date, more than 1,200 buildings across Canada have been rated through the program.

“People with disabilities and our seniors deserve to be independent and fully participate in their communities as consumers and employees,” said Raymond Cho, Minister for Seniors and Accessibility. “This certification pilot project will help businesses and communities understand how to be more accessible and inclusive for everyone – so that we all benefit. By helping to build awareness of accessible built environments, we are fostering a culture of accessibility and inclusion.”

Speaking about the complimentary ratings, Brad McCannell, VP of Access and Inclusion at RHF, said, “This generous funding from the Ontario government will enable many organizations to

understand and showcase their building’s accessibility, and help inform their future accessibility plans with respect to the built environment. This is a great opportunity for organizations to help make Ontario more inclusive for our aging population and the growing number of people with disabilities.”

Applications from building owners and tenants can be submitted online until March 27, 2020. RHF will be engaging municipalities and their Accessibility Advisory Committees to select finalists in their local communities.

To learn more and apply for a complimentary rating, visit RickHansen.com/FreeRating   

 

About the Rick Hansen Foundation

The Rick Hansen Foundation (RHF) was established in 1988, following the completion of Rick Hansen’s Man In Motion World Tour. For nearly 30 years, RHF has worked to raise awareness, change attitudes, and remove barriers for people with disabilities. Visit www.rickhansen.com to learn more.

RHF Media Contact:

Yulu Public Relations

Nora Eastwood / Monica McCluskey

[email protected]

778-751-4542

Ministry for Seniors and Accessibility Media Contact:

Leah Wong

[email protected]

647-962-9892



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Ford Government’s Long Delayed Response to the Blistering Report of the David Onley Independent Review of the Implementation of Ontario’s Disability Accessibility Law Offers Thin Gruel to 2.6 Million Ontarians with Disabilities


ACCESSIBILITY FOR ONTARIANS WITH DISABILITIES ACT ALLIANCE

NEWS RELEASE – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Ford Government’s Long Delayed Response to the Blistering Report of the David Onley Independent Review of the Implementation of Ontario’s Disability Accessibility Law Offers Thin Gruel to 2.6 Million Ontarians with Disabilities

January 28, 2020 Toronto: After a year delay, the Ford Government today offered thin gruel to 2.6 million Ontarians with disabilities in its response set out below to the searing report of the Government-appointed Independent Review of the implementation of Ontario’s disability accessibility law conducted by David Onley. On January 31, 2019, the Government received Onley’s blistering report that concluded that for people with disabilities, Ontario is not a place of opportunity, but is instead full of “countless, dispiriting, soul-crushing Barriers”, with progress on accessibility being “barely detectable” and coming at a “glacial” pace.

To fix this, today the Ford Government mainly re-announced existing measures, in place for months or years, primarily focusing on public education efforts that are proven to be insufficient. Among these, it even re-announced a program for purchasing accessible buses that was started a quarter century ago by the Bob Rae Government.

“After a year, this is the best they can do? Premier Ford has still announced no action plan to implement the Onley Report’s important recommendations to strengthen and speed up the implementation and enforcement of the 2005 Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act. The AODA requires the Government to lead Ontario to become accessible by 2025, under five years from now,” said David Lepofsky, chair of the non-partisan grassroots AODA Alliance that leads the campaign for accessibility in Ontario. “How long must we wait for a real plan to actually implement the Onley Report? A year’s dithering mainly produced a re-announcement of earlier voluntary programs that the Onley Report shows were insufficient to meet the needs of Ontarians with disabilities who want to ride public transit, get an education, use our health care system or get a job.”

The Onley Report found that Ontario has suffered from years of ineffective leadership on accessibility. Today’s announcement shows none of the new leadership by the premier for which the Onley Report called. Indeed, Premier Ford has to date refused to even meet with the AODA Alliance.

Since taking office, the Ford Government has taken steps setting back accessibility, such as:

* For months, it froze the work of five advisory committees, appointed under the AODA to propose new measures to achieve accessibility for Ontarians with disabilities in education, health care, information and communication and employment. The AODA Alliance had to campaign hard to get that unjustified freeze lifted.

