Nova Scotia first province to adopt Hansen Foundation curriculum in schools


HALIFAX – Nova Scotia’s Education Department is teaming up with the Rick Hansen Foundation to provide inclusion and accessibility teaching materials to the province’s schools.

The free online programs include access to foundation ambassadors and to a series of lesson plan ideas for primary and high schools. In a virtual news conference Tuesday, Hansen said the province is the first in the country to officially incorporate his foundation’s resources into its school curriculum.

“You are really taking an opportunity to educate the next generation of young difference makers who will normalize this issue,” Hansen said. “The reality is it is a multigenerational, ultra-marathon of social change.”

Hansen said the program contains information that should be available to “everyone, everywhere,” adding that it is now available in English and in French in every province and territory. His foundation’s resources, he said, have been used in 5,500 schools and by 12,000 teachers.

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“I want to encourage teachers to continue to explore the resources and utilize them and bring them to life in your classroom,” Hansen said. The curriculum program for each grade contains lessons about such things as empathy and it is designed to inspire students to actively promote social change.

Leah Fumerton, who teachers Grades 1 and 2 at Fairview Heights Elementary in Halifax, says she notices a genuine desire among her students to promote inclusion and accessibility. She says students want to better understand the experiences of those who don’t feel included.

“I see in them a want to question what is around us,” Fumerton said. “It’s critical for us to band together and make school inclusion possible.”

Education Minister Zach Churchill said the program is part of the province’s broader accessibility agenda and commitment to make Nova Scotia more inclusive.

“We’ve invested heavily into new, inclusive education supports, teachers and non-teaching support staff in our system,” he said. “I think how we approach teaching and learning around this subject can be equally impactful.”


Click to play video 'Marking 32 years since Rick Hansen’s “Man in Motion” World Tour'







Marking 32 years since Rick Hansen’s “Man in Motion” World Tour


Marking 32 years since Rick Hansen’s “Man in Motion” World Tour – May 22, 2019

Hansen rose to fame through his Man in Motion World Tour between 1985 and 1987, which saw the wheelchair athlete cover 40,000 kilometres through 34 countries to raise awareness about the potential of people with disabilities.

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More than 30 years later, he said many barriers to inclusivity remain in Canadian society. “To be able to formalize this (education) program and to embed it in core curriculum objectives is the ultimate … in helping to contribute to the Canada that we want,” Hansen said.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 2, 2021.




© 2021 The Canadian Press





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For over 2.6 Million Ontarians with Disabilities, Sunday January 31, 2021 Will Be The Ford Government’s Sad Two Year Anniversary of Inaction On Disability Accessibility


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 over 2.6 Million Ontarians with Disabilities, Sunday January 31, 2021 Will Be The Ford Government’s Sad Two Year Anniversary of Inaction On Disability Accessibility

January 29, 2021

            SUMMARY

Ontario is on the verge of a deeply troubling anniversary of Ontario Government inaction. This Sunday, January 31, 2021 marks the two year anniversary since the Ford Government received the blistering  final report of the Independent Review of the Implementation of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act. This report was written by former Ontario Lieutenant Governor David Onley.

In the two years since it received this report, the Ford Government has announced no strong, comprehensive plan to implement its recommendations. Most of its recommendations have not been implemented at all. This is so even though Ontario’s Accessibility Minister, Raymond Cho said in the Legislature on April 10, 2019 that David Onley did a “marvelous job” and that Ontario is only 30 percent along the way towards the goal of becoming accessible to people with disabilities.

It is a wrenching irony that this anniversary of inaction comes right after we celebrated the 40th anniversary of Canada’s Parliament deciding to include equality for people with disabilities in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. That momentous breakthrough took place on January 28, 1981, 40 years ago yesterday. The Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act was passed in no small part to implement that constitutional right to equality for people with disabilities.

Over the past two years, the AODA Alliance has spearheaded grassroots efforts to get the Ford Government to come forward with a strong and comprehensive plan to implement the Onley Report. We have offered many constructive recommendations. We have also offered the Government our help. On Twitter and in our AODA Alliance Updates, we have maintained an ongoing count of the number of days that had passed since the Government received the Onley Report, keeping the spotlight on this issue. As of today, it has been 729 days.

The Government has taken a few new actions on accessibility since it took office in June 2018, the most important of which are summarized below. But these have been slow, halting and inadequate.

            MORE DETAILS

 1. What the Onley Report Found About the Plight of Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities

In February 2018, the Ontario Government appointed David Onley to conduct a mandatory Independent Review of the AODA’s implementation and enforcement. He was mandated to recommend reforms needed to ensure that Ontario becomes accessible by 2025, the goal which the AODA requires. Based on public feedback he received, the Onley report found that the pace of change since 2005 for people with disabilities has been “glacial.” With under six years then left before 2025 (now less than four years), the Onley report found that “…the promised accessible Ontario is nowhere in sight.” Onley concluded that progress on accessibility for people with disabilities under this law has been “highly selective and barely detectable.”

David Onley also found “…this province is mostly inaccessible.” The Onley Report accurately concluded:

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

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

“The 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.”

The Onley Report made concrete, practical recommendations to substantially strengthen the Government’s weak, flagging AODA implementation and enforcement. Set out below is the Onley Report’s summary of its recommendations. Many if not most of them echo the findings and recommendations that the AODA Alliance submitted in its detailed January 15, 2019 brief to the Onley Review. Among other things, David Onley called for the Government to substantially strengthen AODA enforcement, create new accessibility standards including for barriers in the built environment, strengthen the existing AODA accessibility standards, and reform the Government’s use of public money to ensure it is never used to create disability barriers.

 2. What New Has the Ford Government Done on Accessibility Since the Onley Report?

It was good, but long overdue, that when releasing the Onley report back in March 2019, the Ford Government at last lifted its inexcusable 258 day-long freeze on the important work of three Government-appointed advisory committees. These committees were mandated under the AODA to recommend what regulations should be enacted to tear down disability barriers in Ontario’s education system impeding students with disabilities, and in Ontario’s health care system obstructing patients with disabilities. The AODA Alliance led the fight for the previous nine months to get the Ford Government to lift that freeze. Because of those delays, the Government delayed progress on accessibility for people with disabilities in health care and education. We are feeling the harmful effects of those delays during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Ford Government’s main focus of its efforts on accessibility for people with disabilities has been on educating the public on the benefits of achieving accessibility for people with disabilities. That is work that the previous Government had been doing for over a decade. That alone will not bring about significant progress.

Since releasing the Onley Report, the Ford Government has held a couple of staged ministerial events, on January 28, 2019 and on October 29, 2019 (for which an inaccessible email invitation was sent), supposedly to announce a framework to implement the Onley Report. However they announced little, if anything, new. To the contrary, they focused on re-announcing things the Government had been doing for years, including at least one measure dating back to the Bob Rae NDP Government that was in power over a quarter century ago.

The Government has announced no plans to implement any of the recommendations for reform of accessibility standards from the Transportation Standards Development Committee (which submitted its final report to the Ontario Government in the spring of 2018, almost three years ago) or the final report of the Information and Communication Standards Development Committee (which submitted its final report some ten or eleven months ago).

