Improvements for Identification, Placement, and Review Committees


Currently, there are no AODA education standards. However, two AODA standards development committees have drafted recommendations of guidelines that AODA education standards should include. One committee has recommended guidelines for the kindergarten to grade twelve (K-12) education system. In this article, we outline recommended improvements for Identification, Placement, and Review Committees (IPRCs).

Improvements for Identification, Placement, and Review Committees

Identification, Placement, and Review Committees (IPRCs) determine the most appropriate placement for a child who needs support in school. While some students learn at their neighbourhood schools, others attend more accessible schools locally or elsewhere in Ontario. Each school board has its own IPRC that determines placements for each student on an individual basis. In addition, IPRCs can recommend possible programs and services to support a student within their placement. However, an IPRC cannot make decisions about these programs or services. Instead, students and their families must use a separate process to identify appropriate programs and services. If a family disagrees with the IPRC’s placement decision, the family can appeal to the Special Education Appeal Tribunal.

The K-12 Education Standards Development Committee reports that the rules governing IPRCs are now outdated. For example, IPRCs only support students with “exceptionalities”, not students with disabilities under the AODA and the Ontario Human Rights Code. As a result, less than half of current Ontario students with individual education plans (IEPs) have consulted their IPRC. Moreover, families who do consult their IPRCs find the process complex, but not timely. In other words, many students today do not find IPRCs relevant or useful. Therefore, the Committee recommends a review of the IPRC process, to decide whether to update or discard this form of assessment.

Reviewing the Use of Identification, Placement, and Review Committees

A panel of reviewers should examine the rules and processes families follow when consulting an IPRC. For instance, this panel should include:

  • Students and other individuals with disabilities
  • Families
  • Staff who represent the:
    • School board
    • Ministry of Education

After reviewing the IPRC process, the panel should decide whether the process needs to be:

  • Redesigned
  • Retained in its current form
  • Replaced by a different process

If the panel decides to re-design the process, the improved process should be fair and consistent throughout the province. It should meet students’ needs for accessible schooling in a timely manner. Moreover, the process should determine not only placement, but programs and services. Clear definitions of all these terms will help all students, staff, and parents involved in the process work together toward its purpose. Students or their parents should have time to carefully consider the options available for placements, programs, and services. If they wish to appeal any decisions about placements, programs, or services, a tribunal should hear appeals about any of these concerns.




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School and School Board Accessibility Committees


Currently, there are no AODA education standards. However, two AODA standards development committees have drafted recommendations of guidelines that AODA education standards should include. One committee has recommended guidelines for the kindergarten to grade twelve (K-12) education system. In this article, we outline recommended guidelines for school and school board accessibility committees.

School and School Board Accessibility Committees

School Accessibility Committees

The Committee recommends that each school should have an accessibility committee to identify, remove, and prevent accessibility barriers. For instance, accessibility barriers include:

Therefore, members of a school’s accessibility committee should include people in many positions within the school, such as:

  • The principal, or a staff member the principal appoints
  • Staff
  • Students
  • Students’ families
  • Community groups

Moreover, the accessibility committee should welcome students, family members, and staff with disabilities, and support anyone wishing to request accommodations.

School Board Accessibility Committees and Plans

Likewise, each school board should create an accessibility committee consisting of people in a variety of positions. For example, members of a school board’s accessibility committee should include:

  • An accessibility lead who reports to the Director of Education
  • Senior board officials who are in charge of:
  • Students
  • People with disabilities

Furthermore, each accessibility committee should develop a multi-year accessibility plan to remove barriers and ensure compliance with all accessibility standards. For example, committees can identify barriers through feedback from:

  • Students
  • School accessibility committees
  • The school board’s special education advisory committee (SEAC)
  • Community members

Committees should develop processes to request and review this feedback. Similarly, committees can implement systems to identify and remove barriers in:

  • Programs
  • Services
  • Spaces
  • Equipment

Furthermore, once a committee identifies a barrier, it should assign specific committee members to take action and oversee barrier removal. Moreover, the committee should monitor barrier-removal progress, report frequently to the school board’s trustees, and write yearly progress reports. In addition, school boards should report to the public about their accessibility plans, progress, and the feedback they receive.

The Ministry of Education should analyze these reports, to address the barriers and removal strategies each committee has identified. Then, the Ministry should post a public report about recurring barriers in multiple school boards. For instance, this report should include the action school boards are taking to remove barriers, as well as actions that are not being taken.

Finally, the Ministry should develop resources and templates to help school boards create consistent committees and plans. Likewise, the Ministry should provide school boards with best practices about how to make programs and services accessible. As a result, committees across the province would have similar processes and documents, to improve accessible education throughout Ontario.




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Check Out the New Video that Explains the K-12 Education Standards Development Committee’s 185-Page Initial Report and Gives Tips on How to Give Feedback


Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance Update

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

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

Check Out the New Video that Explains the K-12 Education Standards Development Committee’s 185-Page Initial Report and Gives Tips on How to Give Feedback

June 24, 2021

            SUMMARY

We today unveil another new video! This video gives you helpful information on how and why to give feedback on the disability barriers that face students with disabilities in Ontario schools. The Ontario Government is conducting a public consultation this summer, ending on September 2, 2021. It is gathering feedback from the public on the initial recommendations in this area that have been prepared by the K-12 Education Standards Development Committee and posted for public comment. This new video is available at https://youtu.be/yjQgOjRTZJ8

This public consultation is the first time in a generation or longer that the Ontario Government has taken a good look at Ontario’s school system from the perspective of students with disabilities. The AODA Alliance wants to help you have your say. This video will be helpful for you if you are:

* a student with disabilities;

* a family member of students with disabilities;

* a teacher or other education staff;

* a school principal or vice principal, or school board administrator;

* a member of an Accessibility Advisory Committee or Special Education Advisory Committee;

* connected with a disability community organization;

* teaching in a Faculty of Education, or

* studying in a Faculty of Education or Early Childhood Education.

The video is recorded by AODA Alliance Chair David Lepofsky. He is also a Visiting Professor of Disability Rights and Legal Education at the Osgoode Hall Law School. He is a member of the K-12 Education Standards Development Committee, and a member and past chair of the Special Education Advisory Committee of the Toronto District School Board.

We hope this video helps you decide whether to give feedback to the K-12 Education Standards Development Committee, and helps you think about what feedback to give. You could use all or part of it as part of a public forum to gather input for the K-12 Education Standards Development Committee. If you are part of a committee or group that is going to collectively give feedback, such as a Special Education Advisory Committee, your members might find it helpful to watch this video before going to a meeting to discuss the feedback that you wish to give to the K-12 Education Standards Development Committee.

This video is 49 minutes long. Some might only want to watch part of it. To help with this, we set out below links to each major heading or topic in the video. You can just jump right to the part that you find most helpful to you.

In the video, Lepofsky refers to various helpful resources for you to read, if you want more information. Below is a list of these resources, with links to them.

Please encourage others to watch this video. Publicize it on social media.

This video is now in the process of being captioned. This captioning (and not just Youtube’s automated captions) should be available in the next few days.

As this video makes clear, it was not produced by the K-12 Education Standards Development Committee.

Did you find this video helpful? Write us at [email protected]

            MORE DETAILS

1. How to Jump Directly to Each Topic in This New Video

  1. Start of the video: https://youtu.be/yjQgOjRTZJ8
  1. 2. What is the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act? What is an accessibility standard? (3:30: minutes) https://youtu.be/yjQgOjRTZJ8?t=210
  1. What is the K-12 Education Standards Development Committee? (5 minutes): https://youtu.be/yjQgOjRTZJ8?t=285
  1. What is the current public consultation? (6:50 minutes): https://youtu.be/yjQgOjRTZJ8?t=405
  1. What can an accessibility standard include? (7:35 minutes): https://youtu.be/yjQgOjRTZJ8?t=455
  1. Why do we need an Education Accessibility Standard? (8 minutes): https://youtu.be/yjQgOjRTZJ8?t=490
  1. How to have your say. Different ways you can give your feedback to the K-12 Education Standards Development Committee up to September 2, 2021 (11 minutes): https://youtu.be/yjQgOjRTZJ8?t=660
  1. What did the K-12 Education Standards Development Committee recommend in its initial report? Review of the 20 major themes in the K-12 Education Standards Development Committee initial recommendations (13:20 minutes): https://youtu.be/yjQgOjRTZJ8?t=800
  1. Tips on what you can do right now to use the K-12 Education Standards Development Committee’s initial report, to get action to help students with disabilities (43 minutes): https://youtu.be/yjQgOjRTZJ8?t=2580
  1. Conclusion and Further resources for more information and to help you give feedback (46:50): https://youtu.be/yjQgOjRTZJ8?t=2810

2. Key Background Resources

  1. The entire 185-page K-12 Education Standards Development Committee initial report and initial recommendations on what the promised Education Accessibility Standard should include to make education in Ontario schools barrier-free for all students with disabilities.
  2. The AODA Alliance’s 55-page condensed and annotated version of the K-12 Education Standards Development Committee initial report and recommendations.
  3. The AODA Alliance’s 15-page summary of the K-12 Education Standards Development Committee initial report and recommendations.
  4. The AODA Alliance‘s action kit on how to give public feedback on the K-12 Education Standards Development Committee initial report and recommendations.
  5. The June 16, 2021 AODA Alliance Update, setting out the K-12 Education Standards Development Committee‘s recommendations for designing a barrier-free school building.
  6. A captioned video of tips for parents of students with disabilities on how to advocate at school for their child’s needs.
  7. For general background, the AODA Alliance website Education page.



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Check Out the New Video that Explains the K-12 Education Standards Development Committee’s 185-Page Initial Report and Gives Tips on How to Give Feedback


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

June 24, 2021

SUMMARY
We today unveil another new video! This video gives you helpful information on how and why to give feedback on the disability barriers that face students with disabilities in Ontario schools. The Ontario Government is conducting a public consultation this summer, ending on September 2, 2021. It is gathering feedback from the public on the initial recommendations in this area that have been prepared by the K-12 Education Standards Development Committee and posted for public comment. This new video is available at https://youtu.be/yjQgOjRTZJ8

This public consultation is the first time in a generation or longer that the Ontario Government has taken a good look at Ontario’s school system from the perspective of students with disabilities. The AODA Alliance wants to help you have your say. This video will be helpful for you if you are: * a student with disabilities;
* a family member of students with disabilities;
* a teacher or other education staff;
* a school principal or vice principal, or school board administrator;
* a member of an Accessibility Advisory Committee or Special Education Advisory Committee; * connected with a disability community organization;
* teaching in a Faculty of Education, or
* studying in a Faculty of Education or Early Childhood Education.

The video is recorded by AODA Alliance Chair David Lepofsky. He is also a Visiting Professor of Disability Rights and Legal Education at the Osgoode Hall Law School. He is a member of the K-12 Education Standards Development Committee, and a member and past chair of the Special Education Advisory Committee of the Toronto District School Board.

We hope this video helps you decide whether to give feedback to the K-12 Education Standards Development Committee, and helps you think about what feedback to give. You could use all or part of it as part of a public forum to gather input for the K-12 Education Standards Development Committee. If you are part of a committee or group that is going to collectively give feedback, such as a Special Education Advisory Committee, your members might find it helpful to watch this video before going to a meeting to discuss the feedback that you wish to give to the K-12 Education Standards Development Committee.

This video is 49 minutes long. Some might only want to watch part of it. To help with this, we set out below links to each major heading or topic in the video. You can just jump right to the part that you find most helpful to you.

In the video, Lepofsky refers to various helpful resources for you to read, if you want more information. Below is a list of these resources, with links to them.

Please encourage others to watch this video. Publicize it on social media.
This video is now in the process of being captioned. This captioning (and not just Youtube’s automated captions) should be available in the next few days.
As this video makes clear, it was not produced by the K-12 Education Standards Development Committee. Did you find this video helpful? Write us at [email protected]

MORE DETAILS

1. How to Jump Directly to Each Topic in This New Video

1. Start of the video: https://youtu.be/yjQgOjRTZJ8

2. What is the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act? What is an accessibility standard? (3:30: minutes) https://youtu.be/yjQgOjRTZJ8?t=210

3. What is the K-12 Education Standards Development Committee? (5 minutes): https://youtu.be/yjQgOjRTZJ8?t=285

4. What is the current public consultation? (6:50 minutes): https://youtu.be/yjQgOjRTZJ8?t=405

5. What can an accessibility standard include? (7:35 minutes): https://youtu.be/yjQgOjRTZJ8?t=455

6. Why do we need an Education Accessibility Standard? (8 minutes): https://youtu.be/yjQgOjRTZJ8?t=490

7. How to have your say. Different ways you can give your feedback to the K-12 Education Standards Development Committee up to September 2, 2021 (11 minutes): https://youtu.be/yjQgOjRTZJ8?t=660

8. What did the K-12 Education Standards Development Committee recommend in its initial report? Review of the 20 major themes in the K-12 Education Standards Development Committee initial recommendations (13:20 minutes): https://youtu.be/yjQgOjRTZJ8?t=800

9. Tips on what you can do right now to use the K-12 Education Standards Development Committee’s initial report, to get action to help students with disabilities (43 minutes): https://youtu.be/yjQgOjRTZJ8?t=2580

10. Conclusion and Further resources for more information and to help you give feedback (46:50): https://youtu.be/yjQgOjRTZJ8?t=2810

2. Key Background Resources

1. The entire 185-page K-12 Education Standards Development Committee initial report and initial recommendations on what the promised Education Accessibility Standard should include to make education in Ontario schools barrier-free for all students with disabilities.
2. The AODA Alliance’s 55-page condensed and annotated version of the K-12 Education Standards Development Committee initial report and recommendations.
3. The AODA Alliance’s 15-page summary of the K-12 Education Standards Development Committee initial report and recommendations.
4. The AODA Alliance’s action kit on how to give public feedback on the K-12 Education Standards Development Committee initial report and recommendations.
5. The June 16, 2021 AODA Alliance Update, setting out the K-12 Education Standards Development Committee’s recommendations for designing a barrier-free school building.
6. A captioned video of tips for parents of students with disabilities on how to advocate at school for their child’s needs. 7. For general background, the AODA Alliance website Education page.




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15-Page Summary of the K-12 Education Standards Development Committee’s Initial Recommendations, summarized by the AODA Alliance – AODA Alliance


15-Page Summary of the K-12 Education Standards Development Committee’s Initial Recommendations

June 23, 2021

Introduction

What should be done under the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) to tear down the many barriers that impede students with disabilities in Ontario schools between Kindergarten and Grade 12, so they can fully participate in and fully benefit from Ontario’s education system? What should we include in a promised new law, to be called the “Education Accessibility Standard”, so Ontario’s school system becomes barrier-free for students with disabilities by 2025? Here is a summary of the 20 themes in the draft or initial recommendations by a Government-appointed committee, the K-12 Education Standards Development Committee. Its members are drawn from the disability community and the school system. They want your feedback. At the end of this summary is a backgrounder.

The non-partisan AODA Alliance prepared this summary. We urge one and all to read The Standard Development Committee’s entire 185-page report and to send The Government your feedback on it by September 2, 2021 by writing [email protected]

Objective of the Education Accessibility Standard

The Education Accessibility Standard’s objective is that by 2025, the publicly funded K-12 education system will be fully accessible, equitable, inclusive and learner-centered:

  1. A) By removing and preventing accessibility barriers impeding students with disabilities from fully participating in, and fully benefitting from all aspects of the education system, and
  2. B) By providing a prompt, accessible, fair, effective and user-friendly process to learn about and seek programs, services, supports, accommodations and placements tailored to the individual strengths and needs of each student with disabilities

…We envision an Ontario public education system K-12 where learning environments are barrier free and fully inclusive of learners with disabilities. All learners with disabilities will have full access to meaningful education and relevant learning experiences that include appropriate instructional supports.

Major Theme 1: Ensure that Schools Effectively Serve All Students with Any Kind of Disability

Ontario’s special education system is now designed to only serve students with a condition that falls within the Ministry of Education’s out-dated definition of “exceptionality.” That definition leaves out some disabilities. It includes some students who have no disability.

Under the Standards Development Committee ‘s recommendations, all disability-related education supports would be available to all students with any kind of disabilities.

Major Theme 2: Training on Disability Accessibility for Everyone Involved in Ontario’s Schools

School boards should provide training on disability accessibility and inclusion for teachers, school staff, parents and all students. Training standards and requirements for teachers and other educational staff who provide specialized support for students with disabilities should be increased.

The Ministry of Education should develop models for this training, which school boards could use. The Ontario College of Teachers and university Faculties of Education should ensure that people trained to be teachers receive effective training on how to teach students with disabilities. Knowledge and experience on inclusion of and full participation by students with disabilities should become an important hiring and promotion criterion for principals, vice-principals and teaching staff.

School curriculum should include lessons about the accessibility barriers facing people with disabilities, and how to remove and prevent them.

Major Theme 3: Removing and Preventing Digital Disability Barriers in Ontario Schools

School boards need to take extensive new proactive measures to tear down the digital accessibility barriers that impede students with disabilities. For example, school boards should design and implement a digital accessibility action plan. Each board should designate an accessible “digital accessibility lead” to support educators in the procurement and use of digital technologies, and to be responsible for all digital information.

Digital technology procured for students and teachers should be accessible, using universal design principles. Books and other instructional materials for use by students, parents or others in the school community should be in accessible formats, as should report cards and other important documents used with students and/or their families. If pdf is used, other accessible formats should be provided at the same time, because pdfs present accessibility problems.

Students who are provided assistive technology for use at school should be permitted to take it home for home use. School boards should remove barriers that prevent students with disabilities from fully accessing adaptive technologies such as restrictions on being able to install apps on laptop computers or mobile devices, or firewalls that restrict access to websites needed to facilitate the use of adaptive technology. The Ministry’s program for funding adaptive technology for students with disabilities should not bar the use of any category of needed adaptive technology, such as smart phones.

The Government should ensure that distance learning becomes accessible to students with disabilities. For example, TVO should make its online learning content accessible to persons with disabilities, and should promptly make public a plan of action to achieve this goal. The Ministry of Education should make public a plan of action to swiftly make its own online learning content accessible for persons with disabilities. Only accessible platforms for distance learning should be permitted in Ontario schools.

Major Theme 4: Ensuring Accessible Curriculum, Assessment and Instruction

The Standards Development Committee made many recommendations aimed at the design of curriculum taught in school, at how students are taught in school, and at how student learning is tested or assessed in school. Curriculum, student instruction and student assessment should be reformed to ensure that they are barrier-free and fully accessible for students with disabilities. This includes ensuring that principles of universal design in learning and differential instruction are built into them. The Ministry of Education should develop tools to help school boards implement these requirements. The Ministry should designate an office or person with lead responsibility for ongoing review of provincially mandated curriculum and resources offered to school boards, for removing accessibility barriers.

Specific strategies are needed to ensure that such things as STEM (science, technology, engineering and Math), physical education, French language immersion, and other specialty programs are accessible to and effectively accommodate students with disabilities.

The Ministry of Education should ensure that school boards use barrier-free tests and other assessments for student performance. The Ministry should provide guides and resources to school boards on how to do this. The Ministry and school boards should monitor student assessments to ensure that they are barrier-free for students with disabilities. The Ministry should ensure that all provincial standardized tests are barrier-free for students with disabilities.

Major Theme 5: Substantially Strengthen Individual Education Plans (IEPs)

A key way Ontario’s education system tries to serve students with disabilities is by having school boards develop and implement an Individual Education Plan (IEP) for each student with special education needs. The Standards Development Committee found that there are important shortcomings with the current regime for these. For example, Ontario’s requirements only apply for students whose disability falls within the out-dated and narrow term “exceptionality.” IEPs should be available for all students with disabilities, whether or not their disability falls within the term “exceptionality.”

The Standards Development Committee recommends that any student with any kind of disability should be entitled to an IEP if they, their family or the school things one would help. An IEP should document in one place all the measures for the student’s disability-related accommodation. The content and implementation of IEPs should be periodically audited to ensure that the needs of students with disabilities are being met.

Major Theme 6: Expanding and Strengthening Parent and Student Participation In the Accommodation of Students with Disabilities

Parents /guardians of students with disabilities, and students with disabilities themselves, need direct, easy access to important information about the menu of programs, services, supports and accommodations available for students including students with disabilities, and how to request or advocate for them. They have a right to know all the important information they need including what is available, what persons and what office to approach to get this information or to request or change the student’s placements, programs, supports, services or accommodations, or to raise concerns about whether the school board is effectively meeting the student’s disability-related education needs.

This information should be easy to find. It should be readily available in accessible formats, plain language and multiple languages. Parents report that too often, it is very difficult to find out this important and basic information. It is inefficient and unreliable to leave this responsibility to individual principals, spread across Ontario, to each deal with this as they choose. Each school should implement a series of measures to ensure that parents of students with disabilities and the students have ready access to all this information.

Parents/guardians of students with disabilities report that too often, they find it very difficult frustrating and demoralizing to advocate for their child’s needs in the school system. Depending on the board, the school and the people involved, it can be welcoming, positive and cooperative, or alienating, bureaucratic and rigid.

The school should offer every family of a student with disabilities a meeting to discuss what should be included in the IEP (an IEP meeting) If any participant in the meeting, such as the student or their parents, need a disability accommodation to participate, this should be provided.

School boards should offer families a system navigator to help them make their way through the bewildering process of trying to get their child’s disability-related needs accommodated. If the family or student think the IEP does not include measures they need, or that the school is not implementing all or part of the IEP, they should have access to a swift, fair, effective internal appeal within the school board. The appeal should be to a board employee or an outside mediator who have expertise in educating students with disabilities, and who was not involved in the actions under appeal.

Students with a disability who move from school board to school board, or school to school, should have the right to an Individual Education Plan with same or comparable programs, services and accommodations. If the school board, or the school to which the student transfers, proposes to deny or to reduce those accommodations or supports, the parent/guardian/student should be able to take their concern to the dispute resolution process. All accommodations shall be maintained until and unless, the school board has justified a reduction of those accommodations.

Major Theme 7: Access for Students with Disabilities to Timely Professional Assessments Needed for Disability Accommodation

Often, students with disabilities need an expert or professional assessment of disability-related needs. There are too often great delays in getting these assessments. The Standards Development Committee made recommendations to speed up these assessments.

Major Theme 8: Reforming the Process for a School Board Identifying and Making the Placement of Student with Disabilities

The current system for a school board’s formal identification and placement of students with disabilities creates barriers for students with disabilities. For a formal decision on a student’s identification and placement, one must have a hearing before a school board committee called an Identification, Placement, and Review Committee (IPRC). The IPRC can only decide on whether the student falls within the definition of “exceptional pupil” and on the students’ “placement”. It can only make recommendations but not binding decisions on the student’s “program” or services”.

More than half of the students receiving special education services and who have an IEP were not identified through an IPRC. This strongly suggests this process is irrelevant to many.

Many school staff and families complain about the IPRC’s administrative burden and delays that can create barriers.

IPRCs are hampered by the arbitrary, undefined and confusing distinction between define “placement” on which the IPRC can decide, and inseparable issues concerning “program” or “services” upon which the IPRC cannot decide.

Families report that they don’t understand the IPRC process or feel included in it. Frequently the meetings are short, and families feel rushed. In addition, families who don’t understand the process may waive their right to a review.

The Standards Development Committee recommended that the IPRC system be reviewed, reformed or replaced with a process that is swift, fair, and user-friendly. Decisions over a student’s placement should not be arbitrarily hived off from decisions over their supports, programs, services and accommodations.

Major Theme 9: Ministry of Education and School Boards Should Each Embed Accessibility Oversight in Their Operations

Several recommendations call for the Ministry of Education and each school board to put in place new measures to ensure that school boards effectively serve students with disabilities.

The Ministry of Education should designate an office or role, such as an Assistant Deputy Minister, responsible for achieving a barrier-free and accessible school system for students with disabilities. A Ministry Ombudsman for complaints regarding disability-related needs of students with disabilities should be created. The Ministry should annually audit school board effectiveness at serving students with disabilities, review disability issues and barriers in Ontario schools, plan strategies to address them, and publicly report on these efforts.

Each school board should ensure that its schools create an accessible and welcoming environment for students with disabilities and their families, including family members with disabilities. This includes ensuring schools encourage and make it easy to seek accommodations for disabilities. Each school board should create a board accessibility committee, school level accessibility committees, and a network of teachers and staff with disabilities. Each board should designate a senior official with lead responsibility for advancing the goal of disability accessibility. Each school board should create and implement multi-year accessibility plans that address all disability barriers, and not just those identified in earlier limited AODA accessibility standards. The board should publicly report on the plan’s implementation.

Major Theme 10: Recommendations Regarding Disability-Specific Needs

Some Standards Development Committee recommendations focus on a specific disability, such as autism. As well, there is a recognized need to better serve students with low-incidence disabilities such as vision loss, which chronically receive less attention from the Ministry of Education and school boards.

Ontario should upgrade its substandard training requirements for teachers of the visually impaired. Where needed, specific added disability-focused curriculum should be required for teaching students with specific disabilities that need this. For example, each school board should be required to teach students with vision loss the Expanded Core Curriculum that has been internationally recognized.

Major Theme 11: Reducing the Exclusions/Refusals to Admit to School/Reduced School Hours

Parents voiced concerns with the principal’s power to exclude students from school. (Also called refusal to admit to school) Section 265(1)(m) of the Education Act requires principals:

“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.”

Concerns are expressed that a significant proportion of those excluded from school are students with disabilities. The Ministry of Education does not require school boards to track data on exclusions from school.

There is a lack of due process, such as parents not being told the reason for the refusal to admit their child to school, or how to challenge it. There is no limit on how long the refusal to admit can continue. There need not be a plan for the student’s return to school and no assured provision of alternative education program while the student is excluded. There is no consistent, fair process to appeal a child’s exclusion from school. Concerns have been raised that in some situations, a student with disabilities is excluded from school directly or indirectly because the school has not effectively accommodated that student’s disability.

There are many stories from parents about formal and informal arrangements for a student with disabilities to attend for less than the full school day without parents’ voluntary consent. There are no consistent practices for when or how this can occur, the documentation to be kept, or plans for return to full time school.

An AODA Alliance survey of Ontario school boards showed that a majority of boards have no policy on how and when a principal may refuse to admit a student. Of the 33 boards for which a policy was obtained, these policies vary substantially. A student, excluded from school, and their parents are treated very differently from one board to the next. Students and parents across Ontario deserve the same safeguards. Principals are placed in a difficult position, not knowing what they can and should do.

The Standards Development Committee’s recommendations seek to reduce or eliminate the number and duration of exclusion of students with disabilities. It makes detailed recommendations to reduce how and when a student can be excluded from school. The student and their family would be entitled to know the reason for the exclusion from school and its duration. An excluded student would have a right to receive their education while excluded from school. Students would have a right to a fair process before, during and after an exclusion from school. School boards should track and make public data on how often students are excluded from school.

Major Theme 12: Improving Collection of Data on Education of Students with Disabilities

The Ministry of Education regularly requires school boards to collect and report very extensive data on teachers, staff, students and other aspects of board operation. Yet the Ministry collects far too little data on the numbers and needs of students with disabilities, and on what is being done to meet those needs. The Standards Development Committee called for a substantial increase in the collection and public availability of data regarding students with disabilities.

Major Theme 13: Addressing Barriers Facing Students with Disabilities in Social Realms

The Standards Development Committee made detailed recommendations to better enable students with disabilities to participate in social activities in connection with school. This includes, for example, ensuring that activities to take place off school grounds are held in accessible locations, providing staff assistance to help ensure that students with disabilities can socialize with other students, and taking anti-bullying measures.

