The AODA Clock is Ticking

There are until a fully Accessible Ontario! Will you be compliant?

Let our team of experts help with your AODA needs:

  • Website Audits
  • Multimedia
  • Web Design
  • Accessible Documentation

For more details email info@aoda.ca

What is the Latest Word on Progress That the Ontario Government has Made Towards Implementing the AODA, Across the Board and in the Area of Information Technology?

June 29, 2012

SUMMARY

What progress has the Ontario Government made towards implementing the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act? What progress has it specifically made in the area of making information technology accessible for persons with disabilities in this province?

On May 24, 2012, the Ontario College of Art and Design University and especially its amazing Inclusive Design Research Centre (IDRC) hosted an impressive international conference in Toronto on promoting accessibility in information technology. An entire panel was devoted to the accessible information technology features in Ontario’s new Integrated Accessibility Regulation, enacted last year. At this conference, we learned more through public presentations about measures the Ontario Government has taken to implement the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act. In those speeches, we also learned more about their efforts in the area of making information technology accessible to persons with disabilities.

We set out below the speaking notes for three presentations at that program. The first two speeches were presented by officials of the Ontario Government. These provide the most recent and detailed public accounting of the Government’s work on implementing the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act in this area:

1. Ellen Waxman, the Assistant Deputy Minister of Community and Social Services, responsible for the Accessibility Directorate of Ontario. She has lead responsibility for the Government’s efforts at implementing the AODA across Ontario, e.g. by developing accessibility standards.
2. Matthew Rempel, Special Advisor to the Chief Officer for Diversity and Accessibility in the Ontario Public Service, explaining what the Ontario Public Service is doing to make itself accessible.
3. AODA Alliance Chair David Lepofsky. He gave a view of these activities from the perspective of the community.

In the case of Ms. Waxman’s presentation, what we have been given is the text of her PowerPoint slides marked up with speaking notes. In the case of Mr. Rempel and Mr. Lepofsky’s speeches, we have a rough transcript that has been edited somewhat. These are not perfectly verbatim but are helpful. You can also listen to an on-line audio playback of David Lepofsky’s presentation at the May 24, 2012 DEEP conference by visiting http://db.tt/xIRCykeU

Below, before these speeches themselves, we provide a three page summary of the highlights of the first two presentations, those by Ms. Waxman and Mr. Rempel. We summarize news in areas like future accessibility standards, and enforcement of the AODA.

Send us your feedback. Write to us at aodafeedback@gmail.com

MORE DETAILS

We flag the following news and highlights from the Ontario Government for you as you read these speeches:

* The biggest news for the future was Ms. Waxman’s announcement that the Government is hoping to announce a new structure for a process for developing new accessibility standards under the AODA. In 2010, the Charles Beer Independent Review of the AODA recommended that instead of creating a separate Standards Development Committee for each new accessibility standard to be developed, the Government should appoint a single body to develop all new accessibility standards. We have endorsed that proposal, so long as there are no amendments to the AODA itself. We don’t want the Legislature re-opening that legislation. Ms. Waxman’s encouraging announcement does not provide any specifics on what the Government plans to do, but note that an announcement should be in the near future. She also said the hope is that it would be in place before any new standards are developed, or existing ones are reviewed. Under the AODA, the Government must appoint a Standards Development Committee to review the Customer Service Accessibility Standard in 2013, which is five years after that standard was enacted.

Ms. Waxman’s remarks included:
“• From a public policy perspective, the process was considered leading edge and innovative as it brought all interests to the table through a consensus-building approach to develop the standards
• However there were many challenges in this process. In fact, the first independent review of the AODA in 2010, recommended the current process be replaced with one committee or board that would oversee the development of any future standards and the reviews of existing ones
• We are hoping to implement a new structure in the near future before any new standards are developed or reviews conducted of existing ones”

Later, under the heading “What’s Next,” her remarks included:
“Establishment of new process for developing Accessibility Standards”

And still later:
“• We will be establishing new processes and structures for developing accessibility standards in the future”

* Ms. Waxman stated that 100%of public sector organizations were reporting compliance with the Customer Service Accessibility Standard. At first, this information sounds very encouraging. However, on a closer look, it is far less compelling. All it means is that all public sector organizations have filed reports with the Ontario Government saying that they are in compliance with that Customer Service Accessibility Standard. An organization self-declaring that they are in compliance with that standard does not independently confirm that that organization has in fact fully complied with that standard.

On this issue, Ms. Waxman’s presentation included:
“Designated public sector organizations were required to comply by January 1, 2010.
• These include the Ontario Government, municipalities in Ontario, schools, hospitals, colleges and universities
• We are pleased to report that a 100% of BPS Organizations have reported their compliance with the customer service standard.”

Later, under progress to date, she stated: “100% compliance within the broader public sector”

* Ms. Waxman announced that expected within a month of that presentation (which was delivered on May 24, 2012), the Ontario Government would have a series of on-line resources to help organizations comply with the standards, including the Integrated Accessibility Regulation. One month later, these are still not yet posted on line. We have been very concerned that it has been over a year since the Integrated Accessibility Regulation was enacted. Organizations that want to comply with it have not to date been provided much-needed on-line tools like these to help them do so. The Charles Beer Independent Review of the AODA, made public over two years ago, had emphasized the need for expanded public education on the AODA. The Government’s unjustified protracted delay in making available these resources for organizations that want to comply with the new Integrated Accessibility Regulation flies in the face of that recommendation. It further delays Ontario’s progress towards the mandatory goal of full accessibility by 2025.

Ms. Waxman’s presentation included:
“We are currently working on a number of compliance assistance tools and resources that should be posted within the next month. These include:
• Compliance Wizard Tool that will assist organizations with compliance (ie. What they need to do by when)
• Policy guidelines developed on the IASR to help organizations comply. We expect the wizard and the guidelines to be posted within the next month.
• How-to guides and resources”

* We have for quite some time been pressing the Government to ramp up its enforcement of the AODA. In the last provincial election, Premier McGuinty renewed his Government’s commitment to effective enforcement of the AODA in his August 19, 2011 election platform letter to us.

