Accessibility News Archive 2015
Ontario is seeking public input to develop a voluntary, third-party accessibility certification program which will recognize businesses and organizations that have championed accessibility. The province will explore ways to develop an accessibility certification program and challenge a third-party certifying body to come forward to deliver the program. A certification program would highlight the efforts of accessible businesses and organizations and help raise awareness of their commitment to accessibility in the marketplace.
"How can we accelerate the dialogue on accessibility with the goal of helping to shift attitudes and change behavior?" The answer to that question is at the heart of Ryerson University's Hack-cessibility competition, an event taking place between October 23 and November 6, that will bring together students, businesses, members of the accessibility community, entrepreneurs and policymakers to envision creative digital media solutions to accessibility challenges.
CNIB has taken mainstream GPS navigation to a new level of accessibility for people who are blind or partially sighted. It now offers indoor navigation by pairing its technology with iBeacons that are located throughout CNIB's national office at 1929 Bayview Avenue in Toronto. These devices alert users to features such as a cafeteria, washroom or meeting room. The script for the iBeacons is customizable. It can contain a basic welcome message as well as navigational tips. As users move through the building, the iBeacons work in conjunction with BlindSquare to ensure important markers are announced.
The leaders of Canada's largest disability organizations serving upwards of four million Canadians with disabilities are urging government leaders, influencers and the public to support a new non-partisan campaign to introduce federal legislation to ensure accessibility, inclusion and equal opportunity for Canadians with disabilities, and to fulfill Canada's commitments to the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.
In his February 2007 speech, Prime Minister Harper promised, along with fiscal controls and tough on crime policies, "We will also move forward with new legislation, the Canadians with Disabilities Act." Where is the Canadians with Disabilities Act? Where is the government body to enforce fairness for the disabled? Canada has a system that is hollow, without positive effect on the everyday lives of Canadians with disabilities. They are at the whim and good mercy of corporations and individuals.
Ontario's Economic Development and Employment Minister Brad Duguid says the government will work with businesses of all sizes to create a culture of inclusion in workplaces. In June, Duguid announced an update to the 10-year-old Access for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, with initiatives geared towards making businesses more accessible to both future customers and prospective employees. It called for the government to spend $9 million over the next two years on a program dubbed Valuing Ability, which will provide job training for disabled post-secondary graduates and offer resources to businesses that want to become more accessible. There will be a loan program for companies that hire and retain staff with disabilities.
The ParaPan Am games had great potential to tear down stereotypes that hold back the 1.8 million Ontarians with disabilities, writes David Lepofsky. Yet poor marketing meant that half of the tickets never sold. Blind computer users like me faced obvious accessibility problems using the Toronto 2015 website and iPhone app. I couldn't buy tickets using either. Until blasted in the media, the app's link to the games' accessibility features was ironically inaccessible. The ParaPan Am Games showed amazing ways that athletes with disabilities playports that others think impossible. They showed how people with disabilities can participate fully in school, work and play, if given a chance.
Blind engineer ushers in 'virtual vision' system; Technology behind iBeacon could revolutionize ability to navigate indoor spacesBy Christopher Reynolds Toronto Star, August 14, 2015
A blind computer software engineer from Toronto is giving eyes to those who can't see. David Best, a former IBM web developer, has just helped usher in the first pilot system in Canada created specifically to help visually impaired people - nearly 200,000 in Ontario alone - navigate the indoors. A network of "iBeacons" launched last month inside the headquarters of the Canadian National Institute for the Blind (CNIB) in north Toronto could, Best believes, sweep aside travel barriers, boost blind independence and open up worlds beyond the tip of the cane.
Experts continue to point to the lack of federal resources allocated to the Canadian Human Rights Commission. And, just last year, The Globe and Mail reported on the failure of the Canadian government to monitor compliance when it comes to disability discrimination.
At this point in time, after having seen the release of the Mayo Moran review of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA), it is important to center our focus on how accessibility is created within a market place. From the outset there have been organizations and businesses that had a tepid response to the AODA because it automatically brings to mind the mythical beast that is the concept of undue hardship.
The province will be investing $4.5 million to help students with disabilities through an Accessibility Fund for Students with Disabilities, and a Summer Transitions Program. Similar to McMaster's Shifting Gears program, the Transitions Program will offer workshops and courses for high school students with disabilities coming into postsecondary education.