* It rejected recommendations to create a long-overdue Accessibility Standard to ensure that buildings in Ontario become accessible. The Ford Government unfairly slammed that proposal as “red tape.” Today’s re-announcement that the Ford Government plans to harmonize the weak Ontario Building Code with the weak federal building code could lead to a further weakening of already-inadequate accessibility protections for Ontarians with disabilities.

* Again re-announced today, it wastefully diverted $1.3 million public dollars into the deeply-flawed and unaccountable Rick Hansen Foundation’s private accessibility certification program – funds which should have been used to create new regulations on building accessibility, rather than having the Hansen Foundation use inadequate standards to have its insufficiently-trained people inspect a meager 250 buildings across all of Ontario.

* It mandated the creation of serious new barriers against people with disabilities by legalizing electric scooters on Ontario roads and sidewalks, endangering accessibility and safety of people with disabilities and others. Today’s announcement says the Ford Government will lead by example on accessibility, but it’s example so far is one that no one should follow.

* It is considering allowing builders to hire the private building inspector of their choice to inspect their construction project – a proposal riddled with conflicts of interest. Here again the Government is showing a weak commitment to accessibility in the built environment, despite the Onley Report’s emphasizing it as a top priority and the Government’s announcement today emphasizing barriers in the built environment.

* It has not committed to ensure that public money is never used to create barriers against Ontarians with disabilities. This is so even though the Government has emphasized its commitment to be responsible in the use of public money.

Contact: AODA Alliance Chair David Lepofsky, [email protected]

Twitter: @aodaalliance

Text of the Ford Government’s January 28, 2020 Announcement In Response to the Onley Report

Ontario Establishes a New Framework to Continue Progress on Accessibility

Applying Cross-Government Actions to Advance Accessibility

TORONTO — When a society is inclusive and barrier-free, people can fully participate in their communities. Making Ontario a province where communities and businesses are accessible for everyone benefits us all.

The government continues to build momentum in creating a barrier-free Ontario, but a lot of work still needs to be done to make the province accessible for everyone. That is why Ontario has developed a new framework informed by the recommendations made by the Honourable David C. Onley in the third legislative review of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA), as well as input from key partners, organizations and people with disabilities. The new framework will make a positive difference in the daily lives of people with disabilities.

Today, Raymond Cho, Minister for Seniors and Accessibility, announced Advancing Accessibility in Ontario at the Toronto Pan Am Sports Centre. This cross-government framework will help focus the province’s work in four key areas:

  • breaking down barriers in the built environment
  • government leading by example
  • increasing participation in the economy for people with disabilities and
  • improving understanding and awareness about accessibility

“We know that making Ontario accessible is a journey that cannot be completed overnight or alone. The Advancing Accessibility in Ontario framework will support our work with all of our partners across government and beyond to remove barriers for people with disabilities,” said Minister Cho. “Our government created a dedicated Ministry for Seniors and Accessibility because we are working towards a more accessible and inclusive province today and for future generations.”

“As I conducted the third legislative review of the AODA, it became increasingly clear that the people of Ontario wanted an all-of-government commitment to making Ontario far more accessible. This could not be achieved with a single stand-alone ministry attempting to resolve the problem alone,” said David C. Onley. “That is why I am pleased that the government is coordinating access activities and programs with multiple ministries in an-all-of-government commitment.”

The first area in Advancing Accessibility in Ontario – breaking down barriers in the built environment – shows how government is working with partner ministries and businesses to reduce barriers to accessibility for people with disabilities in the built environment and housing.

For example, the Ontario Building Officials Association is receiving funding from the government’s EnAbling Change Program to enhance its curriculum and training on accessibility. By making building officials more aware of the challenges people with disabilities face in accessing buildings and training them about areas of improvement, new and existing buildings can be planned and built to be more accessible.

There are several additional examples that illustrate progress and upcoming initiatives as the government continues its work towards making Ontario accessible.

Ontario is committed to protecting what matters most to people with disabilities.

QUICK FACTS

  • There are 2.6 million people in Ontario that have a disability.
  • The government is investing $1.3 million over two years for the Rick Hansen Foundation to launch the Rick Hansen Foundation Accessibility Certification program in Ontario to help remove barriers in buildings. An update on the program will be announced shortly.
  • Further information on the other key areas in Advancing Accessibility in Ontario will be announced in the coming weeks.