The Government has had in hand for at least a month, if not more, the initial report of the Health Care Standards Development Committee. It must be posted for public comment. The Government has not posted it, or announced when it will do so. In the midst of this pandemic, swift action in the area of health care accessibility is desperately needed for people with disabilities and all Ontarians.

In the meantime, the one major new strategy on disability accessibility that the Ford Government has announced in its over two and a half years in office has been an action that David Onley never recommended and has, to our knowledge, never publicly endorsed. The Government diverted 1.3 million public dollars to the seriously problematic Rick Hansen Foundation’s private building accessibility “certification” program. We have made public serious concerns about that plan. The Government never acted on those concerns. Almost two years later, there is no proof that that misuse of public money led to the removal of any barriers in an Ontario building.

Despite announcing that the Government will take an “all of Government” approach to accessibility in response to the Onley Report, we have seen the opposite take place. TVO has not fixed the serious accessibility problems with its online learning resources, much needed during distance learning in this pandemic. The Government is building a new courthouse in downtown Toronto with serious accessibility problems about which disability advocates forewarned. During the pandemic, the Government has had circulated two successive critical care triage protocols which direct hospitals to use an approach to triage that would discriminate against some patients with disabilities and has refused to directly speak to us about these concerns. Over our objection, the Government has unleashed electric scooters on Ontarians, exposing people with disabilities to dangers to their safety and accessibility. This is all amply documented on the AODA Alliance’s website.

Over 2.6 million Ontarians with disabilities deserve better.

 3. The Onley Report’s Summary of Its Recommendations

  1. Renew government leadership in implementing the AODA.

Take an all-of-government approach by making accessibility the responsibility of every ministry.

Ensure that public money is never used to create or maintain accessibility barriers.

Lead by example.

Coordinate Ontario’s accessibility efforts with those of the federal government and other provinces.

  1. Reduce the uncertainty surrounding basic concepts in the AODA.

Define “accessibility”.

Clarify the AODA’s relationship with the Human Rights Code.

Update the definition of “disability”.

  1. Foster cultural change to instill accessibility into the everyday thinking of Ontarians.

Conduct a sustained multi-faceted public education campaign on accessibility with a focus on its economic and social benefits in an aging society.

Build accessibility into the curriculum at every level of the educational system, from elementary school through college and university.

Include accessibility in professional training for architects and other design fields.

  1. Direct the standards development committees for K-12 and Post-Secondary Education and for Health Care to resume work as soon as possible.
  1. Revamp the Information and Communications standards to keep up with rapidly changing technology.
  1. Assess the need for further standards and review the general provisions of the Integrated Accessibility Standards Regulation.
  1. Ensure that accessibility standards respond to the needs of people with environmental sensitivities.
  1. Develop new comprehensive Built Environment accessibility standards through a process to:

Review and revise the 2013 Building Code amendments for new construction and major renovations

Review and revise the Design of Public Spaces standards

Create new standards for retrofitting buildings.

  1. Provide tax incentives for accessibility retrofits to buildings.
  1. Introduce financial incentives to improve accessibility in residential housing.

Offer substantial grants for home renovations to improve accessibility and make similar funds available to improve rental units.

Offer tax breaks to boost accessibility in new residential housing.

  1. Reform the way public sector infrastructure projects are managed by Infrastructure Ontario to promote accessibility and prevent new barriers.
  1. Enforce the AODA.

Establish a complaint mechanism for reporting AODA violations.

Raise the profile of AODA enforcement.

  1. Deliver more responsive, authoritative and comprehensive support for AODA implementation.

Issue clear, in-depth guidelines interpreting accessibility standards.

Establish a provincewide centre or network of regional centres offering information, guidance, training and specialized advice on accessibility.

Create a comprehensive website that organizes and provides links to trusted resources on accessibility.

  1. Confirm that expanded employment opportunities for people with disabilities remains a top government priority and take action to support this goal.
  1. Fix a series of everyday problems that offend the dignity of people with disabilities or obstruct their participation in society.



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Share with Others the Youtube Link to Yesterday’s Important Panel on TV Ontario’s “The Agenda with Steve Paikin” Revealing the Hardships Facing Many Ontario Students with Disabilities During Distance Education and While Attending Re-Opened Schools


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/

Share with Others the Youtube Link to Yesterday’s Important Panel on TV Ontario’s “The Agenda with Steve Paikin” Revealing the Hardships Facing Many Ontario Students with Disabilities During Distance Education and While Attending Re-Opened Schools

December 9, 2020

Did you miss last night’s important panel on Ontario’s flagship public affairs program The Agenda with Steve Paikin on the barriers and hardships facing many Ontario students with disabilities during distance learning or while attending re-opened schools? You can now watch it online any time you want, on your computer, tablet, smart phone or smart TV! If you want to cut and paste the link, here it is!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AO0MDM54gnA&feature=youtu.be

In the past, TVO has upgraded the automated Youtube captioning for its postings from The Agenda with Steve Paikin and has posted a transcript of such panels within a period of days.

On this panel, Steve Paikin interviewed three guests:

  1. AODA Alliance Chair David Lepofsky, who is also a member of the Government-appointed K-12 Education Standards Development Committee, as well as a member and past chair of the Toronto District School Board’s Special Education Advisory Committee.
  2. Ontario Autism Coalition President Laura Kirby-McIntosh, who is also a teacher and mother of two children with autism.
  3. Grand Erie District School Board Special Education Advisory Committee member Paula Boutis, who is also the mother of a child with a disability and the President of Integration Action for Inclusion, a parent association of families with children with disabilities working to improve inclusion in education and community), and a past member of the TDSB Special Education Advisory Committee.

One of the many important points made during this interview is the pressing unmet need for the Ford Government to have developed and implemented a comprehensive province-wide plan on how school boards should meet the needs of a third of a million students with disabilities during distance learning and while attending re-opened schools. It is important to emphasize that the Government was handed just such a plan on a silver platter some five months ago – one it has not implemented. That plan was developed by a sub-committee of the Government-appointed K-12 Education Standards Development Committee and was delivered to the Government on July 24, 2020. That Committee has representation from the disability community and school boards. It sets out a strong consensus position.

At the end of the interview, David Lepofsky stated that Ontario Education Minister Stephen Lecce told the Ontario Legislature on July 8, 2020 that he speaks regularly with Lepofsky. You can read the official Ontario Hansard transcript of that statement! Minister Lecce has not spoken to AODA Alliance Chair David Lepofsky since he made that statement. You can also read the AODA Alliance’s September 23, 2020 letter to Education Minister Lecce, asking for a meeting.

Please encourage as many people as possible, including your member of the Legislature and your local school staff and school board officials to watch the December 8, 2020 panel on The Agenda with Steve Paikin. Forward this Update to them. Publicize it on social media.

We know that so many parents of students with disabilities are struggling more than ever to advocate to their school and school board to meet their children’s learning needs. That’s why we have made available a helpful video that offers parents of students with disabilities a series of very practical tips on how to advocate to school boards for their children. Please encourage parents, teachers, principals and others to watch that video too! Encourage principals to share that video with all the families attending their school.