Ms. Waxman’s remarks included references to enforcement as follows:
“• Now I’d like to talk a little bit about our approach to compliance
• Our main focus is on compliance assistance and what we can do to help organizations comply
• We want to work with organizations to help them comply with the accessibility standards.
• However, if organizations remain non-compliant, or refuse to comply, the AODA allows for progressive enforcement measures through Directors Orders, penalties and court-ordered fines.
• For example, an organization guilty of an offence under the AODA can face penalties of $15,000 up to a maximum total of $100,000.
• Additionally, Fines may be issued by a provincial court if a person or organization is found guilty of specific “offences” under the AODA. The court may issue daily fines of up to $100,000 for corporations.
• Organizations do have the right to appeal penalties or fines issued through a tribunal”

Later, under the heading “What’s Next”:
“• Implementing all aspects of AODA inspection and enforcement regime (January 1, 2013)”

* In the remarks of Matthew Rempel, Special Advisor to the Chief Officer for Diversity and Accessibility, Mr. Rempel explained in some detail how the Ontario Government is working on incorporating accessibility into a wide range of different government activities across a very large organization. These ideas can be useful for other organizations, and especially other large organizations in the public and private sectors. For example, he described the commendable strategy of “accessibility at source.” This involves trying to get accessibility built into government decisions as early as possible, so that barriers are prevented before they happen. This avoids the added burdens that arise if an organization only tries to tack on accessibility much later in the process of developing or operating a new program, policy or other major activity.

*****

DEEP 2012 – Designing Enabling Economies and Policies. A G3ict International Inquiry on ICT Accessibility hosted by OCAD University with the support of the Province of Ontario
Location: OCAD University, Auditorium (Room 190), 100 McCaul St., Toronto

FIRST PRESENTATION

The AODA and the Information and Communications Standard
Ellen Waxman, Assistant Deputy Minister, Accessibility Directorate of Ontario
DEEP 2012, May 24, 2012

Slide 1
The Journey of the AODA
(Image of a tree-lined country road)
Speaking Notes:
• I’d like to spend my time talking about the journey of the AODA over the past 7 years. There’s a lot to go over, so my presentation is fairly high level – hope there’s lots of time for discussion.
• I use the word ‘journey’ because it has been a long road, but a successful one, where we have achieved many successes along the way
• And with the help of many, many people. The development of the standards directly involved about 250 people as well as thousands of comments through several public reviews
• I’ll talk a little bit more about our stakeholders and partners later in the presentation

Slide 2
An Overview of the AODA
• The Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) was passed in 2005
• Goal: An accessible Ontario by 2025
• Accessibility standards completed or being developed in key areas of daily living
Speaking Notes:
• The AODA passed in 2005.
• Unusual in the province of Ontario, it passed unanimously by all three parties.
• The goal of the AODA is an accessible Ontario by 2025 through the development of accessibility standards in key areas of daily life.

Slide 3
The 5 Accessibility Standards
• Customer Service
• Information and Communication
• Employment
• Transportation
• Built Environment (Under development)
Speaking Notes:
• There are five Accessibility Standards that have been developed, or will be developed:
• Customer service
• Information & communications
• Employment
• Transportation
• Built environment
• The Accessibility Standard for Customer Service Regulation into came into effect in 2010 for the public sector, and 2012 for the private sector
• And the Integrated Accessibility Standards Regulation, or IASR, combines the next three standards into one regulation. This came into effect last summer.
• Implementation is being phased in over the next several years with reporting at regular intervals
• The built environment standard is currently in development and has two aspects – areas that fall under the scope of the Ontario building code and areas related to public spaces such as parks, playgrounds, trails and parking
• I’ll talk a little more about the specific requirements of the I&C standard later in a few minutes.

Slide 4
Progress on the Customer Service Regulation:
• Designated public sector organizations were required to comply by January 1, 2010
• 100% of organizations have submitted reports indicating their compliance
• Private and not-for-profit sector organizations (approximately 360,000 orgs) must comply by January 1, 2012
• Those with 20+ employees (approximately 60,000) must also report compliance online
Speaking Notes:
• First, to give you an update on the progress of the customer service regulation:
• Designated public sector organizations were required to comply by January 1, 2010.
• These include the Ontario Government, municipalities in Ontario, schools, hospitals, colleges and universities
• We are pleased to report that a 100% of BPS Organizations have reported their compliance with the customer service standard.
• Approximately 360,000 organizations in the private and non-profit sector must comply by January 1, 2012.
• Of these, approximately 60,000 organizations must file a compliance report by December 31, 2012
• We see customer service as being the foundation and culture change component of all of the standards. The training requirements mean that millions of Ontarians will receive training in accessible customer service.

Slide 5
ODA vs AODA (Planning vs. Accessibility Standards)
Speaking Notes:
• Prior to the AODA, there was the Ontarians with Disabilities Act (ODA)
• ODA is about planning
• AODA is about Accessibility Standards and enforcement
• The AODA came into being as a result of intense lobbying from activists who felt that the ODA had no teeth and little substance. Had it not been for the work of the AODA Alliance, it is probably safe to say there would not be an AODA.

Slide 6
Ontarians with Disabilities Act, 2001 (ODA)
• Accessibility planning for government and broader public sector
• No standards; limited enforcement
• Still in effect
Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, 2005 (AODA)
• Provides for enforceable standards with timelines for compliance in accessing goods, services, buildings and employment
• Standards will foster integrating accessibility into regular business and capital planning
• Accessible standards will apply to both private sector and BPS
Speaking Notes:
ODA:
• Only applies to government and broader public sector
• There are no standards
• And no enforcement provisions
• The ODA is still in effect and will be repealed sometime in the future
AODA:
• Provides for enforceable standards with timelines for compliance in accessing goods, services, buildings and employment
• Standards foster integrating accessibility into regular business and capital planning cycles. The government has not provided funding for the implementation of the AODA and chose a timeframe of 20 years for full implementation so that organizations would have time to plan.
• Accessibility standards apply to both private sector and the broader public sector
• Every organization in Ontario with one or more employees has obligations under the AODA
• Important to note that the AODA is to be independently reviewed on a regular basis. As well, each standard is to be reviewed every five years.

Slide 7
The Context for Change
(Image of a person in a wheelchair boarding a GO train)

Slide 8
1 in 7
Speaking Notes:
Currently, there are approximately 1 in 7 people in Ontario with a disability; that’s roughly 1.85 million people, or 15.5% of Ontario’s population

Slide 9
1 in 5 within 20 years
Speaking Notes:
As the population ages, the number of Ontarians with a disability will increase to 1 in 5 within 20 years, as will the need for accessibility.

Slide 10
Context For Change
• It promises to transform lives by opening up opportunities previously di?cult for many to access
• The unemployment rate is 3 times greater for a person with a disability
• By 2017 seniors will account for a larger share of the population than children under 14
Speaking Notes:
• Improving accessibility opens up opportunities for people now and in the future in all areas of life.
• The unemployment rate is 3 times greater for a person with a disability.
• By 2017, for the first time, seniors will account for a larger share of the population than children aged 14 and under.

