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Brief of the AODA Alliance to the Ontario Government on its September 2, 2010 Summary of the Proposed Integrated Accessibility Standard

OCTOBER 8, 2010

“3. This proposed standard will not put Ontario in any position to claim that it is a world leader in advancing accessibility. In a number of important areas, this proposed integrated accessibility standard would set an example that we would urge other provinces and countries not to follow.

I. OVERVIEW

A. Introduction

This brief gives the AODA Alliance’s feedback on the Ontario Government’s Summary of its proposed Integrated Accessibility Standard to be enacted under the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act 2005. The Government proposes to enact this integrated accessibility standard to address barriers facing persons with disabilities in transportation, information and communication and employment. The Government posted its summary of its proposed integrated accessibility standard on the internet for public comment on September 2, 2010.

We can only here comment on the Government’s summary. The Government has not made public any proposed wording for the integrated accessibility standard. There may be real and important differences between the wording of the Government’s summary and the final wording of the integrated accessibility standard.

Our input in this brief builds on our positions conveyed to the Government over the past several years on these issues, and available on our website. We widely circulated a draft of this brief to the disability community, the Government, and the broader public for their feedback on September 15, 2010. We have done our best to include in this finalized brief the input we received on that draft brief. The Government did not advise us that any of the factual statements in that draft brief are inaccurate.

B. Contents of this brief

This overview summarizes the themes in this brief, the numerous problems we have identified with the proposed integrated accessibility standard, and the recommendations we propose to improve that standard.

The brief next goes in detail through the Government’s Summary of the proposed integrated accessibility standard on an issue by issue basis, describes our responses, and offers constructive recommendations. After that, we provide our feedback on proposed new regulations that the Ministry of Transportation has made public for comment under the Highway Traffic Act, to address “Vehicles for the Transportation of Physically Disabled Passengers”

At the end of this brief, Appendix 1 sets out all our recommendations in one place. Appendix 2 gives background on who we are, how this integrated accessibility standard came about, the issues we considered when assessing the proposed integrated accessibility standard, and links to key background documents on which we rely in this brief.

C. General Themes

These are the general themes in our feedback on the Government’s Summary of the proposed integrated accessibility standard:

1. The proposed integrated accessibility standard includes some helpful ingredients. It speaks to a number of areas where persons with disabilities encounter barriers.

Nevertheless, it is a tremendous let-down. Many of its provisions are weak or will be very difficult to enforce. The time lines for compliance are far too lengthy and unjustifiable. It does not reflect the range of needs and concerns that the disability community raised over and over again during the standards development process, nor a number of the important areas of consensus that were worked out between the disability sector, the business community and the broader public sector,. Disability sector representatives on Standards Development Committees have voiced profound frustration that this proposed standard does not reflect gains for which they worked long and hard, volunteering hours and hours of their time at the Government’s request, during the standards development process.

2. The proposed integrated accessibility standard will not ensure full accessibility of transportation, or information and communication, or employment, by 2025, as the AODA requires. Indeed, it will not ever ensure full accessibility in the areas of transportation, information and communication, or employment. Ontarians with disabilities were promised full accessibility by the McGuinty Government.

3. This proposed standard will not put Ontario in any position to claim that it is a world leader in advancing accessibility. In a number of important areas, this proposed integrated accessibility standard would set an example that we would urge other provinces and countries not to follow.

4. The proposed integrated accessibility standard falls far short of the accessibility requirements in the Ontario Human Rights Code, including in the context of specific barriers that the integrated accessibility standard addresses. For public sector organizations, it also falls short of requirements under the Charter of Rights. As such, if an organization fully complies with the weak and limited requirements in the proposed integrated accessibility standard, it will still be quite exposed to litigation, including successful claims, under the Ontario Human Rights Code, and in the case of public sector organizations, the Charter of Rights. If obligated organizations do no more than the proposed integrated accessibility standard requires, and only follow the time lines in the integrated accessibility standard, they can expect human rights claims. The AODA was intended to reduce the need for persons with disabilities to resort to battling barriers one-at-a-time by human rights litigation.

5. The proposed standard is in some respects weaker than the final proposals which were submitted to the Government in the areas of transportation, information and communication, and employment, by the three Standards Development Committees appointed for that purpose. The Government has not offered any public explanation why it has rejected the advice of those bodies whose members the Government hand-picked.

6. This, regrettably, parallels the Government’s rejecting key parts of the advice of Charles Beer’s Independent Review on the AODA earlier this year. This proposed integrated accessibility standard is so deficient that it further shows the need for the Government to make transformative changes to the way it implements the AODA, and to breathe new life into the AODA, as the Charles Beer Independent Review recommended. To read about the Government-appointed Charles Beer Independent Review of the AODA, visit:
http://www.aodaalliance.org/strong-effective-aoda/06032010.asp

7. As this brief documents, the Government has rejected much if not most of the input it received from the AODA Alliance on the final proposals for accessibility standards on transportation, information and communication and employment. The Government has offered no explanation for this. Our briefs to the Government have repeatedly garnered support from a wide range of perspectives within the disability community.

8. In designing this proposed integrated accessibility standard, the Government appears to have sided with obligated organizations rather than with persons with disabilities in connection with many if not most key issues. It appears at many points to be designed more to codify what obligated organizations are now doing, or Aare prepared to voluntarily do, rather than what persons with disabilities need them to do, and what they can do.

9. In one of the three areas that this accessibility standard addresses, access to employment, the provisions for the most part do not even do what an accessibility standard is supposed to do under the AODA. An accessibility standard is supposed to identify barriers in the regulated area that are to be removed, and to set out measures to be taken, and time lines for taking them, to remove and prevent those barriers. The employment provisions in the integrated accessibility standard for the most part do not do this. Instead, they mainly address the implementation of an employer’s pre-existing duty to accommodate workers and job applicants with disabilities, as imposed by the Human Rights Code.

10. In a number of areas, the standard sets requirements that are so vague that it will leave it to each organization to decide how much or how little they will do to remove and prevent barriers. Rather than setting meaningful provincial benchmarks in this area, the standard will lead to a patchwork of different levels of accessibility around the province. This deficiency won’t be corrected by any policies or guidelines that the Government might later enact. Any Government policies are guidelines won’t be enforceable. Only the standard itself is enforceable as law.

11. There is a risk that this integrated accessibility standard, if enacted in the terms proposed by the Government, could in some ways set back the cause of accessibility. Regrettably, too many organizations do not realize they have to provide accessibility under the Human Rights Code. They assume that the only accessibility requirements that they need to obey are those enacted under the AODA. This can be so, even though the AODA and this proposed standard do not claim to override the Human Rights Code. If those organizations think they can wait to meet these requirements until the deadlines set out in it, the integrated accessibility standard will lead to delays in the provision of accessibility, contrary to the purpose of this legislation. Making this worse, the standard’s training requirements do not require any training on the Human Rights Code. As such, the training conducted under this standard will tend to reinforce the misconception of many that the Human Rights Code does not impose obligations here.

12 The lengthy and leisurely time lines in this standard fly in the face of the McGuinty Government’s 2003 election pledge to Ontarians with disabilities. In the 2003 election, Dalton McGuinty promised that the AODA would fulfil the 11 principles for this law that the Ontario Legislature unanimously adopted on October 29, 1998.

13. We have always acknowledged that accessibility standards may treat smaller businesses different from big business. However, the proposed integrated accessibility standard goes too far in this regard. It treats businesses with fewer than 50 employees in so lax a manner that it threatens to leave that sector, which comprises the vast majority of businesses in Ontario, largely unregulated in the accessibility context.

14. Too often the standard only requires an organization to “consider” accessibility, rather than actually providing accessibility.

15. The proposed integrated accessibility standard does not seriously walk the Government’s talk on accessibility. The Government has said over and over that removing and preventing barriers against persons with disabilities is good for business, and good for the broader public.

D. List of Major Problems with the Proposed Integrated Accessibility Standard Identified in this Brief

These are the major focused concerns with the proposed integrated accessibility standard that this brief identifies:

General Provisions

1. The standard does not apply to all organizations to whom it should apply.
2. The class structure is not flexible enough.
3. The requirement for each organization to have an accessibility policy is too vague and weak.
4. The provision on public sector organizations’ procuring goods, services and facilities is too weak.
5. Provisions on accessibility of electronic kiosks are far too weak.
6. Accessibility plan requirements are too weak.
7. Accessibility plans and policies need not be posted on an organization’s website.
8. Training provisions need significant strengthening.

Information and Communications Accessibility Requirements

9. The goal of the information and communication requirements is too weak.
10. Information and communication requirements should fully apply to employment and the provision of facilities, not just goods and services.
11. The standard incorrectly assumes all people with disabilities have access to the internet.
12. It is insufficient to provide information “in a manner that takes into account a person’s disability.”
13. Blanket exemption for commercial products and product labels, is overbroad.
14. Requirements are insufficient for notifying public of availability of information in alternative format.
15. Website accessibility requirements are too weak.
16. Provisions on accessibility of educational/training materials need broadening.
17. Provisions on accessible collections and on public libraries is far too narrow.
18. “Communication Supports” requires clear and broad definition
19. The standard leaves out other key information and communication requirements earlier proposed.

Employment Accessibility Requirements

20. The purpose for employment accessibility requirements is too narrow.
21. Employment provisions must be expanded to require employers to pro-actively identify, remove and prevent workplace barriers.
22. Provisions on general workplace accommodation need to be strengthened.
23. Provisions on addressing workplace information and communication access are too narrow.
24. The return to work provision requires strengthening.
25. Provisions on performance management, career development and redeployment are very weak.
26. There is no provision for a government-sponsored disability job-seeking network.

Transportation Accessibility Requirements

27. The purpose of the transportation provisions is far too weak.
28. The standard addresses some vehicle accessibility issues under another law, denying Ontarians with disabilities protections won in the AODA.
29. Provisions on ensuring availability of accessible taxis are woefully inadequate.
30. Provisions on access to para-transit services are very inadequate.
31. The standard should ban any new public transit fare payment and route information technology unless it is fully accessible.
32. There is no requirement that new transit stations or stops be Fully Accessible
33. There is no provision for retrofit of inaccessible public transit vehicles
34. Provisions on displaying taxi registration information are inadequate
35. The requirement for public transit authorities to consult people with disabilities on accessibility plans is too weak.
36. Mass transit emergency response requirements are not sufficiently detailed.
37. Provisions on availability of and maintenance of public transit accessibility equipment and features lack teeth.
38. Accessible boarding/de-boarding requirements need more precision.
39. Public transit vehicle signage and lighting requirements are inadequate.
40. Provisions on light, intercity and commuter rail lines are too weak.
41. Voluntary and faith-based transportation as well as emergency response vehicles are unjustifiably excluded from transportation accessibility requirements.
42. Provisions on support persons on public transit are helpful but need more detail.
43. The standard does not require existing transit stops or stations to be made accessible.
43. Provisions on pre-boarding route or destination announcements are inadequate
44. There is no provision for public transit authorities to self-monitor their compliance with accessibility requirements.
45. Publicly-funded school bus accessibility provision is internally contradictory or unclear

Enforcement Provisions

46. The Licensing appeal tribunal is the wrong choice for tribunal to hear AODA appeals.
47. Maximum administrative penalties are too low.
48. Enforcement provisions give no opportunities or rights to people with disabilities who encounter barriers.

Regarding the Proposed New Regulations Under the Highway Traffic Act regarding Vehicles for the Transportation of Physically Disabled Passengers

49. The proposed regulations on public transit vehicle accessibility need to be strengthened.

E. Summary of Our Recommendations

Our recommendations are summarized as follows:

1. The standard’s provisions on identifying, removing and preventing barriers in the areas of transportation, information and communication, and employment should all be significantly broadened, strengthened, and infused with more details and specifics.

2. In the case of accessibility to employment, the standard should require public sector employers and larger private sector employers to take pro-active measures to survey their workplace for barriers, to remove existing ones and to prevent new barriers from being created.

3. Provisions in the standard should be strengthened to ensure that electronic self-serve kiosks are fully accessible to persons with disabilities, and to ensure that no one, and especially governments, use public money to create, exacerbate or perpetuate barriers against persons with disabilities.

4. Time lines for complying with the standard should be substantially reduced.

5. The standard should establish a new tribunal, not the provincial Licensing Appeal Tribunal, to hear AODA appeals, that has expertise in disability accessibility, accommodation, and related human rights issues.

6. The maximum administrative monetary penalties for violating accessibility standards should be raised.

7. The standard should be amended to ensure that persons with disabilities who are the victims of a barrier have a clear avenue to lodge complaints, have their views heard, and be notified about the ongoing status of the case, including any final dispositions and appeals.

8. The proposed Highway Traffic Act regulations on accessibility of public transit vehicles should be strengthened.

II. DETAILED ANALYSIS AND RECOMMENDATIONS

A. General Requirements

1. Standard Does Not Apply To All Organizations To Whom It Should Apply

The proposed integrated accessibility standard does not apply to all the organizations to which it needs to apply. It should apply to all organizations that provide goods, services, or facilities, or that offer employment to the public. Section 1 of the Ontario Human Rights Code states:

“1. Every person has a right to equal treatment with respect to services, goods and facilities, without discrimination because of race, ancestry, place of origin, colour, ethnic origin, citizenship, creed, sex, sexual orientation, age, marital status, family status or disability.”

We therefore recommend that:

1. The standard be amended to clearly state that its requirements apply to all organizations that provide facilities, not just those that provide goods or services, or that have at least one employee. Wherever the standard now refers to “goods or services,” it should be amended to refer to “goods, services or facilities.”

2. Class Structure Not Flexible Enough

For private organizations, there are only two classes in the standard, those with fewer than 50 employees, and those with 50 or more employees.

This does not sufficiently address the need for time lines and accessibility requirements to vary with the size of obligated organizations. Public and private sector organizations repeatedly cautioned the Government against “one size fits all” solutions under the AODA. We agree.
A private organization with 500 employees should be able to do more, and more quickly, on accessibility, than an organization with only 51 employees. Under the approach in the Government’s Summary, an organization with 500 employees need not act any faster than one with 51 employees.

We therefore recommend that:

2. The standard be amended to establish a class of private sector organizations that are clearly very large i.e. over 200 employees, and that can be expected to act more expeditiously to provide accessibility. Time lines for that class of organization should be close to or the same as those for the broader public sector.

We also propose that classes of organizations should not solely be determined by an organization’s number of employees. The extent of the duty to accommodate persons with disabilities under human rights legislation is not governed solely by an organization’s number of employees.

We addressed this issue in our June 14, 2010 brief to the Government on the final proposed Employment Accessibility Standard, in submissions the Government appears to have rejected or ignored.

We therefore recommend that:

3. The standard be amended so that in connection with transportation and employment requirements, an organization’s classification is not determined solely by its number of employees, but also by its overall capacity to deliver accessibility. The standard should also assess criteria such as an organization’s total assets and revenue.

4. The standard be amended to provide that when calculating an organization’s number of employees for purposes of classifying that organization under the standard,, this count will include the number of employees in that organization as well as any related, jointly operated or co-managed organizations.

3. Requirement for Each Organization to have an Accessibility Policy is Too Vague and Weak

It may be helpful that the standard requires organizations to adopt and implement accessibility policies. However this is only so if those policies are themselves strong, effective, specific, detailed, and effectively enforceable.

However, the proposed integrated accessibility standard does not appear to meet any of these base line requirements, according to the Government’s Summary. The proposed integrated accessibility standard appears to largely leave it to each organization to decide what their accessibility policy will include. This repeats one of the serious failings in the existing Customer Service Accessibility Standard. That is the only accessibility standard that the Government has enacted to date.

The Liberal Party under Dalton McGuinty was very critical of the previous Harris Government’s Ontarians with Disabilities Act 2001 because it left it to each organization to decide what it would do about accessibility in its annual accessibility plan. This proposed integrated accessibility policy provision reflects the same flawed approach that the Liberal Party so vigourously criticized when it was in opposition.

The Government is improved upon the ODA 2001 only to the extent that the proposed integrated accessibility standard would require that these accessibility policies actually be implemented. The ODA 2001 did not require any organization to implement its accessibility plan. However, this difference won’t make a difference unless the integrated accessibility standard requires that an organization’s accessibility policy be detailed, specific, strong, effect and effectively enforceable.

The Government appears to have ignored or rejected our input on the final proposed Information and Communication Accessibility Standard, where we addressed this very concern. To be effective, an accessibility standard must set strong benchmarks. Without these, a patchwork of different levels of accessibility will continue to exist around Ontario.