We again want to acknowledge and thank Steve Paikin, and the staff of The Agenda with Steve Paikin, for shining a bright spotlight on this important disability issue. As AODA Alliance Chair David emphasized in another recent online lecture about advocating for the needs of people with disabilities during the COVID-19 pandemic, it has been inexplicably hard to get media attention on vital disability issues over the past nine months. We are struggling to understand why that is so. Bucking that trend, Mr. Paikin and The Agenda with Steve Paikin stand out as a true and commendable model of receptiveness to our issues and concerns. Steve Paikin noted at the start of this interview that it was an approach from the AODA Alliance that led his program to decide to include this panel, arising out of our concern that an earlier panel on The Agenda did not accurately describe the experience of many students with disabilities during distance education.

Despite the ordeal facing so many Ontarians, including the plight of so many students with disabilities and their families, yesterday, the Ford Government decided yesterday to cancel the rest of the sittings of the Legislature this week. It will not sit again until mid-February of next year.

It is in that context that we remind one and all that there have now been 678 days, over 22 months, since the Ford Government received the final report of the Independent Review of the implementation of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act by former Ontario Lieutenant Governor David Onley. In all this time, the Government has announced no comprehensive plan of new action to implement that ground-breaking report. That makes even worse the serious problems facing students with disabilities during the COVID-19 pandemic, addressed in this new episode of The Agenda with Steve Paikin.

Send us your feedback on this interview on The Agenda with Steve Paikin or on any other accessibility topic. Write us at [email protected]



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Watch TVO’s “The Agenda with Steve Paikin” Tonight at 8 or 11 PM for an Interview on Whether Distance Education and Re-Opened Schools are Meeting the Learning Needs of Students 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/

Watch TVO’s “The Agenda with Steve Paikin” Tonight at 8 or 11 PM for an Interview on Whether Distance Education and Re-Opened Schools are Meeting the Learning Needs of Students with Disabilities

We encourage you to watch TVO’s flagship current affairs program “The Agenda with Steve Paikin” tonight at 8 or 11 pm eastern time for an extensive interview on whether the learning needs of students with disabilities are being met this fall, both those doing distance education and those attending re-opened schools. The guests are AODA Alliance Chair David Lepofsky, Ontario Autism Coalition President Laura Kirby-McIntosh and Grand Erie District School Board Special Education Advisory Committee member Paula Boutis (who is also President of Integration Action for Inclusion, a parent association of families with children with disabilities working to improve inclusion in education and community).

This program will appear on TV (for those who still use it). It will also stream tonight at 8 pm on the Twitter feed and Facebook page of The Agenda with Steve Paikin. It will be permanently available on YouTube. In a future AODA Alliance Update, we will provide the YouTube link.

On November 13, 2020, the Agenda included a panel that explored how effectively distance education is working during COVID-19. Those earlier panelists gave distance education very positive grades, but did not give sufficient consideration to its impact on students with disabilities. Today’s broadcast gives viewers a chance to learn about that important issue with this new panel.

We applaud The Agenda with Steve Paikin for addressing this disability issue on tonight’s broadcast, which is important for a third of a million Ontario students with disabilities in publicly-funded Ontario schools. Back on May 8, 2020, The Agenda included an interview about our campaign to get the Ontario Government to address the barriers that people with disabilities are facing during the COVID-19 pandemic. Today’s new interview provided a good opportunity to bring viewers up to date, with a specific focus on the hardships facing school-age students with disabilities.

Help us use this broadcast to promote real change. Please

* Encourage your friends and family to watch this interview.

* Promote this interview on social media like Twitter and Facebook.

* Press members of the Ontario Legislature to watch this interview.

* Urge your local media to cover this issue too. Bring them stories about barriers facing students with disabilities in Ontario’s schools.

* Follow us on Twitter: @aodaalliance. On Facebook: www.facebook.com/AODAAlliance/

 

* While you’re at it, please encourage parents and guardians of students with disabilities to watch the captioned online video by AODA Alliance Chair David Lepofsky where practical tips are given on how to effectively advocate for the needs of students with disabilities in the school system. We’ve already received very encouraging feedback on that video. Tell your school board to publicize it to all parents.

There have now been 677 days, over 22 months, since the Ford Government received the 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 still announced no comprehensive plan of new action to implement that ground-breaking report. That makes even worse the serious problems facing students with disabilities during the COVID-19 pandemic, addressed in this new episode of The Agenda with Steve Paikin.





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Tell Us What Successes or Barriers Students with Disabilities Are Experiencing This Fall at School or During Distance Education – AODA Alliance


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/

Tell Us What Successes or Barriers Students with Disabilities Are Experiencing This Fall at School or During Distance Education

December 1, 2020

Please take a minute to send us your feedback! We want to hear from parents and guardians of students with disabilities in Ontario Schools, from students with disabilities themselves, and from anyone working or volunteering in our schools. How has it been going for students with disabilities this fall, either during distance learning or when attending at school? Please email us your answers, even if you only have a minute or two. Write us at [email protected]

Here are the questions that are especially important. Feel free to answer all or just some of them:

  1. Is your child attending school in person or taking part in distance learning? Why did you choose one over the other?
  1. If your child is taking part in distance learning, how is it going? Are they learning as much as when they are at school?
  1. If your child is taking part in distance education, are they encountering any disability barriers or disability-related problems? If so, how effective has the school board been at overcoming those barriers or problems?
  1. If your child is attending school in person, have they encountered any additional disability barriers or problems due to the COVID-19 pandemic and measures taken to address it? If so, how effective has the school board been at removing or fixing those barriers or problems?

We appreciate any time you can take to send us your feedback. Please respond, if at all possible, by the end of Monday, December 7, 2020.

We will read every response we get. It will help us formulate our ongoing advocacy efforts. We will not reveal any names or specific identifying information you share with us.

As a volunteer coalition, we won’t be able to give advice on specific cases. However, if you want some practical tips on how to advocate for a child with disabilities in the school system, check out the AODA Alliance’s new online video on this topic.

For more background on these issues, visit

  1. The AODA Alliance’s COVID-19 web page and our education accessibility web page.
  1. The July 24, 2020 report on meeting the needs of students with disabilities during school re-opening by the COVID-19 subcommittee of the K-12 Education Standards Development Committee.
  1. The AODA Alliance‘s July 23, 2020 report on the need to rein in the power of school principals to refuse to admit a student to school.
  1. The AODA Alliance’s June 18, 2020 brief to the Ford Government on how to meet the needs of students with disabilities during school re-opening.
  1. The widely viewed online video of the May 4, 2020 virtual Town Hall on meeting the needs of students with disabilities during the COVID-19 crisis, co-organized by the Ontario Autism Coalition and the AODA Alliance.



