January 8, 2016
1. There Is Still Time to Tell the Wynne Government If You Share Our Concerns with Troubling Proposed Changes to Accessibility Standards in Place in Ontario
Here’s some good news: The Wynne Government decided to extend to January 15, 2016 the deadline for the public to send it feedback on the very troubling package of changes it is proposing to make to the Customer Service Accessibility Standard and the Integrated Accessibility Standards Regulation. It originally set that deadline as December 31, 2015. That was right in the middle of the holiday season when few are focused on the content of accessibility standards.
Please take advantage of this extension! The Government’s proposed changes have real problems. They also do very little if anything to improve the accessibility of Customer Service for people with disabilities in Ontario.
If you have not already done so, please take a minute to send the Government an email giving your feedback. If you don’t have much time, it would be great if you just send a one-sentence email that says you support the AODA Alliance’s December 3, 2015 submission on the Government’s proposed changes. Although it is better (if you have more time) to use your own words, feel free to just say:
I support the feedback on the Government’s proposed changes to the Customer Service Accessibility Standard and the Integrated Accessibility Standards Regulation that the AODA Alliance included in its December 3, 2015 submission.
Here’s the bad news: The Wynne Government has decided not to publicize the fact that it extended this deadline. To us, this makes no sense. It is out of touch with the Government’s promise to work together with the disability community. It contradicts Premier Wynne’s promises to make the Ontario Government the most open and transparent government in Canada.
The Government did not even give the AODA Alliance the heads up that it had extended this deadline, even though we had taken a lead role last fall in pressing the Government to extend it. e only heard about this extension from others through the grapevine. We then emailed the Government to find out if it was in fact extended, and if so, what the Government was doing to announce the extension. AODA Alliance Chair David Lepofsky received an email on January 4, 2016 from the senior public official within the Ontario Public Service responsible for the AODA’s implementation and enforcement, Ann Hoy. She wrote:
“The Government made a short extension to the public comment period as a courtesy given the posting was to expire over the holiday period, and in consideration of the feedback received to that effect from some stakeholders. Formal communication to stakeholders was not made at this time, however, the posting remains open until January 15, 2016. We are in the process of notifying those stakeholders that requested an extension of the new closing date.
In addition we did receive the AODA Alliance’s comments on December 3, 2015 and are reviewing the content. Thank you for your comments and we will ensure that the Alliance’s feedback is taken into consideration.
Assistant Deputy Minister
Accessibility Directorate of Ontario
Ministry of Economic Development, Employment and Infrastructure
Ministry of Research and Innovation
This is not the first time that we have had to press the Government for extensions of such deadlines. In at least some if not all past instances, the Government let us know when it extended such deadlines at our request.
The AODA Alliance’s December 3, 2015 submission includes the Government’s actual proposals, what’s wrong with them, and what we recommend to make useful changes to the Customer Service Accessibility Standard. You can download the AODA Alliance’s December 3, 2015 submission on the Government’s proposed amendments to the Customer Service Accessibility Standard and the Integrated Accessibility Standards Regulation.
If you don’t have time to read our whole submission, don’t worry. We set out a short and sweet summary of it, below.
2. Help Us Launch New Grassroots Action Around Ontario – Attend an Accessibility Action Public Forum in Kingston On January 22, 2016 and Plan Accessibility Action Forums in Your Community
We are eager to get even more grassroots action going on around Ontario to press for more action on accessibility. We want to get Ontario’s Wynne Government to move far more quickly and boldly on accessibility. We also want to mobilize action to press the new federal Trudeau Government to ensure that the promised Canadians with Disabilities Act will be strong, effective and fully enforced.
Would you like to host an Accessibility Action Public Forum in your community? Reach out to the AODA Alliance to provide ideas, speakers and publicity. Just write us at firstname.lastname@example.org
We are especially eager for universities and community colleges to swing into action on this. We are delighted that Queens University in Kingston is helping blaze the trail forward. Queens will host an Accessibility action Public Forum for anyone in the Kingston Area on Friday, January 22, 2016, from 1 to 3 pm. The keynote speaker will be AODA Alliance chair and Barrier-Free Canada co-chair David Lepofsky.
We encourage you to attend, if you are in the area. If not why not encourage people you know in the Kingston area to attend. While you are at it, we’d be ecstatic if you could plan and host such an event in your community. Our elected politicians need to hear from you!
Below please find the Queens ad posted on line for the Queens event. It is a great example you can borrow from when organizing your own event.
3. Much More Accessibility News Coming Your Way soon
We have so much more news to report to you. Stay tuned to upcoming AODA Alliance Updates, which will be coming more frequently over the next days and weeks. We hope everyone had a great holiday and will enjoy a barrier-free new year.
You can always send your feedback to us on any AODA and accessibility issue at email@example.com
To sign up for, or unsubscribe from AODA Alliance e-mail updates, write to: firstname.lastname@example.org
We encourage you to use the Government’s toll-free number for reporting AODA violations. We fought long and hard to get the Government to promise this, and later to deliver on that promise. If you encounter any accessibility problems at any large retail establishments, it will be especially important to report them to the Government via that toll-free number. Call 1-866-515-2025.
Please pass on our email Updates to your family and friends.
