AODA Alliance Finalizes and Makes Public Its Proposed Framework for the Promised Education Accessibility Standard – AODA Alliance


Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance Update

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

www.aodaalliance.org [email protected] Twitter: @aodaalliance

AODA Alliance Finalizes and Makes Public Its Proposed Framework for the Promised Education Accessibility Standard

October 10, 2019

          SUMMARY

It’s done, and it’s public! Below we set out our finished product, the AODA Alliance’s Proposed Framework for the Promised AODA Education Accessibility Standard. We are now submitting it to the K-12 Education Standards Development Committee of which AODA Alliance Chair David Lepofsky is a member.

We are encouraging that Standards Development Committee to use this Framework to help with its work, as it prepares recommendations to the Ontario Government on what the Education Accessibility Standard should include. In the next few months, that Standards Development Committee will make public the draft recommendations that it is now preparing. That Committee is finally back at work after the Ford Government left it frozen for well over a year. The AODA Alliance led the campaign to get that committee and all Standards Development Committees unfrozen and back to work.

We and the public will be able to give our input on them. We hope that by offering this proposed Framework now, we can help the Standards Development Committee with its important work.

We thank all of those who took the time to give us their helpful and thoughtful feedback and suggestions after they took the time to read our draft of this proposed Framework. This finished product includes all the ideas that were in the draft. A number of great new ideas were added, thanks to the excellent and extremely helpful feedback that we received.

We were so gratified to receive such warm and supportive feedback for the draft that we circulated for public comment. This finished product reflects feedback we have received and research we have conducted over quite a stretch of time.

We always welcome your feedback. Email us at [email protected]

Today, as we make this important proposed Framework, we are sadly reminded that there have now been 253 days since the Ford Government received the final report of the independent review of the AODA’s implementation prepared by former Ontario Lieutenant Governor David Onley. We are still awaiting a plan from the Government on how it will implement that report.

          MORE DETAILS

Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance

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

www.aodaalliance.org Email: [email protected] Twitter: @aodaalliance

Proposed Framework for the K-12 Education Accessibility Standard

October 10, 2019

Prepared by the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance

Introduction — What is This Proposed Framework?

In Ontario, over a third of a million students with disabilities face too many barriers at all levels of Ontario’s education system. For years, the AODA Alliance led a campaign to get the Ontario Government to agree to create an Education Accessibility Standard under the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA). In 2018, two committees were appointed by the Ontario Government to make recommendations on what the Education Accessibility Standard should include: The K-12 Education Standards Development Committee is responsible 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 supposed to spell out the barriers that are to be removed or prevented, what must be done to remove or prevent them, and the time lines required for these actions.

In this Framework, the AODA Alliance outlines the key ingredients and aims for the promised Education Accessibility Standard. Where we state that “A school board should…” or similar wording, we mean by this that the Education Accessibility Standard should include a provision that requires the school board to take the step that we describe.

We hope that this Framework will assist the two Standards Development Committees. It predominantly focuses on the K-12 school context. However, its contents are readily transferrable to the post-secondary education context.

It is essential that the promised Education Accessibility Standard include the key ingredients that the AODA requires. It must identify the barriers to be removed and the actions required to remove them. It must set out deadlines for an obligated organization to take the steps set out in it.

To do this, it must do much more than to require organizations to have a policy on accessibility and to train its employees on that policy.

Ultimately, it is hoped that the promised Education Accessibility Standard will achieve a change in the culture regarding accessibility within education organizations, including a shift from a more traditional special education mentality to one of inclusion and accessibility. To achieve such a change within an organization, it is first necessary to change its practices on accessibility. From those changes in the organization’s actions on accessibility will flow a change in its culture regarding accessibility. Therefore, the Education Accessibility Standard should be directed to change actions on accessibility.

The job of a Standards Development Committee is to recommend the contents of an AODA accessibility standard. If a Standards Development Committee chooses to also recommend some non-regulatory measures, that is beyond the Committee’s core mandate and should not detract 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. Recommended practices that are not enshrined in an accessibility standard as a regulation, are not binding on school boards and cannot be enforced as an AODA standard.

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

#1 The purpose of the Education Accessibility Standard should be to ensure that Ontario’s education system becomes fully accessible to all students with all kinds of disabilities by 2025, the AODA’s deadline, by requiring the removal and prevention of the accessibility barriers that impede students with disabilities. It should aim to ensure that students with disabilities can fully participate in, fully benefit from and be fully included in all aspects of Ontario’s education system on a footing of equality in the least restrictive environment consistent with a student’s and their parents’ wishes. It should provide a prompt, accessible, fair, effective and user-friendly process to learn about and seek individual placements, programs, services, supports and accommodations tailored to the individual needs of each student with disabilities. It should aim to eliminate the need for students with disabilities and their families to have to fight against education accessibility barriers, one at a time, and the need for educational organizations to have to re-invent the accessibility wheel one school board, college, university or educational program at a time.

2. A Vision of An Accessible Education System

The Education Accessibility Standard should begin by setting out a vision of what an accessible education system should include. An accessible education system at the K-12 level should include the following:

#2.1 It would be designed and operated from top to bottom for all of its students, including students with all kinds of disabilities, as protected by the Ontario Human Rights Code and/or the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. It would not in any way restrict its programs, services, supports, accommodations or other opportunities only to those students whose disability falls within the outdated and narrow definition of “exceptionality” in Ontario’s Education Act and regulations. Students with low-incidence disabilities would not be relegated to a second-class status within the administration of Ontario’s education system as compared to those with high-incidence disabilities.

#2.2 The education system would no longer be designed and operated from the starting point of aiming to serve the fictional “average” student. It would not treat or label students with disabilities as “exceptions” or “exceptional”. It would not call their needs “special” or their disabilities “exceptionalities.” Their services, supports and needs would not be conflated with or funded from the same budget pot as the services and needs of gifted students who have no disability.

#2.3 The built environment in the education system, such as schools themselves, their yards, playgrounds etc., and the equipment on those premises (such as gym and playground equipment) would all be fully accessible to people with disabilities and would be designed based on the principle of universal design. Where school programs or trips take place outside the school, these will be held at locations that are disability-accessible.

#2.4 Courses taught to students, including the curriculum and lesson plans, as well as informal learning activities, would 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 Ontario’s education system would be available in formats that are fully accessible to students with disabilities who need to use them and would be available in accessible formats when needed.

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

#2.7 Inclusion and Universal Design in Learning would extend beyond formal classroom learning to other activities connected with education or the school more generally, such as the playground at recess, social and recreational activities, field trips, extra-curricular activities, and experiential learning opportunities.

#2.8 Students with disabilities would 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 education and other school-related programming. Students with disabilities would be able to bring to school and take home the accessibility technology and supports from which they benefit. For example, they would have the right to bring a qualified service animal to school with them.

#2.9 Teachers and other educational staff would be fully trained to serve all students, and not just students who have no disabilities. They would be fully trained in such things as Universal Design in Learning and differential instruction. “Special Education” teachers and departments would not serve as a silo for those who would teach students with disabilities.

#2.10 Options for placement and programming at school would be sufficiently diverse and flexible to accommodate a wide spectrum of learning needs and styles, rather than tending to be one-size-fits-all for students with specified kinds of disabilities.

#2.11 Tests and other forms of evaluation in school education would 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.

#2.12 Classroom teachers and other front-line teaching staff would be provided sufficient staff support, and, where needed, additional specialized training, to enable them to effectively serve students with disabilities in their classes.

#2.13 Students with disabilities would be assured the opportunity to receive an equal education in the least restrictive environment, consistent with the student’s/parents’ wishes.

#2.14 Students with disabilities would encounter a welcoming environment at school and in class to facilitate their full participation, and a welcoming environment in which they can seek and receive accommodations for their disabilities. Students without disabilities, teaching staff and other school staff, as well as other parents in the school context, would be welcoming and inclusive towards students with disabilities. To achieve this, among other things, all students will receive positive curriculum content on the importance of inclusion and accessibility for students with disabilities. Bullying, teasing, stereotyping, patronization and the soft bigotry of low expectations will be eliminated from the school environment.

#2.15 Admission criteria, admission tests or other admission screening to get into any specialized education programming would be barrier-free for students with disabilities.

#2.16 Students with disabilities and their parents/guardians would have prompt, effective and easy access to user-friendly information in multiple languages about the educational options, programs, services, supports and accommodations available for them and their disability, and about the process for them to seek these. Students with disabilities and their parents would be given a timely opportunity to observe options for placement, programming and other educational services and supports, when considering which would be most suitable for that student, and before they need to make any decisions about this.

#2.17 Students with disabilities and their families would be kept regularly informed about the effectiveness of the placement, program, services, supports and accommodations that the student is receiving.

#2.18 The school board’s process for deciding on the placement, programming, services, supports and accommodations for students with disabilities would be fair, open, transparent and collaborative, in which the student and their family can fully participate. For example, before an Individual Education Plan (IEP) is written, the student and parents/guardians would be able and invited to take part in an Individual Education Plan meeting with school officials, at which the Individual Education Plan would be jointly written. At each stage of the process, the student and parents would be given clear user-friendly “rights advice” on how the process works, and on their rights in the process.

#2.19 Once a student has an established Individual Education Plan at one school, that plan would be portable, and would carry forward should that student move to another school at the same or a different school board.

#2.20 A decision about a student’s placement would not be made until assessments and decisions are reached about the needs and most appropriate program, services, supports and accommodations for that student with disabilities.

#2.21 Where a student with a disability or their family believes that the school or school board is not effectively meeting the student’s disability-related needs, (e.g. by not including a desired item in the Individual Education Plan), or if the student or family believes that the school board is not providing an educational program, service, support or accommodation which it had agreed to provide, the student and family would have access to a prompt, fair, open and arms-length review process, including an offer of a voluntary Alternative Resolution Process if needed. It would 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.

#2.22 The mandatory minimum qualifications and required training for specialized support educators (such as teachers of the visually impaired) would be modernized and upgraded where needed to ensure that they are qualified to meet the specialized needs of their students and of the other teachers whom they support.

#2.23 There would be no bureaucratic, procedural or policy barriers that would impede the effective placement and accommodation of individual students with disabilities at all levels of Ontario’s education system.

#2.24 Students with disabilities would have a right to attend school for the entire school day, and the right to not be excluded from school by their school or school board for all or part of a school day, directly or indirectly because of their disability. Schools would not systemically or disproportionately exclude students with disabilities from school for either all or part of the school day (e.g. because a special needs assistant is away from school).

#2.25 Major new Government strategies in Ontario’s education system would be proactively designed from the start to fully include the needs of students with disabilities. For example, if the Ontario Government were to announce a new math strategy for Ontario’s schools, it would, among other things, include an effective strategy to address disability barriers that students with disabilities face in math education.

#2.26 Those responsible at the provincial and local school board levels for leading, overseeing and operating Ontario’s education system would have strong and specific requirements to address disability accessibility and inclusion in their mandates and would be accountable for their work on this. This responsibility will not be relegated to and segregated in special education bureaucratic silos.

#2.27 The education system would provide disability-related funding to a school board based on the actual number of students with disabilities at that board, and not on a provincial formula that merely tries to estimate how many should be at that school board.

3. General Provisions that the Education Accessibility Standard Should Include

#3.1 This proposed accessibility standard should cover and apply to all education programs and opportunities for students at any school board that receives public funding in Ontario.

#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 or the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act . It should not be limited to the much more restricted definition of an “exceptional pupil” or a student with an “exceptionality” in the Education Act and regulations and policy related to them, or who is therefore treated under Ontario’s Education Act, regulations, or policy as a “student with special education needs”.

#3.3 Each school board should be required to establish a permanent committee of its trustees to be called the “Accessibility Committee”. Other members should include the school board’s chair or vice chair. The chair and vice chair of the school board’s Special Education Advisory Committee should sit as ex officio members of this committee, whether or not they are trustees of the school board. The school board’s Accessibility Committee should have responsibility for overseeing the school board’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 school board provides.

#3.4 Each school board should be required to establish in each school or related cluster of adjacent schools, a School Accessibility Committee. It should include representatives from the school’s teachers, management, staff, students and parents/guardians, including representation where possible of people with disabilities from these groups. 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 school board administration and with the trustees’ Accessibility Committee.

#3.5 Each school board should be required to establish or designate the position of Chief Accessibility/Inclusion Officer, reporting to the Director of Education, with a mandate and responsibility to ensure proper leadership on the school board’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 school board should set up and maintain a network of teachers and other staff with disabilities, and a network of students with disabilities, to get input on accessibility issues at the school board.

#3.7 Beyond the specific measures on removing and preventing barriers set out in this accessibility standard and in other AODA accessibility standards, each school board should be required to systematically review its educational programming, services, facilities and equipment to identify recurring accessibility barriers within that school board that can impede the 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 school board’s trustees , the school board’s accessibility committee, and to the school board’s Special Education Advisory Committee. It should include actions on barriers identified by the local School 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 school board, 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 school board should be required to develop, implement and monitor a comprehensive new Inclusion Strategy for students with disabilities, whether or not their disability is identified as an “exceptionality” under Ontario’s special education laws. Under this strategy, where a school board proposes to refuse to provide a placement for a student with a disability in a regular class setting with needed accommodations, supports or services, over the objections of the student or of their family, on the grounds that the school board believes that it cannot serve that student in a regular classroom setting, the principal should be required to give written notice of this to the family, with reasons, and to tell the family that it has the right to promptly receive the principal’s reasons in writing. But this should not be reason to stop or withdraw any services or support from the student until a meeting has been held to discuss this issue.

#3.9 Each school board should have an explicit duty to create a welcoming environment for students with disabilities and their families, including other family members with disabilities, to seek accommodations for their disabilities.

4. The Right of Parents, Guardians and Students with Disabilities to Know About Disability-Related Programs, Services, and Supports, and How to Access Them

Barrier: Parents, including parents with disabilities, too often find it difficult to get easily accessed and accessible information from their school board and from the Ontario Government on education options, services and supports available for students with disabilities and how to access them.

#4.1 Each school board should provide parents of students with disabilities, and where applicable, students with disabilities themselves, with timely and effective information, in accessible formats, on the available services, programs and supports for students with disabilities (whether or not they are classified as students with special education needs under the Education Act and regulations). Each school board should ensure that parents, guardians, and where practicable, students are informed, as early as possible, in a readily-accessible and understandable way, about important information such as:

  1. a) What “special education” is and who is entitled to receive it.
  1. b) That the school board has a duty to ensure that a student with a disability has the right to full participation in and full inclusion in all the school board’s education and other programming, and to be accommodated in connection with those programs under the Ontario Human Rights Code and Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, whether or not the student is classified as a student with special education needs under Ontario’s Education Act and regulations.
  1. c) The menu of options, placements, programs, services, supports and accommodations available at the school board for students with disabilities, whether or not they are classified as students with special education needs under the Education Act and regulations.
  1. d) What persons and what office to approach at the school board to get this information, to request placements, programs, supports, services or accommodations for students with disabilities, whether or not they are classified as students with special education needs, or to raise concerns about whether the school board is effectively meeting the student’s education needs.
  1. e) The processes and procedures at the school board for a parent, guardian or student to request or change placements, programs, services, supports or accommodations for students with disabilities, whether or not they are classified as students with special education needs. This includes formal legislated processes like the Identification and Placement Review Committee (IPRC) and the development and implementation of the students Individual Education Plan (IEP). It also includes other informal processes like requests for programs, services, supports and accommodations that are not covered in an IPRC or IEP.

#4.2 Without restricting the important information that must be made readily available, each school board should ensure, among other things, that:

  1. a) Parents and guardians of students with disabilities can easily find out and, where necessary, visit different placement, program, service and support options for a student with a disability, whether or not they are classified as a student with special education needs, before the parent, guardian or, where practicable, the student must take a position on what placement, program or services should be provided to that student.
  1. b) Parents and guardians of students with disabilities, and, where practicable, students with disabilities themselves, should be given clear, understandable explanations of their rights in the school system, including but not limited to the special education process. For example, when a school board presents parents or guardians with a proposed IEP, the school board should explain to them that they need not agree to and sign the proposed IEP, that the school board is open to consider the family’s suggestions for changes to the proposed IEP, and the avenues by which parents or guardians can seek to get the school board to make changes to the proposed IEP.

#4.3 Each school board should develop, implement and make public an action plan to substantially improve its provision of the important information, described above, to all parents and guardians of that school board’s students, and to all students where practicable, and especially to parents and guardians of students with disabilities:

  1. a) This plan’s objective should be to ensure that all parents, guardians and where practicable, students, 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 school board.
  1. b) A school board should not simply leave it to each principal or teacher to make sure that this important information is effectively provided. Each school board should instead have an effective system in place to ensure that this information actually reaches all parents and guardians, and where applicable, students.
  1. c) Each school board should ensure that all of this important information is fully and readily accessible in a prompt and timely way to all parents, guardians and students, 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 school board’s website, in a prominent place that is easy to find, with a link on the school board’s home page. A school board should not simply rely on its website to share this information since this will not serve those families that do not have internet access.
  1. d) Among other things, each school board should send home an information package to all families at the start of each school year, and not merely to families of those students who are already being identified or served as having special education needs or disabilities. This package should include, among other things, a Question and Answer format to help families see how this information could relate to the student in their family.
  1. e) Each school board should also create a user-friendly package of information to be provided to families who first approach a school board about the possibility of enrolling a child at that school board, e.g. when they register for kindergarten. This should help enable a family to know whether they should be trying to access disability-related services and supports.
  1. f) Each school board should periodically host events at local schools to help families learn how to navigate disability-related school board processes like the Individual Education Plan and the Identification and Placement Review Committee processes. Where possible these should be streamed online and archived online as a resource for families to watch online.

5. Ensuring that Parents, Guardians and Students Have a Fair and Effective Process for Raising Concerns About a School Board’s Accommodation of the Education Needs of Students with Disabilities

Barrier: Lack of sufficient, easily-accessed and fair processes at each school board to enable students with disabilities and families to have effective input into the placement and accommodation of the student, and for raising disability-related concerns.

The procedures required by the Education Act and regulations for identifying and accommodating the needs of students with disabilities are out-of-date. They are insufficient to ensure that the needs of students with disabilities are effectively met.

#5.1 Each school board should establish and maintain an effective process for parents and guardians of students with disabilities, and where applicable, the student themselves, to effectively take part in the development and implementation of a student’s plans for meeting and accommodating their disability-related needs, including (but not limited to) their Individual Education Plan (IEP).

#5.2 As part of this process, parents and guardians of students with disabilities, and where practicable, the student, should be invited to take part in a joint school team student accommodation/IEP development meeting, where accommodation plans will be made and where the IEP will be written. The school board should bring to the table all key professionals who can contribute to this. The family should be invited to bring to the table any supports and professionals that can assist the family. Parents should have the right to bring with them anyone who can assist them in advocating for their child. Parents/families should be given a wide range of options for participating e.g. in person or by phone. They should be told in advance who will attend from the school board. Any proposal for accommodations including a draft IEP should include a summary of key points to assist families in understanding them.

#5.3 If a school board refuses to provide an accommodation, service, or support for a child’s disability that a parent, guardian, or where appropriate, the student requests, or if the school board does not provide an accommodation or support that it has agreed to provide, the school board should, on request, promptly provide written reasons for that refusal. It should let the family and student know that they can request written reasons.

#5.4 If parents and guardians of students with disabilities, and where applicable, the student, disagree with any aspect of the proposed supports, services or accommodations including (but not limited to) the proposed IEP, or if the student or their family believe that the school board has not provided a service, accommodation or support that the school board has agreed to provide, the school board should make available a respectful, non-adversarial internal review process for hearing and deciding on the family’s concerns. The K-12 Education Accessibility Standard should set out the specifics of this review process. This school board review process should include the following:

  1. a) It should be very prompt. Arrangements for a student’s accommodations, including an IEP, 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 school board is prepared to offer should be withheld from a student pending a review. The family should not feel pressured not to seek this review, lest the child be placed in a position of educational disadvantage during the review process. In other words, a family should not fear that if they launch a review, the student will suffer because the school board will not provide an accommodation or service that the school board has offered, while the review is pending.
  1. c) The review process should be fair. The school board should let the family know all of its issues or concerns with a family’s proposal regarding the student’s accommodations, including the contents of the IEP. The family should be given a fair chance to express its concerns and recommendations regarding the student’s accommodations’, including in the IEP.
  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 school board regarding the services, supports or accommodations or IEP for that child.
  1. e) At the review, every effort should be made to mediate and resolve any disagreements between the family and the school board. If the matter cannot be resolved by agreement, there should be an option for the school board or the Ministry of Education to appoint a person or persons who are outside the school board to consider the review, along prompt time lines.
  1. f) At the review, written reasons should be given for the decision, especially if any of the family’s requests or concerns are not accepted.
  1. g) If, after receiving the review’s decision and reasons, the family wishes to present any new information, they should be able to ask for the review to be reconsidered. This should be along short time lines.
  1. H) After the review is decided, if the family is not satisfied, they should be able to bring their concerns regarding the proposed accommodations including any IEP to a designated senior official at the school board with authority to approve the requested accommodations, for a further review.

#5.5 Each school board should notify parents and guardians who themselves have a disability that they have a right to have their disability-related needs accommodated in these processes, so that they can fully participate in them. For example, they should be notified that they have a right to receive any information or documents to be used in any such meeting or process in an accessible format.

#5.6 Where a student with a disability is being accommodated in a school covered by this accessibility standard, and the student transfers to another school in that school board or to another school board, that student should have a right to have the same accommodations maintained at the new school or school board. If the school board of the school to which the student transfers proposes to reduce those accommodations or supports, they should be maintained until and unless, through the procedures set out in this accessibility standard, the school board has justified a reduction of those accommodations.

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

Barrier: Students with disabilities can face delays and bureaucratic impediments to early and timely professional assessment, where needed, of their disability-related needs.

#6.1 The Education Accessibility Standard should require measures to tear down administrative, bureaucratic and other barriers to reduce delays for getting psychological and other educational assessments for the identification of disability related needs.

7. Ensuring a Fully Accessible Built Environment at Schools

Barrier: Too often, the built environment where education programming is offered have physical barriers that partially or totally impede some students with disabilities from being able to enter or independently move around.

The Ontario Building Code and existing accessibility standards do not set out modern and sufficient accessibility requirements for the built environment in Ontario. Moreover, the Ontario Building Code is largely if not entirely designed to address the needs of adults, not children. The Ontario Government has no accessibility standard for the built environment in schools, whether old or new schools. The Ontario Government has not agreed to develop a Built Environment Accessibility Standard or to substantially strengthen the accessibility provisions in the Ontario Building Code.

It is thus left to each school board to come up with its own designs to address accessibility in the built environment in schools and other school board locations. This is highly inefficient and wasteful. It allows public money to be used to create new barriers against people with disabilities and to perpetuate existing barriers.

#7.1 The K-12 Education Accessibility Standard should set out specific requirements for accessibility in the built environment in schools and other locations where education programs are to be offered. These should meet the accessibility requirements of the Ontario Human Rights Code and the Charter of Rights. They should meet the needs of all disabilities, and not only mobility disabilities. These should include:

  1. a) Specific requirements to be included in a new school to be built.
  1. b) Requirements to be included in a renovation of or addition to an existing school, and
  1. c) Retrofit requirements for an existing school that is not slated for a major renovation or addition.

#7.2 Each school board should develop a plan for ensuring that the built environment of its schools and other educational facilities becomes fully accessible to people with disabilities as soon as reasonably possible, and in any event, no later than 2025. As part of this:

  1. a) As a first step, each school board should develop a plan for making as many of its schools 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 all disabilities, for example people with vision and/or hearing loss, autism, or mental health disabilities.
  1. b) Each school board should identify which of its existing schools can be more easily made accessible, and which schools 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 schools that would require less money to be made physically accessible, taking into account the need to also consider geographic equity of access across the school board.
  1. c) When designing a new school or managing an existing school, wherever possible, a quiet room should be assigned in a school facility to assist with learning by those students with disabilities who require such an environment. For example, when a school board is deciding what to do with excess building capacity, it should allocate unused or under-used rooms as quiet rooms whenever possible.

#7.3 When a school board seeks to retain or hire design professionals, such as architects, interior designers or landscape architects, for the design of a new school or a existing school’s retrofit or renovation, or for any other school board construction or other infrastructure project, the school board 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. It includes the accessibility needs of students and not just of adults.

#7.4 When a school board is planning a new school, or expanding or renovating an existing school or other infrastructure, a qualified accessibility consultant should be retained by the school board (and not by a private architecture firm) to advise on the project from the outset, with their advice being transmitted directly to the school board 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.

#7.5 A committee of the school board’s trustees and the school board’s Special Education Advisory Committee should be required to review design decisions on new construction or renovations to ensure that accessibility of the built environment is effectively addressed. A schools School Accessibility Committee should also be involved in this review.

#7.6 Where possible, a school board should not renovate an existing school that lacks disability accessibility, unless the school board has a plan to also make that school accessible. For example, a school board should not spend public money to renovate the second storey of a school which lacks accessibility to the second storey, if the school board 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.

#7.7 When a school board decides which schools to close due to reduced enrollment, a priority should be placed on keeping open schools with more physical accessibility, while a priority should be given to closing schools that are the most lacking in accessibility, or for which retrofitting is the most costly.

#7.8 Each school board should only hold off-site educational events at venues whose built environment is accessible.

8. Ensuring Digital Accessibility at School

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

#8.1 Each school board should ensure that:

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

  1. a) A school board’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 school board should ensure that no teacher is able to turn off any feature of the LMS that is accessible in favour of one that is not.
  1. b) Each school board’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. c) Electronic documents created at the school board for use in education and other programming and activities should be created in accessible formats unless there is a compelling and unavoidable reason requiring otherwise. PDF format should be avoided. If a PDF document is created, an alternate version of the content should be simultaneously provided and posted in an accessible Microsoft Word or HTML format.
  1. d) Software used to produce a school board’s documents such as report cards, Individual Education Plans, or other key documents should be designed to ensure that they produce these documents in accessible formats.
  1. e) Textbooks and learning software should be procured only if they include full information technology accessibility. Any textbook used in any learning environment must be accessible to teachers and students with disabilities at the time of procurement. Here again, PDF should not be used unless an accessible alternative format such as MS Word is also simultaneously available. For example, if a textbook is available in EPUB format, the textbooks must meet the international standard for that file format. For EPUB it is the W3C Digital Publishing Guidelines currently under review. If a textbook is available in print, the publisher should be required to provide the digital version of the textbook in an accessible format at the same time the print version is delivered to the school/Board.

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

9. Ensuring Universal Design in Learning Is Used in All Teaching Activities, Both Online and in Classroom Learning

Barrier: Too often, the curricula and lesson plans used in Ontario schools were not designed based on principles of accessibility and Universal Design in Learning.

#9.1 The Education Accessibility Standard should require that the Ministry of Education and each school board, when setting requirements for or designing school curriculum, shall ensure that it incorporates universal design in learning to make it accessible to students with disabilities.

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

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

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

#9.3 Each school board should ensure that all teachers and teaching staff understand, and effectively and consistently use, principles of Universal Design in Learning (UDL), and differentiated instruction, when preparing and implementing lesson plans and other educational programming, to effectively address the spectrum of different learning needs and styles. For example:

  1. a) This plan’s objective should be to ensure that all parents, guardians and where practicable, students, get the information they need to ensure that students of all abilities can fully participate in and benefit from the educational opportunities available at the school board.
  1. b) Each school board should develop, implement and monitor a comprehensive plan to train its teachers, other teaching staff, teaching coaches and principals on using UDL and differentiated instruction principles when preparing lesson plans and teaching, in order to effectively meet the spectrum of different learning needs and styles. The Ontario Government should be required to provide a model program for this training which each school board can use.
  1. c) Each school board should include knowledge of UDL and differentiated instruction principles as an important criterion when recruiting or promoting teachers, other teaching staff and principals.
  1. d) Each school board should ensure that teachers are provided with appropriate resources and support to successfully implement the UDL training. Each school board should monitor how effectively UDL and differentiated instruction are incorporated into lesson plans and other teaching activities on the front lines.
  1. e) Each school board should review any curriculum, textbooks and other instructional materials and learning resources used in its schools to ensure that they incorporate principles of UDL.
  1. f) Each school board should create and implement a plan to ensure that teachers in the areas of science, technology, engineer and math (STEM) have resources and expertise to ensure the accessibility of STEM courses and learning resources.
  1. g) Each school board should provide teaching coaches with expertise in UDL to support teachers and other teaching staff.
  1. h) Similarly, specialized training should be included for those who teach sex education to ensure that it includes disability-related sex education.
  1. i) The Ministry of Education should create templates or models for the foregoing training so that each school board does not have to reinvent the wheel in this context.

#9.4 Concentrated requirements to require the removal and prevention of workplace barriers at school boards impeding teachers and other school staff with disabilities would have the side-benefit of removing and preventing barriers that impede students with disabilities, such as specific measures to ensure that accessible student placements are provided in Ontario schools for teachers and other teaching staff with disabilities during their training in teacher’s college and other post-secondary programs.

10. Ensuring Sufficient Training and Expertise for Education Professionals Who Support Students with Disabilities

Barrier: Lack of sufficient training requirements for some education professionals who specialize in supporting the education needs of students with disabilities.

Ontario does not currently ensure that all professionals who are employed to support the education of students with disabilities will have sufficient qualifications to do so. For example, Ontario’s leading organization of parents of children with vision loss, Views for the Visually Impaired, has pointed out to the Ontario Government and the Ontario College of Teachers that the requirements to qualify to serve as a “teacher of the visually impaired” (TVI) in Ontario are substantially inadequate. They are much lower than in some other places in Canada and elsewhere. A teacher employed to teach braille to a blind child in Ontario need have no prior hands-on experience ever training a blind child to read braille. They need not ever previously even have observed another TVI teaching braille to a blind child.

#10.1 The Education Accessibility Standard should require sufficient training for professionals who support the education of students with disabilities.

11. Removing Attitudinal Barriers Against Students with Disabilities

Barrier: Stereotypes, lack of knowledge and other attitudes among some teachers, principals, other school staff, other students and some families, that do not recognize the right and benefits of students with disabilities to get a full and equal education.

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

  1. a) Develop and implement a multi-year program/curriculum for teaching students, school board staff and families of school board students, about inclusion and full participation of students with disabilities, tailored to age levels. Because online courses are inadequate for this, where possible, this should include hearing from, meeting and interacting with people with disabilities e.g. at assemblies and/or via guest presentations.
  1. b) Post in all schools and send information to all families of the school board’s students, on the school board’s commitment to inclusion of students with disabilities, and the benefits this brings to all students.
  1. c) Provide specific training to all school board staff that deal with parents or students, on the importance of inclusion.
  1. d) Implement human resources policies and practices to expand school board staff knowledge and skills regarding inclusion.