In the 2003 Ontario election, the McGuinty Liberals promised in their April 7, 2003 letter to our predecessor, the Ontarians with Disabilities Act Committee, that the Disabilities Act and regulations under it that they would enact would, at a minimum, include the substance of amendments that the Liberal Party proposed when the previous Harris Government’s Ontarians with Disabilities Act 2001 was before the Legislature. The McGuinty Liberals proposed amendments to the Ontarians with Disabilities Act 2001 that would have required stronger and more effective accessibility plans by Government ministries and broader public sector organizations.

We therefore recommend that:

5. The standard be amended to specify in detail what an accessibility policy must include, so that it will achieve the comprehensive identification, removal and prevention of barriers, in a manner that ensures that the accessibility policy is strong, effective, detailed, and effectively enforceable.

4. Provision on Public Sector Organizations’ Procuring Goods, Services and Facilities is Too Weak

It is essential that the Ontario Government strengthen the standard’s requirements for ensuring that when public sector organizations procure goods, services and facilities, these goods, services, and facilities are fully accessible to persons with disabilities. The proposed integrated accessibility standard is far too weak on this issue.

Under this proposal, no public organization need actually ever ensure that the goods, services or facilities they procure are in fact accessible to persons with disabilities. They would be fully at liberty to procure inaccessible goods, services or facilities, even when accessible goods, services and facilities are readily available. So long as an organization has a policy on this, they comply with the standard. The policy need not be any good. The policy need never be implemented. The policy need never be monitored.

This is at least as weak as, if not even weaker than the inadequate language in the Ontarians with Disabilities Act 2001, which the McGuinty Liberals criticized while in opposition.

Our June 22, 2010 brief to the Ontario Government on the final proposed Information and Communication Accessibility Standard, prepared by the Information and Communication Standards Development Committee, called for strong language in the accessibility standard to ensure that public dollars are not used to create, perpetuate or exacerbate barriers against persons with disabilities.

In the U.S. there are a number of different strategies including legislation to require that public funds are used, for example, to procure accessible information technology. For example, the U.S. Government has proposed draft accessibility standards under s. 508 of the Rehabilitation Act, which, if adopted, would provide for noticeably more accessibility of information technology acquired by U.S. Government than does the proposed integrated accessibility standard. See:
http://access-board.gov/sec508/refresh/draft-rule.htm

We therefore recommend that:

6. The standard be amended to include added, enforceable requirements, targeted at the Ontario Government and large broader public sector organizations, to go into effect promptly, that require that no public funds, expended through procurement of goods, services or facilities, or through capital expenditures (such as infrastructure projects) may be used to create, exacerbate or perpetuate any barriers against persons with disabilities. Vendor accessibility compliance should be one of the mandatory scored evaluation criteria for any procurement or capital/infrastructure expenditure.

7. The standard should be amended to require that the Ontario Government and public sector organizations:
a) Integrate inclusive design into their information technology systems procurement, review and updating procedures. When planning new information and communication systems or services, or when planning the updating of existing information and communication systems or services, proposals should ensure the accessibility of the systems, and the impact of any changes on accessibility, of the system’s information or user interfaces for persons with disabilities as customers or employees. They must do more than merely “take into account” the need of persons with disabilities. For example, in the Ontario Government no new information technology system should be acquired unless a deputy minister signs off: that the system has been designed to ensure: that employees and customers with disabilities can make full and equal use of the system’s user interface and information output; that users with disabilities have been consulted in the project design; that no reasonable alternative exists or could be procured that provides better accessibility; and that the system’s acquisition or upgrade is consistent with the AODA’s requirement of full accessibility by or before 2025. The deputy minister of the ministry providing any such grant or transfer, should be required to certify to the Secretary of Cabinet that no provincial funds will be disbursed to create any new barriers to equal access to information and communication for persons with disabilities.

b) Not give any grant or transfer to any organization that pertains, directly or indirectly, to the acquisition or upgrade of information technology by any recipient organization, unless the grant specifies that the information technology acquired will comply with the go-forward accessibility requirements of the standard, and that inclusive design principles were used in the selection of the information technology to be acquired or upgraded. In the case of spending by the Ontario Government, the deputy minister of the ministry providing any such grant or transfer shall certify to the Secretary of Cabinet that no provincial funds will be disbursed to create any new barriers to equal access to information and communication for persons with disabilities.

c) Include any Ontario Government or broader sector organization’s research grants or contracts a condition requiring fully-accessible formats for their reports, and where information systems are to be acquired, the acquisition by the grant or contract, where feasible, of fully accessible information systems.

d) Only procure information-content authoring tools and applications (including content management systems and software development kits) that to produce WCAG 2.0 Level AA content and support the authors in doing so (or follow the W3C Authoring Tool Accessibility Guidelines – ATAG), available or in draft at the time.

5. Provisions on Accessibility of Electronic Kiosks are Far too Weak

The Information and Communication Standards Development Committee and the AODA Alliance have called for meaningful requirements to be included in an accessibility standard to require that electronic kiosks (like those for paying public transit fares) be accessible to persons with disabilities. The Government’s proposed integrated accessibility standard falls far short on this score. It does not require any self-serve kiosks to be accessible. It just requires an organization to think about it.

Ample technology now exists to make such electronic kiosks accessible, as are found, for example, in bank automatic teller machines and public transit fare electronic kiosks used in Chicago..

The recently-publicized controversy over the Government’s Presto so-called Smart Card” for paying public transit fares is a good example of the deficiency of this standard. The Government recently used tax dollars to develop a new electronic kiosk technology for public transit fares which has barriers against persons with disabilities. In its defence, the Government claimed it considered accessibility when designing the system, and consulted persons with disabilities. It turns out that the Government did consult, as it claimed, but appears to have ignored what it was told. The Government went ahead with a Presto Smart Card system that is not fully accessible to persons with disabilities. It is urging local public transit authorities to adopt this new fare-payment system, despite its creating new barriers against persons with disabilities. See e.g.:
http://www.aodaalliance.org/strong-effective-aoda/08302010.asp

No doubt, if this standard were enacted as it is now proposed, the Government would claim that it fully complied with the integrated accessibility standard because it considered accessibility. This is especially troubling since, in its defence, the Government told the Toronto Star that its Presto Smart Card system meets accessibility standards. See:
http://www.aodaalliance.org/strong-effective-aoda/08122010.asp

Our June 22, 2010 brief to the Ontario Government on the final proposed Information and Communication Accessibility Standard called for strong measures on electronic kiosk accessibility. The proposed integrated accessibility standard falls dramatically short of what we sought.

We therefore recommend that:

8. The standard be amended to require that electronic kiosks actually be accessible to persons with disabilities, not merely that accessibility be considered when they are designed or acquired. The standard should set out specifics of the accessibility requirements to be included in these kiosks to ensure that they are fully and independently usable by persons with disabilities.

6. Accessibility Plan Requirements Are Too Weak

It is helpful that the integrated accessibility standard will require organizations to make accessibility plans, but the provision on this is far too weak. Similarly, in the part of the integrated accessibility standard dealing with transportation accessibility issues, slightly more specific but no more prescriptive requirements are set out.

Regarding the issue of transportation accessibility plans, we identified for the Government the need to strengthen the requirements in the final proposed Transportation Accessibility Standard, submitted to the Government by the Transportation Standards Development Committee. Instead, the Government here proposes something even weaker than the proposals in the final proposed Transportation Accessibility Standard.

The integrated accessibility standard does not require these accessibility plans to address all barriers in the areas of transportation, information and communication, and employment. It only requires them to address those barriers that the integrated accessibility standard itself deals with. Yet the integrated accessibility standard does not address all barriers in the areas of transportation, information and communication, and employment. It is wasteful for an organization to set about creating an accessibility plan that does not seek to address the full range of recurring and foreseeable barriers in these three areas.

This falls well short of implementing the amendments that the Liberal Party proposed to the Ontarians with Disabilities Act 2001 when it was in opposition. As noted above, the Liberal Party promised in the 2003 election that its Disability Act and regulations under it (such as these accessibility standards ) would incorporate, at a minimum, the amendments that the Liberal Party unsuccessfully proposed in 2001 when the Legislature was considering the previous Government’s proposed Ontarians with Disabilities Act.

We therefore recommend that:

9. The standard be amended to require that:

a) at least in the case of public sector organizations, each accessibility plan address the full range of barriers in transportation, information and communication and employment, not merely those which the integrated accessibility standard itself addresses.

b) each major public transit authority be required within one year of this Standard coming into force to develop and make public on its website its multi-year plan for achieving fully-accessible transportation services. The Plan should specify the expected major interim benchmarks for progress, and the year by which full accessibility is planned to be achieved. The Plan should be periodically updated.

The Government’s Summary does not make it clear how often an organization must make an accessibility plan. Under the Ontarians with Disabilities Act 2001 (which the Government plans to eventually repeal), public sector organizations must make an accessibility plan every year. There is no reason why this should be any less frequent for public sector organizations under the integrated accessibility standard, especially since the Government has indicated its intent to eventually repeal the Ontarians with Disabilities Act 2001.

We therefore recommend that:

10. The standard be amended to require that public sector organizations make an accessibility plan each year.

7. Accessibility Plans and Policies Need not be Posted on An Organization’s Website

If an organization has a website, the proposed standard does not require an organization to post their accessibility policy or accessibility plan on that website. The proposed standard would only require an organization to make these documents available on request.

Where an organization has a website, there is clear benefit to having them post these accessibility policies and plans on their website. This costs virtually nothing. It provides an avenue for some public accountability. One would think that an organization would want to showcase their efforts on accessibility. It also helps with the enforcement process.

We addressed the need for easier public access to this information in our June 14, 2010 brief to the Government on the final proposed Employment Accessibility Standard.

We therefore recommend that:

11. The standard be amended to require that any organization that has a website post its accessibility plan and accessibility policy on its website.

8. Training Provisions Need Significant Strengthening

It is helpful that the proposed standard includes provisions on training on accessibility. However, the standard does not require any training on the accessibility guarantees in the Human Rights Code, or in the case of public sector organizations, the Canadian Charter of Rights and freedoms. The proposed standard only requires training on the accessibility standard.

The AODA aims to implement the rights of persons with disabilities in the Charter of Rights and the Human Rights Code. Yet here, the Government proposes accessibility standards that are in a number of ways lower than the Human Rights Code and the Charter of Rights. It then only proposes that organizations train their workers on this lower standard, without also letting them know their obligations under the Human Rights Code and the Charter of Rights.

This is not an effective way of achieving the AODA’s goal of a fully-accessible Ontario. A centerpiece of this training should be the disability equality requirements in the Human Rights Code, and in the case of public sector organizations, the Charter of Rights.

For an organization to only do the training that this proposed standard mandates could well create an unintended impediment to achieving timely full accessibility. It could lead organizations’ employees to think that all they need do is meet the unduly long and leisurely timetables in the integrated accessibility standard, rather than meeting the more expeditious requirements under the Human Rights Code and the Charter of Rights.

We addressed concerns regarding these kinds of training requirements in our April 8, 2009 brief to the Ontario Government on the final proposed Transportation Accessibility Standard. We also addressed this need in our June 14, 2010 brief to the Government on the final proposed Employment Accessibility Standard.

We therefore recommend that:

12. The standard be amended to require that training on the accessibility standard include training on the rights of persons with disabilities under the Human Rights Code, and in the case of public sector organizations, also under the Charter of Rights.

13. In the case of public sector organizations, re-training or updated training should be required every two years.

14. In the case of public transit authorities, The Standard be amended to add a requirement that training include a duty on the transportation providers employees and volunteers to immediately report to their superiors when they learn of a potential or actual difficulty that persons with disabilities experience with accessibility to the services of the transportation provider;

B. Information and Communication Accessibility Requirements

1. The Goal of the Information and Communication Requirements is Too Weak

The goal of the standard’s information and communication requirements in the proposed integrated accessibility standard is far too weak. Its very limited goal of making information and communication “more accessible” is akin to the similarly tepid objectives that the previous Harris Government sought via the ODA 2001 –a tepid approach to accessibility which the McGuinty Liberals commendably strongly criticized as inadequate when they were in the opposition. So long as there is any improvement in accessibility, no matter how paltry, this weak objective would be met.

In the AODA, the McGuinty Government committed Ontario to the legislated goal of full accessibility by 2025. Thus the objective in this standard should be fully accessible information and communication. By instead so substantially diluting its objective in this standard, the Government has rejected both the advice of the AODA Alliance and that of the Information and Communication Standards Development Committee.

We therefore recommend that:

15. The standard be amended to state that its objective for information and communication is full accessibility on or before 2025.

2. The Information and Communication Requirements Should Fully Apply to Employment and the Provision of >Facilities, Not Just the Provision of Goods and Services

The proposed standard’s information and communication provisions are too narrow. This is because they only apply to the provision of goods and services, not employment, or the provision of facilities. Our concern that the standard does not address the provision of facilities was addressed earlier in this brief. Our June 22, 2010 brief to the Government on the final proposed Information and Communication Accessibility Standard pointed out the need for this standard to address access to information and communication in employment.

We therefore recommend that:

16. The standard be amended to apply its provisions on accessibility of information and communication to information and communication in the employment setting and in the provision of facilities.

3. The Standard Incorrectly Assumes All People With Disabilities Have Ready Access to the Internet

The integrated accessibility standard’s provisions on access to information incorrectly assume that all persons with disabilities have the technology and services needed for ready access to the internet. The proposed standard in effect provides that an organization meets its information and communication obligations in certain areas by posting information on the internet.

As is well known, a disproportionately large percentage of Ontarians with disabilities live near or below the poverty line. Those who cannot afford a computer, plus adaptive technology where needed to use a computer, plus the cost of monthly internet services, will have no access to information whose only accessible option is by reading it on the internet.

We therefore recommend that:

17. The standard be amended to require that any document or information be made available, on request, in an accessible format, whether or not it is also available on the organization’s website.

4. Insufficient to Provide Information “In a Manner that Takes into Account a Person’s Disability”

The proposed integrated accessibility standard does not clearly require that an organization actually provide information in a manner that is accessible to a person with a disability. Instead, it requires that information be provided in a manner that “takes into account” a person’s disability.

This wording is too unclear and uncertain. An organization might argue that it has met this obligation by giving a Braille document to a person who is blind, but who does not know Braille.

It is helpful but not sufficient for these purposes that the proposed standard requires the organization to consult with the individual with a disability on the manner of providing accessibility. It does not require the organization to act on the input from the individual with a disability. It does not require the organization to give a reason if it rejects the input from a person with a disability. It does not hold the organization accountable if it consults but disregards what the individual with a disability said.

We therefore recommend that:

18. The standard be amended to provide that every obligated organization will be required to provide or arrange for the provision of accessible formats and communication supports, upon request, for persons with disabilities in a manner that actually meets the accessibility needs of that specific person with a disability.

5. The Blanket Exemption for Commercial Products and Product Labels is Overbroad

The proposed standard’s information and communication accessibility requirements have an excessively large exception for any consumer products and labels. As quoted earlier, s. 1 of the Human Rights Code gives persons with disabilities the right to equal treatment with respect to goods, without discrimination because of disability. Even if it were assumed that some goods might arguably be exempted from this integrated accessibility standard, it is unjustifiable to exempt all consumer products and labels, including any produced in Ontario.
For example, there is technology on the market to enable product labels to be read by an iPhone if certain kinds of bar codes are included, at virtually no cost to the producer or vender.

We therefore recommend that:

19. The standard be amended to narrow the exemption of all consumer products and labels from the information and communication requirements. Where practicable, consumer product labels for products with a mass market should have accessibility options.

6. Insufficient Requirements for Notifying the Public of the Availability of Information in Alternative Formats

It is good that the integrated accessibility standard requires notice to the public of information that is made available in alternative formats. However, the proposed standard does not sufficiently ensure that this notice is provided in an accessible way. This, in the end, is self-defeating.

For many who need alternative formats, such as those with dyslexia or vision loss, posting an announcement on a sign in the organization’s offices or store location will not make this information accessible.

We therefore recommend that:

20. The standard be amended to require that where an organization must give notice to the public of the availability of information in an alternative format, the notice should be available, where needed, in audio format.

7. Website Accessibility Requirements are Too Weak

It is good that the integrated accessibility standard seeks to set accessibility requirements for websites on the internet. However, the requirements are too weak. They may lead organizations to waste money on duplicative efforts, by requiring organizations to first gear up to meet the insufficient accessibility requirements of WCAG 2.0 Level A and then retrain their staff to later meet the more appropriate accessibility requirements of WCAG 2.0 Level AA.

At present, the Government of Canada has unwisely opted to spend public funds defending a law suit, that contests its websites’ inaccessibility, rather than do the right thing, by providing accessible websites. Ontario should not adopt so weak a standard on website accessibility that persons with disabilities will have to resort to similar litigation in the provincial arena.