Slide 11
Canada’s leader in accessibility
First in the world to mandate accessibility instead of react to complaints
(Image of a globe with a callout showing accessibility in Ontario)
Speaking Notes:
• To the best of our knowledge, Ontario is the first jurisdiction in the world to mandate accessibility reporting, instead of react to complaints
• This means that organizations are required by law to submit reports to the government indicating compliance
• The AODA puts the onus on the organization to comply, by requiring organizations to take a proactive approach, it minimizes the burden on an individual to have to file a human rights complaint.

Slide 12
Canada’s Leader in Accessibility
• First in the world that requires staff to be trained on accessibility
• First in Canada with a clear goal and a time frame in which to meet that goal
Speaking Notes:
• Ontario is the first in the world that requires staff to be trained on accessibility
• Also, the first in Canada with a clear goal and a time frame in which to meet that goal

Slide 13
Why Accessibility?
An Investment in Future Prosperity
Speaking Notes:
• Increased accessibility means a more educated workforce
• A more educated workforce means an increase in workforce participation.
• This will become increasingly important as organizations attempt to keep up with labour market shortages and an aging workforce.

Slide 14
Increased Revenue Over 5 Years
Tourism:
• $700 million to $1.6 billion
• 3% – 7% increase in visits
Retail:
• $3.8 to $9.6 billion
Speaking Notes:
• In 2009, the Martin Prosperity Institute conducted a study looking at potential economic benefits from implementing accessibility standards.
• The study indicated that Ontario could see an estimated $700 million to $1.6 billion increase in tourism expenditures, which is an estimated 3 to 7% increase in the number of tourist visits to the province.
• Additionally, the study found that the implementation of accessibility standards could result in an estimated $3.8 to $9.6 billion increase in retail sales in Ontario.

Slide 15
Why Accessibility?
Accessibility Benefits Everyone
Speaking Notes:
Accessibility not only helps people with disabilities, it benefits seniors, families traveling with young children, shoppers and visitors with luggage.

Slide 16
Setting the Stage
(Image of a man with a physical disability and his support person being welcomed into an accessible theatre)
Speaking Notes:
• Now I’ll talk a little bit about the standards development process and what it involved.

Slide 17
Standards Development Committees
• 50% Person with disabilities
• 50% Representatives of business, industry and economic sectors
• Government representatives participated as observers
Speaking Notes:
• Accessibility Standards were developed by Standards Development Committees with representation from the disability community, industry, business, and non-profit organizations.
• Committees were comprised of 50% representation from persons with disabilities and 50% representation from other sectors
• Government representatives participated as observers

Slide 18
Standards Development Committees
• Inclusive and comprehensive public review process.
• Government maintained the ability to accept, or reject, in whole, or in part, any of the recommendations.
• Current standards reflect intent of the recommendations.
Speaking Notes
• Once the committees developed the initial standards, they were shared for public review and comment. Following the review and comment period, the SDC submitted its final proposed standard to government.
• Government maintained the ability to accept, or reject, in whole, or in part, any of the recommendations
• Current accessibility standards that are in place reflect the intent of the SDC recommendations

Slide 19
Successful Outcome
(An image of a seesaw balancing both viewpoints)
Broad Policy Development
• Complex cross-cutting policy work
• Varying community requirements
• Disability needs
• Financial impacts
• Cumulative impact
Relationship Management
• Entrenched and opposing viewpoints
• Competing expectations
• Cross-ministry impacts
• Lack of trust
• Strained relations
Speaking Notes:
• From a public policy perspective, the process was considered leading edge and innovative as it brought all interests to the table through a consensus-building approach to develop the standards
• However there were many challenges in this process. In fact, the first independent review of the AODA in 2010, recommended the current process be replaced with one committee or board that would oversee the development of any future standards and the reviews of existing ones
• We are hoping to implement a new structure in the near future before any new standards are developed or reviews conducted of existing ones

Slide 20
Video about the Standards Development process.
• The video is about 3 minutes long
• There are 4 people interviewed in this video
• Mary Kardos-Burton (Chair of IC and Built SDC)
• Brenda Lewis (Former Director, ADO)
• Pina D’Intino (member of I&C SDC)
• Warren Rupnarain (member of the Built Environment SDC)
• They speak briefly about their experience in the standards development process.

Slide 21
The Standards
(Image of an Accessible Customer Service Training session)
Speaking Notes:
• So now I’ll talk a little bit about the accessibility standards themselves..

Slide 22
Accessibility Standards
• Accessibility Standard for Customer Service Regulation
• Integrated Accessibility Standards Regulation:
• Information & Communication
• Employment
• Transportation
Speaking Notes:
• The current focus for the Customer Service Standard is on private sector reporting.
• As mentioned, organizations that have 20 or more employees must file an online compliance report by December 31st this year.
• In addition, there are parts of the IASR that have already come into effect earlier this year, such as emergency information provisions under the Information & Communication Standard, and the Employment Standard.
• There were also several requirements under the transportation standard which came into effect in 2012

Slide 23
Information and Communication Standard
• Accessible Formats and Communication Supports
• Web Accessibility
• Public Libraries
• Training to Educators
• Libraries of Educational and Training Institutions
• Producers of Educational and Training Materials
• Educational Training Resources
• Feedback
• Emergency and Public Safety Information
Speaking Notes:
• The I&C standard outlines how organizations will be required to create, provide and receive information and communications in ways that are accessible for people with disabilities
• I will like to now highlight of some of the requirements in the standard. (The slide transitions to highlight Accessible Formats and Communication Supports, Web Accessibility and Educational Training Resources)
• Providing information and communicating in an accessible manner will help persons with disabilities better understand different goods and services offered at organizations
• Increasing web accessibility by conforming to international standards, Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0, is important as more information is available on-line. This will allow people with disabilities to access the same information that many of us rely on everyday.
• Educational and training institutions will also need to provide information and communications in an accessible format, including textbooks and other learning materials and resources, as well as provide accessibility awareness training related to accessible course delivery and instruction.

Slide 24
Increased IT Accessibility
• For people without disabilities, technology makes things convenient.
• For people with disabilities, technology makes things possible…
• As long as they’re set up right.
Speaking Notes:
• As you all know, for people without disabilities, technology makes things convenient. For people with disabilities, technology makes things possible.
• Increased web accessibility means greater access to web services and information for persons with disabilities.
• One only needs to look at the increase in online sales over the past few years to understand the importance of web accessibility. On-line stores, such as Amazon, have seen revenue growth and may see additional benefits from making sure their services are accessible to persons with disabilities using their website.
• There’s a requirement in the legislation for public sector organizations to incorporate accessibility when designing, procuring or acquiring self-service kiosks
• Private sector need to consider accessibility in their kiosks, but we will monitor this requirement through organizations’ self-certified reports for effectiveness.