#11.2 Each school board should develop and implement human resources policies targeted at full accessibility and inclusion, such as:

  1. a) Making knowledge and experience on implementing inclusion an important hiring and promotions criterion especially for principals, vice-principals and teaching staff.
  1. b) Emphasizing accessibility and inclusion knowledge and performance in any performance management and performance reviews.

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

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

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

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

  1. a) Survey students with disabilities who need accessible instructional materials, and their teachers and families, to get their front-line experiences on whether they get timely access to accessible instructional materials, and to get specifics on where this has been most lacking.
  1. b) Establish a dedicated resource within the school board, or shared among school boards, to convert instructional materials to an accessible format, where needed, on a timely basis, either alone or in combination with other school boards.
  1. c) Review its procurement practices to ensure that any new instructional materials that are acquired is fully accessible or conversion-ready and monitor to ensure that this is always done in practice. A condition of procurement should be a requirement that the supplier or vender must remediate any inaccessible materials at its own expense.

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

13. Ensuring Accessibility of Gym, Playground and Like Equipment and Activities

Barrier: Schools or school boards that have gym, playground or other equipment that is not designed based on principles of universal design, and that some students with disabilities therefore cannot use, as well as gym, sports and other activities in which students with disabilities can fully participate.

Section 80.18 of the Integrated Accessibility Standards Regulation, as amended in 2012, requires accessibility features to be considered when new outdoor play spaces are being established or existing ones are redeveloped. However, those provisions do not set the spectrum of detailed requirements that should be included. They do not require any action if an existing play space is not being redeveloped. They ultimately leave it to each school board or each school to re-invent the accessibility wheel each time they build or redevelop an outdoor play space. They do not require anything of indoor play spaces or gyms.

#13.1 To ensure that gym equipment, playground equipment and other like equipment and facilities are accessible for students with disabilities, the Education Accessibility Standard should set out specific technical accessibility requirements for new or existing outdoor or indoor play spaces, gym and other like equipment, drawing on accessibility standards and best practices in other jurisdictions, if sufficient, so that each school board does not have to re-invent the accessibility wheel.

#13.2 Each school board should:

  1. a) Take an inventory of the accessibility of its existing indoor and outdoor play spaces and gym and playground equipment, and make this public, including posting it online.
  1. b) Adopt a plan to remediate the accessibility of new gym or playground equipment, in consultation with the school board’s Special Education Advisory Committee and Accessibility Committee, and widely with families of students with disabilities.
  1. c) Ensure that a qualified accessibility expert is engaged to ensure that purchase of new equipment or remediation of existing playground is properly conducted, with their advice being given directly to the school board.

#13.3 Where playground or other school equipment or facilities to be deployed on school property for use by students is funded and/or purchased by anyone other than the school board, the school board should remain responsible for approving the purchases and ensuring that only accessible equipment and facilities are placed on school property for use by students or the public. Decisions over whether accessibility features will be included, or which will be included, should not be left to community groups which may fund-raise for such equipment or facilities.

Barrier: Gym and other physical activity programming at schools may not be designed or operated in a way that allows students with disabilities to fully participate.

#13.4 Each school board should be required to ensure that its gym and other physical activity teachers and coaches have training and access to support information on how to include students with disabilities in these programs.

#13.5 The Ministry of Education should be required to make available to school boards resources and training material on effectively including students with disabilities in gym and other physical activity programming.

14. 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 education system, students take tests and other assessments of their academic performance, whether in specific courses or via system-wide standardized tests. 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.

#14.1 The Education Accessibility Standard should set requirements for proper approaches to ensuring tests provide a fair, accurate and barrier-free assessment of students with disabilities, and on when and how to provide an alternative evaluation method.

#14.2 To ensure that a school board fairly and accurately assesses the performance of students with disabilities, each school board 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 teachers and principals training resources on how to ensure a test 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 guidelines.

#14.3 The Ministry of Education should ensure that any provincial standardized testing is fully accessible to and barrier-free for students with disabilities and will provide a fair and accurate assessment of their knowledge and abilities.

15. Ensuring Students with Disabilities Have the Technology and Other Supports They Need at School

Barrier: Policy and bureaucratic impediments to students with disabilities getting the adaptive technology and other supports they need for school.

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. For example, the Toronto District School Board does not at all support students with vision loss using Apple products such as the iPhone or iPad. Those products come with leading accessibility features and are widely used by people with vision loss around the world. There are also inconsistent practices on whether a student can take such equipment home for use there or can bring their own adaptive equipment from home for use at school.

#15.1 The 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 that ensures access to the most appropriate and up-to-date technology that is available on the market.

Barrier: Some school boards or schools do not let students with disabilities bring a sufficiently trained service animal to school as an accommodation to their disability, either because the school board or school does not allow for this or lacks a proper policy to allow for this.

Some students on the autism spectrum and their families in Ontario have reported having difficulties at some school boards with being allowed to bring a service animal to school and have even had to take action before the Human Rights Tribunal against a school board. Others have been able to succeed without barriers in bringing their service animal to school.

#15.2 The Education Accessibility Standard should provide that each school board should ensure that students with disabilities are able to bring a sufficiently trained service animal to school as a disability accommodation. Each school board should respect the student’s rights under the Ontario Human Rights Code and the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

#15.3 The Education Accessibility Standard should set specific requirements for school board practices in relation to a student bringing a service animal to school. The recent Ministry of Education policy directive to school boards on this topic did not include the important specifics that are needed. Here again, each school board should not have to reinvent the wheel.

#15.4 The Education Accessibility Standard should ensure that there should be no bureaucratic or policy barriers to students with disabilities bringing a sufficiently trained service animal to school. The fair process procedures described in this Framework should apply to such requests.

#15.5 If the school board does not accept at first the sincerity or legitimacy of the student’s request, or the training of the service animal, the school board should immediately notify the student and their family of any and all concerns. The school board should investigate the request, including the student’s benefits from the service animal outside school and in the home, or any other concerns, as well as the experience of other schools or school boards that have allowed students with disabilities to bring service animals to school, before acting on any potential board reluctance or unwillingness to grant the student’s request. If a school board is not prepared to accept a request to be able to bring a service animal to school at first, the school board should undertake a test period of allowing the service animal at school, unless the school board can demonstrate that it would be impossible to conduct such a test period without causing the school board undue hardship. A school board should not refuse a request to bring a service animal to school based on no test period and based on speculative assumptions or stereotypes.

#15.6 The question when dealing with such requests should not be whether the student is doing adequately at school without the service animal. The question should be whether the student could do better at reaching their potential at school if assisted by their service animal. Similarly, the question is not whether the service animal will assist the student in accessing the curriculum. Rather the relevant question is whether the service animal could assist the student with any aspect of student life in the school environment, such as social interaction, independence and self-regulation. In its May 2, 2019 letter to Ontario’s Education Minister, the Ontario Human Rights Commission stated: “We believe that limiting disability accommodation to only “learning needs” is not a proper interpretation of the Code.”

#15.7 Each school board should ensure that principals, teachers, school office staff and families of students with disabilities know about this policy and that no attitudinal barriers impede this accommodation.

#15.8 The preference of some other students or staff with no disability not to have a service animal in class is not a justification for refusing to allow this accommodation for a student with a disability. Such concerns of other students, or of staff should be addressed by making arrangements that allow the student with a disability to bring their service animal to school, while situating any objecting student or staff with no disability at an acceptable distance from them. Notwithstanding anything in such school board policies, nothing may restrict a person with vision loss, student, staff, and parent or otherwise, from being a qualified guide dog with whom they have trained to school.

16. Removing Barriers to Participation in Experiential Learning

Barrier: Experiential learning programs that do not ensure that accessible experiential 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.

#16.1 To ensure that students with disabilities can fully participate in a school board’s experiential learning programs, each school board 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.

#16.2 The Ministry of Education should provide templates for these policies and measures. It should also prepare and make available training videos for school boards and organizations offering experiential learning programs to guide them on accommodating students with disabilities in experiential learning placements.

17. Ensuring French Immersion and Other Specialized Programs Are Barrier-Free for Students with Disabilities

Barrier: A potential combination of different barriers reviewed in this Framework.

#17.1 The Education Accessibility Standard should set a province-wide standard for ensuring that French immersion programs and other specialized programs are accessible to and effectively accommodate students with disabilities. These programs should be offered in accessible locations. Their instructional materials should be available in accessible formats. Their admission criteria should be screened for any disability barriers.

#17.2 Each school board should develop, implement and monitor a strategy to ensure that French Immersion and other specialized programs are open and accessible to and barrier-free for students with disabilities, including:

  1. a) Identifying what percentage of the students in these programs are students with disabilities, to document any patterns of under-participation.
  1. b) Reviewing the admission process for gaining entry to these programs, to identify possible accessibility barriers.
  1. c) Reviewing the choice of the buildings and classrooms where these programs are to be delivered to ensure that students with disabilities will be able to physically attend these programs.
  1. d) Identifying what efforts the school board now makes to ensure that students with disabilities are included in and accommodated in these programs, and the extent to which UDL and differentiated instruction principles are used in the teaching in these programs.
  1. e) Developing an action plan to address any accessibility and inclusion shortfalls.
  1. f) Actively publicizing to students with disabilities and their families about the opportunities to take part in these programs, and the school board’s readiness to ensure that their accommodation needs will be met.
  1. g) Monitoring the effectiveness of efforts to ensure inclusion and accessibility of these programs for students with disabilities, and report publicly on this, including to school board trustees, to the trustees’ accessibility committee and to the school board’s Special Education Advisory Committee, on an annual basis.

18. Substantially Reducing the Shuffling of Students with Special Education Needs From School to School over Their school Years

Barrier: The school board’s choice of in which schools to locate special education classes or programs for students with disabilities can force too many of these students to have to change the school they attend over their years at school much more than do other students, causing disruption and hardships for the students and their families. This can also make it harder for flexible placements that straddle more than one of these programs or classes.

#18.1 Each school board should be required to develop and implement a strategy to substantially reduce the shuffling of students with disabilities from one school to another over their school years. For example:

  1. a) If a student, attending a school other than their home school, for a special education program or class, is prepared to shift to inclusion in a fulltime regular classroom, then consistent with parental agreement, the student should have the option of remaining at the same school as the special education class, and treating it as their home school.
  1. b) Where possible, the school board should locate in the same school a combination of two special education classes that involve different levels of support. This would enable a student to gradually progress through different levels of special education classes towards a regular class setting in that school, without having to switch schools in order to switch to a different level of special education class. It would also enable a student, where appropriate, to spend part of a school day in one program and another part of the school day in another program, to best and most flexibly meet the student’s needs.
  1. c) Where feasible, if a student with a disability is required to attend a different school than his or her home school in order to take part in special education programming, the family should have the option of having that students’ siblings also attend that school, especially where this will help the student with a disability. Whenever possible, siblings, including those with disabilities, should be able to attend the same school.

19. Transportation for Students with Disabilities

Barrier: Barriers to accessibility of the education programming offered at a student’s local school that necessitates the provision of bus transportation to more distant schools, combined with the failure to ensure that students with disabilities are consistently, reliably and safely bussed to and from school.

The provisions on bus transportation for students with disabilities in s. 75 of the Integrated Accessibility Standards Regulation 2011 (IASR) have not been sufficient to effectively remove transportation barriers facing students with disabilities. Stronger provisions are required. The 2018 recommendations for revisions to the transportation provisions in the IASR do not address or meet this need.

#19.1 The Education Accessibility Standard should provide that where a school board provides bussing or other transportation to students with disabilities in order to enable them to attend school, the school board shall ensure, and shall monitor to ensure that:

  1. a) The school board has individually consulted with each family to identify the accessibility and accommodation needs of the student with disabilities in relation to transportation, and the bus company and driver have been properly trained to accommodate that need.
  1. b) Where the school board or its bussing contractor changes the driver assigned to transport the student, the replacement driver is given the same information and training prior to driving the student, or, in the case of an emergency replacement, as soon as possible.
  1. c) The school board and, where applicable, any contractor it hires, shall retain records of the training provided, including when it was provided and shall make this information public.
  1. d) The school board should have a readily available and reachable official, especially during periods when a student is being transported, to receive and address phone calls, emails and text messages from a family about problems regarding the student’s transportation.
  1. e) The school board should document all complaints reported on transportation services, and the company to which it applies. A summary of these should be provided to all members of the school board including its Special Education Advisory Committee and its Accessibility Committee on a quarterly basis and shall make this public on the school board’s website.
  1. f) The Education Accessibility Standard should make it clear that the fact that the school board has contracted for a private company to provide the student transportation does not remove or reduce the school board’s duties under this accessibility standard or otherwise under the AODA, the Ontario Human Rights Code or the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms to ensure that the student has been provided with barrier-free participation in the school board’s educational programs and opportunities. In any contract for bussing, the school board should be required to monitor the bus company for compliance with all obligations regarding bussing, such as the duty to properly train each bus driver on the specific disability-related needs of each passenger with a disability, and to document this training. Each school board should periodically audit the bus companies with whom they contract for compliance, and publicly report on the audit’s results. A bus company’s failure to consistently and reliably meet its obligations should trigger substantial monetary penalties and termination of the contract.

Barrier: Some school boards do not ensure that pick-up/drop locations for student bussing are accessible for parents with disabilities.

#19.2 The Education Accessibility Standard should require that the school board and, where applicable, a bus company with which it contracts, will ensure that pick-up and drop-off locations for a student’s bussing are accessible when needed to accommodate the parents or guardians of students with disabilities.

20. Protecting Students with Disabilities from Being Unfairly Denied the Right to Attend School for All or Part of the School Day

Barrier: The arbitrary power of school principals to exclude students from school, outside the disciplinary suspension and expulsion power, that disproportionately impacts on students with disabilities.

The Ontario Human Rights Commission has identified as a human rights issue the sweeping and arbitrary power of any school principal to exclude a student from school. Section 265(1) (m) of Ontario’s Education Act provides:

“265. (1) It is the duty of a principal of a school, in addition to the principal’s duties as a teacher…

… (m) subject to an appeal to the board, to refuse to admit to the school or classroom a person whose presence in the school or classroom would in the principal’s judgment be detrimental to the physical or mental well-being of the pupils; …”

This power can be and is misused, especially to keep some students with disabilities away from school. This is made worse by the school board’s power under Ontario regulations to shorten the length of the school day for students with disabilities, even over a parent’s objection. This Framework addresses together the school board’s power to exclude a student from school for an entire day as well as the school board’s power to reduce the length of the school day, whether or not they emanate from the same provisions under Ontario’s Education Act.

#20.1 The Education Accessibility Standard should set specific comprehensive, mandatory requirements on when a school board can exercise any power to refuse to admit a student to school for all or part of a school day. It should have no loopholes that would let a principal or teacher exclude a student informally without complying with these requirements.

  1. a) This should include any time a school board formally or informally asks or directs that a student not attend school, or that the student be removed from school, whether in writing or in a discussion
  1. b) This should include a school board request or direction that a student only attend school for part of the regular school day.
  1. c) This does not include a situation where a family requests that a student be absent from school for all or part of a school day, but the school board is willing to let the student attend school.

#20.2 The school board should be required to ensure that a student, excluded from attending school, is provided an equivalent and sufficient educational program while away from school. The school board should keep records of and publicly account for its doing so.

#20.3 A refusal to admit should only be imposed when it is demonstrably necessary to protect the health and safety of students at school, and only after all relevant accommodations for the student up to the point of undue hardship have been explored or attempted.

#20.4 A refusal to admit should go no further and last no longer than is necessary. A principal should only resort to a refusal to admit if the principal can demonstrate that the student presents an imminent risk to health or safety which cannot be addressed by lesser measures, such as suspension.

#20.5 If a refusal to admit is to take place, the first resort should be to exclude the student from a specific class, accommodating that student in another class. Only if that can’t be sufficient, should a principal consider excluding the student from that school, accommodating the student at another school. A school board should only refuse to admit a student from any and all schools if it is impossible to accommodate them at any other school at that school board.

#20.6 The Education Accessibility Standard and policy directives from the Ministry of Education should give clear examples of the circumstances when a refusal to admit is permitted, and when it is not permitted.

#20.7 A refusal to admit should not be allowed to last more than five consecutive school days, unless extended by the school board in accordance with this accessibility standard.

#20.8 The burden should be on the school board to justify the refusal to admit. It should not be for the student or the student’s family to justify why the student should be allowed to attend school.

#20.9 When school board staff decide whether to refuse to admit a student, they should take into account all mitigating considerations that are considered when deciding whether to suspend or expel a student.

#20.10 A school board should not refuse to admit a student with a disability on the ground that school board staff believe they cannot accommodate the student’s needs, e.g. because staff is absent.

#20.11 If, when a refusal to admit is to expire, the school board wants to extend it, the school board must justify it. The student’s family need not prove why the student should be allowed to return to school.

#20.12 An extension of a refusal to admit must first consider excluding the student from a single class, and then the option of excluding the student from that entire school, and only as a last resort, excluding the student from all schools at that school board.

#20.13 An extension of the refusal to admit should not be permitted if the school board has not put in place an effective alternative option for the student to receive their education while excluded from school.

#20.14 The Education Accessibility Standard should establish a mandatory fair procedure that the school board must follow when refusing to admit a student. These procedures should ensure accountability of the school board and its employees, including:

  1. a) A student and their families should have all the procedural protections that are required when a school board is going to impose discipline such as a suspension or expulsion.
  1. b) The prior review and approval of the superintendent should be required, before a refusal to admit is imposed. If it is an emergency, then the superintendent should be required to review and approve this decision as quickly afterwards as possible, or else the refusal to admit should be terminated.
  1. c) The superintendent should independently assess whether the school board has sufficient grounds to refuse to admit the student, and has met all the requirements of the school board’s refusal to admit policy (including ensuring alternative education programming is in place for the student).
  1. d) The principal should be required to immediately notify the student and his or her family in writing of the refusal to admit, the reasons for it, and the duration. That should include outlining steps that the school board has taken or will be taking to expedite a student’s return to school and provide an expected timeline for the completion of these steps.
  1. e) The principal should immediately tell the student and the student’s family, in clear and plain language, in writing, what a refusal to admit is, its duration, the reasons for it, the steps the school board is taking to expedite the student’s return to school and time lines for those steps, the school board’s process for reviewing that decision, and the family’s right to appeal it (including how to use that right of appeal). This should be provided in a language that the family speaks. These procedures should again be mandatory any time the school board extends a refusal to admit a student to school.
  1. f) A refusal to admit a student to school should not be extended for an accumulated total of more than 15 days (within a surrounding 30 day period) without the independent review and written approval of an executive superintendent of the school board.
  1. g) No refusal to admit a student to school should be extended for an accumulated total of more than 20 days (within a surrounding 45 day period) without the independent review and written approval of the Director of Education.

#20.15 A fair and prompt appeal process should be provided to the parents/guardian and, where appropriate, the student who was refused admission to school, which includes:

  1. a) The appeal should be to school board officials who had no involvement with the initial decision to refuse to admit that student to school or any extensions of it.
  1. b) The school board should promptly inform the student and the student’s family about how to start an appeal, who decides the appeal, the procedures for the appeal, that the student and family can present reports, support people or experts or any other information they wish, and can have a representative, either a lawyer or other person, to speak for them or assist them with the appeal.
  1. c) The appeal should include an in-person meeting with the student and family.
  1. d) The appeal should be heard and decided very promptly along time lines that the Education Accessibility Standard should set.
  1. e) On the appeal, the school board should have the burden to prove that the refusal to admit was justified, that it went no further and lasted no longer than was necessary, and that proper alternative education programming was provided or offered.
  1. f) A decision on the appeal should promptly be provided in writing with reasons along time lines that the Education Accessibility Standard should set.

#20.16 The Ministry of Education or the school board should set a unique code for marking attendance for a student who is absent from school for all or part of a day due to a refusal to admit.

#20.17 Each principal should be required to immediately report to their superiors in writing whenever a student is excluded from school, including the student’s name, whether the student has a disability, the reason for the exclusion, the intended duration of the exclusion, and the substitute educational programming that will be provided to the student while excluded from school The school board should centrally collect these reports and should make public quarterly aggregated data (without any names or identifying information) on the number of refusals to admit, reasons for them, percentage that involve any kind of disability, the number of days missed from school, and measures to provide alternative education during refusals to admit.

#20.18 To help ensure that refusals to admit are not used due to a failure to accommodate a

student’s disability up to the point of undue hardship, each school board should create an emergency fund for accelerating education disability accommodations needed to facilitate a student’s remaining at or promptly returning to school, in connection with an actual or contemplated refusal to admit.



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Timmins Transit Brings High-Tech Wheelchair Safety to Buses


Timmins transit unveils new technology that will give riders in wheelchairs a safer and more comfortable ride. Sergio Arangio, CTV News Northern Ontario Videojournalist
@sergioCTVNews
Published Friday, September 27, 2019

TIMMINS — Timmins Transit officially revealed the addition of new wheelchair securement technology to one of its buses.

The Q’Straint Quantum system looks to give commuters in wheelchairs a safer and more independent ride, and Timmins Transit is one of the first in Ontario to use it.

“It allows the individual to not have to feel like you have to interrupt or disturb the driver or also it might be embarrassing to ask a question to be secured in front of all the other people on board,” said Jamie Millions, operations manager of Timmins Transit.

The system works by having the rider centre his or her wheelchair with its back to the system’s headrest, pressing the green-flashing button to the rider’s left to lower a securement arm, then squeezes the wheelchair in place, and actively adjusts pressure during the trip.

(Quantum wheelchair securement technology increases the independence and safety of passengers in wheelchairs. Sergio Arangio/CTV Northern Ontario)

When ready to disembark, riders simply press the green button again to exit.

Millions said it’s a much faster procedure than having the driver manually secure the wheelchair and can make the rider more comfortable.

“It’s fully automatic and that person has full independence,” said Millions.

The technology costs $15,000 per unit and can come pre-installed with new buses or retrofitted with existing ones.

Millions hopes to purchase a new bus with this system every year, as old buses get phased out, until the city’s entire 19-bus fleet has a unit installed.

David Rivard works with the Timmins Accessibility Advisory Committee and uses a motorized wheelchair. He got to give the new system a test drive and said he was impressed.

“I think it’s going to be very useful … not just for the people in the wheelchair, but for everybody else on the bus,” said Rivard.

Studies from the Journal of Rehabilitation Research & Development suggest up to 94% of injuries wheelchair passengers face occur from tipping over during regular operations. Other studies also report up to 58% of wheelchair passenger injuries occurred from improper securement.

Rivard said many transit riders in wheelchairs will avoid asking to be manually secured out of embarrassment for holding up everyone’s commute. He says the Quantum system could be encouraging for riders.

“You don’t want a big wheelchair sliding around, so I think it’s going to be a lot safer for everybody and a lot more convenient,” said Rivard.

Original at https://northernontario.ctvnews.ca/timmins-transit-brings-high-tech-wheelchair-safety-to-buses-1.4613348




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Wheel-Trans Users Fear Loss of Service Under TTC’s Plans to Have Thousands Reassessed


By Ben SpurrTransportation Reporter
Mon., Sept. 23, 2019

Some Wheel-Trans users fear they could soon lose access to the specialized service as the TTC is set to start compelling thousands of clients who for years have relied on the paratransit program to reregister for it.

The TTC says that starting as early as this fall, users who signed up for Wheel-Trans before 2017 will have to be reassessed to determine their eligibility. The TTC estimates at least 25,000 customers will have to go through the process, which they expect will take years.

Wheel-Trans user Terri-Lynn Langdon waits at a west-end stop after dropping off her daughter to daycare while on her way to work. She fears her access to the service will change as a result of the TTC forcing all users to re-register for the service.

According to the transit agency, the need to reassess Wheel-Trans clients stems from the provincial Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA). But many who use the service are apprehensive.

“I don’t know of anyone in the community that’s supportive of it,” said Wheel-Trans user Terri-Lynn Langdon.

Wheel-Trans is the division of the TTC that serves transit users who have physical, cognitive, sensory and mental health disabilities. This year it was projected to provide 4.3 million trips, with a budget of $149 million.

Those eligible for the program have traditionally been able to take “door-to-door” trips on Wheel-Trans vehicles or contracted taxis for the price of a regular TTC fare.

But changes are coming as a result of AODA, legislation the then-Ontario Liberal government passed in 2005 to set provincewide accessibility standards that have to be met by 2025. The law compels the TTC to introduce three categories for Wheel-Trans eligibility: unconditional, conditional and temporary.

To fall under the unconditional category, customers must have a disability that effectively prevents them from using conventional TTC service at any time.

Riders falling under the conditional category have a disability that limits their ability to “consistently” use conventional transit, but are deemed able to use the conventional TTC system under certain conditions, such as if their trip is between two subway stations that are designated accessible.

Temporary eligibility applies to people with non-permanent disabilities.

While riders with the unconditional designation qualify for door-to-door Wheel-Trans trips, the provincial regulations state the TTC can deny Wheel-Trans service to people who have conditional or temporary designations in instances where they’re able to use the conventional transit system.

Although the TTC has been sorting new clients into the three designations since January 2017 as it moves toward full compliance with the act, the thousands of clients who enrolled prior to that date will have to reregister to determine which category they fall under.

In addition to ensuring clients who signed up before and after January 2017 are treated the same, TTC spokesperson Stuart Green said the reassessment process will allow the agency to “make better use of limited resources” and is the “fairest way to ensure that the customer receives the level of service that best matches their abilities.”

He said the agency expects “the vast majority of customers reregistering” will retain “some level of Wheel-Trans access.”

The TTC hasn’t started enforcing the new eligibility criteria for any customers, which means clients with the conditional eligibility still have the option of choosing door-to-door Wheel-Trans service. Green didn’t give a timeline for when the new rules will be put into effect, saying only it would be sometime “in the future.”

He said the TTC expects as many as 60 per cent of reregistered riders to fall into the conditional category, meaning thousands of people who currently receive door-to-door service on Wheel-Trans vehicles will be compelled to use the conventional system for at least some trips. In some cases they will be offered Wheel-Trans service for a segment of a journey but be required to take the conventional system for the remainder.

Using the conventional system is something the TTC says is getting easier as the agency improves accessibility by buying low-floor buses and streetcars, and making extensive renovations to subway stations. Forty-five of the network’s 75 subway stations are accessible.

There are also advantages to disabled customers being able the conventional system, because door-to-door Wheel-Trans trips have to be booked in advance, and being able to simply take the next bus, streetcar or subway allows riders more flexibility.

Under the provincial legislation, the TTC must make the entire transit system accessible by 2025. But even then it’s expected many people with mobility issues will still require Wheel-Trans.

Langdon, who uses a wheelchair, doesn’t think the new assessment process is fair. She was placed in the “conditional” category when she applied for the service in the summer of 2018 after she became pregnant with her daughter.

She said the conditions of her new designation will allow her to use Wheel-Trans during rush hour and when weather is bad, but at other times she’ll have to take the conventional system.

Langdon says the criteria doesn’t take into account the fact that when she travels with her young daughter it’s impossible for her to navigate both her own wheelchair and a stroller on the conventional system.

She said she tried to get the conditional designation reversed, “because it’s not true, it doesn’t reflect how I have to take transit and the barriers that I experience with it.”

Louise Bark, a 59-year-old wheelchair user who registered with Wheel-Trans prior to 2017, says she’s worried the new eligibility criteria will also force her to use the conventional TTC network.

“I may very easily be perceived to be a ‘conditional,’ and that’s scary to me,” she said.

Her concern is that she has a power wheelchair that the TTC may assume allows her to easily get to a transit stop to take an accessible bus or streetcar, while the reality isn’t that simple. She said she has sensitivities to pain, extreme temperatures and scent that would be difficult to objectively quantify on an application form but which can make riding on a bumpy, crowded vehicle unbearable.

Bark said she tries to stay active in order to fend off isolation and depression, and not being able to get around the city to volunteer jobs and to go exercise would significantly reduce her quality of life.

“I don’t know until I actually do the application. But these are things that are definitely on my mind,” she said.

Some accessibility advocates say they understand why the TTC is making users reregister. Mazin Aribi, who chairs the Advisory Committee on Accessible Transit (ACAT), a volunteer group that advises the TTC on these issues, said that as the system becomes more accessible it only makes sense to get people who couldn’t previously use the conventional system to start riding it.

Aribi uses a wheelchair, and said improvements like the TTC’s introduction of accessible streetcars has allowed him to travel on routes he wasn’t able to before, such as Queen St.

But he acknowledged there is anxiety among some Wheel-Trans clients about being reassessed.

“The TTC’s got to do it right, and we are monitoring it very carefully, and we need it to be done correctly. They’re asking ACAT’s advice, and we’re providing. It’s a process,” he said.

Ben Spurr is a Toronto-based reporter covering transportation. Reach him by email at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter: @BenSpurr

Original at https://www.thestar.com/news/gta/2019/09/23/wheel-trans-users-fear-loss-of-service-under-ttcs-plans-to-have-thousands-reassessed.html




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More Media on the E-scooters Issue – and – On September 25, Attend Either a Federal Candidates’ Forum on the Accessible Canada Act or the TTC’s Public Forum on Accessible Transit


Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance Update

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

www.aodaalliance.org [email protected] Twitter: @aodaalliance

More Media on the E-scooters Issue – and – On September 25, Attend Either a Federal Candidates’ Forum on the Accessible Canada Act or the TTC’s Public Forum on Accessible Transit

September 23, 2019

          SUMMARY

1. Yet More Media Attention on the Problems with Allowing Electric Scooters Out in Public in Our Province

There have now been four weeks since we learned about the Ford Government’s troubling plan to allow unlicensed, uninsured people to drive electric scooters in Ontario in a 5-year pilot project. We presented it to Ontarians as a serious disability issue. Since then, the media coverage of this issue just keeps on coming!

Below we set out an article on this subject that was in the September 21, 2019 Globe and Mail. It does not make the e-scooters’ disability issues its focus.

As well, last week, on Friday, September 20, 2019, CBC Radio devoted an entire hour to a province-wide call-in program on e-scooters on its Ontario Today program. Those taking part in that program echoed a number of the concerns with e-scooters that we have been raising. The CBC included a clip from an earlier interview with AODA Alliance Chair David Lepofsky in the program.