Why not subscribe to the AODA Alliance’s YouTube channel, so you can get immediate alerts when we post new videos on our accessibility campaign.
Please “like” our Facebook page and share our updates.
Follow us on Twitter. Get others to follow us. And please re-tweet our tweets!! @AODAAlliance
Please also join the campaign for a strong and effective Canadians with Disabilities Act, spearheaded by Barrier-Free Canada. The AODA Alliance is the Ontario affiliate of Barrier-Free Canada. Sign up for Barrier-Free Canada updates by emailing info@BarrierFreeCanada.org
Summary of the AODA Alliance’s December 3, 2015 Submission to the Wynne Government on Proposed Changes to the Customer Service Accessibility Standard and the Integrated Accessibility Standards Regulation
1. The Government’s proposed changes to the 2007 Customer Service Accessibility Standard are far too inadequate to meaningfully improve that weak accessibility standard. As well, they include unwarranted cutbacks that are both harmful to people with disabilities, and violate the Government’s promises to people with disabilities.
2. The Government does not even say it aims to strengthen the weak and inadequate 2007 Customer Service Accessibility Standard. Its goals here are far too tepid.
3. The Government’s proposal would break Premier Wynne’s promise never to weaken AODA provisions or protections. This is because some of the Government’s proposed revisions would further weaken an already-weak accessibility standard.
4. The Government wrongly proposes to perpetuate an unlawful provision in the Customer Service Accessibility Standard, a provision which instead should be removed.
5. The Government improperly proposes changes to the 2011 Integrated Accessibility Standards Regulation without following the AODA’s mandatory legal accessibility standard amendment process for which we fought so hard, and won in 2005. It is trying to slip through in 2015 the same amendments it tried in 2012 without following the AODA’s mandatory process for amending an accessibility standard. It wisely backed down in 2012, after we raised this concern. It should not try again in 2015 what it wrongly tried in 2012. The AODA provides a proper and workable way to make the changes the Government wants to consider.
6. The Government proposes a counter-productive backwards step regarding customer feedback on accessibility barriers in an organization’s goods, services or facilities.
7. The Government Proposes cosmetic packaging changes that will make no difference for achieving accessibility for people with disabilities, or whose impact is insufficiently clear to be assuredly harmless.
8. The Government proposes some minor improvements that, though helpful, won’t significantly strengthen the Customer Service Accessibility Standard.
9. The Government should reconsider and make needed improvements to the Customer Service Accessibility Standard that it so far has disregarded or rejected.
10. The Government should now launch a short, focused and inclusive consultation with stakeholders from all sectors, meeting together to develop meaningful improvements to the 2007 Customer Service Accessibility Standard.
Announcement of Kingston Area Accessibility Action Public Forum Hosted by Queens University
Originally posted at http://www.queensu.ca/accessibility/accessibility-cafe-david-lepofsky
Accessibility Café – Ramping Up Stalled Action in Ontario on Disability Accessibility
Presented by: Accessibility Queen’s and the Equity Office.
When: Friday January 22, 2016 1:00pm-3:00pm
Where: Robert Sutherland Hall, Room 202
Would you like to help over 1.8 million Ontarians with disabilities tear down the many accessibility barriers that impede them from getting full access to jobs, public transit, education and all that Ontario has to offer its residents? We encourage all to attend. This Café is open to the general public and all in the Queen’s community (students, staff, and faculty). We want you to come, whether you have a disability, or know someone who has a disability, or could get a disability later in life. That includes everyone!
David Lepofsky, life-long disability rights advocate, blind lawyer, and chair of the non-partisan grassroots Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance. He is also co-chair of Barrier-Free Canada, a non-partisan coalition now campaigning to win the Canadians with Disabilities Act. From 1994 to 2005, David Lepofsky led the fight to win enactment of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA). In the early 1980s, he took active part in successful campaigns to get disability equality included in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and the Ontario Human Rights Code. He is now a visiting professor of legal ethics and public interest advocacy at the Osgoode Hall Law School.
“It was through grassroots public forums and meetings like this that we won the enactment of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act in 2005, and it will be through these kinds of events, and the tenacious energy that bursts from them, that we will get Ontario back on schedule for full accessibility,” says David Lepofsky. “Each person can help, and we’ll give you the action tips so you can quickly make a real difference.”
At this Café you can:
•Learn what progress has been made in Ontario, and why Ontario is lagging behind schedule for reaching full accessibility by 2025, the deadline that Ontario law requires.
•Find out about the campaign for the Canadians with Disabilities Act, a national law which Canadians with disabilities promised by the Federal Government.
•Explore the priorities for action on accessibility in the next months.
•Share your experience with accessibility barriers.
•Find out how you can get involved, and help the cause, while meeting others who are fired up about this important issue!
RSVP: Please RSVP to email@example.com or 613-533-6000 ext 75734.
Learn more at: www.www.aodaalliance.org and www.barrierfreecanada.org
Follow on Twitter: @aodaalliance @DavidLepofsky @barrierFreeCa
Queen’s University is committed to accessibility for persons with disabilities. Please contact us if you have any particular accessibility requirements at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 613-533-6000 ext 75734.
The venue is wheelchair accessible, American Sign Language Interpreters and Access Champions will be in attendance. After the event, a captioned video will be posted online.
(613) 533-6000 x75734