Slide 25
Accessible Information is:
• More useable by everyone:
• On any computer or device
• With any kind of connection
• In any kind of environment
• More readable by Google and other technologies / services
• Increasing web accessibility will help all users better access information.
• People using mobile devices or slower internet connections will also benefit from the website requirements.

Slide 26
A video that relates to the employment standard, and it involves employees working in the IT industry.

Slide 27
Getting To Compliance
(Slide shows an inverted pyramid, with point 1 being the largest, leading to point 4 being the smallest)
1. Compliance Assistance
2. Self-Certification Accessibility Reporting
3. Reports Audited; Risk Assessment Used to Determine Follow up
4. Inspections & Enforcement
Speaking Notes:
• Now I’d like to talk a little bit about our approach to compliance
• Our main focus is on compliance assistance and what we can do to help organizations comply
• We want to work with organizations to help them comply with the accessibility standards.
• However, if organizations remain non-compliant, or refuse to comply, the AODA allows for progressive enforcement measures through Directors Orders, penalties and court-ordered fines.
• For example, an organization guilty of an offence under the AODA can face penalties of $15,000 up to a maximum total of $100,000.
• Additionally, Fines may be issued by a provincial court if a person or organization is found guilty of specific “offences” under the AODA. The court may issue daily fines of up to $100,000 for corporations.
• Organizations do have the right to appeal penalties or fines issued through a tribunal

Slide 28
Outreach and Public Education
• Free tools and resources to help organizations comply
• Free training resources
• Social media outreach through Twitter, Facebook and YouTube
• Working with our partners
• AODA Contact Centre
Speaking Notes:
At the Accessibility Directorate, we have done extensive outreach & public education.
For example:
• Developed a number of tools & resources to increase public awareness and understanding of accessibility issues.
• Also developed a number of tools and resources to help organizations comply
• Developed an online training resource as well as other training materials
• All of these materials are available for free on our website at www.ontario.ca/AccessON
• Our social media outreach includes Twitter, Facebook & YouTube
• In addition, there are over 50 videos on our YouTube Channel with over 60,000 views
• Also we have a dedicated call centre through Service Ontario where the public can call in regarding any questions they have about the AODA or its regulations (contact information will come at the end)

Slide 29
49 Partnerships within the last 5 years
Speaking Notes:
Over the last 5 years, we have also partnered with 49 organizations to deliver customized resources and training to help organizations comply

Slide 30
A diagram which highlights the different areas of life where a person could be impacted by accessibility issues
Speaking Notes:
Our partnerships cuts across sectors, regions, large and small businesses all over Ontario
For example:
• We’ve partnered with the Ontario Hospital Association to develop online training modules geared towards hospital staff & volunteers
• We had a partnership with Tourism Industry Association of Ontario, and are continuing to work with them to provide training and resources to tourism operators and organizations across the province
• We’ve also partnered with a few organizations in the education sector to ensure accessibility is incorporated into the school curriculum, and to ensure teachers have supports in providing accessible course instruction

Slide 31
This slide shows a visual of the partnership projects we entered into in 2011-2012
Speaking Notes:
• We entered into 12 partnerships
• And, we are currently in the midst of partnering with additional organizations
• Coming up on the next slide, I’ll describe some of the partnerships that focus on the Information & Communication Standard.

Slide 32
Speaking Notes:
Partnership with GAATES:
• Developing user-friendly guide on accessible information and communications for small businesses
• Developing plain language guide on WCAG requirements for web developers and a plain language guide for businesses to reference when contracting a web developer to build an accessible website
• Providing small businesses with additional resources they need to implement their accessible information and communication obligations.
In the past, also partnered with Inclusive Design Research Centre (IDRC) at OCAD
• Developed publicly-reviewed desk reference guide to help users create accessible documents using common office applications
We’ve also partnered with Council of Ontario Universities (COU)
• Developing an online toolkit for accessible instruction and assisting students with mental health disabilities for faculty in universities and colleges.
• Also recently held the first annual Innovative Designs for Accessibility (IDeA) student competition.
• Through the IDeA student competition, we are seeking to engage the creative minds of Ontario’s university undergraduate students to develop innovative, cost-effective and practical solutions to accessibility-related issues in their communities
Ontario Education Services Corporation (OESC)
• Developing training resources for teachers online, in video and in print format on accessible course instruction. It also builds accessibility awareness for students from kindergarten to Grade 12 into the school curriculum

Slide 33
Moving Forward
(Image of a man with a vision disability using an accessible ATM machine at a bank)

Slide 34
Progress To Date
• 4 out of 5 Accessibility Standards in effect
• Targeted compliance assistance tools available for obligated organizations
• 100% compliance within the broader public sector
• Completed independent review of the AODA
Speaking Notes:
• Currently, 4 of 5 accessibility standards have been developed and are in place with implementation being phased in by 2021.
• We have had an extremely positive response from private sector partners who have been active in promoting the AODA through their print and online resources as well as through AGMs and webinars
• We are currently working on a number of compliance assistance tools and resources that should be posted within the next month. These include:
• Compliance Wizard Tool that will assist organizations with compliance (ie. What they need to do by when)
• Policy guidelines developed on the IASR to help organizations comply. We expect the wizard and the guidelines to be posted within the next month.
• How-to guides and resources
• Our priority is working with the private sector to have compliance reports submitted by December 2012.

Slide 35
What’s Next?
• Implementing all aspects of AODA inspection and enforcement regime (January 1, 2013)
• Review of the Accessible Customer Service Standard
• Establishment of new process for developing Accessibility Standards
• Accessibility in sports, including Toronto 2015 Pan Am/Para Pan-Am Games
Speaking Notes:
• January 1, 2013 – will begin reviewing audit reports of compliance within the private sector
• Implementing all aspects of the inspection & enforcement regime related to the AODA
• The 5 year review of the Customer Service Standard is coming up in 2013. As mentioned already, all accessibility standards must be reviewed every five years
• We will be establishing new processes and structures for developing accessibility standards in the future
• Finally, Toronto is hosting the 2015 PanAm/Para Pan-Am Games. We have been involved in the planning and development of the games
• We are committed to working with the Games to ensure that Ontario has a strong legacy of accessibility

Slide 36
For More Information:
Contact the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Contact Centre (ServiceOntario)
Toll-free: 1-866-515-2025
TTY: 416-325-3408 / Toll-free: 1-800-268-7095
Fax: 416-325-3407
Or visit our website: www.ontario.ca/AccessON
To order resources online, visit: publications.serviceontario.ca
Social Media
Follow us on Twitter
Find us on Facebook
Check us out on YouTube
Contact:
Ellen Waxman
Assistant Deputy Minister,
Accessibility Directorate of Ontario
Email: Ellen.Waxman@ontario.ca

*****

SECOND PRESENTATION

The following remarks were made during a presentation by Matthew Rempel, Special Advisor to the Chief Officer for Diversity and Accessibility in the Ontario Public Service on May 24, 2012.