We are especially concerned to know what kind of audience our provincial and municipal politicians are giving to the lobbyists for the companies that are lobbying hard to rent e-scooters in Ontario. Those of course are the very companies whose business plan includes people randomly leaving e-scooters on our public sidewalks, creating new barriers for pedestrians with disabilities. We have contended that our public sidewalks are not meant for their businesses’ free parking. Our provincial and municipal politicians should make public their discussions with those corporate lobbyists.

We encourage you to check out the September 12, 2019 brief that the AODA Alliance has submitted to the Ontario Government. Please let the Government know if you support our brief and its recommendations. You can write the Government at [email protected]

2. Come to the Toronto September 25, 2019 Federal Candidates’ Forum on the Accessible Canada Act

Would you like to know what the federal parties are promising to do, if elected, to strengthen the new Accessible Canada Act and to ensure that it is swiftly and effectively implemented and enforced? If you are in the Toronto area, come to the September 25, 2019 federal candidates’ forum on this topic, organized by the Holland Bloorview Kids Rehab Centre, and the Reena Foundation. We set out the announcement below. It includes information on how to sign up to attend this event.

We are hoping that this event will also be live streamed, but details are still in the works. , AODA Alliance Chair David Lepofsky has been invited to be a subject matter expert during this debate.

We encourage you to use the AODA Alliance’s brand new Action Kit for tips on how to raise disability accessibility issues in this federal election.

3. Another Chance to Alert TTC to Public Transit Barriers in Toronto

Do you still run into accessibility barriers when using public transit in Toronto? Here is another opportunity to try to press for reforms at the TTC.

Below is the Toronto Transit Commission’s announcement of its 2019 Annual Public Forum on Accessible Transit. It will be held on the evening of Wednesday, September 25, 2019 from 7 to 9 pm.

It is too bad that both this TTC forum and the federal candidates forum on the Accessible Canada Act will be taking place at the same date and time. We encourage one and all in the Toronto area to come to this TTC event, or the federal candidates’ event. Raise accessibility problems you have experienced on the TTC. It is important to shine the light on accessibility issues that continue to plague people with disabilities on public transit in Canada’s biggest city.

Over three years ago, the Ontario Government appointed a new Transportation Standards Development Committee under the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act to review the 2011 Transportation Accessibility Standard, and to recommend any needed changes to strengthen it. That Committee’s final reform recommendations, which the former Ontario Government under Kathleen Wynne made public in the 2018 spring, were exceptionally weak. If implemented, they wouldn’t significantly improve that very limited accessibility standard.

In its first 15 months in office, the new Ontario Government under Premier Doug Ford has announced no new action to make public transit accessible in Ontario for people with disabilities. It has announced no action on this subject as a result of the Transportation Standards Development Committee’s 2018 recommendations.

This is part of a bigger and troubling provincial picture. The Ford Government has done nothing since taking office to strengthen and accelerate the sluggish implementation and enforcement of the AODA.

Back on January 31, 2019, the Ford Government received the final report of the most recent Independent Review of the AODA’s implementation conducted by former Lieutenant Governor David Onley. That was 236 days ago. That report found a pressing need to substantially strengthen the AODA’s implementation. Yet the Ford Government has announced no comprehensive plan to implement the Onley Report’s recommendations for strengthening the AODA’s implementation.

Please contact your local media and encourage them to attend the TTC forum. Video record or photograph barriers on TTC you have experienced. Send them to the media. Publicize them on social media like Twitter and Facebook. Use the ever-popular hashtag #AODAfail in tweets about these barriers, as part of our “Picture Our Barriers” campaign.

TTC will again stream this public forum event live. Check out details below in the TTC announcement.

This TTC Public Forum originated in 2008 as a result of the 2007 Human Rights Tribunal order in Lepofsky v. TTC #2. Eleven years ago, the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal ordered TTC to hold one such event per year for the three years after the Tribunal ruled against TTC in Lepofsky v. TTC #2.

After starting to hold these events because it was ordered to do so commendably TTC decided to keep holding these events once per year, even though TTC originally and strenuously opposed David Lepofsky when he asked the Human Rights Tribunal to make this order.

Since 2011, TTC and all public transit providers in Ontario are required by law to hold a similar event each year in your community under section 41(2) of the Integrated Accessibility Standard Regulation, enacted under the AODA. If you live outside Toronto, ask your public transit provider when they are planning to hold their annual public forum on accessible transit. If your public transit authority has not done so, please contact Raymond Cho, who is Ontario’s Minister for Seniors and Accessibility and is responsible for enforcing the AODA, and ask that this provision be strictly enforced. This section provides:

“41(2) Every conventional transportation service provider shall annually hold at least one public meeting involving persons with disabilities to ensure that they have an opportunity to participate in a review of the accessibility plan and that they are given the opportunity to provide feedback on the accessibility plan.”

Let us know if your public transit authority elsewhere in Ontario is holding a similar event this year, or did so last year. Email us at [email protected] or reply to this email.

Each year there is an impressive turnout of hundreds of people at TTC’s public forums on accessible transit. Each wants a chance at the microphone to tell their story. Unfortunately, TTC each year uses up far too much time, as much as a third of the time in some instances, making speeches on what a great job TTC says it’s doing on accessibility. We have urged TTC to keep all of those speeches down to a total of five or ten minutes, maximum, to give as much time as possible to the attendees to speak, since they made the effort to come to this event. We hope TTC will listen to this suggestion this time. They have not done so in the past despite our requests.

Under the Human Rights Tribunal’s order, all TTC Commissioners were required to attend each public forum. Since that order expired, many if not most TTC Commissioners have skipped these TTC accessible transit public forums. This is wrong. TTC chose the forum’s date well in advance. Its Commissioners should be able to make it. If hundreds of people with disabilities take the time out of their busy day to come to speak to the TTC Commissioners, the least that those TTC Commissioners can do is to themselves take the time to show up to this TTC community event and listen to the front-line experiences of riders with disabilities.

          More Details

The Globe and Mail September 21, 2019

Originally posted at https://www.theglobeandmail.com/canada/alberta/article-politicians-and-planners-look-to-data-for-answers-on-e-scooters/

Cities look to data for answers on e-scooters

By CARRIE TAIT

Staff

CALGARY – Calgarians puttering around on electric scooters flock to Prince’s Island Park, a downtown gem and the river paths. Montrealers favour Old Montreal. And in Edmonton, Whyte Avenue, known for pubs and shops, is a popular destination.

A handful of Canadian cities launched e-scooter pilot projects this summer, writing bylaws with limited data. Even the most basic rule – where, exactly, are riders allowed to scoot – varies from city to city. In Edmonton, for example, scooters are allowed on streets with speed limits up to 50 kilometres an hour, but not sidewalks; in Calgary, sidewalks are in and roads are out.

Now, as summer wraps up, politicians and urban planners have information they will use to rewrite the rules for shared escooters. But the data will do far more than influence speed limits on pathways. It will affect largescale infrastructure plans – the types of projects that cost billions of dollars and take years to complete.

Shauna Brail is a professor at the University of Toronto’s urban-planning program and studies new methods of transportation – think bike-sharing programs and autonomous vehicles – in cities. She anticipates cities will adopt stricter rules around where users can leave their scooters.

“I think we’ll start to see more and more regulations around parking,” Dr. Brail said. “This is one of the biggest pieces of contention.”

Two companies dominate pilot projects in Canada: Lime and Bird. Riders use apps to find and unlock scooters, and are generally charged a flat rate to get started and then pay by the minute. Users in some cities can leave the scooters anywhere within designated boundaries; riders in other cities can park only in specific spots. Some cities allow parking on sidewalks, so long as the scooters do not obstruct the walkway.

Calgary received 62 complaints through its 311 service about abandoned or improperly parked scooters in the first nine weeks of the pilot project. Parking complaints were the second most common reason citizens turned to 311 regarding scooters, behind sidewalk conflicts.

Montreal, which launched its pilot project in August, has already taken action to thwart troublesome parking jobs. Politicians there last week announced plans to fine e-scooter and e-bike users $50 for shoddy parking and Montreal will fine the companies $100 every time a police officer or city official finds one of their respective scooters or bikes parked illegally.

Calgary approved 1,500 scooters for the pilot project launched in the middle of July. Their popularity among users outpaced the city’s expectations. As of Wednesday, riders in Calgary had made a collective 542,374 trips covering more than 1.1 million kilometres. The median trip lasts 10 minutes, according to city data.

Roughly 142,100 unique users have used the e-scooters at least once. After accounting for tourist traffic, city officials estimate this means about 10 per cent of Calgarians have gone for at least one spin. These numbers exclude privately owned e-scooters.

Calgary’s 311 data show the most common concern about escooters stems from riding on sidewalks, which is legal in the city. Concerned citizens, for example, want the scooters to slow down and want the city to crack down on riders who are inconsiderate on the sidewalks, the city said. It counts 112 submissions related to sidewalks.

The 311 data, however, also demonstrate Calgarians are adjusting to e-scooters. Since the pilot’s launch, the city service recorded 281 submissions tied to escooters. Complaints spiked around the third week of the pilot, with 68 concerns registered.

But submissions have dropped every week since, hitting and holding at 15 around weeks eight and nine.

Nathan Carswell, Calgary’s shared-mobility program co-ordinator, said the city will make changes as data flow in. Sidewalk problems, for example, may be alleviated by working with the scooter companies to lower the machines’ top speed in designated areas, such as busy downtown corridors, Mr. Carswell said.

GPS data, injury rates and the degree of conflict with pedestrians, cyclists and vehicles, will help shape city infrastructure.

The information, Mr. Carswell said, provides hints on where Calgary should expand its separated bike-lane network, whether sidewalks in some areas should be widened, or whether there are areas where it would be appropriate to allow scooters on roadways, for example.

“I think they are here for the long run,” he said.

In Edmonton, which launched its pilot project in the middle of August, Mayor Don Iveson noted pedestrians, business owners and people with mobility issues have complained about users illegally riding the scooters on the sidewalk.

“It is not going well,” he said.

The mayor has also said if issues persist, Edmonton will reassess whether e-scooters are suitable in Alberta’s capital.

Eddy Lang, the department head for emergency medicine at the University of Calgary’s Cumming School of Medicine, is analyzing statistics related to ER and urgent-care visits related to scooters and bicycle incidents.

There have been 477 visits to Calgary’s ER and urgent-care facilities owing to scooter injuries. Fractures are the most common reason, clocking in at 121 incidents, followed by head and facial injuries, at 83 visits. Visits related to bicycle injuries far outpace scooter visits, but there are far more cyclists than scooter riders in the city.

Announcement of September 25, 2019 Federal Candidates’ Forum on the, Accessible Canada Act

Originally posted at https://www.eventbrite.ca/e/accessible-canada-act-candidates-forum-tickets-71795944603

Sep 25

Accessible Canada Act: Candidates’ Forum

By Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital and Reena

Wed, 25 September 2019, 7:00 PM – 9:00 PM EDT

Join us to learn more about the Accessible Canada Act and to hear directly from federal candidates on potential implementation strategies

About this Event

On June 21, 2019, the Accessible Canada Act (Bill C-81), received Royal Assent after passing unanimously through the House of Commons and the Senate of Canada.

The act fulfills the government’s mandate promise to introduce new accessibility legislation toward ensuring a barrier-free Canada, though no recommendations have been made to date.

To learn more about the act and its potential implications for Canadians, Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital and Reena are hosting Accessible Canada Act: Candidates’ Forum that will serve to educate on the importance of the act, its potential outcomes and provide an opportunity to hear directly from candidates on their parties’ potential implementation strategies.

Light refreshments will be served. Kashrut observed.

If you require any special accommodations to attend the event, please send an email to [email protected] before September 20.

Announcement of the September 25, 2019 TTC Public Forum on Accessible Transit

Originally posted at http://ttc.ca/TTC_Accessibility/Public_Forum_on_Accessible_Transit/2019/index.jsp

The 2019 Public Forum on Accessible Transit is happening this September!

On Wednesday, September 25 the 2019 Public Forum on Accessible Transit is taking place at the Beanfield Centre!

Join us to learn more about Easier Access at the TTC, Family of Services and conditional trip-matching.

For further information on accommodations, booking your trip and the livestream, please head to: http://www.ttc.ca/TTC_Accessibility/Public_Forum_on_Accessible_Transit/2019/index.jsp



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Send Us Your Feedback on Our Draft Framework for what the Promised K-12 Education Accessibility Standard Should Include – AODA Alliance


Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance Update

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

www.aodaalliance.org [email protected] Twitter: @aodaalliance

Send Us Your Feedback on Our Draft Framework for what the Promised K-12 Education Accessibility Standard Should Include

September 18, 2019

          SUMMARY

Today, the AODA Alliance is making public a draft Framework for what the promised Education Accessibility Standard should include for students in schools between kindergarten and Grade 12. We set it out below and invite your feedback. Let us know what you think we should do to improve this Framework before we finalize it and submit it to the K-12 Education Standards Development Committee. Please email us your feedback by October 2, 2019 by replying to this email, or by addressing an email to [email protected]

After months and months of our advocacy, we are delighted and relieved that the Ford Government has finally let the three AODA Standards Development Committees go back to work, which had remained frozen since the June 2018 Ontario election,. Those are the Standards Development Committees working in the areas of K-12 education, post-secondary education, and health care. The K-12 Standards Development Committee held its first resuming meeting by a telephone conference call on September 10, 2019. AODA Alliance Chair David Lepofsky  is a member of that committee. The Post-Secondary Education Standards Development Committee did so on September 12, 2019.

We are preparing this Framework to help the K-12 Education Standards Development Committee go about its work developing recommendations for the Ford Government of what to include in the promised Education Accessibility Standard. Once we get your feedback, we will finalize this Framework, make it public and submit it to the K-12 Education Standards Development Committee.

Time-permitting, we also hope to prepare a Framework to submit to the Post-Secondary Education Standards Development Committee, to supplement this one. If you have ideas of what we should include, beyond the parts of this Framework that are relevant at the post-secondary phase of education, please send us your ideas.

This draft framework is the result of lots of feedback that we have gathered over the past several years, as we campaigned to get commitments to create an Education Accessibility Standard under the AODA. It substantially builds and expands on the Discussion Paper on this topic that we made public almost three years ago, on November 21, 2016. We thank all those who have given us feedback in the past and who will do so now.

It is because we have gotten so much helpful feedback that this 27 page draft Framework is so detailed and thorough.

We understand that it can take some time to read through and think about all the detailed information in this draft Framework. For those who have the time to do so, we really appreciate your doing so. For those who don’t have the time, you can just look over this list of headings in the Framework:

Introduction — What is This Proposed Framework?

  1. What Should the Long-term Objectives of the Education Accessibility Standard Be?
  2. A Vision of An Accessible Education system
  3. General provisions that the Education Accessibility Standard Should Include
  4. The Right of Parents, Guardians and Students with Disabilities to Know about Disability-Related Programs, Services, and Supports, and How to Access Them
  5. Ensuring that Parents, Guardians and Students Have a Fair and Effective Process for Raising Concerns about a school board’s Accommodation of the Education Needs of Students with Disabilities.
  6. Expedited the Early Identification and Assessment of Students with Disabilities’ Needs
  7. Ensuring a Fully Accessible Built Environment at Schools
  8. Ensuring Digital Accessibility at School
  9. Ensuring Universal Design in Learning Is Used in All Teaching Activities, Both Online and in Classroom Learning
  10. Ensuring Sufficient Training and Expertise for Education Professionals Who Support Students with Disabilities
  11. Removing Attitudinal Barriers against Students with Disabilities
  12. Ensuring Accessibility of Instructional Materials that Students with Disabilities Use
  13. Ensuring Accessibility of Gym, Playground and Like Equipment and Activities
  14. Ensuring Student Testing/Assessment is Free of Disability Barriers
  15. Ensuring Students with Disabilities Have the Technology and Other Supports They Need at School
  16. Removing Barriers to Participation in Experiential Learning
  17. Ensuring French Immersion and Other Specialized Programs Are Barrier-Free for Students with Disabilities
  18. Substantially Reducing the Shuffling of Students with Special Education Needs From School to School over Their school Years
  19. Transportation for Students with Disabilities
  20. Protecting Students with Disabilities from Being Unfairly Denied the Right to Attend School for All or Part of the School Day

As we make this draft Framework public, we are sadly reminded that 231 days have now passed since the Ford Government received the final report of the Independent Review of the AODA’s implementation and enforcement which was conducted by former Ontario Lieutenant Governor David Onley. The Ford Government has still not released a comprehensive plan to implement its recommendations, nor has it publicly promised to ever do so. Over 2 million Ontarians with disabilities suffer the ongoing consequences of that foot-dragging. New disability barriers continue to be created, while old barriers too often remain in place.

          MORE DETAILS

 Proposed Framework for the K-12 Education Accessibility Standard

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 welcomed. Send feedback to [email protected]

Introduction — What is This Proposed Framework?

In Ontario, over a third of a million students with disabilities face too many barriers at all levels of Ontario’s education system. For years, the AODA Alliance led a campaign to get the Ontario Government to agree to create an Education Accessibility Standard under the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA). Two committees have been appointed by the Ontario Government to make recommendations on what the Education Accessibility Standard should include: The K-12 Education Standards Development Committee is responsible 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 supposed to spell out the barriers that are to be removed or prevented, what must be done to remove or prevent them, and the time lines required for this action.

In this Framework, the AODA Alliance outlines the key ingredients and aims for the promised Education Accessibility Standard. Where we state that “A school board should…” or similar wording, we mean by this that the Education Accessibility Standard should include a provision that requires the school board to take the step that we describe.

We hope this will assist the two Standards Development Committees. It predominantly focuses on the K-12 context, but its contents are readily transferrable to the post-secondary education context.

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

The purpose of the Education Accessibility Standard should be to ensure that Ontario’s education system becomes fully accessible to all students with disabilities by 2025, the AODA’s deadline, by requiring the removal and prevention of accessibility barriers that impede students with disabilities. It should aim to ensure that students with disabilities can fully participate in, fully benefit from and be fully included in Ontario’s education system on a footing of equality, in the least restrictive environment consistent with a student’s and their parents’ wishes. It should provide a prompt, accessible, fair, effective and user-friendly process to learn about and seek individual placements, programs, services, supports and accommodations tailored to the individual needs of each student with disabilities. It should aim to eliminate the need for students with disabilities and their families to have to fight against education accessibility barriers, one at a time, and the need for educational organizations to have to re-invent the accessibility wheel one school board, college, university or educational program at a time.

2. A Vision of An Accessible Education system

The Education Accessibility Standard should begin by setting out a vision of what an accessible education system should include. An accessible education system at the K-12 level should include the following:

#2.1 It would be designed and operated from top to bottom for all of its students, including students with all kinds of disabilities, as protected by the Ontario Human Rights Code and/or the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. It would not in any way restrict its programs, services, supports or accommodations only to those students whose disability falls within the outdated and narrow definition of “exceptionality” in Ontario’s Education Act and regulations. The education system would no longer be designed and operated from the starting point of aiming to serve the fictional “average” student. It would not treat or label students with disabilities as “exceptions” or “exceptional”. It would not call their needs “special.” Their services, supports and needs would not be conflated with the services and needs of gifted students who have no disability.

#2.2 The built environment in the education system, such as schools themselves, their yards, playgrounds etc., and the equipment on those premises (such as gym and playground equipment) would all be fully accessible to people with disabilities, and would be designed based on the principle of universal design.

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

#2.4 Instructional materials used in Ontario’s education system would be available in formats that are fully accessible to students with disabilities who need to use them, and would be available when needed.

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

#2.6 Inclusion and Universal Design in Learning would extend beyond formal classroom learning to other activities connected with education, such as the playground at recess, social and recreational activities, field trips, extra-curricular activities, and experiential learning opportunities.

#2.7 Students with disabilities would have prompt access to the adaptive technology and specialized supports they need for their education and needed training on how to use it. Students with disabilities would be able to bring to school and take home the accessibility technology and supports from which they benefit. For example, they would have the right to bring a qualified service animal to school with them.

#2.8 Teachers and other direct educational staff, would be fully trained to serve all students, and not just students who have no disabilities. They would be fully trained in such things as Universal Design in Learning. “Special education” teachers should not serve as a silo for those who will teach students with disabilities.

#2.9 Students with disabilities would have timely access to up-to-date adaptive technology and to effective training on how to use it, to enable them to best take part in and benefit from education programming.

#2.10 Options for placement and programming at school would be sufficiently diverse and flexible to accommodate a wide spectrum of learning needs and styles, rather than tending to be one-size-fits-all.

#2.11 Tests and other forms of evaluation in school education would be designed based on principles of universal design and Universal Design in Learning, so that they will be barrier-free for students with disabilities.

#2.12 Classroom teachers and other front-line teaching staff would be provided sufficient staff support, and, where needed, additional specialized training, to enable them to effectively serve students with disabilities in their classes.

#2.13 Students with disabilities would be assured the opportunity to receive an equal education in the least restrictive environment, consistent with the student’s/parents’ wishes.

#2.14 Students with disabilities would encounter a welcoming environment at school and in class to facilitate their full participation, and a welcoming environment in which they can seek and receive accommodations for their disabilities. Students without disabilities, teaching staff and other school staff, as well as other parents in the school context, will be welcoming and inclusive towards students with disabilities. To achieve this, among other things, all students will receive positive curriculum content on the importance of inclusion and accessibility for students with disabilities. Bullying, teasing, stereotyping, patronization and the soft bigotry of low expectations will be absent from the school environment.

#2.15 Admission criteria, admission tests or other admission screening to get into any specialized education programming would be barrier-free for students with disabilities.

#2.16 Students with disabilities and their parents/guardians would have prompt, effective and easy access to user-friendly information in multiple languages on the educational options, programs, services, supports and accommodations available for their disability, and on the process for seeking these. Students with disabilities and their parents would be given a timely opportunity to observe options for placement, programming and other educational services and supports, when considering which would be most suitable for that student.

#2.17 Students with disabilities and their families would be kept regularly posted on the effectiveness of the placement, program, services, supports and accommodations that the student is to receive.

#2.18 The process for deciding on the placement, programming, services, supports and accommodations for students with disabilities would be fair, open and transparent in which the student and their family can fully participate. For example, before an Individual Education Plan (IEP) is written, the student and parents/guardians would be able and invited to take part in an Individual Education Plan meeting with school officials, at which the Individual Education Plan can be jointly written. At each stage of the process, the student and parents will be given clear user-friendly “rights advice” on how the process works, and on their rights in the process.

#2.19 Once a student has an established Individual Education Plan at one school, that plan would be portable, and would carry forward should that student move to another school at the same or a different school board.

#2.20 A decision about a student’s placement would not be made until assessments and decisions are reached about the needs and most appropriate program, services, supports and accommodations for that student with disabilities.

#2.21 Where a student with disabilities or their family believe that the school is not effectively meeting the student’s disability-related needs, (e.g. by not including a desired item in the Individual Education Plan), or if the student or family believe that the school is not providing an educational program, service, support or accommodation to which it had agreed, the student and parents would 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 student’s direct education.

#2.22 The qualifications and required training for specialized support educators (such as teachers of the visually impaired) would be modernized and upgraded where needed to ensure that they are qualified to meet the specialized needs of their students and the other teachers whom they support.

#2.23 There would be no bureaucratic, procedural or policy barriers that would impede the effective accommodation of individual students with disabilities at all levels of Ontario’s education system.

#2.24 Students with disabilities would have a right to attend school for the entire school day, and to not be excluded from school for all or part of a school day directly or indirectly because of their disability. Schools would not systemically or disproportionately exclude students with disabilities from school for either all or part of the school day e.g. because a special needs assistant is away from school.

#2.25 Major new Government strategies in Ontario’s education system would be proactively designed from the start to fully include the needs of students with disabilities. For example, if the Ontario Government were to announce a new math strategy for Ontario’s schools, it would, among other things, include an effective strategy to address disability barriers that students with disabilities face in math education.

#2.26 Those responsible at the provincial and local school board levels for leading, overseeing and operating Ontario’s education system would have strong and specific requirements to address disability accessibility and inclusion in their mandates, and would be accountable for their work in that connection. This will not be relegated to special education bureaucratic silos.

#2.27 The education system would provide disability-related funding to a school board based on the actual number of students with disabilities at that board, and not on a formula that merely tries to estimate how many should be at that school board.

3. General provisions that the Education Accessibility Standard Should Include

#3.1 This proposed accessibility standard should cover and apply to all education programs and opportunities for students at any school board that receives public funding in Ontario.

#3.2 Where this accessibility standard refers to “students with disabilities “, this should include any student who has any kind of physical, mental, sensory, learning, intellectual, mental health, communication, neurological or other kind of disability within the meaning of the Ontario Human Rights Code or the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act . It should not be limited to the much more restricted definition of an “exceptional pupil” or a student with an “exceptionality” in the Education Act and regulations and policy related to them, or who is therefore treated under Ontario’s Education Act, regulations, or policy as a student with special education needs.

#3.3 Each school board should be required to establish a permanent committee of its trustees to be called the “Accessibility Committee.”, and other members should include the school board’s chair or vice chair. The chair and vice chair of the school board’s Special Education Advisory Committee should sit as ex officio members of this committee, whether or not they are trustees of the school board. The school board’s Accessibility Committee should have responsibility for overseeing the school board’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 school board provides.

#3.4 Each school board should be required to establish or designate the position of Chief Accessibility/Inclusion Officer, reporting to the Director of Education, with a mandate and responsibility to ensure proper leadership on the school board’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 of this accessibility standard. This responsibility may be assigned to an existing senior management official.

#3.5 Beyond the specific measures to remove and prevent barriers set out in this accessibility standard and in other accessibility standards enacted under the AODA, each school board should be required to systematically review its educational programming, services, facilities and equipment to identify recurring accessibility barriers within that school board that can impede the 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 school board’s trustees , the school board’s accessibility committee, and to the school board’s Special Education Advisory Committee. This plan should aim at all accessibility barriers that can impede students with disabilities from full inclusion in the education programs and activities at that school board, whether or not they are specifically identified in the Education Accessibility Standard or in any other specific accessibility standards enacted under the AODA.

#3.6 Each school board should be required to develop, implement and monitor a comprehensive new Inclusion Strategy for students with disabilities, whether or not their disability is identified as an “exceptionality” under Ontario’s special education laws. Under this strategy, where a school board proposes to refuse to provide a student with a disability in a regular class setting with needed accommodations, supports or services, over the objections of the student or of their family, on the grounds that the school board believes that it cannot serve that student in a regular classroom setting, the principal should be required to give written notice of this to the family, with reasons, and to tell the family that it has the right to promptly receive the principal’s reasons in writing. But this should not be reason to stop or withdraw services or support until a meeting has been held to discuss progress of have a review meeting of some kind.

#3.7 Each school board should have an explicit duty to create a welcoming environment for students with disabilities and their families to seek accommodations for their disabilities.

4. The Right of Parents, Guardians and Students with Disabilities to Know about Disability-Related Programs, Services, and Supports, and How to Access Them

Barrier: Parents too often find it difficult to get easily accessed information from their school board and the Ontario Government on education options available for students with disabilities and how to access them.

#4.1 Each school board should provide parents of students with disabilities with timely and effective information on the available services, programs and supports for students with disabilities (whether or not they are classified as students with special education needs under the Education Act and regulations). Each school board should ensure that parents, guardians, and where practicable, students are informed, as early as possible, in a readily-accessible and understandable way, about such important information as:

  1. What “special education” is and who is entitled to receive it.
  2. That the school board has a duty to ensure that a student with a disability has the right to full participation in and full inclusion in all the school board’s education programming, and to be accommodated in connection with those programs under the Ontario Human Rights Code and Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, whether or not the student is classified as a student with special education needs under Ontario’s Education Act and regulations.
  3. The menu of options, placements, programs, services, supports and accommodations available at the school board for students with disabilities, whether or not they are classified as students with special education needs under the Education Act and regulations.
  4. What persons and what office to approach at the school board to get this information, to request placements, programs, supports, services or accommodations for students with disabilities, whether or not they are classified as students with special education needs, or to raise concerns about whether the school board is effectively meeting the student’s education needs.
  5. The processes and procedures at the school board for a parent, guardian or student to request or change placements, programs, services, supports or accommodations for students with disabilities, whether or not they are classified as students with special education needs. This includes formal legislated processes like the Identification and Placement Review Committee (IPRC) and the development and implementation of the students Individual Education Plan (IEP). It also includes other informal processes like requests for programs, services, supports and accommodations in the classroom that are not covered in an IPRC or IEP.

#4.2 Without restricting the important information that must be made readily available, each school board should ensure, among other things, that:

  1. Parents and guardians of students with disabilities can easily find out and, where necessary, visit different placement, program, service and support options for a student with a disability, whether or not they are classified as a student with special education needs, before the parent, guardian or, where practicable, the student must take a position on what placement, program or services should be provided to that student.
  2. Parents and guardians of students with disabilities, and, where practicable, students with disabilities themselves, should be given clear, understandable explanations of their rights in the school system, including but not limited to the special education process. For example, when a school board presents parents or guardians with a proposed IEP, the school board should explain to them that they need not agree to and sign the proposed IEP, that the school board is open to consider the family’s suggestions for changes to the proposed IEP, and the avenues by which parents or guardians can seek to get the school board to make changes to the proposed IEP.

#4.3 Each school board should develop, implement and make public a plan to substantially improve its provision of the important information, described above, to all parents and guardians of that school board’s students, and to all students where practicable, and especially to parents and guardians of students with disabilities:

  1. This plan’s objective should be to ensure that all parents, guardians and where practicable, students, get the information they need to ensure that students of all abilities can fully participate in and benefit from the educational opportunities available at the school board.
  2. A school board should not simply leave it to each principal or teacher to make sure that this important information is effectively provided. Each school board should instead have an effective system in place to ensure that this information actually reaches all parents and guardians, and where applicable, students.
  3. Each school board should ensure that all of this important information is fully and readily accessible in a prompt and timely way to all parents, guardians and students, 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 school board’s website, in a prominent place that is easy to find, with a link on the school board’s home page. A school board should not simply rely on its website to share this information since this will not serve those families that do not have internet access.
  4. Among other things, each school board should send home an information package to all families at the start of each school year, and not merely to families of those students who are already being identified or served as having special education needs or disabilities. This package should include, among other things, a Question and Answer format to help families see how this information could relate to the student in their family.
  5. Each school board should also create a user-friendly package of information to be provided to families who first approach a school board about the possibility of enrolling a child at that school board, e.g. when they register for kindergarten. This should help enable a family to know whether they should be trying to access disability-related services and supports.
  6. Each school board should periodically host events at local schools to help families learn how to navigate disability-related school board processes like the Individual Education Plan and the Identification and Placement Review Committee processes. Where possible these should be streamed online and archived as a resource for families to watch online.