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New captioned Video is Unveiled Today on Hardships People with Disabilities Face During the COVID-19 Pandemic, To Mark This Sunday, the 26th Anniversary of the Birth of Ontario’s Grassroots Movement for Disability Accessibility


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/

New captioned Video is Unveiled Today on Hardships People with Disabilities Face During the COVID-19 Pandemic, To Mark This Sunday, the 26th Anniversary of the Birth of Ontario’s Grassroots Movement for Disability Accessibility

November 27, 2020

            SUMMARY

Happy birthday to us! This Sunday, November 29, 2020, is the 26th anniversary of the birth of Ontario’s unstoppable grassroots non-partisan movement that successfully campaigned for a decade from 1994 to 2005 to get the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act passed, and that has tenaciously campaigned since then to get the AODA effectively implemented. To mark this anniversary, we today unveil another captioned video. It is the newest addition to our large and growing collection of captioned online videos on the important subject of accessibility for people with disabilities.

This newest captioned video is entitled: “Advocating to Address the Added Hardships that COVID-19 Imposes on People with Disabilities.” For the past 8 months, the AODA Alliance has focused our advocacy efforts on the many barriers that people with disabilities are facing during the COVID-19 pandemic, especially in the areas of education for students with disabilities and health care for patients with disabilities. In this one-hour talk by AODA Alliance Chair David Lepofsky, you can learn all about the barriers we’ve faced, the corrective actions we’ve sought, the results we’ve achieved, and the lessons to be learned from the experience of people with disabilities during this pandemic.

This new video is available online at: https://youtu.be/yB5i7cCiw68

You can read all about the issues addressed in this newest video by visiting the AODA Alliance website’s COVID-19 page.

While we’re at it, why don’t we also remind you of the three other important new captioned videos that the AODA Alliance made public over the past few weeks:

  1. Tips for Parents of Students with Disabilities on How to Advocate for Your Child’s Needs in the School system, available at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TtadvCvcGC0
  1. The Threat to Disability Rights If Critical Medical Care Must Be Rationed or Triaged During the COVID-19 Pandemic, available at https://youtu.be/MxpHXUYNP4A
  1. The AODA Alliance’s August 31, 2020 Presentation to the Ford Government’s “Bioethics Table” on the Need to Protect Disability Rights If Critical Medical Care Must be Triaged or Rationed, available at https://youtu.be/MAigGhN5zB4
  1. AODA 101 – An Introduction to the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, available at https://youtu.be/zrPLb3N1DBQ

We have already gotten great feedback on these videos so far. We’d welcome your feedback too! Write us at [email protected]

Please share these videos with others and encourage them to watch them. Please post links to our videos on your social media.

If you are a school teacher or a professor in a college or university, please feel free to use all or part of any of our videos in your courses. They can be helpful in courses or programs on a diverse spectrum of topics, such as law, education, health, medicine, public policy, political science, human rights, disability studies, civics, bioethics, and history.

We also invite you to learn more about the historic events of November 29, 1994 that led to the birth of the grassroots AODA movement that is as tenacious and relentless as ever 26 years later. Read a description of those historic events, set out below.!

We still have so much more to do! There have now been 666 days, or almost 22 months, 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 announced no 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, addressed in the new video we unveil today.

            MORE DETAILS

EXCERPT FROM “THE LONG ARDUOUS ROAD TO A BARRIER-FREE ONTARIO FOR PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES: THE HISTORY OF THE ONTARIANS WITH DISABILITIES ACT – THE FIRST CHAPTER” BY DAVID LEPOFSKY, PUBLISHED IN THE NATIONAL JOURNAL OF CONSTITUTIONAL LAW, VOLUME 15.

  1. a) The Birth of the Organized ODA Movement

The realization within Ontario’s disability community that a new law was needed to tear down the barriers facing persons with disabilities did not take place all at once as the result of a single catastrophic event. Rather, it resulted slowly from a simmering, gradual process. That process led to the birth of Ontario’s organized ODA movement.

How then did the organized ODA movement get started? Most would naturally think that it is the birth of a civil rights movement that later spawns the introduction into a legislature of a new piece of civil rights legislation. Ironically in the case of the organized ODA movement, the opposite was the case. The same ironic twist had occurred 15 years before when the Ontario Coalition for Human Rights for the Handicapped formed in reaction to the Government’s introduction of a stand-alone piece of disability rights legislation.

In the early 1990s, after the enactment in the U.S. of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) in 1990, sporadic voices in Ontario began discussing the idea of seeking the enactment of something called an “Ontarians with Disabilities Act.” There was little if any focused attention on what this new law would contain. It was understood from the outset that an ODA would not be a carbon copy of the ADA. For example, some parts of the ADA were already incorporated in the Ontario Human Rights Code. There was no need to replicate them again.

In the 1990 Ontario provincial election campaign (which happened to take place just days after the U.S. had enacted the Americans with Disabilities Act) NDP leader Bob Rae responded to a disability rights legal clinic’s all-party election platform questionnaire in August 1990 with a letter which, among other things, supported appropriate legislation along the lines of an Ontarians with Disabilities Act. Rae’s letter didn’t spell out what this law would include. This letter did not get serious airplay in that election campaign. It was not well-known when the NDP came from behind in the polls to win that provincial election. Because the NDP had not been expected to win, it was widely seen as campaigning on a range of election commitments that it never anticipated having the opportunity to implement.

Despite sporadic discussions among some in the early 1990s, there was no grassroots groundswell in Ontario supporting an ODA. There was also no major grassroots political force building to push for one. This was quite similar to the fact that there was no organized grassroots disability rights movement pushing for the inclusion of disability equality in the Ontario Human Rights Code in 1979, before the Ontario Government proposed its new disability discrimination legislation in that year. In the early 1990s, Ontario disability organizations involved in disability advocacy were primarily focused on other things, such as the NDP Ontario Government’s proposed Employment Equity Act, expected to be the first provincial legislation of its kind in Canada. That legislation, aimed at increasing the employment of persons with disabilities as well as women, racial minorities and Aboriginal persons, was on the agenda of the provincial New Democratic Party that was then in power in Ontario.

What ultimately led to the birth of a province-wide, organized grassroots ODA movement in Ontario was the decision of an NDP back-bench member of the Ontario Legislature, Gary Malkowski, to introduce into the Legislature a private member’s ODA bill in the Spring of 1994, over three years into the NDP Government’s term in office. By that time, the NDP Government had not brought forward a Government ODA bill. Malkowski decided to bring forward Bill 168, the first proposed Ontarians with Disabilities Act, to focus public and political interest in this new issue. Malkowski was well-known as Ontario’s, and indeed North America’s, first elected parliamentarian who was deaf. Ontario’s New Democratic Party Government, then entering the final year of its term in office, allowed Malkowski’s bill to proceed to a Second Reading vote in the Ontario Legislature in June, 1994, and then to public hearings before a committee of the Ontario Legislature in November and December 1994.

In 1994, word got around various quarters in Ontario’s disability community that Malkowski had introduced this bill. Interest in it started to percolate. Malkowski met with groups in the disability community, urging them to come together to support his bill. He called for the disability community to unite in a new coalition to support an Ontarians with Disabilities Act. A significant number of persons with disabilities turned up at the Ontario Legislature when this bill came forward for Second Reading debate in the Spring of 1994.