We therefore recommend that:

21. The standard be amended to require that new web content be posted in an accessible format, whether it is posted on a new website or an existing website.

Another giant loophole in the proposed standard would let an organization fail to meet Level website accessibility requirements if it is not “technically feasible” to meet them.

Anyone enforcing the AODA should not have to prove that it is technically feasible to comply. We have been presented with no proof during the Government’s deliberations over this issue that compliance is not “technically feasible.” We presented clear proof that the vast majority of Level AA requirements impose no significant added burden over Level A. Moreover, under the Human Rights Code, an organization has the burden to prove that to accommodate persons with disabilities is impossible without undue hardship. Moreover, ongoing developments in information technology make providing accessibility easier and easier all the time.

We therefore recommend that:

22. The vague “technically feasible” loophole should be removed from the standard. If there is to be any exemption clause at all, which we oppose, a far narrower exemption should be created that exempts an organization only when full compliance is impossible without undue hardship, with the burden of proof resting with the organization that fails to provide accessibility.

Yet another major and unjustified loophole in this provision completely exempts any private or non-profit organization with under 50 employees. This unjustifiably exempts the vast majority of private businesses in Ontario’s economy. In the 2003 election, the McGuinty Liberals promised that their Disabilities Act would apply to the private sector. Provisions like this largely take away through the back door what we were promised at the front door.

We agree that small businesses and small non-profit organizations should have more modest obligations regarding website accessibility. However, this definition of small private organizations is far too broad. It could exempt a company with 49 employees, with a large profit margin, and a major web presence.

Moreover, the proposed standard assumes wrongly that if a small private organization cannot do everything to achieve website accessibility, it need not do anything. This again flies in the face of their Human Rights Code obligations. For the most part, it is reasonable to expect that smaller organizations will also have a smaller web presence, and thus less to do to ensure its accessibility.

The Government appears to have ignored or rejected (without reasons) our argument on point in our June 22, 2010 brief on the final proposed Information and Communication Accessibility Standard.

We therefore recommend that:

23. The standard be amended to substantially narrow the class of private organizations that are excused from the standard’s full requirements on website accessibility. For smaller private organizations, the standard should impose moderated website accessibility requirements, rather than no requirements at all.

As part of the standard’s website accessibility requirements, the standard should make it clear that documents posted on a website should be available in an accessibility format. Where an organization posts a document in PDFR format, the organization should ensure that the PDF is created using full accessibility features. It should also require that the document also be posted in an alternative format, such as MS Word, HTML, or .txt format. This latter requirement will ensure that the document can be read on portable devices such as the Victor Reader Stream, the Booksense or the Plextalk Pocket, none of which can read PDF files (even when all PDF accessibility features are engaged. This is important to spell out in the standard, since PDF formats are pervasively used on the internet.

We therefore recommend that:

24. The standard be amended to require that when an organization posts a document on its website in PDF format, it be required to:

a) use available PDF accessibility formatting, and

b) also post the document in an alternative file format that enables it to be used on portable reading devices for persons with print disabilities, such as the Victor Reader Stream, the Booksense or the Plextalk Pocket.

8. The Provisions on Accessibility of Educational/Training Materials Need Broadening

It is helpful that the standard provides some proactive accessibility measures for making educational and training resources and materials available in an accessible format. However the provisions on accessibility training for accessible course design instruction are too narrow because they only apply to “district school boards, private elementary and secondary schools and public and private post-secondary institutions.” In contrast, the earlier provision on providing accessible course materials also applies to post-secondary “training” institutions. It is not clear if this is just sloppy drafting, or if the latter provision was meant to be narrower than the earlier one. In either event, the latter one should be broadened to match the earlier one.

We therefore recommend that:

25. The standard be amended to ensure that the provisions on accessibility awareness training related to accessible course design and instruction be expanded to apply to all post-secondary training institutions.

Beyond this, the provisions on accessibility of curriculum and other school and university/college-related materials are too weak. They require provision of accessibility materials on request, but do not ensure that this will be done in a timely fashion. They do not require school boards, colleges, universities and other like educational institutions to seek wherever possible to only use text books and other course materials that are available in an accessible or conversion-ready format. This proposed standard is noticeably weaker than the final proposed Information and Communication Accessibility Standard, developed by the Information and Communication Standards Development Committee.

We have received feedback from within the community of Ontario universities that apart from new website accessibility requirements (addressed elsewhere in this brief), the integrated accessibility standard does not require Ontario universities to do anything more than they are now doing in this regard. This is illustrative of the regrettably lax approach to mandating accessibility that is too often reflected in this proposed accessibility standard.

We have been advised by members of the Information and Communication Standards Development Committee that a main concern that the disability sector representatives raised during the standards development process was the inequitable delays that students with print disabilities too often experience in getting course materials in alternative formats. Modern, readily available information technology makes any such delays inexcusable.

If educational institutions or educational libraries wait for a student request, and then producers of educational and training materials wait for a request from the educational institution or library, the inequitable situation persists where students have to wait for their educational materials in alternative format and are at a disadvantage compared to other students. The only way to remedy this unfair situation is to require educational institutions and libraries to procure educational materials in accessible or conversion-ready formats when they are ordering print versions of those materials.

At the very least, these educational institutions should be required to show real due diligence in trying to procure materials in accessible or conversion-ready format. If publishers know this is required, market forces will do the rest. There is no material cost burden in this regard.

We therefore recommend that:

26. The standard be amended to

a) Require educational institutions to procure accessible or conversion-ready electronic formats of educational and training materials for students or faculty with disabilities before or at the same time as other recipients and for producers of educational and training materials for educational institutions to make accessible or conversion-ready electronic materials available to educational institutions at or before the same time as the print and multimedia formats of the materials.

b) Require libraries of educational institutions to procure an accessible or conversion-ready electronic format of all new text-based or multi-media materials purchased for library holdings.

9. Provisions on Accessible Collections at Public Libraries are Far Too Narrow

It is commendable that the Government implicitly acknowledges that the integrated accessibility standard should address the need for public libraries to have collections of accessible materials for those who cannot read print due to a disability. However, the integrated accessibility standard includes only a token measure that, if obeyed, need not materially expand the access of persons with print disabilities to printed materials.

At first glance, this standard looks quite positive. However, when examined more closely it becomes evident that a public library can simply put two or three audio books on its shelves, and be in full compliance.

The Government disregarded the core recommendation of the Information and Communication Standards Development Committee on this issue. We had endorsed that recommendation, and elaborated on it, in our June 22, 2010 brief to the Government on the final proposed Information and Communication Accessibility Standard.

We therefore recommend that:

27. The standard be amended to set a mandatory level of accessible materials to be included in a public library’s accessible collection, while leaving it free for public libraries to pool accessible library collection resources.

10. “Communication Supports” Requires Clear and Broad Definition

The proposed standard’ information and communication provisions refer in several places to organizations providing “communication supports” to persons with disabilities who need them. This term is not defined. It is important for the integrated accessibility standard to include a clear and broad definition of this term to ensure that it encompasses a full range of needed communication supports, like Sign Language, captioning, alternative and augmentative communication supports and plain language, where needed to ensure effective communication.

We therefore recommend that:

28. The standard be amended to include a clear, broad definition of “communication supports that includes Sign Language, captioning, alternative and augmentative communication supports, plain language, and other needed supports that ensure effective communication.

11. The Standard Leaves out Other Key Information and Communication Requirements Earlier Proposed

The proposed integrated accessibility standard does not include a number of other key information and communication accessibility requirements that we recommended in our June 22, 2010 brief to the Government on the final proposed Information and Communication Accessibility Standard, or that the Information and Communication Standards Development Committee recommended in the final proposed Information and Communication Accessibility Standard. We resubmit these here. Each is followed by the recommendation number in our June 22, 2010 brief.

We therefore recommend that

29. The standard should be amended as follows:

a) To set a date by which the Ontario Government will make publicly available free web authoring tools and other resources to help reduce the cost to other organizations to comply with the standard, and the time they will need for compliance.

b) The standard’s web accessibility requirements should be expanded to include Mobile Web, location based services and other internet delivered services over mobile systems or smart environments (e.g., GPS wayfinding services.)

c) The standard be expanded to specifically and fully extend its website accessibility requirements to intranet sites. Time lines and detailed requirements might be scaled back for smaller organizations with fewer employees.

d) Regarding self-governing professionals:

i) The standard should at a minimum include the mandatory accessibility requirements for self-governing professionals set out in the initial proposed Information and Communication Accessibility Standard.
ii) That requirement should be expanded to include requirements for training in this area as a precondition to entry to a licensed self-governing profession, and
iii) This issue should not be left to voluntary compliance by self-governing professions, nor to non-legislative efforts by the Ontario Government at persuading self-governing professions to take voluntary action.

e) The standard be expanded to

i) Include the full scope of coverage in this area that would have been covered by s. 6.4 of the initial proposed Information and Communication Accessibility Standard, and
ii) Include, for example, ensuring that it covers accessibility training for not just those who design information and communication products, but those who are learning about the design or creation of data or programming.

f) The standard be expanded to specify and clarify organizations’ obligations for providing accessible information supports for meetings, taking into account such criteria as the importance of the meeting, the extent to which the meeting is open to the public, the organization’s capacity to provide such supports, and the ease with which persons with disabilities can request such supports in advance.

g) The standard be amended to include added, enforceable requirements, targeted at the Ontario Government and large broader public sector organizations, to go into effect promptly, that require:

i) Integration of inclusive design into their information technology systems procurement, review and updating procedures. When planning new information and communication systems or services, or when planning the updating of existing information and communication systems or services, proposals should ensure the accessibility of the systems, and the impact of any changes on accessibility, of the system’s information or user interfaces for persons with disabilities as customers or employees. This should require them to do more than merely “take into account” the need of persons with disabilities. For example, in the Ontario Government no new information technology system should be acquired unless a deputy minister signs off: that the system has been designed to ensure: that employees and customers with disabilities can make full and equal use of the system’s user interface and information output; that users with disabilities have been consulted in the project design; that no reasonable alternative exists or could be procured that provides better accessibility; and that the system’s acquisition or upgrade is consistent with the AODA’s requirement of full accessibility by or before 2025. The deputy minister of the ministry providing any such grant or transfer, should be required to certify to the Secretary of Cabinet that no provincial funds will be disbursed to create any new barriers to equal access to information and communication for persons with disabilities.
ii) No Ontario Government or municipal government funding grant or transfer to any organization shall be made that pertains, directly or indirectly, to the acquisition or upgrade of information technology by any recipient organization, unless the grant specifies that the information technology acquired will comply with the go-forward accessibility requirements of the standard, and that inclusive design principles were used in the selection of the information technology to be acquired or upgraded. In the case of spending by the Ontario Government, the deputy minister of the ministry providing any such grant or transfer shall certify to the Secretary of Cabinet that no provincial funds will be disbursed to create any new barriers to equal access to information and communication for persons with disabilities.
iii) The inclusion in any Ontario Government or broader sector organization’s research grants or contracts of a condition requiring fully-accessible formats for their reports, and where information systems are to be acquired, the acquisition by the grant or contract, where feasible, of fully accessible information systems.
iv) Information-content authoring tools and applications (including content management systems and software development kits) that the Ontario Government procures be required to produce WCAG 2.0 Level AA content and support the authors in doing so (or follow the W3C Authoring Tool Accessibility Guidelines – ATAG).

h) The standard be amended to fully address all information and communication barriers in both provincial and municipal elections, with time lines that ensure that the next municipal and provincial elections in Ontario will be fully free of information and communication barriers. We repeat here our recommendations in our brief to the Ontario Legislature’s Standing Committee on the Legislative Assembly on Bill 231, available at: http://www.aodaalliance.org/strong-effective-aoda/03172010.asp

i) The standard be expanded to require that:

i) No organization may impose a surcharge on the purchase of goods or services via the telephone or direct purchase from a representative of that organization on site, as opposed to via a website or electronic kiosk interface, on any customer who, because of disability, cannot use that website or electronic kiosk, and
ii) any organization that has such a surcharge should widely advertise a waiver of the surcharge that is easily and automatically available for customers who self identify as having a disability which prevents them from using the website or electronic kiosk.

j) The standard be expanded to include detailed requirements for signage available to the public, whether indoor or outdoor, including sufficient standards for choice of font, font size, color contrast, and available lighting.

k) The standard should include guarantees for access to court-related documents as proposed in the 2007 Report of the Weiler Committee, entitled “Making Ontario’s Courts Fully Accessible to Persons with Disabilities.”

l) The standard be expanded to require that instructions for consumer products, sold in Ontario be made available on request in an accessible alternate format, such as an accessible downloadable file on line.

m) The standard be expanded to require that In public sector organizations and private sector organizations with over at least 200 employees, a person among existing staff be designated as having lead responsibility for ensuring accessible information and communication.

n) The standard be expanded to provide that providers of health care services shall have the means to provide accessible information and communications about essential issues such as, but not limited to, symptoms, tests, diagnoses, assessments, steps to follow-up, treatment and prescription instructions.

o) The standard be expanded to provide that organizations producing information and communications such as, but not limited to, financial agreements including mortgage, lease, and purchase contracts, and that provide individuals with invoices and account statements on a periodic basis shall make these accessible upon request.

C. Employment Accessibility Requirements

1. Purpose for Employment Accessibility Requirements is Too Narrow

The standard sets out an objective for its employment provisions that is somewhat better than the purpose clause for the information and communication provisions. Nevertheless, it is also too narrow.

The Government appears to have ignored or disregarded our submission on this purpose in our June 14, 2010 brief on the final proposed Employment Accessibility Standard.

We therefore recommend that:

30. The standard be amended to Provide that the purpose of the Standard’s employment requirements is to ensure that workplaces in Ontario are barrier free and that people with disabilities have equal access to and can fully participate in employment on or before 2025.

2. The Employment Provisions Must Be Expanded to Require Employers to Pro-Actively Identify, Remove and Prevent

Workplace Barriers

The employment provisions in the integrated accessibility standard mainly puts in place procedures to implement an employer’s duty to accommodate employees and job applicants with disabilities in the work place, as has been required under the Human Rights Code for almost three decades. With a few very narrow exceptions, it does not require any employer to pro-actively identify and remove existing workplace barriers, or to prevent the creation of new ones.

By this approach, employers can and likely will retain existing workplace barriers, and will create new ones between now and 2025. When an individual with a disability runs up against one of these, the integrated accessibility standard only requires that they be accommodated i.e. that the employer figure out a way to work around that barrier, where doing so does not cause the employer undue hardship.

The AODA seeks to achieve fully accessible workplaces by 2025. This standard will not achieve this in 2025 or ever. It is necessary for the standard to be substantially expanded to require employers to take pro-active action to identify, remove and prevent workplace barriers, even before an employee or job applicant asks for an accommodation to get around those barriers.

Put another way, the integrated accessibility standard is for the most part, not a standard which was contemplated under the AODA. An accessibility standard under the AODA is supposed to specify barriers that an organization must remove or prevent, set out ways that this can or must be done, and set out time lines for this to be done, so that employment is fully accessible by 2025. For the most part, the integrated accessibility standard provisions on employment simply do not do this. This is a substantial failure by the Government to fulfil its most basic mandate under the AODA. It parallels a comparable failure in the Customer Service Accessibility Standard, the only accessibility standard enacted to date.

The final proposed Employment Accessibility Standard, submitted to the Government by the
Employment Standards Development Committee did not adequately cover this issue. At least it, unlike the integrated accessibility standard that the Government is now proposing, spoke about removing and preventing workplace barriers.

We thoroughly addressed and emphasized this pivotal issue squarely in our June 14, 2010 brief to the Government on the final proposed Employment Accessibility Standard. Here again, the Government has inexplicably rejected or ignored our input.

We therefore recommend that:

31. The standard be amended to

a) Include specific mandatory requirements for identification, removal and prevention of recurring workplace barriers over time, apart from fulfilling individual employee accommodation requests, e.g. barriers in office workspace, office equipment and technology and terms and conditions of work.

b) Address the process of removing and preventing barriers to effective workplace accommodation and accessibility in the collective bargaining process and in collective agreements, which could:

i) Focus an employer and union, involved in the process of bargaining a collective agreement, on identifying and removing existing barriers in the collective agreement, and preventing the creation of new barriers;
ii) Require an arbitrator, undertaking binding arbitration of the collective agreement, to address identification removal of existing barriers, and prevention of new barriers in the collective agreement, including inviting submissions from the union and employer on this topic during the arbitration process;
iii) Engage the employer and union in getting input from employees with disabilities on workplace barriers that may arise from the collective agreement.

c) Require that larger private sector organizations, and all public sector organizations, establish, make public, and inform employees and job applicants about a process for making funds available within the organization, when needed for workplace accommodations, including:

i) In the case of public sector organizations, establishing a central fund to cover the cost of accommodations, so long as that Fund is not treated a ceiling of what the organization may expend on needed workplace accommodation;
ii) Large private sector organizations would either establish such a Fund or a comparable process.
iii) If an employee-requested workplace accommodation isn’t provided by the organization, on account of concerns over the cost or for any other reason, the organization’s chief executive officer will be informed of this decision and the reason for it.

