What Pledges Will the Federal Party Leaders Make in This Election to Make Canada Accessible for Over 6 Million People with Disabilities?


Federal NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh Is First National Leader to Write the AODA Alliance to Pledge to Strengthen the Accessible Canada Act

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

September 19, 2019 Toronto: In the federal election, the NDP is the first federal party to write the AODA Alliance to commit to strengthen the recently-enacted Accessible Canada Act (ACA), and to ensure that public money is never used to create barriers against over six million people with disabilities. In its July 18, 2019 letter to the major party leaders, the non-partisan AODA Alliance requested 11 specific commitments to strengthen the ACA and to ensure its swift and effective implementation and enforcement. (Summary of 11 requests set out below). On September 16, 2019, NDP leader Jagmeet Singh became the first, and to date, the only federal leader to answer this request. In the NDP’s letter, set out below, Mr. Singh makes several of the commitments the AODA Alliance sought.

“We’ve gotten commitments from NDP leader Jagmeet Singh, so now we aim to get the other federal party leaders to meet or beat those commitments,” said AODA Alliance Chair David Lepofsky. “We and other disability advocates together got the Accessible Canada Act introduced into Parliament, and then got it strengthened somewhat over the past year before it was passed in June. It has helpful ingredients, but is too weak. We are seeking commitments to ensure that this law gets strengthened, and that it is swiftly and effectively implemented and enforced.”

In Parliament, the Liberals have made promising statements about what the new law would achieve for people with disabilities. Commitments are now sought to turn those statements into assured action.

Even though Parliament unanimously passed the ACA, the federal parties were substantially divided on whether it went far enough to meet the needs of people with disabilities. The Tories, NDP and Greens argued in Parliament for the bill to be made stronger, speaking on behalf of diverse voices from the disability community. Last year, the Liberals voted down most of the proposed opposition amendments that were advanced on behalf of people with disabilities.

Last spring, the Senate called for new measures to ensure that public money is never used to create new barriers against people with disabilities. The ACA does not ensure this.

Among the disability organizations that are raising disability issues in this election, the AODA Alliance is spearheading a blitz to help the grassroots press these issues on the hustings, in social media and at all-candidates’ debates. The AODA Alliance is tweeting candidates across Canada to solicit their commitments and will make public any commitments that the other party leaders make. Follow @aodaalliance. As a non-partisan effort, the AODA Alliance does not support or oppose any party or candidate.

The AODA Alliance is also calling on the Federal Government and Elections Canada to ensure for the first time that millions of voters with disabilities can vote in this election without fearing that they may encounter accessibility barriers in the voting process.

Contact: David Lepofsky, [email protected] Twitter: @aodaalliance
For background on the AODA Alliance ‘s participation in the grassroots non-partisan campaign since 2015 for the Accessible Canada Act, visit www.aodaalliance.org/canada

September 16, 2019 Letter to the AODA Alliance from NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh

From: Jagmeet Singh
Date: September 16, 2019 at 10:54:40 AM EDT
To: “[email protected]
Subject: RE: Seeking All Parties’ election commitments on accessibility for people with disabilities

Thank you for the opportunity to contribute to your questionnaire.

Please find the NDP’s response attached.

All the best,

NDP Team

Attachment: NDP Response: Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance

1. Will you enact or amend legislation to require the Federal Government, the CTA
and the CRTC to enact regulations to set accessibility standards in all the areas that the ACA covers within four years? If not, will you commit that those regulations will be enacted under the ACA within four years?

We can do much more to make Canada an inclusive and barrier-free place. As a start, New Democrats will uphold the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and strengthen the Accessibility Act to cover all federal agencies equally with the power to make accessibility standards in a timely manner.

The NDP made multiple attempts to include implementation of timelines. During Committee meetings of Persons Living with Disabilities, the Government was presented with overwhelming unanimity on the part of the leading experts and stakeholder groups in the country as to which parts of the bill needed amending. The amendments proposed by us aligned with the leading experts’ proposals. The Government brought no one forward to rebut this testimony. They listened but rejected almost all of the amendments brought forward by the opposition parties. A New Democrat government will work hard to enact regulations to set accessibility standards in a timely fashion.

2. Will your party commit to ensure that the ACA is effectively enforced?

Yes, it’s critical to ensure that the ACA is effectively enforced. Once again, the NDP made multiple attempts to ensure the ACA is effectively enforced. During Committee, the Government was presented with overwhelming unanimity on the part of the leading experts and stakeholder groups in the country as to which parts of the bill needed amending. The amendments proposed by us were taken from their proposals. The Government brought no one forward to rebut
this testimony. They listened but rejected almost all of the amendments brought forward by the opposition parties.

3. Will your party ensure by legislation, and if not, then by public policy, that no one will use public money distributed by the Government of Canada in a manner that creates or perpetuates barriers, including e.g., payments by the Government of Canada to any person or entity to purchase or rent any goods, services or facilities, or to contribute to the construction, expansion or renovation of any infrastructure or other capital project, or to provide a business development loan or grant to any person or entity?

The Liberal government missed a sizable opportunity in C-81. Federal money should never used by any recipient to create or perpetuate disability barriers. We proposed such an amendment during committee hearing.

Our ultimate goal is to help foster a society in which all of our citizens are able to participate fully and equally. We believe that this cannot happen
until all of our institutions are open and completely accessible to everyone. The NDP would require that federal public money would never be used to create or perpetuate disability barriers, including federal money received for procurement; infrastructure; transfer payments; research grants; business development loans or grants, or for any other kind of payment, including purpose under a contract.

