Accessibility In The News
The regulations do little to improve airport service or accommodate attendants and service dogs on board international flights, president of Citizens with Disabilities Ontario says. The regulations, rolled out in June under a revised Canada Transportation Act, with most slated to take effect in June 2020, do little to improve spotty airport service or accommodate attendants and service dogs on board international flights. The agency has acknowledged its uneven regulatory regime, citing the
patchwork of regulations and voluntary standards, some of which are outdated and inadequate in their scope,that resulted in
inconsistent accessibility-related services and reduced access to transportation services for persons with disabilities.The Canadian Transportation Agency's stated goals, variously defined as "equal access" and "more accessible" service, conflict with each other, leaving levels of accommodation unclear. The Canadian Transportation Agency (CTA) says it will be
monitoring...very closelya U.S. Federal Aviation Administration study on wheelchair anchor systems with an eye to allowing passengers to remain seated in the cabin in their mobility devices. A report is expected in the next three years.
Designing solutions for people with disabilities offers a peephole into the future
Very few people think that those of us who are blind should be exiled from the web altogether, or that people with hearing loss shouldn't have iPhones. That's as it should be. But all too often, the importance of accessibility, the catch-all term for designing technology that people with disabilities can use, is framed in terms of charity alone. And that's a shame because it makes accessibility seem grudging and boring, when the reality is that it's the most exciting school of design on the planet. Accessibility is a crystal ball through which we can view the all-encompassing future of tech.
A proposed five-year pilot program that would see e-scooters allowed onto Ontario's roads poses significant safety risks that need more in-depth consideration than the government is allowing, advocates for disabled residents claim. The government initially offered the public 48 hours in which to weigh in on the proposal, but later extended the deadline for two weeks. Accessibility advocates said the extension still doesn't allow enough time for meaningful public feedback on a plan that poses risks to the disabled and non-disabled alike. The government said its proposal would allow for feasibility studies that promote road safety on
environmentally friendly vehicleswhile also
fostering business innovation.Posted quietly on the province's regulatory registry on Wednesday, the consultation period was initially set to close two days later just ahead of the Labour Day long weekend.
As accessibility advocates constantly warn, we're all just one illness or accident away from becoming disabled. And with 1,000 Ontario baby boomers turning 65 every day, more of us will be dealing with aging vision, hearing, hips and knees that will impact our quality of life and make our physical environment more difficult to navigate. So it's disappointing that six months after former lieutenant governor David Onley delivered a scathing report on the
soul crushingbarriers that 2.6 million Ontarians with disabilities face on a daily basis, the Ford government has yet to develop a clear way forward.
A group that advocates for better accessibility standards in Ontario is voicing concerns about the province's new assessment plan. The Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) Alliance says the plan to conduct accessibility assessments of public and private buildings will remove few barriers and is bound to be marred by conflicts of interest. In this spring’s budget, the province earmarked $1.3 million to conduct accessibility audits of some 250 public and private facilities over two years. The program will be conducted in partnership with the Rick Hansen Foundation (RHF).
A man who's blind was told his guide dog wasn't allowed inside a Kamloops gas station, and when RCMP arrived, he thought they would defend his rights, but instead, the officers put him in handcuffs. The Toronto man was on a road trip to celebrate after graduating law school, but things took a turn when he made a pit stop at the Shell gas station on the Trans-Canada Highway around 11:30 p.m. on June 16.
The Government of Canada is pleased to announce the coming into force of the Accessible Canada Act. The coming into force of the Accessible Canada Act establishes a framework to create a barrier-free Canada through the proactive identification, removal and prevention of accessibility barriers. It will also ensure that persons with disabilities are no longer required to fight barriers to accessibility on an individual basis. With this legislation in place, millions of Canadians with disabilities can rely on the Government of Canada to remove the barriers that hinder their full participation in society. The Accessible Canada Act applies to the federally regulated private sector, which includes the banking, transportation and telecommunications sectors, as well as the Government of Canada, Crown corporations and Parliament. Under the Act, these organizations will be required to develop and publish accessibility plans that describe how they will identify, remove and prevent barriers to accessibility. They will also be required to establish a mechanism for receiving and addressing feedback on accessibility from anyone who interacts with their organization. Finally, they will have to develop regular progress reports on the implementation of their plan and addressing any feedback they receive.
Silicon Valley has become obsessed with addressing AI bias. As deep learning algorithms have graduated from the academic research lab into the real world, there has become a growing awareness of the implications of their innate biases as their limited Western training data has collided spectacularly with a globalized digital world. Confronted with an increasingly skeptical public, relentless press coverage and growing policymaker interest, the deep learning community has responded with a wave of investments and initiatives focusing on how to address such bias. This same digital transformation has brought with it an increasingly inaccessible Web that is creating an ever-greater digital divide for those with differing physical abilities, placing more and more of the world out of their reach. Yet in stark contrast with the enormous resources being poured into combating AI bias, accessibility bias has received little attention, reminding us that only those biases most visible to the general public receive attention.
Building on its reputation as Canada's most accessible university, Carleton University is launching the Canadian Accessibility Network, the first entity of its kind in the country. The announcement follows the historic passage of the federal government's Bill C-81, the Accessible Canada Act. The bill sets groundbreaking accessibility standards for the Government of Canada and organizations under its jurisdiction to ensure that public spaces, workplaces, employment, programs, services and information are accessible to everyone.