5. Ensuring that Parents, Guardians and Students Have a Fair and Effective Process for Raising Concerns about a School Board’s Accommodation of the Education Needs of Students with Disabilities

Barrier: Lack of sufficient, easily-accessed and fair processes at each school board to enable students with disabilities and families to have effective input into the placement and accommodation of the student, and for raising disability-related concerns.

The procedures in place under the Education Act and regulations for identifying and accommodating the needs of students with disabilities are out-of-date, and insufficient to ensure that the needs of students with disabilities are effectively met.

#5.1 Each school board should establish and maintain an effective process for parents and guardians of students with disabilities to effectively take part in the development and implementation of a student’s plans for meeting and accommodating their disability-related needs, including (but not limited to) their Individual Education Plan (IEP).

#5.2 As part of this process, parents and guardians of students with disabilities , and where practicable, the student, should be invited to take part in a joint school team student accommodation/IEP development meeting, where accommodation plans will be made and where the IEP will be written. The school board should bring to the table all key professionals who can contribute to this. The family should be invited to bring to the table any supports and professionals that can assist the family. Parents should have the right to bring with them anyone who can assist them in advocating for their child. Parents/families should be given a wide range of options for participating e.g. in person or by phone. They should be told in advance who will attend from the school board. Any proposal for accommodations including a draft IEP should include a summary of key points to assist families in understanding them.

#5.3 If a school board refuses to provide an accommodation, service, or support for a child’s disability that a parent, guardian, or where appropriate, the student requests, or if the school board fails to provide an accommodation or support that it has agreed to provide, the school board should, on request, promptly provide written reasons for that refusal, and let the family and student know that they can request written reasons.

#5.4 If parents and guardians of students with disabilities, and where practicable, the student, disagree with any aspect of the proposed accommodations including (but not limited to) the proposed IEP, or if the student or their family believe that the school board has not provided an accommodation or support that the school board has agreed to provide, the school board should make available a respectful, non-adversarial internal review process for hearing and deciding on the family’s concerns. The K-12 Education Accessibility Standard should set out the specifics of this review process. This school board review process should include the following:

  1. It should be very prompt. Arrangements for a student’s accommodations, including An IEP, should be finalized as quickly as possible, so that the students’ learning needs are promptly met.
  2. No proposed accommodations should be withheld from a student pending a review. The family should not feel pressured not to seek this review, lest the child be placed in a position of educational disadvantage during the review process. In other words, a family should not fear that if they launch a review, the student will suffer because the school board will not provide an accommodation or service the school board has offered, while the review is pending.
  3. The review process should be fair. The school board should let the family know all of its issues or concerns with a family’s proposal regarding the student’s accommodations, including the contents of the IEP. The family should be given a fair chance to express its concerns and recommendations regarding the student’s accommodations’, including IEP.
  4. The review should be by a person or persons who are independent and impartial. They should have expertise in education of students with disabilities. They should not have taken part in any of the earlier discussions or decisions at that school board regarding the accommodations or IEP for that child.
  5. At the review, every effort should be made to mediate and resolve any disagreements between the family and the school board. If the matter cannot be resolved by agreement, there should be an option for the school board to appoint a person or persons who are outside the school board to consider the review, along prompt time lines.
  6. At the review, written reasons should be given for the decision, and especially if any of the family’s requests or concerns are not accepted.
  7. If, after receiving the review’s decision and reasons, the family wishes to present any new information, it should be able to ask for the review to be reconsidered. This should be along short time lines.
  8. After the review is decided, if the family is not satisfied, it should be able to bring its concerns regarding the proposed accommodations including any IEP to a designated senior official at the school board with authority to approve the requested accommodations, for a further review.

#5.5 Where a student with a disability is being accommodated in a school in a school board covered by this accessibility standard, and the student transfers to another school in that school board or in another school board, that student should have a right to have the same accommodations put in in place in the new school or school board. If the school board of the school to which the student transfers proposes to reduce those accommodations or supports, they should be maintained until and unless, through the procedures set out in this accessibility standard, the school board has justified a reduction of those accommodations.

6. Expedited the Early Identification and Assessment of Students with Disabilities’ Needs

Barrier: Students with disabilities can face delays and bureaucratic impediments to early and timely professional assessment, where needed, of their disability-related needs.

#6.1 The Education Accessibility Standard should require measures to tear down administrative, bureaucratic and other barriers to reduce delays for getting psychological and other educational assessments for the identification of disability related learning needs.

7. Ensuring a Fully Accessible Built Environment at Schools

Barrier: Too often, the built environment where education programming is offered have physical barriers that partially or totally impede some students with disabilities from being able to enter or independently move around.

The Ontario Building Code and existing accessibility standards do not set out modern, sufficient accessibility requirements for the built environment in Ontario. Moreover, the Ontario Building Code is largely if not entirely designed to address the needs of adults, not children. The Ontario Government has no accessibility standard for the built environment in schools, whether old or new schools. The Ontario Government has not agreed to develop a Built Environment Accessibility Standard or to substantially strengthen the accessibility provisions in the Ontario Building Code.

As such, it is left to each school board to come up with its own designs to address, accessibility in the built environment in schools. This is highly inefficient and wasteful. It allows public money to be used to create new barriers against people with disabilities.

#7.1 The K-12 Education Accessibility Standard should set out specific requirements for accessibility in the built environment in schools and other locations where education programs are to be offered. This should meet the accessibility requirements of the Ontario Human Rights Code and the Charter of Rights. It should meet the needs of all disabilities, and not only those of people with mobility disabilities. This should include:

  1. Specific requirements to be included in a new school to be built.
  2. Requirements to be included in a renovation of or addition to an existing school, and
  3. Retrofit requirements for an existing school that is not slated for a major renovation or addition.

#7.2 Each school board should develop a plan for ensuring that the built environment of its schools and other educational facilities becomes fully accessible to people with disabilities as soon as reasonably possible, and in any event, no later than 2025. As part of this:

  1. As a first step, each school board should develop a plan for making as many of its schools 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 all disabilities, for example people with vision and/or hearing loss, autism, or mental health disabilities.
  2. Each school board should identify which of its existing schools can be more easily made accessible, and which schools 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 schools that would require less money to be made physically accessible, taking into account the need to also consider geographic equity of access across the school board.

#7.3 When a school board seeks to retain or hire design professionals, such as architects, , interior designers or landscape architects, for the design of a new school or a existing school’s retrofit or renovation, or for any other school board construction project, the school board 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 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. It includes the accessibility needs of students and not just adults. A qualified accessibility consultant should be retained to advise on the project from the outset, with their advice being transmitted directly to the school board and not only the design professionals.

#7.4 A committee of the school board’s trustees and the school board’s Special Education Advisory Committee should be required to review design decisions on new construction or renovations to ensure that accessibility of the built environment is effectively addressed.

#7.5 Where possible, a school board should not renovate an existing school that lacks disability accessibility, unless the school board has a plan to also make that school accessible. For example, a school board should not spend public money to renovate the second storey of a school which lacks accessibility to the second storey, if the school board does not have a plan to make that second storey disability-accessible. Health and safety concerns should be the only reason for any exception to this.

#7.6 When a school board decides which schools to close due to reduced enrollment, a priority should be placed on keeping open schools with more physical accessibility, while a priority should be given to closing schools that are the most lacking in accessibility, or for which retrofitting is the most costly.

#7.7 Each school board should only hold off-site educational events at venues whose built environment is accessible.

8. Ensuring Digital Accessibility at School

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

#8.1 Each school board should ensure that:

  1. Educational equipment and technology, including hardware, software, and tablet/mobile apps deployed in educational settings should be designed based on universal design principles, to ensure that students with disabilities can use them.
  2. A school board’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 school board should ensure that no teacher is able to turn off any feature of the LMS that is accessible in favour of one that is not.
  3. Each school board’s 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.
  4. Electronic documents created at the school board for use in education programming and activities should be created in accessible formats unless there is a compelling and unavoidable reason requiring otherwise. PDF format should be avoided. If a PDF document is created, an alternate version of the content should be provided and posted in an accessible Microsoft Word or HTML format.
  5. Software used to produce a school board’s documents such as report cards, Individual Education Plans, or other key documents should be designed to ensure that they produce these documents in accessible formats.
  6. Textbooks and learning software should only be procured which include full information technology accessibility. Any textbook used in any learning environment must be accessible to teachers and students with disabilities at the time of procurement. PDF should not be used unless an accessible alternative format such as MS Word is also available. For example, if a textbook is available in EPUB format, the textbooks must meet the international standard for that file format. For EPUB it is the W3C Digital Publishing Guidelines currently under review. If a textbook is available in print, the publisher should be required to provide the digital version of the textbook in an accessible format at the same time the print version is delivered to the school/Board.

#8.2 Each school board 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 school board.

9. Ensuring Universal Design in Learning Is Used in All Teaching Activities, Both Online and in Classroom Learning

Barrier: Too often, the curriculum used in Ontario schools was not designed based on accessibility and universal design in learning.

#9.1 The Education Accessibility Standard should require that the Ministry of Education and each school board, when setting requirements for or designing school curriculum, shall ensure that it incorporates universal design in learning to make it accessible to students with disabilities.

Barrier: Too often, teachers and other school staff who work with students are not sufficiently trained on how to teach all students, including students with disabilities.

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

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

#9.3 Each school board should ensure that all teachers and teaching staff understand, and effectively and consistently use, principles of Universal Design in Learning (UDL), and differentiated instruction, when preparing and implementing lesson plans and other educational programming. For example:

  1. This plan’s objective should be to ensure that all parents, guardians and where practicable, students, get the information they need to ensure that students of all abilities can fully participate in and benefit from the educational opportunities available at the school board.
  2. Each school board should develop, implement and monitor a comprehensive plan to train its teachers, other teaching staff, teaching coaches and principals on using UDL and differentiated instruction principles when preparing lesson plans and teaching. The Ontario Government should be required to provide a model program for this training which each school board can use.
  3. Each school board should include knowledge of UDL and differentiated instruction principles as an important criterion when recruiting or promoting teachers, other teaching staff and principals.
  4. Each school board should ensure that teachers are provided with appropriate resources and support to successfully implement the UDL training. Each school board should monitor how effectively UDL and differentiated instruction are incorporated into lesson plans and other teaching activities on the front lines.
  5. Each school board should review any curriculum, text books and other instructional materials and learning resources used in its schools to ensure that they incorporate principles of UDL.
  6. Each school board should create and implement a plan to ensure that teachers in the areas of science, technology, engineer and math (STEM) have resources and expertise to ensure the accessibility of STEM courses and learning resources.
  7. Each school board should provide teaching coaches with expertise in UDL to support teachers and other teaching staff.
  8. Similarly specialized training should be included for those who teach sex education to ensure that it includes disability-related sex education.

10. Ensuring Sufficient Training and Expertise for Education Professionals Who Support Students with Disabilities

Barrier: Lack of sufficient training requirements for some education professionals who specialize in supporting the education needs of students with disabilities.

Ontario does not now ensure that any professional who is employed to support the education of students with disabilities will have sufficient qualifications to do so. For example, Ontario’s leading organization of parents of children with vision loss has pointed out that the requirements to qualify to serve as a “teacher of the visually impaired” (TVI) in Ontario are substantially inadequate, and are much lower than in some other places in Canada and elsewhere. A teacher employed to teach braille to a blind child need have no prior hands-on experience ever training a blind child to read braille, and need not ever have observed another TVI teaching braille to a blind child.

#10.1 The Education Accessibility Standard should require sufficient training for professionals who support the education of students with disabilities.

11. Removing Attitudinal Barriers against Students with Disabilities

Barrier: Stereotypes and other attitudes among some teachers, principals, other school staff, other students and some families that do not recognize the right and benefits of students with disabilities to get a full and equal education.

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

  1. Develop and implement a multi-year program/curriculum for teaching students, school board staff and families of school board students, about inclusion and full participation of students with disabilities, tailored to age levels. Because online courses are inadequate for this, where possible, this should include hearing from, meeting and interacting with people with disabilities e.g. at assemblies and/or via guest presentations.
  2. Post in all schools and send information to all families of the school board’s students, on the school board’s commitment to inclusion of students with disabilities, and the benefits this brings to all students.
  3. Provide specific training to all school board staff that deal with parents or students, on the importance of inclusion.
  4. Implement Human Resources Policies and Practices to Expand School Board Staff Knowledge and Skills Regarding Inclusion

#11.2 Each school board should develop and implement human resources policies targeted at full accessibility and inclusion, such as:

  1. Making knowledge and experience on implementing inclusion an important hiring and promotions criterion especially for principals, vice-principals and teaching staff.
  2. Emphasizing accessibility and inclusion knowledge and performance in any performance management and performance reviews.

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

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

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

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

  1. Survey students with disabilities who need accessible instructional materials, and their teachers and families, to get their front-line experiences on whether they get timely access to accessible instructional materials, and to get specifics on where this has been most lacking.
  2. Establish a dedicated resource within the school board, or shared among school boards, to convert instructional materials to an accessible format, where needed, on a timely basis, either alone or in combination with other school boards.
  3. Review its procurement practices to ensure that any new instructional material that is acquired is fully accessible or conversion-ready, and monitor to ensure that this is always done in practice. A condition of procurement should be a requirement that the supplier or vender must remediate any inaccessible materials at its own expense.

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

13. Ensuring Accessibility of Gym, Playground and Like Equipment and Activities

Barrier: Schools or school boards that have gym, playground or other equipment that is not designed based on principles of universal design, and that some students with disabilities therefore cannot use, as well as gym, sports and other activities in which students with disabilities can fully participate.

Section 80.18 of the Integrated Accessibility Standards Regulation, as amended in 2012, require accessibility features to be considered when new outdoor play spaces are being established or existing ones are redeveloped. However, those provisions do not set the spectrum of detailed requirements that should be included. They do not require any action if an existing play space is not being redeveloped. They ultimately, leave it to each school board or each school to re-invent the accessibility wheel each time they build or redevelop an outdoor play space. They do not require anything of indoor play spaces or gyms.

#13.1 To ensure that gym equipment, playground equipment and other like equipment and facilities are accessible for students with disabilities, the Education Accessibility Standard should set out specific technical accessibility requirements for new or existing outdoor or indoor play spaces, gym and other like equipment, drawing on accessibility standards and best practices in other jurisdictions, so that each school board does not have to re-invent the accessibility wheel.

#13.2 Each school board should:

  1. a) Take an inventory of the accessibility of its existing indoor and outdoor play spaces and gym and playground equipment.
  2. b) Adopt a plan to remediate the accessibility of new gym or playground equipment, in consultation with the school board’s Special Education Advisory Committee and Accessibility Committee, and widely with families of students with disabilities.

Barrier: Gym and other physical activity programming at schools may not be designed or operated in a way that allows students with disabilities to fully participate.

#13.3 Each school board should be required to ensure that its gym and other physical activity teachers and coaches have training and access to support information on how to include students with disabilities in these programs.

#13.4 The Ministry of Education should be required to make available to school boards resources and training material on effectively including students with disabilities in gym and other physical activity programming.

14. 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 education system, students take tests and other assessments of their academic performance, whether in specific courses or system-wide standardized tests. 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 provide a fair and accurate assessment of their performance.

#14.1 The Education Accessibility Standard should   set requirements for proper approaches to ensuring tests provide a fair, accurate and barrier-free assessment of students with disabilities, and on when and how to provide an alternative evaluation method.

#14.2 To ensure that a school board fairly and accurately assesses the performance of students with disabilities, each school board should:

  1. 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.
  2. Give its teachers and principals training resources on how to ensure a test 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.
  3. Monitor implementation of these guidelines.

15. Ensuring Students with Disabilities Have the Technology and Other Supports They Need at School

Barrier: Policy and bureaucratic impediments to students with disabilities being able to get the adaptive technology and supports they need for school.

There are inconsistent practices around Ontario for acquiring needed adaptive technology and the training required to be able to effectively use that equipment. There are also inconsistent practices on whether a student can take such equipment home for use there, or can bring their own adaptive equipment from home for use at school. TDSB does not at all support students with vision loss using Apple products such as the iPhone or iPad, which come with leading accessibility features.

#15.1 The Education Accessibility Standard should require that procedural, bureaucratic and other such 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 provincial system for the procurement and deployment of accessible technology that ensures access to the most appropriate technology that is available on the market.

Barrier: Some school boards or schools do not let students with disabilities bring a sufficiently trained service animal to school as an accommodation to their disability, either because the school board or school does not allow for this, or lacks a proper policy to allow for this.

Some students on the autism spectrum and their families in Ontario have reported having difficulties at some school boards with being allowed to bring a service animal to school, and have even had to take action before the Human Rights Tribunal against a school board. Others have been able to succeed without barriers in bringing their service animal to school.

#15.2 The Education Accessibility Standard should provide that each school board should ensure that students with disabilities are able to bring a sufficiently trained service animal to school as a disability accommodation. Each school board should respect the student’s rights under the Ontario Human Rights Code and the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

#15.3 The Education Accessibility Standard should set specific requirements for school board practices in relation to a student bringing a service animal to school. The recent Ministry of Education policy directive to school boards on this topic did not include the specifics that are needed.

#15.4 The Education Accessibility Standard should ensure that there should be no bureaucratic or policy barriers to students with disabilities bringing a sufficiently trained service animal to school. The fair process procedures described in this Framework should apply to such requests.

#15.5 If the school board does not accept at first the sincerity or legitimacy of the student’s request, or the training of the service animal, the school board should immediately notify the student and their family of any and all concerns. The school board should investigate the request, including the student’s benefits from the service animal outside school and in the home, or any other concerns, as well as the experience of other schools or school boards that have allowed students with disabilities to bring service animals to school, before acting on any potential unwillingness to grant the student’s request. If a school board is not prepared to accept a request to be able to bring a service animal to school at first, the school board should undertake a test period of allowing this practice, unless the school board can demonstrate that to conduct such a test period would cause the school board an undue hardship. A school board should not refuse a request to bring a service animal to school based on no test period and based on speculative assumptions or stereotypes.

#15.6 The question when dealing with such requests should not be whether the student is doing adequately at school without the service animal. The question should be whether the student could do better at reaching their potential at school if assisted by their service animal. Similarly, the question is not whether the service animal will assist the student in accessing the curriculum. Rather the relevant question is whether the service animal could assist the student with any aspect of student life in the school environment, such as social interaction, independence and self-regulation. In its May 2, 2019 letter to Ontario’s Education Minister, the Ontario Human Rights Commission stated: “We believe that limiting disability accommodation to only “learning needs” is not a proper interpretation of the Code.”

#15.7 Each school board should ensure that principals, teachers, school office staff and families of students with disabilities know about this policy and that no attitudinal barriers impede this accommodation.

#15.8 The preference of some other students or staff with no disability not to have a service animal in class is not a justification for refusing to allow this accommodation for a student with a disability. Such concerns of other students, or of staff should be addressed by making arrangements that allow the student with a disability to bring their service animal to school, while situating any objecting student or staff with no disability at an acceptable distance from them. Notwithstanding anything in such school board policies, nothing may restrict a person with vision loss, student, staff, and parent or otherwise, from being a qualified guide dog with whom they have trained to school.

16. Removing Barriers to Participation in Experiential Learning

Barrier: Experiential learning programs that do not ensure that accessible experiential 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 accommodation of students with disabilities.

#16.1 To ensure that students with disabilities can fully participate in a school board’s experiential learning programs, each school board should:

  1. Review its experiential learning programs to identify and remove any accessibility barriers.
  2. Ensure that its partners who accept its students for experiential learning placements are effectively informed of their duty to accommodate the learning needs of students with disabilities.
  3. 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 opportunities.
  4. 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.
  5. Survey students with disabilities and experiential learning placement organizations at the end of any experiential learning placements to see if disability-related needs were effectively accommodated.

#16.2 The Ministry of Education should provide templates for these policies and measures. It should also prepare and make available training videos for organizations offering experiential learning programs to guide them on accommodating students with disabilities.

17. Ensuring French Immersion and Other Specialized Programs Are Barrier-Free for Students with Disabilities

Barrier: A potential combination of different barriers reviewed in this Framework.

#17.1 The Education Accessibility Standard should set a province-wide standard for ensuring that French immersion programs are accessible to and effectively accommodate students with disabilities. These programs should be offered in accessible locations. Their instructional materials should be available in accessible formats. Their admission criteria should be screened for any disability barriers.

#17.2 Each English language school board should develop, implement and monitor a strategy to ensure that French Immersion and other specialized programs are accessible to and barrier-free for students with disabilities, including:

  1. Identifying what percentage of the students in these programs are students with disabilities, to document any under-participation.
  2. Review the admission process for gaining entry to these programs, to identify possible accessibility barriers.
  3. Review the choice of the buildings where these programs are to be delivered to ensure that students with disabilities will be able to physically attend these programs.
  4. Identify what efforts the school board now makes to ensure that students with disabilities are accommodated in these programs, and the extent to which UDL and differentiated instruction principles are used in the teaching in these programs.
  5. Develop an action plan to address any accessibility and inclusion shortfalls.
  6. Actively publicize to students with disabilities and their families about the opportunities to take part in these programs, and the school board’s readiness to ensure that their accommodation needs will be met.
  7. Monitor the effectiveness of efforts to ensure inclusion and accessibility of these programs for students with disabilities, and report publicly on this, including to school board trustees, to the trustees’ accessibility committee and to the school board’s Special Education Advisory Committee, on an annual basis.

18. Substantially Reducing the Shuffling of Students with Special Education Needs from School to School over Their school Years

Barrier: The situating of programs for students with disabilities can force too many of these students to have to change the school they attend during their years at school much more than do other students, causing disruption and hardships for the students and their families.

#18.1 Each school board should be required to develop and implement a strategy to substantially reduce the shuffling of students with disabilities from one school to another over their school years. For example:

  1. If a student, attending a school other than their home school, for a special education program or class, is prepared to shift to inclusion in a fulltime regular classroom, then consistent with parental agreement, the student should have the option of remaining at the same school as the special education class, and treating it as their home school.
  2. Where possible, the school board should locate in the same school a combination of two special education classes that involve different levels of support. This would enable a student to gradually progress through different levels of special education classes towards a regular class setting in that school, without having to switch schools in order to switch to a different level of special education class. It would also enable a student, where appropriate, to spend part of a school day in one program and another part of the school day in another program, to best meet the student’s needs.
  3. Where feasible, if a student with a disability is required to attend a different school than his or her home school, in order to take part in special education programming, the family should have the option of having that students’ siblings also attend that school, especially where this will help the student with disabilities. Whenever possible, siblings, including those with disabilities, should be able to attend the same school.

19. Transportation for Students with Disabilities

Barrier: Barriers to accessibility of the education programming offered at a student’s local school that necessitates the provision of bus transportation to more distant schools, combined with the failure to ensure that students with disabilities are consistently, reliably and safely bussed to and from school.

The provisions on the provision of bus transportation to students with disabilities in s. 75 of the Integrated Accessibility Standards Regulation 2011 (IASR) have not been sufficient to effectively remove transportation barriers facing students with disabilities. Stronger provisions are required. The 2018 recommendations for revisions to the transportation provisions in the IASR do not in any way address this need.

#19.1 The Education Accessibility Standard should provide that where a school board provides bussing or other transportation to students with disabilities in order to enable them to attend school, the school board shall ensure and monitor to ensure that:

  1. The school board has consulted with each family to identify the accessibility and accommodation needs of the student with disabilities in relation to transportation, and the bus company and driver has been properly trained to accommodate that need.
  2. Where the school board or its bussing contractor changes the driver assigned to transport the student, the replacement driver is given the same information and training prior to driving the student, or, in the case of an emergency replacement, as soon as possible.
  3. The school board and, where applicable, any contractor it hires, shall retain records of the training provided, including when it was provided and shall make this information public.
  4. The school board should have a readily available official especially during periods when a student is being transported to receive and address phone calls, emails and text messages from a family about problems regarding the student’s transportation.
  5. The school board should document all complaints reported on transportation services, and the company to which it applies. A summary of these should be provided to all members of the school board including its Special Education Advisory Committee and its Accessibility Committee on a quarterly basis and shall make this public on the school board’s website.
  6. The Education Accessibility Standard should make it clear that the fact that the school board has contracted for a private company to provide the student transportation does not remove or reduce the school board’s duties under this accessibility standard or otherwise under the AODA, the Ontario Human Rights Code or the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms to ensure that the student has been provided with barrier-free participation in in the school board’s educational programs and opportunities.

Barrier: Some school boards do not ensure that pick-up/drop locations for student bussing are accessible for parents with disabilities.

#19.2 The Education Accessibility Standard should require that the school board and, where applicable, a bus company with which it contracts, will ensure that pick-up and drop-off locations for a student’s bussing are accessible when needed to accommodate the parents or guardians of students with disabilities.

20. Protecting Students with Disabilities from Being Unfairly Denied the Right to Attend School for All or Part of the School Day

Barrier: The arbitrary power of school principals to exclude students from school, outside the disciplinary suspension and expulsion power, that disproportionately impacts on students with disabilities.

The Ontario Human Rights Commission has identified as a human rights issue the sweeping and arbitrary power of any school principal to exclude a student from school. Section 265(1) (m) of Ontario’s Education Act provides:

“265. (1) It is the duty of a principal of a school, in addition to the principal’s duties as a teacher,…

… (m) subject to an appeal to the board, to refuse to admit to the school or classroom a person whose presence in the school or classroom would in the principal’s judgment be detrimental to the physical or mental well-being of the pupils; …”

This power can be and is misused, especially to keep some students with disabilities away from school. This is made worse by the power to shorten the length of the school day for students with disabilities. This Framework addresses together the power to exclude a student from school for an entire day and the power to reduce the length of the school day, whether or not they emanate from the same provisions under Ontario’s Education Act.

#20.1 The Education Accessibility Standard should set specific comprehensive, mandatory requirements on when a school board can exercise any power to refuse to admit a student to school for all or part of a school day. It should have no loopholes that would let a principal or teacher exclude a student informally without complying with these requirements.

  1. This should include any time a school board formally or informally asks or directs that a student not attend school, or that the student be removed from school, whether in writing or in a discussion
  2. This should include a school board request or direction that a student only attend school for part of the regular school day.
  3. This does not include a situation where a family requests that a student be absent from school for all or part of a school day, but the school board is willing to let the student attend school.

#20.2 The school board should be required to ensure that a student, excluded from attending school, is provided an equivalent and sufficient educational program. The school board should keep records of and publicly account for its doing so.

#20.3 A refusal to admit should only be imposed when it is demonstrably necessary to protect health and safety of students at school, and only after all relevant accommodations for the student, up to the point of undue hardship have been explored or attempted.

#20.4 A refusal to admit should go no further and last no longer than is necessary. A principal should only resort to a refusal to admit if the principal can demonstrate that the student presents an imminent risk to health or safety which cannot be addressed by lesser measures, such as suspension.

#20.5 If a refusal to admit is to take place, the first resort should be to exclude the student from a specific class, accommodating that student in another class. Only if that can’t be sufficient, should a principal consider excluding the student from that school, accommodating the student at another school. A school board should only refuse to admit a student from any and all schools if it is impossible to accommodate them at any other school at that school board.

#20.6 The Education Accessibility Standard and policy directives from the Ministry of Education should give clear examples of the circumstances when a refusal to admit is permitted, and when it is not permitted.

#20.7 A refusal to admit should not be allowed to last more than five consecutive school days, unless extended by the school board in accordance with this accessibility standard.

#20.8 The burden should be on the school board to justify the refusal to admit. It should not be for the student or the student’s family to justify why the student should be allowed to attend school.

#20.9 When a school board staff decide whether to refuse to admit a student, they should take into account all mitigating considerations that are considered when deciding whether to suspend or expel a student.

#20.10 A school board should not refuse to admit a student with a disability on the ground that school board staff believe they cannot accommodate the student’s needs, e.g. because staff is absent.

#20.11 If, when a refusal to admit is to expire, the school board wants to extend it, the school board must justify it. The student’s family need not prove why the student should be allowed to return to school.

#20.12 An extension of a refusal to admit must first consider excluding the student from a single class, and then the option of excluding the student from that school, and only as a last resort, excluding the student from all schools at that school board.

#20.13 An extension of the refusal to admit should not be permitted if the school board has not put in place an effective alternative option for the student to receive their education while excluded from school.

#20.14 The Education Accessibility Standard should establish a mandatory fair procedure that the school board must follow when refusing to admit a student. These procedures should ensure accountability of the school board and its employees, including:

  1. A student and their families should have all the procedural protections that are required when a school board is going to impose discipline such as a suspension or expulsion.
  2. The prior review and approval of the superintendent should be required, before a refusal to admit is imposed. If it is an emergency, then the superintendent should be required to review and approve this decision as quickly afterwards as possible, or else the refusal to admit should be terminated.
  3. The superintendent should independently assess whether the school board has sufficient grounds to refuse to admit, and has met all the requirements of the school board’s refusal to admit policy (including ensuring alternative education programming is in place for the student).
  1. The principal should be required to immediately notify the student and his or her family in writing of the refusal to admit, the reasons for it, and the duration. That should include outlining steps that the school board has taken or will be taking to expedite a student’s return to school and provide an expected timeline for the completion of these steps.
  2. The principal should immediately tell the student and the student’s family, in clear and plain language, in writing, what a refusal to admit is, its duration, the reasons for it, the steps the school board is taking to expedite the student’s return to school and time lines for those steps, the school board’s process for reviewing that decision, and the family’s right to appeal it (including how to use that right of appeal). This should be provided in a language that the family speaks.
  3. These procedures should again be mandatory any time the school board extends a refusal to admit.
  4. A refusal to admit should not be extended for an accumulated total of more than 15 days (within a surrounding 30 day period) without the independent review and written approval of an executive superintendent of the school board.
  5. No refusal to admit should be extended for an accumulated total of more than 20 days (within a surrounding 45 day period) without the independent review and written approval of the Director of Education.

#20.15 A fair and prompt appeal process should be provided to the parents/guardian and, where appropriate, the student who was refused admission to school, which includes:

  1. The appeal should be to school board officials who had no involvement with the initial decision to refuse to admit or any extensions of it.
  2. The school board should promptly inform the student and the student’s family about how to start an appeal, who decides the appeal, the procedures for the appeal, that the student and family can present reports, support people or experts or any other information they wish, and can have a representative, either a lawyer or other person, to speak for them or assist them with the appeal.
  3. The appeal should include an in-person meeting with the student and family.
  4. The appeal should be heard and decided very promptly along time lines that the Education Accessibility Standard should set.
  5. On the appeal, the school board should have the burden to prove that the refusal to admit was justified, that it went no further and lasted no longer than was necessary, and that proper alternative education programming was provided or offered.
  6. A decision on the appeal should promptly be provided in writing with reasons along time lines that the Education Accessibility Standard should set.

