By Miranda Chant
February 3, 2017
Archived videos of London city council and committee meetings will be restored to the city’s website and YouTube channel.
In a special council meeting held Friday afternoon, councillors unanimously voted in favour of staff re-posting the videos, which were removed earlier this week over fears they violated the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA).
City Manager Art Zuidema told council, staff have now checked with the Accessibility Directorate of Ontario, local accessibility advocates, and obtained a second legal opinion on the matter. Through those channels, they found even though the videos lack closed-captioning for the hearing impaired, they are in compliance with the AODA regulations and can be restored.
“Our approach was perhaps more cautious than it needed to be. The levity given by that office is a levity in our favour,” Zuidema told councillors at the meeting.
Zuidema also noted that the accessibility directorate wants to work with organizations with fines limited to those that are very uncooperative.
“We were really happy with the connectivity. I personally wasn’t involved in those discussions but I have spoken with people that did and that office seems to be very reasonable,” said Zuidema. “I think they have a very progressive approach to working with organizations to comply. We all want to make our material accessible to the public.”
Public education videos were restored online immediately following the meeting. Videos of political debates were expected to take more time to repost, with the hope being they would reappear by early next week.
Zuidema said that some of the videos will still be without closed-captioning.
“Some will be and some won’t. But to the extent that they aren’t closed-captioned, if there are individuals in the community that would like closed-captioning for a particular video, they can certainly request that,” said Zuidema.
Councillor Jesse Helmer was among several councillors who voiced concerns over what has been described as the city’s overreaction to the situation.
“We did not handle this in the greatest manner. Hopefully we can avoid that in the future,” said Helmer.
Council briefly debated going behind closed doors to review a six-page legal report on the matter. They ultimately decided to receive the information to go over at a later date.
“The legal information is going to go to the appropriate standing committee,” said Councillor Josh Mogran. “At this point, I am not contemplating any reason why we wouldn’t release what the legal advice was in public. The public should be able to know the status of our videos, why we consider ourselves compliant, it’s a very important piece of the communication.”