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

-30-

Ontario Government Backgrounder

Advancing Accessibility in Ontario:

Breaking down barriers in the built environment

BACKGROUNDER January 28, 2020

Advancing Accessibility in Ontario is a cross-government framework that will help focus the government’s work in four key areas. The four key areas are:

  • 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 first area in Advancing Accessibility in Ontario – breaking down barriers in the built environment – shows how government is working with partner ministries and businesses to reduce barriers to accessibility for people with disabilities in the built environment and housing.

Work the government is doing to break down barriers in the built environment includes:

  • Making buildings safer and more accessible for people with disabilities by increasing harmonization of Ontario’s Building Code with the National Construction Codes. This process is reducing barriers and has resulted in accessibility changes, including new requirements for the design of barrier-free ramps, clearer accessibility requirements in barrier-free washrooms and easier-to-understand requirements for universal washrooms in large buildings and equipment such as grab bars and faucets.
  • Investing $1.3 million over two years for the Rick Hansen Foundation to launch the Rick Hansen Foundation Accessibility Certification program in Ontario to help remove barriers in buildings. An update on the program will be announced shortly.
  • Improving access to buildings and places for people with disabilities by working with key partners in architecture, design, and building. We are exploring ways to enhance training for those practicing in the field and undertaking discussions with the post-secondary sector to reach a new generation of professionals. For example:
    • We are partnering with the Ontario Building Officials Association to enhance its curriculum and training on accessibility, helping to ensure that new and existing buildings can be planned and built to be more accessible.
    • The Royal Architecture Institute of Canada is introducing a new course on accessibility to be available March 2020. Introduction to Successful Accessible Design will analyze the impacts of accessibility in society, the built environment, and the development industry. The course will be offered in English and French, both as a complete university graduate level course and as a continuing education course for practicing professionals.
  • Making places of worship more accessible so people can connect with their faith groups by funding Our Doors Are Open – a free guide created by OCAD University that provides practical information on how places of worship can remove physical barriers to accessibility.
  • Giving retailers of all sizes in Ontario practical information on how to make their store more welcoming for customers and staff with disabilities by funding EnAbling Change for Retailers: Make your Store Accessible – a free guide created by Retail Council of Canada that covers how stores can implement accessibility in their communications, customer service and recruitment and retention.
  • Ensuring better access for people with disabilities throughout Ontario by continuing to require that all public transportation vehicles bought with provincial funding be accessible.
  • Continuing to help Ontario residents with long-term mobility disabilities remain in their homes and participate in their communities by funding the Home & 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.

As the government moves forward with making Ontario more accessible, upcoming work includes:

  • Funding free resources and training materials for the building sector through the EnAbling Change Program to further educate associations and employers about how to improve accessibility in the built environment. Many of these resources are available on a comprehensive one-stop-shop government web page that provides businesses and communities with information to help them be more accessible and inclusive.
  • We are committed to developing an innovation guide with the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing that will be used to support the implementation of Ontario’s Housing Supply Action Plan. The action plan will address housing challenges and support fresh approaches to help make homes more accessible.
   
MEDIA CONTACTS

Matt Gloyd

Communications Branch

647-268-7233

[email protected]

ontario.ca/msaa-news

Disponible en français



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Premier Ford Ducks Our Request to Meet, and Instead Has His Accessibility Minister Send Us a Letter Saying Nothing New – and – Ford Government Considering a Very Troubling Proposal to Let Builders Hire Their Own Private Building Inspectors, Rather Than Having Building Code Inspections Conducted by Qualified Public Officials — And Then Answers Criticisms in an Inaccessible Tweet


Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance Update

United for a Barrier-Free Society for All People with Disabilities

Web: www.aodaalliance.org Email: [email protected] Twitter: @aodaalliance Facebook: www.facebook.com/aodaalliance/

Premier Ford Ducks Our Request to Meet, and Instead Has His Accessibility Minister Send Us a Letter Saying Nothing New – and – Ford Government Considering a Very Troubling Proposal to Let Builders Hire Their Own Private Building Inspectors, Rather Than Having Building Code Inspections Conducted by Qualified Public Officials —  And Then Answers Criticisms in an Inaccessible Tweet

January 23, 2020

          SUMMARY

1. Instead of Premier Ford Agreeing to Meet Us, Accessibility Minister Raymond Cho Writes the AODA Alliance, Offering Nothing New on Disability Accessibility.