4. Will your party amend the ACA to provide that if a provision of the ACA or of a regulation enacted under it conflicts with a provision of any other Act or regulation, the provision that provides the highest level of accessibility shall prevail, and that nothing in the ACA or in any regulations enacted under it or in any actions taken under it shall reduce any rights which people with disabilities otherwise enjoy under law?

Yes, if a provision of the Act or of a regulation enacted under it conflicts with a provision of any
other Act or regulation, the provision that provides the highest level of accessibility for persons with disabilities with respect to goods, services, facilities, employment, accommodation, buildings, structures or premises shall prevail.

5. Will your party repeal the offending portion of section 172(3) of the ACA that
reads “but if it does so, it may only require the taking of appropriate corrective measures.”” And replace them with words such as: “and grant a remedy in accordance with subsection 2.”?

We will review section 172(3) of the ACA a take the appropriate corrective measures to make
sure airlines and railways pay monetary compensation in situations where they should have to pay up.

6. Will your party assign all responsibility for the ACA’s enforcement to the Accessibility Commissioner and all responsibility for enacting regulations under the ACA to the Federal Cabinet? If not, then at a minimum, would your party require by legislation or policy that the CRTC, CTA and the Federal Public Sector Labour Relations and Employment Board must, within six months, establish policies, practices and procedures for expeditiously receiving, investigating, considering and deciding upon complaints under this Act which are the same as or
as reasonably close as possible to, those set out for the Accessibility Commissioner?

Yes. The Liberal government`s Bill C-81 wrongly gave several public agencies or officials far too much sweeping power to grant partial or blanket exemptions
to specific organizations from important parts of this bill. C-81 separated enforcement and implementation in a confusing way over four different public agencies. Rather it should be providing people with disabilities with what they need: the single service location or, one-stop shop..
We will assign all responsibility for the ACA’s enforcement to the Accessibility Commissioner and all responsibility for enacting regulations under the ACA to the Federal Cabinet.

7. Will your Party review all federal laws to identify any which require or permit any barriers against people with disabilities, and will your party amend Section 2 of the ACA (definition of “barrier”) to add the words “a law”, so that it will read: “barrier means anything including anything physical, architectural, technological or attitudinal, anything that is based on information or communications or anything that is the result of a law, a policy or a practice that hinders the full and equal participation in society of persons with an impairment, including a physical, mental,
intellectual, cognitive, learning, communication or sensory
impairment or a functional limitation.”

The NDP has long been committed to the rights of persons with disabilities. It has been our longstanding position that all of governmentevery budget,
every policy and regulationshould be viewed through a disability lens. The NDP has supported the establishment of a Canadians with Disabilities Act for many years.

8. Will your party pass legislation or regulations and adopt policies needed to ensure that federal elections become barrier-free for voters and candidates with disabilities.

New Democrats have always fought to remove the barriers keeping persons with disabilities from living with dignity and independence, because when barriers are removed all Canadians are empowered to participate fully in society and we all benefit.

We brought forward amendments to C-81 that require the Accessibility Commissioner to appoint, within 12 months of the bill being enacted, an independent person (with no current or prior involvement in administering elections) to conduct an Independent Review of disability barriers in the election process, with a requirement to consult the public, including persons with disabilities, and to report within 12 months to the Federal Government. Their report should immediately be made public. Additionally, we would require the Federal Government to designate a minister with responsibility to bring forward a bill to reform elections legislation within 12 months of the completion of that Independent Review.

9. Will your Party eliminate or reduce the power to exempt organizations from some of the requirements that the ACA imposes? Such as eliminating the power to exempt the Government of Canada, or a federal department or agency? If not, will your party commit not to grant any exemptions from the ACA?

Nine years ago, Canada ratified the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with
Disabilities (CRPD). Though the Liberal government has tabled a new Accessibility Act, its’ exemptions mean C-81 falls short of meeting Canada’s goal of creating an inclusive and barrier-free country. An NDP government will reduce the power to exempt organizations from some of the requirements that the ACA imposes.

10. Will your party develop and implement a plan to ensure that all federally-operated courts (e.g. the Supreme Court of Canada and Federal Courts), and federally operated regulatory tribunals (like the CRTC and CTA) become accessible.

The amendment we brought forward during the C-81 proceedings would have required the
Minister of Justice, on behalf of the Federal Government, to develop and implement a multi-
year plan to ensure that all federally controlled courts (e.g. the Supreme Court of Canada and
Federal Courts) as well as federally-created administrative tribunals become fully accessible to
court participants with disabilities, by the bill’s accessibility deadline. This should adopt and
build upon the work of the Ontario Courts Accessibility Committee, which oversees efforts on accessibility for provincially-regulated courts in Ontario.

11. Would your party pass the amendments to the ACA which the opposition proposed in the fall of 2018 in the House of Commons, which the Government had defeated, and which would strengthen the ACA?