How Ontario's Human Rights Tribunal Went Off the Rails in an Important Disability Accessibility CaseGreg Thomson, Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance, July 25, 2019
Two years ago, the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario rendered a controversial and deeply troubling decision about the rights of students with disabilities in Ontario schools. An 8-year-old boy with autism wanted to bring his certified autism service dog to school with him. The school board refused. His family filed a human rights complaint with the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario. The Tribunal ruled in favour of the school board and against the student. Many reacted with surprise or shock at this ruling. Now you have a chance to delve deeper and see what went wrong. AODA Alliance Chair David Lepofsky has written a 28-page article analyzing this human rights decision. He found that there are several problems with the decision. His article is entitled
Ontario's Human Rights Tribunal Bungles the School Boards' Human Rights Duty to Accommodate Students with Disabilities J.F. v Waterloo District Catholic School Board An Erroneous Rejection of A Student's Request to Bring His Autism Service Dog to School.
The Ford Government Defeated a Proposed Resolution in the Legislature that Called for a Plan to Implement David Onley's Report on Strengthening the ImplementationGreg Thomson, Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance Update, June 11, 2019
On May 30, 2019, the Ford Government used its majority to defeat a resolution in the Ontario Legislature about Ontario's Disabilities Act, that was proposed by NDP MPP Joel Harden. Worded in measured terms that tracked Doug Ford's 2018 election pledges on disability accessibility, that resolution called on the Government to create a plan to implement the report of David Onley's Independent Review of the implementation and enforcement of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA). The Ford Government's defeat of this resolution is a troubling setback for Ontarians with disabilities, as we explain in this Update. There have now been 132 days since former Lieutenant Governor David Onley submitted his final report on the need to substantially improve the AODA's implementation and enforcement. to the Ford Government. Yet the Government has not announced a plan of action to implement that report. As a result, Ontario keeps slipping further and further behind schedule for becoming accessible to Ontarians with disabilities by 2025, the AODA's deadline. The Ford Government opposed MPP Harden's resolution in its entirety. The Government did not publicly propose any wording changes that would make the resolution acceptable to the Government.
Disabled Canadians declared a partial victory Thursday hours after the government voted to enact Canada's first national accessibility law, calling it a major step forward while cautioning that more work was still needed to ensure it achieves its goal. The Accessible Canada Act, which aims to improve life for those with disabilities, received unanimous support in the House of Commons on Wednesday evening. It awaits only royal assent, expected in the coming weeks, before officially becoming law. Advocates who fought for amendments to strengthen the legislation praised the governing Liberals for delivering on a promise to implement the bill and bring Canada more in line with other countries that have had such laws for years. But they also cautioned against complacency, saying more work lay ahead.
An early childhood educator who is uniquely qualified to work in a preschool for disabled children couldn't get the job because the building isn't fully accessible for wheelchairs. Surely this is just what former Ontario lieutenant-governor David Onley meant when he wrote of the
soul-crushingbarriers that people with disabilities face in their daily lives. Ashleigh Judge, a wheelchair user with cerebral palsy, has worked incredibly hard to make her way in a world that is clearly not designed for her, and the Ontario government has failed her by not moving quickly enough or thoroughly enough to change that, as it is required by law to do.
Disabled Canadians and their supporters are pushing Ottawa to pass a bill enshrining their right to more accessible and inclusive federal workplaces before the next election, legislation they say could help improve the lives of those with physical and mental disabilities. If the amendments recently added by the Senate are accepted, the bill would ensure federal agencies proactively fix their buildings to allow disabled people to move freely as well as design their programs in ways that can be delivered to all Canadians. As well, the bill would recognize various forms of sign language - including Indigenous sign languages - and include them among government services. Bill C-81 would force more accessible workplaces on agencies such as the RCMP, as well as federally run services that cross provincial lines such as banking and long-range bus transportation. The government has pledged $290-million over six years toward implementing the act, which will see Ottawa appoint an accessibility commissioner and create an organization to develop accessibility standards for the industries covered by the law.
Join us on Thursday, May 16 2019 and mark the eighth Global Accessibility Awareness Day (GAAD). The purpose of GAAD is to get everyone talking, thinking and learning about digital (web, software, mobile, etc.) access/inclusion and people with different disabilities. The target audience of GAAD is the design, development, usability, and related communities who build, shape, fund and influence technology and its use. While people may be interested in the topic of making technology accessible and usable by persons with disabilities, the reality is that they often do not know how or where to start. Awareness comes first.
Erica Johnson, British Columbia CBC News, April 29, 2019
I had to crawl: Amputee seeks damages after United Airlines and airport security seize scooter batteries
Stearn Hodge says he's had enough of airport security agents and airlines trying to take away the batteries for his portable scooter; a disability violation. He's fighting to take United Airlines, WestJet and the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority to the Canadian Human Rights Commission. Stearn Hodge says he will never forget the humiliation of having to drag his body across a hotel room floor during what was supposed to be a vacation celebrating his 43rd wedding anniversary, because a security agent at the Calgary International Airport and United Airlines confiscated the batteries he needed to operate a portable scooter.
When it comes to ensuring accessibility for 5 million Canadians with disabilities, Canada lags far behind the U.S., which passed the landmark Americans with Disabilities Act 29 years ago. Canadians with disabilities still face far too many barriers in air travel, cable TV services, and when dealing with the federal government. The bill is called
An Act to ensure a barrier-free Canadafor people with disabilities. Yet, it doesn't require a single disability barrier to ever be removed or prevented anywhere. The bill gives the federal government helpful powers to advance the goal of accessibility. However, it doesn't require the government to use almost any of them, or set time lines for the government to act. The government could drag its feet indefinitely.
Federal Disability Minister Carla Qualtrough Answers Senators' Questions on the Weak Bill C-81 (Proposed Accessible Canada Act)Greg Thomson, AODA Alliance's Commentary on the Minister's Key Answers, April 23, 2019
In our comments, set out below, we respectfully disagree with some of the minister's statements, and explain why. In other cases, we identify key comments she has made which support the narrow package of amendments to Bill C-81 that we placed before the Senate last week, and asked for their adoption. Here is a rare glimpse into how the Federal Government is thinking about the concerns that we and many others have expressed about the weak Bill C-81, the proposed Accessible Canada Act.