For questions or comments, please contact Matt Rempel at matt.rempel@ontario.ca

Hi everyone.

I apologize, but unfortunately Shamira Madhany our Chief Officer for Diversity and Accessibility is ill today unable to be here. She has asked me to fill in and to talk about the experience we’re having in the Ontario Public Service.

You know it’s interesting because the Ontario Public Service is actually 1 of the 360,000 organizations that Ellen just talked about who are obligated to comply with the new accessibility legislation.

For today’s conference we are asked describe the approach that we took as one organization interpreting these new regulations and implementing them within our organization.

My name is Matt Rempel and I’m the Special Advisor to our Chief Officer for Diversity and Accessibility. And one of the projects I have been working on is how do we make our organization incorporate the aspects of accessibility we’re already working on and meet the regulatory obligations that are new as of July 2011 for our organization?

I am going to walk you through what that looked like for us and the approach that we took. And I want to get a bit more granular on the specifics. What were the challenges in meeting the regulatory requirements and what were the solutions we came up with and working toward digital inclusion in our organization and moving forward?

So with that being said, I just wanted to quickly outline the complexity of our organization.

I mentioned we’re the Ontario Public Service. We have 63,000 employees across Ontario. We’re the second largest public service employer in Canada. So from that perspective any type of change initiative is rather complex especially within a large-scale organization.

The other piece I wanted to reference is that there is an expectation that our organization is going to take leadership role with regard to the regulation.

We just heard from the Accessibility Directorate of Ontario, they are the folks that created and enforce the regulation. And from that perspective what we want to do is really show leadership in implementing regulation and show the broader public sector and the private sector how it can be done and what some of the successes are in an organization like the public service.

So with that mandate there is also another perspective in the Ontario Public Service and that is as an employer and service provider. We recognize that accessibility is especially important as a business imperative.

We need to make sure the services that we provide all 13 million Ontario citizens of which 1.85 million have a disability are accessible public services and they meet the needs of our constituents and citizens.

We have our customers that we provide services to, but we also have our employees. Within our organization 12% of employees have self-identified as having a disability.

We need to make sure we are an accessible employer and all of the employees have the opportunity to reach their full potential and we know that technology is a way to assist with that within the organization.

Now one of the ways to further advance accessibility is to link it to other business imperatives and organizational priorities. In the Ontario Public Service we have a priority to build a diverse organization that delivers excellent public service. And we recognize that excellent public service is accessible public service.

Additionally part of our vision is to have all our employees achieve their full potential. So we need to become an accessible employer.

Now, we talk about the regulatory environment, but I want to share that there is more than just embracing the meaning of compliance. There is a way to use compliance as a lever to further accessibility within the organization and that makes a lot of sense for businesses.

So one of the things that the new regulation called for us to do was by January 1st of 2012 was to develop a multi-year accessibility plan that describes how we were going to achieve our goals and remove barriers to accessibility.

We put forward our new multiyear plan. It is public and it’s called Accessibility in the Ontario Public Service: Leading the Way Forward.

A requirement from the regulation and now within our plan is a statement of commitment to persons with disability.

Our statement of commitment is that the Ontario Public Sector endeavours to demonstrate leadership for accessibility in Ontario. Our goal is to ensure accessibility for our employees and the public we serve in our services, products, and facilities.

Now, when we released this plan, we didn’t want it to be like many government plans that get hidden on the internet site pages and pages deep. On every single ontario.ca web page that is available to the public right at the bottom there is a link called accessibility and it is right beside the contact us link.

We wanted everyone to find the information fast and we wanted to make a statement that this is important to us as an organization.

So if you click that link you actually find our plan, you will find our accessible customer service policy. And some additional information about accessibility in the Ontario Public Service.

So just to share a bit about the plan, we wanted to create a plan that was meaningful and like I said did two things. 1) to show how we identify, prevent and remove barriers to accessibility and 2) how we are going to meet our regulatory requirements.

So luckily we have experience in accessibility planning. We have been doing accessibility planning for the Ontarians with Disabilities Act since 2001.

But we wanted to take a really serious look at how we have been doing things and see if it makes sense. We went through some extensive consultations with our customers and employees to learn what is working, what is not working and how we can modify our strategy.

What we found is that we needed to structure a plan to 3 sections. 1) was obviously we need a long-term vision of how to achieve accessibility in the public service. 2) we wanted to focus on key areas for the next few years. And 3) we needed to share the specifics within the regulatory requirements and how we were achieving them.

One of the things we have learned through the process it is that it is one thing to have a plan and it can be glossy and say a lot of great things, but it is something else when you get to implementation. And you need a strong foundation within the organization to achieve success.

Organizationally, we have structured some key tables within the organization.

Shamira our Chief, actually chairs two senior level committees within the organization and one is called the Assistant Deputy Minister Interministerial Reference Committee for Diversity and Inclusion. The second is the Accessibility Leadership Council.
We are able to bring our topics to our most senior leaders within the organization to figure out solutions.

One of the by products of this and I know this is something that Shamira works hard towards is creating champions at the executive level in our organization.

And we are finding that the more champions we have at the leadership tables the more successes we have.

A committed leadership is very, very important, but champions don’t necessarily have to be senior executives. There are people who are leaders that don’t have titles that can has a substantive impact.

In the Ontario Public Service we have an accessibility leads forum. For each of our ministries there is an Accessibility Lead that is an expert on what we’re doing within the organizations, implementing our initiatives, and are aware of our achievements.

We are working with them at the Diversity Office so they have the resources and tools to assist their ministry to become as accessible as possible.

Through that network our leadership and the champions at the ground level are able to make some substantive changes.

Now, in my line of work I get a lot of calls because there is this new regulation out. People want to know how we did it. How did you interpret it? How did you make it work and what are some of the challenges that I can look out for?

So quickly I will introduce a couple of regulatory requirements we have been working with that we were mandated to achieve. And I will show you how we did that and describe some of the specifics.

The first one is for new internet and internet websites.

The regulation is calling for any of our new websites to achieve an accessibility standard of WCAG 2.0 AA which is Web Content Accessibility Guidelines level double A.

I am not a technology guy so I will not go through what these specifications actually mean from a technical perspective, but it is a specific standard that can be tested and measured and has certain requirements.

The second requirement from the regulation that I will speak about is with respect to with self-service kiosks. For us what that means is with any kiosk we put forth we need to incorporate accessibility features into the design.

Third, with procurement the regulation is calling for us to incorporate accessibility criteria and features into our procurements.