Absolutely! The Liberals hailed this bill as a historical piece of legislation. But without substantial amendments, it is yet another in a long line of
Liberal half-measures. New Democrats are committed to ensuring that C-81 actually lives up to Liberal Party rhetoric.
Summary of the Election Pledges that the AODA Alliance Sought In Its July 18, 2019 Letter to the Federal Party Leaders

The specific pledges we seek include:

1. Enforceable accessibility standard regulations should be enacted within four years.

2. The ACA should be effectively enforced.

3. Federal public money should never be used to create or perpetuate barriers.

4. The ACA should never reduce the rights of people with disabilities.

5. Section 172(3) of the ACA should be amended to remove its unfair and discriminatory ban on the Canadian Transportation Agency ever awarding monetary compensation to passengers with disabilities who are the victims of an undue barrier in federally-regulated transportation (like air travel), where a CTA regulation wrongly set the accessibility requirements too low.
6. The ACA’s implementation and enforcement should be consolidated in One federal agency, not splintered among several of them.

7. No federal laws should ever create or permit disability barriers.

8. Federal elections should be made accessible to voters with disabilities.

9. Power to exempt organizations from some ACA requirements should be eliminated or reduced.

10. Federally-controlled courts and tribunals should be made disability-accessible.

11. Proposed Opposition amendments to the ACA that were defeated in the House of Commons in 2018 and that would strengthen the ACA should be passed.




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What Pledges Will the Federal Party Leaders Make in This Election to Make Canada Accessible for Over 6 Million People with Disabilities? Federal NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh Is First National Leader to Write the AODA Alliance to Pledge to Strengthen the Accessible Canada Act


ACCESSIBILITY FOR ONTARIANS WITH DISABILITIES ACT ALLIANCE

NEWS RELEASE – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

What Pledges Will the Federal Party Leaders Make in This Election to Make Canada Accessible for Over 6 Million People with Disabilities? Federal NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh Is First National Leader to Write the AODA Alliance to Pledge to Strengthen the Accessible Canada Act

September 19, 2019 Toronto: In the federal election, the NDP is the first federal party to write the AODA Alliance to commit to strengthen the recently-enacted Accessible Canada Act (ACA), and to ensure that public money is never used to create barriers against over six million people with disabilities. In its July 18, 2019 letter to the major party leaders, the non-partisan AODA Alliance requested 11 specific commitments to strengthen the ACA and to ensure its swift and effective implementation and enforcement. (Summary of 11 requests set out below). On September 16, 2019, NDP leader Jagmeet Singh became the first, and to date, the only federal leader to answer this request. In the NDP’s letter, set out below, Mr. Singh makes several of the commitments the AODA Alliance sought.

“We’ve gotten commitments from NDP leader Jagmeet Singh, so now we aim to get the other federal party leaders to meet or beat those commitments,” said AODA Alliance Chair David Lepofsky. “We and other disability advocates together got the Accessible Canada Act introduced into Parliament, and then got it strengthened somewhat over the past year before it was passed in June. It has helpful ingredients, but is too weak. We are seeking commitments to ensure that this law gets strengthened, and that it is swiftly and effectively implemented and enforced.”

In Parliament, the Liberals have made promising statements about what the new law would achieve for people with disabilities. Commitments are now sought to turn those statements into assured action.

Even though Parliament unanimously passed the ACA, the federal parties were substantially divided on whether it went far enough to meet the needs of people with disabilities. The Tories, NDP and Greens argued in Parliament for the bill to be made stronger, speaking on behalf of diverse voices from the disability community. Last year, the Liberals voted down most of the proposed opposition amendments that were advanced on behalf of people with disabilities.

Last spring, the Senate called for new measures to ensure that public money is never used to create new barriers against people with disabilities. The ACA does not ensure this.

Among the disability organizations that are raising disability issues in this election, the AODA Alliance is spearheading a blitz to help the grassroots press these issues on the hustings, in social media and at all-candidates’ debates. The AODA Alliance is tweeting candidates across Canada to solicit their commitments and will make public any commitments that the other party leaders make. Follow @aodaalliance. As a non-partisan effort, the AODA Alliance does not support or oppose any party or candidate.

The AODA Alliance is also calling on the Federal Government and Elections Canada to ensure for the first time that millions of voters with disabilities can vote in this election without fearing that they may encounter accessibility barriers in the voting process.

Contact: David Lepofsky, [email protected] Twitter: @aodaalliance

For background on the AODA Alliance ‘s participation in the grassroots non-partisan campaign since 2015 for the Accessible Canada Act, visit www.aodaalliance.org/canada

September 16, 2019 Letter to the AODA Alliance from NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh

From: Jagmeet Singh <[email protected]>
Date: September 16, 2019 at 10:54:40 AM EDT
To:[email protected]” <[email protected]>
Subject: RE: Seeking All Parties’ election commitments on accessibility for people with disabilities

Thank you for the opportunity to contribute to your questionnaire.

Please find the NDP’s response attached.

All the best,

NDP Team

Attachment: NDP Response:  Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance

  1. Will you enact or amend legislation to require the Federal Government, the CTA

and the CRTC to enact regulations to set accessibility standards in all the areas that

the ACA covers within four years? If not, will you commit that those regulations

will be enacted under the ACA within four years?

We can do much more to make Canada an inclusive and barrier-free place. As a start, New Democrats will uphold the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and strengthen the Accessibility Act to cover all federal agencies equally with the power to make accessibility standards in a timely manner.

The NDP made multiple attempts to include implementation of timelines. During Committee meetings of Persons Living with Disabilities, the Government was presented with overwhelming unanimity on the part of the leading experts and stakeholder groups in the country as to which parts of the bill needed amending. The amendments proposed by us aligned with the leading experts’ proposals. The Government brought no one forward to rebut this testimony. They listened but rejected almost all of the amendments brought forward by the opposition parties. A New Democrat government will work hard to enact regulations to set accessibility standards in a timely fashion.