#20.16 The Ministry of Education or the school board should set a unique code for marking attendance for a student who is absent from school for all or part of a day due to a refusal to admit.

#20.17 Each principal should be required to immediately report to their superiors in writing whenever a student is excluded from school, including the student’s name, whether the student has a disability, the reason for the exclusion, the intended duration of the exclusion, and the substitute educational programming that will be provided to the student while excluded from school The school board should centrally collect these reports and should make public quarterly aggregated data (without any names or identifying information) on the number of refusals to admit, reasons for them, percentage that involve any kind of disability, the number of days missed from school, and measures to provide alternative education during refusals to admit.

#20.18 To help ensure that refusals to admit are not used due to a failure to accommodate a

student’s disability up to the point of undue hardship, each school board should create an emergency fund for accelerating education disability accommodations needed to facilitate a student’s remaining at or promptly returning to school, in connection with an actual or contemplated refusal to admit.



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Tell the Ford Government if You Support the AODA Alliance’s Brief and Recommendations on the Government’s Proposal to Hold a 5-Year Pilot Project to Allow Electric Scooters in Ontario – and – Lots More Media Coverage of Our Issues Over the Past Two Weeks


Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance Update

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

www.aodaalliance.org [email protected] Twitter: @aodaalliance

Tell the Ford Government if You Support the AODA Alliance’s Brief and Recommendations on the Government’s Proposal to Hold a 5-Year Pilot Project to Allow Electric Scooters in Ontario – and – Lots More Media Coverage of Our Issues Over the Past Two Weeks

September 13, 2019

SUMMARY

1. Please Tell the Ford Government If you Support the AODA Alliance’s Brief on the Proposal to Hold a 5-Year Pilot Project Allowing E-scooters in Ontario

Please email the Doug Ford Government as soon as you can to support the AODA Alliance’s September 12, 2019 brief on the Government’s proposal to permit the use of electric scooters on Ontario roads and bike paths for the next 5 years as a pilot project. Even though the Government’s incredibly-rushed 2.5 week public consultation on this proposal ended yesterday, nothing stops you from now writing the Government. Send your email to: [email protected]

It’s best when you use your own words in your email. If you are in a rush, you can simply say:

I support the September 12, 2019 brief to the Ontario Government on its proposal to allow e-scooters in Ontario for a 5-year pilot project.

Feel free to copy us on your email to the Government if you wish. Our email address is [email protected]

You can write the Government as an individual. We are also eager for any community organizations to write the Government to support our brief as an organization.

In summary, the AODA Alliance brief calls for the Government not to allow e-scooters in Ontario. It urges the Government to withdraw its proposal to hold an excessive 5-year pilot that would allow anyone age 16 and up to ride e-scooters on Ontario roads and bike paths, even if they and the e-scooter have no training, are uninsured and have no license.

E-scooters racing at up to 32 KPH will create serious new public safety and disability accessibility problems. Either riding or leaving an e-scooter on a sidewalk should be banned. An e-scooter left on a sidewalk should be immediately forfeited and confiscated.

If, despite this, e-scooters are allowed at all, e-scooter rentals, like those dominating in some US cities, should not be permitted. An e-scooter and its driver should be required to have a license and insurance. Virtually silent e-scooters should be required to audibly beep when in use, to warn pedestrians, including those who are blind, that they are racing towards them.

The AODA Alliance opposes the idea of the Province first permitting e-scooters and then leaving it to municipalities to regulate them. Ontarians with disabilities and others who do not welcome a risk to their safety should not have to fight separate battles, in one city after the next. Each municipality should not be burdened to clean up the mess that the Province is proposing to create.

If, despite these serious concerns, the Government wishes to proceed with a pilot, it should be for 6 months, not 5 years. It should be restricted to a small part of Ontario. The residents of an area selected for such a pilot should have to first consent to the pilot taking place there.

To make it easier for you, below we set out the 16 recommendations in our brief. You can read the entire AODA Alliance September 12, 2019 brief on this topic by visiting https://www.aodaalliance.org/whats-new/aoda-alliance-files-a-brief-with-ontarios-doug-ford-government-urging-that-ontario-should-not-allow-e-scooters-should-withdraw-its-proposal-for-a-5-year-e-scooter-pilot-project-or-if-allowed-sh/

We again thank the people who took the time to send us their feedback on our earlier draft of this brief. Their input helped us as we turned that draft into the finished product that we made public yesterday. We are encouraged by the strong support for our concerns that has been voiced.

2. Yet More Great Media Coverage of Our Issues Over the Past Two Weeks

To supplement the recent coverage of the disability concerns regarding the Ford Government’s proposal to allow e-scooters in Ontario for a 5-year pilot that has been reported in the Toronto Star, the Globe and Mail, City TV news and several CBC radio programs, our accessibility issues have kept getting great media coverage. We set out a sampling below. We also include an item that concerns weak action by the Federal Government on the eve of the current federal election in its early days to implement the brand-new Accessible Canada Act.

  1. The September 9, 2019 Toronto Star included a good editorial that raised a number of concerns that we had earlier raised with the Ford Government’s proposal to allow e-scooters in Ontario. We applaud this editorial, even though the Star did not refer to the specific disability concerns that we had raised and did not mention the AODA Alliance.
  1. The September 10, 2019 Toronto Star included a letter to the editor from AODA Alliance Chair David Lepofsky. It pointed out the additional disability concerns with the Ford Government’s e-scooter proposal that the Star’s September 9, 2019 editorial did not mention.
  1. The Toronto Star’s September 10, 2019 edition also included an article on concerns with e-scooters that were raised at a meeting of a Toronto City council Committee. We were not involved in that committee’s meeting. That article reported on Toronto Mayor John Tory’s commendable reluctance to allow e-scooters in Toronto.
  1. On September 11, 2019, CBC Radio’s Ottawa Morning program included an interview with AODA Alliance Chair David Lepofsky on the e-scooters issue. CBC posted an online news report on that issue, based on that interview. That interview supplements the interviews on the same issue that all seven other CBC local morning programs aired one week earlier, on September 4, 2019, with AODA Alliance Chair David Lepofsky.
  1. The September 12, 2019 Toronto Star included another letter to the editor on the e-scooters issue. It voiced strong opposition to allowing e-scooters in Ontario. It did not refer to disability-specific concerns with e-scooters.
  1. The September 9, 2019 edition of the Globe and Mail included an article by the Canadian Press that a number of other media outlets also posted on their websites. It focuses on a number of concerns with new regulations enacted by the Canadian Transportation Agency to address disability accessibility needs in federally-regulated transportation, such as air travel. That article quoted a number of sources from the disability community, including the AODA Alliance. Its quotes of AODA Alliance Chair David Lepofsky are to some extent inaccurate.

The regulation addressed in this article is the first such regulation enacted in this area since Parliament passed the Accessible Canada Act last June. The problems with that regulation exemplify the serious concerns we raised over the past year at the House of Commons and Senate with the Accessible Canada Act leaving the Canadian Transportation Agency with responsibility for creating regulations in the area of accessible transportation. Regulations seem to cater far more to the resistance of airlines and other federally-regulated transportation providers, and too little to the needs of passengers with disabilities.

3. The Ford Government’s Dithering on the Onley Report Continues

There have been 226 days, or over seven months, since the Ford Government received the final report of the Independent Review of the implementation of Ontario’s accessibility law, the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, conducted by former Lieutenant Governor David Onley. The Ford Government has not announced any plan of action to implement the Onley report.

The Onley report showed that Ontario remains full of “soul-crushing” barriers against over 2 million Ontarians with disabilities, and that Ontario Government action to redress these has been inadequate.

          MORE DETAILS

List of the 16 Recommendations in the AODA Alliance’s September 12, 2019 Brief to the Ontario Government Regarding E-scooters

Recommendation #1

There should be no pilot project allowing e-scooters to be driven in public places in Ontario.

Recommendation #2

The Government should withdraw this e-scooter public consultation and go back to the drawing board. If it is not prepared to withdraw this public consultation on e-scooters, the Ontario Government should at least extend the consultation period to October 31, 2019.

Recommendation #3

The rental of e-scooters should be strictly forbidden, even if private ownership of an e-scooter by a user of that e-scooter were to be permitted.

Recommendation #4

There should be a strict ban on leaving an e-scooter in a public sidewalk or like location. If an e-scooter is left in such a place, it should be subject to immediate confiscation and forfeiture, as well as a strict penalty.

Recommendation #5

If e-scooters are to be permitted in Ontario, they should be required to make an ongoing beeping sound when they are powered on, to warn others of their approach.

Recommendation #6

The speed limit for e-scooters should initially be set much lower than 32 KPH, such as 15 or 20 KPH, until a strong showing can be made that a higher speed limit poses no safety threat to the public.

 

Recommendation #7

A person wishing to drive an e-scooter should be required to first take required training on its safe operation and on the rules of the road, and then to obtain a license.

Recommendation #8

Each e-scooter should be required to be licensed and to display a readily-seen license plate number.

Recommendation #9

The owner and driver of an e-scooter should be required to carry sufficient liability insurance for injuries or other damages that the e-scooter causes to others.

Recommendation #10

All e-scooter drivers, regardless of their age, should be required to wear a helmet whenever operating an e-scooter.

Recommendation #11

No e-scooter pilot project should be held in Ontario until the Ontario Government effectively studies the impact on public safety of e-scooters in jurisdictions that have allowed them, and on options for regulatory controls of them, and has made the details of these public. A pilot project should only be held in Ontario if public safety can be fully and effectively protected.

Recommendation #12

If Ontario is to hold an e-scooter pilot project, it should only take place for a period much shorter than five years, e.g. six months, and should only take place in a specific community that has consented to permit that pilot project there.

Recommendation #13

If Ontario is to hold an e-scooter pilot project, the Ontario Government should retain a trusted independent organization with expertise in public safety to study the impact of e-scooters during that pilot project, and to make the full results of that study public.

Recommendation #14

The Government should not treat a ban on riding e-scooters on the sidewalk, while necessary, as a sufficient protection against the threat to public safety that e-scooters present.

Recommendation #15

nothing should be done to reduce or restrict the availability or use of powered mobility devices used by people with disabilities.

Recommendation #16

The Ontario Government should not permit e-scooters and then leave it to each municipality to regulate them or leave it to each municipality to decide if they want to permit e-scooters.

The Toronto Star September 9, 2019

Originally posted at https://www.thestar.com/opinion/editorials/2019/09/09/ontario-can-do-better-on-electric-scooters.html

Editorial

Let’s do better on e-scooters

Love them or loathe them, there’s no denying that two-wheeled electric scooters are finding their way onto streets, cycle paths and sidewalks all over the world.

So Ontario’s plan to regulate them is welcome, and a pilot project is a good way to find out if its rules work or a different approach is needed.

But there are significant problems with the proposal the Ford government quietly posted online last week.

The first relates to speed. That’s both the 32 km/h allowable speed for e-scooters, which is too fast to be safe for riders or the people around them, and the public consultation period.

Originally, the government thought two days would be sufficient for consultation. After an uproar that was extended until Sept. 12, which is still unnecessarily hasty.

The second concern is over the length of Ontario’s pilot project – an astonishing five years.

That’s longer than the mandate of a provincial government and it’s far too long for an e-scooter trial, especially if problems arise here as they have elsewhere. The results should be reviewed after no more than a year to decide whether it should continue, be changed or be scrapped entirely.

The current proposal would limit scooters to roads, lanes and paths where bicycles are allowed and set a minimum age of 16 to ride one.

If these rules go forward, they’ll throw open the door to rental companies that operate like bike-share programs but with dockless scooters that can be left anywhere. Tourists and locals use an app to find and unlock them.

The government’s summary of its plan breezily states that “e-scooters have been launched in more than 125 cities across the United States.”

They’re in Canadian and European cities, too. But none of that has been without considerable controversy and problems.

Chicago has fined rental companies for failing to live up to the rules it set. Nashville just ended its pilot and banned e-scooters entirely.

People in Los Angeles are vandalizing them in protest. And in Paris, a group of victims of e-scooter accidents are threatening to sue the city and demanding stricter rules to deal with the “chaos and anarchy in the streets.”

Even their credentials as a particularly green form of transport are being challenged. Are they replacing car trips or healthier walking?

While the annoyance of e-scooters cluttering sidewalks and creating tripping hazards or riders breaking laws and behaving badly gets the lion’s share of the negative attention, the people at the greatest risk are users themselves. (Most don’t wear helmets and, like cyclists, they really should.) An American study found an emergency room surge in head injuries, fractures and dislocations related to scooters.

All of this is of particular concern in Toronto, which is already struggling with its Vision Zero plan to make roads safer for everyone. There’s a lot of tension on city streets and the addition of scooter rental companies catering in part to tourists unfamiliar with the city’s traffic rules and its many potholes will only add to that.

The province’s pilot project must give municipalities the flexibility they need to manage the challenges of e-scooters and come up with local solutions.

That’s the only hope of reaping the potential benefits of this new form of shared transportation.

Around the world e-scooters have grown faster than the rules to regulate them, much like ride-hailing and home-sharing services. So, yes, let’s get ahead of it for once.

But let’s not pretend we’re starting from scratch. Ontario needs to design a pilot project that learns from mistakes elsewhere rather than simply repeating them.

The Toronto Star September 10, 2019

Originally posted at https://www.thestar.com/opinion/letters_to_the_editors/2019/09/10/ontarians-with-disabilities-on-losing-end-of-e-scooter-pilot.html

Letters to the Editor

Ontarians with disabilities on losing end of e-scooter pilot

Let’s do better on e-scooters, Editorial, Sept. 9

It’s great that your editorial demands the Ford government be more cautious before exposing Ontarians to the dangers that electric scooters pose if allowed.

But you missed key problems.

The Star said “The people at the greatest risk are users themselves.” In fact, Ontarians with disabilities are among those at greatest risk. Rental e-scooters, routinely left on sidewalks in other cities where allowed, are a serious tripping hazard for blind people like me. They are a new accessibility barrier for people using wheelchairs or walkers. Silent e-scooters are also a danger to us blind people when we cross streets.

The Disabilities Act requires the government to lead Ontario to become barrier-free for Ontarians with disabilities by 2025. The Ford government is way behind on this. E-scooters would create new disability barriers.

Those injured by e-scooters aren’t just the users, but innocent pedestrians. Premier Doug Ford promised to end hallway medicine. The hours of waiting to see a doctor in emergency rooms will only get longer as they are cluttered up with e-scooters’ victims, drivers and pedestrians.

If Ontario is to pilot e-scooters, it should have safeguards like your editorial mentioned. We must go further. Ontario shouldn’t run any pilot until and

unless e-scooters’ safety risks are eliminated.

Banning e-scooters from being driven on sidewalks won’t protect us. Such a ban, while needed, is extremely difficult to enforce.

Don’t burden municipalities with cleaning up this mess. Strict provincial rules must ensure our safety.

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

The Toronto Star September 10, 2019

Originally posted at https://www.thestar.com/news/gta/2019/09/09/toronto-committee-wants-e-scooters-barred-from-sidewalks.html

City wants e-scooters off sidewalks

Bird CEO argues temporary ban will make launch impossible

Francine Kopun

The Toronto Star Sept. 10, 2019

Barring e-scooters from city sidewalks, recommended by a city committee on Monday, would make it impossible to introduce the concept to Toronto, according to the CEO of Bird Canada, an e-scooter company hoping to launch here in the spring of 2020.

“If you can’t park them on the sidewalk and you can’t park them on the street, I guess we’re parking them in the air?” Stewart Lyons said.

“I don’t know where we’re parking them. They can’t fly.”

Lyons was speaking after the city’s infrastructure and environment committee passed a motion that would temporarily prevent e-scooters from occupying sidewalks – at least until city staff can come up with a better plan, expected later this year.

Lyons said being able to park e-scooters on some sidewalks is a key part of the e-scooter program.

He said it would be hard to create enough demand if the scooters can’t be made available to customers right where they live and work, arguing that docking stations, such as those used by the current Bike Share Toronto program, wouldn’t be accessible enough.

Currently, users in cities where shared e-scooter programs are in place can locate scooters near them using an app.

Mayor John Tory said he supports the motion, saying it’s meant to preserve the status quo, so Toronto doesn’t have an uncontrolled and undisciplined entry of e-scooters into the market.

Tory said he is concerned about the safety of scooter use and clutter they may create, adding Toronto has many narrow sidewalks and the city must be careful with regulations controlling their use.

The mayor said he has seen scooters littering sidewalks in Austin, Texas, and has asked mayors from other cities about their experiences with the dockless devices.

“They described it all the way from successful to others who would describe it … as a gong show,” Tory said. “We don’t want any gong shows in Toronto, we don’t want people to have their safety imperiled on sidewalks or elsewhere and we don’t want the city to become cluttered.”

Tory said he personally doesn’t think e-scooters should be allowed to be driven on sidewalks, or left helter-skelter there, but he’ll wait to see what city staff propose.

The fact that e-scooters from companies such as Bird and rival firm Lime have no docking stations has led to problems in some cities, with scooters being littered across sidewalks, thrown into bushes and even into bodies of water.

Lyons said that was a problem in the early days of the program, but it’s mostly been resolved. He said the scooters were being left around because the company was hiring workers on contract who were ditching them instead of relocating them in order to save time.

These days, the company uses a more secure method to collect, charge and redistribute the scooters. The program is active in Edmonton and Calgary and is set to launch in Montreal in a couple of weeks, Lyons said.

“The good thing about Canada starting a little bit later is we have now the lessons learned and now we want to be better …. operators,” Lyons said.

The province intends to release regulations soon concerning the use of e-scooters on roads. But it’s up to the city to police sidewalks.

Committee member Mike Layton (Ward 11, University-Rosedale) said the ban on sidewalk use by e-scooters, if council adopts it, would be temporary, until city staff can come up with a more detailed plan.

He said the committee is already thinking of ways to refine it, but they wanted to get out in front of the issue quickly.

“We wanted to make sure that the city’s regulatory regime is out front before one of these companies tried to come into a municipality and impose a system,” said Layton, who supports the idea of docking stations for e-scooters.

The province is looking at a five-year pilot program that would allow e-scooters to be operated in the same places bicycles can operate. It’s looking for feedback by Sept. 12 on the proposal.

The proposed rules would set a minimum age for drivers at 16 and a maximum speed of 32 km/h.

E-scooters, which have been adopted in numerous cities in North America and Europe, are being pitched as a solution to gridlock in big cities and an environmentally friendly mode of transportation, but have proven controversial.

Nashville banned them entirely after a pilot project. In Los Angeles, people are vandalizing them in protest.

The problem is they clutter sidewalks when not in use, presenting obstacles for pedestrians, people pushing strollers and anyone with a visual or mobility impairment.

One U.S. study traced a surge in head injuries, fractures and dislocations treated in emergency rooms to scooter use. And researchers at North Carolina State University found that scooter travel produces more greenhouse gas emissions per kilometre than travelling by foot, bicycle or public transit.

Bird Canada is offering free trials of its scooters in the Distillery District until Sunday.

It expects to charges $1.15 to unlock its scooters and 35 cents a minute to ride them when it introduces the service next spring.

“Hopefully some cooler heads prevail between now and council,” Lyons said.

CBC Radio Ottawa September 11, 2019

Originally posted at https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/ottawa/e-scooters-disabilities-ontario-feedback-pilot-project-1.5278879

Ottawa

Scrap Ontario e-scooter pilot, disability advocate urges

Province seeking feedback ahead of proposed 5-year pilot project

The Ontario government is considering a five-year pilot project that would allow e-scooters on the province’s roads, but disability advocates have major concerns with the plan. (Mike

A group that advocates for the rights of disabled Ontarians is urging the province to hit the brakes on a proposed five-year e-scooter pilot project before it begins.

The province has been seeking public feedback on their plan to allow electric scooters on the same roads where bicycles can operate, save for provincial highways.

  • Ontario plans to launch 5-year pilot project that allows e-scooters on roads
  • Why an image problem is slowing e-scooter rollout in Canada

Under the proposed pilot, drivers would have to be at least 16 years old and could not have passengers. The e-scooters could not exceed a maximum operating speed of 32 km/h.

Even with those limitations, allowing e-scooters on the roads will make it harder for people with disabilities to get around, and could lead to more injuries, said David Lepofsky, the chair of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance.

“We’ve got lots of proof that these pose a lot of problems,” Lepofsky told CBC Radio’s Ottawa Morning. “We don’t need to experiment on Ontarians.”

‘An instant barrier’

Many e-scooter rental services around the world allow users to sign out the devices using an app and then — once they’re done with them — simply leave them behind on a sidewalk or other public space.

While Lepofsky’s group has asked the Ontario government to kill its pilot project entirely, it has also come up with 12 draft recommendations should the experiment ultimately go ahead.

They include cutting the maximum speed limit by as much as half, requiring drivers to be licensed and levying strict penalties if the scooters are dumped on sidewalks — though Lepofsky admits that last recommendation could be hard to enforce.

Something can be barrelling at me at 32 kilometres an hour … and I can’t know they’re coming.

“You’re walking down the street, you’re blind, and all of the sudden there’s an instant barrier, a tripping hazard in your path,” said Lepofsky, who’s been blind most of his life.

“Five minutes later it could be gone … how do you prove your case? We don’t have police on every corner just waiting to enforce [that restriction].”

Then, there’s the fact the scooters are largely silent: Lepofsky also wants the e-scooters, if they’re allowed, to emit beeping noises that warn others of their approach.

“Something can be barrelling at me at 32 km/h, ridden at me by an unlicensed and uninsured driver,” Lepofsky said. “And I can’t know they’re coming.”

David Lepofsky, a law professor and chair of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance, says the province should rethink its plans for a five-year e-scooter pilot project. (Tina Mackenzie/CBC)

Safety ‘key consideration’

Lepofsky also questioned the need for a five-year study that would be rolled out from one end of Ontario to the other.

“If you want to see if it’s safe on our roads, you do it for a much [narrower] piece of territory, not the entire province of Ontario, and for a much shorter period — six months or something like that is what we’d propose,” he said.

San Francisco-based Lime has already been lobbying Ottawa city councillors, claiming its dockless e-scooters would be an ideal fit with the city’s stated transportation goals.

The company recently wrapped up a trial rollout at the University of Waterloo, with competitor Bird Canada slated to launch a similar project this month in Toronto’s Distillery District.

  • E-scooter pilot project to launch in Toronto, but major hurdles remain
  • Lime e-scooter pilot project to end in Waterloo

Ontario’s Ministry of Transportation declined an interview with CBC News, but said in a statement that all feedback heard during the consultation process “will be taken into consideration before any final decisions on the pilot take place.”

“Ensuring that new vehicle types can integrate safely with pedestrians and other vehicles is a key consideration before any new vehicle type will be allowed on-road,” the statement said.

The public consultation period wraps up Sept. 12.

With files from The Canadian Press and CBC Radio’s Ottawa Morning

The Toronto Star September 12, 2019

Letters to the editor

E-scooters have no place in current infrastructure

City wants e-scooters off sidewalks, Sept. 10

Toronto is in the throes of a traffic crisis. Deaths and injuries are occurring daily.

To this we plan to add e-scooters, which can travel at 32 kph, into the already-congested bike lanes, to be ultimately discarded on our sidewalks?

Surely wisdom dictates that adding another form of transportation into this chaos is not a move to be contemplated until our city figures out a way to make commuters safe within our present infrastructure. E-scooters? Eek!

Judith Butler, Toronto

The Globe and Mail September 9, 2019

Originally posted at https://www.theglobeandmail.com/business/article-advocates-say-new-canadian-air-travel-rules-present-greater-barriers/

Report on Business

Advocates of accessible air travel say new rules raise barriers to mobility

By CHRISTOPHER REYNOLDS

THE CANADIAN PRESS

MONTREAL – Tracy Odell recalls with a mix of pride and pain the sunny spring day two years ago that her daughter got married in California.

Pride in the milestone. Pain at having to miss it.

Airlines, she said, effectively failed to accommodate her disability, a problem that thousands of Canadians continue to face despite new rules designed in theory to open the skies to disabled travellers.

As seating space shrank and cargo doors were often too small for customized wheelchairs, Ms.Odell cut back on the flights she once took routinely for her work with a non-profit.

“My wheelchair is part of me,” said Ms. Odell, 61, who was born with spinal muscular atrophy, a genetic condition that gradually prevents forming and keeping the muscles needed to walk, balance, eat and even breathe. “I’m helpless without it.”

“It’s like if someone says, ‘I’m sorry, you can travel but we have to unscrew your legs,’ ” said Ms.Odell, who last took an airplane in 2009.

Her $18,000 mobility device is not allowed in the aircraft cabin, nor can it fit through some cargo doors without being tipped on its side, risking damage. As a result, her husband opted to stay by her side and miss their daughter’s San Jose wedding, too.

Ms. Odell, president of Citizens with Disabilities Ontario, is one of a number of advocates who say new rules ostensibly designed to make air travel more accessible fail to go far enough – and, in some cases, mark a step backward.

“It’s called second-class citizenry. I’ve felt it all my life,” said Marcia Yale, a lifelong advocate for blind Canadians.

The regulations, rolled out in June under a revised Canada Transportation Act – with most slated to take effect in June, 2020 – do little to improve spotty airport service or accommodate attendants and service dogs on international flights, she said.

“These are going backwards,” Ms. Yale said, citing carriers’ legal duty to accommodate. “We wanted pro-active regulations that were going to raise the bar. And in some ways, they’ve lowered it.”

The new rules require travellers to notify airlines anywhere from 48 to 96 hours in advance to receive certain accommodations, such as being guided through security or receiving help transferring from a wheelchair to a smaller, cabin-compatible mobility device. There are currently no rules requiring notification that can jeopardize last-minute travel for work or emergencies.

Many passenger planes’ cargo doors are about 79 centimetres in height – a little more than 2 1/2 – slightly smaller than a typical power wheelchair for youth, said Terry Green, chairman of the Council of Canadians with Disabilities’ transportation committee.

“These aircraft are totally restricting adults who use large mobility devices from travelling,” he said, saying many wheelchairs cannot fit into cargo at all.

The Canadian Transportation Agency (CTA) says it will be “monitoring … very closely” a U.S. Federal Aviation Administration study on wheelchair anchor systems, with an eye to allowing passengers to remain seated in the cabin in their mobility devices. A report is expected in the next three years.

David Lepofsky, an adjunct law professor at the University of Toronto, is reminded of the challenges facing disabled passengers by the case of a couple abandoned in their wheelchairs for 12 hours after being dropped at a service counter in the Vancouver airport en route to Edmonton from their home in Nepal earlier this year.

He can relate.

“There are times it takes me longer to get out of the airport than it took to fly here,” said Prof. Lepofsky, who is blind and travels frequently for lectures.

Prof. Lepofsky says he’ll often ask a passerby to guide him to the gate rather than go through the stop-and-go relay he’s experienced with airport and airline agents.

The Canadian Transportation Agency’s stated goals, variously defined as “equal access” and “more accessible” service, conflict with each other, leaving levels of accommodation unclear, Prof. Lepofsky said.

The rules require an airport to provide a disabled passenger with curb-to-gate assistance, except “if the transportation provider is providing that service.”

“It’s good that they spell out what has to be provided; it’s bad that there are so many escape clauses,” Prof. Lepofsky said.

He added that the confusion may be more tolerable if airports were required to install way-finding beacons – which connect with an app on a user’s smartphone via Bluetooth to offer verbal directions (Toronto’s Pearson airport recently added the devices) – or kiosks with audio output, an omission he deemed “inexcusable.”

The new rules come alongside a passenger bill of rights that beefs up compensation for travellers subjected to delayed flights and damaged luggage.

Consumer- rights advocates have said the regulations grant airlines loopholes to avoid payment, while Canadian carriers have launched a legal challenge to quash provisions they argue breach international standards.

Meanwhile, the new accessibility regulations require free travel for an attendant or guide dog in an adjacent seat only on domestic flights, with taxes and fees still applicable. A second phase of the regulatory process, now under way, will consider extending the one-person-one-fare requirement to international flights, according to the CTA.



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AODA Alliance Files A Brief With Ontario’s Doug Ford Government, Urging that Ontario Should Not Allow E-scooters, Should Withdraw Its Proposal for a 5-Year E-scooter Pilot Project, Or, If Allowed, Should Ban E-scooter Rentals and Require E-scooters and Their Drivers to Be Licensed and Insured


ACCESSIBILITY FOR ONTARIANS WITH DISABILITIES ACT ALLIANCE

NEWS RELEASE – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

AODA Alliance Files A Brief With Ontario’s Doug Ford Government, Urging that Ontario Should Not Allow E-scooters, Should Withdraw Its Proposal for a 5-Year E-scooter Pilot Project, Or, If Allowed, Should Ban E-scooter Rentals and Require E-scooters and Their Drivers to Be Licensed and Insured

September 12, 2019 Toronto: Disability advocates are calling on the Ontario Government to show leadership in protecting the public from personal injuries, and protecting people with disabilities from having new barriers to accessibility created. In a detailed brief (set out below) that was just filed with the Ontario Government under Premier Doug Ford, the AODA Alliance calls for the Government not to allow e-scooters in Ontario, and to withdraw its proposal to hold an excessive 5-year pilot that would allow anyone age 16 and up to ride e-scooters on Ontario roads and bike paths, even if they and the e-scooter are uninsured and have no license. This brief aims to crystalize the most comprehensive case against e-scooters from the disability perspective.

“E-scooters racing at up to 32 KPH will create serious new public safety and disability accessibility problems,” said David Lepofsky, chair of the non-partisan AODA Alliance which spearheads advocacy for accessibility for over 2 million Ontarians with disabilities. “Riding or leaving an e-scooter on a sidewalk should be banned. An e-scooter left on a sidewalk should be immediately forfeited and confiscated. If e-scooters are allowed at all, e-scooter rentals, like those dominating in some US cities, should not be permitted. An e-scooter and its driver should be required to have a license and insurance. Virtually silent e-scooters should be required to audibly beep when in use, to warn pedestrians, including those who are blind, that they are racing towards them.”

The AODA Alliance opposes the idea of permitting e-scooters and then leaving it to municipalities to regulate them. Ontarians with disabilities and others who don’t welcome a risk to their safety should not have to fight separate battles, in one city after the next. Each municipality should not be burdened to clean up the mess that the Province is proposing to create.

