What School Information Should be Available Online?


The AODA does not yet have an education standard. Two committees are making recommendations about what an education standard should include. One issue that an education standard should address is access to information. Educational institutions should be required to make all information available to all students, parents, teachers, and other workers in schools. For instance, schools and school boards could post information on accessible websites. Students, parents, teachers, or visitors with disabilities can read online school information on accessible computers or phones.

Online School Information: What Information Should be Accessible Online?

Forms 

Different schools or school boards could post different kinds of information. For example, schools could make copies of print forms available online for parents. Instead of handing every student a print form to take home, schools could give parents the option of receiving online forms. Many parents might prefer this option because it would be environmentally friendly. In addition, parents with print disabilities could have the same access to forms as their sighted peers.

Books

Moreover, there could be an online database where academic publishers upload accessible-format Ebook versions of all the books they publish. Currently, many publishers have Ebook options available, but the Ebooks are not always accessible. As a result, publishers must convert an Ebook into an accessible format after a student has bought it. Similarly, publishers only start converting a print book into an accessible format after a student needing one has bought a print copy. However, if all Ebooks were accessible from the start, publishers would not need to convert them later. Likewise, students would not fall behind in their course work while waiting for books they can read.

Course outlines and school policies

Similarly, when university staff upload documents, such as course outlines or school policies, they often post in portable document format (PDF). However, only some PDF files are accessible. School staff should know how to test the accessibility of any PDF files they want to post. If the PDFs they have made are not accessible, staff should post copies of the documents in accessible formats like Word or HTML.

Maps

Likewise, when schools post videos or maps for orientation, they should ensure that students of all abilities can use them. For example, they should make sure videos are captioned and provide detailed descriptions of their maps.

Finally, all schools and school boards should make any online courses they offer accessible. Our next article will explore how educational institutions can offer accessible online learning.




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A Call for Stronger Information and Communications Standards in Education


 Our last article explored how information standards in education make information accessible to some students, parents, and educators with disabilities. In this article, we discuss how stronger information standards in education are needed to fully support students with disabilities.  

A Call for Stronger Information and Communications Standards in Education 

The regulations in the existing Standards provide an important starting point for educational accessibility. However, under the current standard, educators, students, or parents must request accessible-format materials at the time they are needed and wait until the school or producer can create them. The Standards mandate that formats and supports must be available in a timely manner. Nonetheless, in an educational context, students may need information much sooner than they can access it. For example, a teacher might request a textbook from a publisher at the beginning of the school year. The educator, and the student who needs the accessible book, must then wait for the book to be produced. By the time the accessible book arrives, the other students may have been using the book for several days or weeks.

An education standard could improve school access by mandating that academic publishers create accessible-format versions of everything they publish. Moreover, this requirement could apply to both print and online resources. Educators who request accessible resources could then receive them at the same time they receive standard print resources. In this way, every student would have the same access to their textbooks.

Expanding the Information Standards to include mandates for students with parents with disabilities and teachers

In addition, the Information Standards’ focus on accessible information supports only students with print disabilities. For instance, these rules support students who are/have:

  • Blind 
  • Visually impaired
  • Deafblind
  • Learning disabilities that affect reading
  • Physical disabilities that affect their ability to hold or turn pages

However, there are no rules supporting the accessible-format needs of parents with disabilities. For example, the standard could mandate a process for parents to request alternate-format copies of:

  • Their child’s report cards
  • Consent forms for field trips or other school activities

Moreover, there are no mandates that detail how teachers should make their lessons accessible for students with other disabilities. For instance, there are no rules in the standards about providing communication supports during lessons for students who are/have:

  • Deaf
  • Hard of hearing
  • Deafblind
  • Speech disabilities
  • Learning disabilities affecting verbal information processing
  • Autism spectrum disorder (ASD)
  • Intellectual disabilities
  • Mental health challenges

As more people develop disabilities, access to information will become more important, in education and in all other sectors. The new education standard will need to ensure accessible lessons and books for students with all disabilities.




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Accessible Information in Education


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

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

Accessible Information in Education

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

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

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

How to Make Educational Materials Accessible

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

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

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

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




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What Barriers to Information and Communication Do You Face?