  1. Will your party commit to ensure that the ACA is effectively enforced?

 

Yes, it’s critical to ensure that the ACA is effectively enforced. Once again, the NDP made multiple attempts to ensure the ACA is effectively enforced. During Committee, the Government was presented with overwhelming unanimity on the part of the leading experts and stakeholder groups in the country as to which parts of the bill needed amending. The amendments proposed by us were taken from their proposals. The Government brought no one forward to rebut

this testimony. They listened but rejected almost all of the amendments brought forward by the opposition parties.

  1. Will your party ensure by legislation, and if not, then by public policy, that no one will use public money distributed by the Government of Canada in a manner that creates or perpetuates barriers, including e.g., payments by the Government of Canada to any person or entity to purchase or rent any goods, services or facilities, or to contribute to the construction, expansion or renovation of any infrastructure or other capital project, or to provide a business development loan or grant to any person or entity?

The Liberal government missed a sizable opportunity in C-81. Federal money should never used by any recipient to create or perpetuate disability barriers. We proposed such an amendment during committee hearing.

Our ultimate goal is to help foster a society in which all of our citizens are able to participate fully and equally. We believe that this cannot happen

until all of our institutions are open and completely accessible to everyone. The NDP would require that federal public money would never be used to create or perpetuate disability barriers, including federal money received for procurement; infrastructure; transfer payments; research grants; business development loans or grants, or for any other kind of payment, including purpose under a contract.

  1. Will your party amend the ACA to provide that if a provision of the ACA or of a regulation enacted under it conflicts with a provision of any other Act or regulation, the provision that provides the highest level of accessibility shall prevail, and that nothing in the ACA or in any regulations enacted under it or in any actions taken under it shall reduce any rights which people with disabilities otherwise enjoy under law?

Yes, if a provision of the Act or of a regulation enacted under it conflicts with a provision of any

other Act or regulation, the provision that provides the highest level of accessibility for persons  with disabilities with respect to goods, services, facilities, employment, accommodation,  buildings, structures or premises shall prevail.

  1. Will your party repeal the offending portion of section 172(3) of the ACA that

reads “but if it does so, it may only require the taking of appropriate corrective

measures.”” And replace them with words such as: “and grant a remedy in

accordance with subsection 2.”?

 

We will review section 172(3) of the ACA a take the appropriate corrective measures to make

sure airlines and railways pay monetary compensation in situations where they should have to

pay up.

  1. Will your party assign all responsibility for the ACA’s enforcement to the Accessibility Commissioner and all responsibility for enacting regulations under the ACA to the Federal Cabinet? If not, then at a minimum, would your party require by legislation or policy that the CRTC, CTA and the Federal Public Sector Labour Relations and Employment Board must, within six months, establish  policies, practices and procedures for expeditiously receiving, investigating,  considering and deciding upon complaints under this Act which are the same as or

as reasonably close as possible to, those set out for the Accessibility  Commissioner?

Yes. The Liberal government`s Bill C-81 wrongly gave several public agencies or officials far too much sweeping power to grant partial or blanket exemptions

to specific organizations from important parts of this bill. C-81 separated enforcement and implementation in a confusing way over four different public agencies. Rather it should be providing people with disabilities with what they need: the single service location or, one-stop shop..

We will assign all responsibility for the ACA’s enforcement to the Accessibility Commissioner and all responsibility for enacting regulations under the

ACA to the Federal Cabinet.

  1. Will your Party review all federal laws to identify any which require or permit any barriers against people with disabilities, and will your party amend Section 2 of the ACA (definition of “barrier”) to add the words “a law”, so that it will read:

“barrier means anything — including anything physical, architectural,

technological or attitudinal, anything that is based on information or

communications or anything that is the result of a law, a policy or a

practice — that hinders the full and equal participation in society of

persons with an impairment, including a physical, mental,

intellectual, cognitive, learning, communication or sensory

impairment or a functional limitation.”

The NDP has long been committed to the rights of persons with disabilities. It has been our longstanding position that all of government—every budget,

every policy and regulation—should be viewed through a disability lens. The NDP has supported the establishment of a Canadians with Disabilities Act for many years.

  1. Will your party pass legislation or regulations and adopt policies needed to ensure that federal elections become barrier-free for voters and candidates with disabilities.

New Democrats have always fought to remove the barriers keeping persons with disabilities from living with dignity and independence, because when barriers are removed all Canadians are empowered to participate fully in society and we all benefit.

We brought forward amendments to C-81 that require the Accessibility Commissioner to appoint, within 12 months of the bill being enacted, an independent person (with no current or prior involvement in administering elections) to conduct an Independent Review of disability barriers in the election process, with a requirement to consult the public, including persons with disabilities, and to report within 12 months to the Federal Government. Their report should immediately be made public. Additionally, we would require the Federal Government to designate a minister with responsibility to bring forward a bill to reform elections legislation within 12 months of the completion of that Independent Review.

  1. Will your Party eliminate or reduce the power to exempt organizations from some of the requirements that the ACA imposes? Such as eliminating the power to exempt the Government of Canada, or a federal department or agency? If not, will your party commit not to grant any exemptions from the ACA?

