Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance Update
United for a Barrier-Free Society for All People with Disabilities
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
August 27, 2019
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
Text of the July 24, 2019 Announcement from Susan Picarello, Ontario’s Assistant Deputy Minister for Accessibility
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.
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
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
Ontario businesses and organizations with one or more employees must follow accessibility standards under the Accessibility 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 the AODA address 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 the AODA around information and communications.
The committee has drafted initial recommendations to improve the existing Information and Communications Standards under the AODA and 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.
The initial report contains 31 recommendations and is separated into Phase 1 and Phase 2.
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
- accessible formats, communications supports and websites
- information about emergency procedures and public safety
- educational resources and training
- libraries (including schools)
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
- Read the committee’s initial 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-free TTY: 1-800-268-7095, Monday to Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. or email us at [email protected].
- Submit your feedback through our online surveys:
Phase 1 survey
Phase 2 survey
Or send us your feedback by email at [email protected] or by mail to:
Attention: Rich Donovan, chair
Information and Communications Standards Review Feedback
Ministry for Seniors and Accessibility
777 Bay Street,
6th Floor, Suite 601A
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 the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act.
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