End of Mission Statement by the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the rights of persons with disabilities, on her visit to CanadaMs. Catalina Devandas-Aguilar, OHCHR, Ottawa, April 12, 2019
In my capacity as United Nations Special Rapporteur on the rights of persons with disabilities, I conclude today my first official visit to Canada, which took place from 2 to 12 April 2019. I am an independent expert who reports to the United Nations Human Rights Council and the General Assembly, and advises on progress, opportunities and challenges encountered in the implementation of the rights of persons with disabilities worldwide. I am pleased to present some of my preliminary observations and recommendations, which I will elaborate in more detail in a report to be present at the 43rd session of the UN Human Rights Council in March 2020. These preliminary observations neither reflect all the issues presented to me, nor all the initiatives undertaken by the federal, provincial and territorial governments of Canada in the area of disability. In general, Canada has yet to undertake a comprehensive review process to harmonize all its legislation with the CRPD. I would like to remind that governments at all levels are responsible for the implementation of the CRPD. Article 4 (5) provides that obligations undertaken by States Parties to the CRPD shall extend to all parts of federal States without any limitations or exceptions. I strongly encourage the relevant legislative authorities at the federal, provincial and territorial levels to undertake a comprehensive legislative review and complete the process of incorporation of the treaty, including the legal harmonization, in accordance with article 4 of the CRPD.
The Ontario government will examine the issue of students with complex needs being excluded from school after demands from disability advocates that the practice be halted. The issue of indefinite exclusions from school has been top-of-mind for many parents as Doug Ford's government implements changes to the province's autism program. Families who currently receive full funding for intensive therapy will receive only a fraction of it after April 1, when funding will be distributed based on a child's age and household income. School districts have said they are expecting a number of children with complex needs who were on modified schedules to attend full-time if their parents cannot make up for the lost funding. The Ministry of Education said in its release on Monday that it would also survey school boards regularly to assess the impact of increased school enrolment and attendance by children and youth with ASD (autism spectrum disorder) as they transition into the school system.
Fourteen years ago Ontarians with disabilities might have been hopeful that the barriers that prevent them from fully participating in daily activities, from getting to work to eating in a restaurant, would be dismantled. Indeed, Ontario's former lieutenant governor David Onley found that for "most disabled persons, Ontario is not a place of opportunity but one of countless, dispiriting, soul-crushing barriers". As it stands, 1.9 million Ontarians with disabilities are receiving the message that "you don't belong here," says Onley, who himself uses a wheelchair. That should be viewed as a violation of both human and civil rights. Onley's review is not the first to point out the glacial pace of progress on accessibility reform in this province. It is the third. It's time the government listened and acted.
The Commission calls for comments on an application by Bell Media Inc., Corus Entertainment Inc. and Rogers Media Inc., on behalf of their licensees (the Licensees), requesting that the Commission amend their condition of licence that requires prime time programming (7 p.m. to 11 p.m.) to be broadcast with described video effective 1 September 2019. The deadline for the receipt of interventions is 25 April 2019. Only parties that file interventions may file a reply to matters raised during the intervention phase. The deadline to file replies is 13 May 2019. Should the Commission agree with the need for an exception, the amended condition of licence, as proposed, would exclude "non-Canadian programs that are received less than 72 hours prior to air." The proposed wording would, in theory, include non-Canadian programming that contains embedded described video. Provide comment on whether the proposed wording of the condition of licence accurately reflects the exception sought and, if not, propose alternative wording. Television plays an important role in shaping Canadian society. It is a primary source of news, entertainment and sports programming, and plays a critical role in making Canadians aware of the wide range of ideas and perspectives that make up the rich fabric of our society. As a result, it is important that all Canadians have access to what television has to offer.
Accessible Transportation for Persons with Disabilities Regulations - Proposed Canada Transportation ActCanadian Transportation Agency, Canada Gazette, Part 1, Volume 153, Number 10, March 9, 2019
Persons with disabilities in Canada face barriers that affect their ability to fully participate in activities of everyday living, such as travel. Members of the disability community widely report that they face attitudinal barriers, as well as indirect barriers to participation when their needs are not reflected in service delivery and design. The Canadian Transportation Agency (CTA) proposes to create a single comprehensive set of accessible transportation regulations, the Accessible Transportation for Persons with Disabilities Regulations (ATPDR or the proposed Regulations), pursuant to subsection 170(1) of the Canada Transportation Act (the Act). The overarching objective of the proposed regulatory package is to promote the inclusion and participation of persons with disabilities in society by creating comprehensive and enforceable accessible transportation requirements that are applicable to all modes of transportation, and enabling persons with disabilities to travel with a predictable and consistent level of accessibility across a barrier-free modern national transportation system. Interested persons may make representations concerning the proposed Regulations within 30 days after the date of publication of this notice.
Jessica Geboers steps off a busy subway car at College station, a cane in each hand, and confronts her first obstacle: two flights of stairs, 10 stairs each. The stairwell is narrow and passengers headed down the stairs stop to give her the room she needs to make her way up. On this day, at rush hour, a bottleneck forms in seconds. Making the TTC more accessible — which the transit service is legally bound to do by 2025, can't come soon enough for Geboers, who has a busy life that requires her to spend a lot of time on public transit. She works three days a week and attends physiotherapy appointments twice a week. She volunteers. Jessica Geboers says the TTC is trying but she rates it a 6/10 in terms of accessibility. The TTC says it has made significant progress. All TTC buses are now accessible, with low floors, ramps and seats that flip up to accommodate wheelchairs. It says all subway trains are accessible, with level boarding. Over half of 204 new low-floor accessible streetcars are in service and the rest are expected to arrive by the end of 2019. All of the older inaccessible streetcars will be decommissioned. The plan is to have elevators at all stations by 2025.