 

Nine years ago, Canada ratified the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with

Disabilities (CRPD). Though the Liberal government has tabled a new Accessibility Act, its’ exemptions mean C-81 falls short of meeting Canada’s goal of creating an inclusive and barrier-free country. An NDP government will reduce the power to exempt organizations from some of the requirements that the ACA imposes.

 

  1. Will your party develop and implement a plan to ensure that all federally-operated courts (e.g. the Supreme Court of Canada and Federal Courts), and federally operated regulatory tribunals (like the CRTC and CTA) become accessible.

The amendment we brought forward during the C-81 proceedings would have required the

Minister of Justice, on behalf of the Federal Government, to develop and implement a multi-

year plan to ensure that all federally controlled courts (e.g. the Supreme Court of Canada and

Federal Courts) as well as federally-created administrative tribunals become fully accessible to

court participants with disabilities, by the bill’s accessibility deadline. This should adopt and

build upon the work of the Ontario Courts Accessibility Committee, which oversees efforts on

accessibility for provincially-regulated courts in Ontario.

  1. Would your party pass the amendments to the ACA which the opposition proposed in the fall of 2018 in the House of Commons, which the Government had defeated, and which would strengthen the ACA?

 

Absolutely! The Liberals hailed this bill as a historical piece of legislation. But without substantial amendments, it is yet another in a long line of

Liberal half-measures. New Democrats are committed to ensuring that C-81 actually lives up to Liberal Party rhetoric.

Summary of the Election Pledges that the AODA Alliance Sought In Its July 18, 2019 Letter to the Federal Party Leaders

The specific pledges we seek include:

  1. Enforceable accessibility standard regulations should be enacted within four years.
  1. The ACA should be effectively enforced.
  1. Federal public money should never be used to create or perpetuate barriers.
  1. The ACA should never reduce the rights of people with disabilities.
  1. Section 172(3) of the ACA should be amended to remove its unfair and discriminatory ban on the Canadian Transportation Agency ever awarding monetary compensation to passengers with disabilities who are the victims of an undue barrier in federally-regulated transportation (like air travel), where a CTA regulation wrongly set the accessibility requirements too low.
  2. The ACA’s implementation and enforcement should be consolidated in One federal agency, not splintered among several of them.
  1. No federal laws should ever create or permit disability barriers.
  1. Federal elections should be made accessible to voters with disabilities.
  1. Power to exempt organizations from some ACA requirements should be eliminated or reduced.
  1. Federally-controlled courts and tribunals should be made disability-accessible.
  1. Proposed Opposition amendments to the ACA that were defeated in the House of Commons in 2018 and that would strengthen the ACA should be passed.



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Accessible Education Apps


In our last article, we outlined how educational institutions, such as schools and school boards, need accessible websites. In this article, we focus on accessible education apps.

Accessible Education Apps

Many schools and school boards now use apps in class, or to communicate with parents. For instance, teachers may use apps to help students:

  • Learn subjects like reading, spelling, math, or coding
  • Proofread their work
  • Study, such as with flash cards, learning games, or quizzes
  • Create their own study games or flash cards and share with classmates

Similarly, teachers and other staff can use apps to keep parents informed about what happens at school. For example, staff can use apps to tell parents about:

  • Attendance
  • Student timetables
  • Homework
  • Marks
  • School events, like sports games or parent-teacher interviews
  • Emergencies
  • Student records

Likewise, parents can use apps to:

  • Alert staff when their child will be absent
  • Register for events, such as field trips
  • Pay fees online

Education Apps and Web Content Accessibility

Our last article covered how large schools and school boards need to make their websites accessible. They can do so by complying with Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0, Level AA. The requirements for web accessibility, and the standards of WCAG, apply to apps. As a result, app developers with fifty or more workers need to make their apps accessible. However, smaller developers can also make their apps accessible to as many users as possible. All developers can consult WCAG guidelines when creating or updating their apps.

Moreover, schools and school boards choose which apps they will use in class and for parent-teacher communication. Schools and school boards should choose apps that are fully accessible. Otherwise, students, teachers, and parents with disabilities are left out of learning and communication. In other words, when schools and school boards choose inaccessible apps, they discriminate against students, teachers, and parents with disabilities.

An education standard could make it easy for school staff to choose accessible apps. For instance, the standard could mandate that accessibility training for educators includes how to choose online learning tools that every student can use. Accessible education apps mean that every student, teacher, and parent can be equally involved in school life.




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Canadian Cities Need to Be More Accessible for Aging Residents, According to Concordia University Political Scientist Meghan Joy


Posted Sept. 15, 2019

As populations age, Concordia political scientist Meghan Joy says Canadian cities need to update their approach to accessibility for their elderly residents. For a start, policy-makers need to consider the needs of seniors in their plans.

In a paper published in the Journal of Aging Studies, Joy argues that large cities like Toronto often view older adult populations as a problem to be solved instead of residents to be served.

The roots of the paper date back to 2014, when she was working on her doctoral thesis in Toronto. She interviewed dozens of municipal, provincial and federal bureaucrats, city officials, NGOs, academics and others as part of her analysis of the citys Toronto Seniors Strategy. It had been unveiled the year before and was an outgrowth of the Age-friendly Cities and Communities program developed by the World Health Organization in 2007.

Over the course of her interviews, Joy documented a trend of treating seniors as a serious social and financial problem facing cities. She believes that a more helpful and inclusive approach would be transforming cities to enhance seniors quality of life.