Fourth, this requirement relates to emergency and public safety information and that it needs to be available in an accessible format, upon request. In the Ontario Public Service we do have a lot of public safety information and we work to ensure all of those electronic documents are available in ways that anybody trying to access the information can.

Now, I’m going to focus on websites for a second.

In the Ontario Public Service there is a lot of information on our websites. And our information is ranging from health care to housing, to the environment and there is a lot of really critical information. So it is exceptionally important for us to make sure it’s accessible and usable for everybody.

Where it gets tricky is literally we have thousands of web pages and even more web content on all those pages.

This also means that there are a lot of different people managing the websites and have access to putting content on the websites. This content could be attached documents, or just the text within the body. We also have these rules within each ministry to make our sites have a consistent look and feel.

So we did have some challenges figuring out how we were going to achieve W.C.A.G. 2.0 and test it to achieve compliance.

To start we had to ask who is going to be accountable? Is there anyone within our organization that we can say, this is yours? No. Because there is too many people involved.

And the next was, how are we going to test for compliance? It is very specific. Do we have the technical expertise? Can our web people do that? And the answer was no, we didn’t at the time.

And similar with a lot of regulatory requirements, how do we get everyone to understand there is a new way of doing things and educate and train folks on the new rules?

So the solution really boiled down two components. One there is a very technical solutions and it turns out that was probably the easy one.

Even though it did take a bit of work. It ended up being a bit easier. So we grabbed some of our best web people and put them in a room for around 3 months and said let’s figure this out our organization and our technology platforms.

And we designed a great methodology for testing. And we structured a new process where by before a website goes live we need to test it for accessibility.

What also seems to be working well is that some of our key web people have gone through the boot camp training and we did a crash course on accessibility and W.C.A.G. 2.0 specific to what it means in our environment with our servers and platforms.

Now this is a great first and necessary step to achieve compliance. But what we recognize is that it’s probably not enough for a long term solution.

Our web people were suggesting to us that there are certain realities that make achieving W.C.A.G. 2.0 pretty difficult.

For example, a new report needs to go up on the website and you have 30 minutes to put it up. If that report come to a web person in a pdf file and it’s riddled with untagged tables and graphics, there may not be much a web person can do.

Frankly, it shouldn’t be the web person’s role and responsibility to fix it to make it accessible.

It is everyone’s role and responsibility to understand accessible web content, documents and information.

So what we have been working toward is getting everybody to understand that accessibility begins with everyone. It is the concept of accessibility at source.

We’ve just recently began what is a designed to be a behavioral and cultural transformation campaign founded in education and awareness.

It’s called accessibility at source. The campaign is designed to get the information out to all of our employees on what accessibility is.

It’s designed to demystify accessibility and our regulatory requirements.

We need our employees to understand that there are some simple things that they each can do to build accessibility at source into their work.

This may include everyone creating accessible documents so that when it becomes web content it is simpler for web people to post it.

We have just started it but I think it’s getting a lot of traction. And this concept of accessibility at source and everyone taking accessibility and understanding what they can do in their daily work every day spans more than just websites.

We are looking at taking every three or four months on one topic that is going to be related to accessibility but couched in a regulatory area.

So things like accessibility and procurement. We know when we’re looking at procuring a goods, service or facility, accessibility needs to be considered. Sure.

But if people don’t know what accessibility means or how to consider it or what the tools and resources are that are available to help, then we may be missing opportunities to be more accessible with our procurements.

So we all need to be accessible at source. As we all begin to become more accessible in all our work, in all our business, then meeting regulatory requirements will become very easy.

Being accessible at source is how we can further demonstrate leadership for accessibility.

The other thing I wanted to talk about was the kiosk requirement.

Within the Ontario Public Service we have around 71 kiosks established all over Ontario.

The regulation for us calls that new kiosks have accessibility features incorporated.

Now what is interesting is how we define a kiosks as an interactive electronic terminal. Maybe kiosks are more than what we think kiosks are.

Everyone thinks they are the boxed upright ServiceOntario kiosks with the screen and the buttons

But as I was talking to a colleague of mine we discussed other times we may have kiosks.

For example, in some of our courts we might have a computer set up that tells people where to go. This got us to thinking on how we could expand our minds about how we’re doing business with electronics with the members of the public.

For me it was exciting that the definition might be larger because it made us look for better ways to be accessible with technology and to communicate with the public.

Now when it comes to kiosks it does gets complicated and complicated fast. We know that there are different features that will support the needs of certain people, but might not be as user friendly for others.

And finding that happy balance that meets the needs of folks is very, very difficult.

And when we start look at the regulation, there are some unanswered questions.

How many features are needed? Which ones should we put in? Where is the line where it becomes cost prohibitive? And the conversation becomes difficult.

So instead of trying to just solve it in one go, we’re actually leveraging a tool within our organization called the Ontario Public Service Inclusion Lens.

And it is a tool we’re proud of. It is a way for us to expand our thinking and look through a different lens when we’re doing our work. Whether that work is policy or programs or designing a kiosk.

The idea is we look at it through an Inclusion Lens.

We developed a website with some strategically worded questions, information, and resources.

For example, it would help our employees understand how different people from a different cultural backgrounds might access a service.

And the Lens also goes through the different aspects of accessibility and disabilities.

And when people within the Ontario Public Service are using the Inclusion Lens it helps them think inclusively and trigger ideas of the features that can support usability and accessibility within a kiosk.

And I think that this can work quite well.

Some other things we did to prepare the organization is that we built guide to achieving compliance that goes through the various aspects of the regulation, including kiosks.

We also did research. For example, the banks seem to be getting more savvy with kiosks and there is some great work happening internationally.

We tried to capture these best practices. We wrote them down into one simple place that is easy to access by our employees. This is helping us to consider solutions that make sense and how to incorporate accessibility.

We also want to talk to people using kiosks and consulting with actual users, so that we can understand and informed decisions on design kiosks.

I also want summarize some of the lessons we have learned when implementing accessibility and meeting the regulatory requirements.

First we did realize quickly the leadership commitment is pretty mandatory. So make sure that all of the leaders understood the business case and the rationale for why and that was very important.

It is one thing to get their endorsement, but it is another to ensure they have the information and the tools that are necessary to support their role in championing accessibility.

So we’ve spent a lot of time within our office, within the diversity office creating the resources and making them widely available.

Secondly it’s about strategic alignment. I would suggest that it is not about a project to meet compliance that really makes accessibility happen.

The regulation is certainly more leverage, but we can further the advancement of accessibility by aligning it and showing it as part of a broader initiative within the organization. Ours is to deliver excellent public service and it has to be excellent and accessible public service and we get a lot of traction that way.

From an I & I T perspective it is about planning. Planning for accessibility at source.