Since the AODA Alliance brought this issue to public and media attention two weeks ago, the issue whether to allow e-scooters to expand into Ontario has garnered extensive public attention and media coverage. This has included both local and national coverage, as well as an editorial in the September 9, 2019 Toronto Star. Ontarians need to decide whether they want to repeat the risks to public safety and disability accessibility that have plagued other jurisdictions, or whether Ontario wants to be the master of its own destiny in this regard.

Contact: David Lepofsky, [email protected]

Twitter: @aodaalliance

AODA Alliance Brief to the Ontario Government on Its Proposal to Hold a Five-Year Pilot Project Allowing Electric Scooters in Ontario

www.aodaalliance.org [email protected] Twitter: @aodaalliance

September 11, 2019

Via Email: [email protected]

To: Ministry of Transportation

Road Safety Policy Office

Safety Policy and Education Branch

87 Sir William Hearst Avenue

Building “A”, Room 212

Toronto, Ontario

M3M 0B4

Re: Proposal 19-MTO026

Introduction

The AODA Alliance submits this brief to the Ontario Government as part of the Government’s short public consultation on its proposal to hold a five-year pilot project to allow electric scooters (e-scooters) in Ontario. E-scooters are electric motor vehicles which can travel as fast as 32 kilometers per hour or faster. Under the Government’s proposal e-scooters would be allowed to zip at up to 32 kilometers per hour, anywhere a bicycle is allowed, such as our congested roads and bike paths. The Government is not proposing to require the e-scooter owner or driver or vehicle itself to carry insurance, or to have a license. We include as Appendix 1 a list of the recommendations we make throughout this brief. Appendix 2 to this brief is the Government’s original August 28, 2019 online posting that describes its proposed pilot project. Appendix 3 sets out a New York Times article on e-scooters.

In summary, the AODA Alliance strongly opposes the proposed pilot project. This pilot project raises serious safety concerns for the entire public. Ontarians with disabilities are especially vulnerable to this safety risk. Experience in other jurisdictions where e-scooters have been allowed clearly shows that they present serious public safety and disability accessibility problems. Ontario does not need a pilot project to prove this, at the cost of inflicting injuries or even death upon some Ontarians.

The Ford Government repeatedly emphasized that it is focusing on what matters most to Ontarians. Protecting public safety matters most for Ontarians.

E-scooters are unnecessary and should not be permitted in Ontario at all. E-scooters are motor vehicles, pure and simple. At a bare minimum, if they are to be permitted at all despite the serious concerns spelled out in this brief, e-scooters, like other motor vehicles, should have to be licensed. Their drivers should also have to be licensed, only after they have completed needed and specific training. Both the driver and the motor vehicle should have to carry sufficient insurance.

Their other risks should be subject to strict safety regulations. They should be required to emit a beep to enable people with vision loss to know they are coming. Rental of e-scooters should be forbidden. Riding or parking an e-scooter on a sidewalk should be banned, with strong penalties and immediate confiscation of the e-scooter. Regulation of e-scooters might later be reduced only if shown to be justified, and that doing so won’t compromise on public safety and disability accessibility.

The Ontario Government’s proposal to hold a five-year pilot with e-scooters is based on a troubling Government compromise on protecting public safety. If, despite these concerns, Ontario were nevertheless to hold a pilot project with e-scooters, it should be far shorter than five years. It should be restricted to a narrow area, not the entire province, and only with the consent of the community where the pilot is to occur. Very strict regulation of e-scooters should be in place. It is wrong to experiment on people who don’t consent to being in the experiment, especially where their safety is thereby put at risk.

Just because parts of the US and some other jurisdictions have allowed e-scooters does not mean that they are inevitable in Ontario. Ontario can and should control its own destiny. Ontario should not repeat the serious mistakes that other jurisdictions have made. We should not unleash a new problem on Ontarians and then have to figure out how to undo the damage done. Other places have found this is hard to effectively do, when it comes to e-scooters.

Who Are We?

The AODA Alliance has extensive experience with the barriers facing Ontarians with disabilities. Founded in 2005, we are a voluntary, non-partisan, unincorporated grassroots coalition of individuals and community organizations. Our mission is:

“To contribute to the achievement of a barrier-free Ontario for all persons with disabilities, by promoting and supporting the timely, effective, and comprehensive implementation of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act.”

To learn about us, visit: https://www.aodaalliance.org.

Our coalition is the successor to the non-partisan grassroots Ontarians with Disabilities Act Committee. The ODA Committee advocated for more than ten years, from 1994 to 2005, for the enactment of strong, effective disability accessibility legislation. Our coalition builds on the ODA Committee’s work. We draw our membership from the ODA Committee’s broad, grassroots base. To learn about the ODA Committee’s history, visit: http://www.odacommittee.net.

We have been widely recognized by the Ontario Government, by all political parties in the Ontario Legislature, within the disability community and by the media, as a key voice leading the non-partisan campaign for accessibility in Ontario. In every provincial election since 2005, any party that has made election commitments on accessibility has done so in letters to the AODA Alliance. Our efforts and expertise on accessibility for people with disabilities have been recognized in speeches on the floor of the Ontario Legislature, and beyond. Our website and Twitter feed are widely consulted as helpful sources of information on accessibility efforts in Ontario and elsewhere. We have achieved this as an unfunded community coalition.

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

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

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

The AODA Alliance played a central role in bringing to the public’s attention its serious concerns about e-scooters over the past two weeks. We have secured extensive media coverage on this issue, including coverage in print, on TV, on the radio, and in social media. This topic has even secured coverage in the CBC’s national radio news. Moreover, a strong Toronto Star editorial on September 9, 2019 echoed some of our major concerns, though it neither referred to the AODA Alliance nor to disability barriers threatened by e-scooters.

The AODA Alliance posted a draft of this brief online and via social media on September 6, 2019 and solicited feedback on it. We have done our best to incorporate that feedback in this finalized brief. We thank all those who sent us their feedback. The overwhelming thrust of that feedback was supportive of our concerns.

The Ontario Government Has an Important Duty to Prevent the Creation of New Disability Barriers

This brief shows that the Government’s proposal to allow e-scooters in Ontario threatens to create new accessibility barriers against Ontarians with disabilities. Under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, the Ontario Human Rights Code and the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, the Ontario Government has a duty to prevent the creation of new accessibility barriers against Ontarians with disabilities. For example, the AODA requires the Ontario Government to lead Ontario to become accessible to people with disabilities by 2025.

As the final report of the most recent Independent Review of the AODA’s implementation, prepared by former Lieutenant Governor David Onley revealed, Ontario is well behind schedule for reaching that goal. The Onley report found that Ontario remains a province full of “soul-crushing barriers”. Barriers in the built environment remain a serious example of this. The creation of any new barriers in the built environment would only make this worse.

The AODA Alliance elsewhere documented that the new Ontario Government has done a poor job of implementing the AODA. For the Government to now take new action, such as this proposed e-scooter pilot project, that would create more disability accessibility barriers, is an especially serious concern.

No Government Should Ever Compromise on Public Safety

We are deeply concerned that the Ontario Government’s proposal of a five-year pilot project with e-scooters in Ontario was arrived at without proper concern for or protection of public safety. As addressed later in this brief, e-scooters are known to present a danger to public safety.

According to a troubling CityTV report, the Doug Ford Government admitted it had compromised between protecting public safety on the one hand, and advancing business opportunities and consumer choice on the other, when it designed its controversial proposal to permit electric scooters in Ontario for a 5-year pilot. The August 30, 2019 City TV television news story that aired in Toronto in the evening news revealed this troubling new information, and included a comment by AODA Alliance Chair David Lepofsky on it:

“We reached out to the Ministry of Transportation, who told City News in a statement: the proposed pilot project is another example of how the province is helping businesses expand and give consumers more choice. When asked why the project is set to last a long five years, it said: ‘This proposed time line creates a compromise between road safety and access for businesses and consumers. If approved, the five year pilot will take a measured approach that will promote road safety, foster business innovation and open the Ontario market to this new and growing sector.’”

But Lepofsky fears the Government is prioritizing business over safety.

(Quotation from David Lepofsky in the news story) “the Government’s obligation is to protect public safety, not to decide, well, we’ll do some compromise between making sure people don’t get hurt and making sure other people can make some more money.”

We therefore call on the Ford Government to put the brakes on this proposal and to ensure that there is no risk to public safety, before even contemplating any pilot project with e-scooters. The Government must never compromise on the safety of the public, such as vulnerable people with disabilities, especially when it does so in the interests of some businesses wishing to expand into Ontario. Public Safety must always come first. Its protection should be unremitting and uncompromising.

Now that it has been revealed that the Government’s ill-conceived pilot project was based on an unacceptable compromise on public safety, the proposed pilot project should be withdrawn. The Government should go back to the drawing board.

E-Scooters Have Been Proven to Present a Safety Threat Both to Innocent Pedestrians and to the E-Scooter Driver Themselves

Our review of media articles and other sources posted on the internet quickly revealed that e-scooters are well-known to and well-documented to have posed a danger of personal injury, and in some cases, even of death. Injuries have been sustained by innocent pedestrians and by the e-scooter drivers themselves.

The AODA Alliance was able to quickly locate this information from a web search. As such, the Ontario Government, engaging in due diligence, should have been able to do the same.

The following is a very brief review of some of what we found, prepared in a hurry due to the Government’s very short public consultation deadline on this issue. We point especially to the article on e-scooters in the September 4, 2019 edition of the New York Times, set out in full as appendix 3 to this brief.

The Washington Post reported on January 11, 2019 that a 75-year-old man in San Diego tripped over an e-scooter. He was taken to hospital, “where X-rays revealed his knee was shattered in four places”. The article quotes Wally Ghurabi, medical director of the Nethercutt Emergency Center at the UCLA Medical Center in Santa Monica. Ghurabi said, “I’ve seen pedestrians injured by scooters with broken hips, multiple bone fractures, broken ribs and joint injuries and soft tissue injuries like lacerations and deep abrasions.” The article also reports incidents involving pedestrians in Dallas, where a 32-year-old man was “left with scrapes on his knee and face, as well as a deep gash above his right eye that required seven stitches”, and Cincinnati, where a 44-year-old woman incurred approximately $1000 in medical expenses after being “throw[n]…to the ground” — both following collisions with e-scooters.

Euronews reported on June 18, 2019, that Paris intended to implement speed limits and parking restrictions for e-scooters following its “first death on an electric scooter”. The French transport minister also announced a nationwide ban on e-scooters on sidewalks, effective September. A week prior to the announcements, a 25-year-old man riding an e-scooter had died after being hit by a truck. The report details other incidents, involving both riders and bystanders. In Sweden, “a 27-year-old man died in a crash while riding one of the electric vehicles in May”. In Barcelona, “a 92-year-old woman died in August 2018 after she was run over by an e-scooter — making it the first case of a pedestrian being killed by the electric vehicle”.

On July 26, 2019, CBC News reported that since e-scooters became available in Calgary, “Calgary emergency rooms have seen 60 patients with e-scooter-related injuries”. The report added that “[a]bout a third of them were fractures and roughly 10 per cent were injuries to the face and head”. These figures have triggered a study by the University of Calgary.

The Copenhagen Post reported on August 5, 2019, that a Capital Region release had identified “100 ‘scooter-related injuries’ this year” in Copenhagen. “Among those injured were several pedestrians, although it sounds like most of them tripped over discarded scooters. Only one ended up in hospital after being hit by one.”

The Guardian reported on August 11, 2019, that Paris had experienced its third e-scooter-related death in four months: “A 30-year-old man has been killed after being hit by a motorbike while riding his e-scooter on a French motorway.” The report went on to state that “[t]he scooter rider was not wearing a helmet and was reportedly travelling in the fast lane when the motorbike hit him from behind”, despite the fact that “[u]sing scooters on motorways is banned in France”. Moreover, “The day before the accident, a 27-year-old woman suffered serious head injuries after falling from an e-scooter she was using in a cycle lane in Lyon. A few days earlier a 41-year-old man had been seriously injured after falling from his e-scooter in Lille.” Finally, the report provided details on another, earlier e-scooter-related death in France: “An 81-year-old man died after he was reportedly knocked over by an e-scooter in Levallois-Perret, a Parisian suburb, in April.”

CityNews reported on August 13, 2019, as part of a short survey of European regulations, that “German police say seven people have been seriously injured and 27 suffered minor injuries in scooter accidents since mid-June, saying most were due to riders behaving carelessly.”

An article entitled “Sharing the sidewalk: A case of E-scooter related pedestrian injury” published in the American Journal of Emergency Medicine in June 2019 cites multiple studies corroborating the occurrence of pedestrian injuries: one from Israel found that, while pedestrians were 8.4% of the patients admitted for e-bike- and e-scooter-related injuries, they “were more severely injured; compared to electric scooter riders and electric bike riders, pedestrians have higher rates of head, face, and neck injuries; traumatic brain injuries; and hospital stays lasting more than a week”.

A pilot project with something like e-scooters should only be done if it has a sensible and needed stated purpose, and if it is safe. Given these known public safety problems, there is no need to do a pilot to discover whether e-scooters pose a public safety hazard. Moreover, it is wrong to experiment on human beings without their consent, to find out how much something is a threat to their lives or safety.

Our hospital emergency rooms are already over-burdened. The current Ontario Government promised to end “hallway medicine.” Yet if e-scooters are permitted in public places like roads or bike paths, their workloads will increase. The long waiting periods that patients must now endure at Ontario hospital emergency rooms will only get worse.

We therefore recommend that:

Recommendation #1

There should be no pilot project allowing e-scooters to be driven in public places in Ontario.

Extend the Current Public Consultation

If, despite the foregoing concerns, the Ontario Government plans to continue with the current e-scooter public consultation, it should significantly lengthen it. On Wednesday, August 28, 2019, just two days before the Labour Day long weekend, the Doug Ford Government quietly posted online, for a meager 48-hour public consultation, its proposal to allow e-scooters in Ontario for five years, for a trial period. Thankfully we were alerted to this by an AODA Alliance supporter, who was concerned about the safety risk that e-scooters posed for Ontarians with disabilities.

On August 29, 2019, the AODA Alliance quickly swung into action on this helpful tip. So did others, including Balance for Blind Adults and the CNIB. The media showed interest quite quickly. Indeed, the media coverage of our concerns with e-scooters has continued to this day, and has included national radio coverage on CBC.

Within hours, the Ford Government gave some ground, though not all the ground we had requested. Late on Thursday, August 29, 2019, the Government announced that it was extending its consultation on this issue to September 12, 2019.

For the Government to announce a public consultation on the eve of a long weekend is a well-known strategy for rushing forward with a decision to implement something new, without truly consulting the public, while wishing to appear that it has genuinely consulted the public. It is a fair inference to draw that the Government has been and continues to be actively lobbied by companies that rent e-scooters in the U.S. or elsewhere, in order to get the Government to permit them in Ontario. As noted later in this brief, the proposal of an excessively long five -year pilot project suggests an intent to get e-scooters deeply embedded in Ontario, and to make it harder to get them removed or effectively controlled.

It is essential for this consultation process to immediately and substantially slow down. If the Government is not prepared to withdraw its current consultation and go back to the drawing board, with a stronger commitment to protecting public safety, it should at least substantially lengthen the current public consultation period beyond September 12, 2019 For our part, we need more time to try to document the efforts that have been taken elsewhere to reduce or stop the use of e-scooters. Time has not allowed us to cover that here. That is a topic which a Government, engaging in proper due diligence to protect public safety, should have done, and made public, before venturing forward with a public consultation on a possible pilot project with e-scooters.

We therefore recommend that:

Recommendation #2

The Government should withdraw this e-scooter public consultation and go back to the drawing board. If it is not prepared to withdraw this public consultation on e-scooters, the Ontario Government should at least extend the consultation period to October 31, 2019.

Do Not Allow Rental of E-Scooters

It appears that at least in some if not most of the other jurisdictions where e-scooters have been allowed, a very common way that they are used is by companies renting them to the public, rather than by individuals buying them. Of course, the option to buy them was presumably available in those jurisdictions as well. It is reasonable to conclude that the lobbying of the Ford Government that has led to the current proposal for a five-year e-scooter pilot program comes from those big companies known in other jurisdictions to provide e-scooter rentals. See further the September 4, 2019 New York Times article set out in Appendix 3, at the end of this brief, and the September 10, 2019 article in the Toronto Star, quoted later in this brief.

By this rental model, a member of the public gets an app on their phone to sign up for these rentals. E-scooters are left around the city, tagged with a GPS chip. The individual uses the app to find the nearest e-scooter that is available. They pick it up and ride away. They presumably do not go to a store, or deal with anyone directly and in person from the rental company, when they are renting an e-scooter at roadside. When they are finished with the e-scooter, they leave it on a sidewalk, wherever they wish, and walk away. That e-scooter then sits there until another person, using the app, decides to take it away and ride it, leaving it somewhere else, once they are done.

The rental model for e-scooters presents several serious problems. It should be strictly forbidden.

First and foremost, having users randomly leave an e-scooter on a sidewalk or other like public place when they are finished with it creates significant and unpredictable new barriers against people with disabilities. these barriers can instantly pop up anywhere, unannounced, and then vanish before the police could get to the scene.

For people who are blind, deafblind or have low vision, they are a serious and unexpected tripping hazard. There is no way to plan a walking route to avoid them. They should not have to face the prospect of e-scooters potentially lying in their path at any time. we have received feedback about concerns with this from people with vision loss elsewhere where e-scooter rentals have been allowed.

As well, leaving an e-scooter randomly on sidewalks presents a serious new accessibility barrier for people who use a wheelchair, walker or other mobility device. For them, an e-scooter can prevent them from being able to continue along an otherwise-accessible sidewalk. They can turn an accessible route of travel into an inaccessible one. Here again, these are entirely unpredictable, since these barriers can pop up in an instant. For people with disabilities using a mobility device, the option of going up on the grass or down onto the road in the path of car traffic, to get around an e-scooter that was abandoned on the sidewalk, may not be accessible, feasible or safe. This is especially so for people with temporary or permanent balance issues.

The sidewalks or other public spaces should not be made available to the private companies who rent e-scooters as free parking spaces, fully subsidized by the taxpayer. Taxpayers paid for the construction and maintenance of sidewalks as a safe place to walk.

It is clear that the desire to have e-scooters left strewn on Ontario sidewalks is central to the desire of at least some businesses who want to offer e-scooters for rental in this province. According to a September 10, 2019 Toronto Star article, the CEO of Bird Canada, one of the private companies that is pressing to rent e-scooters in Ontario conceded that it is central to their business that e-scooters be left on Ontario sidewalks between trips with them. The article included:

“Barring e-scooters from city sidewalks, recommended by a city committee on Monday, would make it impossible to introduce the concept to Toronto, according to the CEO of Bird Canada, an e-scooter company hoping to launch here in the spring of 2020.

“If you can’t park them on the sidewalk and you can’t park them on the street, I guess we’re parking them in the air?” Stewart Lyons said.

“I don’t know where we’re parking them. They can’t fly.”

Lyons was speaking after the city’s infrastructure and environment committee passed a motion that would temporarily prevent e-scooters from occupying sidewalks – at least until city staff can come up with a better plan, expected later this year.

Lyons said being able to park e-scooters on some sidewalks is a key part of the e-scooter program.

He said it would be hard to create enough demand if the scooters can’t be made available to customers right where they live and work, arguing that docking stations, such as those used by the current Bike Share Toronto program, wouldn’t be accessible enough.

Currently, users in cities where shared e-scooter programs are in place can locate scooters near them using an app.”

It would not be good enough for the Government to try to regulate where the scooters are left, e.g. by enacting regulations that e-scooters may not be left to block the sidewalk. This would be very hard to enforce, since police are not on the scene wherever these e-scooters would be left. Our police and courts are already overburdened and do not need e-scooter enforcement to be added to their important workloads. There needs to be a strict ban in place precluding e-scooters ever being left in the sidewalk, given the experiences of which we have learned in other jurisdictions. An e-scooter left on the sidewalk should be simply treated as abandoned and forfeited.

Beyond the foregoing concerns, the rental model presents other safety risks. Under that model, a person could go into a bar, drink to excess, walk outside, look on their smart phone’s e-scooter app, and quickly find a nearby e-scooter to ride. That would expose the public to added risks. As it is, drunk driving is a troubling problem in our society that leads to deaths and serious injuries. Our Government should not expose the public to any more such risks.

Were an intoxicated person to walk into a car rental office and try to rent a car, they would have to deal with a human being, who no doubt would refuse to hand over the car keys. In the case of renting e-scooters via an app, there is no comparable control at the source, such as a salesperson, to refuse to hand over the keys.

It would be unthinkable for a car rental company to simply leave rental cars parked near a bar, with the keys in the car, so that anyone could instantly rent the car and drive it away just by clicking on a smart phone app. The danger to public safety would be obvious and intolerable. The same should go for e-scooters.

It is no answer to say that drunk driving is already illegal. We already know that that drinking and driving laws are too often disobeyed. Innocent people pay the price with permanent injuries or their lives. The Government should not make e-scooters available, increasing that risk.

We therefore recommend that:

Recommendation #3

The rental of e-scooters should be strictly forbidden, even if private ownership of an e-scooter by a user of that e-scooter were to be permitted.

Recommendation #4

There should be a strict ban on leaving an e-scooter in a public sidewalk or like location. If an e-scooter is left in such a place, it should be subject to immediate confiscation and forfeiture, as well as a strict penalty.

Require Beeping Sound from E-Scooters When Powered On

E-scooters are very quiet, if not silent, when being operated. It presents a significant safety risk for a virtually silent e-scooter to be hurtling towards a blind person at 32 kph. This is so whether the e-scooter is being driven on a road, or on a sidewalk) (where they are supposedly not to be permitted). They pose a similar risk to a sighted pedestrian who can hear, but who is not looking in the direction from which the e-scooter is coming. It must be remembered that not every road has a sidewalk.

We therefore recommend that:

Recommendation #5

If e-scooters are to be permitted in Ontario, they should be required to make an ongoing beeping sound when they are powered on, to warn others of their approach.

Reduce the Maximum E-scooter Speed Well Below 32 KPH

The faster an e-scooter goes, the less time its driver or a pedestrian has to avoid a collision. Moreover, the fast the e-scooter goes, the greater the potential harm caused by a collision.

There is no magic reason why an e-scooter should be allowed to travel at 32 KPH, just because e-bikes are allowed to go at that speed.

The Ontario Government should study the options for speed limits from other jurisdictions to determine the safest maximum speed, before embarking on any pilot project. A considerably slower speed limit should be set. It can always be raised later, if that is justified.

We therefore recommend that:

Recommendation #6

The speed limit for e-scooters should initially be set much lower than 32 KPH, such as 15 or 20 KPH, until a strong showing can be made that a higher speed limit poses no safety threat to the public.

Require That an E-scooter Driver Have a License and Proper Training

Because an e-scooter is a motor vehicle which can cause significant personal injuries to innocent pedestrians, a person should be required to get a license before they can drive an e-scooter. To qualify to get a license, a person should have to take appropriate training and show sufficient proficiency, including sufficient knowledge about the rules of the road and the threat to personal injuries that an e-scooter can cause.

We therefore recommend that:

Recommendation #7

A person wishing to drive an e-scooter should be required to first take required training on its safe operation and on the rules of the road, and then to obtain a license.

E-Scooters Should Be Licensed and Display a License Plate Number

It is important for each e-scooter to be licensed, and to display a license plate number, as is required for cars and motorcycles. This will make it far, far easier to enforce the law in case a person, driving an e-scooter, collides with a pedestrian, and then flees the scene. Without such a license requirement, it may well be impossible for an injured pedestrian to effectively identify the e-scooter that hit them, and thereby, to trace the driver in question.

We therefore recommend that:

Recommendation #8

Each e-scooter should be required to be licensed and to display a readily-seen license plate number.

The E-scooter’s Owner and Driver Should Be Required to Carry Valid Insurance

It is widely recognized that motor vehicles pose a risk to personal injury of other motorists and pedestrians. As a result, both the owner and driver of a motor vehicle are required to carry liability insurance. It is an offence to fail to carry proper insurance.

The same should be so for the owner and driver of an e-scooter. It is important for both to be insured, as is the case for other motor vehicles such as cars and trucks, so an injured victim can recover compensation from either or both, if injured.

This is especially important where, as here, it is known that e-scooters pose a real risk of personal injury. The victims of such injuries, and the taxpayers who pay for our health system, should not be left holding the bag when it comes to the consequences of the use of e-scooters.

We therefore recommend that:

Recommendation #9

The owner and driver of an e-scooter should be required to carry sufficient liability insurance for injuries or other damages that the e-scooter causes to others.

Helmets Should Be Required for All E-Scooter Drivers, No Matter What Their Age Is

The use of an e-scooter can result in injuries to the driver, and not just to innocent pedestrians. This obviously can include head injuries.

A helmet is an important safety measure to at least try to reduce some of the harmful impacts on the driver of a fall from the e-scooter. Yet the Ford Government is only proposing during its pilot project to require an e-scooter driver to wear a helmet if they are between the ages of 16 and 18.

Yet people 18 or older are equally exposed to the risk of head injuries. This creates an undue risk of increased injuries to drivers. That is bad for the drivers themselves and for their families. It also creates an unnecessary and unfair burden for the taxpayer, who will have to cover the health and other social safety net costs of those injuries to the e-scooter drivers.

We therefore recommend that:

Recommendation #10

All e-scooter drivers, regardless of their age, should be required to wear a helmet whenever operating an e-scooter.

If There Is to Be a Pilot Period with E-scooters, It Should Be Much Shorter Than Five Years and For A Smaller Part of Ontario

The Ford Government is proposing an e-scooter pilot project for the entirety of Ontario, to last fully five years. There is serious reason to doubt whether the Government means this as a pilot project. It appears far more likely that the Government means for this to be a way to embed e-scooters as a done deal, a permanent fixture in Ontario. After five years, the Government and the e-scooter rental companies that are lobbying to get them into Ontario may well be hoping that it will be much harder to reduce or eliminate them, if they are already entrenched around Ontario. This is a real problem facing those jurisdictions that have already allowed e-scooters to proliferate, and that now have serious concerns about their impact.

There is no reason for a pilot project to last for a long five years. A much shorter period is warranted, in order to assess their impact. This is so especially since there are other jurisdictions which have already in effect served as a pilot project for Ontario. They have allowed e-scooters, with all the accompanying problems. As noted earlier, Ontario should study their impact in those other jurisdictions first, rather than exposing Ontarians to the risk of personal injury. Only if that study reveals that e-scooters can be safely introduced in Ontario should a pilot project be even considered for Ontario.

If, despite our documented serious concerns about e-scooters, a pilot project is to take place in Ontario, it should be conducted for a far shorter period, such as six months. A proper assessment of their impact should be assigned to an arms-length organization with expertise in public safety.

There is no reason why a pilot project should take place across the entirety of Ontario. Instead, a specific region or community should be selected. That community should first be given the right to consent or reject the proposal on behalf of its citizens.

We therefore recommend that:

Recommendation #11

No e-scooter pilot project should be held in Ontario until the Ontario Government effectively studies the impact on public safety of e-scooters in jurisdictions that have allowed them, and on options for regulatory controls of them, and has made the details of these public. A pilot project should only be held in Ontario if public safety can be fully and effectively protected.

Recommendation #12

If Ontario is to hold an e-scooter pilot project, it should only take place for a period much shorter than five years, e.g. six months, and should only take place in a specific community that has consented to permit that pilot project there.

Recommendation #13

If Ontario is to hold an e-scooter pilot project, the Ontario Government should retain a trusted independent organization with expertise in public safety to study the impact of e-scooters during that pilot project, and to make the full results of that study public.

A Ban on Riding E-scooters on Sidewalks Is Insufficient to Address Public Safety Concerns

To address the safety and accessibility concerns in this brief, it would be insufficient to simply ban the riding of e-scooters on sidewalks. Such a ban is of course needed, but would be insufficient to solve problems caused by e-scooters. e-scooters present safety issues on public roads, not just on sidewalks. Moreover, it will be extremely difficult if not impossible to effectively police a ban on e-scooters on sidewalks. Even though bicycles are not supposed to be ridden on public sidewalks, pedestrians know that a good number of cyclists nevertheless ride their bikes on sidewalks from time to time, without much fear of law enforcement.

Especially if an e-scooter is not licensed and does not bear a plainly visible license plate number, it would too often be hard if not impossible for an injured pedestrian to report to police on someone who unlawfully rode an e-scooter on the sidewalk. It will be hard if not impossible to reliably identify the offender in a way that will stand up in court. Eyewitness identification evidence is notoriously hard to present in court.

Blind people, or people with low vision or who are deafblind can face the risk of injuries without any practical way to identify the e-scooter driver who hit them, or who left their e-scooter on the sidewalk.

We therefore recommend that:

Recommendation #14

The Government should not treat a ban on riding e-scooters on the sidewalk, while necessary, as a sufficient protection against the threat to public safety that e-scooters present.

There Should Be No Comparable Restrictions on Powered Scooters Used as a Mobility Aid for People with Disabilities

We emphasize that in raising these concerns with e-scooters, nothing should be done to restrict the current availability and use of powered scooters as a mobility aid for people with various disabilities. These are not in the same class of vehicle as e-scooters, addressed in this brief. They do not present the concerns raised in this brief. As we understand it, they do not travel at the kinds of speeds that an e-scooter can travel. They are an essential form of adaptive technology for people with disabilities.

We therefore recommend that:

Recommendation #15

nothing should be done to reduce or restrict the availability or use of powered mobility devices used by people with disabilities.

Don’t Allow E-scooters and Then Leave It to Municipalities To Fix the Problems this Presents

An option the Ontario Government might be considering is to allow the use of e-scooters, either by owning or renting them, and then leaving it to each municipal government to regulate them, or to decide if they will be permitted in that municipality. This is no solution, for the following reasons.

First, as documented in this brief, the public safety and accessibility problems with e-scooters are already known. They would recur across Ontario. They do not vary from municipality to municipality.

Second, people with disabilities should not have to shoulder the burden of having to campaign, in each municipality across Ontario, to prevent the creation of these new accessibility barriers and safety threats. No doubt the e-scooter rental companies would prefer e-scooters to be permitted across Ontario, but would, as a second choice, welcome the chance to target municipalities and lobby them to permit them on very liberal terms.

Third, our municipalities and municipal taxpayers have more than enough on their plates to deal with now. They don’t need the Ontario Government to create a new problem for them, and then leave them with the burden to cope with the consequences and clean up the consequent mess.

We therefore recommend that:

Recommendation #16

The Ontario Government should not permit e-scooters and then leave it to each municipality to regulate them or leave it to each municipality to decide if they want to permit e-scooters.