Joy, who is an assistant professor of political science in the Faculty of Arts and Science, is sympathetic to the challenges facing Toronto bureaucrats which she believes were exacerbated both by the legacy of off-loading provincial responsibilities to cities on the part of previous Ontario governments and the tumult of the chaotic Rob Ford years.

But we have normalized these understandings about seniors and some of the problems were facing as a society. Im questioning those understandings and saying, if we really want to address some of those challenges, maybe we need to re-examine the ways were thinking about seniors, Joy says.

A shift in approach

Too often, she writes, seniors are being told to change to stay apace of the city. They are told to eat better, exercise, stop smoking.

But, as one interviewee tells Joy, government officials dont take into account the fact that certain things are out of your control. You can still get cancer, arthritis or whatever limit to your ability to do things. They are essentially saying you are responsible for the fact that you have got this aging thing happening to you and you are supposed to be youthful.

In order to make the modern city more accessible to seniors and by extension to most others with accessibility issues Joy says all levels of government need to change their approach.

This includes addressing issues such as food deserts, providing more and better long-term supportive housing options, transit accessibility and delivering support programs.

There are a variety of factors that make Torontos problems unique, Joy adds, not the least of which is the ambition of being a global city. Its bureaucrats are given additional challenges when they are tasked with pursuing goals that can be at times incompatible.

There is this pressure to be competitive economically, to support growth and density, and a lot of bureaucrats are struggling with this, she explains. They talked a lot about issues like traffic congestion and street lights and moving people more quickly. But aging people actually need slower traffic lights.

Joy is expanding her research to include other Canadian cities, especially Montreal.

Original at http://www.thesuburban.com/life/education/canadian-cities-need-to-be-more-accessible-for-aging-residents/article_85df888e-d65d-11e9-94e1-6b9d260f1f94.html




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Accessible Education Websites


The AODA does not yet have an education standard. Two committees are making recommendations about what an education standard should include. One issue that an education standard should address is access to information. Schools and school boards should be required to make all information available to all students. One way for schools and school boards to do so could be by posting information on accessible education websites.

Accessible Education Websites

Under the AODA’s Information and Communications Standards, all public-sector organizations, and private sector organizations with fifty or more workers, must make their websites accessible by January 2021. In other words, school boards and other large educational organizations will soon be required to make themselves accessible online. These organizations may include:

  • Public and private schools
  • School boards
  • Colleges
  • Universities
  • School libraries
  • Producers of educational or training materials, such as textbook publishers

However, when smaller organizations also offer accessible websites, they can welcome more students.

Schools and school boards can start offering accessible information online by creating websites that comply with Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0, Level AA. This international standard gives web developers guidelines on how to make their webpages accessible to computer users with disabilities.

Highlights of WCAG 2.0

WCAG 2.0 guidelines describe how people viewing websites should be able to:

  • Perceive and navigate web content, such as with:
    • Text, instead of images of text
    • Information that can be enlarged up to 200 per cent without losing site functionality
    • Good colour contrast between text and background
    • Buttons labeled with words, not just with pictures, shapes, or colours
    • Captions available for all audio
    • Audio descriptions and captions available for all videos
  • Operate websites, such as with:
    • Keyboard commands instead of mouse clicking
    • Options to extend time limits
    • No elements that might induce seizures, such as flashing lights
    • Titles and headings that help users know where they are
  • Understand website information and layout, such as with:
      • Simple, linear layouts that are the same for each page of a website
      • Clear language, instead of figures of speech
      • Clear instructions for completing tasks, such as online exercises or tests
      • Text descriptions of errors when inputting information
      • Sign language interpretation
      • Definitions of unusual words and abbreviations
  • Visit websites using a variety of assistive technology, such as:
    • Screen readers and Braille displays
    • Screen magnifiers
    • Speech recognition programs

The WCAG webpage provides the full list of requirements, as well as technical guidance for website owners and developers on how to implement them.

All educational institutions should work on making their websites comply with WCAG 2.0, level AA. In the meantime, however, institutions can make their services accessible in other ways. For instance, educators can provide information to students, parents, teachers, and visitors with disabilities:

  • In person
  • By phone or teletypewriter (TTY)
  • By email

Reaching more people

However, accessible education websites allow more information to reach more people. This method reduces the time that educators would otherwise spend giving similar information to each person one at a time.

In addition, many schools and school boards now use apps in class, or to communicate with parents. Our next article will focus on accessible education apps.




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How Gaming Technology is Helping to Design More Accessible Homes


Lisa Calautti|Sep 10, 2019

A group of Perth university students and real estate agents have teamed up to design an accessible home using construction software inspired by the gaming industry, with the goal of raising awareness of the importance of creating universal affordable accommodation.

Created for a Town of Victoria Park-owned site on Boundary Road, Victoria Park, the project was initiated and managed by JLL project and development services, supported by architectural firm Studio Halton and software developer PropIntel.

Curtin University fourth-year construction and project management students used the Studio Halton plans to study how emerging digital technologies could improve design-to-construction workflows in the WA building industry.

Ryan D’Arcy, state manager at JLL project and development services, said he was currently in discussions with the WA Department of Communities and the Town of Victoria Park to construct the design to raise awareness about the importance of creating affordable accessible accommodation.

