ACCESSIBILITY FOR ONTARIANS WITH DISABILITIES ACT ALLIANCE
NEWS RELEASE – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
In A Cruel Irony, the Ford Government Sends an Inaccessible Invitation to an Upcoming Announcement on Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities
October 26, 2020 Toronto: Hard as it may be to believe, the Ford Government today sent out an inaccessible email invitation to an upcoming Government announcement on Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities, to be made on October 29, 2020 by the Minister of Accessibility. Ontario’s Accessibility Minister, Raymond Cho sent this invitation to AODA Alliance Chair David Lepofsky, well-known to be totally blind. He could not read the invitation using his computer’s screen-reading software.
“You cannot make something like this up,” said David Lepofsky, chair of the non-partisan grassroots coalition that leads the campaign in Ontario for accessibility for 2.6 million Ontarians with disabilities. “The Ford Government repeatedly claims to be leading Ontario by its example on achieving accessibility for Ontarians with disabilities, but this is just another example of the poor example by which they’ve been leading on this important issue.”
“The fact that this invitation is inaccessible would be immediately obvious to anyone who knows anything about document accessibility,” said Karen McCall, an expert in document accessibility who has taught about this subject internationally and who is on the faculty of a document accessibility course at Mohawk College. “It just takes seconds and costs nothing to ensure that documents like this are formatted to be accessible.”
This should not be happening over 15 years after the Ontario Legislature unanimously passed the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act. The Government is required to ensure the accessibility of documents like this by the Ontario Human Rights Code, the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act. The Minister of Accessibility, who issued this inaccessible invitation to a Government announcement on accessibility, is himself responsible for the effective enforcement of the AODA.
On January 31, 2019,, the Ford Government received a blistering report from a Government-appointed Independent Review of the AODA’s implementation conducted by former Lieutenant Governor David Onley. The Onley Report found that Ontario has suffered from years of ineffective provincial leadership on accessibility. Onley’s searing report concluded that for people with disabilities, Ontario is not a place of opportunity, but is instead full of “countless, dispiriting, soul-crushing Barriers”, with progress on accessibility being “barely detectable” and coming at a “glacial” pace.
In the 634 days since the Ford Government received the Onley Report, the Government has announced no comprehensive plan to implement its recommendations, even though Accessibility Minister Raymond Cho said last year that Onley did a “marvelous job.”