The official Toronto 2015 Pan Am/Parapan Am Games app is not accessible to those who are visually impaired, according to advocates for people with disabilities. They said it wouldn't have been difficult to implement the helpful feature directly into the design phase of the Toronto 2015 app. David Best said hundreds of mainstream apps work just fine, but not the app for the Panam/Parapan Am Games being held this summer in Toronto. He said the first time he opened the Toronto 2015 App, it was clear there were issues, whole pages don't have any voiceover functions - so he showed the problem to Global News. Read About Two Other Preventable Accessibility Problems Facing Tourists with Disabilities
Windsor is a particularly challenging city to navigate for the visually impaired, says newcomer Rebecca Blaevoet. Every time she rides the bus, she approaches the front with assistance from her seeing-eye dog, then asks the driver to alert her upon arrival at her stop. What she could not understand was the driver's attitude, after the bus driver refused to help the blind woman find her stop. "Windsor is really dragging its feet in terms of accessibility", said Blaevoet.
Ten years after Ontario promised to make the province fully accessible by 2025, we're not nearly on track. Why are we doing so poorly? Ontario hasn't created all the accessibility standards needed to ensure the province reaches full accessibility by 2025. Nor has it effectively enforced the accessibility standards we have. The government knows of years of rampant private-sector violations of this law. Yet it too often sat on its hands, leaving unspent millions of dollars dedicated to the act's implementation.
As the Americans with Disabilities Act approaches 25 years in effect, a new study by the Kessler Foundation finds that disabled Americans are making strides to overcome the difficult employment barriers they once faced. The findings reveal that more than two-thirds of disabled Americans are "striving to work", a category that captures those who are currently working, seeking work or have worked since the beginning of their disability. Only 5 percent have never worked and are not looking for work.
- The Path to 2025, Ontario's Accessibility Action Plan, was Introduced on the 10 Year Anniversary of Landmark Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Legislation. The Path to 2025 Accessibility Action Plan focuses on three key priorities:
- Engaging employers to understand the value of hiring people with disabilities,
- Strengthening the foundation of accessibility in Ontario, by building on the province's accessibility laws and standards, and
- Promoting Ontario's cultural shift to build awareness of accessibility in innovative ways, so that Ontarians of all abilities can reach their full potential.
By Laurie Monsebraaten, Social justice reporter, Toronto Star, February 24 2015
Published February 2015, 79 Pages.
Read the statement given by Brad Duguid, Minister of Economic Development, Employment and Infrastructure, on the release of the report, NewsRoom, February 13, 2015
And read the two media reports Ontario needs to boost accessibility efforts, Toronto Star February 14, 2015, By Laurie Monsebraaten, Social justice reporter.
Nervous shop owners trip up Hamilton accessible ramp-building project, CBC Hamilton On-Line February 14, 2015, By Kelly Bennett
Interview with former Lieutenant Governor, David Onley and Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance Chair, David LepofskyTVOntario The Agenda With Steve Paikin, February 2, 2015
Watch the interview with David Onley and David Lepofsky, on the need for the Ontario Government to take decisive new action to get Ontario back on schedule to reach full accessibility for people with disabilities by 2025, as the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act requires.
The Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act should be viewed as a living document. So far there have been two independent reviews of the AODA, the first completed by Mr. Charles Beer and the second, which has yet to be released, authored by Dean Mayo Moran. In the 2010 review it was suggested that there be a move towards harmonization of the customer service standard and integrated accessibility standards in order to prevent duplication or inconsistencies that would be bred out of the fact that the standards themselves were developed in isolation from each other.
On Friday, November 28, 2014, the non-partisan Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance, held a celebration at Queen's Park to mark the birth of this grassroots movement to make Ontario barrier-free. Back in 1994, David Lepofsky and 20 other people walked down a corridor at Queen's Park and entered a small room to vent their frustrations over the NDP government's failure to approve Ontario's first disabilities act. Little did Lepofsky know, however, that the informal hour-long meeting would spawn a 20-year movement that has achieved remarkable success in helping the disabled in Ontario at home, at work and in the community.
We are an organization created by business for business. We help companies access the real, tangible benefits of employing talented people with disabilities: lower turnover, training and safety costs, greater innovation, and access to untapped markets. If you are a private sector company interested in becoming part of the SenseAbility network, check out their website: Canadian Business SenseAbility (CBS)
Ontario has appointed The Honourable David C. Onley as a special advisor on accessibility to champion opportunities for people of all abilities in the public and private sectors. As special advisor, he will work closely with Brad Duguid, Minister of Economic Development, Employment and Infrastructure, to continue breaking down barriers and promote the economic benefits of inclusion and employment of people with disabilities, and championing accessibility across the province.
Despite concerns from many that the government was lagging in its enforcement of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA), the Accessibility Directorate of Ontario (ADO) has been issuing orders to comply with the Act, particularly the section 14 requirement to produce and file an accessibility report with the directorate. Four of these orders have been appealed to the Licence Appeal Tribunal (LAT) and two have been reported on CanLII.