Major Theme 14: Addressing Disability Barriers in School Transportation

In 2011, the Ontario Government enacted the AODA Transportation Accessibility Standard. It includes provisions aimed at transportation of students with disabilities. After a decade, it is clear that these have not ensured that these transportation services are accessible for students with disabilities. Therefore, the K-12 Education Standards Development Committee made recommendations to ensure that student transportation for students with disabilities is accessible.

The Standards Development Committee recommended that school boards consult individually with each family to identify accessibility and accommodation needs of the student with disabilities regarding transportation, and ensure drivers are properly trained to accommodate each student’s disability needs. If a bus driver is replaced, the school board should ensure that the replacement is given the same training before driving the student, or, in an emergency, as soon as possible.

Each school board should designate a reachable official especially during working hours when students are being transported, to receive and address phone calls, emails and text messages from a family about problems with a student’s transportation.

Major Theme 15: Addressing Disability Barriers to Experiential / Co-Op Learning

People with disabilities face extraordinarily high unemployment rates. Getting the chance for an experiential learning or co-op placement while in school can be the gateway, if not the only gateway, to that first letter of reference. A student’s first letter of reference is essential to getting their first job.

It is important for school boards to provide informal advice and support to all employers, including small businesses.

To ensure that students with disabilities can fully participate in experiential learning programs, each school board should review its experiential learning programs to identify and remove any accessibility barriers and ensure that there will be a range of accessible placement opportunities in which students with disabilities can participate. School boards should ensure that 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.

Major Theme 16: Removing Disability Barriers to a Student Bringing a Trained Service Animal to School

Some students on the autism spectrum and their families have reported having difficulties at some school boards with being allowed to bring a service animal to school and have had to take legal action against a school board. Others succeeded in bringing their service animal to school.

The Standards Development Committee made recommendations to require any school board to follow a series of swift and fair steps, when a student with disabilities asks to bring a trained service animal to school with them. For example, if the school board has any objection to or concerns about the request, the school board will immediately notify the family about the specific concerns, and shall work to resolve them.

If the school board does not believe that the service animal could assist the student at school, the board should investigate the request, including how the student benefits from the service animal outside the school and at home. If the school board has concerns about the feasibility of allowing the student to bring the service animal to school, it shall investigate the experience of other school boards and schools which have successfully enabled a student to bring their service animal to school.

If a concern is expressed that the service animal at school would interfere with the human rights of other students or staff, the school board shall take action to effectively accommodate their rights without sacrificing the human rights of the student using the service animal. For example, if an EA, assigned to work with the student, cannot work with the service animal for health or other human rights reasons, the school board should assign this to another staff member.

A student shall not be refused the opportunity to bring a qualified service animal to school without the school board first allowing a trial or test period with the service animal at school. If the school board does not agree to the service animal being allowed at school, or if there is a problem with implementing the school board’s plans to facilitate its inclusion, the school board shall make available a swift dispute resolution process. Nothing in the accessibility standard shall reduce or restrict the rights of a person with vision loss bringing with them their guide dog, trained by an accredited school.

Major Theme 17: Addressing Physical and Architectural Barriers

Too often, the built environment where K-12 education programming is offered, have physical barriers that can impede some students with disabilities from being able to enter or independently move around. These barriers also impede parents, teachers and other staff and volunteers with disabilities.

The Ontario Ministry of Education does not effectively survey all school buildings to ensure that they are accessible, or to catalogue needed accessibility improvements. Ministry of Education’s specifications for new school construction do not ensure that news schools are accessible.

The Standards Development Committee recommends that the Education Accessibility Standard should include specific requirements to be included in a new school, requirements to be included in a renovation of or an addition to an existing school, and retrofit requirements for an existing school not slated for a major renovation. Its detailed recommendations, beyond what the Ontario Building Code and existing AODA standards minimally require, are set out in full in the June 16, 2021 AODA Alliance Update. They do not only include the needs of people with mobility disabilities. They include people with other disabilities such as (but not limited to) people with vision and/or hearing loss, autism, intellectual or developmental disabilities, learning disabilities or mental health disorders.

Each school board should develop a plan to ensure that the built environment of its schools and other educational facilities becomes fully accessible to persons with disabilities as soon as reasonably possible, and in any event, no later than 2025. 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. They should identify which existing schools can be more easily made 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 more accessible.

When a school board seeks to hire design professionals, such as architects, interior designers or landscape architects, for a school project the school board should include in any Request for Proposal a mandatory requirement that the design professional must have sufficient demonstrated expertise in accessibility design. This includes accessibility needs of people with all kinds of disabilities, and not just those with mobility impairments. A properly qualified and experienced accessibility consultant should be retained by the school board (and not necessarily by a private architecture firm) to advise on the project from the outset, with their advice being transmitted directly to the school board.

Where possible, a school board should not renovate an existing school that lacks disability accessibility, unless the school board has a plan to 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.

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.

Each school board should take an inventory of the accessibility of its existing indoor and outdoor play spaces and gym and playground equipment, and make this public. Each board should adopt a plan to remediate the accessibility of new gym or playground equipment.

Major Theme 18: Accessible Transitions for Students with Disabilities

Students with disabilities can encounter difficulties with transitions from one school to another, from elementary school to high school, from school to post-secondary education or from school to work. Detailed recommendations are offered to help with these transitions. For example, each school board should develop and create the role of the Transition Facilitator/Navigator to work with students and their families in collaboration with school staff, and community agencies to develop and carry out transition plans.

To help with transitions, where possible, and to the point of undue hardship, each school board should allow siblings of a student with a disability who attends a special education program outside of their home school, to attend that same school within that school board if requested by the family.

Each school board should ensure that students with an IPRC, and their parents/guardians, are informed in grades 7 through 10 about the importance of updating their assessment during Grade 11 and 12. School boards should ensure that students in Grades 11 and 12 are informed during their IEP review/renewal meetings and transition support meetings if/when their formal professional assessment should be updated.

Major Theme 19: Planning for Emergencies

A subcommittee of the K-12 Education Standards Development Committee submitted a comprehensive package of excellent recommendations to the Ontario Government on July 24, 2020 on how to address the urgent needs of students with disabilities during the COVID-19 pandemic. The K-12 Education Standards Development Committee distilled those recommendations for future use in its March 12, 2021 initial report/recommendations. The following are some key recommendations.

The Ministry of Education should establish an independent review committee as soon as possible to assess the COVID-19 response by the Ministry of Education and School Boards from the perspective of students with disabilities, and to make recommendations for future emergency preparedness.

The Ministry of Education’s future Emergency Plan shall include the creation of a Central Education Leadership Command Table with the responsibility of ensuring that students with disabilities have access to all accommodations and supports during an emergency. The Ministry of Education should develop a rapid response team to receive feedback from school boards on recurring issues facing students with disabilities and to help find solutions to share with school boards, and quickly and issues for students with disabilities as they arise during an emergency. The Ministry of Education should collect and make readily available resources/information on practices, effective strategies in learning environment, and alternate approaches for students struggling with online learning, etc.

School Boards’ Emergency plans shall include the creation of a similar Board Command/Central Table, to develop its own emergency plan. A senior school board staff member should be assigned to be responsible for accessibility, to ensure that all changes at schools in response to an emergency maintain accessibility for all students with disabilities. School Boards should plan to provide staff to support technology including accessibility needs to parents who are supporting the learning needs of students with disabilities during distance learning.

Major Theme 20: Setting Timelines for Action and Measures to Ensure Accountability

Serious concerns have been expressed for several years about deficiencies in the Accessibility Ministry’s compliance/enforcement of the AODA. The second Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Independent Review conducted by Mayo Moran in 2014 and the third such review conducted by Hon. David Onley in 2018 both called for Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act enforcement to be substantially strengthened. Their reports demonstrate that the slow progress on accessibility in Ontario has been due in part to shortcomings in the Ministry’s compliance/enforcement actions in the past. These deficiencies remain.

The focus of compliance/enforcement should not simply be whether an obligated organization such as the Ministry of Education or a publicly funded school board has posted a policy on an action required by the K-12 Education Accessibility Standard. It is important to assess the end result i.e. whether obligated organizations have in fact removed and prevented disability barriers that impede students with disabilities and to assess whether students with disabilities are being effectively included in and fully participating in the opportunities that Ontario’s public education system provides to students.

The Accessibility Directorate should conduct on-site inspections of a range of obligated organizations each year on the actual accessibility of their facilities and educational programs and services as addressed in the Standard, and not just an audit of their paper records on accessibility documentation.

To promote accountability and compliance, the Ministry of Education should establish and maintain a public searchable database where all reports, annual plans and updates posted or prepared by school boards or by the Ministry in compliance with the AODA will be made available in an accessible format to the public. As part of the Government’s compliance/enforcement plan, it should establish and widely publicize a provincial toll-free number, and dedicated email address to receive complaints and concerns from students with disabilities their families or others regarding accessible education for students with disabilities. The Ministry should assign a rapid response team to take action where appropriate on feedback there received. A summary of input/complaints received (with no identifying information) should be made public quarterly.

In addition, the Accessibility Directorate should have staff with experience in the area of education of students with disabilities or should have a resource team whom they can regularly and readily consult.

Any building project for a new school or major renovation should be required to comply with the built environment provisions of the K-12 Education Accessibility Standard to get a building permit. The project should be checked for compliance with the AODA and not just the Ontario Building Code.

Background to this Summary

The Ontario Government committed to enact an Education Accessibility Standard under the AODA. It appointed an advisory committee, the K-12 Education Standards Development Committee, to develop recommendations on what the Education Accessibility Standard should include.

On June 1, 2021, the Ontario Government made public the K-12 Education Standards Development Committee’s initial recommendations. The Government gave the public up to September 2, 2021 to send the Standards Development Committee feedback on its initial recommendations. The Standards Development Committee can use that feedback to refine and finalize its report and recommendations to The Government.

The Standards Development Committee’s initial report and recommendations is 185 pages long. To assist the public, the AODA Alliance prepared a 55-page condensed and annotated version of it. For those who want an even shorter version, the AODA Alliance prepared this summary. The AODA Alliance, and not the Standards Development Committee, is solely responsible for the preparation of both that 55-page condensed version and for this shorter summary. Both the 55-page condensed version and this shorter summary add some of our own headings, and re-arrange the sequence of some of the recommendations. Of course, some content is inevitably omitted when summarizing so much information. In this summary the wording is an inextricable blend of the Committee’s own text and our effort at summarizing it.

The initial recommendations were approved by at least 75% of the entire Standards Development Committee. Half of the Standards Development Committee is made up of disability community representatives. The other half of the Committee comes from the education system. The AODA Alliance endorses the entire 185-page report.



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Great News! New Toronto City Staff Report Recommends that Toronto Not Allow Electric Scooters – Sign Up to Tell Toronto’s Infrastructure Committee’s April 28, 2021 Virtual Meeting To Say No To E-Scooters


Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance Update

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

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

Great News! New Toronto City Staff Report Recommends that Toronto Not Allow Electric Scooters – Sign Up to Tell Toronto’s Infrastructure Committee’s April 28, 2021 Virtual Meeting To Say No To E-Scooters

April 21, 2021

            SUMMARY

Today we report on two important developments in our campaign to keep electric scooters banned in Toronto.

1. Sign Up to Speak to the Toronto Infrastructure and Environment Committee about E-scooters on April 28, 2021

We urge you to email or call the City of Toronto right away to sign up to tell Toronto’s Infrastructure and Environment Committee at its virtual meeting on Wednesday, April 28, 2021 to say no to e-scooters in Toronto. You should just send a request by email to [email protected] or phone the City Clerk at 416-397-4592.

Making it even easier to sign up, we thank the March of Dimes of Canada for creating a simple online link to sign up to present to that Committee.

In your email, you might just say:

I request a chance to speak to the Toronto Infrastructure and Environment Committee at its April 21, 2021 meeting on the topic of e-scooters.

You will get 3 to 5 minutes to speak. You don’t have to use all the time. For ideas on what to say, you might wish to check out the AODA Alliance’s pithy and handy E-scooters Action Kit. Another easy-to-use resource is the AODA Alliance‘s short captioned online video which explains the whole issue for you. It has been viewed almost 1,000 times in the two months since it was created.

We want as many people as possible to present the disability perspective on e-scooters to the Toronto Infrastructure Committee. You can speak right from your home or work. You don’t have to go to City Hall. The meeting will be virtual, not in person, over WebEx. You can connect via your computer, tablet or smartphone, or you can just dial in from an old-fashioned phone. The City Clerk will send you instructions. You can also file a written brief, but you don’t have to do so in order to speak at the meeting.

The e-scooter corporate lobbyists will be trying to get a loud presentation at the Committee in favour of e-scooters. We need you to help urge City Council to stand up for people with disabilities, seniors and others, whom e-scooters endanger, and for them to stand up to the well-financed e-scooter corporate lobbyists.

2. Toronto City staff Recommend that Toronto Not Allow E-scooters

An important Staff Report has just been made public by City of Toronto staff, on the e-scooters issue. We set it out below.

In this excellent report, City staff clearly recommend to Toronto City Council that e-scooters not be allowed in Toronto, either privately owned e-scooters or rental e-scooters. As a result of the advocacy efforts that we and others mounted last summer, Toronto City Council had directed City staff to investigate disability and insurance issues regarding e-scooters. Today’s report fulfils that direction. City staff concluded that e-scooters present real dangers for public safety and disability accessibility. The e-scooter rental companies have not presented any workable way to overcome those concerns. Therefore, City staff recommend that Toronto should not conduct a pilot with e-scooters.

We strongly endorse that recommendation and that report. We offer this short public statement about that report:

“The City Staff Report shows overwhelmingly that Toronto should not allow electric scooters. E-scooters endanger the safety of vulnerable people with disabilities, seniors, children and everyone. They would create many new accessibility barriers for people with disabilities in public places. Toronto has been getting more inaccessible for people with disabilities, and must not create any more new barriers.

City Council should follow the advice of City staff, and leave in place the ban on e-scooters. It should stand up for people with disabilities, and must stand up to the e-scooter corporate lobbyists who are unleashing a feeding frenzy of lobbying at City Hall.”

Several City Council members, as well as Toronto Mayor John Tory, have held off taking a position on e-scooters until they received a report and recommendation from City staff. They now have that report and recommendation. It accords with strong recommendations from the disability community. It also accords with two strong unanimous recommendations from the Toronto Accessibility Advisory Committee, appointed under the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act.

If a City Council member were now to vote in favour of e-scooters and an e-scooter pilot, they would be caving in to the immense pressure from the e-scooter corporate lobbyists, and disregarding the advice of City staff and the Toronto Accessibility Advisory Committee. They would be putting corporate profits above individual safety and disability accessibility. With Toronto full of so many disability barriers, we cannot afford to create any more barriers.

For more information on the dangers that e-scooters present, we invite you to:

  1. Read the April 21, 2021 Toronto City staff report, which we set out below.
  1. Read the AODA Alliance’s detailed March 30, 2021 brief to the City of Toronto on the dangers that e-scooters present to people with disabilities, seniors, children and others, and
  1. Check out the AODA Alliance website’s e-scooter web page.

            MORE DETAILS

City of Toronto Staff April 21, 2021 Report to City Council on Electric Scooters

REPORT FOR ACTION

 

[Title]

Date: April 14, 2021

To: Infrastructure and Environment Committee

From: Barbara Gray, General Manager, Transportation Services

Wards: All

Summary

An electric kick-scooter (or e-scooter) is a new vehicle type operated by standing on a board with two small wheels and using a throttle on a handle stick. They are only allowed for use on private property in Ontario, unless a municipality has opted-in to the Province’s e-scooter pilot project which runs from January 1, 2020 to November 27, 2024. This requires amending municipal by-laws on where e-scooters would be allowed for use in public spaces.

After receiving a report from City staff in July 2020 on e-scooters that included concerns from disability groups and residents, City Council directed Transportation Services to report back on the accessibility and insurance issues, including:

safety, especially for people living with disabilities and seniors, when encountering 1) e-scooters illegally operating on sidewalks and 2) trip hazards or obstructions from poorly parked or numerous rental e-scooters on sidewalks;

lack of city resources for enforcement and the major challenges of enforcing moving violations on sidewalks, parking obstructions and vandalism;

problems with indemnification agreements with e-scooter rental companies and liability of e-scooter riders if injured or injuring others; and

lack of insurance and medical coverage, and the significant liability exposure to the City when no other party provides compensation, leading to costs associated with claims, litigation and settlement.

Based on extensive research and feedback, this report concludes that accessibility barriers, safety concerns and insurance issues remain unresolved for privately owned and rental e-scooters. The solutions proposed by e-scooter industry participants are not satisfactory in addressing the concerns from the Toronto Accessibility Advisory Committee, disability groups, residents, and City staff. Accordingly, City staff recommend that Toronto not opt-in to the e-scooter pilot. The current regulations that prohibit the use of e-scooters in public spaces make sense as they will prevent an increase in street and sidewalk-related injuries and fatalities, and their associated costs. This aligns with the City’s Vision Zero Road Safety goals, including consideration of impacts on pedestrians and persons living with disabilities.

Recommendations

The General Manager, Transportation Services, recommends that:

  1. City Council decline the option to participate in O.Reg 389/19 – Pilot Project – Electric Kick-Scooters.

 

Financial IMPACT

Transportation Services confirms that there are no financial implications resulting from the recommendation included in this report.

The Chief Financial Officer and Treasurer has reviewed this report and agrees with the financial impact information.

Decision History

On February 25, 2021, the Toronto Accessibility Advisory Committee affirmed that it does not support the use of e-scooters, including any pilot project, and requested a ban without exception. The Committee also recommended that City Council request Toronto Police Services, Transportation Services and Municipal Licensing and Standards to consult accessibility stakeholders to develop a public education campaign on existing by-laws prohibiting e-scooter use in public spaces and actively scale up enforcement.

http://app.toronto.ca/tmmis/viewAgendaItemHistory.do?item=2021.DI14.1

On July 28-29, 2020, City Council directed the General Manager, Transportation Services, to report back on referral Item 14.10 to address issues identified by the Toronto Accessibility Advisory Committee, including insurance issues.

http://app.toronto.ca/tmmis/viewAgendaItemHistory.do?item=2020.IE14.10

On February 3, 2020, the Toronto Accessibility Advisory Committee recommended City Council prohibit e-scooters for use in public spaces including sidewalks and roads, and directed that any City permission granted to e-scooter companies be guided by public safety, in robust consultation with persons with disabilities and related organizations.

http://app.toronto.ca/tmmis/viewAgendaItemHistory.do?item=2020.DI7.3

On October 2-3, 2019 City Council, directed the General Manager, Transportation Services, to report on an oversight and management program for e-scooters on City roadways, including possibly adding e-scooters to the bike share fleet as a way of managing e-scooters, to ensure a safe and accessible transportation network for all users during the proposed Provincial pilot project. City Council also prohibited e-scooter use on City sidewalks and pedestrian ways, and parking, storing or leaving an e-scooter on any street, sidewalk and pedestrian way.

http://app.toronto.ca/tmmis/viewAgendaItemHistory.do?item=2019.IE7.13

On April 25, 2019, the Infrastructure and Environment Committee requested a report back on a proposed regulatory framework, safe road design and intersection requirements for low-speed wheeled modes under 25 km, including but not limited to electric wheelchairs, scooters, cargo cycles, and e-assist cycles in Toronto.

http://app.toronto.ca/tmmis/viewAgendaItemHistory.do?item=2019.IE4.5

Comments

Background

E-scooters are a two-wheeled, battery-powered vehicle with a narrow board that the rider stands on and steers using a handle stick and using a throttle for acceleration (see Figure 1).

On January 1, 2020, Ontario Regulation 389/19 Pilot Project – Electric Kick-Scooters under the Highway Traffic Act came into effect for a five-year period subject to conditions. In order to allow e-scooters in public spaces within its jurisdiction, municipalities need to opt-in to the pilot. This requires revising a municipality’s by-laws on where e-scooters would be allowed for use such as on streets and paths, as well as managing oversight such as collecting data on collisions, injuries and fatalities and remitting reports to the Ministry of Transportation.

At its meeting on July 28-29, 2020, after receiving a report from City staff on e-scooters that included concerns from disability groups and residents, City Council referred Item 14.10 E-Scooters – A Vision Zero Road Safety Approach back to City staff and directed Transportation Services to report on accessibility issues raised by the Toronto Accessibility Advisory Committee (TAAC), including insurance issues.

Key concerns include:

safety and accessibility concerns, in particular for people living with no vision/low vision and seniors, when encountering 1) e-scooters illegally operating on sidewalks and 2) trip hazards or obstructions from poorly parked e-scooters or numerous rental e-scooters on sidewalks;

lack of city resources for enforcement and major challenges enforcing moving violations on sidewalks, parking obstructions and vandalism;

issues and problems with indemnification agreements with e-scooter rental companies, and liability of e-scooter riders if injured or injuring others; and

lack of available insurance and medical coverage (e.g. for rehabilitation, lost wages, and medical costs not covered by OHIP) and the significant liability and cost exposures associated with claims, litigation, and settlement to the City when no other party is able to provide compensation.

 

 

Accessibility Issues & Stakeholder Feedback

Following the July 2020 Council report referral back to staff, e-scooter companies were invited to propose solutions to the aforementioned issues at several stages of Transportation Services Division’s research. Companies were asked to submit information by e-mail in August 2020, which generated questions from companies to staff and further clarification and requests for information in Fall/Winter 2020 (and up to the drafting of this report). An interactive and facilitated e-scooter industry group meeting was held on January 20, 2021 with 29 participants representing 15 companies. The material provided by the industry engagement was incorporated into City staff’s presentation to the TAAC.

Throughout 2020 and continuing in 2021, Transportation Services staff have received many concerns regarding e-scooters, including letters to the Mayor, from residents and several local and Canada-wide accessibility and human rights organizations (see Attachment 1 – List of Accessibility Stakeholders). The letters to the Mayor can be found with Item DI14.1 Electric Kick-Scooters (E-scooters) – Accessibility Feedback – Attachment 1 – Letters from Stakeholders.

Consultation included tele-meetings with key accessibility organizations and a special meeting of the TAAC on February 25, 2021 including deputants who experienced e-scooter pilot projects in other jurisdictions in the U.S. and Ottawa. Three e-scooter companies also made deputations at this meeting. Transportation Services staff also presented on March 3, 2021 to TTC’s Advisory Committee on Accessible Transit’s (ACAT) Service Planning Sub-Committee.

Key concerns include:

 

additional barriers created for pedestrians and persons with disabilities who use sidewalks out of necessity, especially people living with no vision/low vision, users of mobility assistive devices, or older adults encountering illegal sidewalk riding or poorly parked e-scooters;

significant challenges and difficulties with enforcing moving violations (i.e., lack of policing resources to witness/enforce illegal e-scooter use on sidewalks, ‘hit and runs’, and the inability to identify the e-scooter rider); and

how someone injured by an e-scooter rider or trip hazard caused by an improperly parked e-scooter would be compensated for damages (e.g., rehabilitation, lost wages, and medical costs).

At its February 25th meeting, the TAAC unanimously passed a motion to communicate to the Infrastructure and Environment Committee and City Council that they do not support the use of any e-scooters including a pilot project in the City of Toronto, and requested that a ban prohibiting e-scooter use in all public space remain in place without any exceptions. The TAAC also recommended a public education campaign for, and enforcement of, the existing by-laws banning public e-scooter use.

The feedback from residents, accessibility stakeholders and the TAAC indicates that solutions posed for privately-owned and rental/shared e-scooters are not satisfactory in addressing accessibility and safety issues.

Lack of Adequate Solutions to Accessibility and Safety Concerns

Technologies proposed by e-scooter companies are still experimental and do not prevent illegal sidewalk riding and conflicts with pedestrians and persons with disabilities. Sidewalk detection technologies (e.g., using camera data, vibration pattern data, or onboard braking patterns) are still experimental for e-scooter rental companies; and would not apply to privately owned e-scooters. These technologies also do not prevent e-scooter use/conflicts on sidewalks, but take effect once e-scooters are already on sidewalks which is reactive, rather than preventive.

There are not enough city resources for enforcement, and there are inherent problems with enforcing e-scooters that are difficult to overcome, such as requiring police enforcement to be present for incidents on sidewalks and the problem of identifying an e-scooter rider given their speed and no licence plates on devices that are privately owned. Also, the identity of the person renting the e-scooter may not be the person riding the e-scooter if rented/shared. Such enforcement is highly labour- and resource-intensive, and in many ways, infeasible.

“Lock-to” cables are not an effective solution because rental e-scooters could then be locked anywhere including as obstructions. Adding a cable to e-scooters enables them to be locked to spots blocking entrances, paths of travel or even inside transit shelters attached to the bench (a concern of TTC’s ACAT members). E-scooter rental companies note that personally-owned bicycles can be locked to posts/bike rings; however, this is not a fair comparison for rental fleets. Bike Share Toronto bicycles are “docked”, not dockless. Over 6,800 bike share bikes must be docked at Bike Share Toronto stations. Allowing thousands of rental e-scooters to use lock-to cables (essentially being dockless) would create significant pressure on existing bike parking in the City and numerous obstacles on sidewalks.

Residents and accessibility stakeholders say that “lock-to” e-scooters would worsen the number of sidewalk obstructions on already narrow and cluttered sidewalks. While docking stations for e-scooters may have potential, such technologies are still emerging.

Allowing e-scooters will add further barriers, and introduce hazards and distress at a time when COVID-19 has resulted in greater challenges for seniors, persons living with disabilities and their caregivers who use sidewalks as a necessity and not for recreation. Concerns raised include not only the risk of serious injury or fatality to persons with disabilities if tripping and falling or struck by an e-scooter, but the additional concern of being deprioritized for care, given an overburdened health care system and the need for triaging patients during the pandemic.

A scan of other jurisdictions on sidewalk e-scooter riding and non-rider injuries is included in Attachment 2 – Research Scan of Accessibility Issues in Other Jurisdictions.

 

Insurance and Liability Issues Are Not Resolved

Transportation Services, in consultation with the City’s Insurance and Risk Management Section (IRM), also concludes that insurance and liability issues remain unresolved for both privately owned and rental/shared e-scooters, for the reasons below.

Insurance products are not commercially available in Canada for e-scooters. Coverage is available, however, for pedal-assisted / power-assisted bicycles through home, tenant or condo insurance. Such insurance covers personal liability arising from the ownership, use or operation of e-bikes that meet the definition in the policy’s wording for power-assisted bicycle (e-bike). In the event that a pedestrian is injured by an e-bike user, and that e-bike is covered under the homeowners, tenant or condo insurance policy, then their insurance policy would respond subject to any policy limits and exclusions.

E-scooter companies are not providing full indemnification and first and third party insurance coverage to riders. To protect the City and e-scooter riders, rental companies must provide full indemnification for the City, and first and third party insurance coverage for e-scooter riders. This is similar to coverage available in the U.K. for their e-scooter trials, and also similar to liability insurance requirements in other countries such as France, Germany and Malta. Liability insurance held by e-scooter companies themselves (e.g., commercial general liability insurance) does not extend to protect the rider.

First party coverage would address e-scooter rider injuries such as falls; and

Third party coverage would address e-scooter rider liability to third parties such as pedestrians or cyclists (e.g. in collisions or tripping incidents).

There have been demonstrated difficulties in obtaining full indemnification from e-scooter companies. Municipalities have had disagreements with e-scooter companies over indemnification clauses (e.g., Chicago, Oakland) and pursued legal action against e-scooter companies for not complying with the indemnification clauses contained in their agreements (e.g., City of Riverside, California).