Note: We do not here make proposals about added requirements regarding the Ontario Government and the Ontario Public Service as employer, as we did in our June 14, 2010 brief to the Government on the final proposed Employment Accessibility Standard. We want such provisions enshrined into legislation. Since the Government has stated that it intends, when it repeals the Ontarians with Disabilities Act 2001, to transfer provisions in it to the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, we will seek such amendments and enhancements to that legislation at that time. We have not withdrawn our position that there needs to be in Ontario legislation strengthened provisions governing the Ontario Government and Ontario Public Service as an employer of persons with disabilities, especially in light of the Government’s oft-repeated claims that it wishes to lead by example in the area of accessibility for persons with disabilities.

3. Provisions on General Workplace Accommodation Need to be Strengthened

The proposed standard includes potentially helpful provisions which implement the duty of employers to accommodate employees and job applicants with disabilities. However, these are very general. They mainly reiterate what the Human Rights Code has required for decades. It would be helpful to strengthen these to put in place low-cost, high-yield procedures to make the accommodation process as effective and swift as possible.

We recommended such measures in our June 14, 2010 brief to the Government on the final proposed Employment Accessibility Standard. The Government has ignored or rejected our suggestions. We do not know why.

We therefore recommend that:

32. The standard be amended to ensure that:

a) The process of developing and providing workplace accommodation is flexible and non-bureaucratic.

b) It is clear to whom an employee makes an accommodation request;

c) There is a speedy process within the organization for resolving any dispute or disagreement over an accommodation request;

d) A public sector organization, and possibly a very large private sector organization, should designate an existing employee within their organization as the disability accessibility and accommodation coordinator to oversee workplace accommodation issues;

e) If an employer declines to provide workplace accommodation to an employee or job applicant, the employer shall give the employee or job applicant its reasons for not providing any accommodation, or if further accommodation is requested but declined, the further accommodation.

The proposed standard does not include a specific provision dealing with the accessibility needs of employees with disabilities in the workplace training context. The Human Rights Code duty to accommodate applies to training of employees in the workplace. The Employment Standards Development Committee included in its final proposed Employment Accessibility Standard detailed provisions on this. The Government inexplicably has rejected that proposal.

We therefore recommend that:

33. The standard be amended to include requirements for employers in public sector organizations and larger private sector organizations to identify, remove and prevent barriers to workplace training for employees with disabilities.

4. Provisions on Addressing Workplace Information and Communication Access are Too Narrow

It is helpful that the integrated accessibility standard addresses some workplace information and communication accessibility issues. However, these provisions are too narrow and need to be broadened.

This provision should apply to all information and communication that an employee in that position would have access to or need to perform his or her job, whether or not that information is also available to all employees in that organization.

We therefore recommend that:

34. The standard be amended to provide that workplace information and communication accommodations apply to access to all information and communication that an employee in that position would have access to or need in connection with his or her job.

5. Return to Work Provision Requires Strengthening

It is good that the integrated accessibility standard seeks to address the situation of employees with disabilities returning to work e.g. after being on leave due to their disability. However, the standard uses extremely weak language. It does not effectively address the barriers that employees with disabilities can face when attempting to return to work.

This standard does not specify what the return to work policy must be. It does not ensure that employees with disabilities have barriers removed that would impede their access to return to work opportunities. We addressed concerns about comparably vague and toothless language in the final proposed Employment Accessibility Standard, submitted to the Government by the Employment Standards Development Committee. Again, it appears that the Government disregarded our advice in designing the integrated accessibility standard.

We therefore recommend that:

35. The standard be amended to specify key minimum requirements of any return to work policy, aimed at maximizing the opportunity for barrier-free return to work. These minimum requirements can vary depending on the class of organization, with less extensive requirements for smaller organizations.

Moreover, the integrated accessibility standard includes an exemption for situations where return to work is not governed by other legislation.

The intent behind the AODA was that it would remove barriers in the workplace, including legal barriers. If any other legislation governing return to work imposes barriers that impede return to work, this standard should supercede that other legislation.

We therefore recommend that:

36. The standard be amended to provide that this standard prevails over any other legislation governing return to work that gives less barrier-free access to return to work for employees with disabilities.

6. Provisions on Performance Management, Career Development and Redeployment are Very Weak

It is good that the integrated accessibility standard seeks to address the areas of performance management, career development and redeployment. However, its contents appear to merely repeat what is already covered by the Human Rights Code. It does so in terms that appear weaker than the Human Rights Code.

The Human Rights Code requires that employees with disabilities have their needs actually accommodated in these areas. In contrast, the integrated accessibility standard only requires that an employer take into account the accommodation needs and/or individual accommodation plans of employees. They might take this into account by thinking about these needs, but not doing anything about them.

We addressed the need for such language to be strengthened in our June 14, 2010 brief to the Government on the final proposed Employment Accessibility Standard. Moreover, the Employment Standards Development Committee used stronger language than is found in the integrated accessibility standard on the issue of meeting the needs of employees with disabilities in the performance management context.

We therefore recommend that:

37. The standard be amended to

a) Require that any career development, performance management and redeployment policies, practices or procedures at a workplace be barrier-free for employees with disabilities, and that an employer accommodate the disability-related needs of employees with disabilities in these policies, practices and procedures.

b) Specify minimum requirements for employees with disabilities involved in any redeployment process, which:

i) Effectively address any accommodation needs of employees with disabilities being redeployed, and
ii) Protect, where feasible, employees with disabilities from being bumped from their job to another job if this will confront them with less accessibility or more workplace barriers.

7. No Provision for Government-Sponsored Disability Job-Seeking Network

The integrated accessibility standard includes no provision requiring the Ontario Government to set up a network or clearing-house for employers and job-seekers with disabilities. We proposed this in our June 14, 2010 brief to the Government on the final proposed Employment Accessibility Standard.

We therefore recommend that:

38. The standard be amended to require the Ontario government to set up a one-click network to which employers can send job postings, which the Government would then distribute to organizations that serve persons with disabilities.

D. Transportation Accessibility Requirements

1. Purpose of Transportation Provisions is Far Too Weak

The integrated accessibility standard’s statement of the purpose for its transportation provisions is exceedingly weak. It falls dramatically short of the AODA’s goal of full accessibility of transportation by 2025.

The goal of achieving a condition where “people with disabilities can more easily access transportation services across the province” is very limited. Simply having a handful of more accessible public transit vehicles in Ontario would accomplish this, but would do very little to change the lives of people with disabilities across Ontario.

This purpose clause is even weaker than that proposed by the Transportation Standards Development Committee in the final Transportation Accessibility Standard – a proposal we thought itself needed strengthening. We addressed this issue in our April 8, 2009 brief to the Government on the final proposed Transportation Accessibility Standard.

We therefore recommend that:

39. The standard be amended to provide that the purpose of the standard’s transportation provisions is to make passenger transportation services under provincial and municipal jurisdiction in Ontario fully accessible for persons with disabilities, so that they can fully participate in and be fully included in those services on a footing of equality no later than January 1, 2025, and to ensure that as soon as practicable, readily achievable measures are taken to remove existing barriers and prevent the creation of new barriers impeding persons with disabilities from the full and equal benefit of public transportation.

2. Standard Addresses Some Vehicle Accessibility Issues under Another Law, Denying Ontarians with Disabilities

Protections Won in the AODA

In the integrated accessibility standard, the Government announced its intent to address some aspects of public transit vehicle accessibility in regulations to be enacted under another piece of legislation, rather than by an accessibility standard under the AODA. This is unwise and very troubling.

This is not just a mere technical matter. The AODA requires the development of accessibility standards to make Ontario fully accessible by 2025. After a decade of tenacious campaigning, and in the face of a great deal of resistance, Ontarians with disabilities won several important protections in the AODA on the process for making accessibility standards. These accessibility standards must be recommended by a Standards Development Committee, appointed under the AODA, with equal representation of persons with disabilities. There must be opportunities for persons with disabilities to have input into these recommendations, and into proposed regulations before they are enacted into law. These standards must be reviewed every five years. An Independent Review must be appointed, once every three years from now, to review progress. There must be effective enforcement under the AODA.

Where accessibility requirements are enacted under some other law, instead of being enacted under the AODA, we can lose these safeguards for which we fought so long and hard. Moreover, those regulations are the responsibility of another ministry-in this case, the Ministry of Transportation. We can have no confidence that the Ministry of Transportation can effectively address disability accessibility requirements, in light of their recent mishandling of the Presto Smart Card issue, addressed earlier in this brief, and the Transportation Minister’s unexplained failure to date to publicly respond to our August 2010 written inquiries about it. We address the Government’s substantive proposals to be enacted under other legislation, later in this brief.

We therefore recommend that:

40. Any and all transportation accessibility requirements be included in the integrated accessibility standard, and not in regulations enacted under any other legislation such as the Highway Traffic Act.

3. Provisions on Ensuring Availability of Accessible Taxis are Woefully Inadequate

We have repeatedly identified for the Government a major priority for accessible transportation. That is the need for the standard to include strong, effective measures to ensure the availability of accessible taxis. We also emphasized the inadequacy of the final proposed Transportation Accessibility Standard, proposed by the Transportation Standards Development Committee, on this issue.

It is helpful that the proposed integrated accessibility standard addresses fare discrimination against taxi passengers with disabilities. However, apart from this, the integrated accessibility standard is completely inadequate at addressing access to taxi services for persons with disabilities. Its measures are mere window-dressing and tokenism.

All this proposed standard requires is that municipalities “work with” persons with disabilities to assess how many accessible taxis they need in their community, and that public transit authorities include in their accessibility plans information on how Municipalities are making progress to meet the accessible taxi needs of their community.This is even weaker than the inadequate proposal on this issue that came from the Transportation Standards Development Committee. This could let municipalities determine that they need no accessible taxis at all, or a very low proportion of accessible taxis, so long as they conduct a consultation.

This window-dressing flies in the face of Dalton McGuinty’s promise that the Disabilities Act would fulfil the 11 principles for this legislation that the Legislature unanimously adopted on October 29, 1998, on a motion by the Liberal Party. The 11th of these requires that this legislation: …must be more than mere window dressing. It should contribute meaningfully to the improvement of the position of persons with disabilities in Ontario. It must have real force and effect.

The goal should be availability of an accessible taxi with the same wait time as for an inaccessible one. Since the AODA was passed in 2005, the Government has had fully five years to assess the demand for accessible taxis as compared with the supply of accessible taxi vehicles. It could easily have gathered this data in short order over that period, or even over the period of over one and a half years since the Transportation Standards Development Committee submitted the final proposed Transportation Accessibility Standard. It is entirely unnecessary for the Government to now delay any meaningful effort at actually solving the problem of inaccessible taxis for another five or more years until the Transportation Accessibility Standard is next reviewed, just to gather this data. Our April 8, 2009 brief to the Government on the final proposed Transportation Accessibility Standard called for that final proposal’s weak language to be substantially strengthened in this area.

We have no indication that the Government has surveyed local governments in Ontario or elsewhere to develop a range of options for addressing this need. The Government has not attempted to bring the municipal government, taxi and disability sectors together to rainstorm solutions.

We therefore recommend that:

41. The standard be amended to:

a) require that by a benchmark end date, persons with disabilities should have full access to 100% accessible taxi fleets, that end date to be no later than 2025.

b) require Municipalities be or other taxi licensing authorities to only grant a new taxi license or to renew an existing permit for vehicles that meet standards for accessibility to be set out in the standard, so that every inaccessible taxi vehicle retired off the road due to long term use is replaced by a new vehicle that meets Transportation Accessibility Standard accessibility requirements;

c) require a municipality to give a non-transferrable taxi license or permit to anyone who undertakes to operate an accessible taxi vehicle, it being understood that that operator is free to also use their vehicle for passengers with no disability.

d) set a series of intermediate benchmarks on proportions of a municipality’s taxi fleet that are accessible (e.g. 50% by 2015). These benchmarks can be varied depending on community size or other reasonable factors;

e) require municipalities or taxi companies to report publicly to the Ministry on an annual basis, on the proportion of their taxi fleets that are accessible, on the proportion of these that are available for on-demand calls (i.e. not sub-contracted to para-transit services), and on the average time required to fill a call for an accessible taxi. These data should be made public by the Ministry for easy reference and comparison;

f) require taxi dispatch companies to keep track of and annually report on statistics on how many requests they get for an accessible taxi, how often they can fill it, and the time lag in filling it compared to other calls.

g) require the Government to develop a strategy in conjunction with municipalities, public transit authorities, taxi companies and car manufacturers, for arranging for the bulk purchase of accessible taxis at a reduced price.

4. Provisions on Access to Para-Transit Services are Very Inadequate

Throughout the development of the Transportation Accessibility Standard, we also identified as a major priority the need to ensure timely access to effective para-transit services for those who cannot ride conventional public transit, due to recurring barriers in the conventional system. This does not now exist in Ontario. The integrated accessibility standard provisions on para-transit fall far below what persons with disabilities require.

(a) Standard Gives No Assurance of Para-Transit Services and gives Excessive Arbitrary Discretion to Transit Authorities

At the core of the proposed transportation provisions is a very problematic approach which flies in the face of equality principles. It emanated from the organized public transit sector. It is called “family of services.”

While dressed up in softened language, it in effect gives public transit authorities sweeping discretion to provide for passengers with disabilities however they choose, without ensuring true equality of service. Over the objection of the disability sector, the transit sector pushed this in the Transportation Standards Development Committee. We repeatedly and strongly objected to it during the development of the Transportation Standards Development Committee’s proposals for the Transportation Accessibility Standard. Despite our strong objections, it has, regrettably, found its way into the proposed integrated accessibility standard. This is but one illustration of how this standard appears to largely have been drafted by or at the behest of the public transit sector.

We demonstrated in our April 8, 2009 brief to the Government on the final proposed Transportation Accessibility Standard that this “family of services” approach is fundamentally inconsistent with equality for passengers with disabilities. It appears that the Government has rejected or ignored our concerns. , and drafted the standard to meet the desires of the least responsive among the transit sector.

As a stark illustration of the flaws with the Government’s adoption of this “family of services” approach, the proposed integrated accessibility standard does not even require a public transit authority to provide a formal para-transit service for passengers who, due to disability, cannot use the inaccessible conventional public transit system. The proposed standard leaves it to the public transit authority to either establish a formal para-transit service (which the proposed standard calls a “specialized” service), or to come up with some other way of transporting passengers with disabilities who cannot use the inaccessible conventional system.

We therefore recommend that:

42. The standard be amended to ensure that it does not incorporate any “family of services” concept, however labelled, and to ensure that para-transit services will be provided wherever conventional public transit services are provided.

Moreover, it does not appear that the standard will apply to para-transit in any community where there is no conventional public transit. We recommended in our April 8, 2009 brief to the Government on the final proposed Transportation Accessibility Standard that the standard should apply to all para-transit services in Ontario.

We therefore recommend that:

43. The standard be amended to also make its para-transit requirements apply to any para-transit service in Ontario even if there is no conventional public transit service in that community.

(b) Provision on Para-Transit Ride Guarantees is No Guarantee at All

The integrated accessibility standard’ provision on guaranteeing rides for eligible passengers para-transit with disabilities provides no ride guarantees at all. It merely requires provision of same day service where service is available.

Para-transit passengers too often recount horror-stories of trying to arrange a para-transit ride, waiting on hold for long stretches, getting up early in the morning to start dialing to try to get a ride for the next day, with a maximum of intolerable frustration. In contrast, passengers without disabilities need only walk to a nearby bust or subway stop and wait a few minutes for the next scheduled bus. This is not equality, nor will equality be achieved or even approached if public transit authorities need only meet the requirements of the proposed integrated accessibility standard.

The Government has not implemented our strong recommendations on this issue in our April 8, 2009 brief on the proposed Transportation Accessibility Standard.