On January 21, 2020, Ontario’s Accessibility Minister Raymond Cho wrote the AODA Alliance. We set out his letter below.

Sadly, this letter tells us nothing new. It is a serious cause for concern. Here’s why.

First, this letter is the Government’s response to our November 26, 2019 letter to Premier Ford. Premier Ford never answered that letter.

In our November 26, 2019 letter to Premier Ford, we asked for a meeting with the Premier. The Premier has not agreed to meet. In contrast, Ontario’s last two premiers, Kathleen Wynne and Dalton McGuinty, each met with AODA Alliance leadership several times.

Second, we pointed out to Premier Ford in our November 26, 2019 letter that the Premier’s leadership on the accessibility issue in Ontario is needed now. We wrote:

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

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

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

Instead of showing the leadership we need, Premier Ford has again simply sent us back to Accessibility Minister Cho. Minister Cho lacks the authority to take a good number of the measures that over 2 million Ontarians with disabilities now need.

Third, Minister Cho’s January 21, 2020 letter primarily points to The Government’s efforts at raising public awareness on accessibility for people with disabilities. Most, if not all, of those programs or activities were in place under the previous Government. They have not solved the predicament that Ontario remains a province full of “soul-crushing barriers” in the words of the Onley Report. Ontario will not become accessible to Ontarians with disabilities just through such public education and awareness raising.

Fourth, in his letter, Minister Cho said again that The Government is “working across all ministries” on accessibility. This is not working any more than it did when the previous Government claimed to be doing the same thing. Minister Cho wrote:

“We are working across ministries to make accessibility a responsibility of all ministries and inform a whole-of-government approach to advancing accessibility.

This includes reviewing policies, programs and services, and identifying areas where we can work together to remove the barriers faced by Ontario’s 2.6 million people with disabilities.”

That ineffective strategy did not lead the Ford Government to effectively prevent the serious dangers to people with disabilities and others posed by the Ford Government’s new regulation on electric scooters. That regulation allows municipalities to permit unlicensed, uninsured and untrained people as young as age 16 to ride silent electric scooters on Ontario roads, sidewalks and other public places.

The Ford Government has in effect ignored our concerns. Its new electric scooters regulation will lead to the creation of serious new accessibility barriers for Ontarians with disabilities. See more on this below.

In the next section of this Update, we identify another example that shows that this “whole of Government” approach to accessibility is not working.

As of today, there have now been 357 days, or almost a full year, since the Ford Government received the final report of David Onley’s Government-appointed Independent Review of the AODA’s implementation. That report called for strong new Government action due to the fact that progress on accessibility has been so slow.

The Ford Government has still announced no plan to implement the Onley Report, even though the Government said that Mr. Onley did a “marvelous job.” That is yet another reason why we urgently need a meeting with Premier Ford.

2. Ford Government Considering Weakening the Enforcement of the Ontario Building Code Including Its Inadequate Provisions on Accessibility for People with Disabilities

Last May, the Ford Government used its majority in the Legislature to defeat a resolution that advocated for Ontario to create a new Built Environment Accessibility Standard under the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act. The Ford Government erroneously and hurtfully claimed that this would just be more red tape, and pointed to the Ontario Building Code as if it were sufficient.

The Ontario Building Code‘s disability accessibility provisions are widely known to be palpably inadequate. They do not ensure that a new building is barrier-free for people with disabilities.

Making this even worse, the media this week reported that the Ford Government is considering an option that would seriously weaken enforcement of the Ontario Building Code. This would apply to all aspects of the Ontario Building Code, including its weak accessibility provisions. See the January 21, 2020 CBC News report set out below.

When a new building or major renovation is now to be built, a public official must inspect the project to ensure that it complies with the Ontario Building Code . The January 21, 2020 CBC news report stated that the Ford Government is considering replacing this with a regime where an organization could instead hire their own private inspector to inspect the project. This creates a serious conflict of interest. Builders will shop around to hire the private inspectors who will go the easiest on them. In this CBC report, the Ford Government says that it has made no final decisions on this.

Yesterday the Government released a response to criticisms of this from others, in a tweet. That tweet is more proof that the Government’s approach to accessibility is so deficient. That tweet links to a responding statement by the relevant minister which is in an inaccessible format.