” ‘Accessible unit’ has a negative us-and-them narrative. In most instances, it translates to wheelchair accessible. Buildings should be designed in a way that can accommodate anyone’s needs with minimal changes to fittings and fixtures,” Mr D’Arcy said.

“There is an urgent need for the market to adopt a universal accommodation mindset across the board when designing residential environments.

“Through the use of immersive technologies and bleeding-edge construction delivery software, this initiative has demonstrated how universal accommodation that is, housing that suits anyone can be the default mindset. We believe any home can be designed affordably with universal accommodation principles.”

Mr D’Arcy said the goal of the initiative was to show how cheaply aesthetically pleasing, universal accommodation could be built, while also preparing the students for the future construction landscape.

“We hope our work will increase community awareness and increase the number of developments that can ultimately offer more living options for younger people with severe disabilities, many of whom may currently be housed in aged-care facilities,” he said.

“It will also help people transition from assisted living into independent homes.”

The three-month project was not only a great way to get fresh perspectives from the construction professionals of the future, but to start paving the way for the industry to recognise and act on these needs, Mr D’Arcy said.

“The focus was on learning outcomes, not speed. The home itself would take circa three days for someone trained to complete, with a few design iterations,” he said.

“The time savings are significant when you look at the how the digital workflow created from the 3D space is used to inform other actions i.e. calculating cost, populating quotations and other project documentation.”

The software, inspired by the gaming industry, allowed students to work within a 3D environment while any changes to specification, price and quantities were automatically updated.

Led by Jane Matthews, associate professor in construction management in the School of Design and the Built Environment at Curtin University, the students were the first to test the software, designed by Queensland-based PropIntel.

They were split into two teams with a sketch provided by Studio Halton, to model, view, cost and plan their projects.

PropIntel chief executive Troy Cavallaro, director of technology at Cairns builder Allaro Homes, said he spent almost a decade creating the software and has plans to offer it worldwide.

“PropIntel is a platform technology which provides the construction industry with an ecosystem for the different sectors,” Mr Cavallaro said.

“Architects, engineers, builders, suppliers and sub-contractors all have an interface that is fine-tuned for them. It all connects to a central database so we can really quickly share information on it and derive information from it.”

Original at https://www.domain.com.au/news/how-gaming-technology-is-helping-to-design-more-accessible-homes-878251/




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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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A Landscape Architect Graduate Created a TTC Map With Only Accessible Stations


By Rhianna Jackson-KelsoStaff Reporter
Wed., Aug. 28, 2019
Getting around a city the size of Toronto can be difficult, especially for someone with a disability or mobility issues, and that includes navigating the subway system. Thats why Robin Hufgard, a landscape architecture graduate with a background in studio art, created a TTC subway map designed with accessibility in mind.

Hufgards map, which is available online to download for free (opens in new tab/window), looks similar to the official TTC subway map, but only lists stops deemed by the TTC to be fully accessible. Given that only 45 of the 75 stations contain elevators designed for people with mobility devices or baby strollers, this means a sizable chunk are missing.

Advocate and super-commuter Jessica Geboers braves College Station stairs and narrow fare gates on Line One on March 7th, 2019. Although she says the TTC is trying, she rates it a 6/10 in terms of accessibility.

Hufgard, whose pronouns are they/them, said the idea came to them last summer after a minor surgery temporarily reduced their mobility and energy levels.

When I would take the TTC, I wouldnt be able to stand or go up and down the stairs very easily, Hufgard said. With many stations now inaccessible, I started thinking Wow, this really sucks.

Architectural intern Robin Hufgard created this revised TTC map to be more legible and showcase accessible stations more prominently.

While only needing to rely on accessible stations for a short recovery period, Hufgard began to wonder how the experience could be improved for people whose accessibility needs didnt have a time limit.

I didnt grow up taking TTC, and even not having any accessibility issues visually or physically, I found reading the map and getting information was very difficult, Hufgard said.

Hufgard said they wanted to design a map that streamlined the system for those with accessibility issues as much as possible.

As well as noting accessible stations, the map also uses a dyslexia-friendly font called Open Dyslexic, spaces out station names further than the TTCs map and labels them in a larger font size. It also uses leader lines to indicate which names refer to which stations in areas where many names are clustered together.

Hufgard has made several different versions of the map since last summer, revising it based on online feedback and when station upgrades are completed.

The issue with accessibility is theres no one way to make one thing perfect for everyone, Hufgard said. Im not a professional in this, but I think its important to listen to the community, and if something consistently comes up as an issue to try and address it.

Hufgard noted the majority of responses came from parents who otherwise have no access issues but have to navigate the subway with baby strollers.

In an email to the Star, TTC spokesperson Hayley Waldman said the agency is working to make all subway stations accessible through its Easier Access program.

She said factors in choosing which stations underwent changes first included geography ensuring stations were made accessible across the system rather than concentrated in a certain area or subway line as well as ridership.

Generally, stations with higher ridership were made accessible first to benefit the greatest number of customers sooner, she said.

The TTC has been upgrading stations gradually over the last several years to comply with the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA), which became law in 2005. The agency plans to make all stations accessible by 2025.

Waldman said stations are considered accessible when there is a barrier-free accessible path between one street entrance, bus/streetcar terminals and subway platforms. They also include elevators, power-operated or sliding doors, wide fare gates and signs which indicate accessible paths.

Waldman said information about the TTCs progress can be found on the agencys website at http://www.ttc.ca/TTC_Accessibility/Accessible_Transit_Services_Plan/index.jsp (opens in new tab/window).