The accessibility law that took effect in Ontario 14 years ago and has served as a blueprint for similar legislation in other parts of Canada has fallen well short of its goals and continues to leave disabled residents facing daily, "soul-crushing" barriers, a former lieutenant governor has found. David Onley, a wheelchair user tasked with reviewing the implementation of Ontario's Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, delivered a withering indictment of nearly all aspects of the law in a report quietly tabled in the provincial legislature this week. The report offers 15 recommendations to province's Progressive Conservative government.
A woman with disabilities is fighting back after she was told not to return to a popular No Frills grocery store unless she brought help — because she couldn't pack her groceries fast enough. When Linda Rolston complained to head office, Loblaw offered the Alberta woman $100 in compensation on the condition she keep quiet about what happened and not take action against the company.
In January 2018, The Manitoba Government appointed Theresa Harvey Pruden to conduct a mandatory review of the effectiveness of The Accessibility for Manitobans Act (AMA). The independent review focused on the processes, structures and activities undertaken in carrying out the purposes of the AMA, such as the accessibility standard development process and implementation of the Customer Service Standard Regulation. Read the report for your self.
David Onley's long road to accessibility for the disabled is a lesson for all of us as we age into walkers and wheelchairsMartin Regg Cohn, Ontario Politics Columnist, The Toronto Star, February 8, 2019
We all complain, habitually and self-pityingly, about punishing snowfalls. Especially lately. But for David Onley, the snow banks and other barriers never truly melt away. Last year, he was appointed to conduct a formal review of accessibility in Ontario and he has just submitted his findings to the Progressive Conservative government. Onley wouldn't reveal any details of his report, which will be shared with the public later, but he didn't disguise his disappointment. There is still a stunning disconnect for the disabled, and a growing gap in how the able-bodied perceive the reality of inaccessibility.
Both the Ontario Autism Coalition (OAC) and the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance (AODA) called on Education Minister Lisa Thompson to hold a summit of key stakeholders – including parents, teachers, principals, school boards and students – where they can discuss possible legislation and policy changes surrounding exclusions of students with disabilities who are presenting behavioural issues. The groups also asked the minister to issue a policy directive to school boards imposing interim restrictions on when exclusions can be used.
Accessibility: A source of future anxiety and a significant consideration for Canadian consumers todayShachi Kurl, Executive Director, Angus Reid Institute, January 22, 2019
Seven-in-ten Canadians say universal accessibility should be the goal for newly constructed buildings. A new study from the Angus Reid Institute, conducted in partnership with the Rick Hansen Foundation, finds more than two-thirds of Canadians expressing concern that someone in their lives will face such challenges over the next decade or so. Approximately one-quarter of Canadians (24%) self-identify as having a mobility, vision or hearing disability or challenge; further, 47 per cent say they spend time with or help someone who is dealing with these difficulties. One-in-five Canadians (21%) say that knowing a business in their community was certified as accessible would lead them to support that business more often. Canadians can be grouped into four distinct categories based on their experiences with – and concern about disabilities and challenges affecting their vision, hearing and mobility. The four groups are: The Directly Affected (24% of the general population), Affiliated (30%), Concerned (32%), and Unaffected (14%). Each has a unique relationship to each of the issues canvassed in this survey.
The AODA Alliance's Finalized Brief to the David Onley Independent Review of the AODA's Implementation and EnforcementGreg Thomson, Author at Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, January 18, 2019
Pervading this brief is a fundamentally important question: Why is Ontario so far behind schedule for becoming accessible by 2025? How did Ontario find itself in this predicament over 13.5 years after the AODA was enacted, and less than 6 years before the 2025 deadline for becoming accessible? The Government has had ample avenues to get input and advice. AODA Standards Development Committees have given the Government detailed recommendations. The Accessibility Standards Advisory Council has been available to advise the Government. For three years, the Government also had the benefit of the position of Special Advisor on Accessibility, reporting to the minister responsible for the AODA.
Recently the Manitoba Government made a decision to reject a core funding application from the Manitoba League of Persons with Disabilities (MLPD) for the 2018-19 fiscal year. It can be very difficult for an organization to function without core funding which diminishes its capacity. The organization (formally known as the Manitoba League of the Physically Handicapped) has existed since 1974 as a consumer-based organization of people living with disabilities. MLPD emerged in the era of the civil rights movement in which people with disabilities were often left out of policy decisions affecting their lives. In Manitoba, especially within Winnipeg, people with disabilities began to organize around the need for an accessible transportation system and a voice in the services that they utilized. By coming together, people with disabilities were empowered to take action in their own communities for the betterment of society.
Guillermo Robles, a blind man, filed a federal lawsuit against Domino's in September 2016, claiming the company thwarted him twice when he attempted to order a customized pizza. Its website and mobile app didn't work with screen-reading software, which vocalizes visual information on websites. The company also offered online-only discounts, which Robles said were effectively off-limits for him. Robles claimed Domino's violated the Americans With Disabilities Act and should make its online presence compatible with Web Content Accessibility Guidelines – private industry standards that have been widely adopted by federal agencies. Imposing liability on Domino's does not violate the company's due process rights, the panel found, because the company has known since the Americans With Disabilities Act became law in 1990 that it must provide full and equal access to people with disabilities. And regulations from the Department of Justice have been clear since 1996 that such protection extends to websites, according to the panel.