E-scooter companies have denied responsibility for losses on municipal property (public infrastructure) where they deem infrastructure conditions to be a contributing factor of the loss. Existing infrastructure design and minimum maintenance standards do not contemplate e-scooters and their particular features, such as small wheels and their device geometry. In addition, there are several risk factors unique to Toronto, such as:

an extensive streetcar track network of approximately 177 linear kilometres which poses a hazard to e-scooter riders due to the vehicle’s small wheels;

freezing and thawing from winters that impact the state-of-good-repair for roads. A large portion of roads are 40 to 50 years old, with about 43 per cent of Major Roads and 24 per cent of Local Roads in poor condition. Coupled with lack of mechanical standards for e-scooter wheels (e.g., traction/size), this makes this particular device more sensitive to uneven surfaces;

street conditions are affected by the city’s high volume of construction projects (e.g., approximately 120 development construction sites in 2019); and

narrow sidewalks and high pedestrian mode shares in the Downtown Core and City Centres increase the likelihood of friction on sidewalks with illegal e-scooter operation on sidewalks and poorly parked e-scooters.

Through feedback at the January 2021 industry group meeting, e-scooter companies have raised issues about the cost of obtaining and providing first and third party insurance coverage for riders; and the challenges of finding viable insurance providers. E-scooter rental companies will need to actively engage and partner with the insurance industry to address this concern, to protect e-scooter riders and avoid becoming a burden on the City and subsequently its taxpayers.

Comparisons to insurance requirements for bike share programs are not appropriate, as City staff discussed at the January 2021 industry group meeting, as the risk profile of e-scooters is not the same as those of bicycles. The reasons are based on the design differences and safety research including, but not limited to, the following:

E-scooters have a higher injury rate per mile than bicycles; e-scooter riders are twice as likely or 100% more likely to be injured from pavement cracks, potholes, signposts or lip of curb than bicyclists (IIHS, 2020).

E-scooters with their small wheels are less stable/controllable and more susceptible to road irregularities, and more likely to crash on poorly maintained roads than bicycles; and their manufacturers should explore safety features like larger wheels, a fork rake, steering stabilisation, indicator lights and a seat. (ITF/OECD, 2020, pp.38-40).

Data from two facial trauma centres in Paris show a trend toward an increase in severe head and neck injuries requiring surgery caused by the use of e-scooters (Hennocq et al., 2020).

There is still lack of protection for e-scooter riders with inadequate device safety standards and lack of available insurance. There are also ineffective solutions as of yet to address underage e-scooter riding and intoxicated e-scooter riding. Without full indemnification for the City and first and third party insurance coverage (including adequate thresholds) and upfront fees/funds held by the City, e-scooter riders and non-riders, as well as the City and subsequently, its taxpayers, are then exposed to the significant costs of responding to claims and litigation.

Long-Term Micromobility Options for the Public

While e-scooter trips have been said to overtake bike share trips – this has been in part due to the removal of bike share options in cities (e.g., Calgary and Hamilton in Canada, and Bloomington, Boise, Boulder, Dallas, Denver, Fort Collins, Knoxville, San Antonio and Seattle in the U.S.) and interestingly, bike share is being brought back again. Most recently, the City of San Francisco has been asked by its central area councillor/District 5 Supervisor (Dean Preston) for a publicly-owned and managed bike share and not a system run by private operators that does not meet the city’s mobility needs and interests.

In this respect, the City of Toronto may be ahead of the micromobility curve for serving the public’s interests. The 2020 Bike Share Toronto expansion added 1,550 bikes, 300 e-bikes and 160 stations to the system. Toronto’s system now has 6,850 bikes and 625 stations total, with more than 360,000 users in 2020. Bike Share Toronto is also integrated with transit at 43 TTC stations and 9 GO Transit stations. Almost 3 million trips were generated on Bike Share Toronto in 2020. Other large, urban peer cities in Canada are also focusing on bike share and e-bike share, like Montréal and Vancouver.

In Summary

 

Based on extensive research and feedback, this report concludes that accessibility barriers, safety concerns, and insurance issues remain unresolved for privately owned and rental e-scooters. The solutions proposed by e-scooter industry participants are not satisfactory in addressing the concerns from the TAAC, disability groups, residents, and City staff. Accordingly, City staff recommend that Toronto not opt-in to the e-scooter pilot, as there are not adequate protections for e-scooter riders and non-riders. The current regulations that prohibit the use of e-scooters in public spaces make sense as they will prevent an increase in street and sidewalk-related injuries and fatalities, and their associated costs. This aligns with the City’s Vision Zero Road Safety goals, including consideration of impacts on pedestrians and persons living with disabilities.

Contact

Elyse Parker                                                                    Janet Lo

Director, Policy and Innovation                   Senior Project Manager

Transportation Services                                Transportation Services

Tel: 416-338-2432                                                         416-397-4853

Email: [email protected]                      [email protected]

Signature

Barbara Gray

General Manager, Transportation Services

attachments

Attachment 1: List of Accessibility Stakeholders

Attachment 2: Research Scan of Accessibility Issues in Other Jurisdictions

 

 

Attachment 1: List of Accessibility Stakeholders

Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) Alliance

Alliance for Equality of Blind Canadians

ARCH Disability Law Centre

B’nai Brith Canada – League of Human Rights

Canadian Council of the Blind (CCB) – Toronto Visionaries Chapter

Canadian National Institute for the Blind (CNIB)

Citizens With Disabilities – Ontario

Guide Dog Users of Canada

March of Dimes of Canada

Older Women’s Network

Ontario Autism Coalition

Spinal Cord Injury Ontario

TTC Advisory Committee on Accessible Transit (ACAT)

Views for the Visually Impaired

Walk Toronto

Attachment 2: Research Scan of Accessibility Issues in Other Jurisdictions

 

A research scan on e-scooters indicates that illegal sidewalk riding is an unresolved problem:

 

According to the UDV (German Insurers Accident Research) in January 2021, e-scooter riders are four times more likely than bicyclists to injure others, due to e-scooters being illegally ridden on sidewalks. In 21% of e-scooter incidents with personal injury, the victim is not the rider, but another road user. This is due in part to e-scooters being ridden on sidewalks 60% of the time when they should be on the road or bike lane.

According to Austria’s Kuratorium für Verkehrssicherheit (KFV) in October 2020, 34% of 573 e-scooter riders observed at several Vienna locations illegally rode on the sidewalk. Even if there was a bike path, 23 per cent preferred the sidewalk. If there was only one cycle or multi-purpose lane, 46 per cent rode on the sidewalk. If there was no cycling infrastructure, 49 per cent rolled illegally on the sidewalk.

Tel Aviv has a unit of 22 inspectors dedicated to enforcing that e-scooters do not ride on sidewalks. 21,000 tickets for sidewalk offenses were issued in 2019. (Globes, 2020)

Pedestrian fatalities and serious injuries resulting from e-scooter incidents have occurred (e.g., in France, New Zealand, Singapore, Spain, U.K. and U.S), and data is under-reported for e-scooter incidents involving pedestrians:

“Non-riders, mainly pedestrians, represent between 1% and 14% of standing e-scooter related injuries… A major caveat is the likely under-reporting of injuries, a phenomenon that may be greatest among pedestrians. Their injuries may be treated as falls and, as such, lie outside the traditional scope of traffic safety data (Bekhit et al., 2020). Police data from Santa Monica found pedestrians to be involved in 7% of shared micromobility collisions (City of Santa Monica 2019b).” (ITF/OECD, 2020)

Data gaps exist, for example, when studies “explicitly excluded patients aged 55 and older on the grounds that mobility scooter injuries may be misinterpreted as standing e-scooter injuries. Such a protocol should be avoided because it may exclude a number of pedestrian injuries genuinely involving e-scooters.” (ITF/OECD, 2020)

According to a UCLA study of two hospital Emergency Rooms (ERs) in one year, just over eight per cent of the injuries were to pedestrians injured as a result of e-scooters (11 hit by an e-scooter, 5 tripped over a parked e-scooter, and 5 were attempting to move an e-scooter not in use). (Trivedi et al., 2019)

Non-riders accounted for 16 per cent of Emergency Medical Services referred injuries related to e-scooters in a study in Copenhagen. (Blomberg et al., 2019)



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Public Sector Accessibility Advisory Committees Across Canada


Many separate accessibility standards development processes exist in Canada. Ontario, Manitoba, and Nova Scotia all have laws that mandate creation of provincial accessibility standards. In addition, the Accessible Canada Act mandates accessibility standards that apply to organizations under federal jurisdiction. However, the government of Canada intends to coordinate federal and provincial accessibility laws. Moreover, the third review of the AODA recommends that the Ontario government should support this aim by aligning its accessibility law, the AODA, with the laws of other provinces and the country. If the governments work together to make these laws more similar, the AODA standards development process may change to align with laws in other places across the country. In this article, we explore public sector accessibility advisory committees across Canada.

Public Sector Accessibility Advisory Committees Across Canada

Ontario

In Ontario, Municipal Accessibility Advisory Committees advise city councils about how to comply with the requirements of the AODA. Cities with ten thousand (10,000) or more people must have a municipal accessibility advisory committee. In contrast, cities with less than ten thousand (10,000) people do not need a committee. Nonetheless, a small city or town can still create a committee. Alternatively, two or more towns or cities can create a joint accessibility advisory committee. More than half of committee members must be people with disabilities.

Municipal accessibility advisory committees advise their city councils about the requirements they must follow under AODA standards. In addition, they suggest ways that cities can implement these rules. Moreover, they also advise city councils on how to complete their accessibility reports.

Furthermore, committees also offer advice about the accessibility of new city buildings or other spaces. For instance, councils must consult committees when building or renovating:

Likewise, cities and towns must consult their committees about how many accessible taxis their community needs.

In addition, the council must seek the committee’s advice about a building that the council:

  • Builds
  • Buys
  • Leases
  • Renovates
  • Agrees to use as a city building or property, if someone provides it

In addition, the committee reviews building site plans and drawings for new buildings or spaces in the city. The committee must choose site plans or drawings to review, and the council must provide the committee with those plans.

Nova Scotia

Nova Scotia also requires accessibility advisory committees. However, cities are not the only organizations that must establish committees. Instead, every organization in the Nova Scotia public sector must have an accessibility advisory committee. These organizations, which the Nova Scotia Accessibility Act calls “public sector bodies”, include:

  • The provincial government
  • Municipalities
  • Universities
  • Other public sector organizations

Like members of Ontario’s Municipal Accessibility Advisory Committees, at least half of Nova Scotia’s accessibility advisory committee members must be people with disabilities, or belong to organizations representing people with disabilities. However, the Nova Scotia Accessibility Act does not describe any of the duties that these members must perform. Nonetheless, these committees ensure that people with disabilities are involved in a variety of public sector organizations.

As governments work together to align their accessibility laws, Ontario and Nova Scotia may change their legislation. For example, the AODA could mandate that all public sector organizations, not just cities, have accessibility advisory committees. In contrast, the Nova Scotia Accessibility Act could outline more specific guidelines to indicate the purpose and duties of their public sector accessibility advisory committees.




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Send Us Your Feedback on the Information and Communication Standards Development Committee’s Final Recommendations on What is Needed to Strengthen the 2011 Information and Communication Accessibility Standard, Enacted under Ontario?s Disabilities Act


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

December 17, 2020

SUMMARY

Over the past weeks, there has been a ton of breaking news on different fronts of our never-ending campaign for accessibility for people with disabilities. Before we shut down for the holidays, were going to try to catch you up on some that we have not earlier been able to address.

On or around November 16, 2020, the Ford Government made public the final recommendations of the Information and Communication Standards Development Committee. We set out those final recommendations below.

What is this about and what does it mean for 2.6 million Ontarians with disabilities? The Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) requires the Government to lead Ontario to become fully accessible by 2025. The Government must enact and effectively enforce all the accessibility standards needed to ensure that the AODAs goal is achieved. An accessibility standard is an enforceable and binding provincial regulation that spells out what an obligated organization must do to prevent and remove accessibility barriers and that sets timelines for action.

Almost ten years ago, back in June 2011, the Ontario Government enacted the Integrated Accessibility Standards Regulation (IASR) under the AODA. Among other things, that regulation includes a series of provisions requiring the accessibility of information and communication. Those provisions are often called the 2011 Information and Communication Accessibility Standard.

Under the AODA, the Ontario Government is required to appoint a Standards Development Committee five years or less after an accessibility standard is enacted, to review it and see if it needs to be improved. Therefore, in 2016, the Ontario Government appointed the Information and Communication Standards Development Committee to review the 2011 Information and Communication Accessibility Standard, and to recommend any revisions needed so that this accessibility standard would best achieve the AODAs purposes.

After meeting over a period of months, the Information and Communication Standards Development Committee came up with a package of draft recommendations on how to strengthen the 2011 Information and Communication Accessibility Standard. On July 24, 2019, the Ontario Government posted those draft recommendations online and invited public input on them. The Ontario Government was required to do this under the AODA.

The public then had a few weeks to give feedback to the Standards Development Committee on its draft recommendations. For example, the AODA Alliance submitted a 73 page brief to the Information and Communication Standards Development Committee on November 25, 2019. Our brief commended much of what was in the Committees draft recommendations. It also offered extensive feedback and recommendations to the Information and Communication Standards Development Committee.

That Standards Development Committee was then required to meet again to consider all the feedback it received from the public. It did so. Among other things, on January 22, 2020, AODA Alliance Chair David Lepofsky was given an opportunity to present in person for 30 minutes to the Committee.

The Information and Communication Standards Development Committee then finalized its package of recommendations for revisions to the Information and Communication Accessibility Standard. On February 28, 2020, the Standards Development Committee submitted those recommendations to the Ford Government. The Government is required to make those recommendations public, so the public can give the Government feedback on them. For no discernible or justifiable reason, the Ford Government held off making the Standards Development Committees final recommendations public for eight months.

What comes next? Under the AODA, the Government can enact revisions to the Information and Communication Accessibility Standard. It can make all, some or none of the changes that the Information and Communication Standards Development Committee recommended. It can also enact revisions beyond those that the Standards Development Committee recommended.

We and the public therefore now have an opportunity to take our case for revisions directly to the Ford Government. We therefore invite your feedback on the Information and Communication Standards Development Committee’s final recommendations, set out below. Given the incredible number of issues we are now addressing, we have not yet had a chance to analyze the Standards Development Committees final report and recommendations. You can always send us your thoughts by emailing us at [email protected]

Under the AODA, the Government is required to post the Standards Development Committees final recommendations for 45 days. Sadly, the Government under successive premiers has at times followed an irrational practice of taking down those recommendations after the minimum time period that the AODA requires them to be posted. Nothing would stop the Government from leaving them up and visible to all on the internet on a permanent basis. That would provide greater openness and accountability for the Government and the AODA itself.

Despite the Governments past practice in this area, the AODA Alliance will continue its practice of leaving such reports and recommendations permanently posted on our website.

If the Government decides to make revisions to the Information and Communication Accessibility Standard, the AODA requires the Government to post the wording of the draft regulation it proposes to enact, for public comment. We will let you know if the Government does this.

We offer two examples here of the need for prompt action in this area. First, as was pointed out in the December 8, 2020 panel on accessible education on The Agenda with Steve Paikin, TVOs online educational materials for school students doing distance learning are still replete with accessibility problems. TVO has announced no detailed plan of action to fix these. TVO is owned and operated by the Ontario Government.
Second, just weeks ago, the Ford Governments Accessibility Minister issued an invitation in an inaccessible broadcast email to an upcoming event where he was to make an announcement on accessibility. The Government apologized for this. As it turned out, nothing new was announced at the event in question.

The Ford Government has repeatedly claimed to be leading by example on accessibility. These incidents are an awful example by which Ontarians should not be led in the area of accessible information and communication.

So far, the Ford Government has been very lethargic in fulfilling its duties to develop accessibility standards under the AODA. For example:

1. In the spring of 2018, weeks before the 2018 Ontario provincial election, the Transportation Standards Development Committee submitted to the Government its final report proposing revisions needed to the 2011 Transportation Accessibility Standard. That has languished on the Ford Governments desk since it took office in June 2018, two and a half years ago. Since then, the Government has not invited any public feedback on this, and has announced no plans in this area. Ontario thus continues to have a public transit system replete with disability barriers.

2. As noted above, the Government sat on the final report of the Information and Communication Standards Development Committee for over a half a year before fulfilling its duty to make that report public, for public input.

3. The Government still has not fulfilled its duty to appoint a Standards Development Committee to review the 2012 Public Spaces Accessibility Standard. The Government was required to appoint that Standards Development Committee fully three years ago. The current Government is on the hook for two and a half of the three years of AODA contravention.

4. On taking office, the Ford Government left five existing Standards Development Committees frozen and in limbo for months, before allowing them to get back to fulfil their mandatory work. We had to campaign for months to get them unfrozen. That included, among others, the Information and Communication Standards Development Committee.

For more information on our multi-year campaign to make information and communication fully accessible to people with disabilities, visit the AODA Alliances information and communication web page.

To see what we asked the Information and Communication Standards Development Committee to recommend to the Ford Government, check out the AODA Alliances November 25, 2019 brief to the Information and Communication Standards Development Committee.

There have now been an unbelievable 686 days since the Ford Government received the ground-breaking final report of the Independent Review of the implementation of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act by former Ontario Lieutenant Governor David Onley. The Government has still announced no comprehensive plan of new action to implement that blistering report, including its strong recommendations regarding the development of strong accessibility standards. That delay makes even worse the serious problems facing Ontarians with disabilities during the COVID-19 crisis, addressed in a new online video we recently unveiled.

MORE DETAILS

Information and Communication Standards Development Committee Chairs letter to the minister February28,2020
The Honourable Raymond Cho
Minister for Seniors and Accessibility
777 Bay Street
5thFloor, Toronto, Ontario
M7A1S5
Dear Minister,
The Information and Communications Standards Development Committee has completed our legislative review of the Information and Communications Standards. As chair and on behalf of the committee, I am pleased to submit the final recommendations report for the proposed accessibility standard for your consideration.
In meeting the provisions of the legislative review, as set out in the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, we re-examined the long-term objective of the Information and Communications Standards and each of the requirements. Our review included all of the Standards sections, the focus areas identified in the terms of reference, and additional items raised by committee members well as a limited amount of external feedback.
As you wisely requested, we considered how to make it easier for businesses and the public sector to achieve accessibility in all of the recommendations.
The report is structured in two phases, stemming from an early and clear consensus that the current structure of standards is not keeping pace with technology. Phase1 contains 32recommendations that the committee is proposing as immediate solutions to identified gaps and unintended barriers in the current standards. Phase2 proposes a new model to transform and modernize the regulatory approach to accessibility in Ontario. It could be applied first to the Information and Communications Standards and would allow organizations to continuously adapt and improve their websites, web content and technology up to and beyond2025. If the model proves successful, the committees intent is that government explore applying it to other accessibility standards in the future. Phase2 is a proposal for culture change in Ontario.
Our committee had extensive discussions in reviewing the path to a province where people with disabilities be able to participate fully and equitably in the creation and use of information and communication. As chair, and in-line with The Honourable David Onleys recent report, I assess that relying on theAODAand its associated Standards will never achieve that objective. More is needed, and this report only begins to address those needs.
We considered public feedback and stakeholder presentations in finalizing our recommendations. We have reflected this in the report. We thank the individuals, and organizations who provided feedback on the initial recommendations report.
As chair, and past chair of Accessibility Standards Advisory Committee, it is prudent for me to comment on the effectiveness of the Standards development process. In short, the Standard development process is broken, primarily for the reasons listed below:
1. Research and feedback: Current sources of information on the experiences of people with disabilities and obligated organizations are too narrow and heavily biased by lobby groups. The voices of individual people with disabilities and obligated organizations must be sought out broadly and intentionally. The few sources that are available are gathered at the end of the process these ongoing insights must seed the process, not merely confirm its outcome.
2. Bounded by current standards: Understanding that legislation requires an explicit review (as is current interpretation), the process needs to be more responsive to on-the-ground realities that may or may not be covered by legislation.
3. Timing and permanency: These reviews are by nature, periodic. Instead, permanent bodies, staffed by full time professional appointees must be the norm. These appointees must be paid a significant salary to attract the best and brightest in Ontario, or more boldly, globally. These professionals are better equipped to capture and react to insights gathered from a vastly to-be-improved research process.
4. Encourage risk and failure: Disability regulations around the world have failed to deliver on their promise. Acknowledge that publicly. Encourage, and fund, innovation that ensures Ontario is a place where people with disabilities be able to participate fully and equitably in all aspects of the economy and society. Notice that mere accessibility is not the benchmark.
It has been an honour to chair this committee and work alongside such dedicated members who exude professionalism and are comfortable with taking risk. We look forward to the Ministers response on these final recommendations. Sincerely,
Rich Donovan
Chair of Information and Communications Standards Development Committee
Final Report of the Information and Communication Standards Development Committee

Originally posted at https://www.ontario.ca/page/copyright-information-c-queens-printer-ontario