But as the process continues, Hufgard said, information about the construction status of different stations can be tricky to track down online.

St. Patrick station recently finished its accessibility upgrades, and on some parts of the website it would say it was accessible, other parts it would say it was still under construction, or that it was totally unaccessible, they said.

Someone who may already have less physical or mental energy to navigate because they have accessibility issues … Theyre not going to be sitting all day long monitoring TTC channels.

Ben Kropp, vice-president of government relations at the Occupational Safety Group, an organization that helps train companies on workplace well-being and accessibility, said that, although Hufgards map doesnt take into account all disabilities of people who may be using the system, he praised the initiative.

Any time that anybody is going to go out of their way in good faith to do something for people with disabilities I think is hugely important, he said.

Kropp said one way institutions can improve accessibility is by taking into account people with an invisible disability, as well as clear emergency plans in situations where people with disabilities would need to be evacuated.

If somebody has Crohns (inflammatory bowel disease) as an example, theyre gonna need readily available access to a bathroom, he said. If thats not placed on a map or if there is a station that does not have a bathroom, those individuals are gonna be very negatively effected.

Rhianna Jackson-Kelso is a breaking news reporter, working out of the Stars radio room in Toronto. Follow her on Twitter: @RhiannaJK

Ilya Bañares is a breaking news reporter, working out of the Star’s radio room in Toronto. Follow him on Twitter: @ilyaoverseas

Original at https://www.thestar.com/news/gta/2019/08/28/a-landscape-architect-graduate-created-a-ttc-map-with-only-accessible-stations.html




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Accessible Information in Education


The AODA does not yet have an education standard. Two committees are making recommendations about what an education standard should include. In the meantime, however, there are still AODA requirements for educational institutions to follow. Educational institutions must follow the regulations in the Information and Communications Standards that apply to other organizations. In addition, there are also regulations especially for educational institutions. Accessible information in education makes school settings welcoming to students, parents, and workers with disabilities. Educational institutions that need to make information accessible are:

  • Public and private schools
  • School boards
  • Colleges
  • Universities
  • School libraries
  • Producers of educational or training materials, such as textbook publishers

Accessible Information in Education

Under the Information and Communications Standards, producers of educational materials must make textbooks available in accessible formats. They will need to make all other educational or training materials available in accessible formats by January 1st, 2020. For instance, materials that will need to be produced accessibly include:

  • Handouts or lecture notes
  • Student records and information on program requirements
  • Other classroom materials that are visual in nature, such as maps or globes

Moreover, educational institutions must also provide accessible versions of all resources that they buy, borrow, or create. They must do so:

How to Make Educational Materials Accessible

Institutions may make some materials accessible themselves. For instance, school staff can:

  • Photo-copy handouts in large print
  • Emboss them on a Braille printer
  • Post course outlines or calendars on websites
  • Record audio versions of print book excerpts
  • Create tactile maps, diagrams, or pictures

Alternatively, institutions may need to contract third-party companies to produce other materials, such as Braille textbooks or tactile maps. Producers of educational materials must provide them in formats that are either accessible or conversion-ready so that other people can complete the conversion process. Producers that cannot make a material accessible must explain to their client why they cannot do so. Then, they must provide summaries of everything they cannot convert.

Our next article will explore how stronger information standards in education can more fully support students with disabilities.




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Healthcare Transportation Services: Making Medical Services Accessible


Currently, the AODA does not have a healthcare standard. A committee is making recommendations about what a healthcare standard should include. In the meantime, however, there are still AODA requirements for healthcare providers to follow. The Transportation Standards have regulations that apply to healthcare providers. Healthcare transportation services make medical services more accessible to patients, workers, and visitors with disabilities.

Healthcare Transportation Services

Several sections of the Transportation Standards apply to healthcare providers. Public hospitals that transport patients between their campuses must make this service accessible. They may do so by using accessible vehicles when they transport all patients. Alternatively, if they cannot provide integrated service on conventional vehicles, they must have equivalent services on specialized vehicles.

Moreover, all regulations that apply to other conventional and specialized transportation providers also apply to public hospitals that offer these services. For instance, all public hospital transportation services must have:

In addition, conventional transportation services of public hospitals must have:

Stronger Transportation Standards in Healthcare are Needed

The Transportation Standards’ mandates concerning healthcare ensure minimal accessibility for patients with disabilities. However, vital healthcare services are still inaccessible to patients. New criteria in the Transportation Standards targeting healthcare settings could benefit both patients and healthcare workers.

While public hospital transportation ensures that patients can travel reliably between hospital campuses, patients must use other modes of transportation for all other healthcare needs. For instance, patients must find their own ways of travelling to:

  • Doctor’s appointments
  • Walk-in clinics
  • Hospital emergency rooms
  • Labs
  • Pharmacies

Some patients can travel to all these places by driving or using conventional public transportation. For example, when someone starts to feel sick suddenly one evening, that person can take the bus to a walk-in clinic. Similarly, if someone’s doctor tells them that they need bloodwork or a prescription, they can take the bus, a cab, or their car to their lab or pharmacy. However, options like driving, cabbing, or taking the bus do not work for everyone. Instead, some patients use specialized transit to travel around their area.

Our next article will explore how stronger transportation standards in healthcare are needed to make medical settings more accessible for patients using specialized transit.



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