Ford Government Admits It Sent Out An Inaccessible Broadcast Email Yesterday to Announce Its Upcoming Announcement on Accessibility, Claiming a “Clerical Error”– Even Though Ministers’ Announcements Are Carefully Screened In Advance

Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance Update

United for a Barrier-Free Society for All People with Disabilities

Web: www.aodaalliance.org Email: aodafeedback@gmail.com Twitter: @aodaalliance Facebook: www.facebook.com/aodaalliance/

Ford Government Admits It Sent Out An Inaccessible Broadcast Email Yesterday to Announce Its Upcoming Announcement on Accessibility, Claiming a “Clerical Error”– Even Though Ministers’ Announcements Are Carefully Screened In Advance

October 27, 2020

          SUMMARY

Yesterday, the AODA Alliance made public the jaw-dropping fact that the Ford Government’s Minister for Accessibility sent out a broadcast email that was inaccessible, to invite people to attend an minister’s announcement on Thursday, October 29, 2020 on the very subject of accessibility for Ontarians with disabilities. After our news release made this public, the Ford Government acknowledged that the announcement email was inaccessible, and apologized to the AODA Alliance. Below we set out the minister’s subsequent October 26, 2020 broadcast email, and an October 29, 2020 email to AODA Alliance Chair David Lepofsky from the Ford Government’s Deputy Minister of Accessibility.

The minister’s email, set out below, claims that it was a “clerical error” that led the minister to broadcast his inaccessible email invitation. Of Course, mistakes can happen. However, the Ontario Government does not simply sent out such emails, without them going through all sorts of scrutiny and checking, e.g. to make sure they are consistent with Government messaging and strategy.

There can be layers and layers of such vetting. This would especially be the case when it is a minister’s announcement of an upcoming Government-staged news event being announced. The fact that this broadcast email included its text within a text box, well-known to create accessibility barriers for screen-readers, should have been caught by someone, if that internal scrutiny took accessibility seriously.

There have now been 635 days since the Ford Government received the Onley Report, the report of the Government-appointed Independent Review of the implementation and enforcement of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act. That report found substantial problems with the Ontario Government’s implementation and enforcement of the AODA. This incident is sadly typical of those problems. The Government has announced no comprehensive plan to implement the Onley Report’s recommendations.

          MORE DETAILS

Text of Ford Government Broadcast Email Received by the AODA Alliance

Earlier today an invitation was sent from this account that was not accessible. We regret the clerical error and would like to reiterate that accessibility is of the utmost importance to the Ministry for Seniors and Accessibility. Please find an accessible invitation below and attached.

You’re invited

The Honourable Raymond Cho, Minister for Seniors and Accessibility invites you to a virtual announcement about Advancing Accessibility in Ontario.

Thursday, October 29, 2020

12:00 p.m. – 12:30 p.m.

The announcement will be held on Zoom

Meeting link will be provided upon RSVP

Please log on to the meeting 10 minutes prior to start time

Please R.S.V.P. to Dylan Franks at (416) 828-5726 or

Dylan.Franks@ontario.ca.

This invitation is intended for the recipient and is non-transferable without permission.

Please advise if you need this communication in another format.

Text of October 27, 2020 Email to AODA Alliance Chair David Lepofsky from Ontario Government Deputy Minister for Seniors and Accessibility Denise Cole

Good afternoon David,

Thank you for sending me your news release. I have looked into the matter and hasten to reply. On behalf of the ministry, my sincere apologies for this unintentional error having occurred. It was a ministry mistake, and as the Deputy Minister, I accept full responsibility. An accessible version will be sent to you shortly.

With apologies,

DAC

Denise Allyson Cole

Deputy Minister

Ministry for Seniors & Accessibility

777 Bay Street, 6th Floor

Toronto ON M5G 2C8