Lafleur Restaurants Limited failed to file its accessibility report as required, and received a request to file an accessibility report from the ADO, and two subsequent default letters. The ADO finally issued an Order to the company to file its report and pay an administrative penalty of $2,000 under s. 21(3) of the Act, within 30 days.
This case against JA Creative Services Inc. revolves around the same issue as the case against Lafleur. JA failed to file an accessibility report, and was ordered to pay an administrative penalty of $2,000. However, in this case, the director granted an extension of the time period for payment of the administrative penalty from 30 days to 45.
At the Senate HELP Committee hearing "Fulfilling the Promise: Overcoming Persistent Barriers to Economic Self-Sufficiency for People with Disabilities," Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA), Chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee, unveiled a report that he instructed his HELP Committee staff to investigate the barriers that people with disabilities face as they seek to rise out of poverty and enter the middle class. The main issue for people with disabilities over the past quarter century has been one of greater access to public services, businesses, entertainment, telecommunications, and almost every aspect of American life. Unfortunately, twenty-four years after the signing of the ADA, Americans with disabilities remain disproportionately poor and face significant barriers to joining and remaining in the middle class. Despite the greatly increased access, however, people with disabilities remain far more likely to be impoverished, to be out of the workforce, and to be experiencing the detrimental effects of living in poverty.
With the launch of Canadian Business SenseAbility, an organization that will train companies how to hire disabled employees, we look at the worker who inspired the movement.
Ontario is nowhere near ready to welcome visitors with disabilities to the province for next year's Pan Am Games, a prominent advocate says. David Lepofsky, a spokesperson for Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance, said Queen's Park is missing a unique opportunity to use the games as a catalyst to improve accessibility in restaurants, hotels and transit, among other things.
By ALEX BULMER, NOW Magazine, August 2014
I am blind and travel with a guide dog so wanted to book a hotel room for three nights in a particular part of the city I was familiar with. I outlined all of this while on the phone with four different hotels and was stunned when one of these proposed that, because I have a guide dog, I would be charged an extra "pet" fee, which was $100 per night on top of the cost of the room. I also encourage all citizens of Ontario to speak out against discrimination of any kind. We all have a role to play in creating inclusion, a potential masterpiece that will benefit everyone.
Four million Canadians report living with a disability. Only 3 per cent of them are involved in sport. This is a shocking statistic. This week marks the one-year countdown to the 2015 Parapan American Games in Southern Ontario. It represents a huge opportunity to create social change in Toronto and Canada. How? Let me share with you how the 2012 London Paralympics revolutionized sport and the lives of those with disabilities in the U.K.
Recently I had the pleasure of traveling to Canada to attend the convention of the Canadian Federation of the Blind. Unlike America, where government is involved in the rehabilitation of the blind at the state and federal level, English Canada has traditionally relied on a charity, the Canadian National Institute for the Blind (CNIB), to provide all of the major services received by adult blind Canadians. The Province of Quebec is the only place in Canada where government takes direct responsibility for services to blind citizens. Over time this centralized approach through the CNIB has seemed less responsive to the needs of blind Canadians and has focused more on its own corporate interests. In a presentation made to the convention of the Canadian Federation of the Blind, Mary Ellen Gabias shows how reliance on a charity model versus a human rights model sells short those who need and expect services. The parallel in America is clear; our citizens must keep in mind that our needs and aspirations are not always the same as those of the charities that serve us and the government agencies that use tax-payer money to perform a similar mission. Here, with her insights and warnings, is what Mrs. Gabias said to the CFB on Saturday, May 24, 2014.
Marta Londono and Gregory Scott Hill just wanted to get out of the cold and have lunch one day in February 2013, but were told Hill's guide dog Mara wasn't welcome.
The Ontario Government is being sent back to summer school for the meaningful education and enforcement of human rights and public safety states Gerald Parker, Executive Director of the Institute of Canadian Justice and long time accessibility expert. In short, provincial ministries and obligated sectors continue to plan, select, permit and fund inaccessible barriers despite the Charter of Rights, Ontario Human Rights Code, the AODA, and common decency and sound planning for the significantly maturing population and our friends, family and loved ones with disabilities and accessibility requirements.
the House of Commons gave its unanimous support to Brant MP Phil McColeman's Private Member's Motion M-430. Strengthening Employment for Canadians with Disabilities, passing with the support of all parties by a margin of 292 to 0. The same week, the Federal Government tabled its 2014 Federal Budget proposal in Parliament which included major commitments that respond directly to the proposals contained in McColeman's Motion.