We therefore recommend that:

44. The standard be amended to provide that:

a) By a future deadline that the Standard will set, para-transit riders will be assured same-day service if booked at least five hours in advance on that day;

b) By an interim time line which the Transportation Accessibility Standard will set, The transportation provider shall guarantee all para-transit trip requests within the provider’s area of service where reservations are booked in the previous day notice period provided for in the Transportation Accessibility Standard, except where demonstrably impossible due to strictly-defined unforeseeable situations beyond the transportation provider’s control, namely weather or system wide breakdown that was not anticipated at the time a trip was reserved, and where alternative provision of the requested ride through contracting out services are unavailable to provide the requested ride.

c) Transportation providers shall be required to have and to implement back-up plans to effectively cover for para-transit service interruptions due to equipment failure.

d) Para-transit providers will have the means to answer and address calls for ride requests with a live operator without requiring more than 10 minutes on hold.

Inexplicably, the standard only requires a para-transit service to be available to accept bookings up to three hours before the end of a service day. Given the many difficulties para-transit users report on trying to get their calls through to a para-transit booking service, there is no reason why calls should not be accepted right up to the end of the service day.

We therefore recommend that:

45. The standard be amended to require that para-transit services accept bookings up to the end of each service day.

(c) Appeals Grounds for Applying for Para-Transit Too Narrow

It is good that the integrated accessibility standard sets provincial standards for processes for applying for para-transit services. However, the grounds for appealing a refusal of eligibility are too narrow. The proposed standard only allows a person to appeal if he or she has new information that was not presented with the original request.

A transit authority’s initial decision on an application for eligibility for para-transit services may be done by a clerk or other low-ranking administrative official. Given the importance of para-transit to passengers with disabilities, an appeal should involve a full review of the application, even if the applicant does not submit any new material on the appeal to support his or her application.

We therefore recommend that:

46. The standard be amended so that persons with disabilities can appeal from a public transit authority’s refusal of eligibility for para-transit on any ground, without having to submit new information that was not part of his or her initial application for eligibility.

(d) Standard Lacks an Adequate Definition of Para-Transit Catchment Area

The integrated accessibility standard does not provide a needed definition of the catchment area for para-transit services. We addressed this in our April 8, 2009 brief to the Government on the final proposed Transportation Accessibility Standard. The Government did not act on our recommendation.

We therefore recommend that:

47. The standard be amended to provide that:

a) For purposes of para-transit services, the transportation provider shall ensure that the accessible public transit service area be defined, at minimum, by the boundaries of the Municipality(s) in which it operates. For example, the catchment area for Toronto would include at least the entire City of Toronto;

b) Without limiting the size of the catchment area referred to in (a) above, if conventional fixed transit travels beyond the borders of the Municipality, specialized transit must, at a minimum, offer the same direct trip request to any destination within a 1.5 km catchment on each side of each fixed route and at the ends of each fixed route. Catchment service areas shall be defined as not less than:

i) That area within corridors with a width of 1.5 km on each side of each fixed route;
ii) That area with a 1.2 km radius at the ends of each fixed route; and areas not inside any of the corridors but which are surrounded by corridors.
iii) Transportation providers shall not be permitted to reduce the catchment areas for para-transit services after this standard comes into effect.

(e) Provision on Inter-City Para-Transit Connections is Inadequate

The integrated accessibility standard is far too weak in how it addresses the frustrations persons with disabilities face when trying to use para-transit to travel between two adjacent municipalities and to coordinate rides between their two para-transit services.

The Government appears not to have accepted our proposals on how to strengthen the weak recommendations of the Transportation Standards Development Committee on this issue, which we set out in our April 8, 2009 brief to the Government on the final proposed Transportation Accessibility Standard.

We therefore recommend that:

48. The standard be amended to provide that where “specialized” para-transit transportation service options are provided in adjacent municipalities within a contiguous urban area, the transportation providers of both services shall facilitate connections between respective services such that;

a) wait times between connections for an individual using specialized transportation service are no longer than wait times for a person using comparable fixed route transit services;

b) Where conventional transit currently crosses a Municipal border (whether by a City to City fixed agreement or reciprocal agreement) so to shall the specialized transit along the same or similar route and with 1.5 km catchment area of the route.

(f) Provision on para-transit Passengers Travelling with a Companion are Too Weak and Vague

It is good that the integrated accessibility standard addresses the need for persons with disabilities to travel on para-transit with a companion in at least some situations. However, its provisions are too weak and vague.

The proposed standard requires a para-transit service to let a passenger with a disability travel with a child if required child restraints are available.However, it does not require any para-transit service to actually have any child restraints on any of their vehicles. This is another good example of how this proposed standard gives transit providers escape routes to do an end-run around its requirements.

We called for the recommendations of the Transportation Standards Development Committee to be strengthened, in our April 8, 2009 brief to the Government on the final proposed Transportation Accessibility Standard. The Government did not do so.

We therefore recommend that:

49. The standard be amended to provide that no eligible person with a disability shall be refused the right to be accompanied by a companion on a para-transit ride where the companion is needed

a) to accommodate the needs of the passenger with a disability;

b) if the passenger with a disability is to be accompanied by a family member or members for whom that passenger with a disability is responsible, or

c) for safety reasons before, during or after the ride.

50. The standard be amended to require that para-transit vehicles be equipped with enough child restraints to ensure that eligible passengers can always get a ride with their child or children when needed.

(g) Para-Transit Trip Restrictions Provisions are Too Restrictive

The integrated accessibility standard places an inappropriate restriction on subscription trip requests for para-transit by passengers with disabilities.

We asked the Government not to include this “subscription request” exemption in our April 8, 2009 brief on the final proposed Transportation Accessibility Standard.

We therefore recommend that:

51. The standard be amended to ensure that para-transit authorities cannot refuse subscription trip requests.

(h) Standard Does not Assure Para-Transit Passengers are Dropped Off at Appropriate and Safe Location

The integrated accessibility standard does not ensure that para-transit passengers are dropped off at a safe and appropriate location at their destination. Our April 9, 2009 brief to the Government on the final proposed Transportation Accessibility Standard called for such protections.

We therefore recommend that:

52. The standard be amended to provide that for para-transit services:

a) the drop off/transfer site for para-transit passengers is in a safe location protected from the weather and other hazards, and

b) the transportation provider cannot arbitrarily decide that a passengers chosen destination is “not accessible” and choose another drop-off or pick-up location the transportation provider deems accessible, and to which the passenger does not consent.

(i) Standard Subjects Para-Transit Passengers to Long Wait Times without Notice

The proposed standard subjects para-transit passengers to the possibility of long wait times for a ride they booked, without being told of the delay. It only requires the transit authority to notify the passenger if the delay will be 30 minutes or more. If a para-transit system gives the passenger an arrival window, rather than an exact time (i.e. “we will pick you up between noon and 12:30.”), the passenger could have to wait one hour before they are entitled to any late notification.

These notifications can be provided on cell phone via an automated system. Thus, there is no hardship in requiring that they be given when the passenger would have to wait more than 10 minutes.

We therefore recommend that:

53. The standard be amended to require that for para-transit passengers:

a) They be given a pick-up window of no more than 10 minutes in length and
b) The passenger will be notified if the pick up will be delayed more than 10 minutes.

j) Temporary Eligibility Process Too Slow

The integrated accessibility standard requires that one class of people eligible for para-transit includes those with a temporary disability. However the proposed standard gives the transit authority fully 14 days to decide on the application before that person is automatically deemed temporarily eligible pending a final decision.

Some people may only have their temporary disability for a few weeks. This 14 day period could render the temporary eligibility class of limited use to them.

We therefore recommend that:

54. The standard be amended to provide that an applicant for temporary eligibility status on para-transit will be deemed to qualify if the transit authority has not decided on his or her application within 3 days.

5. Standard Should Ban Any New Public Transit Fare Payment and Route Information Technology Unless it is Fully Accessible

There has been a troubling recent controversy over the Government’s creation of a new, public transit “smart card” technology that has barriers against persons with disabilities. It is vital that the integrated accessibility standard include a specific provision banning the implementation of any new public transit fare-paying or route information technology that is not fully accessible to persons with disabilities. This is so regardless of whatever else is included in the integrated accessibility standard regarding electronic self-serve kiosks, as is addressed earlier in this brief. This is especially so since the Government itself has suggested to the Toronto Star that it is guided in this area by what is included in accessibility standards. See http://www.aodaalliance.org/strong-effective-aoda/08122010.asp
Our April 8, 2009 brief to the Government on the final proposed Transportation Accessibility Standard addressed this need in detail. Even the weak Transportation Accessibility Standard, proposed by the Transportation Standards Development Committee, included some level of protection for the accessibility of transit fare systems- a proposal the Government appears to have rejected.

We therefore recommend that:

55. Regardless of whatever else is included in the standard regarding accessibility of electronic self-serve kiosks, the standard should be amended to strictly require in detail that any new public transit fare-payment and route information technology must be fully accessible to persons with disabilities. It should, for example, require that:

a) Visual information be located on a glare free surface utilizing appropriate colour contrast and large typefaces.
b) Visual information be supplemented with tactile and/or auditory information and vice versa.
c) Equipment be accessible for a transportable mobility aid with a maximum footprint 1500 mm long.
d) Operating controls be located at a minimum height of 400 mm and a maximum height of 1200 mm above the floor.
e) Instructions use plain language.
f) All phases and stages of the user interface on these kiosks be fully accessible.

This list is not meant to be exhaustive.

56. The standard be amended to provide that where electronic ticket purchase or validation, or route information equipment or kiosks are made available to the public, alternative readily-accessible means be also provided for these functions via immediate contact with an employee of the transportation provider, recognizing that this is not a justification for adopting inaccessible electronic kiosk equipment.

6. No Provision for Accessibility of New Transit Station and Stops

No provision in the proposed integrated accessibility standard requires new public transit stations or route stops to be designed to be accessible. We have no assurance that the final Built Environment Accessibility Standard to be enacted some time in the next two years will fully address the specific accessibility needs of persons with disabilities in a public transit station or route stop. Indeed, there is no assurance that the Built Environment Accessibility Standard will cover route stops, such as bus stops, at all.

We therefore recommend that:

57. The standard be amended to provide detailed accessibility requirements for new public transit stations and stops.

7. No Provision for Retrofit of Inaccessible Public Transit Vehicles

Nothing in the proposed integrated accessibility standard would require the retrofit of any inaccessible public transit vehicles. This is a major defect that impedes ever achieving the AODA’s goal of full accessibility.

There is no excuse for no steps to be taken to ever make them accessible.

This proposed standard is even weaker than the final proposed Transportation Accessibility Standard that the Transportation Standards Development Committee submitted to the Government. We recognize that if a public transit vehicle is soon to go out of service, it may make no sense to retrofit it. However, vehicles with many years of service ahead should be made accessible.

We therefore recommend that:

58. The standard be amended to require that Inaccessible public transit vehicles with more than five years of projected future use e required to be retrofitted for as much accessibility as is feasible, with requirements to vary depending on the length of the expected future useful life of the vehicle.

8. Provisions on Displaying Taxi Registration Information are Inadequate

The proposed standard’s provisions requiring display of a taxi’s registration information are inadequate and need to be strengthened. The integrated accessibility standard only requires that they be displayed on the taxi’s bumper. The bumper display need not be in large print. This is even less than the final proposed Transportation Accessibility Standard that was recommended by the Transportation Standards Development Committee.

This is a cruel irony. In our April 8, 2009 brief to the Government on the final proposed Transportation Accessibility Standard, we recommended that the Standards Development Committee’s proposals be supplemented by an additional requirement that taxi registration information be posted on each taxi’s bumper. Instead of adding our proposal to that of the Standards Development Committee, the Government used our proposed addition instead of the Standards Development Committee recommendation that we were simply trying to supplement.

We therefore recommend that:

59. The standard be amended to require that

a) independent operators, brokerages or dispatch services providing on-demand taxi services shall make available taxi registration numbers or where taxi registration numbers are not available, company and vehicle identification information, for all taxis.
b) Taxi registration numbers or company and vehicle identification information shall be made available on the exterior of the taxi:

i) adjacent to both rear entrance doors;
ii) in numbers or letters at least 150 mm in height; and
iii) colour-contrasted by at least 70% with their background.

c) Taxi registration numbers or company and vehicle identification information shall be made available on the interior of the taxi:

i) inside the rear passenger door;
ii) in Type 1 Braille;
iii) in large print; and
iv) colour-contrasted by at least 70% with their background.

9. Requirement for Public Transit Authorities to Consult People with Disabilities On Accessibility Plans is Too Weak

The integrated accessibility standard includes a provision that requires public transit authorities to consult on their accessibility plans. However this proposed requirement is too weak.

This provision does not even require that persons with disabilities be the specific focus of this consultation. This is even weaker than the inadequate requirements in the Harris Government’s Ontarians with Disabilities Act 2001, which the McGuinty Liberals slammed as toothless. We called for strengthened public consultation requirements in our April 8, 2009 brief to the Government on the final proposed Transportation Accessibility Standard.

We therefore recommend that:

60. The standard be amended to require that

a) public transit authorities be required to consult with persons with disabilities on their accessibility plans, and

b) public transit authorities providing conventional and/or para transit services be required to hold, at least once annually, an open, accessible, advertised public forum, for passengers with disabilities to give feedback directly to the transit authority’s senior management and Board of Directors.

10. Mass Transit Emergency Response Requirements are Not Sufficiently Detailed

It is good that the integrated accessibility standard attempts to address the accessibility of public transit emergency response procedures. However the requirements are not sufficiently detailed. The Government appears to have rejected or ignored our call in our April 8, 2009 brief on the Final proposed Transportation Accessibility Standard.

We therefore recommend that:

61. The standard be amended to include detailed provisions to require transportation providers to provide deaf, deafened and hard of hearing people with equal, timely access to important audio public announcements such as emergency announcements, and to provide time lines by which this service is to be provided.

11. Provisions on Availability of and Maintenance of Public Transit Accessibility Equipment and Features Lack Teeth

The proposed integrated accessibility standard includes provisions that are too weak to effectively address availability of and maintenance of public transit accessibility equipment and features.

This is not sufficiently better than the unacceptably weak final proposed Transportation Accessibility Standard that was submitted to the Government by the Transportation Standards Development Committee. We called for that final proposal to be substantially strengthened, in our April 8, 2009 brief to the Government on the final proposed Transportation Accessibility Standard.

We therefore recommend that:

62. The standard be amended to:

a) Provide that information on the availability of accessibility-related equipment and features of public transit conveyances, routes and services be up-to-date as of 1 half hour of the time of posting, that the information be available in an accessible format, and that it be readily obtainable at all hours that the transit service is in operation, by phone, and via web posting on an accessible website that complies with WCAG 2.0 Level AA accessibility guidelines.

b) Require:

i) That where accessibility equipment on a passenger vehicle is defective or inoperable, the transportation provider shall arrange to have it repaired as soon as possible, and

ii) If important accessibility equipment (such as a subway station elevator or lift) remains out of service for more than a very minimal time designated in the Standard, the transportation provider shall immediately provide accessible alternative transportation for persons with disabilities whose use of the conventional transit system was impeded by the inoperable accessibility equipment.

12. Accessible Boarding/De-Boarding Requirements Need More Precision

It is helpful for the integrated accessibility standard to require transit drivers to ensure that a passenger with a disability can get on or off a transit vehicle as close as possible to their intended stop. However, the integrated accessibility standard gives too much discretion to a transit driver, making this provision very difficult to enforce in the case of a dispute. Our April 8, 2009 brief to the Government on the final proposed Transportation Accessibility Standard offered helpful ways this could be clarified.

We therefore recommend that:

63. The standard be amended to:

a) clarify that where a passenger with a disability cannot safely exit the vehicle at the intended destination, the driver shall ensure that they are able to exit as close to that location as possible, not merely at the next designated route stop, so as to minimize the disruption to their travel, and

b) require the transportation provider to act promptly to have the safety problem or barrier corrected, or to adjust the location of the route stop.

13. Public Transit Vehicle Signage and Lighting Requirements are Inadequate

The integrated accessibility standard attempts to address the accessibility of some signage and lighting in connection with public transit vehicles. However it does so in an inadequate manner.

The proposed standard only deals with making such signage and lighting accessible on a “go forward” basis. A public transit authority need not fix any of their inaccessible signage and lighting that now exists, no matter how easy it might be to fix. Moreover, the standard sets requirements for signage and lighting accessibility which falls below the level we presented to the Government as necessary. Our April 8, 2009 brief to the Government on the final proposed Transportation Accessibility Standard urged that that proposal be strengthened in the area of this signage and lighting accessibility.

We therefore recommend that:

64. The standard be amended to require 100 lux lighting levels (in all areas it addresses in lieu of 20 lux.

65. The standard be amended to require that on public transit vehicle signage,

a) lettering be in sans serif

b) The size of fonts should harmonize with CSA’s B65.1 viewing distance chart in clause 4.5.3.3: Viewing distance, 2.5 meters – font size 100 mm – example, external route sign viewed from street.

