Accessibility In The News 2016

Top Stories

Mohawk Journalism’s content accessibility program continues to develop

Greg O’Brien, editor and publisher, December 14, 2016
Mohawk College Journalism’s pioneering new program teaching accessible content production to its aspiring journalists took another step on Tuesday when its initial group of second-year journalism students showed off their work to some members of the community. The course, which is mandatory in order to graduate from the J-school was made possible by an $80,000 grant from the Broadcasting Accessibility Fund and is believed to be the first such program in North America.
View the Youtube video.

Accessibility Lawsuits, Trolls, and Scare Tactics

Karl Groves, December 19, 2016
There has been a lot of discussions in Web Accessibility circles around ADA Trolls this year. Recently 60-Minutes aired a segment on what they refer to as Drive-by Lawsuits. The 60-minutes segment is being used to argue against making websites accessible. Read the article to learn more about the Objective Facts about Drive-by Lawsuits and Trolling.

Groups urge premier to remove barriers for disabled students

Andrea Gordon, Toronto Star, December 5, 2016
Students in wheelchairs who can’t use playground equipment or open classroom doors. Children with impaired vision or dyslexia unable to read the Smartboard in class. Youth with autism who miss out on co-op placements because workplaces don’t accommodate their needs. These are just a few examples of obstacles faced by special needs students from pre-school to university who aren’t getting the education they are entitled to, according to a group of almost two dozen community groups. Developing an education standard would also mean a fundamental shift towards creating a universal design for schools, curriculum and teaching strategies aimed at a broader range of students, rather than relying on an old mainstream model that involves shoehorning special needs kids into an environment that doesn’t fit.

Statement by Minister Qualtrough on International Day of Persons with Disabilities

Employment and Social Development Canada, Canada News Centre, December 3, 2016
The Honourable Carla Qualtrough, Minister of Sport and Persons with Disabilities, today issued the following statement:
While this is a day to celebrate the vast contributions of people with disabilities, it also reminds us that many barriers to accessibility and inclusion still exist in our society. Please join me in celebrating International Day of Persons with Disabilities as we embrace a culture that supports an active and engaged community in a truly accessible Canada.

Lawyer crusades against accessibility problems caused by inadequate laws

HINA ALAM, Toronto Star Staff Reporter, December 2, 2016
Toronto lawyer David Lepofsky is highlighting Centennial College building’s accessibility problems. But that is not the complete picture. These accessibility issues are the symptoms of a bigger problem, Lepofsky says. The Centennial College building opened in late August of this year to accept student residents while the Culinary Arts Centre on the ground floor opened in time for classes on Sept. 6. Other publicly-financed buildings, such as Ryerson’s Student Learning Centre, the new Women’s College Hospital, and major renovations at York’s Osgoode Hall Law School also have accessibility problems, Lepofsky said.

Minister Carla Qualtrough says Canada’s new disability act will make history

The Current with Anna Maria Tremonti, CBC Radio, October 21, 2016
Carla Qualtrough is the first-ever federal minister of sport and persons with disabilities. She tells The Current’s special guest host Ing Wong-Ward that her appointment to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s cabinet as a legally blind person is sending a strong signal to Canadians just how important disability and accessibility issues are to our government. Minister Qualtrough has been travelling across the country for an ongoing national public consultation on creating new Canadian accessibility legislation, the first of its kind in Canadian history.

I think we do some things really well here in Canada and I think in other areas we have work to be done. I am the exception to the rule. I am not the rule, as a successful person with a disability.

TTC still has ‘big ticket items’ to address when it comes to accessibility

Ben Spurr, Transportation Reporter, The Toronto Star, September 14, 2016
For most transit riders, problems on the TTC are an inconvenience. But for people who use mobility devices or have physical or cognitive disabilities, when the transit system fails, it can severely limit their autonomy, and even be dangerous. With only nine years to go until provincial law dictates the TTC must be fully accessible, advocates say that the transit agency still has a lot of work to do, but it has made some progress.

Blind MP to draft Canada’s first national accessibility law

LAURIE MONSEBRAATEN, Social justice reporter, Toronto Star, Aug. 27, 2016
Carla Qualtrough, who is legally blind, grew up learning alternative ways of doing almost everything. The human rights lawyer, former Paralympian and world championship swimming medalist is helping Canadians think about disability in a new way as she crafts the country’s first national accessibility legislation. The government has received more than 700 submissions since online consultations on the new law began in July. Canadians have until February 2017 to give their views. Qualtrough will report on the consultations next spring and said she hopes to have legislation ready to introduce in the Commons by the end of 2017 or early 2018.