Introduction
Recognizing the history of discrimination against persons with disabilities in Ontario, the purpose of this act is to benefit all Ontarians by developing, implementing and enforcing accessibility standards in order to achieve accessibility for Ontarians with disabilities with respect to goods, services, facilities, accommodation, employment, buildings, structures and premises on or before January1,2025; and providing for the involvement of persons with disabilities, of the Government of Ontario and of representatives of industries and of various sectors of the economy in the development of the accessibility standards. Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act,2005
Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act,2005
The act became law in2005. Its stated goal is the creation of an accessible Ontario by2025, through the development, implementation and enforcement of accessibility standards that apply to the public, private and not-for-profit sectors.
With the act, Ontario became the first province in Canada and one of the first places in the world to bring in a specific law establishing a goal and timeframe for accessibility. It was also the first place to legally require accessibility reporting, and one of the first to establish accessibility standards so that people with disabilities have more opportunities to participate in everyday life. Accessibility standards
The accessibility standards under the act are laws that businesses and organizations with one or more employees in Ontario must follow so they can identify, remove and prevent barriers faced by people with disabilities. These standards are part of the actsIntegrated Accessibility Standards Regulation. Currently, there are five accessibility standards, and they apply to key areas of day-to-day life for Ontarians. These are: * Information and Communications
* Employment
* Transportation
* Design of Public Spaces
* Customer Service
Standards review process
The act requires that each of Ontarios accessibility standards be reviewed within five years of becoming law, to determine whether they are working as intended and to allow for changes to be made if they are required. These reviews are carried out by Standards Development Committees. The act also requires that committees be comprised of representatives from industries or other organizations that are affected by the accessibility standards, government ministries with responsibilities relating to those industries and organizations and people with disabilities or their representatives. As required by the act, the committee must:
* re-examine the long-term objectives of the standards
* if required, revise the measures, policies, practices and requirements to be implemented on or before January1,2025, as well as the timeframe for their implementation
* develop initial proposed recommendations containing changes or additions that the committee considers advisable, and submit them for public comment
* based on public feedback, make such changes to the proposed accessibility standards that it considers advisable, and submit those recommendations to the minister
This report presents the final recommendations for proposed accessibility standards by the Information and Communications Standards Development Committee. Information and Communications Standards Development Committee
The committee was established in late2016. The committee was originally composed of 23members, however 3resigned during the process. As of this final report, there were 20members, 16 of these are voting members voting members. The remaining four members, who were non-voting, were drawn from ministries which have responsibilities relating to the sectors to which the standards apply. Nine of the voting members were people with disabilities or their representatives. All members, including those who resigned, are listed inappendix Aof this report.
To begin its review, the committee was provided with stakeholder feedback from the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Division of the Ministry for Seniors and Accessibility (formerly the Accessibility Directorate of Ontario). This feedback was informed by incoming written correspondence, telephone calls, compliance-related activities and consultation with stakeholders.
Their first meetingan orientation sessionwas held in March 2017. Through 2017 and into Winter 2018, the committee held several meetings to complete its initial recommendations. These initial recommendations were posted for public comment between July 24th, 2019 and October 18th, 2019. On January 22 and 23, 2020, the committee met one last time to finalize this report while taking into account public comments.
The committees deliberations benefitted from the diverse viewpoints and knowledge that members brought to the table. After each meeting, members sought feedback from their communities and networks to share at the following meeting. This input informed voting on recommended changes.
As noted above, this document sets out the committees final recommendations for proposed updated accessibility standards. As outlined by the act, the Minister shall decide whether to recommend to the Lieutenant Governor in Council that the proposed standard be adopted by regulation in whole, in part or with modifications. Approach taken by committee
The standards deal with the way organizations create and share information and outline how they are to make information and communication accessible to people with disabilities. The standards require that accessible formats and communication supports be made available on request. They also cover such areas as emergency and public safety information, websites, feedback processes, as well as educational, training and library materials and resources and training for educators.
The committees discussions reflected a consensus that the current standards are not keeping pace with technology. There was mention that the standards are not always strong enough and are often too difficult to apply. The committee also discussed the fact that the standards are confusing and prevent innovation in accessible technology. Overall, committee members agreed that the standards need to be modernized and crafted to ensure they remain relevant in the future, as technology changes at an increasingly rapid pace.
To assist with developing this advice, the committee created the Digital Inclusion Technical Subcommittee. The subcommittees main task was to provide expert advice to the committee about section14 of the regulation, which sets out the accessibility requirements for websites and web content. All members of the subcommittee are listed inappendixAof this report.
In addition, the subcommittee was asked to think about some very broad questions, including what accessibility means in todays digital world, and whether the current regulatory system can deliver the desired outcomes.
Based on the subcommittees advice, the committee settled on both a short- and long-term approach to making information and communication accessible for people with disabilities. This report is divided into two parts or phases.
Phase1contains 32recommendations that the committee is proposing as immediate solutions to identified gaps and unintended barriers in the current standards. Each of these recommendations contains: * an explanation of the issue
* the specific language of the recommendation as voted on
* an explanation of the intent and desired outcome of the recommendation * recommended timing for implementation of the revised requirement if applicable
Phase2proposes a new model to transform and modernize the regulatory approach to accessibility in Ontario. It could be applied first to the Information and Communications Standards and would allow organizations to continuously adapt and improve their websites, web content and technology up to and beyond2025. If the model proves successful, the committees intent is that government explore applying it to other accessibility standards in the future. Phase2 is, in effect, a proposal for culture change in Ontario. The committee recognizes that, given its potentially transformative nature, this phase may take more time to develop and implement.
The committee recognizes that due to the nature of the topic, complexity of technology, simple and plain language may not have been viewed as a priority at the beginning of the process. Based on the feedback we have received and the knowledge we have gained through this process, the committee recommends any further public communication of this report should available in a simple language version. Phase1
This section focuses on the Information and Communications Standards outlined in theIntegrated Accessibility Standards Regulation. Recommendations in this section are listed according to the different sections under the standards.
It should be noted that throughout this report, reference is frequently made to obligated organizations. These are organizations that are expected to comply with requirements in the regulation. Obligated organizations include: * the Government of Ontario
* the Legislative Assembly
* designated public sector organizations
* large organizations, private or not-for-profit, with 50 or more employees * small organizations, private or not-for-profit, with one to 49 employees
Some requirements do not apply to all these organizations. Small organizations, for example, are exempt from some requirements. This report will specify when this is the case. If it does not, the requirements being discussed may be assumed to apply to all the above obligated organizations. Recommended long-term objective
While developing its specific recommendations, the committee continuously considered the long-term objective of the standards. The act requires all the Standards Development Committees to establish these long-term objectives, and the Information and Communications Standards Development Committee is required to re-examine the long-term objective.
The current long-term objective of the accessible Information and Communications Standards is:
That by2025, all information and methods of communication to and from an individual will be designed to be accessible to people with disabilities consistent with human rights law, theFrench Language Services Act(1990)(where applicable) and inclusive design principles. The committee intends for the requirements to build upon the principle of providing accommodation to people with disabilities to preserve and enhance dignity and independence.
The committee believes that the objective above is too complicated, and recommends the following clear and simple objective instead:
That people with disabilities be able to participate fully and equitably in the creation and use of information and communication. Part1: Regulation in general or Sections9 to11
Recommendations in this section are related either to the regulation in general or to Sections 911 of the regulation. Recommendation1: Feedback requirements
Section11 of the regulation relates to the feedback organizations receive from the public, and outlines accessibility requirements around the feedback process. The committee learned that organizations were confused about the fact that there are different requirements related to feedback located throughout the regulation. Specifically, section11: Feedback of the Information and Communications Standards and Section80.50: Feedback process required of the Customer Service Standards have some of the same requirements. The committee proposes the following:
The feedback requirements in Sections11 and80.50 of the regulation should be combined and placed in the General Requirements section of the regulation, ensuring both the format requirements of section11 and the specific requirement for a process in Section 80.50 about goods, services and facilities remain. In addition, the committee recommends that clear definitions of the terms feedback and communication be included. Timeline: Immediate
The intent of this recommendation is to eliminate the confusion caused by having requirements for a feedback process dealt with in two different parts of the regulation. This change should not modify the obligations of organizations but simply make them clearer and easier to find and understand. Recommendation2: Usage of portable document format (PDF)
During a 2016meeting of the Standing Committee on Finance and Economic Affairs, the standing committee discussed a proposal to banPDFsfrom government use. This is becausePDFsare often inaccessible. While the proposal was not approved, it was referred to this formal regulatory review process. The Information and Communications Standards Development Committee discussed the fact thatPDFsare often inaccessible, and while it is possible to make them accessible, the expertise needed to make a fully accessiblePDFis seldom present in obligated organizations. However, the committee concluded that while certain problems do exist withPDFs, banning them altogether is not the best solution, particularly since they work well when made properly accessible. The committee proposes the following:
Government should not ban the use ofPDFsfor any obligated organization. Timeline:N/A
The committee did discuss a number of alternative measures, including non-regulatory approaches such as increasing education for government employees on how to makePDFsaccessible, but did not vote on the matter. Recommendation3: Final review of regulatory language
The Minister may accept in whole, in part or with modifications the committees recommendations once they are received. The committee recognizes that members are not usually involved in the decision-making process after its final advice is submitted. However, some recommendations for the standards are highly technical, and the committee is concerned about ensuring consistency in the interpretation of those recommendations. In particular, there is concern about technical aspects related to section14: accessible websites and web content. The committee proposes the following:
Government use the technical expertise of the Digital Inclusion Technical Subcommittee as a resource, as needed, to clarify intent and technical accuracy during the regulatory drafting stage related to section14. Timeline:N/A
The intent of this recommendation is to avoid any possible confusion regarding the intent of the committees recommendations and to ensure that the government can easily obtain clarification if confusion arises. Recommendation4: Products and product labels
The current regulation states that products and product labels are not required to be made accessible unless specifically mentioned in the standards. Stakeholders have expressed concern that a large number of goods remain inaccessible because of this exemption. The committee agreed that there should, at the very least, be a digital format available for all products and product labels where applicable. The problem is that both federal and provincial governments regulate in this area, and so making a recommendation solely at the provincial level would be ineffective.
In order to ensure a solution to this issue is coordinated between the federal and provincial jurisdictions, the committee proposes the following:
The Government of Ontario should meet with the Government of Canada to look for solutions to the problem of accessible products and product labels. These solutions may include clarifying jurisdictional authority over different products. In addition, it is recommended that Ontario meet with various industries to explore non-regulatory solutions to this issue. Medical labelling should be a priority for action.
Timeline: One year for Ontario and Canada to produce a report that sets a strategic direction on the recommendations above. If a report is not created by the governments of Ontario and Canada by this time, then the recommendation is that Ontario develop a strategy within one additional year to address this, including creating an expert committee.
The committee recognizes that the exemption of products and product labels is an accessibility barrier, but also recognizes that a solution to this problem needs to involve all levels of government that have authority over this area. The committee also recognizes that technology offers the potential for organizations to develop innovative solutions to this issue and would like the Government of Ontario to work with industries to encourage the development of non-regulatory solutions. Part2: section12
The following recommendations relate to section12 of the regulation, which requires organizations to provide accessible formats and communication supports for people with disabilities. The committee discussed this at length and have a number of recommendations regarding section12 Accessible formats and communication supports. Recommendation5: Determination of suitability
If a person with a disability asks an organization for an alternate format or communication support, that organization is required to consult with the requester about the request. The final decision on whether to provide the requested alternate format or communication support is with the organization. The committee noted that this is resulting in the provision of formats that do not meet the needs of people with disabilities. The committee proposes the following:
Change regulation12.(2) to state: The obligated organization shall consult with the person making the request and gain agreement in determining the suitability of an accessible format or communication support.
Timeline: Language to be changed immediately, and regulation to become effective six months after language change.
The intent of this recommendation is that the final decision on the suitability of an accessible format should not be left to the organization alone. Rather, both the organization and the person requesting an alternate format should work together to gain agreement on suitability. The committee recognizes that this may create an impasse, and this is partly what motivates recommendation7 (to follow). Despite the potential for an impasse, the committee feels this recommendation will result in improved accessibility. The committee recognizes that with this change, organizations may need time to adjust their processes, so it is proposed that it be effective six months after the amended regulation is in force. Recommendation6: Timely manner
Section12 of the regulation states that organizations must provide accessible formats in a ‘timely manner, considering the requesters needs due to disability. Stakeholder feedback revealed that people with disabilities and organizations often do not agree on the definition of timely manner. Specifically, people with disabilities point out that organizations are only required to take the persons needs ‘into account when deciding on what would be a timely manner. The committee proposes the following:
Change the regulation to state that organizations must provide accessible formats in a mutually agreed upon timely manner which considers the circumstances of the requester, and the urgency of his or her request.
Timeline: Language to be changed immediately, and regulation to become effective six months after language change.
The idea is similar to the intent of recommendation5, which is to ensure that important decisions that affect people with disabilities must be made with their participation. In this case, it would require that organizations and people with disabilities agree on what is meant by a timely manner. Again, the potential for disagreement is recognized, but the committee feels this recommendation will result in improved accessibility. As with Recommendation6, the committee is proposing that this change become effective 6months after the amended regulation is in force, to give organizations time to prepare and adjust. Recommendation7: Agreement between people with disabilities and organizations
Certain sections of the regulation require or provide for feedback processes allowing people with disabilities to make their needs and positions clear to organizations. Unfortunately, there is currently no mechanism to resolve disagreements when either party is unhappy with the result. Clearly, such a mechanism would be useful. The committee proposes the following:
The issue of a lack of mechanism to address disagreement between organizations and people with disabilities in any section of the regulation should be referred to the Accessibility Standards Advisory Council.
Timeline: Referred to the council immediately following the submission of the final proposed recommendations. The council should develop a mechanism within one year.
The intent of this recommendation is for the council to investigate the creation of a mechanism to support the satisfaction of both people with disabilities and organizations, in relation to requirements under the act and regulation. The council is best positioned to examine this issue. Recommendation8: Harmonization of section12
As was noted in recommendation1, organizations are confused by multiple and often duplicate requirements throughout the regulation. Specifically in this case, section12 of the Information and Communications Standards and section80.51 of the Customer Service Standards create duplicate requirements for providing accessible formats. The committee proposes the following:
Requirements for alternate formats and communication supports should be combined and moved to one place, in the general requirements section of the regulation. There should be no material change in the requirements, except for any other recommendations made by the committee regarding section12. A reference to the combined section in the general requirements should be made whenever requirements for alternative formats and communication supports are mentioned in the regulation. Timeline: Immediate
The intent of this recommendation is to clarify requirements and eliminate confusion by ensuring they are contained in one section of the regulation. The committee feels that moving the requirement for accessible formats into the general requirements section of the regulation would also make it clear that this requirement applies to all of the standards, and not just to Information and Communications. To be clear, the intent is not to weaken requirements in any way. Recommendation9: On-demand conversion ready formats
Currently, there is sometimes a delay when the government is asked to provide alternate formats of documents. The committee feels that technology has advanced to the point where there is no real excuse for this delay. The committee proposes the following:
The Government of Ontario and Legislative Assembly should produce a conversion-ready digital format of all public-facing materials and provide those materials on-demand:
* ‘on-demand in this case would mean immediately, meaning that it should already have been created
* ‘conversion-ready digital format means a format which has the properties it needs to be readily converted into an accessible format Timeline: January1,2021
The intent of this recommendation is to strengthen the idea that accessible formats should not be offered as an accommodation, to be provided only when requested and only after a delay. Accessible formats and communications supports are necessary from the start as part of an accessibility foundation. This would be a significant new requirement for government, but given current technology, it is possible. Recommendation10: On-demandASLandLSQtranslations
In developing recommendation9, the committee struggled with the fact that users of American Sign Language (ASL) and Langue des signes québécoise or Langue des signes du Québec (LSQ) would not benefit from the change in recommendation9. It was agreed that while providing all public facing materials inASLandLSQon-demand would simply be too burdensome, there are certain types of information and communication which should be available in these formats. The committee proposes the following:
The Government of Ontario should convene a meeting of deaf, hard of hearing and deafblind stakeholders to determine which materials should be provided by the Government of Ontario to the public inASLandLSQtranslation. The committee recommends that following the meeting, the materials identified start to be made available on-demand.
Timeline: One year for the meeting to occur, and January1,2021 for the requirement to be effective.
The committees intent is that the Government of Ontario find a fair and reasonable answer to the question of which types of materials should be available inASLandLSQon demand. Part3: Section13
The following recommendations relate to section13 of the regulation, which requires organizations to provide accessible formats of publicly posted emergency plans and procedures upon request. During discussion, many committee members expressed concern with current emergency outcomes for people with disabilities, and the committee feels that improving these outcomes is absolutely critical. The committee recognizes that the scope and overall effectiveness of the requirements in Section13 are limited, and strongly recommends that other action to improve these outcomes be taken as soon as possible. Recommendation11: Emergency requirements
Section13 in the Information and Communications Standards, section27 in the Employment Standards and Sections37 and56 of the Transportation Standards are all related to emergency requirements. As has been noted previously in this document, having requirements located in different places throughout the regulation is confusing for all parties. In the case of emergency requirements, that is a particularly significant problem. The committee proposes the following:
The emergency requirements throughout the regulation should be brought together and moved into the general requirements with no material changes to what is being required. Timeline: Immediate
The intent of this recommendation is to ensure that nothing is missed, and no requirements are overlooked when it comes to protecting the lives of people with disabilities and their families. These requirements should be consolidated and given a clear and prominent position in the general requirements of the regulation. Recommendation12: Unacceptable emergency outcomes and preparedness
After a significant discussion regarding emergency outcomes, the committee has concluded that the preparedness of all levels of government for emergencies involving people with disabilities is unacceptable.
The committee strongly recommends the following to help protect the lives of people with disabilities and their families:
Disability and accessibility should be front and centre in the upcoming review of theEmergency Management and Civil Protection Act. To that end, the Solicitor General, who has responsibility for emergency management, should involve people with disabilities in the review. The Solicitor General should specifically include the Accessibility Standards Advisory Council. The same process should occur when theFire Codeis next reviewed. Timeline: Immediate
The intent of this recommendation is to address the lack of emergency planning focused on the needs of people with disabilities. It is unacceptable and must be dealt with urgently. Part4: Section14
The following recommendations relate to section14 of the regulation, which sets out the accessibility requirements for websites and web content. In both stakeholder feedback and in the committee meetings, Section14 received the most attention and led to the most significant level of feedback and discussion. It has become clear that there is a great deal of confusion surrounding the requirements of Section14, particularly given the rapidly changing pace of digital society.
The globally accepted standard for web accessibility is a set of standards called the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines2.0 (WCAG2.0), which is published by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C). While this standard is the one used in section14, stakeholders and committee members agree that is not clear enough how theWCAG2.0 guidelines should be applied to many technologies beyond websites and web content, nor is it easy to determine when the requirements ofWCAG2.0 have actually been met.
In order to help clear up this confusion and also inform its recommendations, the committee created a Digital Inclusion Technical Subcommittee. This subcommittee provided two distinct sets of expert advice to the committee:
1. Recommendations to address confusion and gaps in section14 (part of the phase1 recommendations) 2. A proposal for a new model for these standards (seephase2) Recommendation13: Mobile applications and new technologies
One of the most frequently asked questions during stakeholder consultations was whether and how section14 applied to mobile applications. The answer, for the most part, is that they do not. The current requirements apply to web-based applications only, which does not generally include mobile applications. The committee proposes the following:
The definition of website should be aligned with the definition used by the United States Access Board, the European Union and the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, among others, which include mobile applications, interfaces or other technologies as required. Relevant sections of these definitions have been provided inappendixC.
Timeline: By2021, which aligns with the existing requirement for all websites to be accessible.
The intent of this recommendation is for both mobile applications which run from a website, and those which run as a standalone device but rely on the internet for function, would be subject to accessibility requirements under section14. These requirements would apply to the government and legislative assembly, the broader public sector and large organizations. For the purposes of Section14, small organizations are currently exempt from accessibility requirements. Recommendation14: Procurement
Procurement refers to the purchasing or acquiring of goods or services. The subcommittee noted that there are no accessible procurement requirements specifically related to section14. There are procurement requirements in the general requirements section of the regulation, but the subcommittee suggested that these are not strong enough to result in accessible digital procurement. The committee proposes the following:
The Government of Ontario and designated public sector organizations shall incorporate accessibility design, criteria and features when procuring or buying goods, services or facilities. These criteria include:
* using qualified third-party evaluation certification services established through programs such as: o the United States Access Board Trusted Tester Program
o inclusive design or accessibility certificate programs such as those offered by colleges or universities
o professional certifications from organizations such as the International Association of Accessibility Professionals (IAAP) o other professional service vendors that may qualify for such activities
* both manual and automated verification of compliance to technical web and software criteria, not just automated testing * functional testing of usability by persons with disabilities * interoperability with alternative access systems (as defined in the glossary) * sign language and other communication modalities
* the requirement to procure accessible authoring and development tools
This requirement would be in addition to the general accessible procurement requirements in the regulation. The reference criteria for authoring tools would be Authoring Tool Accessibility Guidelines (ATAG)2.0 (A and B)
Timeline: January1,2022. Where an obligated organization has entered into a contract before January1,2022, it is not required to meet the requirements of this section. The intent of the committee is not to allow grandfathering past2023.
The committees intent with this recommendation is to ensure that digital procurement by the Government of Ontario and broader public sector organizations includes accessibility criteria, and that authoring and development tools that are procured are accessible.
The committee would also like non-digital procurement as required by the procurement requirement in the general requirements to be strengthened. Since this is beyond the scope of the committees mandate, the committee would like this work to be referred to the Accessibility Standards Advisory Council and broader government bodies that manage procurement. Recommendation15: Differentiating organizations/high impact organizations
The obligations of organizations under the regulation are determined by how many employees they have, as this has traditionally been a measure of how much widespread impact they have. However, the subcommittee advised the committee that as technology evolves, the number of employees is no longer necessarily a good indicator of the impact organizations may have on Ontarians. The fact is that, increasingly, organizations with very few employees are able to provide a high level or volume of services and thus should be considered high-impact organizations.
The committee believes that section14, and eventually the whole regulation, need to adapt to capture these new business models. The committee proposes the following:
* Create a definition for ‘high-impact organizations. One such definition might be an organization that has one or more Ontario employees and meets either of the following criteria: o one million or more average annual users in Ontario (free or paid) o $10million or more in yearly global revenues
* These newly defined high-impact organizations would have to comply with the Information and Communications Standards and report under the act, and be subject to the same requirements as large organizations
* For such businesses as described above that are under federal instead of Ontario jurisdiction, or with no employees in Ontario, the province should engage in consultation with businesses and the federal government to determine and harmonize mechanisms to regulate them Timeline: One year with proactive outreach.
The committees intent with this recommendation is to ensure that all organizations with many users in Ontario, and therefore having a large impact on the province, are complying with section14 of the regulation. This approach could be used for other requirements in the future where appropriate. Recommendation16: Significant refresh
Currently, the requirements of section14 apply to organizations which either create new websites or significantly refresh existing websites. Stakeholder feedback and advice from the subcommittee suggested there is confusion about what ‘significant refresh means, as the term is subjective. In addition, the committee learned that since Section14 requirements apply to websites that are new or significantly refreshed, some organizations are choosing to update their websites only a bit at a time, thus avoiding the requirements. This may actually result in reduced accessibility for users. The committee proposes the following:
* Any content that is new or which an obligated organization changes, updates or adds to a website must meet the accessibility requirements of section14
* Furthermore, when content is added, changed or updated, it is recommended that organizations take the opportunity to make all content accessible
* The committee recommends that content should include all functions, interactions and ‘branding (look and feel) for a site. It is recommended that section14 include examples for the sake of clarity
Timeline: Regulation to be changed immediately, to be effective six months after the new regulation comes into force.
The intent of this recommendation is to bring the section14 requirement closer to its intended function, which is to ensure that over time, organizations develop greater accessible content for users with disabilities. Recommendation17: Practicability
Section14 contains an exemption for obligated organizations which gives them the ability to claim that making a website accessible is ‘not practicable. The committee feels that this term is too vague and might allow some organizations to avoid doing something they are actually able to do. The committee proposes the following:
Clearly define the term not practicable, bringing it in line with the term undue hardship, as set out by theOntario Human Rights Code. A link to this terminology has been provided inappendixC. Timeline: Immediate
The intent of this recommendation is to reduce how easy it is for obligated organizations to use vague wording in the standards as an excuse to not fulfil their requirements. Aligning the language with that of the Ontario Human Rights Commission would bring significant clarity, as both the commission and the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario have previously ruled on what undue hardship actually is. Recommendation18: Harmonization and application across requirements
Section14 is intended to bring about greater accessibility in websites. The committee noted, however, that websites are mentioned in different sections of the regulation, but only in section14 are the accessibility requirements explained. In the view of the committee, this makes it too easy for stakeholders to overlook or miss the requirements. The committee proposes the following:
It should be made clear that section14 applies to all sections of the regulation. This could be communicated as a reference to section14 wherever websites are directly referenced in the regulation. Timeline: Immediate
The committees intent with this recommendation is to make sure obligated organizations follow website accessibility requirements by reducing any confusion about what they are obligated to do. Part4, subpart1: Section14 exemptions
Section14 identifies a number of situations in which websites or web content do not need to comply with accessibility requirements. The committee does not believe that these exemptions are functioning as intended and recommends changes to these exemptions. Recommendation19: Extranet exemption
Section14 covers internet, intranet and extranet websites, and in the process it defines what these are. Intranet websites are websites that can be accessed from within a particular organizations network. Currently, not all organizations are required to make these sites accessible. Moving on to extranet websites, section14 defines these as websites which require a login. It considers these as an extension of intranets, and therefore also exempt for most organizations. The problem is that a great number of other internet websites that happen to require logins are therefore also considered extranets and so are exempt, which is certainly not desirable. The committee proposes the following:
The exemption for public-facing websites with a log-in (previously referred to as extranets) should be removed and these types of websites should be required to comply with the regulation.
Timeframe: New public-facing websites with a log-in must comply by January1,2022, and all public-facing websites with a log-in must comply by January1,2023.
The intent of this recommendation is to completely remove the exemption for extranet websites, ensuring not only that these be required to comply with section14, but also that other internet websites not be able to avoid the requirement simply because they use logins. The committee recommends a longer timeframe for implementation as this would be a new requirement. Recommendation20: Intranet exemption
Further to recommendation19, the committee believes that technology has advanced to the point where all organizations should be able to make their websites accessible under section14. Thus far, only the Government of Ontario and Legislative Assembly are required to do so. The subcommittee and committee do not believe there would be a major issue with extending this requirement to the broader public sector and large organizations. The committee proposes the following:
The exemption for employee-facing websites and content (previously referred to as intranets) should be removed and, like all other websites, these types of websites should be required to comply with the regulation.
Timeline: New employee-facing websites must comply by January1,2022, and all employee-facing websites must comply by January1,2023.
For clarity, the committee recommends that all definitions related to a type of website be removed and that section14 simply apply to all websites, internet or intranet for all obligated organizations. Because this would be a new requirement, the lengthy timeline above is recommended. Recommendation21: Pre-2012exemption
Section14 provides an exemption from having to make web content accessible if that content was first published on a website before2012. The committee discussed that this exemption has created two problems. First, some organizations are using this exemption as a loophole that enables them to continue using some content from pre-2012websites on new websites. The second problem is that organizations are taking useful pre-2012content, such as historical records, off their websites when they move to a new or refreshed website because they do not have the resources to make this content accessible. The committee proposes the following:
A category should be created for older archived content. A potential model for this would be the federal Treasury Board Secretariat of Canada archived content policy. This would grant an exemption only to non-active documents. Active content, which is anything that requires input or, like forms, can be changed, will not be covered under this exemption. Pre-2012images used for navigation in refreshed websites must be made accessible. Timeframe: Immediate
The intent of this recommendation is to ensure that no content which is intended for active use can be exempt, and that inactive, archived content which is for informational purposes only can remain exempt. Recommendation22: Live captioning and audio description
Currently, the Government of Ontario and Legislative Assembly are the only organizations which must meet the live captioning and audio description requirements in the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG)2.0. All other organizations are exempt from implementing this requirement. The committee proposes the following:
* By January1,2022, the exemptions to theWCAG2.0 Level AA guidelines regarding live captioning and audio descriptions should be removed.
* Between now and January1,2022, obligated organizations should put in place the infrastructure to support live captioning and audio description. Organizations which are currently exempt and are required to prepare a multi-year plan should include progress toward this infrastructure in their plan.
Timeline: Exemptions removed by January1,2022, to be evaluated for acceleration by the next committee.
The intent of this recommendation is to have obligated organizations plan infrastructure, adopt training, and generally get ready to implement live captioning and audio descriptions by2022, or sooner if the next committee should choose to accelerate the timeline. The committees intention is to establish a high standard (equal toCRTCstandards for live captioning) of quality in live captions. Recommendation23: Web hosting location
Section14 only applies to content which organizations control either directly or through a contractual relationship that allows for modification of the product. The committee has learned that some organizations are interpreting this to mean that if their websites are hosted on servers outside the province, they may claim exemption from the section14 requirements. The committee proposes the following:
Section14 should apply to obligated organizations no matter where their web servers are located. Timeline: One year
The intent of this recommendation is to clarify that the regulations apply to obligated organizations regardless of where their websites might be hosted. Recommendation24: New and emerging technologies
New and emerging technologies present the risk of discriminating against persons with disabilities. As well, people with disabilities are more vulnerable to abuses of new technology and existing and emerging privacy protections do not work for them. These issues include: * data gaps: people with disabilities are not reflected in existing data. * algorithmic bias: data analytics reflect human bias.
Even if and when these risks are ameliorated, these technologies (for example, artificial intelligence) make decisions and take actions based on an average or majority. People with disabilities are very different from each other and often represent a minority of1. People with disabilities are harmed by data in both directions. The risks are dismissed because they only affect a small number. The benefits are not pursued because they only benefit a small number. Note: Additional resources available inappendixC.
The committee proposes the following:
When decisions are being based on data analytics using population data, there should be a disability impact assessment.
Government should immediately create a task force to work with the government on the design and testing of its digital services and to investigate risks, risk mitigation and opportunities in the context of the disability ecosystem. The task force should include experts in disability use case, emerging technologies and data analytics, the majority of whom are people with disabilities from a wide functional cross-section. This task force shall act as an ongoing bridge tophase2. Recommendation25: Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) Version
The version of the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines referred to in section14 of the regulation is out of date. The committee proposes the following:
When the requirement to comply withWCAG2.0AA in section14 is fully implemented (January1,2021), Government should update the requirement to the most recently published version ofWCAG(for example,WCAG2.1) within 1additionalyear. Part5: Sections15, 16, 17 and18
The following recommendations relate to Sections15, 16, 17 and18, which cover educational and training facilities, producers of educational and training materials, and libraries of educational and training institutions.
One of the topics that was brought to the committees attention was the difficulty that education providers and students frequently have obtaining accessible resources. The committee has heard that these resources are too often unsatisfactory or delayed provision of these resources is resulting in poor learning outcomes for students with disabilities. Based on these observations, the committee recommends the following: Recommendation26: Purchase of accessible teaching/training materials
During its education and training discussions, the committee noted that the procurement of course materials is a good time to ensure that accessible versions are available. The committee proposes the following:
It is recommended that obligated organizations that are educational or training institutions be required to order text books or other curricula materials, printed or digital, from producers who agree to provide accessible or conversion-ready versions, in the same time frame as print or digital materials. For clarity sake, digital includes but is not limited to static, dynamic and interactive content.
These materials should meet or exceed the obligations of education providers as described in theOntario Human Rights Commissions Policy on accessible education for students with disabilities. Timeline: Immediate
Recommendation27: Definition of educational and training institutions
Education and training accessibility requirements in the regulation only apply to organizations that are classified as educational or training institutions, even though many organizations which do not meet that classification provide these services. The committee proposes the following:
That the government consider including all organizations (public or private) that provide formal education and training in the requirements.
The committee has asked the public what types of organizations should fall under the definition of formal, and provides this information to the government with this report inappendixC. Timeline: Immediate
Recommendation28: Increasing captionist capacity
Committee members are concerned that there are too few trained captionists in the province. While training for captionists does exist in Ontario, the committee believes there is not enough supply to meet the potential demand. The committee proposes the following:
The Government of Ontario should explore, in partnership with post-secondary institutions, employers and apprenticeship bodies, establishing a post-secondary course to train captionists, possibly in partnership with a court stenographers course. Timeline: Immediate
Recommendation29: Accessibility in education
The committee believes that the inclusion of accessibility-related content in all levels of education curricula is one of the best ways to influence cultural change. The committee proposes the following:
The government should explore ways to make education and skills development about accessibility, including e-accessibility, part of early years, elementary, secondary and post-secondary curricula. Timeline: Immediate
The intent of this recommendation is to increase the amount of accessibility-related content in all levels of education in Ontario.
Recommendation30: Accessibility in information and communication tools and systems
Some members of the committee have noted that there is often a lack of knowledge regarding the needs of people with disabilities on the part of the designers of information and communication tools and systems, and this leads to a lack of accessibility in these products. The committee proposes the following:
All obligated organizations which provide education or training on the design, production, innovation, maintenance or delivery of information and communication tools and systems shall include curricula that address the needs of all people with disabilities, including deaf, deafblind and hard of hearing people who useASLandLSQ. Timeline: One calendar year from effective date.
The intent of this recommendation is to ensure that information and communication tools and systems are created with accessibility features built-in and are maintained by individuals who are familiar with accessibility features. Recommendation31: Accessibility in provincially regulated professions
The question of accessibility in provincially regulated professions was of significant interest to the committee. Provincially regulated professions provide a wide array of services to Ontarians, and ensuring they understand the needs of people with disabilities would help make these services more accessible. The committee believes that education around accessibility in all provincially regulated professions could greatly enhance awareness and further prevent attitudinal barriers.
Note: As a resource, the committee refers to theOntario Human Rights CodePolicy on ableism and discrimination based on disability. The committee proposes the following:
Certification requirements of provincially regulated professions must include knowledge and application of accessibility (including accessible formats, language, communication andITsupport) and the prevention of attitudinal barriers. These should be worked into instructional planning and course design for organizations which provide education or training. Timeline: One calendar year
The intent of this recommendation is to integrate accessibility into the education and certification of regulated professionals in Ontario. Recommendation32: Education standards
The Information and Communications Standards of the regulation currently contain requirements related to education and training. When the committee first reviewed Sections1518 and proposed recommendations2429, the Government of Ontario had created committees to propose new standards in the regulation for education. The committee proposes the following:
If the government creates education standards with requirements that are equal to or greater than those requirements found in Sections1518 of the regulation, including the result of recommendations2429 made in this report, these sections can be moved to the Education Standards.
If any elements of Sections1518, including the result of recommendations2429 made in this report, are not reflected in newly created education standards (or within the jurisdiction of education standards development committees) for example application of standards to private schools and collegesthese requirements must be retained in the Information and Communications Standards.
The committees intent is to make recommendations2429 related to Sections1518, while allowing the government to house these requirements in the most logical place in the regulation. Part 6: Section19
Section19 relates to public libraries. The committee has reviewed and consulted on this section and voted to confirm that it recommends no changes to this section. Phase2
Declaring a breakdown a call for a new way forward
During their deliberations and interactions with constituents, it became clear to the members of the committee that the current approach to regulating the accessibility of information and communication in Ontario is flawed, and if the approach does not change, the policy aims of the regulations will not be fully achieved. There was consensus that reliance on a wholly prescriptive standard that is not responsive to changes in technology and its application is a fundamental shortcoming of the current approach. There is also a need to enhance the active participation of those who build and use technology daily both to understand and to mandate the application of technologies in ways that maximize economic and social participation for Ontarians with disabilities. A new model for accessibility regulation
As mentioned at the beginning of this report, the Digital Inclusion Technical Subcommittee was asked to think about some very broad questions, including what accessibility means in todays digital world, and whether the current regulatory system is really able to deliver the desired outcomes.
In the process of considering the broader questions, the subcommittee had thorough discussions which formed the basis of a broad new proposal, presented here in this second chapter of the report, to improve access for Ontarians with disabilities: The Accessibility Ecosystem model.
The Accessibility Ecosystem model responds to what the subcommittee perceives as weaknesses in the current regulatory model and introduces a response that is better suited to a world of rapidly changing technology and business models. The committee also recognizes the need for a more responsive model that is focused on equipping obligated organizations with the knowledge and tools to best serve Ontarians on the front lines of business and government service delivery. Governments broader use of the Accessibility Ecosystem model
Though the application of the Accessibility Ecosystem is proposed first for digital content and its applications, this model may prove to be more broadly applicable to other standards.
The Accessibility Ecosystem is presented at a very high level, both to maximize compatibility with various requirements and in recognition that more in-depth research and development needs to be done by government and relevant stakeholders to take this model to the next step. The committee proposes:
* That the government adopt and operationalize phase2 as the regulatory approach to accessibility in Ontario. The committee is aware that this approach will continue to evolve. The intent of the committee is to havephase1implemented in parallel with phase2.Phase1should occur during the transition to phase2.
* Note: Theinfographicsand additional materials (for example, long descriptions) have been submitted alongside this report after the appendices.
Timeline: Two years from submission of the final recommendations for phase2 to be fully implemented. What this document contains:
Current context:
* committee investigates what the current regulatory model seems to be missing. Accessibility Ecosystem:
* the Accessibility Ecosystem model is proposed as a solution, and its advantages are listed. Laws, Trusted Authority, Community Platform and Compliance
The Accessibility Ecosystem, listed and explained:
* How is the new model better?
* A look at what sets the Accessibility Ecosystem apart.
* Cost, funding and sustainability
* An explanation of how, far from being an onerous cost, the new model is actually a shrewd investment. Current context
The subcommittees starting point was an acknowledgement of the fact that our understanding of accessibility has evolved since the act was drafted and implemented. People with disabilities are as diverse in their needs and perceptions as people without disabilities, and perhaps even more so. For that reason, one-size-fits-all approaches to accessibility often don’t work. In addition, it is now understood that even the word ‘accessible does not have a single definition and is more related to technical requirements than a persons demand for a great experience. What is meant by accessible depends on the person and his or her goals and context. What this means is that accessibility can only be achieved through a process of inclusive design one that recognizes that all people are variable and diverse, and our products and services must make room for a wide range of human differences.
It is also critical to understand that even if all the specified goals of the act were to be achieved by2025, it would not be a case of mission accomplished. There would still be people with disabilities for whom Ontario is not accessible. Our society is changing all the time. New barriers to accessibility are constantly emerging, as are new opportunities for greater accessibility. The subcommittee concluded that creating an accessibility check list, however comprehensive, to address the needs of all Ontarians with disabilities is an impossible task. People not represented in the deliberations would likely be left out, unanticipated new barriers would not be considered, and new technologies that might be used to address barriers would not be leveraged. At that point, the subcommittee decided it was time to take a critical look at the current act and regulation model. What it found was five areas in which the current model is simply not meeting the needs of Ontarians with disabilities: Participation
In the current model, the primary participants are the participating organizations and the provincial government compliance authority. The relationship is one of obligation and policing. The primary questions from obligated organizations are about what is required of them, and whether there might be exemptions. Their primary motivation for complying is avoiding penalties and/or reputational damage.
It is hard to blame organizations for this approach, because accessibility and inclusive design have traditionally been framed primarily as something that organizations must be legally compelled to do, rather than something that is also in their best interests. The fact is however, that there is significant evidence showing that inclusive design is in the interests of business. Research has shown that an organization that attends to inclusive design and accessibility, for customers and employees with disabilities, will garner economic, social and innovation benefits. There are both micro and macro-economic gains to be made for the participating company and for Ontario society as a whole, but that case is not being made clearly or often enough.
The current model also does not harness the significant energy, knowledge and support of many community stakeholders who are deeply committed to accessibility. These include:
* students, many of whom participate in projects such as mapathons, design challenges and curriculum-based assignments
* Ontarios world-leading cluster of researchers specializing in accessibility and inclusive design
* non-obligated organizations that recognize the importance of accessibility without being compelled to comply by law * persons with disabilities and their families or support communities * professional organizations
* community volunteers
* civil society
The efforts made by these people, groups and organizations are significant, but there is currently no real way to collect, harness and showcase their contributions or quantify their economic impact. Updating
Other than the five-year review, there is currently no mechanism for keeping the standards up to date. This is especially problematic when it comes to information technology systems and practices, which are changing at an accelerating rate and affecting more and more essential aspects of our lives. Barriers to accessibility emerge suddenly, and if they are not dealt with immediately they can spread and multiply. Opportunities for greater accessibility appear, but if they are not quickly seized they can disappear. In this fast-moving world, accessibility standards quickly fall out of date, and the system is not equipped to deal with that. Integrating innovation
Ontario is home to many innovators, many of whom have turned their ingenuity to addressing accessibility challenges. Unfortunately, there is currently no easy way for these innovators, including obligated organizations or other stakeholders, to propose new and better strategies for addressing barriers. The relationship is strictly one way, with the act essentially telling organizations what to do. This removes an incentive to innovate in accessibility. Review and feedback
Legislation often triggers new demands for services. The act has prompted the growth of the accessibility services sector in Ontario. Training, evaluation, design, development and remediation services are now effectively growth industries in Ontario. However, these businesses and services range in expertise and quality, and there is currently no mechanism for reviewing or providing feedback about them. Indicators
There is currently no way of tracking progress toward accessibility goals. No progress indicators have been established, making it extremely difficult to determine how well accessibility standards are working.
Based on all of this, the subcommittee concluded that an entirely new approach needs to be taken. This approach must move from presenting accessibility as an obligation to be borne by a specific group of organizations in Ontario, to a process that all Ontarians participate in, and benefit from. This is what the committee means when it refers to a culture change, and the vehicle for that culture change is the proposed new “Accessibility Ecosystem.” The Accessibility Ecosystem
Fundamentally, the Accessibility Ecosystem is a new way of organizing the standards within the regulation. Initially, it is being proposed for the Information and Communication Standards, though the committee believes that it could one day be the framework for the full set of regulation standards. The primary aim of the Accessibility Ecosystem is to encourage organizations to see the act less as an obligation than as something in which they participate for their own benefit, and the benefit of all Ontarians. For that reason, the first step in implementing this new system, however symbolic, would be to rename “obligated organizations” as “participating organizations.” This reframing will also provide a way to keep improving and updating how we address barriers faced by persons with disabilities in Ontario, up to and beyond2025. The objectives of the Accessibility Ecosystem are as follows: * keep up with changes in technology
* respond to new barriers
* respond to new opportunities
* respond to barriers not anticipated when the standards were written
* encourage and support organizations and the larger community in finding innovative ways to address barriers
* discourage the ‘us-them attitude towards accessibility, where the interests of persons with disabilities are seen as counter to the interests of businesses
* encourage working together to make things more accessible to the benefit of everyone * communicate that accessibility is a responsibility we all share
* show how accessibility and inclusive design are a good way to do business, and a good way to grow the economy and economic participation for Ontarians with disabilities
* reduce confusion about the regulations and make it easier to find tools and resources needed to comply with them
* provide clear, up-to-date, specific advice regarding how requirements can be met
* create the conditions and supports so that all Ontarians feel that they can participate in removing barriers
The proposed ecosystem has three interdependent parts. They support one another, and all play a role in telling organizations what they need to do to remove barriers and expand opportunities. The ecosystem as a whole provides the balance between legal compulsion and alignment with current technical practices. All three parts require funding and ongoing support. The three parts are the laws, the Trusted Authority and the Community Platform. The laws
This is the least flexible part. The laws would establish requirements, but not specify how they must be met. The Laws include three types:
* Functional Accessibility Requirements (FARd) (contained inappendix Bof this report). These are requirements that are constant. They do not mention specific technologies, to avoid a situation in which a technology changes and evolves to the point where the requirement no longer makes sense. If organizations need help understanding how to meet the requirements, they are linked to acceptable methods of doing so by the Trusted Authority. These requirements are modeled on and harmonized with requirements adopted by both the European Union and relevantUSaccessibility laws. The functional requirements do not replace technical requirements but specify what they are trying to achieve.
* Regulations regarding the policies of the ecosystem. These govern the Trusted Authority, the Community Platform and updates to the laws.
* Regulations that support system-wide long-term changes and improvements in the accessibility of Ontario. These include:
o integrating education about accessibility in all education, starting as early as Kindergarten Grade12
o integrating accessibility into professional training for all professions that have an impact on products and services
o requiring accessibility when purchasing products and services, especially when spending public funds
o including people with disabilities in decision making and planning processes, and ensuring that mechanisms for participation are accessible Trusted Authority
The Trusted Authority would be an independent group that provides ongoing oversight and support to the system of accessibility standards, in order to ensure that the system is performing as it should and accomplishing what it is intended to accomplish. The Trusted Authority would include people with a wide range of expertise, including lived experience with disabilities.
As implied by the name, the Trusted Authority must be credible, understandable and reliable. All its activities must be transparent and open to public scrutiny. The Trusted Authority would have the power to consult with any individual or group to address knowledge and skill gaps. The Trusted Authority would:
* Determine and provide clear up-to-date qualifying methods for meeting regulations. (The current set of qualifying methods includes the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines2.0, the Authoring Tool Accessibility Guidelines2.0 and other standards such as Electronic Publication (EPub) and International Organization for Standardization (ISO)24751).
* In addition to qualifying methods, ensure that necessary tools and resources are available to use the qualifying methods.
* Provide guidance regarding how to achieve the functional accessibility requirements, specific to the particular organizations. This includes links to resources and tools in the Community Platform. * Retire qualifying methods that are out of date.
* Clarify laws when there is uncertainty or when there are changes.
* Review new and innovative methods proposed by organizations and individuals to determine whether they can be used to meet the requirements. * Address gaps in available qualifying methods to meet the requirements.
* Ensure that the barriers experienced by all Ontarians with disabilities are addressed by regularly evaluating who might be falling through the cracks. This includes individuals with a range of technical literacy, individuals in urban, rural and remote communities, Ontarians at all income levels and individuals with disabilities that are not visible or episodic disabilities. It also includes people who experience other barriers that might worsen the barriers experienced due to disabilities.
* Provide, track and make publicly available indicators of progress toward an accessible Ontario. Examples of those indicators might include the number of companies with an accessibility officer, the number of accessibility complaints received and their resolution, the number of employees who self-identify as having a disability, and the number of Ontarians trained in accessibility skills.
* Prioritize accessibility processes and tools rather than specialized technologies and services for people with disabilities. In this way, people with disabilities do not have to bear the additional cost of buying their own specific technology.
* Support innovation that recognizes the diversity of needs experienced by people with disabilities rather than a winner takes all or a one winning design approach.
* Support recognition that people with disabilities must be designers, developers, producers and innovators, and not only consumers of information and communication. * Qualifying methods must include accessible tools and processes.
The Trusted Authority would maintain an online interactive guide for participating organizations. This guide would let organizations know whichFARsapply to them, what qualifying methods they could use to meet the requirements, and what tools and resources are available to help them implement the qualifying methods. The guide would be inclusively designed to consider the different types and ranges of expertise of organizations in Ontario.
It is recommended that the Trusted Authority report directly to the Legislative Assembly. It is the responsibility of the Legislative Assembly to maintain theFARsand the responsibility of the Trusted Authority to maintain the qualifying methods. Funding commitments for the Trusted Authority must span two political terms to ensure sustainability and independence. Decision-making regarding leadership of the Trusted Authority should be transparent and inclusive of Ontarians with disabilities. Community Platform
The Community Platform would be an online platform, open to everyone in Ontario, that provides a simple and clear way for community members to contribute their knowledge, expertise and constructive criticism about accessibility in this province. The Community Platform would:
* collect and make accessibility resources and tools easily available * share training and education
* make it possible for community members to monitor and review how organizations are doing in meeting the requirements
* empower communities to organize events and activities that support accessibility * showcase and share good examples of accessible practices
* collect and showcase data on various economic and social aspects of disability
The Community Platform must be an open online infrastructure that is easy to get into, easy to use and easy to navigate. It would allow any community member to pool, share and review a large variety of resources that are helpful in implementing the qualifying methods. These resources might include training modules, software tools, evaluation tools, design tools, reusable software components, helpful example practices, examples of contract language for procurement contracts, examples of job description language and many other resources.
The platform would also provide a means for community members to constructively review the resources. Community members would be able to identify gaps in resources, and these gaps would be disseminated publicly to potential innovators and resource producers. The Community Platform will learn from similar initiatives to avoid the pitfalls involved in keeping resources up-to-date and usable by a large diversity of individuals and organizations. Financial support would be needed to maintain the infrastructure and keep the various resources relevant and up-to-date. Compliance
Clearly, compliance will have to be an important part of any successful accessibility ecosystem. The question, then, is how do we enforce and ensure proper compliance? Before making a more definitive recommendation, the committee would like to ask the public for input on how compliance might work, informed by its discussion on this topic summarized below:
The committee had an in-depth discussion of how compliance might work in phase2. It was agreed that a reasoned, measured approach that rewards good actors and addresses bad behaviour is critical. In addition, greater accountability of leadership was a recurring theme. The committee also discussed greater connections between government bodies/ministries to enable government to be a better leader and using a greater spectrum of compliance measures. Some questions that came up were:
* What is the right way to focus on organizations that want to do this right and actively build models that work well?
* How do you evolve the current approach to compliance in order to encourage organizations to participate in this ecosystem, using a combination of both incentives and disincentives?
o examples of incentives include grants, loans, tax benefits and public recognition of success
o examples of disincentives include fines, levies to cover the cost of accessibility, surcharges and naming non-compliant organizations using social media
* How best do you highlight the benefits of proactively investing in the integration of emerging technologies? How should we define emerging technology? How is the new model better?
There are several characteristics of the Accessibility Ecosystem that set it apart. It is a more aspirational system, focusing as it does on what is important and good about accessibility, rather than simply emphasizing that it is an obligation. It is also a more inclusive system, not just inviting but actually relying on input from the public and from stakeholders, including those organizations obligated to meet accessibility requirements. Finally, it is designed to evolve and adapt as technology and attitudes change around it. Specifically, the new model will speed progress toward an accessible and inclusive Ontario because: * the Trusted Authority will intervene when new barriers arise
* the Trusted Authority will integrate accessibility into the foundation before barriers are created
* the Trusted Authority will be able to represent accessibility and inclusive design at technical and policy planning tables, to integrate inclusive design considerations from the start
* efforts to produce services and resources that address accessibility, which are currently fragmented, will be coordinated and strategically channeled
* new and current contributors to the goal of accessibility will be provided with productive ways to participate
* the Trusted Authority will have the opportunity to provide a more comprehensive set of qualifying methods to address more of the barriers experienced by all persons with disabilities in Ontario
* innovative practices that improve accessibility for people with disabilities will be showcased, rewarded and even adopted as qualifying methods
* the Trusted Authority be able to maintain the momentum of accessibility efforts across political terms Cost, funding and sustainability
Reports such as theReleasing Constraintsreport led by the Martin Prosperity Institute show that public investment in accessibility is one of the most economically rewarding investments of public dollars. By establishing a locus of expertise in accessibility, Ontario gains recognition as a global leader in meeting the growing demand for accessibility expertise and innovation, and achieves unprecedented gains in prosperity. This leadership potential has not been fully realized in the current act framework, but the Accessibility Ecosystem would change that.
The Community Platform would serve to reduce redundancy and significantly improve the effectiveness and efficiency of accessibility efforts. The Community Platform is also structured in such a way that while the infrastructure would be maintained through public funding, the resources, tools, training and review would be contributed by the community at large for mutual benefit. Support for the Trusted Authority and the Community Platform could be shared by multiple jurisdictions across Canada, including other provinces and the federal government. Other jurisdictions have expressed interest in collaborating and sharing these services. Glossary
Qualifying methods
A means of meeting a Functional Accessibility Requirement for a type of service or product that is sanctioned by the Trusted Authority. Qualifying methods can refer to specific technologies and formats, and the tools and resources needed to employ these methods would be available in the Community Platform. Participating organizations
Organizations within Ontario, including organizations obligated by the act, previously referred to as obligated organizations. The renaming recognizes that a role of all organizations in Ontario is to participate in promoting and advancing accessibility for their own benefit and the benefit of Ontario as a whole. Platform
An online service that connects people who need something with resources or people that meet those needs. The platform provides a place to pool shared resources and tools, attach descriptions, including constructive criticism of the resources and tools. Platforms have points of entry suited to the different users and contributors of the platform. Alternative access systems
Computer-based technology comes with a standard set of devices to interact with the technology, such as keyboards and displays. People may not be able to use these standard devices. Alternative access systems replace or augment these standard devices. AppendixA: Committee membership
Information and Communications Standards Development Committee Voting members
* Rich Donovan (Chair)
* Kim Adeney
* David Berman
* David Best
* Louise Bray
* Jennifer Cowan
* Pina DIntino
* Louie DiPalma
* Robert Gaunt
* Gary Malkowski
* Chantal Perreault
* James Roots
* Kevin Shaw
* Jutta Treviranus
* Diane Wagner
* Richard Watters
Non-voting members
* Kate Acs
* Michele Babin
* Adam Haviaras
* Kathy McLachlan
Resigned
* Jessica Gabriel
* Ben Williamson
* Matthieu Vachon
Digital Inclusion Technical Subcommittee
Members
* Jutta Treviranus (Lead)
* David Berman
* Pina DIntino
* Anne Jackson
* Dan Shire
* Aidan Tierney
* George Zamfir
AppendixB: Functional Accessibility Requirements (FARs)
The following is a draft of the proposed requirements that would constitute one part of the laws. These requirements would be directly linked to qualifying methods for meeting the requirements (provided by the Trusted Authority), and then to tools and resources needed to use the methods (provided by the Community Platform). Where visual modes of presentation are provided:
* at least one configuration must be provided that does not require vision
* visual presentation must be adjustable to support limited vision and/or visual perception or processing (magnification, contrast, spacing, visual emphasis, layout)
* at least one configuration must convey information without dependence on colour distinction * visual presentation that triggers photosensitive seizures must be avoided
* it must be possible to render the presentation in alternative formats, including tactile formats Where auditory modes of presentation are provided:
* at least one configuration must be provided that does not require hearing (captions and sign language)
* audio presentation must be adjustable to support limited hearing and/or auditory processing (volume, reduced background noise)
* it must be possible to render the presentation in alternative formats, including tactile formats Where speech is required to operate a function:
* at least one configuration must be provided that does not require speech Where manual dexterity is required for operation:
* the opportunity to use alternative modes of operation must be provided
* at least one mode of operation must be provided that enables operation through actions that do not involve fine motor control. These would include path dependant gestures, pinching, twisting of the wrist, tight grasping or simultaneous manual actions (for example, one-handed operation) Where hand strength is required for operation:
* at least one alternative mode of operation must be provided that does not require hand strength Where operation requires reach:
* operational elements must be within reach of all users
Where memorization is required for use:
* at least one configuration must provide memory supports or eliminate the demand on memorization or accurate recall (unless the purpose is to teach or test memorization) Where text literacy is required for use:
* at least one configuration must provide literacy supports or eliminate the demand for text literacy (for example, text-to-speech, pictorial representation)
* at least one configuration must provide simple language (unless the purpose is to teach or test text literacy where a different level of literacy is required). Simple language means the literacy level of Grade3. Where extended attention is required for use:
* at least one configuration must reduce demand on attention or enable use with limited attention Where operation has time limits:
* at least one configuration must enable extension or elimination of time limits Where controlled focus is required for use:
* at least one configuration must provide support for focus or eliminate demand on controlled focus Where specific sequencing of steps for operation is required:
* at least one configuration must provide support for sequencing steps, or eliminate the demand for specific sequencing of operation steps (unless the purpose is to teach or test accurate sequencing) Where abstract thinking is required:
* at least one configuration must reduce demand for understanding abstractions such as acronyms, allegory and metaphor (unless the purpose is to teach or test abstract thinking) Where accuracy of input is required:
* a simple undo must be available
Where biometrics are employed:
* alternative methods of identification must be made available AppendixC: Definitions and resources
Relevant to all recommendations:
User: Someone who uses a product, machine or service.
Relevant to recommendation13
United States Access Board definition of web page
A non-embedded resource obtained from a single Universal Resource Identifier (URI) using HyperText Transfer Protocol (HTTP) plus any other resources that are provided for the rendering, retrieval and presentation of content. European Union Web Accessibility Directive scope:
1. In order to improve the functioning of the internal market, this directive aims to approximate the laws, regulations and administrative provisions of the member states relating to the accessibility requirements of the websites and mobile applications of public sector bodies, thereby enabling those websites and mobile applications to be more accessible to users, in particular to persons with disabilities.
2. This directive lays down the rules requiring member states to ensure that websites, independently of the device used for access thereto, and mobile applications of public sector bodies meet the accessibility requirements set out in Article4. United Nations Convention language:
2. States Parties shall also take appropriate measures:(g) To promote access for persons with disabilities to new information and communications technologies and systems, including the internet. Relevant to recommendation14
Alternative access systems
Computer-based technology comes with a standard set of devices to interact with the technology, such as keyboards and displays. People may not be able to use these standard devices. Alternative access systems replace or augment these standard devices. Relevant to recommendation17
Ontario Human Rights Code(the Code) Undue Hardship terminology Relevant to recommendation26
Ontario Human Rights CodePolicy on accessible education for students with disabilities Relevant to recommendation27
Public feedback answers related to the questionWhich types of organizations should be included in the definition of formal education?: Note: The survey answers below are extracted from survey responses:
1. The term ‘formal education or training should be defined as stated above (for example, education or training that results in a certificate or other documentation) and the requirement would apply to any organizations that provide that type of education or training. 2. Any that provide formal education or training.
3. Any organization that would be giving a certification at the end of the training course.
4. Tutoring organizations, recreational learning programs such as art, music, physical activityetc. 5. Educational institutions.
6. Yes but some agencies do not have the resources to do this. It must be funded. 7. Everyone.
8. Private Sector Organizations that provide (paid for) training to externa! clients. Public and Non-Profit organization whose mandate it is to provide training.
9. University, public schools, private/board schools, workplace education training, broadcasting networks (news), city/town governments. 10. Any time someone is enrolling as a student or paying for training.
11. Institutions that issue certifications and designations, along with online training sessions. 12. Public, private and non- profit.
13. All.
14. All.
15. All businesses and companies, public or private, all not-for-profit companies, schools, colleges, universities, private schools. 16. It should include all publicly funded education and all paid education.
17. Would not recommend using the type of organization but would recommend looking at the type or frequency of the training that is being provided. Organizations that have a dedicated training and education dept that do regular training external to their organization should be considered. 18. Anything that leads to a certification.
Infographics
Frame1: Accessibility Ecosystem