Viewing distance, 2.3 meters – font size 75 millimetres – example, internal line transfer information.

Viewing distance, 1.5 meters – font size 50 millimetres – example, route information on display map.

66. The standard be amended to require an orderly plan for retrofit of inaccessible signage on existing public transit vehicles if they are to remain in service for at least another 8 years.

14. Provisions on Light, Intercity and Commuter Rail Lines Too Weak

It is good that the integrated accessibility standard seeks to address the need for accessibility on light, intercity and commuter rail lines. However, its provisions here again are far too weak.

By limiting itself to a “go-forward” basis, the integrated accessibility standard does not appear to require transit authorities to do anything to retrofit existing inaccessible public transit rail vehicles that are now inaccessible. It also appears to allow a light, inter-city or commuter rail service on a go-forward basis to acquire new rail cars that are inaccessible to persons with disabilities who use transportable mobility aids. It sets out an explicit exemption for these by providing: “Ensure that all passenger rail cars are accessible to persons with disabilities other than those who use transportable mobility aids.”

In our April 8, 2009 brief to the Government on the final proposed Transportation Accessibility Standard, we addressed the need for public transit authorities not to acquire new inaccessible passenger vehicles, lest that transit authority run afoul of human rights principles set out in the Supreme Court of Canada’s landmark decision in Via Rail v. Council of Canadians with Disabilities.

We therefore recommend that:

67. The standard be amended to:

a) require all new passenger rail cars to be fully accessible to passengers with disabilities including those using mobility devices.
b) develop, implement and publicly report on measures to retrofit existing inaccessible passenger rail cars, if they will be in service for at least another 8 years.
c) remove the requirement that one accessible passenger car per train is sufficient to provide accessibility.

15. Voluntary and Faith-Based Transportation as well as Emergency Response Vehicles Unjustifiably Excluded from Transportation Accessibility Requirements

The integrated accessibility standard unjustifiably excludes the transportation accessibility requirements from applying to emergency response vehicles. Persons with disabilities need to be able to be safely transported in ambulances, just like anyone else.

As well, the standard wrongly excludes voluntary or faith-based transportation. This is even less helpful for persons with disabilities than the weak final proposed Transportation Accessibility Standard that was submitted to the Government by the Transportation Standards Development Committee.

We therefore recommend that:

68. The standard be amended to extend its transportation accessibility requirements to emergency response vehicles and to voluntary and faith based transportation.

16. Provisions on Support Persons on Public Transit Helpful but Need More Detail

The integrated accessibility standard includes helpful provisions on not charging a second fare for a support person, traveling with a passenger with a disability. However, it would be helpful if the standard had more detail to ensure that this process works smoothly.

We provided the needed detail in our April 8, 2009 brief to the Government on the final proposed Transportation Accessibility Standard. That detail is not reflected in the integrated accessibility standard.

We therefore recommend that:

69. The standard be amended to require transportation providers to establish a fair, expeditious and non-bureaucratic process for a passenger with a disability to get pre-approval for their use of a support person for whom a second fare will not be charged. Once pre-approved for using a support person, the passenger with a disability should be issued a card which transit drivers will be trained to accept as authorizing the use of any individual as their support person.”

17. Standard Does Not Require Existing Transit Stops or Stations to Be Made Accessible

The integrated accessibility standard does not include provisions requiring that existing transit stops or stations be made accessible at any point in the future. The forthcoming Built Environment Accessibility Standard will not address this. This is because the Government has said that that standard will not cover retrofits of existing buildings, except when undergoing a major renovation.

We raised with the Government the need for this standard to require that transit stops and stations be made accessible. We gave, as one example, the need for tactile walking surface indicators to be required for the benefit of people with vision loss.

We therefore recommend that:

70. The standard be amended to include specific requirements and time lines for making existing public transit stations and transit stops accessible for people with disabilities.

71. The standard be amended to require that:

a) Tactile walking surface indicators shall be located at all unprotected drop-off edges on transit platforms and ferry docks.

b) Tactile walking surface indicators shall be installed the full width of the drop-off.

c) The base surface shall be level with or not more than three millimetres above the surrounding surface.

d) The depth of the tactile walking surface indicators shall be 610 mm to 650 mm.

e) Tactile walking surface indicators should have the following specifications:

i) The height of the flat-topped domes should be 5mm +/- 1mm.
ii) The diameter of the top of the flat-topped domes should be between 12 mm and 20 mm.
iii) The diameter of the lower base of the flat-topped domes should be 10 mm +/- 1 mm more than the diameter of the top.
iv) The distance between the bases of adjacent domes should be a minimum of 15 mm.
v) The spacing between adjacent flat-topped domes should be adjusted depending on the size of the domes, as shown in the table below. The larger the individual domes, the farther the space between them:
Top diameter of flat-topped domes (mm): 12, 15, 18, 20
Spacing between the centres of adjacent domes (mm): 55 to 61, 57 to 63, 60 to 61, 63 to 68

f) Stairs on ferries and in transit stations should have a detectable warning surface located at the top of all stairs. The texture of the detectable warning shall:

i) be 70% colour contrasted from the surrounding surface and run the full width of the stairs;
ii) have a depth of 920 mm;
iii) commence one tread depth from the edge of the stair.
iv) be the same texture and dome dimension as the tactile walking surface indicator used on ferry docks.

18. Provisions on Pre-Boarding Route or Destination Announcements are Inadequate

It is good that the integrated accessibility standard addresses accessibility of pre-boarding route or destination announcements. However the standard is inadequate, where for the next six years, it requires persons with disabilities to request the announcement in an accessible format. This should be provided as of right.

We therefore recommend that:

72. The standard be amended to require the mandatory accessible pre-boarding announcement of routes or destinations.

19. No Provision for Public Transit Authorities to Self-Monitor Their Compliance with Accessibility Requirements

The integrated accessibility standard includes no requirements for public transit authorities to self-monitor their compliance with transportation accessibility requirements. We asked the Government to include provisions on this in our April 8, 2009 brief on the final proposed Transportation Accessibility Standard.

We therefore recommend that:

73. The Standard be amended to require public transit authorities to periodically self-monitor their compliance with key provisions of this Standard and report publicly, in an accessible way, on their compliance.

20. Publicly-Funded School Bus Accessibility Provision is Internally Contradictory or Unclear

It is good that the standard addresses the need for accessible buses for publicly-funded schools. However, its terms seem to be internally contradictory or unclear.

On the one hand, it is good that it requires integrated school transportation. On the other hand, it provides an opt-out where this is not “possible” or “the best option.” In those unclear circumstances, the school board can arrange alternative transport.

The exception contradicts the guarantee, and leaves school boards with open-ended discretion to provide as much or as little integrated transportation as they prefer. This voluntary approach to accessibility was resoundingly criticized by the McGuinty Liberals when in opposition.

We therefore recommend that:

74. The standard be amended to remove the exemption for publicly-funded school boards’ providing integrated school bus transportation where this is not possible or the best option.

E. Time Lines For Compliance

1. Time Lines are Far Too Long and Counter-Productive

The integrated accessibility standard includes numerous time lines for compliance that are far too long. There is no justification for this. Our briefs to the Government on the final proposed standards for transportation, information and communication and employment showed that the time lines which each Standards Development Committee recommended to Government were too often too long. The integrated accessibility standard shows that the Government has not been responsive to our concerns.

These time lines should be considerably shorter in light of the fact that:

a) These are not new obligations. All of these organizations have had duties to provide accessibility and to accommodate the needs of persons with disabilities up to the point of undue hardship under the Human Rights Code since 1982. Public sector organizations have also had a duty to do so under the Charter of Rights since 1985.

b) Public sector organizations have had a duty to engage in added activity to promote accessibility for almost a decade under the Ontarians with Disabilities Act 2001.

c) All of these measures yield extensive benefits to the obligated organizations.

d) It could not be plausibly argued that shorter time lines would cause these organizations undue hardship within the meaning of the Human Rights Code.

We here list just some examples of time lines in the integrated accessibility standard that are entirely unacceptable.

We use the provisions regarding the Ontario Government as just an illustration of the problems with these time lines. The Ontario Government has often claimed that it wants to lead by example, in the area of accessibility, and that it wants Ontario to be a world-leader in this context. If the time lines are unjustifiably long for the Ontario Government, then any longer time lines for other organizations can hardly be any more justified.

The standard should require the Government to post new web information in WCAG Level AA as soon as the standard goes into force (which the Government has said would be in 2011) Yet the standard would give the Government up to 2013 to merely start posting information on new Government websites in an unacceptably low required accessible format, namely WCAG 2.0 Level A. It would give the Government all the way to 2014 to ensure that all new documents and forms on its websites conform with WCAG 2.0 level A. It must be remembered that these forms are used for important activities like applying for Government benefits and programs. It would give the Government until 2018 to comply with Level AA except for captioning and audio description requirements. That would be fully ten years after that website accessibility standard was created, and about nine years after the Information and Communication Standards Development Committee recommended that this standard be adopted in its initial proposed Information and Communication Accessibility Standard. It is probable that by then, this standard for website accessibility will be replaced by a newer standard. Its predecessor had a shelf-life of about ten years, from our understanding.

The standard elsewhere concedes that the higher Level AA is what persons with disabilities need. The Government has been required to provide accessible websites under the Human Rights Code, and for almost a decade, under the Ontarians with Disabilities Act 2001.

Under the integrated accessibility standard, the Government would have until 2012 to address accessibility in electronic self-serve kiosks. Yet The Ontarians with Disabilities Act 2001 required consideration of accessibility in this context (beyond the requirements of the Human Rights Code) since 2002.

The Government would have up to 2012 to address accessibility in emergency and public safety information, including workplace emergency information. Some Government ministries’ annual accessibility plans committed to address at least some of this several years ago.

The Government would have fully 3 years, up to 2013, to undertake the required training, even though it has been required to train its managerial employees on workplace accommodation issues under the Ontarians with Disabilities Act 2001 for over a decade, and to train its employees on the Customer Service Accessibility Standard by 2010.

We therefore recommend that:

75. All the time lines in the standard must be significantly reduced to be compatible with requirements under the Ontario Human Rights Code.

F. Compliance and Enforcement

In the 2003 provincial election, Dalton McGuinty promised that the Disabilities Act his Government would pass would have effective enforcement. Seven years later, and more than half a year after the first accessibility standard went into effect under the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, there is still no effective enforcement for this legislation.

To date, the Government has focused on having obligated organizations self-certify if they are in compliance. Just because an organization says it has complied with an accessibility standard does not ensure that the organization has in fact fully complied.

1. Licensing Appeal Tribunal is the Wrong Choice for Tribunal to Hear AODA Appeals

The integrated accessibility standard would designate the provincial Licensing Appeal Tribunal to hear appeals under the AODA.

The Government did not consult us on the choice of tribunal, and did not seek our input into the possibility of designating this particular tribunal. We have no information that suggests that the provincial Licence Appeal Tribunal is an appropriate body to hear and decide AODA appeals. . The tribunal that hears AODA appeals should have expertise in the wide range of barriers facing persons with disabilities, and the ways for effectively providing accessibility for persons with disabilities to employment, goods, services and facilities in the public and private sector. The Government has released no information showing that this tribunal has that needed expertise. It is not known to us as having had any presence or involvement in accessibility issues.

It is not enough to give the tribunal members training on disability and accessibility. One chooses a tribunal because of its expertise. One does not first choose the tribunal, and then try to give it the expertise it needs.

For example, labour relations issues are sent to the Labour Relations Board because its members had –re-existing expertise in labour relations.

If, for example, a voter with a disability wanted to file a complaint against Elections Ontario under the AODA’s Customer Service Accessibility Standard because of widely-publicized and readily preventable barriers in the February 2010 Toronto Centre by-election, it is not clear to us that the provincial Licence Appeal Tribunal would have the proper expertise to make it appropriate to hear that case.

We therefore recommend that:

76. Instead of designating the Licensing Appeal Tribunal to hear appeals under the AODA, the standard should create a new tribunal specifically to hear AODA appeals, with needed expertise in disability accessibility issues.

2. Maximum Administrative Penalties are Too Low

The integrated accessibility standard would set levels of maximum administrative penalties that are too low. It proposes to set a maximum lump sum of $2,000 for individuals and $15,000 for corporations.

A huge private organization, or the Ontario Government, or a large municipality, with ample resources, which significantly violates an AODA accessibility standard, should be susceptible to much higher monetary penalties than that. If the Ontario Government violated the Customer Service Accessibility Standard, a maximum monetary penalty of $15,000 will hardly make much of a difference. Similarly, when the Toronto Transit Commission opposed David Lepofsky’s two human rights complaints which sought to require TTC to reliably announce all subway and bus stops for the benefit of blind passengers, TTC spent fully $450,000 on lawyers to oppose those human rights complaints. A maximum monetary penalty of $15,000 pales in comparison to $450,000.

It must be remembered that this is the maximum monetary penalty. Those tend to be reserved for the worst cases. We are concerned that an organization may well choose to pay these low penalties rather than undertake the effort to achieve accessibility. These penalties are even more unjustified when the weak contents of the integrated accessibility standard are coupled with the excessive time lines.

Despite this amount for monetary penalties, if an organization does not comply with an order to comply under the AODA can be prosecuted by the Government and can face fines up to $50,000 or $100,000 per day of contravention, for that offence.

For that higher fine to be imposed, rather than the lower monetary penalty of up to $15,000 that the Government’s May 31, 2010 announcement addresses, a chain of several steps must first occur. First, an organization must violate an AODA standard. Then, the Government must issue an order to the organization to comply with the accessibility standard. The organization can appeal that order, or any monetary penalty of up to $15,000, that the Government has imposed on it. Then the organization must disobey that order. Then the Government must successfully prosecute the organization for disobeying the order to comply.

We therefore recommend that:

77. The standard be amended to substantially increase the administrative monetary penalties.

3. Enforcement Provisions Give no Opportunities or Rights to People with Disabilities who Encounter Barriers

The integrated accessibility standard makes no provision to enable persons with disabilities, who encounter barriers, to file complaints, to be heard, or to find out about or have a say in what the Government does with the case. All the Government Summary of the proposed integrated accessibility standard says about this is to point out that persons with disabilities cannot file an appeal to the tribunal.

Under the Government’s approach, persons with disabilities and their organizations will have no voice whatsoever in how the AODA will be interpreted or applied in individual cases. They will have no ability to effectively monitor what happens after the Government receives a complaint about a barrier.

We therefore recommend that:

78. The standard be amended to provide to persons with disabilities the right to file complaints about violations of any accessibility standards under the AODA, the right to be heard regarding their complaints, and to ongoing notice of what the Government is doing with the case, e.g. about its disposition, including at any appeal.

III. FEEDBACK ON MINISTRY OF TRANSPORTATION PROPOSED AMENDMENTS TO THE HIGHWAY TRAFFIC ACT DEALING WITH VEHICLES FOR THE TRANSPORTATION OF PHYSICALLY DISABLED PASSENGERS

We here provide our feedback to the regulations that the Ministry of Transportation proposes to enact under the Highway Traffic Act, under the heading “Vehicles for the Transportation of Physically Disabled Passengers.” As stated earlier in this brief, we object to these amendments being enacted in this way, rather than in the form of accessibility standards enacted under the AODA. By so doing, the Government is circumventing protections which persons with disabilities campaigned long and hard for, as found in the AODA.

We are concerned that these proposed enactments have not been properly explained to the public including persons with disabilities, and that they are too narrow. We have not had a sufficient opportunity to fully review this proposed amendments, and offer the following as preliminary proposals.

We therefore recommend that:

79. The proposed Highway Traffic Act regulations on Vehicles for the Transportation of Physically Disabled Passengers should be amended to ensure that:

a) These regulations reference to persons using a wheelchair should be expanded to include persons with disabilities who use a variety of mobility aids including a wheelchair, scooter, walker, and the like, as well as any person who requires the assistance of non-mobility equipment such as an oxygen tank

b) The regulations that refer to rear load only, should refer to side-load as well.

c) Side-load vehicles should be required to have doors on both sides so that a person may enter and exit the vehicle in a forward direction upon entry and exit

d) A wheelchair symbol should be required to be affixed at the side of the vehicle as well as the rear (preferably on the front quarter panel)

e) Every vertical lift on a vehicle should be required to have a flip down seat for ambulatory passengers to sit on when lift is in use

f) Vertical lifts should be required to have a substantially larger weight capacity than 275 kilos

g) Wheelchair accessible taxi vehicles should be required to have grab bars on both sides of the vehicle within reach of a person with a disability. Side-load vehicles should have grab bars on both sides of the side door and rear loading vehicles on both sides of the vehicle.

h) Accessible public transit vehicles which include a kneeling feature should be required to kneel the entire vehicle (all four wheel quadrants) to allow for lowering the entire vehicle. This would avoid a sloped floor upon embarking or disembarking. This avoids the safety risk for persons with disabilities with limited strength and stamina

i) School buses should be required to provide space for a minimum of 2 wheelchairs or mobility devices

j) Accessible taxis running should be required to have running board steps for side-load vehicles.