That is why our campaign is called accessibility at source.

I think we all know it cheaper, easier, and smarter to plan for accessibility before you get four years into a big project or solution being designed and you realize you did not make it as accessible as it should be.

Fixing things on the back end to make it accessible can labor intensive and not a good use of time.

It also makes sense to make sure that processes are designed to prevent barriers and to look beyond the minimum requirements and not just check off boxes.

We also look at performance testing to ensure usability throughout the life cycle of the project.

And we want to make sure about that when we procure items from our vendors we’re clear with our vendors what that their services should be accessible for all.

Today, I have talked about some behavioral culture transformation strategies and people understanding their part in the process to make accessibility at source happen.

So the final thought I wanted to leave you with is that there is a couple of quotes we have heard within the Ontario Public Service that I find inspirational.

One from a senior leader of the organization and he said “Accessibility isn’t just a matter of creating a product and tacking on an accessible version at the end. It’s about thinking from day one about how we can make a better product…or policy…or program for everyone.”

And another really cool quote that I heard from a colleague of mine was who has been working in accessibility within the public service for many, many years, I would say ten years plus.

And what she has seen within organizations that “No longer are people asking, ‘Why do we need to be accessible?’ Instead, they are asking, ‘How do we become more accessible?’ This small change in the question reflects a huge change in attitudes…”

For me, although there is still work to be done, I think it shows we are making a lot of great progress.

So with that being said, thank you and I hope you have a good rest of your day.

*****

THIRD PRESENTATION

Partially edited rough transcript of remarks by David Lepofsky, Chair of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance
(Note: Check against delivery)

David Lepofsky: Thank you very much. It’s an honour to be here. It is a huge credit that OCAD University is convening this event.

Seventeen years ago today, a tiny community disability coalition in which I had the privilege of taking a leadership role, received a letter from the person who was then to be elected within weeks, the Premier of the province of Ontario. His letter promised to enact an accessibility law.

How have we done in the past 17 years, particularly in the area of information technology? What more do we need to do? As a result of our hard work, we had a weak law passed in 2001 and a stronger law passed in 2005. I can give you a few hints on how we worked and how, since then we have waged our non-governmental campaign to get this legislation effectively implemented.

Let’s see if this accessibility issue touches you personally. I want you to raise your hand if you have no disability now and you are certain you will never get one. Raise your hand. I don’t see any hands. (Laughter) In fact, I never do. This is a campaign about accessibility for the weirdest minority of all. Everybody either has a disability now, or has someone near and dear to them who has a disability, or will get a disability eventually, since aging is the most common cause of disability.

We won this disability accessibility legislation by showing that we are the minority of everyone. Let me take this and translate it to the information technology context in a moment. But another way we won this legislation was by using information technology. Watch how we do this. If you are interested in learning more about our campaign, sign up for our e-mail updates. We have people following our email updates around the world. Give us your e-mail address because we use e-mail to get out our word, gather ideas, mobilize support and try to win this campaign. Send a request to receive our email updates by emailing us at aodafeedback@gmail.com

We are also branching out into the newer social media, if you want to follow us on twitter, we are @aodaalliance

We built our movement one supporter at a time, from one end of the province to another. This evening you are going to a reception at the Legislature. It was in a committee room in the Legislature where about 20 of us met in 1994, to start this movement, sharing a vision of a fully accessible Ontario.

Let me talk about why the information technology sector is an especially important place to wage a campaign for accessibility. There are several reasons. Those of us who advocate for accessibility have to be general practitioners. One minute we are answering questions about accessible buses and subways. The next minute, we are answering questions about accommodating people in the workplace. The next minute it’s about trying to find an accessible polling station. The next minute it’s talking about what standards for website accessibility should be implemented and when. We have to be ready.

When it comes to achieving accessibility, the information technology sector is the sector with no excuses. It is the sector most able to deliver accessibility, more quickly, more effectively, and at the least cost. Why is that? Removing old barriers costs more. Preventing new barriers cost little if anything at all. And in the area of information technology, unlike the area of buildings, offices, houses and apartments, we for the most part don’t need to talk about taking time to tear down old barriers in old buildings. Five years from now, the information technology you and I will use in our workplaces, in our homes, for communicating mobilely with each other, we haven’t bought that information technology yet. Not only haven’t we bought it yet, we haven’t contracted for it yet. Not only haven’t we contracted for it yet, it hasn’t been designed yet. It hasn’t been invented yet. All we have to do is make a decision today that the information technology in our homes, our workplaces, our places where we deliver goods and services to the public, that it will be accessible and tell those who are making it, who are designing it now, make it accessible and it can be done. We can make that decision now. We can decide that our workplace in five years will have fully accessible information technology. If we don’t make that decision now, we run the risk of perpetuating inaccessibility.

The information technology sector is best able to deliver accessibility for another reason. That sector is all about innovation. Every company is trying to invent the newest, coolest, the best, the most featured new products. They are in a race with each other. Creativity and innovation is the touchstone of this sector. Elevators are elevators. Yes, you can put Braille on their buttons, but elevators are elevators. They don’t change much. But computers, smartphones, iPhones, those products are rapidly evolving.

With the proper government intervention in this sector, we can achieve full accessibility. We just need the right tools and enforcement. There are stunning examples of accomplishments in this sector. Apple installed VoiceOver, its new screen reader, in the iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad. This has really helped with accessibility. With a couple of clicks anyone who buys these products can activate these free accessibility features. It didn’t cost the purchaser of these products anything extra. There is no push back from people without disabilities, complaining that this makes these devices cost them more.

But even then, Apple has some progress still to go. The iPhone is fabulous for having many accessible apps. But a big problem that remains is that the iPhone is still hard to use as a phone. Try quickly dialing a phone number by flicking and clicking. Try using it to access your voice mail. Imagine sitting in the back of a taxi, calling in to check your bank account using telephone banking. Just dictate aloud your confidential access code to your bank account! Who would want to do that with others overhearing it? Apple should take those great innovations and go the next step by making the iPhone a really accessible cell phone as a phone!

So the information technology sector is capable of delivering accessibility. Five years ago, we said that touch screen technology was a huge barrier. Apple found a way to help address this. Other mainstream information technology companies are trying to catch up. It’s the wave of the future.

How are we doing in Ontario? Let me give you a fair, even-handed assessment.

There are some important things we can be proud of. I think our coalition can claim a piece of the pride in the accomplishment. For one thing, we are the first and only jurisdiction to my knowledge that has legislatively set a deadline by which our jurisdiction, Ontario, must become fully accessible. Some people thought 20 years was too long. Others thought it might be too short. The 20 year deadline set the clock ticking. From day one, we have said as a community coalition, are we on schedule? And frankly, folks, we are not. We are behind schedule. At the rate we are going, we will not achieve that goal of full accessibility by 2025.