There Are Important Differences Between E-bikes and E-scooters

It would be wrong for the Government to proceed on the basis that it should allow e-scooters by virtue of the fact that it already allows e-bikes, for several reasons. First, if, as we have shown, e-scooters present a safety risk, that safety risk neither magically vanishes nor in any way reduces just because Ontario now allows e-bikes.

Second, there are some important differences between the two. A person cannot ride an e-bike unless they already know how to ride a bike. In contrast, a person with no prior experience can, in some other jurisdictions, pay a rental fee, hop on an e-scooter, and immediately start racing in public at 32 KPH. As well, we are not aware of any companies that rent e-bikes on the terms used elsewhere for e-scooters, where they are regularly left as barriers in the middle of sidewalks.

Because this e-scooter consultation has been so rushed, we have not had a sufficient opportunity to explore the full ramifications of e-bikes beyond this. This is yet another reason why this hasty public consultation should be withdrawn or lengthened.

We also emphasize that there are key differences between an e-scooter and a non-motorized bicycle. While some can ride a bike quite fast, a novice cannot simply hop on a bike and race at 32 KPH. Moreover, a regular bike is not a motor vehicle. An e-scooter is a motor vehicle.

Appendix 1 List of Recommendations in This Brief

Recommendation #1

There should be no pilot project allowing e-scooters to be driven in public places in Ontario.

Recommendation #2

The Government should withdraw this e-scooter public consultation and go back to the drawing board. If it is not prepared to withdraw this public consultation on e-scooters, the Ontario Government should at least extend the consultation period to October 31, 2019.

Recommendation #3

The rental of e-scooters should be strictly forbidden, even if private ownership of an e-scooter by a user of that e-scooter were to be permitted.

Recommendation #4

There should be a strict ban on leaving an e-scooter in a public sidewalk or like location. If an e-scooter is left in such a place, it should be subject to immediate confiscation and forfeiture, as well as a strict penalty.

Recommendation #5

If e-scooters are to be permitted in Ontario, they should be required to make an ongoing beeping sound when they are powered on, to warn others of their approach.

Recommendation #6

The speed limit for e-scooters should initially be set much lower than 32 KPH, such as 15 or 20 KPH, until a strong showing can be made that a higher speed limit poses no safety threat to the public.

Recommendation #7

A person wishing to drive an e-scooter should be required to first take required training on its safe operation and on the rules of the road, and then to obtain a license.

Recommendation #8

Each e-scooter should be required to be licensed and to display a readily-seen license plate number.

Recommendation #9

The owner and driver of an e-scooter should be required to carry sufficient liability insurance for injuries or other damages that the e-scooter causes to others.

Recommendation #10

All e-scooter drivers, regardless of their age, should be required to wear a helmet whenever operating an e-scooter.

Recommendation #11

No e-scooter pilot project should be held in Ontario until the Ontario Government effectively studies the impact on public safety of e-scooters in jurisdictions that have allowed them, and on options for regulatory controls of them, and has made the details of these public. A pilot project should only be held in Ontario if public safety can be fully and effectively protected.

Recommendation #12

If Ontario is to hold an e-scooter pilot project, it should only take place for a period much shorter than five years, e.g. six months, and should only take place in a specific community that has consented to permit that pilot project there.

Recommendation #13

If Ontario is to hold an e-scooter pilot project, the Ontario Government should retain a trusted independent organization with expertise in public safety to study the impact of e-scooters during that pilot project, and to make the full results of that study public.

Recommendation #14

The Government should not treat a ban on riding e-scooters on the sidewalk, while necessary, as a sufficient protection against the threat to public safety that e-scooters present.

Recommendation #15

nothing should be done to reduce or restrict the availability or use of powered mobility devices used by people with disabilities.

Recommendation #16

The Ontario Government should not permit e-scooters and then leave it to each municipality to regulate them or leave it to each municipality to decide if they want to permit e-scooters.

Appendix 2 The Ford Government’s 48-Hour Pre-Labour Day Public Consultation on Allowing Electric Scooters in Ontario

Originally posted at https://www.ontariocanada.com/registry/view.do?postingId=30207&language=en

Kick Style Electric Scooter (E-Scooter)

 

Background:

 

The Ministry of Transportation (MTO) is strongly committed to promoting the highest standards of safety for all Ontarians who travel on our roads, including drivers, cyclists, and pedestrians, and will continue working with all our partners on measures that enhance this objective. Trends and technology are evolving, with new forms of vehicles such as e-scooters entering the market.

MTO is interested in new and environmentally-friendly vehicles, however it is important that new vehicles are constructed with appropriate safety features to allow safe integration with all other road users.

MTO is considering the following proposal and invites you to submit your comments for consideration.

E-Scooters

 

E-scooters have been launched in more than 125 cities across the United States. They represent a new way for residents to get around their communities, are seen as providing first and last mile connections to transit, and represent an opportunity to reduce traffic congestion.

E-scooters are currently not permitted to operate on roads in Ontario as they do not meet any federal or provincial safety standards for on-road use. These devices may only be operated where Ontario’s Highway Traffic Act (HTA) does not apply such as private property.

The ministry is interested in exploring the feasibility of these vehicles safely integrating with other road users while promoting road safety and fostering business innovation in the province.

 

MTO is soliciting public comment on potentially permitting the use of e-scooters on roads in Ontario as part of a pilot project. This will allow the ministry to ensure e-scooters can be safely integrated with other road users before a final, permanent, regulatory decision is made.

 

 

 

Proposed E-Scooter Pilot Framework:

 

Pilot Duration:

The length of the pilot will be for a prescribed period of 5 years, to ensure sufficient time to effectively monitor and evaluate the pilot results.

 

Operator/Rider/Vehicle Requirements Include:

 

  • Can operate on-road similar to where bicycles can operate; prohibited on controlled access highways
  • Minimum operating age 16
  • Bicycle helmet required for those under 18 years old
  • No passengers allowed
  • Maximum operating speed 32 km/h
  • No pedals or seat allowed
  • Must have 2 wheels and brakes
  • Maximum wheel diameter 17 inches
  • Must have horn or bell
  • Must have front and back light
  • Maximum weight 45kg and Maximum power output 500W

Data Collection:

 

  • Municipalities to remit data to the province, as requested

 

Appendix 3 The New York Times September 4, 2019

Originally posted at https://www.nytimes.com/2019/09/04/technology/san-diego-electric-scooters.html?smid=nytcore-ios-share

Welcome to San Diego. Don’t Mind the Scooters.

A year ago, electric rental scooters were hailed as the next big thing in transportation. But their troubles in San Diego show how the services have now hit growing pains.

Companies distribute scooters around cities, often on sidewalks. In the area around Mission Beach, one of San Diego’s main beaches, 70 scooters lined a single side of one block in July. By

Erin Griffith

Sept. 4, 2019

SAN DIEGO — The first thing you notice in San Diego’s historic Gaslamp Quarter is not the brick sidewalks, the rows of bars and the roving gaggles of bachelorette parties and conferencegoers, or even the actual gas lamps.

It’s the electric rental scooters. Hundreds are scattered around the sidewalks, clustered in newly painted corrals on the street and piled up in the gutters. In early July, one corner alone had 37. In the area around Mission Beach, one of the city’s main beaches, a single side of one block had 70. Most sat unused.

Since scooter rental companies like Bird, Lime, Razor, Lyft and Uber-owned Jump moved into San Diego last year, inflating the city’s scooter population to as many as 40,000 by some estimates, the vehicles have led to injuries, deaths, lawsuits and vandals. Regulators and local activists have pushed back against them. One company has even started collecting the vehicles to help keep the sidewalks clear.

“My constituents hate them pretty universally,” said Barbara Bry, a San Diego City Council member. She called for a moratorium on the scooters when they arrived, saying they clogged sidewalks and were a danger to pedestrians.

San Diego’s struggle to contain the havoc provides a glimpse of how reality has set in for scooter companies like Bird and Lime. Last year, the services were hailed as the next big thing in personal transportation. Investors poured money into the firms, valuing Bird at $2.3 billion and Lime at $2.4 billion and prompting an array of followers.

At the end of a rental period, a rider leaves the scooter for the next customer to retrieve. CreditTara Pixley for The New York Times

The scooter companies distribute their electric vehicles around cities and universities — often on sidewalks — and rent them by the minute via apps. At the end of a rental period, a rider leaves the scooter for the next customer to retrieve. Scooter speeds vary by company, model and city, as do helmet laws, although helmets generally are not required.

But now, skepticism about scooter services is rising. Some cities, including San Francisco, Paris, Atlanta and Portland, Ore., have imposed stricter regulations on scooter speed limits, parking or nighttime riding. Columbia, S.C., has temporarily banned them. New York recently passed legislation that would allow scooters to operate in some parts of New York City, but not in Manhattan.

Safety has become a big issue. A three-month study published in May from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Public Health and Transportation Departments of Austin, Tex., found that for every 100,000 scooter rides, 20 people were injured. Nearly half of the injuries were to the head; 15 percent of those showed evidence of traumatic brain injury.

Bird, Lime and Skip are trying to secure new funding, according to three people familiar with the talks, who declined to be identified because the discussions were not finished. In May, Lime replaced its chief executive; several other top executives also left. And in July, Bird’s chief executive called a report about the company’s losses “fake.”

Scooters are “a fun and convenient mode of transportation that really does put people at risk and introduces significant spatial challenges to the civic commons,” said Adie Tomer, a metropolitan policy fellow at the Brookings Institution. “Those tensions are not going anywhere anytime soon.”

Bird declined to comment.

Many scooter companies miscalculated how long the scooters would last — often not long enough for rental fees to cover their costs — and are struggling with profitability, acknowledged Sanjay Dastoor, Skip’s chief executive. His company has designed a way to produce more durable scooters that can be repaired more easily and last long enough to turn a profit, he said, allowing it to “run a safe fleet that we are proud of.”

Lindsey Haswell, Lime’s head of communications, said new industries often faced regulatory challenges, “but our investors are willing to take the long view.” She added that the issues in San Diego did not reflect the global scooter market. Lime has provided more than three million trips in San Diego, she said, and has “as many supporters as we have detractors” there.

Hans Tung, an investor at GGV, which has backed Lime, said he was encouraged by the company’s progress and was confident it would make its scooters safe and profitable. “I don’t see how that couldn’t be achieved,” he said.

Bird and Lime deployed their scooters in San Diego in February 2018, followed by other companies. The start-ups pitched themselves as environmentally friendly, a message that jibed with San Diego’s goal to reduce greenhouse emissions.

San Diego initially took a hands-off approach. The scooters became popular, with an average of 30,000 riders per day, according to city officials.

“Millennials and post-millennials want to live in a thriving, bustling city that has dynamic choices for mobility,” said Erik Caldwell, San Diego’s deputy head of operations for smart and sustainable communities.

But as more scooters flooded San Diego last summer, local business owners and residents began objecting. Alex Stennet, a bouncer at Coyote Ugly Saloon in the Gaslamp District, said people tripped over the vehicles and threw them around. He said he had witnessed at least 20 scooter accidents in front of Coyote Ugly.

ScootScoop has deals with 250 local businesses to remove scooters; it has towed more than 12,500. CreditTara Pixley for The New York Times

Dan Borelli, who owns a bike rental shop called Boardwalk Electric Rides in Pacific Beach, said the scooters frequently blocked the entrance to his store. In July 2018, he teamed up with John Heinkel, owner of a local towing company, to haul away scooters that they deemed to be parked on private property. They charge Bird, Lime and others a retrieval fee of $50 per scooter, plus $2 for each day of storage.

Their company, ScootScoop, has essentially turned them into scooter bounty hunters. They said they have struck deals with 250 local businesses and hotels and have towed more than 12,500 scooters. Some scooter companies have paid to get them back, they said.

In March, Lime and Bird sued Mr. Borelli and Mr. Heinkel for the scooter removals. ScootScoop countersued Bird and Lime last week.

Other cities have called ScootScoop for advice, Mr. Borelli said. Mr. Heinkel said the scooter companies underestimated them. “They assumed we were two hillbillies in a pickup truck, as opposed to business owners,” he said.

Lime’s Ms. Haswell said Mr. Borelli and Mr. Heinkel “are opportunistic businessmen who troll the streets stealing scooters, with no respect for the law, trying to make a profit at San Diego’s expense.”

Late last year, the scooters turned from annoyances into hazards. In December, a man in Chula Vista, a San Diego suburb, died after he was hit by a car while riding a Bird scooter, according to the Chula Vista Police Department. A tourist died a few months later after crashing his rental scooter into a tree. Another visitor died of “blunt force torso trauma” after his scooter collided with another, the San Diego Police Department said.

The department said it counted 15 “serious injury collisions” involving scooters in the first half of this year. Last month, three separate scooter-related skull fractures happened in one week.

On one day in July, there were 150 available Bird scooters within a two-block radius in Mission Beach.CreditTara Pixley for The New York Times

Scooter parking corrals were introduced in July as part of San Diego’s new rules. CreditTara Pixley for The New York Times

As the injuries piled up, Safe Walkways, an activist group, amassed hundreds of members in a Facebook group to oppose the scooters and file complaints to government agencies. In April, around 50 protesters gathered on Mission Beach’s boardwalk with signs bearing messages like “Safety Not Scooters” and “BoardWALK.”

Lawsuits have also piled up. Clients of Matthew Souther, an attorney at Neil Dymott, filed a potential class action suit in March that accused Bird, Lime and the City of San Diego of not complying with disability rights laws to keep sidewalks clear. He said he was working on a dozen other injury lawsuits against scooter companies.

San Diego has started cracking down on the scooters. In July, the city enacted rules restricting where they could be parked and driven and issued permits for 20,000 scooters, across all companies, to operate. In three days that month, authorities impounded 2,500 scooters that violated parking rules. San Diego later sent notices of violations to Bird, Lyft, Lime and Skip.

Last month, San Diego told Lime that it planned to revoke its permit to operate in the city because of the violations, pending a hearing.

Christina Chadwick, a spokeswoman for San Diego’s mayor, Kevin Faulconer, said the scooter operators had been warned that the city would aggressively monitor them.

To deal with critics and improve safety and costs, the scooter companies have upgraded their fleets with sturdier scooters. Bird has said its Bird Zero model, which makes up a majority of its fleet, lasts an average of 10 months, compared with three months for past models. Skip recently announced a scooter with modular parts, which makes repairs easier.

And after a year recalling scooters with cracked baseboards and batteries that caught fire, Lime has introduced new vehicles with bigger wheels and baseboards, as well as interchangeable batteries and parts.

Ms. Haswell said Lime was eager to show the progress it had made. “We admit that we haven’t always gotten it right in San Diego,” she said.

Erin Griffith reports on technology start-ups and venture capital from the San Francisco bureau. Before joining The Times she was a senior writer at WIRED and Fortune. @eringriffith

A version of this article appears in print on Sept. 4, 2019, Section B, Page 1 of the New York edition with the headline: San Diego’s Scooter Tryout Gets Off to a Bumpy Start. Order Reprints

 



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Quickly Send Us Feedback On Our Draft Brief to the Ontario Government’s Rushed Public Consultation on Its Proposal to Hold a Five-Year Pilot Project to Allow Electric Scooters in Ontario


Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance Update

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

www.aodaalliance.org [email protected] Twitter: @aodaalliance

Quickly Send Us Feedback On Our Draft Brief to the Ontario Government’s Rushed Public Consultation on Its Proposal to Hold a Five-Year Pilot Project to Allow Electric Scooters in Ontario

September 6, 2019

          SUMMARY

We welcome your feedback by Tuesday, September 10, 2019, on our draft brief to the Ford Government’s rushed public consultation on its proposal to allow electric scooters (e-scooters) in Ontario for a five year pilot project. Our draft brief is set out below. Feedback to us can be sent to [email protected] or on Twitter @aodaalliance

We regret giving you so little time to send us feedback. the Government gave us no choice, since its consultation was just announced last week, and ends on September 12, 2019. We had to battle to get the consultation extended from 48 hours to 2.5 weeks!

We will do our best to address your feedback as we finalize this draft. Please remember that this draft was prepared in a great hurry. Thanks to all who have sent us your feedback on the e-scooter issue, and to the wonderful Osgoode Hall Law School who volunteered to help with our work on this brief.

We have continued to secure good media coverage for the e-scooter issue from the disability perspective. As previously reported to you, we got this issue covered by the Globe and Mail, the Toronto Star, City TV News, among several other media outlets.

Since then, there has been more coverage. On September 4, 2019, AODA Alliance Chair David Lepofsky was interviewed on the e-scooter issue on CBC morning radio programs in Toronto, Windsor, Thunder Bay, Sudbury, and Kitchener-Waterloo, as well as on Ontario Morning, the program that covers other parts of Ontario. He also pre-recorded an interview for the London CBC morning program. It was supposed to run on September 5, 2019. Capping this off, a clip from one of those interviews was included in an item on the problems with e-scooters that ran on CBC Radio’s national news program The World at 6 that ran at dinnertime on September 5, 2019. All that coverage took place in one week!

There have now been 219 days since the Ford Government received the final report of the Independent Review of the AODA’s implementation prepared by former Lieutenant Governor David Onley. Doug Ford’s Government has still not announced a plan to implement the Onley report. Instead, it has proposed this troubling e-scooter pilot project which threatens to create even more new accessibility barriers against Ontarians with disabilities.

          MORE DETAILS

Draft AODA Alliance Brief to the Ontario Government on Its Proposal to Hold a Five-Year Pilot Project Allowing Electric Scooters in Ontario

September 6, 2019

Note: This is only a draft and has not yet been submitted to the Ontario Government. Feedback on this draft is welcomed before Tuesday, September 10, 2019. We apologize for this rushed period. The Ontario Government has set an extremely short deadline for submitting input on its proposal. We are rushing to meet that deadline. Send us feedback at: [email protected] or on Twitter @aodaalliance

Introduction

The AODA Alliance submits this brief to the Ontario Government as part of the Government’s short public consultation on its proposal to hold a five-year pilot project to allow electric scooters (e-scooters) in Ontario. E-scooters are electric motor vehicles which can travel as fast as 32 kilometers per hour or faster. Under the Government’s proposal e-scooters would be allowed to zip at up to 32 kilometers per hour, anywhere a bicycle is allowed. The Government is not proposing to require the e-scooter owner or driver or vehicle itself to carry insurance, or to have a license. We include as Appendix 1 to this brief the Government’s original August 28, 2019 online posting that describes its proposed pilot project.

In summary, the AODA Alliance strongly opposes the proposed pilot project. This pilot project raises serious safety concerns for the entire public. Ontarians with disabilities are especially vulnerable to this safety risk. Experience in other jurisdictions where e-scooters have been allowed shows that they present serious public safety and disability accessibility problems.

the Ford Government repeatedly emphasized that it is focusing on what matters most to Ontarians. We emphasize that protecting public safety matters most for Ontarians.

E-scooters are motor vehicles, pure and simple. At a bare minimum, if they are to be permitted at all, e-scooters, like other motor vehicles, should have to be licensed. Their drivers should also have to be licensed, only after they have completed needed and specific training. Both the driver and the motor vehicle should have to carry sufficient insurance.

Their other risks should be subject to strict safety regulations. They should be required to emit a beep to enable people with vision loss to know they are coming. Rental of e-scooters should be forbidden. Regulation of e-scooters can later be reduced if shown to be justified, and that doing so won’t compromise on public safety and disability accessibility.

If, despite these concerns, Ontario were to hold a pilot project with e-scooters, it should be far shorter than five years. It should be restricted to a narrow area, not the entire province, and only with the consent of the community where the pilot is to occur. Very strict regulation of e-scooters should be in place.

Just because parts of the US and some other jurisdictions have allowed e-scooters does not mean that they are inevitable in Ontario. Ontario should not repeat the serious mistakes that other jurisdictions have made.

The Ontario Government Has an Important Duty to Prevent the Creation of New Disability Barriers

This brief will show that the Government’s proposal to allow e-scooters in Ontario threatens to create new accessibility barriers against Ontarians with disabilities. Under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, the Ontario Human Rights Code and the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, the Ontario Government has a duty to prevent the creation of new accessibility barriers against Ontarians with disabilities. For example, the AODA requires the Ontario Government to lead Ontario to become accessible to people with disabilities by 2025.

As the final report of the most recent Independent Review of the AODA’s implementation, prepared by former Lieutenant Governor David Onley revealed, Ontario is well behind schedule for reaching that goal. The Onley report found that Ontario remains a province full of “soul-crushing barriers”. Barriers in the built environment remain a serious example of this. The creation of any new barriers in the built environment would only make this worse.

The AODA Alliance elsewhere documented that the new Ontario Government has done a poor job of implementing the AODA. For the Government to take new action that would create more disability accessibility barriers, such as by allowing e-scooters, is an especially serious concern.

No Government Should Ever Compromise on Public Safety

We are deeply concerned that the Ontario Government’s proposal of a five-year pilot project with e-scooters in Ontario was arrived at without proper concern for or protection of public safety. As addressed later in this brief, e-scooters are known to present a danger to public safety.

According to a troubling CityTV report, the Doug Ford Government admitted it had compromised between protecting public safety on the one hand, and advancing business opportunities and consumer choice on the other, when it designed its controversial proposal to permit electric scooters in Ontario for a 5-year pilot. The August 30, 2019 City TV television news story that aired in Toronto in the evening news revealed this troubling new information, and included a comment by AODA Alliance Chair David Lepofsky on it:

“We reached out to the Ministry of Transportation, who told City News in a statement: the proposed pilot project is another example of how the province is helping businesses expand and give consumers more choice. When asked why the project is set to last a long five years, it said: ‘This proposed time line creates a compromise between road safety and access for businesses and consumers. If approved, the five year pilot will take a measured approach that will promote road safety, foster business innovation and open the Ontario market to this new and growing sector.’”

But Lepofsky fears the Government is prioritizing business over safety.

(Quotation from David Lepofsky in the news story) “the Government’s obligation is to protect public safety, not to decide, well, we’ll do some compromise between making sure people don’t get hurt and making sure other people can make some more money.”

We again call on the Ford Government to put the brakes on this proposal and to ensure that there is no risk to public safety, before even contemplating any pilot project with electric scooters. The Government must never compromise on the safety of the public, such as vulnerable people with disabilities, especially when it does so in the interests of some businesses wishing to expand into Ontario. Public Safety must always come first, and its protection should be unremitting and uncompromising.

Now that it has been revealed that the Government’s ill-conceived pilot project was based on an unacceptable compromise on public safety, the proposed pilot project should be withdrawn. The Government should go back to the drawing board.

E-Scooters Have Been Proven to Present a Safety Threat Both to Innocent Pedestrians and to the E-Scooter Driver Themselves

Our review of media articles and other sources posted on the internet quickly revealed that e-scooters are well-known to and well-documented to have posed a danger of personal injury, and in some cases, even of death. Injuries have been sustained by innocent pedestrians and by the e-scooter drivers themselves.

The AODA Alliance was able to quickly locate this information from a web search. As such, the Ontario Government, engaging in due diligence, should have been able to do the same.

The following is a very brief review of some of what we found, prepared in a hurry due to the Government’s very short public consultation deadline on this issue. We point especially to the article on e-scooters in the September 4, 2019 edition of the New York Times, set out in full as an appendix 2 to this brief.

Euronews reported on June 18, 2019, that Paris intended to implement speed limits and parking restrictions for e-scooters following its “first death on an electric scooter”. The French transport minister also announced a nationwide ban on e-scooters on sidewalks, effective September. A week prior to the announcements, a 25-year-old man riding an e-scooter had died after being hit by a truck. The report details other incidents, involving both riders and bystanders. In Sweden, “a 27-year-old man died in a crash while riding one of the electric vehicles in May”. In Barcelona, “a 92-year-old woman died in August 2018 after she was run over by an e-scooter — making it the first case of a pedestrian being killed by the electric vehicle”.

On July 26, 2019, CBC News reported that since e-scooters became available in Calgary, “Calgary emergency rooms have seen 60 patients with e-scooter-related injuries”. The report added that “[a]bout a third of them were fractures and roughly 10 per cent were injuries to the face and head”. These figures have triggered a study by the University of Calgary.

The Copenhagen Post reported on August 5, 2019, that a Capital Region release had identified “100 ‘scooter-related injuries’ this year” in Copenhagen. “Among those injured were several pedestrians, although it sounds like most of them tripped over discarded scooters. Only one ended up in hospital after being hit by one.”

The Guardian reported on August 11, 2019, that Paris had experienced its third e-scooter-related death in four months: “A 30-year-old man has been killed after being hit by a motorbike while riding his e-scooter on a French motorway.” The report went on to state that “[t]he scooter rider was not wearing a helmet and was reportedly travelling in the fast lane when the motorbike hit him from behind”, despite the fact that “[u]sing scooters on motorways is banned in France”. Moreover, “The day before the accident, a 27-year-old woman suffered serious head injuries after falling from an e-scooter she was using in a cycle lane in Lyon. A few days earlier a 41-year-old man had been seriously injured after falling from his e-scooter in Lille.” Finally, the report provided details on another, earlier e-scooter-related death in France: “An 81-year-old man died after he was reportedly knocked over by an e-scooter in Levallois-Perret, a Parisian suburb, in April.”

CityNews reported on August 13, 2019, as part of a short survey of European regulations, that “German police say seven people have been seriously injured and 27 suffered minor injuries in scooter accidents since mid-June, saying most were due to riders behaving carelessly.”

Extend the Current Public Consultation

If, despite the foregoing concerns, the Ontario Government plans to continue with the current e-scooter public consultation, it should significantly lengthen it. On Wednesday, August 28, 2019, just two days before the Labour Day long weekend, the Doug Ford Government quietly posted online, for a meager 48-hour public consultation, its proposal to allow e-scooters in Ontario for five years, for a trial period. Thankfully we were alerted to this by an AODA Alliance supporter, who was concerned about the safety risk that e-scooters posed for Ontarians with disabilities.

On August 29, 2019, the AODA Alliance quickly swung into action on this helpful tip. So did others, including Balance for Blind Adults and the CNIB. The media showed interest quite quickly.

Within hours, the Ford Government gave some ground, though not all the ground we had requested. Late on Thursday, August 29, 2019, the Government announced that it was extending its consultation on this issue to September 12, 2019.

For the Government to announce a public consultation on the eve of a long weekend is a well-known strategy for rushing forward with a decision to implement something new, without truly consulting the public, while wishing to appear that it has genuinely consulted the public. It is a fair inference to draw that the Government has been lobbied by companies that rent e-scooters in the U.S. or elsewhere, in order to get the Government to permit them in Ontario. As noted later in this brief, the proposal of an excessively long five -year pilot project suggests an intent to get e-scooters deeply embedded in Ontario, and to make it harder to get them removed or effectively controlled.

It is essential for this consultation process to immediately slow down. If the Government is not prepared to withdraw its current consultation and go back to the drawing board, with a stronger commitment to protecting public safety, it should at least substantially lengthen the current public consultation period beyond September 12, 2019

Recommendation #1

If it is not prepared to withdraw its current public consultation on e-scooters, the Ontario Government should at least extend the consultation period to October 31, 2019.

Do Not Allow Rental of E-Scooters

It appears that at least in some if not most of the other jurisdictions where e-scooters have been allowed, a very common way that they are used is by companies renting them to the public, rather than by individuals buying them. Of course, the option to buy them was presumably available in those jurisdictions as well. It is reasonable to suppose that the lobbying of the Ford Government that has led to the current proposal for a five-year e-scooter pilot program comes from those big companies known in other jurisdictions to provide e-scooter rentals. See further the September 4, 2019 New York Times article set out in Appendix 2, at the end of this brief.

By this rental model, a member of the public gets an app on their phone to sign up for these rentals. E-scooters are left around the city, tagged with a GPS chip. The individual uses the app to find the nearest e-scooter that is available. They pick it up and ride away. They presumably do not go to a store, or deal with anyone directly and in person from the rental company. When they are finished with the e-scooter, they leave it on a sidewalk, wherever they wish, and walk away. That e-scooter then sits there until another person, using the app, decides to take it away and ride it, leaving it somewhere else, once they are done.

The rental model for e-scooters presents several serious problems. It should be forbidden.

First and foremost, having users randomly leave an e-scooter on a sidewalk or other like public place when they are finished with it creates significant and unpredictable new barriers against people with disabilities. these barriers can instantly pop up anywhere, unannounced.

For people who are blind, deafblind or have low vision, they are a serious and unexpected tripping hazard. They should not have to face the prospect of e-scooters potentially lying in their path at any time. we have received feedback about concerns with this from people with vision loss elsewhere where this has been allowed.

As well, leaving an e-scooter randomly on sidewalks presents a serious new barrier for people who use a wheelchair, walker or other mobility device. For them, an e-scooter can prevent them from being able to continue along an otherwise-accessible sidewalk. The option of going up on the grass or down onto the road in the path of car traffic may not be accessible, feasible or safe. This is especially so for people with temporary or permanent balance issues.

The sidewalks or other public spaces should not be made available to the private companies who rent e-scooters as free parking spaces, fully subsidized by the taxpayer. It would not be good enough for the Government to try to regulate where the scooters are left, e.g. by setting regulations that they not block the sidewalk. This would be very hard to enforce, since police are not on the scene wherever these e-scooters would be left. To the contrary, there needs to be a strict ban in place precluding them ever being left in the sidewalk, given the experiences of which we have learned in other jurisdictions.

Beyond the foregoing concerns, the rental model presents other safety risks. Under that model, a person could go into a bar, drink to excess, walk outside, look on their smart phone’s e-scooter app, and quickly find a nearby e-scooter to ride. That would expose the public to added risks. As it is, drunk driving is a troubling problem in our society that leads to deaths and serious injuries. Our Government should not expose the public to any more such risks.

Were an intoxicated person to walk into a car rental office and try to rent a car, they would have to deal with a human being, who no doubt would refuse to hand over the car keys. In the case of renting e-scooters via an app, there is no comparable control at the source, such as a sales person, to prevent this.

It is no answer to say that drunk driving is already illegal. We already know that that law is too often disobeyed, with innocent people paying the price with permanent injuries or their lives. The Government should not make e-scooters available, increasing that risk.

Recommendation #2

The rental of e-scooters should be strictly forbidden, even if private ownership of an e-scooter by a user of that e-scooter were to be permitted.

Recommendation #3

There should be a strict ban on leaving an e-scooter in a public sidewalk or like location. If an e-scooter is left in such a place, it should be subject to immediate confiscation as well as a strict penalty.