APPENDIX 1

LIST OF RECOMMENDATIONS

In this brief, the AODA Alliance recommends as follows:

1. The standard be amended to clearly state that its requirements apply to all organizations that provide facilities, not just those that provide goods or services, or that have at least one employee. Wherever the standard now refers to “goods or services,” it should be amended to refer to “goods, services or facilities.”

2. The standard be amended to establish a class of private sector organizations that are clearly very large i.e. over 200 employees, and that can be expected to act more expeditiously to provide accessibility. Time lines for that class of organization should be close to or the same as those for the broader public sector.

3. The standard be amended so that in connection with transportation and employment requirements, an organization’s classification is not determined solely by its number of employees, but also by its overall capacity to deliver accessibility. The standard should also assess criteria such as an organization’s total assets and revenue.

4. The standard be amended to provide that when calculating an organization’s number of employees for purposes of classifying that organization under the standard,, this count will include the number of employees in that organization as well as any related, jointly operated or co-managed organizations.

5. The standard be amended to specify in detail what an accessibility policy must include, so that it will achieve the comprehensive identification, removal and prevention of barriers, in a manner that ensures that the accessibility policy is strong, effective, detailed, and effectively enforceable.

6. The standard be amended to include added, enforceable requirements, targeted at the Ontario Government and large broader public sector organizations, to go into effect promptly, that require that no public funds, expended through procurement of goods, services or facilities, or through capital expenditures (such as infrastructure projects) may be used to create, exacerbate or perpetuate any barriers against persons with disabilities. Vendor accessibility compliance should be one of the mandatory scored evaluation criteria for any procurement or capital/infrastructure expenditure.

7. The standard should be amended to require that the Ontario Government and public sector organizations:
a) Integrate inclusive design into their information technology systems procurement, review and updating procedures. When planning new information and communication systems or services, or when planning the updating of existing information and communication systems or services, proposals should ensure the accessibility of the systems, and the impact of any changes on accessibility, of the system’s information or user interfaces for persons with disabilities as customers or employees. They must do more than merely “take into account” the need of persons with disabilities. For example, in the Ontario Government no new information technology system should be acquired unless a deputy minister signs off: that the system has been designed to ensure: that employees and customers with disabilities can make full and equal use of the system’s user interface and information output; that users with disabilities have been consulted in the project design; that no reasonable alternative exists or could be procured that provides better accessibility; and that the system’s acquisition or upgrade is consistent with the AODA’s requirement of full accessibility by or before 2025. The deputy minister of the ministry providing any such grant or transfer, should be required to certify to the Secretary of Cabinet that no provincial funds will be disbursed to create any new barriers to equal access to information and communication for persons with disabilities.

b) Not give any grant or transfer to any organization that pertains, directly or indirectly, to the acquisition or upgrade of information technology by any recipient organization, unless the grant specifies that the information technology acquired will comply with the go-forward accessibility requirements of the standard, and that inclusive design principles were used in the selection of the information technology to be acquired or upgraded. In the case of spending by the Ontario Government, the deputy minister of the ministry providing any such grant or transfer shall certify to the Secretary of Cabinet that no provincial funds will be disbursed to create any new barriers to equal access to information and communication for persons with disabilities.

c) Include any Ontario Government or broader sector organization’s research grants or contracts a condition requiring fully-accessible formats for their reports, and where information systems are to be acquired, the acquisition by the grant or contract, where feasible, of fully accessible information systems.

d) Only procure information-content authoring tools and applications (including content management systems and software development kits) that to produce WCAG 2.0 Level AA content and support the authors in doing so (or follow the W3C Authoring Tool Accessibility Guidelines – ATAG), available or in draft at the time.

8. The standard be amended to require that electronic kiosks actually be accessible to persons with disabilities, not merely that accessibility be considered when they are designed or acquired. The standard should set out specifics of the accessibility requirements to be included in these kiosks to ensure that they are fully and independently usable by persons with disabilities.

9. The standard be amended to require that:

a) at least in the case of public sector organizations, each accessibility plan address the full range of barriers in transportation, information and communication and employment, not merely those which the integrated accessibility standard itself addresses.

b) each major public transit authority be required within one year of this Standard coming into force to develop and make public on its website its multi-year plan for achieving fully-accessible transportation services. The Plan should specify the expected major interim benchmarks for progress, and the year by which full accessibility is planned to be achieved. The Plan should be periodically updated.

10. The standard be amended to require that public sector organizations make an accessibility plan each year.

11. The standard be amended to require that any organization that has a website post its accessibility plan and accessibility policy on its website.

12. The standard be amended to require that training on the accessibility standard include training on the rights of persons with disabilities under the Human Rights Code, and in the case of public sector organizations, also under the Charter of Rights.

13. In the case of public sector organizations, re-training or updated training should be required every two years.

14. In the case of public transit authorities, The Standard be amended to add a requirement that training include a duty on the transportation providers employees and volunteers to immediately report to their superiors when they learn of a potential or actual difficulty that persons with disabilities experience with accessibility to the services of the transportation provider;

15. The standard be amended to state that its objective for information and communication is full accessibility on or before 2025.

16. The standard be amended to apply its provisions on accessibility of information and communication to information and communication in the employment setting and in the provision of facilities.

17. The standard be amended to require that any document or information be made available, on request, in an accessible format, whether or not it is also available on the organization’s website.

18. The standard be amended to provide that every obligated organization will be required to provide or arrange for the provision of accessible formats and communication supports, upon request, for persons with disabilities in a manner that actually meets the accessibility needs of that specific person with a disability.

19. The standard be amended to narrow the exemption of all consumer products and labels from the information and communication requirements. Where practicable, consumer product labels for products with a mass market should have accessibility options.

20. The standard be amended to require that where an organization must give notice to the public of the availability of information in an alternative format, the notice should be available, where needed, in audio format.

21. The standard be amended to require that new web content be posted in an accessible format, whether it is posted on a new website or an existing website.

22. The vague “technically feasible” loophole should be removed from the standard. If there is to be any exemption clause at all, which we oppose, a far narrower exemption should be created that exempts an organization only when full compliance is impossible without undue hardship, with the burden of proof resting with the organization that fails to provide accessibility.

23. The standard be amended to substantially narrow the class of private organizations that are excused from the standard’s full requirements on website accessibility. For smaller private organizations, the standard should impose moderated website accessibility requirements, rather than no requirements at all.

24. The standard be amended to require that when an organization posts a document on its website in PDF format, it be required to:

a) use available PDF accessibility formatting, and

b) also post the document in an alternative file format that enables it to be used on portable reading devices for persons with print disabilities, such as the Victor Reader Stream, the Booksense or the Plextalk Pocket.

25. The standard be amended to ensure that the provisions on accessibility awareness training related to accessible course design and instruction be expanded to apply to all post-secondary training institutions.

26. The standard be amended to

a) Require educational institutions to procure accessible or conversion-ready electronic formats of educational and training materials for students or faculty with disabilities before or at the same time as other recipients and for producers of educational and training materials for educational institutions to make accessible or conversion-ready electronic materials available to educational institutions at or before the same time as the print and multimedia formats of the materials.

b) Require libraries of educational institutions to procure an accessible or conversion-ready electronic format of all new text-based or multi-media materials purchased for library holdings.

27. The standard be amended to set a mandatory level of accessible materials to be included in a public library’s accessible collection, while leaving it free for public libraries to pool accessible library collection resources.

28. The standard be amended to include a clear, broad definition of “communication supports that includes Sign Language, captioning, alternative and augmentative communication supports, plain language, and other needed supports that ensure effective communication.

29. The standard should be amended as follows:

a) To set a date by which the Ontario Government will make publicly available free web authoring tools and other resources to help reduce the cost to other organizations to comply with the standard, and the time they will need for compliance.

b) The standard’s web accessibility requirements should be expanded to include Mobile Web, location based services and other internet delivered services over mobile systems or smart environments (e.g., GPS wayfinding services.)

c) The standard be expanded to specifically and fully extend its website accessibility requirements to intranet sites. Time lines and detailed requirements might be scaled back for smaller organizations with fewer employees.

d) Regarding self-governing professionals:

i) The standard should at a minimum include the mandatory accessibility requirements for self-governing professionals set out in the initial proposed Information and Communication Accessibility Standard.
ii) That requirement should be expanded to include requirements for training in this area as a precondition to entry to a licensed self-governing profession, and
iii) This issue should not be left to voluntary compliance by self-governing professions, nor to non-legislative efforts by the Ontario Government at persuading self-governing professions to take voluntary action.

e) The standard be expanded to

i) Include the full scope of coverage in this area that would have been covered by s. 6.4 of the initial proposed Information and Communication Accessibility Standard, and
ii) Include, for example, ensuring that it covers accessibility training for not just those who design information and communication products, but those who are learning about the design or creation of data or programming.

f) The standard be expanded to specify and clarify organizations’ obligations for providing accessible information supports for meetings, taking into account such criteria as the importance of the meeting, the extent to which the meeting is open to the public, the organization’s capacity to provide such supports, and the ease with which persons with disabilities can request such supports in advance.

g) The standard be amended to include added, enforceable requirements, targeted at the Ontario Government and large broader public sector organizations, to go into effect promptly, that require:

i) Integration of inclusive design into their information technology systems procurement, review and updating procedures. When planning new information and communication systems or services, or when planning the updating of existing information and communication systems or services, proposals should ensure the accessibility of the systems, and the impact of any changes on accessibility, of the system’s information or user interfaces for persons with disabilities as customers or employees. This should require them to do more than merely “take into account” the need of persons with disabilities. For example, in the Ontario Government no new information technology system should be acquired unless a deputy minister signs off: that the system has been designed to ensure: that employees and customers with disabilities can make full and equal use of the system’s user interface and information output; that users with disabilities have been consulted in the project design; that no reasonable alternative exists or could be procured that provides better accessibility; and that the system’s acquisition or upgrade is consistent with the AODA’s requirement of full accessibility by or before 2025. The deputy minister of the ministry providing any such grant or transfer, should be required to certify to the Secretary of Cabinet that no provincial funds will be disbursed to create any new barriers to equal access to information and communication for persons with disabilities.
ii) No Ontario Government or municipal government funding grant or transfer to any organization shall be made that pertains, directly or indirectly, to the acquisition or upgrade of information technology by any recipient organization, unless the grant specifies that the information technology acquired will comply with the go-forward accessibility requirements of the standard, and that inclusive design principles were used in the selection of the information technology to be acquired or upgraded. In the case of spending by the Ontario Government, the deputy minister of the ministry providing any such grant or transfer shall certify to the Secretary of Cabinet that no provincial funds will be disbursed to create any new barriers to equal access to information and communication for persons with disabilities.
iii) The inclusion in any Ontario Government or broader sector organization’s research grants or contracts of a condition requiring fully-accessible formats for their reports, and where information systems are to be acquired, the acquisition by the grant or contract, where feasible, of fully accessible information systems.
iv) Information-content authoring tools and applications (including content management systems and software development kits) that the Ontario Government procures be required to produce WCAG 2.0 Level AA content and support the authors in doing so (or follow the W3C Authoring Tool Accessibility Guidelines – ATAG).

h) The standard be amended to fully address all information and communication barriers in both provincial and municipal elections, with time lines that ensure that the next municipal and provincial elections in Ontario will be fully free of information and communication barriers. We repeat here our recommendations in our brief to the Ontario Legislature’s Standing Committee on the Legislative Assembly on Bill 231, available at: http://www.aodaalliance.org/strong-effective-aoda/03172010.asp

i) The standard be expanded to require that:

i) No organization may impose a surcharge on the purchase of goods or services via the telephone or direct purchase from a representative of that organization on site, as opposed to via a website or electronic kiosk interface, on any customer who, because of disability, cannot use that website or electronic kiosk, and
ii) any organization that has such a surcharge should widely advertise a waiver of the surcharge that is easily and automatically available for customers who self identify as having a disability which prevents them from using the website or electronic kiosk.

j) The standard be expanded to include detailed requirements for signage available to the public, whether indoor or outdoor, including sufficient standards for choice of font, font size, color contrast, and available lighting.

k) The standard should include guarantees for access to court-related documents as proposed in the 2007 Report of the Weiler Committee, entitled “Making Ontario’s Courts Fully Accessible to Persons with Disabilities.”

l) The standard be expanded to require that instructions for consumer products, sold in Ontario be made available on request in an accessible alternate format, such as an accessible downloadable file on line.

m) The standard be expanded to require that In public sector organizations and private sector organizations with over at least 200 employees, a person among existing staff be designated as having lead responsibility for ensuring accessible information and communication.

n) The standard be expanded to provide that providers of health care services shall have the means to provide accessible information and communications about essential issues such as, but not limited to, symptoms, tests, diagnoses, assessments, steps to follow-up, treatment and prescription instructions.

o) The standard be expanded to provide that organizations producing information and communications such as, but not limited to, financial agreements including mortgage, lease, and purchase contracts, and that provide individuals with invoices and account statements on a periodic basis shall make these accessible upon request.

30. The standard be amended to Provide that the purpose of the Standard’s employment requirements is to ensure that workplaces in Ontario are barrier free and that people with disabilities have equal access to and can fully participate in employment on or before 2025.

31. The standard be amended to

a) include specific mandatory requirements for identification, removal and prevention of recurring workplace barriers over time, apart from fulfilling individual employee accommodation requests, e.g. barriers in office workspace, office equipment and technology and terms and conditions of work.

b) address the process of removing and preventing barriers to effective workplace accommodation and accessibility in the collective bargaining process and in collective agreements, which could:

i) focus an employer and union, involved in the process of bargaining a collective agreement, on identifying and removing existing barriers in the collective agreement, and preventing the creation of new barriers;
ii) require an arbitrator, undertaking binding arbitration of the collective agreement, to address identification removal of existing barriers, and prevention of new barriers in the collective agreement, including inviting submissions from the union and employer on this topic during the arbitration process;
iii) engage the employer and union in getting input from employees with disabilities on workplace barriers that may arise from the collective agreement.

c) require that larger private sector organizations, and all public sector organizations, establish, make public, and inform employees and job applicants about a process for making funds available within the organization, when needed for workplace accommodations, including:

i) In the case of public sector organizations, establishing a central fund to cover the cost of accommodations, so long as that Fund is not treated a ceiling of what the organization may expend on needed workplace accommodation;
ii) Large private sector organizations would either establish such a Fund or a comparable process.
iii) If an employee-requested workplace accommodation isn’t provided by the organization, on account of concerns over the cost or for any other reason, the organization’s chief executive officer will be informed of this decision and the reason for it.

32. The standard be amended to ensure that:

a) The process of developing and providing workplace accommodation is flexible and non-bureaucratic.

b) It is clear to whom an employee makes an accommodation request;

c) There is a speedy process within the organization for resolving any dispute or disagreement over an accommodation request;

d) A public sector organization, and possibly a very large private sector organization, should designate an existing employee within their organization as the disability accessibility and accommodation coordinator to oversee workplace accommodation issues;

e) If an employer declines to provide workplace accommodation to an employee or job applicant, the employer shall give the employee or job applicant its reasons for not providing any accommodation, or if further accommodation is requested but declined, the further accommodation.

33. The standard be amended to include requirements for employers in public sector organizations and larger private sector organizations to identify, remove and prevent barriers to workplace training for employees with disabilities.

34. The standard be amended to provide that workplace information and communication accommodations apply to access to all information and communication that an employee in that position would have access to or need in connection with his or her job.

35. The standard be amended to specify key minimum requirements of any return to work policy, aimed at maximizing the opportunity for barrier-free return to work. These minimum requirements can vary depending on the class of organization, with less extensive requirements for smaller organizations.

36. The standard be amended to provide that this standard prevails over any other legislation governing return to work that gives less barrier-free access to return to work for employees with disabilities.

37. The standard be amended to

a) require that any career development, performance management and redeployment policies, practices or procedures at a workplace be barrier-free for employees with disabilities, and that an employer accommodate the disability-related needs of employees with disabilities in these policies, practices and procedures.

b) specify minimum requirements for employees with disabilities involved in any redeployment process, which:

i) effectively address any accommodation needs of employees with disabilities being redeployed, and
ii) protect, where feasible, employees with disabilities from being bumped from their job to another job if this will confront them with less accessibility or more workplace barriers.