How accessibility is driving innovation in Canada

Employment and Social Development Canada, Canada News Centre, August 23, 2016
The Honourable Carla Qualtrough, Minister of Sport and Persons with Disabilities announced the government in-person consultations to inform the development of planned accessibility legislation. The Minister visited the Abilities Centre in Whitby, Ontario, and hosted a panel with three young Canadian innovators to discuss how accessibility drives innovation. The Minister toured the centre, noting the accessibility measures in place there, which serve as an example for other communities across Canada. Minister Qualtrough also announced the schedule of the in-person consultations organized to inform planned accessibility legislation.

Today we are taking another exciting step in our discussion on accessibility. Increasing accessibility is not only the right thing to do, but it also has social and economic benefits for all Canadians. Canada is well positioned to become a global leader in innovative service delivery, technology and universal design. Together, we will reshape the landscape for Canadians with disabilities.

Between July 2016 and February 2017, we will be consulting with Canadians on planned accessibility legislation:
Consulting with Canadians on federal disability legislation.

Update on the IANA Transition – Privatization Of The Internet

Lawrence E. Strickling, Assistant Secretary for Communications and Information and NTIA Administrator, August 16, 2016
For the last 18 years, the United States has been working with the global Internet multistakeholder community to establish a stable and secure multistakeholder model of Internet governance that ensures that the private sector, not governments, takes the lead in setting the future direction of the Internet’s domain name system. To help achieve this goal, NTIA in 1998 partnered with ICANN, a California-based nonprofit, to transition technical DNS coordination and management functions to the private sector. NTIA’s current stewardship role was intended to be temporary. The United States Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) remains committed to preserving a stable and secure Internet Domain Name System (DNS). But what does this effort to privatize the Internet domain name system (DNS) mean for blind Canadians that depend upon accessible digital communications?
The Canadian Internet Registration Authority (CIRA) is the member-driven organization that manages Canada’s .CA domain name registry, develops and implements policies that support Canada’s Internet community, and represents the .CA registry internationally, but has no accessibility strategy to govern the .ca ecosystem.

Accessibility advocates tweet their barriers

Jessica Botelho-UrbanskiStaff, Toronto Star, August 9, 2016
Two social media campaigns are attracting attention to lackluster building, airline plans for people with disabilities. Disability advocates are hoping social-media campaigns will publicly shame organizations into taking action on accessibility. Under the AODA Act, landmark legislation passed unanimously by the provincial government in 2005, Ontario needs to be fully accessible by 2025. David Lepofsky doesn’t see the goal as realistic right now. Despite an influx of design technology, Lepofsky said architects and city planners aren’t always aware of the hurdles they create.

Ontario won’t close schools for deaf and blind children

Rob Ferguson, Queen’s Park Bureau, Toronto Star, August 8, 2016
Education Minister Mitzie Hunter, shown earlier this year, says the decision to keep schools for deaf and blind children open was made after several months of consultation. The move follows protests by worried parents last winter and spring and an outcry from opposition parties at Queen’s Park, after the government stopped admissions at the schools in Milton, London, Belleville and Ottawa for the fall. But critics like David Lepofsky of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance charged the latest step falls miles short of what is needed by 334,000 students with special education needs.

Air Canada Innovates to Make In-Flight Entertainment Systems Accessible for Vision-Impaired Customers

July 7, 2016
John Rae and Marcia Yale are pleased to have reached a settlement concerning a complaint they filed with the Canadian Human Rights Commission for passengers who are vision-impaired to more easily access Air Canada’s in-flight entertainment (IFE) system. Both Mr. Rae and Mrs. Yale are vision-impaired.

Government of Canada launches consultation on planned new accessibility legislation

Ottawa, Ontario, Employment and Social Development Canada, June 22, 2016
What does an Accessible Canada mean to you?, the Honourable Carla Qualtrough, Minister of Sport and Persons with Disabilities.
The Government of Canada is committed to eliminating systemic barriers and delivering equality of opportunity to all Canadians living with disabilities. The Honourable Carla Qualtrough, Minister of Sport and Persons with Disabilities announced the launch of a national consultation process to inform the development of planned legislation that will transform how the Government of Canada addresses accessibility.

Promoting Technological Entrepreneurship in the Field of Disabilities

Beit Issie, a non-profit special Consultant to the United Nations based in Israel, mission is to provide cutting-edge services to improve quality of life for people with disabilities, and to effect social change by breaking down the barriers preventing people with disabilities from full societal integration, assuring them the rights and opportunities for maximum growth and development. David Lepofsky, a Canadian disability advocate, had the chance to speak on a panel at the 9th annual conference on disability rights at the United Nations in New York, on June 16, 2016.
Listen to the panel discussion on the UN Live United Nations Web TV.

Canadian Transportation Agency launches consultation on accessible transportation as Phase 1 of its Regulatory Modernization Initiative

Canadian Transportation Agency, June 6, 2016
As part of the Regulatory Modernization Initiative announced last week, the Agency is launching the first phase of its regulatory review, which focusses on accessible transportation.

