Accessibility In The News 2019

Top Stories

Broadbent Pushes B.C. Government for Justice-Based Accessibility Law

Nick Eagland, Vancouver Sun, December 9, 2019
As the B.C. government develops accessibility legislation, a left-wing think-tank is calling on policy-makers to consider how historical injustices and continuing discrimination have led to a society that still excludes deaf and disabled people. A framework shows how the legislation could work by including standards for service delivery, employment, information, communication and transportation. Minister Shane Simpson said he wants the legislation tabled in the fall of 2020. The Broadbent Institute commissioned consultant Gabrielle Peters for its submission, which she said is focused on justice and rectifying decades of oppression and discrimination.

Ontario’s e-scooter regulations will endanger people with disabilities

David Lepofsky, Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance, Toronto Star, December 1, 2019
Ford ignored serious safety and accessibility concerns, documented by Ontarians with disabilities, by allowing dangerously fast e-scooters on roads, sidewalks and other places. We and others will be exposed to the danger of serious injuries, if not worse. E-scooters will be unforeseeable new barriers blocking the accessibility of public spaces for people with disabilities. Ford appears to have bowed to e-scooter rental companies. The regulation reads as if their corporate lobbyists wrote it. The Star was wrong to applaud the Doug Ford government’s decision to let municipalities pilot electric scooters.

Blocking the Disabled on the Web Means Blocking Innovation

Jason McKee, Wired Opinion, November 21, 2019
Beyond fair and equal treatment, what is also at stake with web accessibility is the future of our advancing global civilization. The digital innovations we enjoy today were brought about in large part by a few unique individuals blessed with brilliant minds and tenacity. As it happens, some were disabled, and it was their disability that inspired their innovation. As we grow more accustomed to paying bills, working, learning, communicating, filing taxes, and registering to vote online, it will be harder to live without access to the web. Applying accessibility standards now will benefit millions of Americans and nearly 1 billion disabled people around the world.

Accessibility advocate David Lepofsky urging people to highlight access deficiencies

Chris Thompson, Windsor Star, November 5, 2019
Accessibility advocate David Lepofsky came to Essex to promote a Twitter campaign aimed at affecting change by identifying barriers to mobility for the disabled. A prominent champion of accessibility and the rights of persons with disabilities, spoke at an event hosted by the Essex County Accessibility Advisory Committee at the Civic Centre, Tuesday, Nov. 5, 2019. Lepofsky is calling on the Progressive Conservative government of Doug Ford to make the province fully accessible for the 1.9 million Ontarians with disabilities by 2025.

Canada: Disabled passengers say new rules present some greater barriers to air travel

Christopher Reynolds, The Canadian Press, September 10, 2019
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 closely a 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.

Why Accessibility Is the Future of Tech

John Brownlee, Modus, September 4, 2019
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.

Disability advocates raise concerns over Ontario plan to let e-scooters on roads

Shawn JeffordsThe, Canadian Press, The Star, August 30, 2019
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 vehicles while 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.

Ontario should move faster on tearing down barriers

Star Editorial Board, The Star, August 6, 2019
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 crushing barriers that 2.6 million Ontarians with disabilities face on a daily basis, the Ford government has yet to develop a clear way forward.

Advocates slam Ontario plan to rate accessibility of buildings

Gilbert Ngabo, Staff Reporter, The Star, July 24, 2019
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).

Blind Man with Guide Dog Denied Service, Arrested at Kamloops Gas Station

CTV News, Accessibility News International, July 23, 2019
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.

Canada’s first federal accessibility legislation comes into force

Marielle Hossack, Press Secretary, Employment and Social Development Canada, July 11, 2019
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.

Why Do We Fix AI Bias But Ignore Accessibility Bias?

Kalev Leetaru, Contributor, Forbes, July 6, 2019
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.

Carleton Creates Canadian Accessibility Network

Carleton Newsroom, June 26, 2019
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 Case

Greg 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 Implementation

Greg 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.

Federal government passes Canada’s first national accessibility legislation

Michelle McQuigge, The Canadian Press, May 30, 2019
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.

Ontario is falling short on breaking down barriers

The Star, Star Editorial Board, May 27, 2019
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-crushing barriers 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.

Activists urge Ottawa to pass Canadian accessibility law before summer

Mike Hager, Vancouver, The Globe and Mail, MAY 22, 2019
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.

Global Accessibility Awareness Day on the third Thursday of May

Starting in 2015, rather than using a fixed date, we invite you to help us mark GAAD on the third Thursday of May.
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.

I had to crawl: Amputee seeks damages after United Airlines and airport security seize scooter batteries

Erica Johnson, British Columbia CBC News, April 29, 2019
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.

Liberals failing to strengthen disability laws as promised

David Lepofsky, AODA Alliance Opinion, The Star, April 29, 2019
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 Canada for 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 Canada

Ms. 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.

Ontario to look into school exclusions of children with autism

Caroline Alphonso, Education reporter, The Globe and Mail, March 13, 2019
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.

Ford government must fulfill Ontario’s promise to people with disabilities

Star Editorial Board, The Star, March 12, 2019
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.

Broadcasting Notice of Consultation CRTC 2019-67

Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC), Ottawa, March 11, 2019
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 Act

Canadian 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.

A look at TTC accessibility through the eyes of a rider who uses two canes

Francine Kopun, The Star, City Hall Bureau, March 10, 2019
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.

Ontario nowhere near goal of full accessibility by 2025, review finds

Michelle McQuigge, The Canadian Press, CBC News, March 8, 2019
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.

Woman with disability banned from No Frills store after failing to pack groceries fast enough

Rosa Marchitelli, Edmonton, CBC news, February 24, 2019
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.

Review of Accessibility Legislation: Final Report Province of Manitoba

Manitoba Disabilities Issues Office, February 20, 2019
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 wheelchairs

Martin 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.

Advocates call on Ford government to help special-needs children who’ve been excluded from schools

Victoria Bibson, The Globe and Mail, January 30, 2019
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 today

Shachi 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 Enforcement

Greg 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.

Valuing the Voice of People Living with Disabilities in Manitoba

Carlos Sosa, member of the Board of Inclusion Winnipeg, Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives Manitoba Office, January 17, 2019
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.

Court Says Domino’s Pizza Website Must Be Accessible to the Blind

Karina Brown, Courthouse News Service (CNS), January 15, 2019
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.

Advocates for students with disabilities call on Ontario to stop school exclusions

Caroline Alphonso, Education Reporter, The Globe and Mail, January 6, 2019
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.