We are exceedingly concerned about this proposal. We call on the Ford Government to immediately drop it from consideration. Building inspections must only be conducted by public officials who are utterly free of any financial stake or conflict of interest.

This problem regarding building inspectors has troubling similarity to the Ford Government’s problematic decision to embrace the seriously flawed private accessibility certification process offered by the Rick Hansen Foundation. Last year we revealed serious problems with the Rick Hansen Foundation’s program. We called on the Ford Government not to divert public money into it. That program also has serious conflict of interest concerns, as we revealed last year.

This proposal for private building inspections is the latest example that shows that the Ford Government’s “whole of Government” approach to accessibility, addressed earlier in this Update, is toothless and ineffective.

3. We Invite Additional Disability Organizations to Sign Our Open Letter to the Ontario Government and Municipal Governments on Electric Scooters

On January 22, 2020, we made public a compelling open letter to the Ontario Government and to the Mayors and Councils of Ontario municipalities. It calls on them not to allow electric scooters (e-scooters) because they are a danger to safety and accessibility for people with disabilities and others.

An impressive list of eleven disability organizations have already signed this open letter. We encourage other disability organizations that operate in Ontario to join as signatories to this open letter. If your organization would like to be added to the list, email us at [email protected]

We are delighted that CBC Radio Toronto’s flagship public affairs morning program, Metro Morning, interviewed AODA Alliance Chair David Lepofsky today on this e-scooter issue and the

Open letter that we sent yesterday to address it.

          MORE DETAILS

January 21, 2020 Letter to the AODA Alliance from Ontario Accessibility Minister Raymond Cho

Dear Mr. Lepofsky:

Premier Ford forwarded me your correspondence regarding the Ontario government’s plan to improve accessibility in Ontario. I appreciate the opportunity to respond.

Our government is committed to accessibility and we are working to support people with disabilities and seniors to remain engaged and participate fully in their communities.

As was recommended in the Third Legislative Review of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, 2005 (AODA) by the Honourable David Onley, we are working across ministries to make accessibility a responsibility of all ministries and inform a whole-of-government approach to advancing accessibility.

This includes reviewing policies, programs and services, and identifying areas where we can work together to remove the barriers faced by Ontario’s 2.6 million people with disabilities.

With our ministry partners, we have had discussions with stakeholders to promote accessibility and look at opportunities to support accessibility awareness. We believe Ontario should be built to work for everyone – and that means being accessible for all – whether you’re pushing a stroller, or making a delivery, using a white cane – or a wheelchair.

We are helping to make communities and businesses more accessible with our EnAbling Change Program. Through this program, the ministry partners with non-profits, industry organizations, and professional associations to educate their stakeholders about the benefits of accessibility, provide resources and tools, and drive change including a focus on employment.

An example of an EnAbling Change project is a resource guide, The Business of Accessibility, that was developed by the Ontario Business Improvement Area Association. The guide provides helpful tips for businesses on how to become more inclusive and accessible including addressing barriers in the built environment such as entrances and exits, space layout and design. More information on this project can be found at OBIAA ACCESSIBILITY.

The Ministry’s Employers’ Partnership Table supports the government’s commitment to increase employment for people with disabilities by providing a place for employers to give their perspectives and advice to us on how to support inclusive hiring, retention and success for people with disabilities. We are also working across government to align efforts that support employment for people with disabilities including transforming our employment services.

Additionally, this fall we resumed the Health Care and Education Standards Development Committees, a key recommendation in the Onley Report. These Standard

Development Committees will provide recommendations for new AODA accessibility standards in these sectors.

These are just some examples of how we are working with our partners to improve accessibility in the province. Through this work, we are on the right track to creating an Ontario where communities offer opportunities instead of barriers.

We will continue our outreach with people with disabilities and disability organizations, and consult with businesses, non-profits and industry groups to get their perspectives on how to improve accessibility in Ontario.

Thank you again for writing. Please accept my best wishes.