Over the spring, summer and fall months of 1994, around the same time as Malkowski was coming forward with his ODA bill, some of the beginnings of the organized ODA movement were also simmering within an organization of Ontario Government employees with disabilities. Under the governing NDP, the Ontario Government had set up an “Advisory Group” of provincial public servants with disabilities to advise it on measures to achieve equality for persons with disabilities in the Ontario Public Service. In the Spring of 1994, this Advisory Group set as one of its priorities working within the machinery of the Ontario Government to promote the idea of an ODA.

This public service Advisory Group met with several provincial Cabinet Ministers and later with Ontario’s Premier, Bob Rae, to discuss the idea of an ODA. It successfully pressed the Government to hold public hearings on Malkowski’s ODA bill.

As 1994 progressed, Malkowski’s bill served its important purpose. It sparked the attention and interest of several players in Ontario’s disability community in the idea of an ODA. No one was then too preoccupied with the details of the contents of Malkowski’s ODA bill.

Malkowski’s bill had an even more decisive effect on November 29, 1994, when it first came before the Legislature’s Standing Committee for debate and public hearings. On that date, NDP Citizenship Minister Elaine Ziemba was asked to make a presentation to the Committee on the Government’s views on Malkowski’s bill. She was called upon to do this before community groups would be called on to start making presentations to the legislative committee. The hearing room was packed with persons with disabilities, eager to hear what the Minister would have to say.

Much to the audience’s dismay, the Minister’s lengthy speech said little if anything about the bill. She focused instead on the Government’s record on other disability issues. The temperature in the room elevated as the audience’s frustration mounted.

When the committee session ended for the day, word quickly spread among the audience that all were invited to go to another room in Ontario’s legislative building. An informal, impromptu gathering came together to talk about taking action in support of Malkowski’s bill. Malkowski passionately urged those present to come together and to get active on this cause.

I was one of the 20 or so people who made their way into that room. In an informal meeting that lasted about an hour, it was unanimously decided to form a new coalition to fight for a strong and effective Ontarians with Disabilities Act. There was no debate over the content of such legislation at that meeting. However, there was a strong and united realization that new legislation was desperately needed, and that a new coalition needed to be formed to fight for it. This coalition did not spawn the first ODA bill. Rather, the first ODA bill had spawned this coalition.

Days later, in December 1994, the Legislature’s Standing Committee held two full days of hearings into Malkowski’s bill. A significant number of organizations, including disability community organizations, appeared before the Legislature’s Standing Committee to submit briefs and make presentations on the need for new legislation in this area. Among the groups that made presentations was the Ontario Public Service Disability Advisory Group which had pressed for these hearings to be held. Its brief later served as a core basis for briefs and positions that would be presented by the brand-new Ontarians with Disabilities Act Committee.



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Indefinite Arts Centre finds new name and potential new home – Calgary



Calgary’s oldest and largest disability arts organization has announced they are rebranding themselves.

Following recent mergers with Momo Movement and Artistic Expressions, the Indefinite Arts Centre will now be known as the National accessArts Centre.

There’s also talk about the centre moving.

The Centre’s current location is in an adjoining facility to the Fairview Arena, which had its roof collapse in 2018. The City of Calgary then completed an assessment of the building, deemed it unsafe, and plans to demolish it.

Read more:
Organization supports Calgary artists with disabilities amid COVID-19 outbreak

While this news didn’t come as a surprise, it did make the centre’s future even more unclear.

“This has been two-and-a-half years of incredible anxiety for our organization,” NaAC CEO Jung-Suk Ryu said. “We have 300 artists and families that access the space each week during regular times, and we’re a lifeline for so many of them.”

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READ MORE: Indefinite Arts Centre continues funding fight for new home

One location that has been identified for the centre to move into is the former Scouts Canada building along Memorial Drive. The building is comparable in size to the centre’s current location in Fairview, but upgrades would need to be completed on the city-owned facility to make it accessible for artists disabilities.

“The bells and whistles to make it an art space, we can raise money for that” Ryu said. “The fact is right now the basic built-in environment is incredibly inaccessible to the vast majority of our artists, so we would like the city to support us in fixing that.”

It’s Ryu’s understanding that this will be the centre’s final winter in their existing site, which gives them approximately a year to work with the city to address the challenges with the potential new building.




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Ontario investing $1B over 6 years to improve internet, cellphone service


The Ontario government is committing nearly $1 billion over six years to improve and expand broadband internet and cellular access across the province.

In the village of Minden on Wednesday afternoon, Premier Doug Ford announced an additional investment of $680 million on top of $315 million announced in 2019 to support the province’s “Up to Speed: Ontario’s Broadband and Cellular Action Plan.”

“Reliable, high-speed internet is no longer a luxury, it is necessary for everyday life,” said Ford. “It allows people to bank, shop, learn to get their news or watch their favourite movies and we take that for granted.”

Read more:
EORN to propose billion dollar rural broadband internet expansion

Ford says providing high-speed internet to communities like Minden, about 100 kilometres north of Peterborough, will create “good jobs” and unlock “new opportunities” for businesses and people.

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“With the world online these days, if we are going to attract more investment to Ontario and compete in this highly competitive global marketplace, we need every part of our province connected with high-speed Internet,” said Ford, noting how more people have turned to internet since the coronavirus pandemic.

The province says more than 1.4 million people in Ontario do not have broadband or cellular access and up to 12 per cent of households (mostly rural, remote or Northern areas) are “underserved or unserved,” according to Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission data.

Minister of Infrastructure Laurie Scott called Wednesday’s announcement a “watershed moment” for broadband. The MPP for Haliburton-Kawartha Lakes-Brock says in an increasingly digital world, Ontarians need to be connected.

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“This investment will connect even more residents in communities across Ontario to faster, more reliable internet and cell service,” said Scott. “Today’s commitment to connect more people to reliable broadband and cellular service ― along with many others we’ve made ― will make it easier for more people to work and learn from home, run their businesses and connect with others.”

The action plan aims to improve connections for up to 220,000 households and businesses, Scott said, and includes a $150-million infrastructure program beginning in 2020-21 with “shovel-ready projects.”

Read more:
EORN to propose billion dollar rural broadband internet expansion

Scott did not outline any specific projects on Wednesday, stating funding is the “start of conversations” with municipalities and telecommunications partners along with expected support from Ottawa.

“We’re hopeful the federal government will release its Universal Broadband Fund — Ontario has stepped up and is putting $1 billion on the table,” she said.

“Ontario isn’t waiting any longer. That is why we are taking action today.”

Peter Bethlenfalvy, president of the Treasury Board, says the investment is a “signature project” of the Ontario Onwards Action Plan to make vital programs and services more convenient, reliable and accessible.

“We cannot afford to be an offline government in an online world,” said Bethlenfalvy.

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The investment announced Wednesday also doubles funding for the Improving Connectivity in Ontario (ICON) program announced in June, bringing the new total to $300 million, said Scott. She said the program now has the potential to leverage more than $900 million in total partner funding to improve connectivity across Ontario.

Ontario has also partnered with the Eastern Ontario Regional Network (EORN) to invest $71 million in a $213-million project to improve access to cellular service and mobile broadband in Eastern Ontario.

Andy Letham, Mayor of the City of Kawartha Lakes and Brent Devolin, mayor of Minden Hills Township, both expressed their gratitude for Wednesday’s announcement.