A Globe and Mail analysis found that families with children who have intellectual and developmental disabilities are increasingly being asked to pick up kids early, start the school day later or simply keep them home for days. Most school districts don't formally track these exclusions or shortened days. Informally, parent and advocacy groups have documented the problem and have seen a rise in the incidence of these events. The Ontario Autism Coalition (OAC) wrote in a recent letter to Education Minister Lisa Thompson that principals are using what it deemed an “outdated” provision in the Education Act to exclude children from school. The group said it violates the rights of children to an inclusive education and has requested a meeting with the minister.
The cautious optimism that prevailed in Canada's disabled community when the federal government tabled historic accessibility legislation earlier this year has given way to widespread concern that the law won't lead to meaningful change. Major disability organizations, grassroots advocacy groups and disabled individuals said they've raised numerous concerns about the power and scope of the Accessible Canada Act, which the Liberal government first introduced in June. One the main concerns they raise is the fact that Bill C 81 does not contain timelines to ensure accessibility, contrary to similar provincial legislation on the books in three provinces. They also criticize the bill for allowing the government to create accessibility measures without requiring it to actually enact them, spreading enforcement over numerous government agencies and failing to recognize sign language as an official language of deaf people.
Canada's telecommunications watchdog has issued a decision mandating standards for message relay services. According to the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission's (CRTC) December 14th, 2018 decision, groups that provide text-based message relay services (MRS) like teletypewriter relay (TTY) and internet protocol relay (IP relay) will be required to implement quality of service standards, as well as a standard for call answer time and typing speed.
Canada accedes to the Optional Protocol to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with DisabilitiesCNW, Employment and Social Development Canada, December 3, 2018
the Honourable Carla Qualtrough, Minister of Public Services and Procurement and Accessibility, along with the ministers of Justice, Foreign Affairs and Canadian Heritage, announced that, with the support of all provinces and territories, Canada has acceded to the Optional Protocol to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. Accession to the Optional Protocol means that Canadians will have additional recourse to make a complaint to the UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, if they believe their rights under the Convention have been violated. Along with the proposed Accessible Canada Act, which was recently adopted by the House of Commons and is now before the Senate, today's announcement shows that the Government of Canada is taking another step towards creating a barrier-free Canada.
Disability activists say Ottawa has ignored their calls to strengthen Canada's first national accessibility legislation and are urging the Senate to intervene. More than 90 groups, including the Council of Canadians with Disabilities and Ontario-based ARCH Disability Law, say the proposed Accessible Canada Act, passed by Parliament Nov. 27, is too weak to achieve its goal of making Canada barrier-free for over five million Canadians with disabilities.
On Tuesday, November 27, 2018, Canada's House of Commons unanimously voted on Third Reading to pass Bill C-81, the proposed Accessible Canada Act. A number of amendments were made to the bill while it was being debated at the House of Commons' Standing Committee that held public hearings about the bill in October. However, the federal Liberals used their majority in the House of Commons to defeat a series of important amendments that the opposition parties had commendably sought on behalf of people with disabilities in Canada. Over the past weeks, a strong and impressive consensus has emerged from the disability community on key amendments to Bill C-81 that are needed. Yet the Federal Government has largely rejected this consensus position. Before the Standing Committee began to debate amendments to the bill last month, a compelling October 30, 2018 Open Letter was sent to the Federal Government signed by 91 organizations.
An estimated one in five Canadians (or 6.2 million) aged 15 years and over had one or more disabilities that limited them in their daily activities, according to new findings from the 2017 Canadian Survey on Disability (CSD). For many of these Canadians, challenges and obstacles in their day-to-day lives may limit their full participation in society. Understanding the challenges faced by persons with disabilities in their personal, employment, or economic situations helps inform government policy. In 2017, 57% of Canadians with disabilities had a "milder" disability (classified as having a mild or moderate disability) and 43% had a "more severe" disability (classified as having a severe or very severe disability). In all cases, the disability was severe enough to limit them to some extent in their daily activities. Statistics Canada has collected data on disability for more than 30 years, starting with the 1983 Canadian Health and Disability Survey. The 2017 Canadian Survey on Disability (CSD) provides comprehensive data on persons with disabilities by province and territory and age group, as well as disability types and severity of the disability.
Committees working on provincial accessibility standards say their work's been paused for too long. Accessibility advocates say the government hasn't put several Standards Development Committees (SDCs), special groups looking at how to get rid of accessibility barriers in the province, back to work almost five months after the spring election. Their work is an essential part of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA), passed in 2005. All the parties voted to work toward making the province barrier-free by 2025. The SDCs are meant to study barriers in different sectors to make recommendations for an accessibility standard. They stopped work on May 8, 2018, when the provincial election campaign officially began.
Hundreds of colleges and universities across the country are currently under investigation by the Education Department's Office for Civil Rights for failing to make their websites accessible to people with disabilities. Universities that receive federal financial aid are required by law to make reasonable accommodations to ensure their web content is accessible to everyone, including, but not limited to, people who are blind, deaf or have limited mobility. Awareness of the importance of web accessibility has grown among university leaders in recent years partly due to numerous well-publicized lawsuits. Yet ensuring that every aspect of a university's sprawling web presence meets recommended web-accessibility standards remains a huge challenge.
Two visually-impaired Toronto women will have their complaint investigated by the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal more than three years after they were removed from a flight at Pearson airport because of their service dogs. The pilot told Peel police to remove the passengers as they weren't complying with airline policy to muzzle dogs.
