January 29, 2011
We kick off 2011 by alerting you to priorities in our activities in 2011 in our ongoing campaign for a barrier-free Ontario, and summarizing what we accomplished last year. We also let you know how we are streamlining our updates to make them easier for you, when you have lots of other email to plough through.
1. Our 2011 Priorities
Our priorities this year will include the following four major items. Of course, new issues on the accessibility front can and often do crop up unexpectedly, and may be added to our efforts.
- We expect that some time this winter, the Government will post a draft of the integrated accessibility standard that it will propose to enact to achieve accessible transportation, employment and information and communication. The public will have 45 days to comment on it before the Government finalizes it. This could well be the most important culmination of our 16 year campaign for an accessible Ontario.We will let you know when the Government makes its draft standard public. We will compare it to our 2010 brief’s list of recommendations. We will also let you know where we made gains, and where improvements are still needed. It will then be up to all of us to advocate for any changes that are needed to make it strong and effective.
- With the October 2011 Ontario general election fast approaching, we will focus on trying to eliminate the barriers to accessible voting that voters with disabilities have too often faced. For example, last year the Legislature adopted our proposal in Bill 231 that Elections Ontario be required to post its proposed polling station locations six months before the election. This will let you check these out in your own community, and tell Elections Ontario of any barriers. Elections Ontario will then have time to correct these barriers before finalizing its choice of polling locations. We will let you know when this all happens.
- We will continue our campaign to get the Government to implement the recommendations of the Government-appointed 2010 Charles Beer Independent Review of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act. To date, most of Mr. Beer’s recommendations have not been accepted or implemented by the McGuinty Government. For details, see: http://www.www.aodaalliance.org/whats-new/newsub2011/mcguinty-government-issues-weak-final-response-to-beer-independent-review-of-aoda-government-does-not-promise-the-new-leadership-or-transformative-change-that-charles-beer-recommended/
- As the October 2011 Ontario general election approaches, we hope to again take part in our usual non-partisan way, raising disability issues for consideration by the voters.
This promises to make the year a very busy one. We can face this challenge, proud in what we accomplished last year.
2. What We Accomplished in 2010
With your help in 2010, our tenacious campaign for a fully-accessible Ontario took us in many important directions. For example, we did the following, all of which is documented on our website at: http://www.www.aodaalliance.org/category/whats-new/
- We spearheaded a province-wide campaign to get much-needed accessibility requirements incorporated into Bill 231. That was a bill before the Ontario Legislature to modernize provincial elections. Our efforts won support from many within the disability community, and from the opposition NDP and Conservatives. Our issues dominated debates in the Legislature over the bill, and yielded some gains in amendments to the bill, though not enough.
- Drawing on input from people like you, we prepared and submitted briefs to the Ontario Government on the final proposals for accessibility standards in the areas of access to employment and access to information and communications.
- We submitted a detailed brief responding to the Government’s weak proposals for a comprehensive accessibility standard to address barriers in transportation, information and communication, and employment. We offered a constructive package of recommendations to make that proposed standard strong and effective. We hope to soon see which of those recommendations the Government has accepted. We got good support for this brief from within the disability community. We led a campaign last fall to get this weak proposed standard strengthened, and gave you tools to help with this campaign.
- We spearheaded the responses from the disability community to the Charles Beer Independent Review of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act. We offered a detailed analysis of that report, and of the McGuinty Government’s weak and unsatisfactory response to it.
- We brought to public attention the troubling barriers in the Government-funded Presto Smart Card technology for paying public transit fares. We showed that the Government was forewarned about these barriers, and that the Government nevertheless persisted in spending public money, creating new barriers against persons with disabilities. We also triggered a Government-re-think of that technology (though the Government didn’t commit to suspend its deployment until those barriers are removed) See e.g. http://www.www.aodaalliance.org/whats-new/newsub2011/was-the-ontario-government-forewarned-that-the-presto-smart-card-technology-for-paying-public-transit-fares-has-disability-barriers/
- All the while, we continued to expand our non-partisan coalition’s network, offered advice to the Government and opposition parties on accessibility issues, and took our message to the media and the public in many different forums.
3. How We Will Make our Updates More Helpful For You
You can expect that at times over the next weeks and months, we will be sending out more than one updates in a week, while at other times, a week can go by with no updates. That all depends on how much news we have to share.
We design our updates to help you, whether you have lots of time to read them through, or just a moment or two to glance at them. For those of you who are very busy, don’t be scared off when we have more than one updates in a week. Each update has a short headline in the email’s subject field, and at the top of the update. Feel free to just read the headline, if that is all you have time for. After the headline, we provide a brief summary, for those who have a bit more time to read on. For those eager to get the entire story in all its detail, we will follow the summary with more in-depth information. We hope you find this helpful.
We urge you to pass our updates on to others, and to encourage others to sign up for our updates.
Finally, we are trying out a new avenue for sending you our emails. Let us know if you have any problems receiving them. You can always write us at: firstname.lastname@example.org