“It will help connect more homes and businesses in Ontario communities and increase their economic competitiveness,” said Letham. “And improve the quality of life for residents and businesses.”

The action plan says coverage for internet connections should be at speeds of at least 50 megabits per second (Mbps) download and 10 Mbps upload.

Rocco Rossi, president & CEO of the Ontario Chamber of Commerce, said the chamber welcomes the additional investments to help underserved communities.

“Canada’s telecommunications network is one of the most advanced networks in the world,” he said. “The vast majority of heavy lifting has been done by the private sector which has invested heavily in digital infrastructure. However, there remains unserved and underserved communities that require the government to step in.

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“For business, health care and education, particularly those workers practicing physical distancing, connectivity is necessary to ensure they can remain productive by using digital tools such as video conferencing. Without adequate access, those in rural and remote regions will be vulnerable to additional layoffs and business closures. We hope to see the federal government consider how to both expedite and increase the federal investment for broadband connectivity to help further support Ontarians in unserved and underserved communities.”


Click to play video 'Broadband expansion critical to recovery: Northumberland recovery task force'







Broadband expansion critical to recovery: Northumberland recovery task force


Broadband expansion critical to recovery: Northumberland recovery task force – Jun 8, 2020




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Ford Government’s October 29, 2020 Virtual Media Event, Heralded to Unveil an Announcement on Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities, Announces Nothing New


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’s October 29, 2020 Virtual Media Event, Heralded to Unveil an Announcement on Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities, Announces Nothing New

November 3, 2020

          SUMMARY

On Thursday October 29, 2020, the Ford Government’s Accessibility Minister held a virtual conference which the Minister heralded as an event to unveil an announcement on advancing accessibility for 2.6 million Ontarians with disabilities. We cannot find anything new in the Minister’s announcement. Below, we offer some reflections on this announcement, and then set out the Minister’s news release and backgrounder.

This was the event for which the Ford Government last week sent out an inaccessible invitation. After we made that painfully symbolic irony public, the Government apologized and re-issued its invitation, this time in an accessible email.

There have now been 642 days, or 21 months, since the Ford Government received the blistering 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 announced no comprehensive plan of new action to implement that report. That makes worse the serious problems still facing Ontarians with disabilities during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Send us your feedback by writing us at [email protected]

          MORE DETAILS

 Reflections on the Ford Government’s October 29, 2020 Accessibility Announcement

On October 29, 2020, the Ford Government’s Accessibility Minister Raymond Cho held a virtual news conference, which AODA Alliance Chair David Lepofsky was invited to virtually watch. At this event, the Minister simply announced that the Government was launching a public education campaign on the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) and the importance of accessibility for people with disabilities.

We scoured the announcement, set out below, and the speeches during the news event, but could find nothing new in this announcement. The Government has earlier announced that it is conducting public education on that very topic. Earlier Government news releases have pointed to such activities. Moreover, the Government’s official Twitter feed has been tweeting on this subject for quite some time.

Indeed, this is just more of what the previous Liberal Government was doing in the realm of educating the public on this topic. On October 29, 2020, the Government announced no new plan of action for this 15-year-old campaign, nor any new budget allocation for this campaign. We have written the Government to ask if any new budget is being allocated to this campaign. The Government has not answered.

Let’s look at this in context. Over 15 years after the AODA was passed, and just over four years before Ontario must become accessible to 2.6 million Ontarians with disabilities, the Ford Government’s announcement is to “raise awareness” about accessibility? And this when the final report of David Onley’s most recent Independent Review of the AODA told the Government over 21 months ago that Ontario remains full of “soul-crushing barriers” facing people with disabilities, with progress on accessibility proceeding at a “glacial pace”?

Ontarians with disabilities deserve much better. “Raising awareness” about the AODA at this point is about the least effective tool in the Government’s toolkit. On the more important issue of effectively enforcing the AODA, the Ford Government said nothing at this media event.

Moreover, it has been over a month since the AODA Alliance wrote the Ford Government’s Accessibility Minister in our September 21, 2020 letter to ask for important information on what the Government is doing to enforce the AODA. While we understand that an answer will eventually be forthcoming, we have not received one to date. You can learn more about our multi-year campaign to get the AODA effectively enforced by visiting the AODA Alliance website’s enforcement page.

A closer look at the Government’s October 29, 2020 announcement triggers even more cause for concern. The Ford Government’s announcement tries to substantially dilute and lower the bar it and Ontario must meet to obey the AODA. In wording carefully crafted for its news release, set out below, the Government’s lead minister stated:

“Our government is committed to working together with our partners inside and outside of government to make Ontario more accessible and inclusive by 2025…”

It is helpful for the Ford Government to acknowledge the AODA’s 2025 deadline. However, the AODA does not merely require Ontario to become “more accessible” by that year. It requires Ontario to become “accessible” by that year, pure and simple.

The difference is enormous. Ontario would meet the Ford Government’s paltry stated goal of “more accessible” if only one ramp were installed somewhere in Ontario between now and 2025, or if only one inaccessible website were retrofitted to make it accessible.

For the Government to so profoundly misunderstand or water down the AODA hurts all Ontarians with disabilities. For the Government to publicly signal this wrongful dilution of the legislation sends the wrong signal to obligated organizations at a time when we need efforts on accessibility ramped up, not diluted.

Beyond this, the Government’s announcement includes re-announcements of initiatives that are already underway. This includes re-announcing, believe it or not, a program started by the Bob Rae NDP Ontario Government dating back to the first half of the 1990s.

Among the initiatives that the Government re-announced was its diverting 1.3 million public dollars to the problematic Rick Hansen Foundation private accessibility certification program. We have publicly shown that no public money should be spent on that program. The Government has not disputed the serious problems with that program which the AODA Alliance publicly documented over a year ago.

The Ford Government’s October 29, 2020 media event is the first major accessibility announcement that its Accessibility Minister has made since its February 28, 2020 media event. At that event, the Government proclaimed that it would “lead by example” on accessibility. In response, the March 2, 2020 AODA Alliance Update documented that there too, the Government announced nothing new. The Ford Government has not disputed this. That AODA Alliance Update also documented that the Government was leading by a poor example on accessibility.

Since then, as the AODA Alliance website’s COVID-19 page demonstrates, the Ford Government seriously bungled its response to the COVID-19 pandemic, in so far as the urgent needs of 2.6 million Ontarians with disabilities are concerned. It thereby continued to lead by a poor example, contrary to its February 28, 2020 commitment.

Finally, it is a further cruel irony that this most recent empty event (which appears to have attracted no reporters and garnered no media coverage) was held on October 29, an important anniversary in our decades-long non-partisan campaign for accessibility for people with disabilities. It is frankly difficult to see what the Government was trying to achieve by holding an event which so obviously announced nothing new.