The Ford Government Posted the Draft Recommendations for Revisions to the Information and Communication Accessibility Standard That the Information and Communication Standards Development Committee has Submitted to the Government Send Us Your Thoughts As We Prepare Our Brief

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

August 27, 2019

SUMMARY

Do you think Ontario should do more to ensure that information and communication, including digital communications, are fully accessible to over 2 million Ontarians with disabilities? Here is a chance to have your say.

What’s this all about? Back in 2011, the former Ontario Government enacted a regulation under the AODA which is often called the Information and Communication Accessibility Standard. It was supposed to ensure that information and communication, including digital communication, becomes accessible to Ontarians with disabilities on or before 2025.

That 2011 accessibility standard was helpful, and may well have been the strongest of the five accessibility standards enacted to date under the AODA. However, there remains ample room for it to be strengthened. As written, it would not ensure that information and communications in Ontario becomes accessible to Ontarians with disabilities by 2025.

Under the AODA, after an accessibility standard has been in force for five years, the Ontario Government must appoint an AODA Standards Development Committee to review it and recommend any revisions needed to ensure that Ontario becomes fully accessible to people with disabilities by 2025. As a result, in 2016, the former Ontario Government appointed an Information and Communication Standards Development Committee to take on that task.
That Standards Development Committee has been meeting and working since 2017. Its work suffered from a six month interruption of its work. This was caused by the unwarranted freeze on all Standards Development Committees that the Ford Government left in place for months. We led the successful charge to get that freeze lifted. Late last fall, the Doug Ford Government let the Information and Communication Standards Development Committee get back to work.

The Information and Communication Standards Development Committee has put together an initial or draft package of proposed recommendations for revisions to the 2011 Information and Communication Accessibility Standard. On July 24, 2019, the Ford Government made public those initial or draft recommendations. Under the AODA, the Government must post this draft recommendation for public comment for at least 45 days. the Government has announced that public feedback can be submitted to the Government up to September 27, 2019. Below we set out the July 24, 2019 email we received from Susan Picarello, the new Assistant Deputy Minister responsible for the AODA. We also set out key parts of the Government’s July 24, 2019 announcement of this consultation on its website. You can download the text of the proposed revisions to the 2011 Information and Communication Accessibility Standard that the Information and Communication Standards Development Committee has proposed by visiting [email protected] or use the online survey to which the Government points in its web posting, which we set out below.

The AODA Alliance is going to prepare and submit a brief to the Information and Communication Standards Development Committee, offering our feedback on its draft recommendations for improvements to the 2011 Information and Communication Accessibility Standard. We welcome your input and feedback on those draft recommendations. These can help us prepare our brief. They will no doubt also help us when we later give input to the Federal Government on the regulations it is expected to eventually create under the new Accessible Canada Act to govern the accessibility of information and communication in the federal sphere.

Please send us your feedback as soon as possible. Write us at [email protected] We also encourage you to give your input directly to Ontario’s Information and Communication Standards Development Committee. You can submit your feedback to them by writing https://www.aodaalliance.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/08/july-24-2019-infocom-Standards-Development-Committee-Initial-Recommendation-Report-English.docx

The AODA Alliance has tried to play a central and constructive role in the development of the 2011 Information and Communication Accessibility Standard. We submitted several briefs to the previous Ontario Government on that standard as it was being developed.

In 2017, we asked for a chance to meet with the new Information and Communication Standards Development Committee , to offer our input as it was developing its draft recommendations. We deeply regret that that committee refused our request. We will again ask to appear before that Committee after it receives public input on its draft recommendations, and are hopeful that this might be accepted.

We brought this concern to the attention of former Ontario Lieutenant Governor David Onley, when he was preparing his report for the Ontario Government on the AODA’s implementation and enforcement. Chapter 5 of our January 15, 2019 brief to David Onley’s AODA Independent Review included:

“In 2017, we asked both the Information and Communication Standards Development Committee and the Health Care Standards Development Committee for a chance to present to them. Both declined. We understood that they may be open to our attending after they have made public their draft recommendations.”

It would have been much better for us to have a chance for input earlier in the Standards Development Committee’s work. Once the committee reaches the current stage, it tends to be committed to a course of action, and only open to minor variations, from what we have experienced over the past 14 years, providing input to a good number of these committees. Nevertheless, we will take any opportunity we can get to offer constructive input.

We will keep the Information and Communication Standards Development Committee’s draft recommendations permanently posted on our website after this consultation period ends. The former Ontario Government had an unexplained and inappropriate practice of taking down such draft recommendations after the consultation period had expired. We believe it is important for the public to have permanent access to the virtual “paper trail” of any accessibility standard enacted under the AODA.