9th session of the Conference of United Nations States Parties to the CRPD, 14-16 June 2016

The 9th session will take place at the United Nations Headquarters from 14 to 16 June 2016. This year’s session will include Elections for nine members of the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.
Theme: Implementing the 2030 development agenda for all persons with disabilities: Leaving no one behind.
David Lepofsky speaking at this event. watch live on UN Web TV.

Accessibility online: A neglected frontier for people with disabilities

Evelyn Harford, Ottawa Citizen, May 21, 2016
When we think accessibility, we usually think about doors that open automatically, or ramps that lead up to buildings. But what about accessibility online?. Ottawa tech leaders say web development needs to catch up and improve online accessibility for people with disabilities.

Final Report: Facilitation of Third Party Accessibility Certification Consultation, May 2016

The Accessibility Directorate of Ontario engaged Deloitte to facilitate a three-phase public consultation process to explore the merits, viability and design of a third party accessibility certification model. The final report for the Accessibility Certification Consultation aims to capture a three-phase process that engaged over 400 members of the accessibility advocacy, business, not-for-profit, academic, and broader public sector communities to discuss the viability, risks, and design of an accessibility certification model. Central to the report are the accessibility certification prototypes, submitted by seven organizations inspired by the discussion throughout the consultation, as well as the set of guiding principles developed by working groups in the previous phase of the public engagement process. Raising the bar on accessibility in Ontario will require the knowledge, efforts, skills, and good will of all Ontarians.

Woman challenged by Tim Hortons over guide dog last year not happy with response

Christina Stevens, Senior Reporter, Global News, April 19, 2016
It has been one year since staff at a Lawrence Heights Tim Hortons told Victoria Nolan that Alan, her guide dog, was not allowed inside. Nolan said the chain apologized and agreed to replace outdated signs, which said no pets with new ones saying service animals welcome. A year later signs were found at nearly all Tim Hortons locations checked by Global News. You have to look closely though, they are about four centimetres by 11 centimetres. That’s smaller than most smartphones. Nolan also asked Tim Hortons to update employee training, but says she was told they couldn’t because training is not dealt with nationally.

Federal budget commits to creating a Canadians with Disabilities Act

TONY CALDWELL, Calgary Herald, March 24, 2016
The federal budget unveiled this week includes a promise to eliminate barriers for Canadians living with disabilities by introducing a national disabilities act, a document advocates have long said is needed.

App Boost For Blind, By Michelle Ruby, Brantford Expositor, March 9, 2016

At a launch of the new technology on Wednesday, manager Glenn Brown said the Sanderson is the first performing arts venue in the world to install BlindSquare, a GPS application developed for the blind and visually impaired that describes the environment and announces points of interest both indoors and outside. Eighteen Bluetooth iBeacons were installed in strategic locations throughout the theatre and work in tandem with the BlindSquare mobile app. The app provides users with information through their smartphones. As they move through the theatre, the phones announce the location of aisles and seats. The app announces locations stairs and exits. It directs users to the bar and to washrooms, where it further tells them the location of stalls and sinks.

Analysis of the May 2015 Initial Report of the Wynne Government’s Partnership Council on Employment for People with Disabilities

Why is the Wynne Government doing so little on increasing stunning levels of unemployment chronically facing people with disabilities? On November 28, 2014, former Ontario Lieutenant Governor David Onley (the Wynne Government’s Special Advisor on Accessibility for People with Disabilities) proclaimed at Queen’s Park that unemployment facing people with disabilities is not only a national crisis – it is a national shame!
Here is an analysis of the Partnership Council Initial Report’s important findings about the plight of people with disabilities who try to find jobs in Ontario. We agree with them all. These findings are largely based on authoritative public sources that have been readily available to the Government for some time. It was not necessary for the Wynne Government to appoint the Partnership Council to learn about these.

Is Your Website Accessible to Blind and Visually Impaired? National Law Review, February 1, 2016

U.S. Department of Justice is taking notice of the increase of Plaintiffs’ firms sending out demand letters warning that if businesses do not enter into a settlement agreement and agree to use their consultant to make the website accessible and pay their attorney’s fees, they will file a lawsuit. While wage/hour lawsuits continue to be filed at record rates, the plaintiffs’ bar is now flirting with a new type of class action lawsuit which poses a threat to any employer that operates a website. These lawsuits allege that company websites are inaccessible to the blind and/or visually impaired and therefore violate Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and various states’ laws.

Tim Hortons owner reaches out to unemployed Goodwill workers

Henry Stancu, Toronto Star, January 25, 2016
The Toronto Tim Hortons franchise owner has reached out to former Goodwill employees after 16 stores and 10 donation centres in Ontario abruptly closed a week ago leaving 430 workers without jobs. No stranger to disability, Wafer is deaf, having been born with only 20 per cent hearing ability. Unable to keep a job as a young man, he has become a successful businessman and an advocate for the disabled by hiring people with disabilities. Mark represents what it means to be a leader in a province that has championed full inclusion.