Frame1:View a larger version of this infographic (PDF).Read the text version below.
A diagram representing the Accessibility Ecosystem using the visual analogy of a sailing ship in the water. Introductory text
From obligation to participation: TheAODAAccessibility Ecosystem is like a ship in an unpredictable and changing global and technical context. The laws provide the compass, the Trusted Authority steers the course, and the community uses the Community Hub to provide the ideas, tools and resources needed to make the journey. Description of diagram
The sails of the ship are being blown by wind representing culture change and innovation.
The water has a shark fin representing barriers and fish jumping out of the water representing opportunities.
The ship represents the Ontario community and contains the three parts of the Accessibility Ecosystem: the Accessibility Law, the Trusted Authority and the Community Hub.
The Accessibility Law and Trusted Authority are two separate parts connected by a double helix that has the following phrases printed on it: Needed Adjustments, How to Achieve It and What Must Be Achieved. The Community Hub sits beside Trusted Authority outside the helix with arrows pointing into the helix.
Subtext for the three parts of the Ecosystem further explains each of the Ecosystems part. This subtext is as follows: Accessibility Law
Measures that bring about long-term culture change
Functional accessibility requirements that remain constant
Regulating overall process
Trusted Authority
Ensuring tools and resources are available
Responding to changes in context
Retiring outdated methods
Qualifying innovative methods
Community Hub
Training
Community feedback and monitoring
Pooled resources and tools
Research and guidance
Innovative approaches to addressing barriers
Frame2: Accessibility Ecosystem

Frame2:View a larger version of this infographic (PDF).Read the text version below.
The same diagram represented inFrame1is lightened with further descriptions of the three parts of the Accessibility Ecosystem layered on top. Introductory text
There are three important parts in the Accessibility Ecosystem: Laws, Trusted Authority and Community Hub. Ecosystem parts descriptions
Accessibility Law
The Law is the compass that keeps the ship on course. The law achieves an accessible community and maintains rules about the structure of the overall ecosystem. Trusted Authority
The Trusted Authority provides directions to steer the course. The Trusted Authority must keep a careful watch for new barriers, opportunities and changes in technology trends and adjust directions in response to these changes. Community Hub
The Community Hub engages everyone in the community including the general public, people with lived experience of disability, and participating organizations. The Community Hub provides the ideas and resources needed to progress forward. Frame 3: Accessibility Ecosystem

Frame3:View a larger version of this infographic (PDF).Read the text version below.
The same diagram represented inFrame2(Frame1lightened) with even further descriptions of the three parts of the Accessibility Ecosystem layered on top. Introductory text
Each of the three parts plays an important role in the ecosystem. They rely on each other to be successful. Ecosystem parts descriptions
Accessibility Law
The laws lay out the functional accessibility requirements and provide regulations to bring about the needed culture change. The laws are the most constant. Trusted Authority
Participating Organizations and community members can propose innovative new ways to meet the Functional Accessibility Requirements. The Trusted Authority is responsible for keeping the qualifying methods for meeting Functional Accessibility Requirements up-to-date, understandable and do-able. This requires the support of the Community Hub. Community Hub
Everyone in the community has a role to play and can benefit from participating in the community effort. The Community Hub is the place where new ideas, tools, resources, training, reviews and constructive feedback is gathered and shared. Frame4: Accessibility Ecosystem

