Accessibility Services Canada CEO, Constance Exley, co-wrote an article for the Insurance Brokers Association of Ontario’s June issue of “The Ontario Broker“. In this article we talk about the business imperative for being accessible.
Our main streets have a variety of accessibility barriers that prevent customers and community members with disabilities from accessing all the spaces they need and want. Accessibility Services Canada and the Ontario BIA Association (OBIAA) are hosting community conversations around the province to identify main street and public space accessibility barriers and solutions.
These forums will inform the development of a new handbook that aims to assist BIAs, businesses, property owners and local governments to tackle these built environment accessibility barriers together. Common main street and public space barriers will be identified and practical and applied solutions offered.
Who should attend these sessions?
Toronto: September 20, 2018 at 12:00-3:00pm
St. Thomas: October 30, 2018 at 5:00-8:00pm
Hamilton: November 19, 2018 at 5:30-8:30pm
Huntsville: November 21,2018 at 11:30am-2:00pm
Accessibility Services Canada has been working with the Ontario BIA Association (OBIAA) since 2012 to help BIAs and their 60,000 business members become more accessible. “Accessibility on Main Street” is the third year-long project that Accessibility Services Canada has designed and delivered for OBIAA, with funding from the government’s EnAbling Change Program.
On August 29th, the Ontario Human Rights Commission (OHRC) released its new Policy on accessible education for students with disabilities, along with recommendations on how to best meet legal obligations under Ontario’s Human Rights Code.
The recommendations set out actions the government, schools and post-secondary institutions should take to make the education system inclusive, function effectively and allow students with disabilities to thrive.
In June 2018, the World Wide Web Consortium issued an expanded version of the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (“WCAG”) 2.0, adding 17 new success criteria. The new criteria, called the WCAG 2.1, is an extension of the WCAG 2.0 standards and updates include ones relating to mobile devices; disabilities that affect vision, such as low vision; and disabilities that affect cognitive function, such as attention deficit disorder and age-related cognitive decline.
On October 15th, we are hosting a 45-minute webinar that will cover the recent changes to the WCAG and outline the aspects that will and will not change as a result of this refresh. Participants will gain knowledge about the goals of the new standard and the 17 new success criteria that have been added to the standard to support these goals.
More than 600,000 people in B.C. have disabilities and advocates in the province have been working hard to bring the barriers found in buildings and public spaces, employment, information and communication technologies and transportation to the attention of the government – and it’s worked. The B.C. government will begin detailing a provincial accessibility act in the fall and held a first reading of Bill M 219, the British Columbia Accessibility Act, 2018, in May.
Leading the charge in B.C. is a group of volunteers from across the province who call their campaign Barrier-Free BC. They are thrilled that the Province of British Columbia is on its way to becoming the 5th Canadian jurisdiction to enact accessibility rights legislation – joining Ontario (2005), Manitoba (2013), Nova Scotia (2017), as well as the federal government which introduced Bill C-81, known as the Accessible Canada Act, last month (more on this in our next blog post).
Accessibility advocates across Canada are clear that there is a need for both provincial and federal legislation. The federal government says its legislation will “identify, remove and prevent” accessibility barriers in a variety of areas but those requirements will only apply to Parliament, government of Canada agencies, federally regulated private sector (transportation, broadcasting, telecommunications and finance), Canadian Forces and the RCMP. The accessibility of provincially regulated organizations, such as local businesses, nonprofits, and municipal governments, is left to the oversight of each individual province.
This spring, the B.C. government declared May 28, 2018 as Rick Hansen Day and announced a $10-million grant to help the Rick Hansen Foundation make “communities more accessible and inclusive.” With that funding, the Foundation is conducting free accessibility ratings of approximately 1,100 commercial, institutional, and multi-unit residential buildings and sites within BC. Once rated, these organizations can apply for funding of up to $20,000 to complete an accessibility improvement project.
Permission to Reprint
You are welcome to reprint all or part of this article. Please include the credit: “Reprinted with permission from Accessibility Services Canada. The original article published on July 18, 2018 can be found here.”
Province Selects The Honourable David C. Onley to Review Ontario’s Accessibility Laws – Ontario Continues to Make Progress toward Becoming a Barrier-free Province
Ontario has appointed the Honourable David C. Onley to conduct the third review of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA).
The reviewer will consult with the public and will analyze accessibility progress made in other jurisdictions. The review will be completed by the end of 2018 and will consider the evolution of the current AODA and its goals for an accessible Ontario by 2025 and beyond.
David C. Onley is a former broadcast journalist. He served as the 28th Lieutenant Governor of Ontario from 2007 to 2014, and was the first person with a physical disability in the role. He has consulted on accessibility in the private and public sector, including as Special Advisor on Accessibility. Mr. Onley has been inducted into the Canadian Disability Hall of Fame and was named to the Order of Canada in 2017.
Ensuring that everyone in Ontario can contribute to their community and achieve their goals is part of Ontario’s plan to create fairness and opportunity during this period of rapid economic change. The plan includes a higher minimum wage and better working conditions, free tuition for hundreds of thousands of students, easier access to affordable child care, and free prescription drugs for everyone under 25 through the biggest expansion of medicare in a generation.