Sincerely,

Raymond Cho

Minister

c:     The Honourable Doug Ford

CBC News January 21, 2020

Originally posted at https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/toronto/province-eyeing-changes-that-could-see-developers-hire-their-own-building-inspectors-1.5434037

Province eyeing changes that could see developers hire their own building inspectors

Certified professionals program would allow architects, engineers to okay building permits

Should developers be allowed to hire their own inspectors? The provincial government is looking at that possibility. The City of Toronto is pushing back against a provincial government proposal that could give developers the power to skirt the rules surrounding municipal building inspections. The Certified Professionals Program would allow architects and engineers to undergo additional training in the work that city inspectors do. Developers could then hire the newly-minted professionals, instead of calling in city inspectors to approve their progress.

“Toronto Building staff do not support the introduction of a program whereby builders would be allowed through legislation to hire designers to assume the plan review and inspection roles and responsibilities on behalf of municipalities,” Will Johnston, the city’s chief building official, wrote in a report to the planning and housing committee.

“There are a number of concerns with this model, including potential conflicts of interest.” Even if the proposal is eventually approved, it may have a tough time getting architects onboard.

Adam Tracey, manager of policy and government relations for the Ontario Association of Architects, says the association is against the proposal to introduce a Certified Professional designation for architects in Ontario.

The Ontario Association of Architects, which regulates the profession, weighed in last November in a letter to the province.

“The development industry may have pitched this to government as a cheap and simple way to to get building approvals faster,” the letter reads in part.

“As risk is transferred from municipalities to individual practitioners, the profession’s liability would increase, and higher insurance costs would directly translate into higher building costs. “Adam Tracey, the association’s manager of policy and government relations, warned those extra costs would likely be passed on to the public. “There will be some kind of cost transfer from municipalities back on to homeowners and business owners,” he said. “Somebody has to pay for it. It’s not going to be done for free.”

Will Johnston, the city’s head building official, worries that introducing certified professionals in Toronto could lead to perceptions of conflict of interest, because developers would be allowed to hire their own inspectors.

The proposal is part of larger discussion paper, circulated by the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing among professionals in the building industry last fall.

The aim of the consultation, according to a statement from the ministry to CBC Toronto, is “modernizing and transforming the delivery of building code services to help speed up the construction of new housing and building projects, and better support Ontario’s $38-billion building industry.”

Builders have been complaining for years about red tape that’s slowing down the building process. They’ve been asking for a more streamlined system. As things stand now, every builder — from single-home contractors to the largest developers — must adhere to the Ontario Building Code when erecting a new structure.

Municipalities enforce the code, signing off on each stage of construction, from the original building permit application, through foundation work, framing, plumbing, and other work normally done by tradespeople. Ultimately, after a final inspection, the city issues an occupancy permit.

The only permits not covered would be those that affect personal safety, such as electrical inspections, according to Joe Vaccaro, CEO of the Ontario Home Builders Association, which has also been involved in the consultations.

Under the new model, developers would be allowed to hire their own certified professionals, rather than have city inspectors visit the site, according to Johnston and Vaccaro, who’s in favour of the certified-professionals model.

“We are struggling to get permits, we are struggling to get inspections done in a timely way,” Vaccaro told CBC Toronto. “And when those delays happen it backs up the entire project. So, now the idea here is to get people in their home sooner and safer.”

But Johnston said municipal regulators are essential in ensuring new buildings are properly constructed. ‘A robust regulatory system’

“What’s important to Toronto Building is that we have a robust regulatory system where the public can have confidence that the buildings that they work and that they live in, that they visit, are safe,” he said.

Joe Vaccaro, head of the Ontario Home Builders Association, says the proposed changes could streamline the building process and ‘get people into their homes sooner and safer. “The best way to achieve that in my view is to have a system where you have independent oversight of the building design and construction process.”

The ministry would not agree to an interview with CBC Toronto. But in an email, a spokesperson maintained no decisions on streamlining the system have been made.

“Modernizing and transforming the delivery of Ontario’s building code services will take time and this is the beginning of the conversation,” Conrad Spezowka wrote. “Consultation feedback is currently being reviewed and no decisions have been made.”

Although the province has not provided details of the proposed changes, it has stated that the idea to establish certified professionals in Ontario is based on a British Columbia model.

But Maura Gatensby, a B.C. architect and certified professional, said only the cities of Surrey and Vancouver have opted to let certified professionals bypass municipal inspections.

The issue is scheduled to be discussed at Wednesday’s meeting of the planning and housing committee, as part of a broader discussion on possible changes to the way the Ontario Building Code is administered.





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