An Ontario dad is calling on the government to "be honest with parents" after he says he was told this week that a provincial program for children with disabilities had run out of cash for the year. In July, Moffatt found out his son was eligible - though not officially accepted - to the program according to a letter from the Ministry of Children, Community and Social Services. And since then, Moffatt said he and his wife have been playing "voicemail phone tag" with the ministry, trying to find out the status of their son's application. The answer came in a phone call this week, when Moffatt said he was told the program had run out of money for the rest of the fiscal year, and that he'd have to wait until at least the spring to get help.
In a powerful Open Letter sent to the Federal Government, An Extraordinary Lineup of Thirty-four Disability Organizations Unite to Press for Key AmendmentsGreg Thomson, AODA Alliance, October 31, 2018
A major effort has just been unveiled by Canada's disability community to get the Federal Government to amend Bill C-81, the Federal Government's proposed Accessible Canada Act, to transform it into a strong and effective bill. Thirty-four disability organizations in Canada have united to jointly send the Federal Government an open letter. This letter, delivered to the Federal Government by the Council of Canadians with Disabilities (CCD), identifies nine "significant concerns" with the bill, where the bill must be strengthened through amendments. The timing of this open letter is pivotal. The political parties must file their proposed amendments to the bill this Friday. The House of Commons’ Standing Committee on Human Resources, Skills and Social Development and the Status of Persons with Disabilities will start to vote on proposed amendments to the bill on November 8, 2018. The Federal Government has said that this bill is designed to reflect the principle: "Nothing about us without us!" The amendments that will be made to this bill are where the Federal Government can put that pledge into action.
Former Ontario lieutenant governer David Onley, who is conducting a legislative review of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, held a town hall session in Thunder Bay on Tuesday, October 30, 2018. The Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, passed in 2005, gave the province 20 years to become fully accessible. With that target date now less than a decade away, David Onley believes it's important to figure out what exactly it means to be accessible. The act in 2005 required municipalities with a population of more than 10,000 people to have municipal accessibility advisory committees. Onley said he has heard across the province that members of those committees don't feel like they're listened to or paid attention, which is something he said should be assessed.
Advocates argue innovation is ignoring disabled Americans, denying their right to access the Internet, and leaving millions of people lost in the digital space. Eric Bridges, ACB Executive Director, is featured in this news video. It is reported that more than 800 accessibility lawsuits were launched in 2017, and it is expected more than 2,000 by the end of this year.
Agiledrop is highlighting active Drupal community members through a series of interviews. Learn who are the people behind Drupal projects. This week we talked with Mike Gifford. Read about what his company is striving to achieve, where he thinks has been a lot of movement in the last 2 years regarding Drupal and what contribution to open source is he proud of. Drupal 8 has centralized many elements of accessibility that make it easier to make and maintain an accessible site.
Nova Scotia has announced the next steps to reach its goal of making the province more accessible for those with disabilities by 2030. Justice Minister Mark Furey has released an implementation strategy for the province's Accessibility Act, passed in April 2017. When the new law was passed in 2017, Nova Scotia became the third province with accessibility legislation joining Manitoba and Ontario. the document, entitled Access by Design 2030, identifies priorities for accessibility standards, including the formation of committees that will develop standards for public buildings, streets, sidewalks and shared spaces, as well as education. The government said public consultations will continue as the standards are developed and implemented.
The Ontario Human Rights Commission (OHRC) recently released a new policy on accessible education for students with disabilities, which says students with disabilities continue to face barriers in all levels of education. The OHRC also released recommendations on how education providers can best meet legal obligations under Ontario's Human Rights Code. Statistics Canada reports that Ontarians with disabilities continue to have lower educational achievement levels, a higher unemployment rate, and are more likely to have a lower income than people without disabilities.
Breaking Down Barriers is the title and galvanizing theme of a June 2018 report from the Standing Senate Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology. It recommends urgently needed measures to improve access to underutilized federal disability supports: the disability tax credit (DTC) and the Registered Disability Savings Plan (RDSP). The recommendations are broad in scope. They include streamlining the DTC and RDSP application processes and making eligibility criteria simpler and more appropriate. The report also recommends ensuring that relevant agencies are collecting data to monitor and evaluate the effectiveness of the DTC and the RDSP, as well as undertaking effective outreach to improve uptake. It does not make sense that staff at the Canada Revenue Agency determine eligibility for complex programs that support Canadians with disabilities.
More than 600,000 people in B.C. have disabilities. Many of them encounter barriers in society that keep them from fully participating. While they are protected by human rights legislation, they must prove on a case-by-case basis that their rights have been denied. To address that — and after federal legislation was proposed last month to improve accessibility for people with disabilities — the B.C. government will begin creating a provincial disabilities act this fall. People with disabilities in B.C. are making it clear they want to play a major role in its design.
A Look at Premier Doug Ford's First Throne Speech from the Perspective of Ensuring that Ontario Becomes Accessible to 1.9 Million Ontarians with Disabilities by 2025By Greg Thomson, Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance, July 13, 2018
Ontario Premier Doug Ford's first Throne Speech, read at Queen's Park on July 12, said nothing about taking new action to ensure that Ontario becomes accessible to 1.9 million Ontarians with disabilities by 2025, the deadline which all parties set in the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act 2005. The Throne Speech is where a Government sets out, at a high level, its priorities for action.
Advocates for the disabled are praising the Ford government for appointing a cabinet minister to oversee the often-intersecting areas of accessibility and seniors’ issues. Progressive Conservative Premier Doug Ford appointed Scarborough North MPP Raymond Cho minister for seniors and accessibility on June 29.
Disability rights advocates welcome long-awaited national accessibility legislation, tabled in Ottawa Wednesday, but say the law needs significant strengthening to meet its goals. The Accessible Canada Act, which covers federally regulated sectors such as banking, inter-provincial and international transportation, telecommunications and government-run services such as Canada Post, aims to “identify, remove and prevent” barriers for an estimated 4 million Canadians with a physical, sensory, mental, intellectual, learning, communication or other disabilities. The government has earmarked $290 million over six years to implement the legislation, which includes fines of up to $250,000 for violations.