Don’t just take my word for it. The government appointed its own independent review of the implementation of the Disabilities Act a couple of years ago. The Charles Beer Independent Review rendered a report that is on our website at http://www.aodaalliance.org/strong-effective-aoda/06032010.asp That Report says there needs to be revitalization of how the government implements this legislation in order for this goal to be realized.

We heard this morning about some commendable efforts that are on-going, but there needs to be significantly more. So if you are outside of Ontario and you want to learn from our experience, talk to the Government about what they are doing and how they have learned from experience, commendably. But also come to us, the community coalition advocating on these issues, to see what more needs to be done.

How are we doing in the specific area of making information technology accessible? The fact that we have regulated it at all is commendable, and an important step forward. The fact that we have mandated accessibility requirements for at least public sector and some private sector organizations in the areas of websites, of electronic kiosks and the procurement of goods and services including information technology. These are important steps forward. Other jurisdictions should do the same. In fact, they should do better so that Ontario will have to catch up with them.

We are falling short in how we regulated in a few important areas. For one thing, we have created too many exemptions. These exemptions fall below the requirements of our prevailing equal rights laws that take precedence over the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, namely the Ontario Human Rights Code and the Charter of Rights. This is important because an organization that complies with the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act is not, thereby, done. They have a prevailing obligation to meet the right to equality and to effective reasonable accommodation under our Ontario Human Rights Code, and in the case of public sector organizations, the Charter of Rights as well. An organization cannot simply meet the excessively long time lines for corrective action in the Integrated Accessibility Regulation for making its website accessible, and think that that is all they must do. The Human Rights Code and Charter of Rights can and do require them to act sooner to ensure website accessibility, as just one example.

We are hoping that public and private sector organizations will say that they want to exceed the requirements of the AODA accessibility standards and that they want to get to full accessibility sooner than the AODA standards require. The more organizations that do that, the more their competitors are going to have to play “catch up” or lose market share.

The Integrated Accessibility Regulation’s information technology provisions, while helpful, fall short. Their time lines are too long. Their exemptions are too wide compared to the requirements of our Human Rights Code. They incorporate good detail in the area of website accessibility, which is important. However, in areas like ensuring the accessibility of electronic kiosks, they do not set standards that are specific and detailed enough. They are too general and vague.

We hope the government will make available guidelines that include more helpful specifics and that organizations will live up to the guidelines even if they are more detailed than the legislation. My recommendation is that you should put as much detail as you can into the regulation itself. That’s what the Information and Communications Standards Development Committee tried to recommend to the Ontario Government. Unfortunately the government didn’t listen to them, on that important point.

We are moving forward, but not quickly enough. Let me tell you about one or two other quick things. Our government, to its credit, committed in the last provincial election, at our request, that it would develop and implement a 10-year infrastructure plan for electronic kiosks and information technology. We already have a 10-year government infrastructure plan that includes accessibility commitments for buildings. The government, however, did not originally include information technology or electronic kiosks in it. We asked them to add these, in last fall’s election.

They did commit to add these in the election last October. However, the bad news is that when we wrote the Government after that election to ask for their plans to expand their 10-year infrastructure plan to include information technology and electronic kiosks, their answers ducked this issue. They won’t even answer about their own election promise given a few short months earlier.

Let me turn to one other important area. What kind of resistance might one expect if one presses for accessible information technology? One argument you might face is that not that many people need it. I answered that one at the start of my presentation when I asked you to raise your hand. Eventually disability and the need for accessibility will touch everyone.

Accessibility measures ultimately help everyone. I personally fought a case against the Toronto Transit Commission, Canada’s largest urban transit provider, to get them to do something as simple as announce audibly all bus and subway stops. We needed this so blind people like me could know when to get off the bus or subway. This accommodation was easy to provide. Every bus has a driver. Every driver has a mouth. Hopefully the drivers know where they are. TTC spend 450,000 dollars on lawyers to oppose me. They lost.

Most of the positive feedback I get on these subway and bus stop announcements you can hear across Toronto on the TTC, comes from sighted people, not just blind people. They say, thanks for the announcements. I couldn’t see out the window. It’s snowing. The windows are dirty. The bus is crowded. I’m reading a book. The accommodations that help us help everyone.

The next potential push back you might hear is this. Our company has a legacy computer system. It is 20 years old. How are we going to retrofit it?

Any company using 20-year old technology is not going to have a competitive edge for very long. One way or another whether it’s a legacy computer system or a brand new computer system, human beings need to interact with it. Everybody, not just some human beings, should be able to. If they are going to create a user interface, so that human beings can use this legacy system, just create an accessible one. We know how to do it now. It is cheaper now. It can be done.

An organization might say, we want to do accessibility in the area of information technology, but we don’t have the skill set. Our people don’t know how to build in accessibility.

Come on! This is the sector of innovation! Let me draw a contrast. I’m a lawyer by profession. I have an edge over the new law graduates because I have been practicing law much longer than them. In contrast, in the information technology sector, the newer graduates have a big edge over the information technology workers who have been around for over 30 years. Let’s make sure the new graduates know how to design accessible information technology!

As long as people like the Ontario College of Art and Design ensure that those who design do it accessibly, the new graduates will come into the market. If the old information technology workforce doesn’t want to get with the program, they need to rethink whether or not information technology is the field for them. This is the industry of innovation. It’s not really up to them to say, no, we can’t do innovation.

Some people might say: We don’t want to hold up a new product from entering the market because we are trying to incorporate accessibility. You don’t get a market edge for a new product by designing it to be inaccessible. That’s a market disadvantage. If you get the new product out the door to the market quickly but build in accessibility, you have a bigger market edge.

The case for doing accessibility is very strong. If you want to know how to do it, learn from Ontario. Learn from what we have done well, but learn from what we can improve upon here in Ontario.

I want to conclude by reaching out to all of you. Please sign up for our email updates. Please send us ideas. We welcome feedback from you. If we propose something that doesn’t work, tell us about a better way. If we are proposing something that is impractical, offer us a practical option.

Let’s take the information technology sector, the sector that is best positioned to deliver accessibility, that is most imbued with skills in the area of innovation to achieve accessibility the quickest, far more quickly than the AODA standards require. Let’s have it be the beacon from which other sectors can learn.

Thank you very much for the opportunity to let me speak with you this morning.

To sign up for or unsubscribe from AODA Alliance e-mail updates write to aodafeedback@gmail.com
Follow us on Twitter and get others to! Twitter.com/aodaalliance
Learn more at: www.aodaalliance.org
UNITED FOR A BARRIER-FREE ONTARIO