Despite all this, we continue to offer the Government our constructive recommendations on how to kick-start stalled progress on accessibility. Had the Government wished to announce something meaningful for accessibility for Ontarians with disabilities, any or all of the following, which we have urged, would be welcomed:

  1. Committing to develop a long-overdue Built Environment Accessibility Standard under the AODA, and appointing a Standards Development Committee to develop recommendations for it, as the Onley Report urged;
  1. Appointing an Associate Deputy Minister of Education for Students with Disabilities, to develop an action plan to ensure that one third of a million students with disabilities are fully and safely included in in-class and distance learning;
  1. Committing that all the new schools and school renovations will be fully disability-accessible, for which the Government announced a half a billion dollars this summer, and announcing an effective plan to achieve this;
  1. Immediately making public the report and recommendations of the Government’s Bioethics Table on how critical medical care triage should be done, if the COVID-19 surge overloads Ontario hospitals, and withdrawing the controversial and seriously flawed March 28, 2020 triage protocol that the Government sent to all hospitals last spring.
  1. Announcing a new plan to effectively and meaningfully enforce the AODA.

Ford Government’s October 29, 2020 News Release on Accessibility

Advancing Accessibility in Ontario: Improving Understanding and Awareness about Accessibility

BACKGROUNDER October 29, 2020

Advancing Accessibility in Ontario is a framework designed to 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

To make progress on the area of improving understanding and awareness about accessibility, the government is working with its stakeholders, including partner ministries, broader public sector organizations, businesses and non-profit organizations to help raise awareness and change attitudes. Many organizations are not fully aware of their accessibility responsibilities or do not realize the benefits of being more receptive to the accessibility needs of Ontarians with disabilities.

We are working with key industry stakeholders through the government’s EnAbling Change Program that provides resources and training materials to educate associations and employers in multiple sectors about accessibility by:

  • Developing ReadAble Fest, a specialized reading program with disability themes for elementary students that engaged more than 1,300 students in 17 Simcoe County District School Board schools with OneWorld Schoolhouse Foundation.
  • Developing an enhanced curriculum and training materials on accessibility for building officials through the Ontario Building Officials Association. This ensures that new and existing buildings can be planned and built to be more accessible.
  • Supporting the ReelAbilities Toronto Film Festival, increasing awareness about Deaf and disability cultures highlighted in films and documentaries by filmmakers and actors with disabilities and/or who are Deaf. We also support the Miles Nadal Jewish Community Centre, which runs the ReelEducation program on equity and inclusion for educators.

We are taking action to make accessibility enhancements so that everyone can fully participate in everyday life by:

  • Collaborating with Destination Ontario to improve the user experience for travellers with accessibility needs by providing practical information about accessible options at Ontario’s tourism businesses. These accessibility options are available through the desktop and mobile versions of Ontario’s official travel website.
  • Enabling Ontarians to engage with and learn about attractions, tourism operators and artists across the province, while keeping themselves safe during COVID-19, through Ontario Live, a virtual hub for the arts, attractions and film and television.
  • Using a collaborative review of Ontario’s supportive housing programs to find ways to streamline and improve coordination so people can get the services they need. The government is gathering feedback through multiple virtual public engagement activities, including an online survey, regional engagement sessions with stakeholders and partners, and population-specific discussions that include seniors and people with disabilities.
  • Improving the government’s digital platforms to put more services online, making them easier and faster to use. The Ontario Public Service (OPS) digital plan is starting by enhancing ServiceOntario transactions, including renewals of health cards and driver’s licences. The Digital Strategy endeavours to develop a robust online channel that provides convenience and ease of access for all Ontarians, including customers and OPS employees with disabilities, and will create a consistent experience across multiple platforms.
  • Embedding accessibility into national and international sport events by providing funding to non-profit organizations that deliver such events. Applicants to the Sport Hosting Program must submit an accessibility plan to show how barriers for people with disabilities will be removed so that everyone can take part in the event. Program materials include a link to the Guide to Accessible Festivals & Outdoor Events and volunteers are asked to complete an online accessibility training resource.
  • Investing $1.07 million in 2019-20 to support the Abilities Centre in Whitby to advance accessibility and inclusion by expanding its services and training.
  • Partnering with SPARK Ontario to help seniors and the most vulnerable stay connected and healthy as they self isolate during COVID-19. This volunteer hub connects volunteers to community organizations supporting people with disabilities and older adults during COVID-19 by delivering food or medicines, running errands or checking up on Ontarians as they self-isolate.
  • Launching the Ontario Community Support Program, which provides home deliveries of food and essentials into 2021 for people with disabilities as well as other vulnerable communities who need to self-isolate due to COVID-19. This meaningful support was launched in partnership with the Ontario Community Support Association in April with an $11 million investment from the government. More than 230,000 meals and essential supply deliveries have been made across Ontario between the program’s launch and September.

We are also providing enhanced support for implementing the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act and its accessibility standards by:

  • Ensuring the Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks continues to incorporate up-to-date accessibility specifications in Ontario Parks capital and renovation projects by receiving training on and incorporating Building Code accessibility changes and Design of Public Spaces Standards.
  • Creating a web page that provides free accessibility resources and guides to make it easier for businesses and communities to get the information they need to help them be more accessible and inclusive. The “Accessibility in Ontario: Information for Businesses” resource is a one-stop-shop web page that includes valuable information on topics such as inclusive hiring, how to make workplaces more accessible and the economic benefits of hiring people with disabilities.

The government is strengthening its cross-government leadership in implementing the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act by:

  • Increasing awareness about accessibility within the Ontario Public Service (OPS). An annual Inclusion Week has featured discussions on topics such as accessibility, mental health and inclusive leadership. Dedicated internal committees also provide resources to help advance awareness about inclusion and diversity. A multi-ministry speaker series has also built accessibility awareness to support the design and implementation of inclusive policies, programs and public services for Ontarians.
  • Harmonizing Ontario’s accessibility efforts with those of the federal government for the Investing in Canada Infrastructure Program (ICIP). The program requires that the province ensures all federally funded, public-facing infrastructure meets the highest published, applicable accessibility standard in a respective jurisdiction. The Ontario government applied an accessibility lens while developing the provincial criteria for ICIP. Nearly 400 ICIP projects across Ontario have been approved by the provincial and federal governments to date. They will bring critical infrastructure improvements to their communities, including accessibility components that will enhance the safety and comfort of transit users. For example, roughly 249 bus stops in Oakville will be upgraded with landing pads, walkways, ramps and curbs. In Barrie, 30 new low-floor, accessible buses will replace a retiring bus fleet and 21 new accessible paratransit city buses will replace the existing fleet over the next seven years.
  • Ensuring that ministries work to design and provide accessible internal and public communications, websites and digital services that work for everyone. Our government offers best practice guidance and expertise to support these efforts, which are especially important during COVID-19 to help distribute information to Ontarians with disabilities.

The government is supporting the safety, needs and accessibility awareness of students and educators by:

  • Providing support for research and assessment services for postsecondary students with learning disabilities by funding Assessment and Resource Centres. The support is provided through three centres across the province: the Northern Ontario Assessment and Resource Centre at Cambrian College, the Regional Assessment and Resource Centre at Queen’s University, and the Centre francophone d’évaluation et des ressources de L’Ontario at Collège Boréal.
  • Making ongoing efforts during COVID to review and improve digital learning tools being considered for the Ministry of Education’s Learn at Home website to support students and families when learning from home.
  • Investing in the Rick Hansen Foundation Accessibility Certification (RHFAC) program to help make buildings in Ontario more accessible. The program provides organizations with a snapshot of their building’s accessibility to help businesses and communities understand how to be more accessible and inclusive. As part of its own efforts to further its commitment to accessibility on campus, Carleton University became the first postsecondary institution to incorporate RHFAC into policy.