Canadians with disabilities felt a surge of tempered optimism on Wednesday as they watched Canada table its first piece of federal legislation aimed at improving accessibility for people with disabilities. The Accessible Canada Act, presented hours before the house rose for the summer, fulfils a promise to have disability-related legislation on the table by spring 2018. The government pledged $290-million over six years towards supporting its implementation. The Act's stated purpose is to “identify, remove and prevent” accessibility barriers in areas that fall under federal jurisdiction. This includes built environments, federally run programs and services, banking, telecommunications and transportation that crosses provincial lines.
Today, following the most inclusive and accessible consultation with Canadians with disabilities and with the disability community, the Honourable Kirsty Duncan, Minister of Science and Minister of Sport and Persons with Disabilities, introduced the proposed Accessible Canada Act to Parliament. This historic legislation would enable the Government of Canada to take a proactive approach to end systemic discrimination of people with disabilities. The goal of the legislation is to benefit all Canadians, especially Canadians with disabilities, through the progressive realization of a barrier-free Canada. The act would establish a model to eliminate accessibility barriers and lead to more consistent accessibility in areas under federal jurisdiction across Canada.
Bill C-81 (42-1) - First Reading - Accessible Canada Act - Parliament of Canada
As Ontario gets set to elect a new government, some disabled voters say accommodations put in place to allow them to cast their ballots independently and privately are not working as intended. They say elections workers were helpful and respectful, but not always trained on accessible voting options and sometimes did not offer them or didn't readily know how to make them available.
Reflections on the occasion of the European Social Economy Day
Seven months ago the leaders of the 28 EU member states adopted in Stockholm the so-called European Pillar of Social Rights, by which they committed to a set of 20 principles and rights. Even though most of us in the disability movement believe that EU leaders should have been more ambitious and should have converted those political statements into more concrete and enforceable policy and legislative initiatives, we could not but welcome the explicit recognition that "people with disabilities have the right to income support that ensures living in dignity, services that enable them to participate in the labour market and in society, and a work environment adapted to their needs." The celebration of the European Social Economy Day on 4 June is a good occasion to reflect on the role that this sector has been playing and can play in the future to help achieve these goals, in particular as a job generator.
A new wayfinding system will help University of Guelph students who are blind or visually impaired get around campus this fall, and all students need to do to access it is download an app on their phone. A few years ago, the university wanted to do more to make signs more inclusive and accessible. The university is the first in Canada to install it on campus, and it's the first campus in the world to have all three levels (beacons, GPS and QR codes). The goal is to have the entire University of Guelph campus on the BlindSquare within five years.
Toronto's subway and train stations, including the TTC's newest, have design flaws that can make travelling difficult or dangerous for people with disabilities, according to a new video that illustrates the problems.
A 30 minute video released Tuesday
Making Progress on Disability Issues: The Agenda with Steve Paikin, TVO.org, May 21, 2018
Non-partisan community partners invite persons with disabilities, their friends and families and the public to the Province-Wide Debate on Accessibility and Disability Issues. Representatives of Ontario's political parties will be fielding questions about housing, employment, poverty reduction strategies, Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA), Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP), and more. Community Partners invite people with disabilities and their allies from across Ontario to ask questions to each party.
Date: Wednesday, May 16, 2018
Time: 6 p.m. – 8:30 p.m.
Location: Tecumseh Auditorium, Ryerson University. 55 Gould St., Toronto
LiveStreame: Event live streaming
HSBC, Metro Bank and Halifax have all admitted to failings after redesigning websites that made it hard for their blind or visually impaired customers to access full services online. In a statement, HSBC told Money Box it has just finished upgrading the site again, and saying "we apologise to those who may have experienced problems accessing the site during this update". More than two million people in the UK have vision problems that can't be corrected with prescription glasses. And over a third of a million are registered blind or partially sighted. Under the Equality Act, firms must not discriminate against anyone by failing to provide them with a service. And that includes banking services. Companies that don't comply could face a claim for damages.
Students face daunting academic and social barriers that can leave them excluded, vulnerable to bullying and set them up for low expectations for the future, said the report, a joint project by experts in disabilities law and education. Their parents are asked to keep them home from school, pick them up early and must fight hard to get them the supports they are legally entitled to. This is the reality for many students with intellectual disabilities and their families in Ontario, according to a new report released Friday, conducted by the Toronto District School Board Special Education Advisory Committee, which provides a rare look at how this vulnerable group is faring in school. To Learn More About the Disability Barriers in Ontario's Education System, read the survey results, of Parents of Students with Special Education Needs, April 2018.
The AODA review committee has submitted their final proposed revisions to the Transportation Standards of the AODA to the Minister Responsible for Accessibility. The minister may accept the 32 proposed revisions in whole, in part, or with modifications. Any proposed changes to the transportation standards will be posted to the Regulatory Registry. Read the initial recommendations.
After five years of lax enforcement of Ontario's groundbreaking accessibility legislation, disability activists want Queen's Park to hand over enforcement responsibilities to an independent public agency. The call comes in the wake of a new report that shows a 2015 government crackdown on accessibility scofflaws never really happened and that the government has imposed just six monetary penalties despite thousands of known violations. The AODA-Alliance has asked all party leaders to commit to moving enforcement of the AODA to an independent public agency, if elected premier in June. Read more about the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance (AODA-Alliance).