So far, the Doug Ford Government does not have a good track record in the area of developing accessibility standards under the AODA. In summary:

a) On May 30, 2019, the Doug Ford Government incorrectly and unfairly disparaged the entire idea of creating a much-needed Built Environment Accessibility Standard under the AODA as “red tape.”

b) Back in the 2018 spring, before the Doug Ford Government took office, the Ontario Government received the final recommendations for revisions to the 2011 Transportation Accessibility Standard from the Transportation Standards Development Committee. Since taking office, the Doug Ford Government has announced no action or plan for action on improving the weak 2011 Transportation Accessibility Standard. For example, it has not announced any effort at public consultation on this issue.

c) As we have earlier reported, since back at the end of 2017, the Ontario Government has been required to appoint a new Standards Development Committee to review the 2012 Public Spaces Accessibility Standard. Neither the previous Wynne Government nor the current Ford Government did so.

d) More generally, the Doug Ford Government has announced no plan of action to implement the report of David Onley’s Independent Review of the AODA’s implementation. There have now been 209 days since the Ford Government received the Onley Report.

In contrast to this troubling track record, Doug Ford promised a more positive approach in his May 15, 2018 letter to the AODA Alliance, where he set out his party’s 2018 election pledges on accessibility for Ontarians with disabilities. That letter included, among other things, a commitment to the AODA’s goals and the following:

“Ontario needs a clear strategy to address AODA standards and the Ontario Building Code’s accessibility provisions.”

Have you had a chance yet to join in our Dial Doug campaign? Call or email Premier Doug Ford. Ask him where is his plan to get Ontario to become accessible to over 2 million Ontarians with disabilities by 2025?

Doug Ford’s office number is +1 (416) 325-1941. His email address is [email protected]

Action tips on how to take part are available for you at https://www.aodaalliance.org/whats-new/join-in-our-new-dial-doug-campaign-a-grassroots-blitz-unveiled-today-to-get-the-doug-ford-government-to-make-ontario-open-for-over-1-9-million-ontarians-with-disabilities/

Download, print up and give out our 1-page leaflet on the Dial Doug campaign. Spread the word about it. Email it to friends. Post it on your Facebook page. Our 1-page Dial Doug leaflet is available at https://www.aodaalliance.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/07/dial-doug-leaflet.docx https://www.aodaalliance.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/07/dial-doug-leaflet.docx

MORE details

Text of the July 24, 2019 Announcement from Susan Picarello, Ontario’s Assistant Deputy Minister for Accessibility

Good Morning,

I am pleased to let you know that the Information and Communications Standards Development Committee’s Initial Recommendations Report has just been posted online for public comment and can be found https://www.ontario.ca/page/consultation-initial-recommendations-improve-accessibility-standards-information-and-communications . The Report will be posted online for a period of 45 business days and will close on September 27, 2019.

This report reflects the Committee’s hard work reviewing the Information and Communications Standards.

I appreciate your expertise and would greatly appreciate your participation in the public feedback process. I would encourage you to share this information broadly with your colleagues and networks.

Sincerely,

Susan Picarello
Assistant Deputy Minister
Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Division

Ontario Government Website’s July 24, 2019 Posting on the Draft Recommendations of the Information and Communication Standards Development Committee

Originally posted at https://www.ontario.ca/page/consultation-initial-recommendations-improve-accessibility-standards-information-and-communications Consultation: Initial recommendations to improve accessibility standards for information and communications
The Information and Communications Standards Development Committee invites you to share your feedback on how to improve access to information and make communications more accessible for people with disabilities. How to participate
Closing date: September 27, 2019