Frame4:View a larger version of this infographic (PDF).Read the text version below.
The same diagram represented inFrame1is darkened. Layered on top of the darkened diagram is a circle placed in the front part of the ship within the Ontario community. The circle represents Participating Organizations. Four lines with arrows extend out of the Participating Organization circle. Each line has a question attached to it with the arrow pointing to an answer within the ecosystem. The questions and answers are as follows:
How can I make my services accessible?
Arrow points to Accessibility Law.
A second line with an arrow extends out of the question through the Trusted Authority and back to Participating Organizations. How can I qualify my new method?
Arrow points to Trusted Authority: Qualifying innovative methods. Where can I learn more?
Arrow points to Community Hub: Training.
What tools are there to help?
Arrow points to Community Hub: Pooled resources and tools.
Frame 5: Accessibility Ecosystem

Frame5:View a larger version of this infographic (PDF).Read the text version below.
The same diagram represented inFrame4(Frame3darkened). Layered on top of the diagram are two circles placed in the front part of the ship within the Ontario community. The circles represent the Public and Individuals with Disabilities. Three lines with arrows extend out of the Public circle and one line extends out of the Individuals with Disabilities circle. Each line has a question attached to it with the arrow pointing to an answer within the ecosystem. The Public questions and answers are as follows:
How can I participate in drafting the laws?
Arrow points to Accessibility Law.
How can I propose new methods?
Arrow points to Trusted Authority: Qualifying innovative methods. How can I provide feedback?
Arrow points to Trusted Authority.
The Individuals with Disabilities question and answer is:
How can I contribute to resources?
Arrow points to Community Hub: Pooled resources and tools.
Frame6: trusted authority process

Frame6:View a larger version of this infographic (PDF).Read the text version below.
An explanation of the Trusted Authority process supported by a visual design that includes line drawings of a variety of people with talk bubbles containing descriptions of who they, as the Trusted Authority, are. The talk bubbles include: We have the power to:
1. continuously update the qualifying methods
2. review innovative proposed new methods as alternatives or additions to existing methods 3. clarify and rule on disputes regarding the regulations
We have inclusive representation and the power to consult with: 1. external subject matter experts
2. additional individuals with lived experience
3. representative organizations
We support the law, but are independent of partisan influence.
We link the law directly to qualifying methods supported by tools, resources and training. We bridge political terms.
We are the Trusted Authority
The Trusted Authority is responsible for keeping the qualifying methods for meeting Functional Accessibility Requirements up-to-date, understandable and do-able. This requires the support of the Community Hub. Participating Organizations and community members can propose innovative new ways to meet the Functional Accessibility Requirements. Frame7: participating organizations process

Frame7:View a larger version of this infographic (PDF).Read the text version below.
An explanation of the Participating Organizations process supported by a visual design that includes line drawings of a variety of people and talk bubbles containing questions and answers. The questions and answers are as follows:
Question: How can I connect with potential customers with lived experience who can provide feedback? Answer: Through community hub forums
Question: We have created tools and resources for the qualifying method, how do we share it? Answer: Share in community hub, (make sure theyre referenced) Question: Where can I learn more?
Answer: In the Community hub for training, education and exemplars Question: Who has expertise and experience to help me?
Answer: Visit directory with reviews
Question: We found an innovative way to meet the functional accessibility requirement, will it qualify? Answer: Vet with trusted authority
Question: What tools are there to help?
Answer: Access community hub tools and reviews
Question: Here are the services I provide; how do I make them accessible? Answer: Trusted Authority provides relevantFARsand qualifying methods We are Participating Organizations:
Participating Organizations are organizations operating in Ontario that are obligated by the Law. The Accessibility Ecosystem enables these organizations to participate in advancing accessibility in Ontario and to contribute innovative approaches. All organizations benefit from a more accessible Ontario. Frame8: shared responsibility and shared benefit process

Frame8:View a larger version of this infographic (PDF).Read the text version below.
An explanation of the Community and Community Hub: Shared Responsibility and Shared Benefit process supported by a diagram that includes line drawings of a variety of people around a helix. The left side of the helix has the following phrases:
Provide constructive feedback
Help develop training, tools and resources
Find new ways to address barriers
Create innovative inclusive technologies and practices
Help identify barriers
The right side of the helix has the following phrases:
Greater innovation
Greater prosperity
Ontario as a global leader
Participation and contributions by all Ontarians
We are the Community and the Community Hub
The Community Hub is the most participatory of the ecosystem and supports engagement by everyone in the community including people from the government, obligated organizations, and diverse individuals inclusive of those with disabilities.




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Send Us Your Feedback on the Information and Communication Standards Development Committee’s Final Recommendations on What is Needed to Strengthen the 2011 Information and Communication Accessibility Standard, Enacted under Ontario’s Disabilities Act


Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance Update

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

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

Send Us Your Feedback on the Information and Communication Standards Development Committee‘s Final Recommendations on What is Needed to Strengthen the 2011 Information and Communication Accessibility Standard, Enacted under Ontario’s Disabilities Act

December 17, 2020

            SUMMARY

Over the past weeks, there has been a ton of breaking news on different fronts of our never-ending campaign for accessibility for people with disabilities. Before we shut down for the holidays, we’re going to try to catch you up on some that we have not earlier been able to address.

On or around November 16, 2020, the Ford Government made public the final recommendations of the Information and Communication Standards Development Committee. We set out those final recommendations below.

What is this about and what does it mean for 2.6 million Ontarians with disabilities? The Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) requires the Government to lead Ontario to become fully accessible by 2025. The Government must enact and effectively enforce all the accessibility standards needed to ensure that the AODA’s goal is achieved. An accessibility standard is an enforceable and binding provincial regulation that spells out what an obligated organization must do to prevent and remove accessibility barriers and that sets timelines for action.

Almost ten years ago, back in June 2011, the Ontario Government enacted the Integrated Accessibility Standards Regulation (IASR) under the AODA. Among other things, that regulation includes a series of provisions requiring the accessibility of information and communication. Those provisions are often called the 2011 Information and Communication Accessibility Standard.

Under the AODA, the Ontario Government is required to appoint a Standards Development Committee five years or less after an accessibility standard is enacted, to review it and see if it needs to be improved. Therefore, in 2016, the Ontario Government appointed the Information and Communication Standards Development Committee to review the 2011 Information and Communication Accessibility Standard, and to recommend any revisions needed so that this accessibility standard would best achieve the AODA’s purposes.

After meeting over a period of months, the Information and Communication Standards Development Committee came up with a package of draft recommendations on how to strengthen the 2011 Information and Communication Accessibility Standard. On July 24, 2019, the Ontario Government posted those draft recommendations online and invited public input on them. The Ontario Government was required to do this under the AODA.

The public then had a few weeks to give feedback to the Standards Development Committee on its draft recommendations. For example, the AODA Alliance submitted a 73 page brief to the Information and Communication Standards Development Committee on November 25, 2019. Our brief commended much of what was in the Committee’s draft recommendations. It also offered extensive feedback and recommendations to the Information and Communication Standards Development Committee.

That Standards Development Committee was then required to meet again to consider all the feedback it received from the public. It did so. Among other things, on January 22, 2020, AODA Alliance Chair David Lepofsky was given an opportunity to present in person for 30 minutes to the Committee.

The Information and Communication Standards Development Committee then finalized its package of recommendations for revisions to the Information and Communication Accessibility Standard. On February 28, 2020, the Standards Development Committee submitted those recommendations to the Ford Government. The Government is required to make those recommendations public, so the public can give the Government feedback on them. For no discernible or justifiable reason, the Ford Government held off making the Standards Development Committee’s final recommendations public for eight months.

What comes next? Under the AODA, the Government can enact revisions to the Information and Communication Accessibility Standard. It can make all, some or none of the changes that the Information and Communication Standards Development Committee recommended. It can also enact revisions beyond those that the Standards Development Committee recommended.

We and the public therefore now have an opportunity to take our case for revisions directly to the Ford Government. We therefore invite your feedback on the Information and Communication Standards Development Committee‘s final recommendations, set out below. Given the incredible number of issues we are now addressing, we have not yet had a chance to analyze the Standards Development Committee’s final report and recommendations. You can always send us your thoughts by emailing us at [email protected]

Under the AODA, the Government is required to post the Standards Development Committee’s final recommendations for 45 days. Sadly, the Government under successive premiers has at times followed an irrational practice of taking down those recommendations after the minimum time period that the AODA requires them to be posted. Nothing would stop the Government from leaving them up and visible to all on the internet on a permanent basis. That would provide greater openness and accountability for the Government and the AODA itself.

Despite the Government’s past practice in this area, the AODA Alliance will continue its practice of leaving such reports and recommendations permanently posted on our website.

If the Government decides to make revisions to the Information and Communication Accessibility Standard, the AODA requires the Government to post the wording of the draft regulation it proposes to enact, for public comment. We will let you know if the Government does this.

We offer two examples here of the need for prompt action in this area. First, as was pointed out in the December 8, 2020 panel on accessible education on The Agenda with Steve Paikin, TVO’s online educational materials for school students doing distance learning are still replete with accessibility problems. TVO has announced no detailed plan of action to fix these. TVO is owned and operated by the Ontario Government.

Second, just weeks ago, the Ford Government’s Accessibility Minister issued an invitation in an inaccessible broadcast email to an upcoming event where he was to make an announcement on accessibility. The Government apologized for this. As it turned out, nothing new was announced at the event in question.

The Ford Government has repeatedly claimed to be “leading by example” on accessibility. These incidents are an awful example by which Ontarians should not be led in the area of accessible information and communication.

So far, the Ford Government has been very lethargic in fulfilling its duties to develop accessibility standards under the AODA. For example:

  1. In the spring of 2018, weeks before the 2018 Ontario provincial election, the Transportation Standards Development Committee submitted to the Government its final report proposing revisions needed to the 2011 Transportation Accessibility Standard. That has languished on the Ford Government’s desk since it took office in June 2018, two and a half years ago. Since then, the Government has not invited any public feedback on this, and has announced no plans in this area. Ontario thus continues to have a public transit system replete with disability barriers.
  1. As noted above, the Government sat on the final report of the Information and Communication Standards Development Committee for over a half a year before fulfilling its duty to make that report public, for public input.
  1. The Government still has not fulfilled its duty to appoint a Standards Development Committee to review the 2012 Public Spaces Accessibility Standard. The Government was required to appoint that Standards Development Committee fully three years ago. The current Government is on the hook for two and a half of the three years of AODA contravention.
  1. On taking office, the Ford Government left five existing Standards Development Committees frozen and in limbo for months, before allowing them to get back to fulfil their mandatory work. We had to campaign for months to get them unfrozen. That included, among others, the Information and Communication Standards Development Committee.

For more information on our multi-year campaign to make information and communication fully accessible to people with disabilities, visit the AODA Alliance’s information and communication web page.

To see what we asked the Information and Communication Standards Development Committee to recommend to the Ford Government, check out the AODA Alliance’s November 25, 2019 brief to the Information and Communication Standards Development Committee.

There have now been an unbelievable 686 days since the Ford Government received the ground-breaking final report of the Independent Review of the implementation of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act by former Ontario Lieutenant Governor David Onley. The Government has still announced no comprehensive plan of new action to implement that blistering report, including its strong recommendations regarding the development of strong accessibility standards. That delay makes even worse the serious problems facing Ontarians with disabilities during the COVID-19 crisis, addressed in a new online video we recently unveiled.

            MORE DETAILS

Information and Communication Standards Development Committee Chair’s letter to the minister

February 28, 2020

The Honourable Raymond Cho
Minister for Seniors and Accessibility
777 Bay Street
5th Floor, Toronto, Ontario
M7A 1S5

Dear Minister,

The Information and Communications Standards Development Committee has completed our legislative review of the Information and Communications Standards. As chair and on behalf of the committee, I am pleased to submit the final recommendations report for the proposed accessibility standard for your consideration.

In meeting the provisions of the legislative review, as set out in the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, we re-examined the long-term objective of the Information and Communications Standards and each of the requirements. Our review included all of the Standard’s sections, the focus areas identified in the terms of reference, and additional items raised by committee members well as a limited amount of external feedback.

As you wisely requested, we considered how to make it easier for businesses and the public sector to achieve accessibility in all of the recommendations.

The report is structured in two phases, stemming from an early and clear consensus that the current structure of standards is not keeping pace with technology. Phase 1 contains 32 recommendations that the committee is proposing as immediate solutions to identified gaps and unintended barriers in the current standards. Phase 2 proposes a new model to transform and modernize the regulatory approach to accessibility in Ontario. It could be applied first to the Information and Communications Standards and would allow organizations to continuously adapt and improve their websites, web content and technology up to and beyond 2025. If the model proves successful, the committee’s intent is that government explore applying it to other accessibility standards in the future. Phase 2 is a proposal for culture change in Ontario.

Our committee had extensive discussions in reviewing the path to a province where people with disabilities be able to participate fully and equitably in the creation and use of information and communication. As chair, and in-line with The Honourable David Onley’s recent report, I assess that relying on the AODA and its associated Standards will never achieve that objective. More is needed, and this report only begins to address those needs.

We considered public feedback and stakeholder presentations in finalizing our recommendations. We have reflected this in the report. We thank the individuals, and organizations who provided feedback on the initial recommendations report.

As chair, and past chair of Accessibility Standards Advisory Committee, it is prudent for me to comment on the effectiveness of the Standards development process. In short, the Standard development process is broken, primarily for the reasons listed below:

  1. Research and feedback: Current sources of information on the experiences of people with disabilities and obligated organizations are too narrow and heavily biased by lobby groups. The voices of individual people with disabilities and “obligated organizations” must be sought out broadly and intentionally. The few sources that are available are gathered at the end of the process – these ongoing insights must seed the process, not merely confirm its outcome.
  2. Bounded by current standards: Understanding that legislation requires an explicit review (as is current interpretation), the process needs to be more responsive to on-the-ground realities that may or may not be covered by legislation.
  3. Timing and permanency: These reviews are by nature, periodic. Instead, permanent bodies, staffed by full time professional appointees must be the norm. These appointees must be paid a significant salary to attract the best and brightest in Ontario, or more boldly, globally. These professionals are better equipped to capture and react to insights gathered from a vastly to-be-improved research process.
  4. Encourage risk and failure: Disability regulations around the world have failed to deliver on their promise. Acknowledge that publicly. Encourage, and fund, innovation that ensures Ontario is a place where people with disabilities be able to participate fully and equitably in all aspects of the economy and society. Notice that mere accessibility is not the benchmark.

It has been an honour to chair this committee and work alongside such dedicated members who exude professionalism and are comfortable with taking risk.

We look forward to the Minister’s response on these final recommendations.

Sincerely,
Rich Donovan
Chair of Information and Communications Standards Development Committee

Final Report of the Information and Communication Standards Development Committee

 

Originally posted at https://www.ontario.ca/page/copyright-information-c-queens-printer-ontario

 

Introduction

Recognizing the history of discrimination against persons with disabilities in Ontario, the purpose of this act is to benefit all Ontarians by developing, implementing and enforcing accessibility standards in order to achieve accessibility for Ontarians with disabilities with respect to goods, services, facilities, accommodation, employment, buildings, structures and premises on or before January 1, 2025; and providing for the involvement of persons with disabilities, of the Government of Ontario and of representatives of industries and of various sectors of the economy in the development of the accessibility standards.

Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, 2005

Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, 2005

The act became law in 2005. Its stated goal is the creation of an accessible Ontario by 2025, through the development, implementation and enforcement of accessibility standards that apply to the public, private and not-for-profit sectors.

With the act, Ontario became the first province in Canada and one of the first places in the world to bring in a specific law establishing a goal and timeframe for accessibility. It was also the first place to legally require accessibility reporting, and one of the first to establish accessibility standards so that people with disabilities have more opportunities to participate in everyday life.

Accessibility standards

The accessibility standards under the act are laws that businesses and organizations with one or more employees in Ontario must follow so they can identify, remove and prevent barriers faced by people with disabilities. These standards are part of the act’s Integrated Accessibility Standards Regulation. Currently, there are five accessibility standards, and they apply to key areas of day-to-day life for Ontarians. These are:

  • Information and Communications
  • Employment
  • Transportation
  • Design of Public Spaces
  • Customer Service

Standards review process

The act requires that each of Ontario’s accessibility standards be reviewed within five years of becoming law, to determine whether they are working as intended and to allow for changes to be made if they are required. These reviews are carried out by Standards Development Committees. The act also requires that committees be comprised of representatives from industries or other organizations that are affected by the accessibility standards, government ministries with responsibilities relating to those industries and organizations and people with disabilities or their representatives.

As required by the act, the committee must:

  • re-examine the long-term objectives of the standards
  • if required, revise the measures, policies, practices and requirements to be implemented on or before January 1, 2025, as well as the timeframe for their implementation
  • develop initial proposed recommendations containing changes or additions that the committee considers advisable, and submit them for public comment
  • based on public feedback, make such changes to the proposed accessibility standards that it considers advisable, and submit those recommendations to the minister

This report presents the final recommendations for proposed accessibility standards by the Information and Communications Standards Development Committee.

Information and Communications Standards Development Committee

The committee was established in late 2016. The committee was originally composed of 23 members, however 3 resigned during the process. As of this final report, there were 20 members, 16 of these are voting members voting members. The remaining four members, who were non-voting, were drawn from ministries which have responsibilities relating to the sectors to which the standards apply. Nine of the voting members were people with disabilities or their representatives. All members, including those who resigned, are listed in appendix A of this report.

To begin its review, the committee was provided with stakeholder feedback from the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Division of the Ministry for Seniors and Accessibility (formerly the Accessibility Directorate of Ontario). This feedback was informed by incoming written correspondence, telephone calls, compliance-related activities and consultation with stakeholders.

Their first meeting—an orientation session—was held in March 2017. Through 2017 and into Winter 2018, the committee held several meetings to complete its initial recommendations. These initial recommendations were posted for public comment between July 24th, 2019 and October 18th, 2019. On January 22 and 23, 2020, the committee met one last time to finalize this report while taking into account public comments.

The committee’s deliberations benefitted from the diverse viewpoints and knowledge that members brought to the table. After each meeting, members sought feedback from their communities and networks to share at the following meeting. This input informed voting on recommended changes.

As noted above, this document sets out the committee’s final recommendations for proposed updated accessibility standards. As outlined by the act, the Minister shall decide whether to recommend to the Lieutenant Governor in Council that the proposed standard be adopted by regulation in whole, in part or with modifications.

Approach taken by committee

The standards deal with the way organizations create and share information and outline how they are to make information and communication accessible to people with disabilities. The standards require that accessible formats and communication supports be made available on request. They also cover such areas as emergency and public safety information, websites, feedback processes, as well as educational, training and library materials and resources and training for educators.

The committee’s discussions reflected a consensus that the current standards are not keeping pace with technology. There was mention that the standards are not always strong enough and are often too difficult to apply. The committee also discussed the fact that the standards are confusing and prevent innovation in accessible technology. Overall, committee members agreed that the standards need to be modernized and crafted to ensure they remain relevant in the future, as technology changes at an increasingly rapid pace.

To assist with developing this advice, the committee created the Digital Inclusion Technical Subcommittee. The subcommittee’s main task was to provide expert advice to the committee about section 14 of the regulation, which sets out the accessibility requirements for websites and web content. All members of the subcommittee are listed in appendix A of this report.

In addition, the subcommittee was asked to think about some very broad questions, including what accessibility means in today’s digital world, and whether the current regulatory system can deliver the desired outcomes.

Based on the subcommittee’s advice, the committee settled on both a short- and long-term approach to making information and communication accessible for people with disabilities. This report is divided into two parts or phases.

Phase 1 contains 32 recommendations that the committee is proposing as immediate solutions to identified gaps and unintended barriers in the current standards. Each of these recommendations contains:

  • an explanation of the issue
  • the specific language of the recommendation as voted on
  • an explanation of the intent and desired outcome of the recommendation
  • recommended timing for implementation of the revised requirement if applicable

Phase 2 proposes a new model to transform and modernize the regulatory approach to accessibility in Ontario. It could be applied first to the Information and Communications Standards and would allow organizations to continuously adapt and improve their websites, web content and technology up to and beyond 2025. If the model proves successful, the committee’s intent is that government explore applying it to other accessibility standards in the future. Phase 2 is, in effect, a proposal for culture change in Ontario. The committee recognizes that, given its potentially transformative nature, this phase may take more time to develop and implement.

The committee recognizes that due to the nature of the topic, complexity of technology, simple and plain language may not have been viewed as a priority at the beginning of the process. Based on the feedback we have received and the knowledge we have gained through this process, the committee recommends any further public communication of this report should available in a simple language version.

Phase 1

This section focuses on the Information and Communications Standards outlined in the Integrated Accessibility Standards Regulation. Recommendations in this section are listed according to the different sections under the standards.

It should be noted that throughout this report, reference is frequently made to obligated organizations. These are organizations that are expected to comply with requirements in the regulation. Obligated organizations include:

  • the Government of Ontario
  • the Legislative Assembly
  • designated public sector organizations
  • large organizations, private or not-for-profit, with 50 or more employees
  • small organizations, private or not-for-profit, with one to 49 employees

Some requirements do not apply to all these organizations. Small organizations, for example, are exempt from some requirements. This report will specify when this is the case. If it does not, the requirements being discussed may be assumed to apply to all the above obligated organizations.

Recommended long-term objective

While developing its specific recommendations, the committee continuously considered the long-term objective of the standards. The act requires all the Standards Development Committees to establish these long-term objectives, and the Information and Communications Standards Development Committee is required to re-examine the long-term objective.

The current long-term objective of the accessible Information and Communications Standards is:

That by 2025, all information and methods of communication to and from an individual will be designed to be accessible to people with disabilities consistent with human rights law, the French Language Services Act (1990) (where applicable) and inclusive design principles. The committee intends for the requirements to build upon the principle of providing accommodation to people with disabilities to preserve and enhance dignity and independence.

The committee believes that the objective above is too complicated, and recommends the following clear and simple objective instead:

That people with disabilities be able to participate fully and equitably in the creation and use of information and communication.

Part 1: Regulation in general or Sections 9 to 11

Recommendations in this section are related either to the regulation in general or to Sections 9–11 of the regulation.

Recommendation 1: Feedback requirements

Section 11 of the regulation relates to the feedback organizations receive from the public, and outlines accessibility requirements around the feedback process. The committee learned that organizations were confused about the fact that there are different requirements related to feedback located throughout the regulation. Specifically, section 11: Feedback of the Information and Communications Standards and Section 80.50: Feedback process required of the Customer Service Standards have some of the same requirements.

The committee proposes the following:

The feedback requirements in Sections 11 and 80.50 of the regulation should be combined and placed in the General Requirements section of the regulation, ensuring both the format requirements of section 11 and the specific requirement for a process in Section 80.50 about goods, services and facilities remain. In addition, the committee recommends that clear definitions of the terms “feedback” and “communication” be included.

Timeline: Immediate

The intent of this recommendation is to eliminate the confusion caused by having requirements for a feedback process dealt with in two different parts of the regulation. This change should not modify the obligations of organizations but simply make them clearer and easier to find and understand.

Recommendation 2: Usage of portable document format (PDF)

During a 2016 meeting of the Standing Committee on Finance and Economic Affairs, the standing committee discussed a proposal to ban PDFs from government use. This is because PDFs are often inaccessible. While the proposal was not approved, it was referred to this formal regulatory review process. The Information and Communications Standards Development Committee discussed the fact that PDFs are often inaccessible, and while it is possible to make them accessible, the expertise needed to make a fully accessible PDF is seldom present in obligated organizations. However, the committee concluded that while certain problems do exist with PDFs, banning them altogether is not the best solution, particularly since they work well when made properly accessible.

The committee proposes the following:

Government should not ban the use of PDFs for any obligated organization.

Timeline: N/A

The committee did discuss a number of alternative measures, including non-regulatory approaches such as increasing education for government employees on how to make PDFs accessible, but did not vote on the matter.

Recommendation 3: Final review of regulatory language

The Minister may accept in whole, in part or with modifications the committee’s recommendations once they are received. The committee recognizes that members are not usually involved in the decision-making process after its final advice is submitted. However, some recommendations for the standards are highly technical, and the committee is concerned about ensuring consistency in the interpretation of those recommendations. In particular, there is concern about technical aspects related to section 14: accessible websites and web content.

The committee proposes the following:

Government use the technical expertise of the Digital Inclusion Technical Subcommittee as a resource, as needed, to clarify intent and technical accuracy during the regulatory drafting stage related to section 14.

Timeline: N/A

The intent of this recommendation is to avoid any possible confusion regarding the intent of the committee’s recommendations and to ensure that the government can easily obtain clarification if confusion arises.

Recommendation 4: Products and product labels

The current regulation states that products and product labels are not required to be made accessible unless specifically mentioned in the standards. Stakeholders have expressed concern that a large number of goods remain inaccessible because of this exemption. The committee agreed that there should, at the very least, be a digital format available for all products and product labels where applicable. The problem is that both federal and provincial governments regulate in this area, and so making a recommendation solely at the provincial level would be ineffective.

In order to ensure a solution to this issue is coordinated between the federal and provincial jurisdictions, the committee proposes the following:

The Government of Ontario should meet with the Government of Canada to look for solutions to the problem of accessible products and product labels. These solutions may include clarifying jurisdictional authority over different products. In addition, it is recommended that Ontario meet with various industries to explore non-regulatory solutions to this issue. Medical labelling should be a priority for action.

Timeline: One year for Ontario and Canada to produce a report that sets a strategic direction on the recommendations above. If a report is not created by the governments of Ontario and Canada by this time, then the recommendation is that Ontario develop a strategy within one additional year to address this, including creating an expert committee.

The committee recognizes that the exemption of products and product labels is an accessibility barrier, but also recognizes that a solution to this problem needs to involve all levels of government that have authority over this area. The committee also recognizes that technology offers the potential for organizations to develop innovative solutions to this issue and would like the Government of Ontario to work with industries to encourage the development of non-regulatory solutions.

Part 2: section 12

The following recommendations relate to section 12 of the regulation, which requires organizations to provide accessible formats and communication supports for people with disabilities. The committee discussed this at length and have a number of recommendations regarding section 12 – Accessible formats and communication supports.

Recommendation 5: Determination of suitability

If a person with a disability asks an organization for an alternate format or communication support, that organization is required to consult with the requester about the request. The final decision on whether to provide the requested alternate format or communication support is with the organization. The committee noted that this is resulting in the provision of formats that do not meet the needs of people with disabilities.

The committee proposes the following:

Change regulation 12.(2) to state: “The obligated organization shall consult with the person making the request and gain agreement in determining the suitability of an accessible format or communication support.”

Timeline: Language to be changed immediately, and regulation to become effective six months after language change.

The intent of this recommendation is that the final decision on the suitability of an accessible format should not be left to the organization alone. Rather, both the organization and the person requesting an alternate format should work together to gain agreement on suitability. The committee recognizes that this may create an impasse, and this is partly what motivates recommendation 7 (to follow). Despite the potential for an impasse, the committee feels this recommendation will result in improved accessibility. The committee recognizes that with this change, organizations may need time to adjust their processes, so it is proposed that it be effective six months after the amended regulation is in force.

Recommendation 6: Timely manner

Section 12 of the regulation states that organizations must provide accessible formats in a ‘timely manner,’ considering the requester’s needs due to disability. Stakeholder feedback revealed that people with disabilities and organizations often do not agree on the definition of timely manner. Specifically, people with disabilities point out that organizations are only required to take the person’s needs ‘into account’ when deciding on what would be a timely manner.

The committee proposes the following:

Change the regulation to state that organizations must provide accessible formats in a mutually agreed upon timely manner which considers the circumstances of the requester, and the urgency of his or her request.

Timeline: Language to be changed immediately, and regulation to become effective six months after language change.