Require Beeping Sound from E-Scooters When Powered On

E-scooters are very quiet, if not silent, when being operated. It presents a significant safety risk for a virtually silent e-scooter to be hurtling towards a blind person at 32 kph. This is so whether the e-scooter is being driven on a road, or on a sidewalk) (where they are supposedly not to be permitted). They pose a similar risk to a sighted pedestrian who can hear, but who is not looking in the direction from which the e-scooter is coming.

Recommendation #4

If e-scooters are to be permitted in Ontario, they should be required to make an ongoing beeping sound when they are powered on, to warn others of their approach.

Reduce the Maximum Speed Well Below 32 KPH

The faster an e-scooter goes, the less time its driver or a pedestrian has to avoid a collision. Moreover, the fast the e-scooter goes, the greater the potential harm caused by a collision.

There is no magic reason why an e-scooter should be allowed to travel at 32 KPH, just because e-bikes are allowed to go at that speed.

The Ontario Government should study the options for speed limits from other jurisdictions to determine the safest maximum speed, before embarking on any pilot project. A considerably slower speed limit should be set. It can always be raised later, if that is justified.

Recommendation #5

The speed limit for e-scooters should initially be set much lower than 32 KPH, such as 15 or 20 KPH, until a strong showing can be made that a higher speed limit poses no safety threat to the public.

Require That an E-scooter Driver Have a License and Proper Training

Because an e-scooter is a motor vehicle which can cause significant personal injuries to innocent pedestrians, a person should be required to get a license before they can drive an e-scooter. To qualify to get a license, a person should have to take appropriate training and show sufficient proficiency, including sufficient knowledge about the rules of the road and the threat to personal injuries that an e-scooter can cause.

Recommendation #6

A person wishing to drive an e-scooter should be required to first take required training on its safe operation and on the rules of the road, and then to obtain a license.

E-Scooters Should Be Licensed and Display a License Plate Number

It is important for each e-scooter to be licensed, and to display a license plate number, as is required for cars and motorcycles. This will make it far, far easier to enforce the law in case a person, driving an e-scooter, collides with a pedestrian, and then flees the scene. Without such a license requirement, it may well be impossible for an injured pedestrian to effectively identify the e-scooter that hit them, and thereby, to trace the driver in question.

Recommendation #7

Each e-scooter should be required to be licensed and to display a readily-seen license plate number.

The E-scooter’s Owner and Driver Should Be Required to Carry Valid Insurance

It is widely recognized that motor vehicles pose a risk to personal injury of other motorists and pedestrians. As a result, both the owner and driver of a motor vehicle are required to carry liability insurance. It is an offence to fail to carry proper insurance.

The same should be so for the owner and driver of an e-scooter. It is important for both to be insured, as is the case for other motor vehicles such as cars and trucks, so an injured victim can recover compensation from either or both, if injured.

This is especially important where, as here, it is known that e-scooters can pose a real risk of personal injury. The victims of such injuries, and the taxpayers who pay for our health system, should not be left holding the bag when it comes to the consequences of the use of e-scooters.

Recommendation #8

The owner and driver of an e-scooter should be required to carry sufficient liability insurance for injuries or other damages that the e-scooter causes to others.

Helmets Should Be Required for All E-Scooter Drivers, No Matter What Their Age Is

The use of an e-scooter can result in injuries to the driver, and not just to innocent pedestrians. This obviously can include head injuries.

A helmet is an important safety measure to at least try to reduce some of the harmful impacts on the driver of a fall from the e-scooter. Yet the Ford Government is only proposing during its pilot project to require an e-scooter driver to wear a helmet if they are between the ages of 16 and 18.

Yet people older than 18 are equally exposed to the risk of head injuries. This creates an undue risk of increased injuries to drivers. That is bad for the drivers themselves and their families. It also creates an unnecessary and unfair burden for the taxpayer, who will have to cover the health and other social safety net costs of those injuries to the e-scooter drivers.

Recommendation #9

All e-scooter drivers, regardless of their age, should be required to wear a helmet whenever operating an e-scooter.

If There Is to Be a Pilot Period with E-scooters, It Should Be Much Shorter Than Five Years and For A Smaller Part of Ontario

The Ford Government is proposing an e-scooter pilot project for the entirety of Ontario, to last fully five years. There is serious reason to doubt whether the Government means this as a pilot project. It appears far more likely that the Government means for this to be a way to embed e-scooters as a done deal, a permanent fixture in Ontario. After five years, the Government may well be hoping that it will be much harder to reduce or eliminate them, if already entrenched around Ontario. We anticipate that this is a real problem facing those jurisdictions that have already allowed e-scooters to proliferate, and that now have serious concerns about their impact.

There is no reason for a pilot project to last for a long five years. A much shorter period is warranted, in order to assess their impact. This is so especially since there are other jurisdictions which have already in effect served as a pilot project for Ontario. They have allowed e-scooters, with all the accompanying problems. As noted earlier, Ontario should study their impact in those other jurisdictions first, rather than exposing Ontarians to the risk of personal injury. Only if that study reveals that e-scooters can be safely introduced in Ontario should a pilot project be conducted in Ontario.

If a pilot project is to take place in Ontario, it should be conducted for a far shorter period, such as six months. A proper assessment of their impact should be assigned to an arms-length organization with expertise in public safety.

There is no reason why a pilot project should take place across the entirety of Ontario. Instead, a specific region or community should be selected. That community should first be given the right to consent or reject the proposal on behalf of its citizens.

Recommendation #10

No e-scooter pilot project should be held in Ontario until the Ontario Government effectively studies the impact on public safety of e-scooters in jurisdictions that have allowed them, and on options for regulatory controls of them, and has made the details of these public. A pilot project should only be held in Ontario if public safety can be fully and effectively protected.

Recommendation #11

If Ontario is to hold an e-scooter pilot project, it should only take place for a period much shorter than five years, e.g. six months, and should only take place in a specific community that has consented to permit that pilot project there.

Recommendation #12

If Ontario is to hold an e-scooter pilot project, the Ontario Government should retain a trusted independent organization with expertise in public safety to study the impact of e-scooters during that pilot project, and to make the full results of that study public.

A Ban on Riding E-scooters on Sidewalks Is Insufficient to Address Public Safety Concerns

To address the safety and accessibility concerns in this brief, it would be insufficient to simply ban the riding of e-scooters on sidewalks. e-scooters present safety issues on public roads, not just on sidewalks. Moreover, it will be extremely difficult if not impossible to effectively police a ban on e-scooters on sidewalks. Even though bicycles are not supposed to be ridden on public sidewalks, pedestrians know that a good number of cyclists nevertheless ride their bikes on sidewalks from time to time, without much fear of law enforcement.

Moreover, especially if an e-scooter is not licensed and does not bear a plainly visible license plate number, it would too often be hard if not impossible for an injured pedestrian to report to police on someone who unlawfully rode an e-scooter on the sidewalk. It will be hard if not impossible to reliably identify the offender in a way that will stand up in court. Eyewitness identification evidence is notoriously hard to present in court.

Recommendation #13

The Government should not treat a ban on riding e-scooters on the sidewalk as a sufficient protection against the threat to public safety that e-scooters present.

There Should Be No Comparable Restrictions on Powered Scooters Used as a Mobility Aid for People with Disabilities

We emphasize that in raising these concerns with e-scooters, nothing should be done to restrict the current availability and use of powered scooters as a mobility aid for people with various disabilities. These are not in the same class of vehicle as e-scooters, addressed in this brief. They do not present the concerns raised in this brief. As we understand it, they do not travel at the kinds of speeds that an e-scooter can travel. They are an essential form of adaptive technology for people with disabilities.

Recommendation #14

nothing should be done to reduce the availability or use of powered mobility devices used by people with disabilities.

There Are Important Differences Between E-bikes and E-scooters

It would be wrong for the Government to proceed on the basis that it should allow e-scooters since it allows e-bikes, for several reasons. First, if, as we have shown, e-scooters present a safety risk, that safety risk neither magically vanishes nor in any way reduces just because Ontario now allows e-bikes.

Second, there are some important differences between the two. A person cannot ride an e-bike unless they already know how to ride a bike. In contrast, a person with no prior experience can, in some other jurisdictions, pay a rental fee, hop on an e-scooter, and immediately start racing in public at 32 KPH. As well, we are not aware of any companies that rent e-bikes on the terms used elsewhere for e-scooters, where they are regularly left as barriers in the middle of sidewalks.

Because this e-scooter consultation has been so rushed, we have not had a sufficient opportunity to explore the full ramifications of e-bikes beyond this. This is yet another reason why this hasty public consultation should be withdrawn or lengthened.

We also emphasize that there are key differences between an e-scooter and a non-motorized bicycle. While some can ride a bike quite fast, a novice cannot simply hop on a bike and race at 32 KPH. Moreover, a regular bike is not a motor vehicle. An e-scooter is a motor vehicle.

Appendix 1 The Ford Government’s 48-Hour Pre-Labour Day Public Consultation on Allowing Electric Scooters in Ontario

Originally posted at https://www.ontariocanada.com/registry/view.do?postingId=30207&language=en

Kick Style Electric Scooter (E-Scooter)

 

Background:

 

The Ministry of Transportation (MTO) is strongly committed to promoting the highest standards of safety for all Ontarians who travel on our roads, including drivers, cyclists, and pedestrians, and will continue working with all our partners on measures that enhance this objective. Trends and technology are evolving, with new forms of vehicles such as e-scooters entering the market.

MTO is interested in new and environmentally-friendly vehicles, however it is important that new vehicles are constructed with appropriate safety features to allow safe integration with all other road users.

MTO is considering the following proposal and invites you to submit your comments for consideration.

E-Scooters

 

E-scooters have been launched in more than 125 cities across the United States. They represent a new way for residents to get around their communities, are seen as providing first and last mile connections to transit, and represent an opportunity to reduce traffic congestion.

E-scooters are currently not permitted to operate on roads in Ontario as they do not meet any federal or provincial safety standards for on-road use. These devices may only be operated where Ontario’s Highway Traffic Act (HTA) does not apply such as private property.

The ministry is interested in exploring the feasibility of these vehicles safely integrating with other road users while promoting road safety and fostering business innovation in the province.

 

MTO is soliciting public comment on potentially permitting the use of e-scooters on roads in Ontario as part of a pilot project. This will allow the ministry to ensure e-scooters can be safely integrated with other road users before a final, permanent, regulatory decision is made.

 

 

 

Proposed E-Scooter Pilot Framework:

 

Pilot Duration:

The length of the pilot will be for a prescribed period of 5 years, to ensure sufficient time to effectively monitor and evaluate the pilot results.

 

Operator/Rider/Vehicle Requirements Include:

 

  • Can operate on-road similar to where bicycles can operate; prohibited on controlled access highways
  • Minimum operating age 16
  • Bicycle helmet required for those under 18 years old
  • No passengers allowed
  • Maximum operating speed 32 km/h
  • No pedals or seat allowed
  • Must have 2 wheels and brakes
  • Maximum wheel diameter 17 inches
  • Must have horn or bell
  • Must have front and back light
  • Maximum weight 45kg and Maximum power output 500W

Data Collection:

 

  • Municipalities to remit data to the province, as requested

 

Appendix 2 The New York Times September 4, 2019

Originally posted at https://www.nytimes.com/2019/09/04/technology/san-diego-electric-scooters.html?smid=nytcore-ios-share

Welcome to San Diego. Don’t Mind the Scooters.

A year ago, electric rental scooters were hailed as the next big thing in transportation. But their troubles in San Diego show how the services have now hit growing pains.

Companies distribute scooters around cities, often on sidewalks. In the area around Mission Beach, one of San Diego’s main beaches, 70 scooters lined a single side of one block in July. By

Erin Griffith

Sept. 4, 2019

SAN DIEGO — The first thing you notice in San Diego’s historic Gaslamp Quarter is not the brick sidewalks, the rows of bars and the roving gaggles of bachelorette parties and conferencegoers, or even the actual gas lamps.

It’s the electric rental scooters. Hundreds are scattered around the sidewalks, clustered in newly painted corrals on the street and piled up in the gutters. In early July, one corner alone had 37. In the area around Mission Beach, one of the city’s main beaches, a single side of one block had 70. Most sat unused.

Since scooter rental companies like Bird, Lime, Razor, Lyft and Uber-owned Jump moved into San Diego last year, inflating the city’s scooter population to as many as 40,000 by some estimates, the vehicles have led to injuries, deaths, lawsuits and vandals. Regulators and local activists have pushed back against them. One company has even started collecting the vehicles to help keep the sidewalks clear.

“My constituents hate them pretty universally,” said Barbara Bry, a San Diego City Council member. She called for a moratorium on the scooters when they arrived, saying they clogged sidewalks and were a danger to pedestrians.

San Diego’s struggle to contain the havoc provides a glimpse of how reality has set in for scooter companies like Bird and Lime. Last year, the services were hailed as the next big thing in personal transportation. Investors poured money into the firms, valuing Bird at $2.3 billion and Lime at $2.4 billion and prompting an array of followers.

At the end of a rental period, a rider leaves the scooter for the next customer to retrieve. CreditTara Pixley for The New York Times

The scooter companies distribute their electric vehicles around cities and universities — often on sidewalks — and rent them by the minute via apps. At the end of a rental period, a rider leaves the scooter for the next customer to retrieve. Scooter speeds vary by company, model and city, as do helmet laws, although helmets generally are not required.

But now, skepticism about scooter services is rising. Some cities, including San Francisco, Paris, Atlanta and Portland, Ore., have imposed stricter regulations on scooter speed limits, parking or nighttime riding. Columbia, S.C., has temporarily banned them. New York recently passed legislation that would allow scooters to operate in some parts of New York City, but not in Manhattan.

Safety has become a big issue. A three-month study published in May from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Public Health and Transportation Departments of Austin, Tex., found that for every 100,000 scooter rides, 20 people were injured. Nearly half of the injuries were to the head; 15 percent of those showed evidence of traumatic brain injury.

Bird, Lime and Skip are trying to secure new funding, according to three people familiar with the talks, who declined to be identified because the discussions were not finished. In May, Lime replaced its chief executive; several other top executives also left. And in July, Bird’s chief executive called a report about the company’s losses “fake.”

Scooters are “a fun and convenient mode of transportation that really does put people at risk and introduces significant spatial challenges to the civic commons,” said Adie Tomer, a metropolitan policy fellow at the Brookings Institution. “Those tensions are not going anywhere anytime soon.”

Bird declined to comment.

Many scooter companies miscalculated how long the scooters would last — often not long enough for rental fees to cover their costs — and are struggling with profitability, acknowledged Sanjay Dastoor, Skip’s chief executive. His company has designed a way to produce more durable scooters that can be repaired more easily and last long enough to turn a profit, he said, allowing it to “run a safe fleet that we are proud of.”

Lindsey Haswell, Lime’s head of communications, said new industries often faced regulatory challenges, “but our investors are willing to take the long view.” She added that the issues in San Diego did not reflect the global scooter market. Lime has provided more than three million trips in San Diego, she said, and has “as many supporters as we have detractors” there.

Hans Tung, an investor at GGV, which has backed Lime, said he was encouraged by the company’s progress and was confident it would make its scooters safe and profitable. “I don’t see how that couldn’t be achieved,” he said.

Bird and Lime deployed their scooters in San Diego in February 2018, followed by other companies. The start-ups pitched themselves as environmentally friendly, a message that jibed with San Diego’s goal to reduce greenhouse emissions.

San Diego initially took a hands-off approach. The scooters became popular, with an average of 30,000 riders per day, according to city officials.

“Millennials and post-millennials want to live in a thriving, bustling city that has dynamic choices for mobility,” said Erik Caldwell, San Diego’s deputy head of operations for smart and sustainable communities.

But as more scooters flooded San Diego last summer, local business owners and residents began objecting. Alex Stennet, a bouncer at Coyote Ugly Saloon in the Gaslamp District, said people tripped over the vehicles and threw them around. He said he had witnessed at least 20 scooter accidents in front of Coyote Ugly.

ScootScoop has deals with 250 local businesses to remove scooters; it has towed more than 12,500. CreditTara Pixley for The New York Times

Dan Borelli, who owns a bike rental shop called Boardwalk Electric Rides in Pacific Beach, said the scooters frequently blocked the entrance to his store. In July 2018, he teamed up with John Heinkel, owner of a local towing company, to haul away scooters that they deemed to be parked on private property. They charge Bird, Lime and others a retrieval fee of $50 per scooter, plus $2 for each day of storage.

Their company, ScootScoop, has essentially turned them into scooter bounty hunters. They said they have struck deals with 250 local businesses and hotels and have towed more than 12,500 scooters. Some scooter companies have paid to get them back, they said.

In March, Lime and Bird sued Mr. Borelli and Mr. Heinkel for the scooter removals. ScootScoop countersued Bird and Lime last week.

Other cities have called ScootScoop for advice, Mr. Borelli said. Mr. Heinkel said the scooter companies underestimated them. “They assumed we were two hillbillies in a pickup truck, as opposed to business owners,” he said.

Lime’s Ms. Haswell said Mr. Borelli and Mr. Heinkel “are opportunistic businessmen who troll the streets stealing scooters, with no respect for the law, trying to make a profit at San Diego’s expense.”

Late last year, the scooters turned from annoyances into hazards. In December, a man in Chula Vista, a San Diego suburb, died after he was hit by a car while riding a Bird scooter, according to the Chula Vista Police Department. A tourist died a few months later after crashing his rental scooter into a tree. Another visitor died of “blunt force torso trauma” after his scooter collided with another, the San Diego Police Department said.

The department said it counted 15 “serious injury collisions” involving scooters in the first half of this year. Last month, three separate scooter-related skull fractures happened in one week.

On one day in July, there were 150 available Bird scooters within a two-block radius in Mission Beach.CreditTara Pixley for The New York Times

Scooter parking corrals were introduced in July as part of San Diego’s new rules.CreditTara Pixley for The New York Times

As the injuries piled up, Safe Walkways, an activist group, amassed hundreds of members in a Facebook group to oppose the scooters and file complaints to government agencies. In April, around 50 protesters gathered on Mission Beach’s boardwalk with signs bearing messages like “Safety Not Scooters” and “BoardWALK.”

Lawsuits have also piled up. Clients of Matthew Souther, an attorney at Neil Dymott, filed a potential class action suit in March that accused Bird, Lime and the City of San Diego of not complying with disability rights laws to keep sidewalks clear. He said he was working on a dozen other injury lawsuits against scooter companies.

San Diego has started cracking down on the scooters. In July, the city enacted rules restricting where they could be parked and driven and issued permits for 20,000 scooters, across all companies, to operate. In three days that month, authorities impounded 2,500 scooters that violated parking rules. San Diego later sent notices of violations to Bird, Lyft, Lime and Skip.

Last month, San Diego told Lime that it planned to revoke its permit to operate in the city because of the violations, pending a hearing.

Christina Chadwick, a spokeswoman for San Diego’s mayor, Kevin Faulconer, said the scooter operators had been warned that the city would aggressively monitor them.

To deal with critics and improve safety and costs, the scooter companies have upgraded their fleets with sturdier scooters. Bird has said its Bird Zero model, which makes up a majority of its fleet, lasts an average of 10 months, compared with three months for past models. Skip recently announced a scooter with modular parts, which makes repairs easier.

And after a year recalling scooters with cracked baseboards and batteries that caught fire, Lime has introduced new vehicles with bigger wheels and baseboards, as well as interchangeable batteries and parts.

Ms. Haswell said Lime was eager to show the progress it had made. “We admit that we haven’t always gotten it right in San Diego,” she said.

Erin Griffith reports on technology start-ups and venture capital from the San Francisco bureau. Before joining The Times she was a senior writer at WIRED and Fortune. @eringriffith

A version of this article appears in print on Sept. 4, 2019, Section B, Page 1 of the New York edition with the headline: San Diego’s Scooter Tryout Gets Off to a Bumpy Start.

 



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Is Taxi Surcharge to Fund Accessible Cab Subsidy ‘Too Little, too Late’?


Megan Stacey
Updated: September 5, 2019

The head of the industry association calls it a “cesspool of problems.”

But the owner of a taxi company says it’s long overdue, and an accessibility advocate says it’s a start.

A new proposal from city hall to slap a five-cent fee on every taxi ride to pay for accessible cab subsidies an idea one driver says is sure to “open big, big drama” is earning mixed reviews.

“I’m all in for any kind of improvement to accessible transportation,” said Jacqueline Madden, head of city hall’s accessibility advisory committee, though she stressed people who use paratransit or accessible cabs need to be the focus of any changes.

The $5 subsidy part of a proposal in a city hall report going to politicians next week, which suggests flowing that money directly to drivers, not cab companies might not create any savings for riders, Madden said, suggesting the incentive program would best support “rich people with disabilities.”

And the five cent fee that may be added to all taxi rides to fund those subsidies didn’t go over well with the president of the London Taxi Association, who said it would turn brokers into tax collectors and pull more money out of drivers’ pockets.

“You’re wading into a very deep cesspool of problems,” Jason Kukurudziak said.

He agrees with city staff about the overarching problem: converting vehicles into accessible taxis is expensive, a venture that easily costs tens of thousands of dollars.

The goal of the city hall program is to provide an incentive that could encourage more accessible cabs on the road.

But Kukurudziak and other taxi representatives train their anger on the sky-high cost of running paratransit a bill the city helps foot while taxis are left to “pick up the slack.” The price for Voyageur to provide that service, a $6 million contract that’s up for renewal, has risen 13.6 per cent since the last five-year contract. And it’s still fraught with problems for users, who have to call three days in advance to book a trip.

“Maybe some of that money we’re spending on the existing service should (go) to help the cab driver operating these vans. It would take a great strain off them. Then, you’re more on par with running a standard taxi,” Kukurudziak said.

The problem, according to city staff, is that provincial rules restrict city hall from offering direct financial support to the industry, such as grants to get into the accessible taxi business.

“In the City of Calgary, there are incentive programs there where cab companies, vehicle-for-hire companies, can come into the city and obtain $5,000 a year to upgrade or maintain their vehicle. Under Ontario legislation, that’s just not an option,” said city hall official Nicole Musicco.

“We’re unable to write a cheque, or give a loan, for upgrades or conversions to accessible vehicles.”

That’s why the proposal suggests directing a subsidy straight to accessible taxi drivers.

Fateh Bander, who drives with Green Taxi a company that has many accessible taxis on the road says the proposed city hall incentive program is too little, too late.

He’s in favour of a subsidy, and in fact, says Green Taxi drivers have been asking for help for years. Costs to run accessible cabs are rising including insurance and his company nearly had to take them off the road.

Instead, starting Sept. 1, Green Taxi added a flat $10 fee to every accessible cab ride, he said, arguing accessible cabs have been subsidizing customers.

“We discussed this for almost two years. Too many meetings with managers, with city councillors, but nothing happens. Nothing,” he said.

“We’re not going to wait for the city. We’re going to do our own process (by adding a $10 fee). Why would we serve the rest of the city for nothing?”

City hall began asking for public feedback on accessible taxis just last week, consultation that’s still underway. The proposal for a five-cent fee and five-dollar subsidy is an early one, city staff say, and it still has to be vetted by the city’s legal department.

The report headed to politicians next week it goes to the community and protective services committee on Tuesday recommends scheduling a public meeting so Londoners can weigh in on the proposal.

[email protected]

twitter.com/MeganatLFPress

Original at https://lfpress.com/news/local-news/is-taxi-surcharge-to-fund-accessible-cab-subsidy-too-little-too-late






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The Ford Government Admits It Planned a “Compromise of Road Safety” and the Opportunity for Businesses to Expand When It designed Its Controversial Proposed 5-Year Pilot to Allow Motorized Electric Scooters on Ontario Roads, According to a Media Report – Yet The Government Should Never Compromise On Public Safety


Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance Update

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

www.aodaalliance.org [email protected] Twitter: @aodaalliance

The Ford Government Admits It Planned a “Compromise of Road Safety” and the Opportunity for Businesses to Expand When It designed Its Controversial Proposed 5-Year Pilot to Allow Motorized Electric Scooters on Ontario Roads, According to a Media Report – Yet The Government Should Never Compromise On Public Safety

September 3, 2019

          SUMMARY

According to a troubling CityTV report, the Doug Ford Government admitted it had compromised between protecting public safety on the one hand, and advancing business opportunities and consumer choice on the other, when it designed its controversial proposal to permit electric scooters in Ontario for a 5-year pilot. The Ford Government tried to hold a meager 2-day public consultation on this proposal last week, on the eve of the Labour Day weekend when it is well-known that many are away on holidays. After the AODA Alliance and others in the disability community publicly objected and the media took interest in the story, the Ford Government backed down, and extended this consultation by a short two additional weeks.

The August 30, 2019 City TV television news story that aired in Toronto in the evening news revealed this troubling new information, and included a comment by AODA Alliance Chair David Lepofsky on it:

“We reached out to the Ministry of Transportation, who told City News in a statement: the proposed pilot project is another example of how the province is helping businesses expand and give consumers more choice. When asked why the project is set to last a long five years, it said: ‘This proposed time line creates a compromise between road safety and access for businesses and consumers. If approved, the five year pilot will take a measured approach that will promote road safety, foster business innovation and open the Ontario market to this new and growing sector.’”

But Lepofsky fears the Government is prioritizing business over safety.

(Quotation from David Lepofsky in the news story) “the Government’s obligation is to protect public safety, not to decide, well, we’ll do some compromise between making sure people don’t get hurt and making sure other people can make some more money.”

We add the following to that news report’s disturbing revelation:

“We’ve called on the Ford Government to put the brakes on this proposal and to ensure that there is no risk to public safety, before even contemplating any pilot project with electric scooters,” said AODA Alliance Chair David Lepofsky. “The Government must never compromise on the safety of the public, such as vulnerable people with disabilities, especially when it does so in the interests of some businesses wishing to expand into Ontario. Public Safety must always come first, and its protection should be unremitting and uncompromising.”

Now that it has been revealed that the Government’s ill-conceived pilot project was based on an unacceptable compromise on public safety, the proposed pilot project should be withdrawn. The Government should go right back to the drawing board.

This pilot project raises safety concerns for the entire public, but Ontarians with disabilities are especially vulnerable to this safety risk. E-scooters are motor vehicles, pure and simple. At a bare minimum, e-scooters, like other motor vehicles, should have to be licensed. Their drivers should also have to be licensed, only after they have completed needed and specific training. Both the driver and the motor vehicle should have to carry sufficient insurance. Their other risks should be subject to strict safety regulations.

The Government’s proposal to allow e-scooters has secured important media coverage. For example, the article by the Canadian Press, set out below, appeared in the August 31, 2019 Toronto Star as well as a number of other publications.

The AODA Alliance is hurrying to prepare a submission to the Ford Government’s rushed public consultation, and is gathering feedback from the disability community. Feedback can be sent to the AODA Alliance by email at [email protected] or tweeted on Twitter to @aodaalliance

The Ford Government’s rush to deal with its proposal to allow e-scooters stands in troubling contrast to its long delay in addressing the serious barriers that over 2 million Ontarians with disabilities still face. There have been 216 days, or over seven months, since the Ford Government received the final report of the Independent Review of the implementation of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, conducted by former Lieutenant Governor David Onley. The Doug Ford Government has announced no plan of action to implement the Onley report.

The Onley report found that Ontario remains full of “soul-crushing” barriers against Ontarians with disabilities, and that Government action to redress these has been far too inadequate. The AODA Alliance is deeply concerned that the Government’s e-scooter proposal risks creating even more barriers impeding people with disabilities, such as the blight of e-scooters being left to block public sidewalks that has reportedly been a problem in other places where they are permitted. That would present a serious barrier, for example, to blind people and people using wheelchairs on public sidewalks.

The AODA Alliance is spearheading a “Dial Doug” campaign. It is urging members of the public to call or email Premier Doug Ford, and to ask him where is his plan to ensure that Ontario becomes accessible to people with disabilities by 2025. The Ford Government repeatedly says it is focusing on the things that matter the most to Ontarians. We urge the public to call the Premier to remind him that uncompromising protection of public safety matters the most to Ontarians!

Doug Ford’s office number is +1 (416) 325-1941. His email address is [email protected]

Action tips on how to take part in the #DialDoug blitz are available at https://www.aodaalliance.org/whats-new/join-in-our-new-dial-doug-campaign-a-grassroots-blitz-unveiled-today-to-get-the-doug-ford-government-to-make-ontario-open-for-over-1-9-million-ontarians-with-disabilities/

          MORE DETAILS

The Toronto Star August 31, 2019

Originally posted at https://www.thestar.com/news/canada/2019/08/30/disability-advocates-raise-concerns-over-ontario-plan-to-let-e-scooters-on-roads.html

News

E-scooters concern disability advocates

Experts say trial program poses significant risks and requires more study

Shawn Jeffords The Canadian Press

A proposed five-year pilot program that would see e-scooters allowed onto Ontario’s roads poses significant safety risks that need more in-depth consideration

than the government is allowing, advocates for disabled residents said Friday.

The Ministry of Transportation floated the idea this week of legalizing e-scooters and allowing them to be driven anywhere a bicycle can operate. The two-wheeled

motorized vehicles are currently illegal to operate anywhere other than private property.

The government’s proposal states that the scooters currently fall short of existing federal and safety regulations.

The government initially offered the public 48 hours in which to weigh in on the proposal, but later extended the deadline to Sept. 12. Accessibility advocates

said the extension still doesn’t allow enough time for meaningful feedback on a plan that poses risks to the disabled and non-disabled alike.

“These scooters are motor vehicles driven in a public space by someone who is not licensed, they don’t have a licence plate and are not insured,” said

David Lepofsky, a longtime advocate and chair of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance. “This presents a safety issue for the

entire public.”

The government sets out a series of rules for the proposed pilot but does not provide a potential start date.

Prospective rules for drivers include a minimum age of 16 and a ban on carrying passengers. The e-scooters cannot exceed a maximum operating speed of 32

km/h, the proposal said. They must also have a horn or bell, front and back lights, and cannot weigh more than 45 kilograms.

Lui Greco, a spokesperson for the CNIB Foundation, which advocates for the blind or people living with vision loss, said that organization was relieved

when Mulroney announced the extended consultation period.

The rules spelled out in the government’s proposal don’t take into account the potential for the vehicles to be improperly driven on sidewalks, he said,

calling such misuse inevitable and noting it poses particular risks for the blind.

“If you’re a person with poor or no sight and something comes at you at 32 km/h on the sidewalk, how quickly are you going to be able to react?” he said.

Greco said some North American cities have legalized e-scooter sharing services and urged the province to consult with those municipalities before proceeding

any further.

Figure:

Currently illegal on Ontario streets, the province is considering allowing e-scooters to be driven anywhere a bicycle can operate. ROBYN BECKAFP/GETTY



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