Background
Ontario businesses and organizations with one or more employees must follow accessibility standards under theAccessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, 2005(AODA) so they can identify, remove and prevent barriers faced by people with disabilities.
Accessibility standards must be reviewed every five years to determine whether they are working as intended or need adjusting. About the consultation
Access to information and communications is essential for everyone in their day-to-day lives. The Information and Communications Standards under theAODAaddress how businesses and organizations create, provide and receive information and communications in ways that are accessible for people with disabilities.
The Information and Communications Standards Development Committee a group of representatives from various sectors, including business, municipalities and people with disabilities makes recommendations on how to improve existing standards under theAODAaround information and communications.
The committee has drafted initial recommendations to improve the existing Information and Communications Standards under theAODAand would like your feedback.
The committee will review all feedback before it submits its final report and recommendations to the Minister for Seniors and Accessibility for consideration. Initial recommendations
The initial report contains 31 recommendations and is separated intoPhase 1andPhase 2. Phase 1
The committee began its review in March 2017 and developed and voted on 30 recommendations. As a result, Phase 1 addresses the following key areas:
* the structure of the regulation
* feedback
* accessible formats, communications supports and websites
* information about emergency procedures and public safety
* educational resources and training
* libraries (including schools)
Phase 2
Phase 2 contains a proposal for culture change in Ontario. It outlines a new model that would transform and modernize how accessibility is regulated in the province.
It would allow organizations to continuously adapt and improve their websites, web content and technology up to and beyond 2025.
If this model is successful when applied to the Information and Communications Standards, the committee recommends that the government explore how to apply it to other accessibility standards in the future. How to participate
1. Read the committee’sinitial recommendations
If you need the initial recommendations in an alternate format or if you have any questions, call us at toll-free: 1-866-515-2025 or toll-freeTTY: 1-800-268-7095, Monday to Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. or email us [email protected] 2. Submit your feedback through our online surveys:
Phase 1 survey
Phase 2 survey
Or send us your feedback by email [email protected] by mail to:

Attention: Rich Donovan, chair
Information and Communications Standards Review Feedback
Ministry for Seniors and Accessibility
777 Bay Street,
6thFloor, Suite 601A
Toronto, Ontario
M7A 2J4
All feedback received will be considered by the committee before finalizing its recommendations to the minister. Your privacy matters
Your personal information is being collected to help us gain a greater understanding of your feedback. Your responses will be reviewed by the Ministry for Seniors and Accessibility and the Information and Communications Standards Development Committee. Your feedback may also be used in a summary report about this survey.
Please note that your submissions/feedback are subject to the access and privacy provisions of theFreedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act.
Some of the non-identifying information shared may be used by Cabinet Office, the Ministry for Seniors and Accessibility and their service providers to measure website analytics, performance and to improve our services.
Your information will not be placed on mailing lists or released to any third party beyond the Information and Communications Standards Development Committee, except as may be authorized by law. For questions on how personal information collected on this page will be used, please see ourPrivacy Statement.




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Online Healthcare Information: Providing Accessibility Awareness


Our last article explored how various healthcare providers can make more information available online. This article will cover how healthcare providers can use their websites to make patients and visitors with disabilities aware of the accessible services they have. Providers need to be more conscious of accessibility when providing online healthcare information.

Online Healthcare Information: Providing Accessibility Awareness

All health care providers can use their websites as a way to advertise their accessible features. For instance, providers can state on their websites if they have accessible structural features, such as:

In addition, providers can advertise other accessible equipment they have, such as:

  • Height-adjustable examination tables
  • Lifts
  • Accessible diagnostic equipment, such as scales

Larger organizations should also mention any accessibility equipment or services available on-site for patients or visitors, such as:

  • Wheelchairs
  • Assistive listening systems
  • Sign language interpretation
  • Closed, open, or real-time captioning
  • Teletypewriters
  • Communication boards
  • Augmentative or alternative communication (AAC) devices

Smaller providers that do not have such services or equipment available on-site can state their willingness to accommodate patients who bring or arrange their own. For instance, providers can state their welcome of patients or visitors who use communication supports or devices.

Standardized Online Healthcare Information is Needed

Hospitals around Ontario offer widely different amounts and kinds of accessibility information on their websites. For example, Toronto’s Hospital for Sick Children (Sick Kids) provides detailed information about where patients and families can find or request a variety of accessible services. In contrast, other hospitals, such as Georgian Bay General Hospital, have shorter accessibility pages that direct patients to their AODA-mandated accessibility plans. This type of page does not give patients useful information such as:

  • Which door they can enter using a wheelchair
  • Whether volunteers are available to escort patients
  • How far in advance to book an American Sign Language (ASL) interpreter

Furthermore, some hospitals have strong accessibility pages, but they do not address all accessibility concerns, or they overlook accessibility when they implement unique services. For instance, the Kingston General Hospital has placed whiteboards in all of its patient rooms, so that different medical professionals and family members involved in a patient’s care can communicate more easily. However, their accessibility page does not mention how they would make this unique and valuable service accessible to a patient, visitor, or healthcare professional who is blind or deafblind.