The idea is similar to the intent of recommendation 5, which is to ensure that important decisions that affect people with disabilities must be made with their participation. In this case, it would require that organizations and people with disabilities agree on what is meant by a timely manner. Again, the potential for disagreement is recognized, but the committee feels this recommendation will result in improved accessibility. As with Recommendation 6, the committee is proposing that this change become effective 6 months after the amended regulation is in force, to give organizations time to prepare and adjust.

Recommendation 7: Agreement between people with disabilities and organizations

Certain sections of the regulation require or provide for feedback processes allowing people with disabilities to make their needs and positions clear to organizations. Unfortunately, there is currently no mechanism to resolve disagreements when either party is unhappy with the result. Clearly, such a mechanism would be useful.

The committee proposes the following:

The issue of a lack of mechanism to address disagreement between organizations and people with disabilities in any section of the regulation should be referred to the Accessibility Standards Advisory Council.

Timeline: Referred to the council immediately following the submission of the final proposed recommendations. The council should develop a mechanism within one year.

The intent of this recommendation is for the council to investigate the creation of a mechanism to support the satisfaction of both people with disabilities and organizations, in relation to requirements under the act and regulation. The council is best positioned to examine this issue.

Recommendation 8: Harmonization of section 12

As was noted in recommendation 1, organizations are confused by multiple and often duplicate requirements throughout the regulation. Specifically in this case, section 12 of the Information and Communications Standards and section 80.51 of the Customer Service Standards create duplicate requirements for providing accessible formats.

The committee proposes the following:

Requirements for alternate formats and communication supports should be combined and moved to one place, in the general requirements section of the regulation. There should be no material change in the requirements, except for any other recommendations made by the committee regarding section 12. A reference to the combined section in the general requirements should be made whenever requirements for alternative formats and communication supports are mentioned in the regulation.

Timeline: Immediate

The intent of this recommendation is to clarify requirements and eliminate confusion by ensuring they are contained in one section of the regulation. The committee feels that moving the requirement for accessible formats into the general requirements section of the regulation would also make it clear that this requirement applies to all of the standards, and not just to Information and Communications. To be clear, the intent is not to weaken requirements in any way.

Recommendation 9: On-demand conversion ready formats

Currently, there is sometimes a delay when the government is asked to provide alternate formats of documents. The committee feels that technology has advanced to the point where there is no real excuse for this delay.

The committee proposes the following:

The Government of Ontario and Legislative Assembly should produce a conversion-ready digital format of all public-facing materials and provide those materials on-demand:

  • ‘on-demand’ in this case would mean immediately, meaning that it should already have been created
  • ‘conversion-ready digital format’ means a format which has the properties it needs to be readily converted into an accessible format

Timeline: January 1, 2021

The intent of this recommendation is to strengthen the idea that accessible formats should not be offered as an accommodation, to be provided only when requested and only after a delay. Accessible formats and communications supports are necessary from the start as part of an accessibility foundation. This would be a significant new requirement for government, but given current technology, it is possible.

Recommendation 10: On-demand ASL and LSQ translations

In developing recommendation 9, the committee struggled with the fact that users of American Sign Language (ASL) and Langue des signes québécoise or Langue des signes du Québec (LSQ) would not benefit from the change in recommendation 9. It was agreed that while providing all public facing materials in ASL and LSQ on-demand would simply be too burdensome, there are certain types of information and communication which should be available in these formats.

The committee proposes the following:

The Government of Ontario should convene a meeting of deaf, hard of hearing and deafblind stakeholders to determine which materials should be provided by the Government of Ontario to the public in ASL and LSQ translation. The committee recommends that following the meeting, the materials identified start to be made available on-demand.

Timeline: One year for the meeting to occur, and January 1, 2021 for the requirement to be effective.

The committee’s intent is that the Government of Ontario find a fair and reasonable answer to the question of which types of materials should be available in ASL and LSQ on demand.

Part 3: Section 13

The following recommendations relate to section 13 of the regulation, which requires organizations to provide accessible formats of publicly posted emergency plans and procedures upon request. During discussion, many committee members expressed concern with current emergency outcomes for people with disabilities, and the committee feels that improving these outcomes is absolutely critical. The committee recognizes that the scope and overall effectiveness of the requirements in Section 13 are limited, and strongly recommends that other action to improve these outcomes be taken as soon as possible.

Recommendation 11: Emergency requirements

Section 13 in the Information and Communications Standards, section 27 in the Employment Standards and Sections 37 and 56 of the Transportation Standards are all related to emergency requirements. As has been noted previously in this document, having requirements located in different places throughout the regulation is confusing for all parties. In the case of emergency requirements, that is a particularly significant problem.

The committee proposes the following:

The emergency requirements throughout the regulation should be brought together and moved into the general requirements with no material changes to what is being required.

Timeline: Immediate

The intent of this recommendation is to ensure that nothing is missed, and no requirements are overlooked when it comes to protecting the lives of people with disabilities and their families. These requirements should be consolidated and given a clear and prominent position in the general requirements of the regulation.

Recommendation 12: Unacceptable emergency outcomes and preparedness

After a significant discussion regarding emergency outcomes, the committee has concluded that the preparedness of all levels of government for emergencies involving people with disabilities is unacceptable.

The committee strongly recommends the following to help protect the lives of people with disabilities and their families:

Disability and accessibility should be front and centre in the upcoming review of the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act. To that end, the Solicitor General, who has responsibility for emergency management, should involve people with disabilities in the review. The Solicitor General should specifically include the Accessibility Standards Advisory Council. The same process should occur when the Fire Code is next reviewed.

Timeline: Immediate

The intent of this recommendation is to address the lack of emergency planning focused on the needs of people with disabilities. It is unacceptable and must be dealt with urgently.

Part 4: Section 14

The following recommendations relate to section 14 of the regulation, which sets out the accessibility requirements for websites and web content. In both stakeholder feedback and in the committee meetings, Section 14 received the most attention and led to the most significant level of feedback and discussion. It has become clear that there is a great deal of confusion surrounding the requirements of Section 14, particularly given the rapidly changing pace of digital society.

The globally accepted standard for web accessibility is a set of standards called the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0 (WCAG 2.0), which is published by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C). While this standard is the one used in section 14, stakeholders and committee members agree that is not clear enough how the WCAG 2.0 guidelines should be applied to many technologies beyond websites and web content, nor is it easy to determine when the requirements of WCAG 2.0 have actually been met.

In order to help clear up this confusion and also inform its recommendations, the committee created a Digital Inclusion Technical Subcommittee. This subcommittee provided two distinct sets of expert advice to the committee:

  1. Recommendations to address confusion and gaps in section 14 (part of the phase 1 recommendations)
  2. A proposal for a new model for these standards (see phase 2)

Recommendation 13: Mobile applications and new technologies

One of the most frequently asked questions during stakeholder consultations was whether and how section 14 applied to mobile applications. The answer, for the most part, is that they do not. The current requirements apply to web-based applications only, which does not generally include mobile applications.

The committee proposes the following:

The definition of website should be aligned with the definition used by the United States Access Board, the European Union and the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, among others, which include mobile applications, interfaces or other technologies as required. Relevant sections of these definitions have been provided in appendix C.

Timeline: By 2021, which aligns with the existing requirement for all websites to be accessible.

The intent of this recommendation is for both mobile applications which run from a website, and those which run as a standalone device but rely on the internet for function, would be subject to accessibility requirements under section 14. These requirements would apply to the government and legislative assembly, the broader public sector and large organizations. For the purposes of Section 14, small organizations are currently exempt from accessibility requirements.

Recommendation 14: Procurement

Procurement refers to the purchasing or acquiring of goods or services. The subcommittee noted that there are no accessible procurement requirements specifically related to section 14. There are procurement requirements in the general requirements section of the regulation, but the subcommittee suggested that these are not strong enough to result in accessible digital procurement.

The committee proposes the following:

The Government of Ontario and designated public sector organizations shall incorporate accessibility design, criteria and features when procuring or buying goods, services or facilities. These criteria include:

  • using qualified third-party evaluation certification services established through programs such as:
    • the United States Access Board Trusted Tester Program
    • inclusive design or accessibility certificate programs such as those offered by colleges or universities
    • professional certifications from organizations such as the International Association of Accessibility Professionals (IAAP)
    • other professional service vendors that may qualify for such activities
  • both manual and automated verification of compliance to technical web and software criteria, not just automated testing
  • functional testing of usability by persons with disabilities
  • interoperability with alternative access systems (as defined in the glossary)
  • sign language and other communication modalities
  • the requirement to procure accessible authoring and development tools

This requirement would be in addition to the general accessible procurement requirements in the regulation. The reference criteria for authoring tools would be Authoring Tool Accessibility Guidelines (ATAG) 2.0 (A and B)

Timeline: January 1, 2022. Where an obligated organization has entered into a contract before January 1, 2022, it is not required to meet the requirements of this section. The intent of the committee is not to allow grandfathering past 2023.

The committee’s intent with this recommendation is to ensure that digital procurement by the Government of Ontario and broader public sector organizations includes accessibility criteria, and that authoring and development tools that are procured are accessible.

The committee would also like non-digital procurement as required by the procurement requirement in the general requirements to be strengthened. Since this is beyond the scope of the committee’s mandate, the committee would like this work to be referred to the Accessibility Standards Advisory Council and broader government bodies that manage procurement.

Recommendation 15: Differentiating organizations/high impact organizations

The obligations of organizations under the regulation are determined by how many employees they have, as this has traditionally been a measure of how much widespread impact they have. However, the subcommittee advised the committee that as technology evolves, the number of employees is no longer necessarily a good indicator of the impact organizations may have on Ontarians. The fact is that, increasingly, organizations with very few employees are able to provide a high level or volume of services and thus should be considered “high-impact organizations.”

The committee believes that section 14, and eventually the whole regulation, need to adapt to capture these new business models.

The committee proposes the following:

  • Create a definition for ‘high-impact’ organizations. One such definition might be an organization that has one or more Ontario employees and meets either of the following criteria:
    • one million or more average annual users in Ontario (free or paid)
    • $10 million or more in yearly global revenues
  • These newly defined high-impact organizations would have to comply with the Information and Communications Standards and report under the act, and be subject to the same requirements as large organizations
  • For such businesses as described above that are under federal instead of Ontario jurisdiction, or with no employees in Ontario, the province should engage in consultation with businesses and the federal government to determine and harmonize mechanisms to regulate them

Timeline: One year with proactive outreach.

The committee’s intent with this recommendation is to ensure that all organizations with many users in Ontario, and therefore having a large impact on the province, are complying with section 14 of the regulation. This approach could be used for other requirements in the future where appropriate.

Recommendation 16: Significant refresh

Currently, the requirements of section 14 apply to organizations which either create new websites or significantly refresh existing websites. Stakeholder feedback and advice from the subcommittee suggested there is confusion about what ‘significant refresh” means, as the term is subjective. In addition, the committee learned that since Section 14 requirements apply to websites that are new or significantly refreshed, some organizations are choosing to update their websites only a bit at a time, thus avoiding the requirements. This may actually result in reduced accessibility for users.

The committee proposes the following:

  • Any content that is new or which an obligated organization changes, updates or adds to a website must meet the accessibility requirements of section 14
  • Furthermore, when content is added, changed or updated, it is recommended that organizations take the opportunity to make all content accessible
  • The committee recommends that content should include all functions, interactions and ‘branding’ (look and feel) for a site. It is recommended that section 14 include examples for the sake of clarity

Timeline: Regulation to be changed immediately, to be effective six months after the new regulation comes into force.

The intent of this recommendation is to bring the section 14 requirement closer to its intended function, which is to ensure that over time, organizations develop greater accessible content for users with disabilities.

Recommendation 17: Practicability

Section 14 contains an exemption for obligated organizations which gives them the ability to claim that making a website accessible is ‘not practicable’. The committee feels that this term is too vague and might allow some organizations to avoid doing something they are actually able to do.

The committee proposes the following:

Clearly define the term “not practicable,” bringing it in line with the term “undue hardship,” as set out by the Ontario Human Rights Code. A link to this terminology has been provided in appendix C.

Timeline: Immediate

The intent of this recommendation is to reduce how easy it is for obligated organizations to use vague wording in the standards as an excuse to not fulfil their requirements. Aligning the language with that of the Ontario Human Rights Commission would bring significant clarity, as both the commission and the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario have previously ruled on what undue hardship actually is.

Recommendation 18: Harmonization and application across requirements

Section 14 is intended to bring about greater accessibility in websites. The committee noted, however, that websites are mentioned in different sections of the regulation, but only in section 14 are the accessibility requirements explained. In the view of the committee, this makes it too easy for stakeholders to overlook or miss the requirements.

The committee proposes the following:

It should be made clear that section 14 applies to all sections of the regulation. This could be communicated as a reference to section 14 wherever websites are directly referenced in the regulation.

Timeline: Immediate

The committee’s intent with this recommendation is to make sure obligated organizations follow website accessibility requirements by reducing any confusion about what they are obligated to do.

Part 4, subpart 1: Section 14 exemptions

Section 14 identifies a number of situations in which websites or web content do not need to comply with accessibility requirements. The committee does not believe that these exemptions are functioning as intended and recommends changes to these exemptions.

Recommendation 19: Extranet exemption

Section 14 covers internet, intranet and extranet websites, and in the process it defines what these are. Intranet websites are websites that can be accessed from within a particular organization’s network. Currently, not all organizations are required to make these sites accessible. Moving on to extranet websites, section 14 defines these as websites which require a login. It considers these as an extension of intranets, and therefore also exempt for most organizations. The problem is that a great number of other internet websites that happen to require logins are therefore also considered extranets and so are exempt, which is certainly not desirable.

The committee proposes the following:

The exemption for public-facing websites with a log-in (previously referred to as extranets) should be removed and these types of websites should be required to comply with the regulation.

Timeframe: New public-facing websites with a log-in must comply by January 1, 2022, and all public-facing websites with a log-in must comply by January 1, 2023.

The intent of this recommendation is to completely remove the exemption for extranet websites, ensuring not only that these be required to comply with section 14, but also that other internet websites not be able to avoid the requirement simply because they use logins. The committee recommends a longer timeframe for implementation as this would be a new requirement.

Recommendation 20: Intranet exemption

Further to recommendation 19, the committee believes that technology has advanced to the point where all organizations should be able to make their websites accessible under section 14. Thus far, only the Government of Ontario and Legislative Assembly are required to do so. The subcommittee and committee do not believe there would be a major issue with extending this requirement to the broader public sector and large organizations.

The committee proposes the following:

The exemption for employee-facing websites and content (previously referred to as intranets) should be removed and, like all other websites, these types of websites should be required to comply with the regulation.

Timeline: New employee-facing websites must comply by January 1, 2022, and all employee-facing websites must comply by January 1, 2023.

For clarity, the committee recommends that all definitions related to a type of website be removed and that section 14 simply apply to all websites, internet or intranet for all obligated organizations. Because this would be a new requirement, the lengthy timeline above is recommended.

Recommendation 21: Pre-2012 exemption

Section 14 provides an exemption from having to make web content accessible if that content was first published on a website before 2012. The committee discussed that this exemption has created two problems. First, some organizations are using this exemption as a loophole that enables them to continue using some content from pre-2012 websites on new websites. The second problem is that organizations are taking useful pre-2012 content, such as historical records, off their websites when they move to a new or refreshed website because they do not have the resources to make this content accessible.

The committee proposes the following:

A category should be created for older archived content. A potential model for this would be the federal Treasury Board Secretariat of Canada archived content policy. This would grant an exemption only to non-active documents. Active content, which is anything that requires input or, like forms, can be changed, will not be covered under this exemption. Pre-2012 images used for navigation in refreshed websites must be made accessible.

Timeframe: Immediate

The intent of this recommendation is to ensure that no content which is intended for active use can be exempt, and that inactive, archived content which is for informational purposes only can remain exempt.

Recommendation 22: Live captioning and audio description

Currently, the Government of Ontario and Legislative Assembly are the only organizations which must meet the live captioning and audio description requirements in the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0. All other organizations are exempt from implementing this requirement.

The committee proposes the following:

  • By January 1, 2022, the exemptions to the WCAG 2.0 Level AA guidelines regarding live captioning and audio descriptions should be removed.
  • Between now and January 1, 2022, obligated organizations should put in place the infrastructure to support live captioning and audio description. Organizations which are currently exempt and are required to prepare a multi-year plan should include progress toward this infrastructure in their plan.

Timeline: Exemptions removed by January 1, 2022, to be evaluated for acceleration by the next committee.

The intent of this recommendation is to have obligated organizations plan infrastructure, adopt training, and generally get ready to implement live captioning and audio descriptions by 2022, or sooner if the next committee should choose to accelerate the timeline. The committee’s intention is to establish a high standard (equal to CRTC standards for live captioning) of quality in live captions.

Recommendation 23: Web hosting location

Section 14 only applies to content which organizations control either directly or through a contractual relationship that allows for modification of the product. The committee has learned that some organizations are interpreting this to mean that if their websites are hosted on servers outside the province, they may claim exemption from the section 14 requirements.

The committee proposes the following:

Section 14 should apply to obligated organizations no matter where their web servers are located.

Timeline: One year

The intent of this recommendation is to clarify that the regulations apply to obligated organizations regardless of where their websites might be hosted.

Recommendation 24: New and emerging technologies

New and emerging technologies present the risk of discriminating against persons with disabilities. As well, people with disabilities are more vulnerable to abuses of new technology and existing and emerging privacy protections do not work for them. These issues include:

  • data gaps: people with disabilities are not reflected in existing data.
  • algorithmic bias: data analytics reflect human bias.

Even if and when these risks are ameliorated, these technologies (for example, artificial intelligence) make decisions and take actions based on an average or majority. People with disabilities are very different from each other and often represent a minority of 1. People with disabilities are harmed by data in both directions. The risks are dismissed because they only affect a small number. The benefits are not pursued because they only benefit a small number.

Note: Additional resources available in appendix C.

The committee proposes the following:

When decisions are being based on data analytics using population data, there should be a disability impact assessment.

Government should immediately create a task force to work with the government on the design and testing of its digital services and to investigate risks, risk mitigation and opportunities in the context of the disability ecosystem. The task force should include experts in disability use case, emerging technologies and data analytics, the majority of whom are people with disabilities from a wide functional cross-section. This task force shall act as an ongoing bridge to phase 2.

Recommendation 25: Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) Version

The version of the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines referred to in section 14 of the regulation is out of date.

The committee proposes the following:

When the requirement to comply with WCAG 2.0 AA in section 14 is fully implemented (January 1, 2021), Government should update the requirement to the most recently published version of WCAG (for example, WCAG 2.1) within 1 additional year.

Part 5: Sections 15, 16, 17 and 18

The following recommendations relate to Sections 15, 16, 17 and 18, which cover educational and training facilities, producers of educational and training materials, and libraries of educational and training institutions.

One of the topics that was brought to the committee’s attention was the difficulty that education providers and students frequently have obtaining accessible resources. The committee has heard that these resources are too often unsatisfactory or delayed provision of these resources is resulting in poor learning outcomes for students with disabilities. Based on these observations, the committee recommends the following:

Recommendation 26: Purchase of accessible teaching/training materials

During its education and training discussions, the committee noted that the procurement of course materials is a good time to ensure that accessible versions are available.

The committee proposes the following:

It is recommended that obligated organizations that are educational or training institutions be required to order text books or other curricula materials, printed or digital, from producers who agree to provide accessible or conversion-ready versions, in the same time frame as print or digital materials. For clarity sake, digital includes but is not limited to static, dynamic and interactive content.

These materials should meet or exceed the obligations of education providers as described in the Ontario Human Rights Commission’s “Policy on accessible education for students with disabilities”.

Timeline: Immediate

Recommendation 27: Definition of educational and training institutions

Education and training accessibility requirements in the regulation only apply to organizations that are classified as educational or training institutions, even though many organizations which do not meet that classification provide these services.

The committee proposes the following:

That the government consider including all organizations (public or private) that provide formal education and training in the requirements.

The committee has asked the public what types of organizations should fall under the definition of formal, and provides this information to the government with this report in appendix C.

Timeline: Immediate

Recommendation 28: Increasing captionist capacity

Committee members are concerned that there are too few trained captionists in the province. While training for captionists does exist in Ontario, the committee believes there is not enough supply to meet the potential demand.

The committee proposes the following:

The Government of Ontario should explore, in partnership with post-secondary institutions, employers and apprenticeship bodies, establishing a post-secondary course to train captionists, possibly in partnership with a court stenographer’s course.

Timeline: Immediate

Recommendation 29: Accessibility in education

The committee believes that the inclusion of accessibility-related content in all levels of education curricula is one of the best ways to influence cultural change.

The committee proposes the following:

The government should explore ways to make education and skills development about accessibility, including e-accessibility, part of early years, elementary, secondary and post-secondary curricula.

Timeline: Immediate

The intent of this recommendation is to increase the amount of accessibility-related content in all levels of education in Ontario.

Recommendation 30: Accessibility in information and communication tools and systems

Some members of the committee have noted that there is often a lack of knowledge regarding the needs of people with disabilities on the part of the designers of information and communication tools and systems, and this leads to a lack of accessibility in these products.

The committee proposes the following:

All obligated organizations which provide education or training on the design, production, innovation, maintenance or delivery of information and communication tools and systems shall include curricula that address the needs of all people with disabilities, including deaf, deafblind and hard of hearing people who use ASL and LSQ.

Timeline: One calendar year from effective date.

The intent of this recommendation is to ensure that information and communication tools and systems are created with accessibility features built-in and are maintained by individuals who are familiar with accessibility features.

Recommendation 31: Accessibility in provincially regulated professions

The question of accessibility in provincially regulated professions was of significant interest to the committee. Provincially regulated professions provide a wide array of services to Ontarians, and ensuring they understand the needs of people with disabilities would help make these services more accessible. The committee believes that education around accessibility in all provincially regulated professions could greatly enhance awareness and further prevent attitudinal barriers.

Note: As a resource, the committee refers to the Ontario Human Rights Code “Policy on ableism and discrimination based on disability.

The committee proposes the following:

Certification requirements of provincially regulated professions must include knowledge and application of accessibility (including accessible formats, language, communication and IT support) and the prevention of attitudinal barriers. These should be worked into instructional planning and course design for organizations which provide education or training.

Timeline: One calendar year

The intent of this recommendation is to integrate accessibility into the education and certification of regulated professionals in Ontario.

Recommendation 32: Education standards

The Information and Communications Standards of the regulation currently contain requirements related to education and training. When the committee first reviewed Sections 15–18 and proposed recommendations 24–29, the Government of Ontario had created committees to propose new standards in the regulation for education.

The committee proposes the following:

If the government creates education standards with requirements that are equal to or greater than those requirements found in Sections 15–18 of the regulation, including the result of recommendations 24–29 made in this report, these sections can be moved to the Education Standards.

If any elements of Sections 15–18, including the result of recommendations 24–29 made in this report, are not reflected in newly created education standards (or within the jurisdiction of education standards development committees) for example application of standards to private schools and colleges—these requirements must be retained in the Information and Communications Standards.

The committee’s intent is to make recommendations 24–29 related to Sections 15–18, while allowing the government to house these requirements in the most logical place in the regulation.

Part 6: Section 19

Section 19 relates to public libraries. The committee has reviewed and consulted on this section and voted to confirm that it recommends no changes to this section.

Phase 2

Declaring a breakdown – a call for a new way forward

During their deliberations and interactions with constituents, it became clear to the members of the committee that the current approach to regulating the accessibility of information and communication in Ontario is flawed, and if the approach does not change, the policy aims of the regulations will not be fully achieved. There was consensus that reliance on a wholly prescriptive standard that is not responsive to changes in technology and its application is a fundamental shortcoming of the current approach. There is also a need to enhance the active participation of those who build and use technology daily both to understand and to mandate the application of technologies in ways that maximize economic and social participation for Ontarians with disabilities.

A new model for accessibility regulation

As mentioned at the beginning of this report, the Digital Inclusion Technical Subcommittee was asked to think about some very broad questions, including what accessibility means in today’s digital world, and whether the current regulatory system is really able to deliver the desired outcomes.

In the process of considering the broader questions, the subcommittee had thorough discussions which formed the basis of a broad new proposal, presented here in this second chapter of the report, to improve access for Ontarians with disabilities: The Accessibility Ecosystem model.

The Accessibility Ecosystem model responds to what the subcommittee perceives as weaknesses in the current regulatory model and introduces a response that is better suited to a world of rapidly changing technology and business models. The committee also recognizes the need for a more responsive model that is focused on equipping obligated organizations with the knowledge and tools to best serve Ontarians on the front lines of business and government service delivery.

Government’s broader use of the Accessibility Ecosystem model

Though the application of the Accessibility Ecosystem is proposed first for digital content and its applications, this model may prove to be more broadly applicable to other standards.

The Accessibility Ecosystem is presented at a very high level, both to maximize compatibility with various requirements and in recognition that more in-depth research and development needs to be done by government and relevant stakeholders to take this model to the next step.

The committee proposes:

  • That the government adopt and operationalize phase 2 as the regulatory approach to accessibility in Ontario. The committee is aware that this approach will continue to evolve. The intent of the committee is to have phase 1 implemented in parallel with phase 2. Phase 1 should occur during the transition to phase 2.
  • Note: The infographics and additional materials (for example, long descriptions) have been submitted alongside this report after the appendices.

Timeline: Two years from submission of the final recommendations for phase 2 to be fully implemented.

What this document contains:

Current context:

  • committee investigates what the current regulatory model seems to be missing.

Accessibility Ecosystem:

  • the Accessibility Ecosystem model is proposed as a solution, and its advantages are listed.

Laws, Trusted Authority, Community Platform and Compliance

The Accessibility Ecosystem, listed and explained:

  • How is the new model better?
  • A look at what sets the Accessibility Ecosystem apart.
  • Cost, funding and sustainability
  • An explanation of how, far from being an onerous cost, the new model is actually a shrewd investment.

Current context

The subcommittee’s starting point was an acknowledgement of the fact that our understanding of accessibility has evolved since the act was drafted and implemented. People with disabilities are as diverse in their needs and perceptions as people without disabilities, and perhaps even more so. For that reason, one-size-fits-all approaches to accessibility often don’t work. In addition, it is now understood that even the word ‘accessible’ does not have a single definition and is more related to technical requirements than a person’s demand for a great experience. What is meant by accessible depends on the person and his or her goals and context. What this means is that accessibility can only be achieved through a process of inclusive design – one that recognizes that all people are variable and diverse, and our products and services must make room for a wide range of human differences.

It is also critical to understand that even if all the specified goals of the act were to be achieved by 2025, it would not be a case of mission accomplished. There would still be people with disabilities for whom Ontario is not accessible. Our society is changing all the time. New barriers to accessibility are constantly emerging, as are new opportunities for greater accessibility. The subcommittee concluded that creating an accessibility check list, however comprehensive, to address the needs of all Ontarians with disabilities is an impossible task. People not represented in the deliberations would likely be left out, unanticipated new barriers would not be considered, and new technologies that might be used to address barriers would not be leveraged. At that point, the subcommittee decided it was time to take a critical look at the current act and regulation model. What it found was five areas in which the current model is simply not meeting the needs of Ontarians with disabilities:

Participation

In the current model, the primary participants are the participating organizations and the provincial government compliance authority. The relationship is one of obligation and policing. The primary questions from obligated organizations are about what is required of them, and whether there might be exemptions. Their primary motivation for complying is avoiding penalties and/or reputational damage.