Accessibility advocates are expressing cautious optimism about measures in the latest Ontario budget that fund programs for developmentally disabled people, enhance social assistance and boost mental health support. Over the next three years, the budget promises to pump $1.8 billion into services for developmentally disabled people and invest $2.3 billion into social assistance programs, which will loosen restrictions recipients have long contended keep them in poverty. Implementation of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) -- which promises full accessibility -- has fallen behind in recent years, advocates say, arguing the budget contains no plan to ensure the law is completely in place by 2025 as promised.
More than a decade after an advocate for the blind won a landmark human rights case against the TTC, a hearing-impaired transit user is calling on the agency to improve its communication with riders who have hearing loss. Leona Zultek argues that by not devising ways to provide hearing-impaired customers with the same information as other riders, the TTC is failing in its obligation to communicate with all passengers regardless of their abilities.
The Accessibility compliance and enforcement report 2017 outlines the activities undertaken by the Accessibility Directorate of Ontario in 2017 to oversee compliance with the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act and its accessibility standards. In the Second Legislative Review of the AODA, reviewer Mayo Moran made recommendations aimed to determine who enforces AODA accessibility compliance requirements. These included making an enforcement plan, building transparency into the plan, and incorporating feedback into compliance and enforcement. This report details the activities throughout the year to ensure compliance. The proactive communication and outreach strategies, as well as the verifications of compliance that the directorate performs is included. Read more articles by Greg Thomson, Author at Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA).
Is the CNIB's centennial this year really something to celebrate? The Canadian National Institute for the Blind came about directly because of the high profile of gas-blinded heroes of the First World War and survivors of the 1917 Halifax explosion. As a self-preservation policy, the institute eventually turned to influencing government to designate all blind Canadians permanent wards of a charity, but in reality, recipients of little. Although blind citizens’ treatment does somewhat mirror the First Nations experience, it does not have the same profile to generate conscious political recognition. Instead, Canada's custodial treatment of its blind citizens just continues to reinforce the public's morbid fear of blindness. In 2018, we need government to recognize and treat blind citizens as contributing, respected and worthy members of society.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's Liberal government has decided it will no longer fund the production of accessible books for blind and vision-impaired Canadians, Global News has learned. Starting April 1, the Canadian National Institute for the Blind (CNIB), which is Canada's largest producer of accessible and alternate-format books, will no longer receive government funding for converting conventional books into accessible formats. The news comes nine days before the CNIB is set to celebrate its 100th anniversary.
Accessibility advocates are questioning the Wynne government's recent appointment of former lieutenant-governor David Onley to lead the next independent review of Ontario's landmark accessibility legislation. They say Onley, a childhood polio survivor, who completed a three-year appointment last fall as the government's special adviser on accessibility, should not be reviewing the same policies and actions he so recently defended in that role.
This contribution is published as part of the UNRISD Think Piece Series, From Disruption to Transformation? Linking Technology and Human Rights for Sustainable Development. It isn't news that we live in an exciting moment for technology. From artificial intelligence and machine learning to robotics, 3D printing, virtual realities or smart environments, it seems like these so-called emerging technologies will soon become an everyday reality that could underpin progress worldwide. But are these new technologies designed for all? There are one billion persons with disabilities globally and as societies become older, more and more people will face functional limitations related to age. Will these technologies be accessible for them as well?
The TTC is participating in an innovative program, the "ShopTalk: BlindSquare Enabled" project, which features a mobile app to enhance community accessibility for those with vision loss.
On Wednesday, February 7, 2018, the Wynne Government announced that it had appointed the Honourable David Onley to conduct the next mandatory Independent Review of the implementation and enforcement of the 2005 Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA). The AODA Alliance has serious concerns about this appointment, despite Mr. Onley's deep and commendable commitment to accessibility for people with disabilities. It is essential that a person appointed to conduct an AODA Independent Review meet two equally important qualifications: First, they should have sufficient knowledge or expertise to conduct the Independent Review. There is no doubt that David Onley meets this requirement. The second requirement is that the person be fully independent and impartial, and be seen by the public as being fully independent and impartial. We regret that Mr. Onley does not meet this vital second requirement.
Ontario has appointed the Honourable David C. Onley to conduct the third review of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA). The reviewer will consult with the public and will analyze accessibility progress made in other jurisdictions. The review will be completed by the end of 2018 and will consider the evolution of the current AODA and its goals for an accessible Ontario by 2025 and beyond.
The federal Conservatives have tabled a bill in the House of Commons that they say will help get more Canadians with disabilities into the workforce, arguing that right now, it can be more affordable for them to stay out of it. The private member's bill, is unlikely to pass unless the Conservatives get the Liberals on-side. If it does pass, the bill (labeled The Opportunity for Workers with Disabilities Act) would amend the Federal-Provincial Fiscal Arrangements Act to ensure that Canadians with disabilities don't lose more through taxation or the loss of benefits than they gain as a result of finding a job.
An UberAssist driver who refused to pick up a blind Paralympian last year because of her service dog has been fined $250. Victoria Nolan, who captured bronze at the 2016 Rio Games in four-mixed rowing, had finished training at the Toronto Pan Am Sports Centre when she decided to try UberAssist for the first time. The ride-hailing service is designed specifically to be accessible to people with disabilities. But when the driver arrived and saw Nolan's guide dog, he took off.
CNIB Calls for Senate of Canada to Include Strengthened Requirements to Accommodate Canadians With Sight LossAccessibility News International, Ottawa, January 30, 2018
CNIB is calling on the Senate of Canada to make amendments to strengthen requirements to accommodate Canadians with sight loss. As the Senate resumes sitting at the end of January, they will continue their study of Bill C-49, the Transportation Modernization Act. CNIB supports the passage of this important piece of legislation, specifically the creation of an airline Passenger Bill of Rights. The Senate has two options: pass the Bill as is or send it back to the House of Commons with amendments.