August 6, 2015
On the eve of the Toronto 2015 ParaPan American Games, and despite Wynne Government claims that these will be “The Most Accessible Parapan Am Games Ever,” the Toronto 2015 website inexcusably lacks full and proper accessibility for people with disabilities, such as people with vision loss. For years, blind people have been able to surf the web, track sports events and shop online, so long as websites incorporate internationally-recognized accessibility features. These ensure that adaptive technologies let their computer read aloud the text information displayed on their computer or smart phone screen, or transmit it to a portable Braille display.
“Even though the Toronto 2015 organization has known its website fell short on accessibility for at least two months, these failings have not been properly fixed even on the eve of the ParaPan American Games,” said David Lepofsky, chair of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance which has waged an uphill, two-year campaign to ensure proper accessibility in connection with the Toronto 2015 Games for 1.8 million Ontarians with disabilities, and one billion potential tourists with disabilities around the world.
“This is palpably unfair, Said Lepofsky. “Website accessibility is the law. We’re told that disability accessibility is a top priority for these Games, but this kind of inaction speaks far louder than those soothing words.”
The Toronto 2015 website’s accessibility problems make it hard to find out all that the website has to offer about the Games and surrounding events, and to independently buy tickets. This is a cruel irony for three reasons:
First, the 2015 ParaPan American Games focus public attention on the capabilities of people with disabilities, and the importance of their full and equal inclusion in society. Something as basic as ensuring the Toronto 2015 website’s full accessibility is a bedrock requirement for full inclusion and participation.
Second, the Wynne Government claims it is Number One in the world on advancing disability accessibility – a claim which flies in the face of the 2014 findings of a Government-appointed Independent Review of Ontario’s accessibility law. That Review found that after ten years on the books, Ontario’s 2005 accessibility law hasn’t made a significant impact on the lives of Ontarians with disabilities. How can Ontario claim to be Number One in the world with such a glaring failure as is demonstrated to the world by the Toronto 2015 website?
Third, this weekend, the Wynne Government launches a 3-day “Accessibility Innovation Showcase,” to coincide with the ParaPan Am Games, and to celebrate the 10th anniversary of Ontario’s accessibility law. Visit http://www.techvibes.com/event/accessibility-innovation-showcase
Yet as far as accessibility innovation goes, it is an embarrassment in front of a world audience when Ontario doesn’t even ensure that the Toronto 2015 website is fully accessible and easy for people with disabilities to use.
Earlier this summer, we revealed that the Toronto 2015 iPhone app also lacked the most basic disability accessibility. The Toronto 2015 organization took limited steps to reduce (but not eliminate) those barriers, but only after Global TV News made this its evening news broadcast’s top story on June 19, 2015. Visit http://www.www.aodaalliance.org/whats-new/new2015/two-preventable-accessibility-problems-facing-tourists-with-disabilities-already-surfaced-for-the-toronto-2015-panparapan-american-games-the-media-had-to-shine-a-spotlight-on-them-before-th/
Blind information technology expert David Best (who also happens to be a member of the Ontario Government-appointed Accessibility Standards Advisory Council) has prepared two excellent videos that show problems when trying to use the Toronto 2015 website with a “screen-reading” program which people with vision loss widely use to surf the web:
To watch David Best’s 13-minute video about accessibility problems facing a blind person, using adaptive technology to use the Toronto 2015 website, visit https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_84trN93GjE&feature=youtu.be
To watch David Best’s 20-minute video showing accessibility problems when trying to buy tickets to Toronto 2015 competitions via the Toronto 2015 website, visit https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KMD7sHHdw0g&feature=youtu.be
On June 9, 2015, Ms. Naki Osutei of the Toronto 2015 organization, responding to David Best’s concerns with the Toronto 2015’s website accessibility, acknowledged in an email that there were such accessibility problems, stating:
“Thank you for the concerns you have outlined. We have been working hard to find ways to address a range of accessibility needs and have considered the digital communication needs of blind persons. We are currently working to correct issues with our website as an example.”
The Toronto 2015 organization has asked the AODA Alliance chair to speak with Ticketmaster about accessibility concerns with online ticket purchasing.
To see a detailed “Reality Check” on the Wynne Government’s exaggerated claim that these will be the most accessible ParaPan Am Games ever, in its August 4, 2015 news release.
To read our analysis of the June 2, 2015 letter to the AODA Alliance from the Toronto 2015 Games Deputy Minister Drew Fagan, which further shows the Government didn’t plan for a Games legacy of increased tourism/hospitality accessibility.