It is hard to blame organizations for this approach, because accessibility and inclusive design have traditionally been framed primarily as something that organizations must be legally compelled to do, rather than something that is also in their best interests. The fact is however, that there is significant evidence showing that inclusive design is in the interests of business. Research has shown that an organization that attends to inclusive design and accessibility, for customers and employees with disabilities, will garner economic, social and innovation benefits. There are both micro and macro-economic gains to be made for the participating company and for Ontario society as a whole, but that case is not being made clearly or often enough.

The current model also does not harness the significant energy, knowledge and support of many community stakeholders who are deeply committed to accessibility. These include:

  • students, many of whom participate in projects such as “mapathons,” design challenges and curriculum-based assignments
  • Ontario’s world-leading cluster of researchers specializing in accessibility and inclusive design
  • non-obligated organizations that recognize the importance of accessibility without being compelled to comply by law
  • persons with disabilities and their families or support communities
  • professional organizations
  • community volunteers
  • civil society

The efforts made by these people, groups and organizations are significant, but there is currently no real way to collect, harness and showcase their contributions or quantify their economic impact.

Updating

Other than the five-year review, there is currently no mechanism for keeping the standards up to date. This is especially problematic when it comes to information technology systems and practices, which are changing at an accelerating rate and affecting more and more essential aspects of our lives. Barriers to accessibility emerge suddenly, and if they are not dealt with immediately they can spread and multiply. Opportunities for greater accessibility appear, but if they are not quickly seized they can disappear. In this fast-moving world, accessibility standards quickly fall out of date, and the system is not equipped to deal with that.

Integrating innovation

Ontario is home to many innovators, many of whom have turned their ingenuity to addressing accessibility challenges. Unfortunately, there is currently no easy way for these innovators, including obligated organizations or other stakeholders, to propose new and better strategies for addressing barriers. The relationship is strictly one way, with the act essentially telling organizations what to do. This removes an incentive to innovate in accessibility.

Review and feedback

Legislation often triggers new demands for services. The act has prompted the growth of the accessibility services sector in Ontario. Training, evaluation, design, development and remediation services are now effectively growth industries in Ontario. However, these businesses and services range in expertise and quality, and there is currently no mechanism for reviewing or providing feedback about them.

Indicators

There is currently no way of tracking progress toward accessibility goals. No progress indicators have been established, making it extremely difficult to determine how well accessibility standards are working.

Based on all of this, the subcommittee concluded that an entirely new approach needs to be taken. This approach must move from presenting accessibility as an obligation to be borne by a specific group of organizations in Ontario, to a process that all Ontarians participate in, and benefit from. This is what the committee means when it refers to a culture change, and the vehicle for that culture change is the proposed new “Accessibility Ecosystem.”

The Accessibility Ecosystem

Fundamentally, the Accessibility Ecosystem is a new way of organizing the standards within the regulation. Initially, it is being proposed for the Information and Communication Standards, though the committee believes that it could one day be the framework for the full set of regulation standards. The primary aim of the Accessibility Ecosystem is to encourage organizations to see the act less as an obligation than as something in which they participate for their own benefit, and the benefit of all Ontarians. For that reason, the first step in implementing this new system, however symbolic, would be to rename “obligated organizations” as “participating organizations.” This reframing will also provide a way to keep improving and updating how we address barriers faced by persons with disabilities in Ontario, up to and beyond 2025.

The objectives of the Accessibility Ecosystem are as follows:

  • keep up with changes in technology
  • respond to new barriers
  • respond to new opportunities
  • respond to barriers not anticipated when the standards were written
  • encourage and support organizations and the larger community in finding innovative ways to address barriers
  • discourage the ‘us-them’ attitude towards accessibility, where the interests of persons with disabilities are seen as counter to the interests of businesses
  • encourage working together to make things more accessible to the benefit of everyone
  • communicate that accessibility is a responsibility we all share
  • show how accessibility and inclusive design are a good way to do business, and a good way to grow the economy and economic participation for Ontarians with disabilities
  • reduce confusion about the regulations and make it easier to find tools and resources needed to comply with them
  • provide clear, up-to-date, specific advice regarding how requirements can be met
  • create the conditions and supports so that all Ontarians feel that they can participate in removing barriers

The proposed ecosystem has three interdependent parts. They support one another, and all play a role in telling organizations what they need to do to remove barriers and expand opportunities. The ecosystem as a whole provides the balance between legal compulsion and alignment with current technical practices. All three parts require funding and ongoing support. The three parts are the laws, the Trusted Authority and the Community Platform.

The laws

This is the least flexible part. The laws would establish requirements, but not specify how they must be met. The Laws include three types:

  • Functional Accessibility Requirements (FARd) (contained in appendix B of this report). These are requirements that are constant. They do not mention specific technologies, to avoid a situation in which a technology changes and evolves to the point where the requirement no longer makes sense. If organizations need help understanding how to meet the requirements, they are linked to acceptable methods of doing so by the Trusted Authority. These requirements are modeled on and harmonized with requirements adopted by both the European Union and relevant US accessibility laws. The functional requirements do not replace technical requirements but specify what they are trying to achieve.
  • Regulations regarding the policies of the ecosystem. These govern the Trusted Authority, the Community Platform and updates to the laws.
  • Regulations that support system-wide long-term changes and improvements in the accessibility of Ontario. These include:
    • integrating education about accessibility in all education, starting as early as Kindergarten – Grade 12
    • integrating accessibility into professional training for all professions that have an impact on products and services
    • requiring accessibility when purchasing products and services, especially when spending public funds
    • including people with disabilities in decision making and planning processes, and ensuring that mechanisms for participation are accessible

Trusted Authority

The Trusted Authority would be an independent group that provides ongoing oversight and support to the system of accessibility standards, in order to ensure that the system is performing as it should and accomplishing what it is intended to accomplish. The Trusted Authority would include people with a wide range of expertise, including lived experience with disabilities.

As implied by the name, the Trusted Authority must be credible, understandable and reliable. All its activities must be transparent and open to public scrutiny. The Trusted Authority would have the power to consult with any individual or group to address knowledge and skill gaps.

The Trusted Authority would:

  • Determine and provide clear up-to-date qualifying methods for meeting regulations. (The current set of qualifying methods includes the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0, the Authoring Tool Accessibility Guidelines 2.0 and other standards such as Electronic Publication (EPub) and International Organization for Standardization (ISO) 24751).
  • In addition to qualifying methods, ensure that necessary tools and resources are available to use the qualifying methods.
  • Provide guidance regarding how to achieve the functional accessibility requirements, specific to the particular organizations. This includes links to resources and tools in the Community Platform.
  • Retire qualifying methods that are out of date.
  • Clarify laws when there is uncertainty or when there are changes.
  • Review new and innovative methods proposed by organizations and individuals to determine whether they can be used to meet the requirements.
  • Address gaps in available qualifying methods to meet the requirements.
  • Ensure that the barriers experienced by all Ontarians with disabilities are addressed by regularly evaluating who might be falling through the cracks. This includes individuals with a range of technical literacy, individuals in urban, rural and remote communities, Ontarians at all income levels and individuals with disabilities that are not visible or episodic disabilities. It also includes people who experience other barriers that might worsen the barriers experienced due to disabilities.
  • Provide, track and make publicly available indicators of progress toward an accessible Ontario. Examples of those indicators might include the number of companies with an accessibility officer, the number of accessibility complaints received and their resolution, the number of employees who self-identify as having a disability, and the number of Ontarians trained in accessibility skills.
  • Prioritize accessibility processes and tools rather than specialized technologies and services for people with disabilities. In this way, people with disabilities do not have to bear the additional cost of buying their own specific technology.
  • Support innovation that recognizes the diversity of needs experienced by people with disabilities rather than a “winner takes all” or a “one winning design” approach.
  • Support recognition that people with disabilities must be designers, developers, producers and innovators, and not only consumers of information and communication.
  • Qualifying methods must include accessible tools and processes.

The Trusted Authority would maintain an online interactive guide for participating organizations. This guide would let organizations know which FARs apply to them, what qualifying methods they could use to meet the requirements, and what tools and resources are available to help them implement the qualifying methods. The guide would be inclusively designed to consider the different types and ranges of expertise of organizations in Ontario.

It is recommended that the Trusted Authority report directly to the Legislative Assembly. It is the responsibility of the Legislative Assembly to maintain the FARs and the responsibility of the Trusted Authority to maintain the qualifying methods. Funding commitments for the Trusted Authority must span two political terms to ensure sustainability and independence. Decision-making regarding leadership of the Trusted Authority should be transparent and inclusive of Ontarians with disabilities.

Community Platform

The Community Platform would be an online platform, open to everyone in Ontario, that provides a simple and clear way for community members to contribute their knowledge, expertise and constructive criticism about accessibility in this province.

The Community Platform would:

  • collect and make accessibility resources and tools easily available
  • share training and education
  • make it possible for community members to monitor and review how organizations are doing in meeting the requirements
  • empower communities to organize events and activities that support accessibility
  • showcase and share good examples of accessible practices
  • collect and showcase data on various economic and social aspects of disability

The Community Platform must be an open online infrastructure that is easy to get into, easy to use and easy to navigate. It would allow any community member to pool, share and review a large variety of resources that are helpful in implementing the qualifying methods. These resources might include training modules, software tools, evaluation tools, design tools, reusable software components, helpful example practices, examples of contract language for procurement contracts, examples of job description language and many other resources.

The platform would also provide a means for community members to constructively review the resources. Community members would be able to identify gaps in resources, and these gaps would be disseminated publicly to potential innovators and resource producers. The Community Platform will learn from similar initiatives to avoid the pitfalls involved in keeping resources up-to-date and usable by a large diversity of individuals and organizations. Financial support would be needed to maintain the infrastructure and keep the various resources relevant and up-to-date.

Compliance

Clearly, compliance will have to be an important part of any successful accessibility ecosystem. The question, then, is how do we enforce and ensure proper compliance? Before making a more definitive recommendation, the committee would like to ask the public for input on how compliance might work, informed by its discussion on this topic summarized below:

The committee had an in-depth discussion of how compliance might work in phase 2. It was agreed that a reasoned, measured approach that rewards good actors and addresses bad behaviour is critical. In addition, greater accountability of leadership was a recurring theme. The committee also discussed greater connections between government bodies/ministries to enable government to be a better leader and using a greater spectrum of compliance measures. Some questions that came up were:

  • What is the right way to focus on organizations that want to do this right and actively build models that work well?
  • How do you evolve the current approach to compliance in order to encourage organizations to participate in this ecosystem, using a combination of both incentives and disincentives?
    • examples of incentives include grants, loans, tax benefits and public recognition of success
    • examples of disincentives include fines, levies to cover the cost of accessibility, surcharges and naming non-compliant organizations using social media
  • How best do you highlight the benefits of proactively investing in the integration of emerging technologies? How should we define emerging technology?

How is the new model better?

There are several characteristics of the Accessibility Ecosystem that set it apart. It is a more aspirational system, focusing as it does on what is important and good about accessibility, rather than simply emphasizing that it is an obligation. It is also a more inclusive system, not just inviting but actually relying on input from the public and from stakeholders, including those organizations obligated to meet accessibility requirements. Finally, it is designed to evolve and adapt as technology and attitudes change around it. Specifically, the new model will speed progress toward an accessible and inclusive Ontario because:

  • the Trusted Authority will intervene when new barriers arise
  • the Trusted Authority will integrate accessibility into the foundation before barriers are created
  • the Trusted Authority will be able to represent accessibility and inclusive design at technical and policy planning tables, to integrate inclusive design considerations from the start
  • efforts to produce services and resources that address accessibility, which are currently fragmented, will be coordinated and strategically channeled
  • new and current contributors to the goal of accessibility will be provided with productive ways to participate
  • the Trusted Authority will have the opportunity to provide a more comprehensive set of qualifying methods to address more of the barriers experienced by all persons with disabilities in Ontario
  • innovative practices that improve accessibility for people with disabilities will be showcased, rewarded and even adopted as qualifying methods
  • the Trusted Authority be able to maintain the momentum of accessibility efforts across political terms

Cost, funding and sustainability

Reports such as the Releasing Constraints report led by the Martin Prosperity Institute show that public investment in accessibility is one of the most economically rewarding investments of public dollars. By establishing a locus of expertise in accessibility, Ontario gains recognition as a global leader in meeting the growing demand for accessibility expertise and innovation, and achieves unprecedented gains in prosperity. This leadership potential has not been fully realized in the current act framework, but the Accessibility Ecosystem would change that.

The Community Platform would serve to reduce redundancy and significantly improve the effectiveness and efficiency of accessibility efforts. The Community Platform is also structured in such a way that while the infrastructure would be maintained through public funding, the resources, tools, training and review would be contributed by the community at large for mutual benefit. Support for the Trusted Authority and the Community Platform could be shared by multiple jurisdictions across Canada, including other provinces and the federal government. Other jurisdictions have expressed interest in collaborating and sharing these services.

Glossary

Qualifying methods

A means of meeting a Functional Accessibility Requirement for a type of service or product that is sanctioned by the Trusted Authority. Qualifying methods can refer to specific technologies and formats, and the tools and resources needed to employ these methods would be available in the Community Platform.

Participating organizations

Organizations within Ontario, including organizations obligated by the act, previously referred to as “obligated organizations.” The renaming recognizes that a role of all organizations in Ontario is to participate in promoting and advancing accessibility for their own benefit and the benefit of Ontario as a whole.

Platform

An online service that connects people who need something with resources or people that meet those needs. The platform provides a place to pool shared resources and tools, attach descriptions, including constructive criticism of the resources and tools. Platforms have points of entry suited to the different users and contributors of the platform.

Alternative access systems

Computer-based technology comes with a standard set of devices to interact with the technology, such as keyboards and displays. People may not be able to use these standard devices. Alternative access systems replace or augment these standard devices.

Appendix A: Committee membership

Information and Communications Standards Development Committee

Voting members

  • Rich Donovan (Chair)
  • Kim Adeney
  • David Berman
  • David Best
  • Louise Bray
  • Jennifer Cowan
  • Pina D’Intino
  • Louie DiPalma
  • Robert Gaunt
  • Gary Malkowski
  • Chantal Perreault
  • James Roots
  • Kevin Shaw
  • Jutta Treviranus
  • Diane Wagner
  • Richard Watters

Non-voting members

  • Kate Acs
  • Michele Babin
  • Adam Haviaras
  • Kathy McLachlan

Resigned

  • Jessica Gabriel
  • Ben Williamson
  • Matthieu Vachon

Digital Inclusion Technical Subcommittee

Members

  • Jutta Treviranus (Lead)
  • David Berman
  • Pina D’Intino
  • Anne Jackson
  • Dan Shire
  • Aidan Tierney
  • George Zamfir

Appendix B: Functional Accessibility Requirements (FARs)

The following is a draft of the proposed requirements that would constitute one part of the laws. These requirements would be directly linked to qualifying methods for meeting the requirements (provided by the Trusted Authority), and then to tools and resources needed to use the methods (provided by the Community Platform).

Where visual modes of presentation are provided:

  • at least one configuration must be provided that does not require vision
  • visual presentation must be adjustable to support limited vision and/or visual perception or processing (magnification, contrast, spacing, visual emphasis, layout)
  • at least one configuration must convey information without dependence on colour distinction
  • visual presentation that triggers photosensitive seizures must be avoided
  • it must be possible to render the presentation in alternative formats, including tactile formats

Where auditory modes of presentation are provided:

  • at least one configuration must be provided that does not require hearing (captions and sign language)
  • audio presentation must be adjustable to support limited hearing and/or auditory processing (volume, reduced background noise)
  • it must be possible to render the presentation in alternative formats, including tactile formats

Where speech is required to operate a function:

  • at least one configuration must be provided that does not require speech

Where manual dexterity is required for operation:

  • the opportunity to use alternative modes of operation must be provided
  • at least one mode of operation must be provided that enables operation through actions that do not involve fine motor control. These would include path dependant gestures, pinching, twisting of the wrist, tight grasping or simultaneous manual actions (for example, one-handed operation)

Where hand strength is required for operation:

  • at least one alternative mode of operation must be provided that does not require hand strength

Where operation requires reach:

  • operational elements must be within reach of all users

Where memorization is required for use:

  • at least one configuration must provide memory supports or eliminate the demand on memorization or accurate recall (unless the purpose is to teach or test memorization)

Where text literacy is required for use:

  • at least one configuration must provide literacy supports or eliminate the demand for text literacy (for example, text-to-speech, pictorial representation)
  • at least one configuration must provide simple language (unless the purpose is to teach or test text literacy where a different level of literacy is required). Simple language means the literacy level of Grade 3.

Where extended attention is required for use:

  • at least one configuration must reduce demand on attention or enable use with limited attention

Where operation has time limits:

  • at least one configuration must enable extension or elimination of time limits

Where controlled focus is required for use:

  • at least one configuration must provide support for focus or eliminate demand on controlled focus

Where specific sequencing of steps for operation is required:

  • at least one configuration must provide support for sequencing steps, or eliminate the demand for specific sequencing of operation steps (unless the purpose is to teach or test accurate sequencing)

Where abstract thinking is required:

  • at least one configuration must reduce demand for understanding abstractions such as acronyms, allegory and metaphor (unless the purpose is to teach or test abstract thinking)

Where accuracy of input is required:

  • a simple undo must be available

Where biometrics are employed:

  • alternative methods of identification must be made available

Appendix C: Definitions and resources

Relevant to all recommendations:

User: Someone who uses a product, machine or service.

Relevant to recommendation 13

United States Access Board definition of web page

A non-embedded resource obtained from a single Universal Resource Identifier (URI) using HyperText Transfer Protocol (HTTP) plus any other resources that are provided for the rendering, retrieval and presentation of content.

European Union Web Accessibility Directive scope:

  1. In order to improve the functioning of the internal market, this directive aims to approximate the laws, regulations and administrative provisions of the member states relating to the accessibility requirements of the websites and mobile applications of public sector bodies, thereby enabling those websites and mobile applications to be more accessible to users, in particular to persons with disabilities.
  2. This directive lays down the rules requiring member states to ensure that websites, independently of the device used for access thereto, and mobile applications of public sector bodies meet the accessibility requirements set out in Article 4.

United Nations Convention language:

  1. States Parties shall also take appropriate measures:(g) To promote access for persons with disabilities to new information and communications technologies and systems, including the internet.

Relevant to recommendation 14

Alternative access systems

Computer-based technology comes with a standard set of devices to interact with the technology, such as keyboards and displays. People may not be able to use these standard devices. Alternative access systems replace or augment these standard devices.

Relevant to recommendation 17

Ontario Human Rights Code (the Code) “Undue Hardship” terminology

Relevant to recommendation 26

Ontario Human Rights Code “Policy on accessible education for students with disabilities”

Relevant to recommendation 27

Public feedback answers related to the question Which types of organizations should be included in the definition of formal education?:

Note: The survey answers below are extracted from survey responses:

  1. The term ‘formal’ education or training should be defined as stated above (for example, education or training that results in a certificate or other documentation) and the requirement would apply to any organizations that provide that type of education or training.
  2. Any that provide formal education or training.
  3. Any organization that would be giving a certification at the end of the training course.
  4. Tutoring organizations, recreational learning programs such as art, music, physical activity etc.
  5. Educational institutions.
  6. Yes but some agencies do not have the resources to do this. It must be funded.
  7. Everyone.
  8. Private Sector Organizations that provide (paid for) training to externa! clients. Public and Non-Profit organization whose mandate it is to provide training.
  9. University, public schools, private/board schools, workplace education training, broadcasting networks (news), city/town governments.
  10. Any time someone is enrolling as a student or paying for training.
  11. Institutions that issue certifications and designations, along with online training sessions.
  12. Public, private and non- profit.
  13. All.
  14. All.
  15. All businesses and companies, public or private, all not-for-profit companies, schools, colleges, universities, private schools.
  16. It should include all publicly funded education and all paid education.
  17. Would not recommend using the type of organization but would recommend looking at the type or frequency of the training that is being provided. Organizations that have a dedicated training and education dept that do regular training external to their organization should be considered.
  18. Anything that leads to a certification.

Infographics

Frame 1: Accessibility Ecosystem

Frame 1: View a larger version of this infographic (PDF). Read the text version below.

A diagram representing the Accessibility Ecosystem using the visual analogy of a sailing ship in the water.

Introductory text

From obligation to participation: The AODA Accessibility Ecosystem is like a ship in an unpredictable and changing global and technical context. The laws provide the compass, the Trusted Authority steers the course, and the community uses the Community Hub to provide the ideas, tools and resources needed to make the journey.

Description of diagram

The sails of the ship are being blown by wind representing culture change and innovation.

The water has a shark fin representing barriers and fish jumping out of the water representing opportunities.

The ship represents the Ontario community and contains the three parts of the Accessibility Ecosystem: the Accessibility Law, the Trusted Authority and the Community Hub.

The Accessibility Law and Trusted Authority are two separate parts connected by a double helix that has the following phrases printed on it: “Needed Adjustments”, “How to Achieve It” and “What Must Be Achieved”. The Community Hub sits beside Trusted Authority outside the helix with arrows pointing into the helix.

Subtext for the three parts of the Ecosystem further explains each of the Ecosystem’s part. This subtext is as follows:

Accessibility Law
Measures that bring about long-term culture change
Functional accessibility requirements that remain constant
Regulating overall process

Trusted Authority
Ensuring tools and resources are available
Responding to changes in context
Retiring outdated methods
Qualifying innovative methods

Community Hub
Training
Community feedback and monitoring
Pooled resources and tools
Research and guidance
Innovative approaches to addressing barriers

Frame 2: Accessibility Ecosystem

Frame 2: View a larger version of this infographic (PDF). Read the text version below.

The same diagram represented in Frame 1 is lightened with further descriptions of the three parts of the Accessibility Ecosystem layered on top.

Introductory text

There are three important parts in the Accessibility Ecosystem: Laws, Trusted Authority and Community Hub.

Ecosystem parts descriptions

Accessibility Law
The Law is the compass that keeps the ship on course. The law achieves an accessible community and maintains rules about the structure of the overall ecosystem.

Trusted Authority
The Trusted Authority provides directions to steer the course. The Trusted Authority must keep a careful watch for new barriers, opportunities and changes in technology trends and adjust directions in response to these changes.

Community Hub
The Community Hub engages everyone in the community including the general public, people with lived experience of disability, and participating organizations. The Community Hub provides the ideas and resources needed to progress forward.

Frame 3: Accessibility Ecosystem

Frame 3: View a larger version of this infographic (PDF). Read the text version below.

The same diagram represented in Frame 2 (Frame 1 lightened) with even further descriptions of the three parts of the Accessibility Ecosystem layered on top.

Introductory text

Each of the three parts plays an important role in the ecosystem. They rely on each other to be successful.

Ecosystem parts descriptions

Accessibility Law
The laws lay out the functional accessibility requirements and provide regulations to bring about the needed culture change. The laws are the most constant.

Trusted Authority
Participating Organizations and community members can propose innovative new ways to meet the Functional Accessibility Requirements. The Trusted Authority is responsible for keeping the qualifying methods for meeting Functional Accessibility Requirements up-to-date, understandable and do-able. This requires the support of the Community Hub.

Community Hub
Everyone in the community has a role to play and can benefit from participating in the community effort. The Community Hub is the place where new ideas, tools, resources, training, reviews and constructive feedback is gathered and shared.

Frame 4: Accessibility Ecosystem

Frame 4: View a larger version of this infographic (PDF). Read the text version below.

The same diagram represented in Frame 1 is darkened. Layered on top of the darkened diagram is a circle placed in the front part of the ship within the Ontario community. The circle represents Participating Organizations. Four lines with arrows extend out of the Participating Organization circle. Each line has a question attached to it with the arrow pointing to an answer within the ecosystem.

The questions and answers are as follows:

How can I make my services accessible?
Arrow points to Accessibility Law.
A second line with an arrow extends out of the question through the Trusted Authority and back to Participating Organizations.

How can I qualify my new method?
Arrow points to Trusted Authority: Qualifying innovative methods.

Where can I learn more?
Arrow points to Community Hub: Training.

What tools are there to help?
Arrow points to Community Hub: Pooled resources and tools.

Frame 5: Accessibility Ecosystem

Frame 5: View a larger version of this infographic (PDF). Read the text version below.

The same diagram represented in Frame 4 (Frame 3 darkened). Layered on top of the diagram are two circles placed in the front part of the ship within the Ontario community. The circles represent the Public and Individuals with Disabilities. Three lines with arrows extend out of the Public circle and one line extends out of the Individuals with Disabilities circle. Each line has a question attached to it with the arrow pointing to an answer within the ecosystem.

The Public questions and answers are as follows:

How can I participate in drafting the laws?
Arrow points to Accessibility Law.

How can I propose new methods?
Arrow points to Trusted Authority: Qualifying innovative methods.

How can I provide feedback?
Arrow points to Trusted Authority.

The Individuals with Disabilities question and answer is:

How can I contribute to resources?
Arrow points to Community Hub: Pooled resources and tools.

Frame 6: trusted authority process

Frame 6: View a larger version of this infographic (PDF). Read the text version below.

An explanation of the Trusted Authority process supported by a visual design that includes line drawings of a variety of people with talk bubbles containing descriptions of who they, as the Trusted Authority, are. The talk bubbles include:

We have the power to:

  1. continuously update the qualifying methods
  2. review innovative proposed new methods as alternatives or additions to existing methods
  3. clarify and rule on disputes regarding the regulations

We have inclusive representation and the power to consult with:

  1. external subject matter experts
  2. additional individuals with lived experience
  3. representative organizations

We support the law, but are independent of partisan influence.
We link the law directly to qualifying methods supported by tools, resources and training.
We bridge political terms.

We are the Trusted Authority
The Trusted Authority is responsible for keeping the qualifying methods for meeting Functional Accessibility Requirements up-to-date, understandable and do-able. This requires the support of the Community Hub. Participating Organizations and community members can propose innovative new ways to meet the Functional Accessibility Requirements.

Frame 7: participating organizations process

Frame 7: View a larger version of this infographic (PDF). Read the text version below.

An explanation of the Participating Organizations process supported by a visual design that includes line drawings of a variety of people and talk bubbles containing questions and answers.

The questions and answers are as follows:

Question: How can I connect with potential customers with lived experience who can provide feedback?
Answer: Through community hub forums

Question: We have created tools and resources for the qualifying method, how do we share it?
Answer: Share in community hub, (make sure they’re referenced)

Question: Where can I learn more?
Answer: In the Community hub for training, education and exemplars

Question: Who has expertise and experience to help me?
Answer: Visit directory with reviews

Question: We found an innovative way to meet the functional accessibility requirement, will it qualify?
Answer: Vet with trusted authority

Question: What tools are there to help?
Answer: Access community hub tools and reviews

Question: Here are the services I provide; how do I make them accessible?
Answer: Trusted Authority provides relevant FARs and qualifying methods

We are Participating Organizations:
Participating Organizations are organizations operating in Ontario that are obligated by the Law. The Accessibility Ecosystem enables these organizations to participate in advancing accessibility in Ontario and to contribute innovative approaches. All organizations benefit from a more accessible Ontario.

Frame 8: shared responsibility and shared benefit process

Frame 8: View a larger version of this infographic (PDF). Read the text version below.

An explanation of the Community and Community Hub: Shared Responsibility and Shared Benefit process supported by a diagram that includes line drawings of a variety of people around a helix.

The left side of the helix has the following phrases:
Provide constructive feedback
Help develop training, tools and resources
Find new ways to address barriers
Create innovative inclusive technologies and practices
Help identify barriers

The right side of the helix has the following phrases:
Greater innovation
Greater prosperity
Ontario as a global leader
Participation and contributions by all Ontarians

We are the Community and the Community Hub
The Community Hub is the most participatory of the ecosystem and supports engagement by everyone in the community including people from the government, obligated organizations, and diverse individuals inclusive of those with disabilities.



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