Similarly, the London Health Sciences Centre (LHSC) accessibility page offers detailed information about accessible entrances, parking, teletypewriters, and wheelchairs. However, these details are not listed under headings on the main page, so that people can quickly find the information they need. Instead, tabs to the information appear below details about the centre’s policy and plans. This layout makes it easy for people to overlook information. Moreover, these topics only highlight a few accessibility concerns. The page makes no mention of other accessibility concerns, such as accessible washrooms or Sign language interpreters.

Addressing the Gaps

In other words, hospitals are uneven in their posting of online healthcare information. An AODA healthcare standard should address this gap, so that all healthcare providers offer the detailed information that patients need and deserve.

The first step to creating online health care information is for providers to make their websites accessible. Our next article will offer more information about accessible websites.



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Online Healthcare Information


Currently, the AODA does not have a healthcare standard. A committee is making recommendations about what a healthcare standard should include. One issue that a healthcare standard should address is access to information. Healthcare providers should be required to make all information available to all patients. One way for providers to do so could be by posting information on accessible websites. Patients or other visitors with disabilities can read online healthcare information on accessible computers or phones.

Online Healthcare Information

Different kinds of healthcare providers should post online healthcare information. For instance:

  • Doctors’ offices
  • Hospitals
  • Walk-in clinics
  • Wellness centres
  • Pharmacies
  • Labs
  • Healthcare regulating colleges

What Information should be Accessible Online?

Different providers could post different kinds of information. For example, hospitals could post guides or videos for patients if it is their first time:

  • Staying in hospital
  • Having surgery, x-rays, etc.

For instance, the Hospital for Sick Children (Sick Kids) in Toronto offers information for first-time patients through videos and text in simple language. Some other hospitals offer only text information but they do not offer plain-language versions.

Similarly, pharmacies could upload guides or videos of how to take different kinds of medication. There could also be a multi-pharmacy database archiving instructions for medications. Patients with print disabilities could log on to learn how to use medications that doctors have prescribed for them. Moreover, the archive could also contain plain-language versions of prescription instructions. Simple language, and pictures or diagrams, could be helpful for patients with intellectual disabilities, patients learning English, or patients with low literacy.

Likewise, doctors’ offices, clinics, and labs could make copies of print forms available online for patients. Instead of handing every patient a print form, health practitioners could give all patients the option to fill the form out in print or submit it online. Many patients might prefer this option, because it would be environmentally friendly.

Online Awareness of Accessible Features

Finally, all healthcare providers can use their websites as a way to advertise their accessible features. For instance, providers can state on their websites if they have accessible structural features, such as:

In addition, providers can advertise other accessible equipment they have, such as:

  • Height-adjustable examination tables
  • Lifts
  • Accessible diagnostic equipment, such as scales

Larger organizations should also mention any accessibility equipment or services available on-site for patients or visitors, such as:

  • Wheelchairs
  • Assistive listening systems
  • Sign language interpretation
  • Closed, open, or real-time captioning
  • Teletypewriters
  • Communication boards
  • Augmentative or alternative communication (AAC) devices

Smaller providers that do not have such services or equipment available on-site can state their willingness to accommodate patients who bring or arrange their own. For instance, providers can state their welcome of patients or visitors who use communication supports or devices.

Standardized Online Healthcare Information is Needed

Moreover, hospitals around Ontario offer widely different amounts and kinds of accessibility information on their websites. For example, Sick Kids provides detailed information about where patients and families can find or request a variety of accessible services. In contrast, other hospitals, such as the Georgian Bay General Hospital, have shorter accessibility pages that direct patients to their AODA-mandated accessibility plans. This type of page does not give patients useful information such as:

  • Which door they can enter using a wheelchair
  • Whether volunteers are available to escort patients
  • How far in advance to book an American Sign Language (ASL) interpreter

Furthermore, some hospitals have strong accessibility pages, but they overlook accessibility when they implement new or unique services. For instance, the Kingston General Hospital has placed whiteboards in all of its patient rooms, so that different medical professionals and family members involved in a patient’s care can communicate more easily. However, their accessibility page does not mention how they would make this unique and valuable service accessible to a patient, visitor, or healthcare professional who is blind or deafblind.