 Ford Government’s October 29, 2020 Backgrounder

Advancing Accessibility in Ontario: Improving Understanding and Awareness about Accessibility

BACKGROUNDER October 29, 2020

Advancing Accessibility in Ontario is a framework designed to 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

To make progress on the area of improving understanding and awareness about accessibility, the government is working with its stakeholders, including partner ministries, broader public sector organizations, businesses and non-profit organizations to help raise awareness and change attitudes. Many organizations are not fully aware of their accessibility responsibilities or do not realize the benefits of being more receptive to the accessibility needs of Ontarians with disabilities.

We are working with key industry stakeholders through the government’s EnAbling Change Program that provides resources and training materials to educate associations and employers in multiple sectors about accessibility by:

  • Developing ReadAble Fest, a specialized reading program with disability themes for elementary students that engaged more than 1,300 students in 17 Simcoe County District School Board schools with OneWorld Schoolhouse Foundation.
  • Developing an enhanced curriculum and training materials on accessibility for building officials through the Ontario Building Officials Association. This ensures that new and existing buildings can be planned and built to be more accessible.
  • Supporting the ReelAbilities Toronto Film Festival, increasing awareness about Deaf and disability cultures highlighted in films and documentaries by filmmakers and actors with disabilities and/or who are Deaf. We also support the Miles Nadal Jewish Community Centre, which runs the ReelEducation program on equity and inclusion for educators.

We are taking action to make accessibility enhancements so that everyone can fully participate in everyday life by:

  • Collaborating with Destination Ontario to improve the user experience for travellers with accessibility needs by providing practical information about accessible options at Ontario’s tourism businesses. These accessibility options are available through the desktop and mobile versions of Ontario’s official travel website.
  • Enabling Ontarians to engage with and learn about attractions, tourism operators and artists across the province, while keeping themselves safe during COVID-19, through Ontario Live, a virtual hub for the arts, attractions and film and television.
  • Using a collaborative review of Ontario’s supportive housing programs to find ways to streamline and improve coordination so people can get the services they need. The government is gathering feedback through multiple virtual public engagement activities, including an online survey, regional engagement sessions with stakeholders and partners, and population-specific discussions that include seniors and people with disabilities.
  • Improving the government’s digital platforms to put more services online, making them easier and faster to use. The Ontario Public Service (OPS) digital plan is starting by enhancing ServiceOntario transactions, including renewals of health cards and driver’s licences. The Digital Strategy endeavours to develop a robust online channel that provides convenience and ease of access for all Ontarians, including customers and OPS employees with disabilities, and will create a consistent experience across multiple platforms.
  • Embedding accessibility into national and international sport events by providing funding to non-profit organizations that deliver such events. Applicants to the Sport Hosting Program must submit an accessibility plan to show how barriers for people with disabilities will be removed so that everyone can take part in the event. Program materials include a link to the Guide to Accessible Festivals & Outdoor Events and volunteers are asked to complete an online accessibility training resource.
  • Investing $1.07 million in 2019-20 to support the Abilities Centre in Whitby to advance accessibility and inclusion by expanding its services and training.
  • Partnering with SPARK Ontario to help seniors and the most vulnerable stay connected and healthy as they self isolate during COVID-19. This volunteer hub connects volunteers to community organizations supporting people with disabilities and older adults during COVID-19 by delivering food or medicines, running errands or checking up on Ontarians as they self-isolate.
  • Launching the Ontario Community Support Program, which provides home deliveries of food and essentials into 2021 for people with disabilities as well as other vulnerable communities who need to self-isolate due to COVID-19. This meaningful support was launched in partnership with the Ontario Community Support Association in April with an $11 million investment from the government. More than 230,000 meals and essential supply deliveries have been made across Ontario between the program’s launch and September.

We are also providing enhanced support for implementing the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act and its accessibility standards by:

  • Ensuring the Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks continues to incorporate up-to-date accessibility specifications in Ontario Parks capital and renovation projects by receiving training on and incorporating Building Code accessibility changes and Design of Public Spaces Standards.
  • Creating a web page that provides free accessibility resources and guides to make it easier for businesses and communities to get the information they need to help them be more accessible and inclusive. The “Accessibility in Ontario: Information for Businesses” resource is a one-stop-shop web page that includes valuable information on topics such as inclusive hiring, how to make workplaces more accessible and the economic benefits of hiring people with disabilities.

The government is strengthening its cross-government leadership in implementing the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act by:

  • Increasing awareness about accessibility within the Ontario Public Service (OPS). An annual Inclusion Week has featured discussions on topics such as accessibility, mental health and inclusive leadership. Dedicated internal committees also provide resources to help advance awareness about inclusion and diversity. A multi-ministry speaker series has also built accessibility awareness to support the design and implementation of inclusive policies, programs and public services for Ontarians.
  • Harmonizing Ontario’s accessibility efforts with those of the federal government for the Investing in Canada Infrastructure Program (ICIP). The program requires that the province ensures all federally funded, public-facing infrastructure meets the highest published, applicable accessibility standard in a respective jurisdiction. The Ontario government applied an accessibility lens while developing the provincial criteria for ICIP. Nearly 400 ICIP projects across Ontario have been approved by the provincial and federal governments to date. They will bring critical infrastructure improvements to their communities, including accessibility components that will enhance the safety and comfort of transit users. For example, roughly 249 bus stops in Oakville will be upgraded with landing pads, walkways, ramps and curbs. In Barrie, 30 new low-floor, accessible buses will replace a retiring bus fleet and 21 new accessible paratransit city buses will replace the existing fleet over the next seven years.
  • Ensuring that ministries work to design and provide accessible internal and public communications, websites and digital services that work for everyone. Our government offers best practice guidance and expertise to support these efforts, which are especially important during COVID-19 to help distribute information to Ontarians with disabilities.

The government is supporting the safety, needs and accessibility awareness of students and educators by:

  • Providing support for research and assessment services for postsecondary students with learning disabilities by funding Assessment and Resource Centres. The support is provided through three centres across the province: the Northern Ontario Assessment and Resource Centre at Cambrian College, the Regional Assessment and Resource Centre at Queen’s University, and the Centre francophone d’évaluation et des ressources de L’Ontario at Collège Boréal.
  • Making ongoing efforts during COVID to review and improve digital learning tools being considered for the Ministry of Education’s Learn at Home website to support students and families when learning from home.
  • Investing in the Rick Hansen Foundation Accessibility Certification (RHFAC) program to help make buildings in Ontario more accessible. The program provides organizations with a snapshot of their building’s accessibility to help businesses and communities understand how to be more accessible and inclusive. As part of its own efforts to further its commitment to accessibility on campus, Carleton University became the first postsecondary institution to incorporate RHFAC into policy.



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