In other words, hospitals are uneven in their posting of online healthcare information. An AODA healthcare standard should address this gap, so that all healthcare providers offer the detailed information that patients need and deserve.

The first step to creating online healthcare information is for providers to make their websites accessible. Our next article will offer more information about accessible websites.



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Providing Accessible Information and Communication in Healthcare


Currently, the AODA does not have a healthcare standard. A committee is making recommendations about what a healthcare standard should include. In the meantime, however, there are still AODA requirements for healthcare providers to follow. The Information and Communications Standards have regulations that apply to healthcare providers. When providers follow these requirements, they make healthcare settings more accessible to patients, workers, and visitors with disabilities. Communication in healthcare applies to service in:

  • Doctors’ offices
  • Hospitals
  • Walk-in clinics
  • Wellness centres
  • Pharmacies
  • Labs
  • Healthcare regulating colleges

Communication in Healthcare

Under the Information and Communications Standards, healthcare providers need to create, provide, and receive information and communications in ways accessible to people with disabilities. For instance, providers must:

In addition, all public sector providers, and private sector providers with fifty or more workers, must make their websites accessible by January 1st, 2021.

Proactive Communication in Healthcare is Needed

The Information and Communications Standards mandate many important requirements for healthcare providers and other organizations to become accessible. However, providers could improve their services by providing information more proactively. For example, England’s National Health System contains an Accessible Information Standard. Under this standard, healthcare providers ask all patients if they have any information or communication needs. Providers then create records of individual patients’ needs and share these records with other providers, when possible. This procedure allows providers to make the formats and supports each patient needs available before their arrival, or quickly afterward. For instance, if a patient with a print disability needs blood work, their lab can prepare paperwork in the format the patient needs. Similarly, if a patient who uses plain-language documents comes to pick up a set of prescriptions, the pharmacy can have the information the patient needs available at the time of pick-up.

Stronger Communication in Healthcare is Needed

Under Ontario’s current Information and Communications Standards, these patients must explain their needs to every new provider they meet. Furthermore, they must request formats or supports at the time they are needed and wait until the provider can create them. Admirably, the Standards mandate that formats and supports must be available in a timely manner. However, in situations involving health, patients may need information immediately. For example, the patient picking up plain-language prescription information may wait days before understanding how to use their own prescriptions. Instead, they would need a loved one or volunteer to read information. Likewise, the patient needing blood work would need to have someone else read and fill in the form. Both these set-ups violate people’s right to privacy.

As more people develop disabilities, accessibility to information will become more important, in healthcare and in all other sectors. Our next few articles will explore ways to make more information available to more patients.

 



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Accessible Information in Sports Venues


Under the Customer Service Standards of the AODA, service providers must make their goods, services, and facilities accessible to customers with disabilities. Our last article outlined accessible features in sports venues, such as arenas and stadiums. This article will cover best practices for providing accessible information in sports venues.

Accessible Information in Sports Venues

Accessible Websites

Fans can use accessible computers or phones to read websites that follow Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0. More fans can find out about venues’ features, events, and services if venues post them on websites that are accessible. For instance, they should post:

  • What games or concerts they will be hosting
  • What accessible structural features they have, and where these features are located
  • Whether they offer any communication supports for games or concerts

Signage

Moreover, signage is also important. Whether signs are large ones outside the venue or small ones on seat numbers, they should:

  • Include detailed information for fans with hearing disabilities
  • Use clear language or pictures for fans with intellectual disabilities
  • Be at eye level for fans at wheelchair and standing heights
  • Have large print and good colour contrast for fans with visual impairments
  • Include Braille for fans who are blind

Communication Supports

Furthermore, sports venues can also offer communication supports to make games or concerts more accessible for fans with sensory disabilities. For instance, when hosting concerts, venues can offer:

  • American Sign Language (ASL) interpretation
  • closed or open captioning
  • Assistive listening devices

Alternatively, for sports events, venues can offer live description of what is happening on the field, court, or ice.

Moreover, venue websites should explain how to access communication supports. For example:

  • Which performances will be interpreted or captioned
  • Which games will be described
  • Whether fans can request additional interpretation, captioning, or description
  • Where to pick up and return assistive listening devices, closed-captioning mirrors, or description headsets

Accessible information in sports venues ensures that all guests have equal opportunities to access services. Our next article will discuss how sports venues can provide an accessible service experience.



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