38. The standard be amended to require the Ontario government to set up a one-click network to which employers can send job postings, which the Government would then distribute to organizations that serve persons with disabilities.

39. The standard be amended to provide that the purpose of the standard’s transportation provisions is to make passenger transportation services under provincial and municipal jurisdiction in Ontario fully accessible for persons with disabilities, so that they can fully participate in and be fully included in those services on a footing of equality no later than January 1, 2025, and to ensure that as soon as practicable, readily achievable measures are taken to remove existing barriers and prevent the creation of new barriers impeding persons with disabilities from the full and equal benefit of public transportation.

40. Any and all transportation accessibility requirements be included in the integrated accessibility standard, and not in regulations enacted under any other legislation such as the Highway Traffic Act.

41.The standard be amended to:

a) require that by a benchmark end date, persons with disabilities should have full access to 100% accessible taxi fleets, that end date to be no later than 2025.

b) require Municipalities be or other taxi licensing authorities to only grant a new taxi license or to renew an existing permit for vehicles that meet standards for accessibility to be set out in the standard, so that every inaccessible taxi vehicle retired off the road due to long term use is replaced by a new vehicle that meets Transportation Accessibility Standard accessibility requirements;

c) require a municipality to give a non-transferrable taxi license or permit to anyone who undertakes to operate an accessible taxi vehicle, it being understood that that operator is free to also use their vehicle for passengers with no disability.

d) set a series of intermediate benchmarks on proportions of a municipality’s taxi fleet that are accessible (e.g. 50% by 2015). These benchmarks can be varied depending on community size or other reasonable factors;

e) require municipalities or taxi companies to report publicly to the Ministry on an annual basis, on the proportion of their taxi fleets that are accessible, on the proportion of these that are available for on-demand calls (i.e. not sub-contracted to para-transit services), and on the average time required to fill a call for an accessible taxi. These data should be made public by the Ministry for easy reference and comparison;

f) require taxi dispatch companies to keep track of and annually report on statistics on how many requests they get for an accessible taxi, how often they can fill it, and the time lag in filling it compared to other calls.

g) require the Government to develop a strategy in conjunction with municipalities, public transit authorities, taxi companies and car manufacturers, for arranging for the bulk purchase of accessible taxis at a reduced price.

42. The standard be amended to ensure that it does not incorporate any “family of services” concept, however labelled, and to ensure that para-transit services will be provided wherever conventional public transit services are provided.

43. The standard be amended to also make its para-transit requirements apply to any para-transit service in Ontario even if there is no conventional public transit service in that community.

44. The standard be amended to provide that:

a) By a future deadline that the Standard will set, para-transit riders will be assured same-day service if booked at least five hours in advance on that day;

b) By an interim time line which the Transportation Accessibility Standard will set, The transportation provider shall guarantee all para-transit trip requests within the provider’s area of service where reservations are booked in the previous day notice period provided for in the Transportation Accessibility Standard, except where demonstrably impossible due to strictly-defined unforeseeable situations beyond the transportation provider’s control, namely weather or system wide breakdown that was not anticipated at the time a trip was reserved, and where alternative provision of the requested ride through contracting out services are unavailable to provide the requested ride.

c) Transportation providers shall be required to have and to implement back-up plans to effectively cover for para-transit service interruptions due to equipment failure.

d) Para-transit providers will have the means to answer and address calls for ride requests with a live operator without requiring more than 10 minutes on hold.

45. The standard be amended to require that para-transit services accept bookings up to the end of each service day.

46. The standard be amended so that persons with disabilities can appeal from a public transit authority’s refusal of eligibility for para-transit on any ground, without having to submit new information that was not part of his or her initial application for eligibility.

47. The standard be amended to provide that:

a) For purposes of para-transit services, the transportation provider shall ensure that the accessible public transit service area be defined, at minimum, by the boundaries of the Municipality(s) in which it operates. For example, the catchment area for Toronto would include at least the entire City of Toronto;

b) Without limiting the size of the catchment area referred to in (a) above, if conventional fixed transit travels beyond the borders of the Municipality, specialized transit must, at a minimum, offer the same direct trip request to any destination within a 1.5 km catchment on each side of each fixed route and at the ends of each fixed route. Catchment service areas shall be defined as not less than:

i) That area within corridors with a width of 1.5 km on each side of each fixed route;
ii) That area with a 1.2 km radius at the ends of each fixed route; and areas not inside any of the corridors but which are surrounded by corridors.
iii) Transportation providers shall not be permitted to reduce the catchment areas for para-transit services after this standard comes into effect.

48. The standard be amended to provide that where “specialized” para-transit transportation service options are provided in adjacent municipalities within a contiguous urban area, the transportation providers of both services shall facilitate connections between respective services such that;

a) wait times between connections for an individual using specialized transportation service are no longer than wait times for a person using comparable fixed route transit services;

b) Where conventional transit currently crosses a Municipal border (whether by a City to City fixed agreement or reciprocal agreement) so to shall the specialized transit along the same or similar route and with 1.5 km catchment area of the route.

49. The standard be amended to provide that no eligible person with a disability shall be refused the right to be accompanied by a companion on a para-transit ride where the companion is needed

a) to accommodate the needs of the passenger with a disability;

b) if the passenger with a disability is to be accompanied by a family member or members for whom that passenger with a disability is responsible, or

c) for safety reasons before, during or after the ride.

50. The standard be amended to require that para-transit vehicles be equipped with enough child restraints to ensure that eligible passengers can always get a ride with their child or children when needed.

51. The standard be amended to ensure that para-transit authorities cannot refuse subscription trip requests.

52. The standard be amended to provide that for para-transit services:

a) the drop off/transfer site for para-transit passengers is in a safe location protected from the weather and other hazards, and

b) the transportation provider cannot arbitrarily decide that a passengers chosen destination is “not accessible” and choose another drop-off or pick-up location the transportation provider deems accessible, and to which the passenger does not consent.

53. The standard be amended to require that for para-transit passengers:

a) they be given a pick-up window of no more than 10 minutes in length and
b) the passenger will be notified if the pick up will be delayed more than 10 minutes.

54. The standard be amended to provide that an applicant for temporary eligibility status on para-transit will be deemed to qualify if the transit authority has not decided on his or her application within 3 days.

55. Regardless of whatever else is included in the standard regarding accessibility of electronic self-serve kiosks, the standard should be amended to strictly require in detail that any new public transit fare-payment and route information technology must be fully accessible to persons with disabilities. It should, for example, require that:

a) Visual information be located on a glare free surface utilizing appropriate colour contrast and large typefaces.
b) Visual information be supplemented with tactile and/or auditory information and vice versa.
c) Equipment be accessible for a transportable mobility aid with a maximum footprint 1500 mm long.
d) Operating controls be located at a minimum height of 400 mm and a maximum height of 1200 mm above the floor.
e) Instructions use plain language.
f) All phases and stages of the user interface on these kiosks be fully accessible.

This list is not meant to be exhaustive.

56. The standard be amended to provide that where electronic ticket purchase or validation, or route information equipment or kiosks are made available to the public, alternative readily-accessible means be also provided for these functions via immediate contact with an employee of the transportation provider, recognizing that this is not a justification for adopting inaccessible electronic kiosk equipment.

57. The standard be amended to provide detailed accessibility requirements for new public transit stations and stops.

58. The standard be amended to require that Inaccessible public transit vehicles with more than five years of projected future use e required to be retrofitted for as much accessibility as is feasible, with requirements to vary depending on the length of the expected future useful life of the vehicle.

59. The standard be amended to require that

a) independent operators, brokerages or dispatch services providing on-demand taxi services shall make available taxi registration numbers or where taxi registration numbers are not available, company and vehicle identification information, for all taxis.
b) Taxi registration numbers or company and vehicle identification information shall be made available on the exterior of the taxi:

i) adjacent to both rear entrance doors;
ii) in numbers or letters at least 150 mm in height; and
iii) colour-contrasted by at least 70% with their background.

c) Taxi registration numbers or company and vehicle identification information shall be made available on the interior of the taxi:

i) inside the rear passenger door;
ii) in Type 1 Braille;
iii) in large print; and
iv) colour-contrasted by at least 70% with their background.

60. The standard be amended to require that

a) public transit authorities be required to consult with persons with disabilities on their accessibility plans, and

b) public transit authorities providing conventional and/or para transit services be required to hold, at least once annually, an open, accessible, advertised public forum, for passengers with disabilities to give feedback directly to the transit authority’s senior management and Board of Directors.

61. The standard be amended to include detailed provisions to require transportation providers to provide deaf, deafened and hard of hearing people with equal, timely access to important audio public announcements such as emergency announcements, and to provide time lines by which this service is to be provided.

62. The standard be amended to:

a) Provide that information on the availability of accessibility-related equipment and features of public transit conveyances, routes and services be up-to-date as of 1 half hour of the time of posting, that the information be available in an accessible format, and that it be readily obtainable at all hours that the transit service is in operation, by phone, and via web posting on an accessible website that complies with WCAG 2.0 Level AA accessibility guidelines.

b) Require:

i) That where accessibility equipment on a passenger vehicle is defective or inoperable, the transportation provider shall arrange to have it repaired as soon as possible, and

ii) If important accessibility equipment (such as a subway station elevator or lift) remains out of service for more than a very minimal time designated in the Standard, the transportation provider shall immediately provide accessible alternative transportation for persons with disabilities whose use of the conventional transit system was impeded by the inoperable accessibility equipment.

63. The standard be amended to:

a) clarify that where a passenger with a disability cannot safely exit the vehicle at the intended destination, the driver shall ensure that they are able to exit as close to that location as possible, not merely at the next designated route stop, so as to minimize the disruption to their travel, and

b) require the transportation provider to act promptly to have the safety problem or barrier corrected, or to adjust the location of the route stop.

64. The standard be amended to require 100 lux lighting levels (in all areas it addresses in lieu of 20 lux.

65. The standard be amended to require that on public transit vehicle signage,

a) lettering be in sans serif

b) The size of fonts should harmonize with CSA’s B65.1 viewing distance chart in clause 4.5.3.3: Viewing distance, 2.5 meters – font size 100 mm – example, external route sign viewed from street.

Viewing distance, 2.3 meters – font size 75 millimetres – example, internal line transfer information.

Viewing distance, 1.5 meters – font size 50 millimetres – example, route information on display map.

66. The standard be amended to require an orderly plan for retrofit of inaccessible signage on existing public transit vehicles if they are to remain in service for at least another 8 years.

67. The standard be amended to:

a) require all new passenger rail cars to be fully accessible to passengers with disabilities including those using mobility devices.
b) develop, implement and publicly report on measures to retrofit existing inaccessible passenger rail cars, if they will be in service for at least another 8 years.
c) remove the requirement that one accessible passenger car per train is sufficient to provide accessibility.

68. The standard be amended to extend its transportation accessibility requirements to emergency response vehicles and to voluntary and faith based transportation.

69. The standard be amended to require transportation providers to establish a fair, expeditious and non-bureaucratic process for a passenger with a disability to get pre-approval for their use of a support person for whom a second fare will not be charged. Once pre-approved for using a support person, the passenger with a disability should be issued a card which transit drivers will be trained to accept as authorizing the use of any individual as their support person.”

70. The standard be amended to include specific requirements and time lines for making existing public transit stations and transit stops accessible for people with disabilities.

71. The standard be amended to require that:

a) Tactile walking surface indicators shall be located at all unprotected drop-off edges on transit platforms and ferry docks.

b) Tactile walking surface indicators shall be installed the full width of the drop-off.

c) The base surface shall be level with or not more than three millimetres above the surrounding surface.

d) The depth of the tactile walking surface indicators shall be 610 mm to 650 mm.

e) Tactile walking surface indicators should have the following specifications:

i) The height of the flat-topped domes should be 5mm +/- 1mm.
ii) The diameter of the top of the flat-topped domes should be between 12 mm and 20 mm.
iii) The diameter of the lower base of the flat-topped domes should be 10 mm +/- 1 mm more than the diameter of the top.
iv) The distance between the bases of adjacent domes should be a minimum of 15 mm.
v) The spacing between adjacent flat-topped domes should be adjusted depending on the size of the domes, as shown in the table below. The larger the individual domes, the farther the space between them:
Top diameter of flat-topped domes (mm): 12, 15, 18, 20
Spacing between the centres of adjacent domes (mm): 55 to 61, 57 to 63, 60 to 61, 63 to 68

f) Stairs on ferries and in transit stations should have a detectable warning surface located at the top of all stairs. The texture of the detectable warning shall:

i) be 70% colour contrasted from the surrounding surface and run the full width of the stairs;
ii) have a depth of 920 mm;
iii) commence one tread depth from the edge of the stair.
iv) be the same texture and dome dimension as the tactile walking surface indicator used on ferry docks.

72. The standard be amended to require the mandatory accessible pre-boarding announcement of routes or destinations.

73. The Standard be amended to require public transit authorities to periodically self-monitor their compliance with key provisions of this Standard and report publicly, in an accessible way, on their compliance.

74. The standard be amended to remove the exemption for publicly-funded school boards’ providing integrated school bus transportation where this is not possible or the best option.

75. All the time lines in the standard must be significantly reduced to be compatible with requirements under the Ontario Human Rights Code.

76. Instead of designating the Licensing Appeal Tribunal to hear appeals under the AODA, the standard should create a new tribunal specifically to hear AODA appeals, with needed expertise in disability accessibility issues.

77. The standard be amended to substantially increase the administrative monetary penalties.

78. The standard be amended to provide to persons with disabilities the right to file complaints about violations of any accessibility standards under the AODA, the right to be heard regarding their complaints, and to ongoing notice of what the Government is doing with the case, e.g. about its disposition, including at any appeal.

79. The proposed Highway Traffic Act regulations on Vehicles for the Transportation of Physically Disabled Passengers should be amended to ensure that:

a) These regulations reference to persons using a wheelchair should be expanded to include persons with disabilities who use a variety of mobility aids including a wheelchair, scooter, walker, and the like, as well as any person who requires the assistance of non-mobility equipment such as an oxygen tank

b) The regulations that refer to rear load only, should refer to side-load as well.

c) Side-load vehicles should be required to have doors on both sides so that a person may enter and exit the vehicle in a forward direction upon entry and exit

d) A wheelchair symbol should be required to be affixed at the side of the vehicle as well as the rear (preferably on the front quarter panel)

e) Every vertical lift on a vehicle should be required to have a flip down seat for ambulatory passengers to sit on when lift is in use

f) Vertical lifts should be required to have a substantially larger weight capacity than 275 kilos

g) Wheelchair accessible taxi vehicles should be required to have grab bars on both sides of the vehicle within reach of a person with a disability. Side-load vehicles should have grab bars on both sides of the side door and rear loading vehicles on both sides of the vehicle.

h) Accessible public transit vehicles which include a kneeling feature should be required to kneel the entire vehicle (all four wheel quadrants) to allow for lowering the entire vehicle. This would avoid a sloped floor upon embarking or disembarking. This avoids the safety risk for persons with disabilities with limited strength and stamina

i) School buses should be required to provide space for a minimum of 2 wheelchairs or mobility devices

j) Accessible taxis running should be required to have running board steps for side-load vehicles.

APPENDIX 2 – BACKGROUND TO THIS BRIEF

1. WHO ARE WE?

The Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance welcomes this opportunity to give input into the initial proposed Information and Communication Accessibility Standard (ICAS). The AODA Alliance is a voluntary non-partisan coalition of individuals and organizations. Its mission is:

“To contribute to the achievement of a barrier-free Ontario for all persons with disabilities, by promoting and supporting the timely, effective, and comprehensive implementation of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act.”

To learn about us, visit: http://www.aodaalliance.org .

Our coalition is the successor to the Ontarians with Disabilities Act Committee. The ODA Committee advocated for over ten years for the enactment of strong, effective disability accessibility legislation. Our coalition builds on the ODA Committee’s work. We draw our membership from the ODA Committee’s broad, grassroots base. To learn about the ODA Committee’s history, visit: http://www.odacommittee.net

2. Why This Proposed Integrated Accessibility Standard?

The Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA), enacted in 2005, requires Ontario to become fully accessible for persons with disabilities by 2025. Its main means for achieving this is by requiring the Ontario Government to develop, enact and enforce strong, effective accessibility standards to require the identification, timely removal and prevention of barriers against persons with disabilities.

To date, the Ontario Government has only enacted one accessibility standard, namely the Customer Service Accessibility Standard. It is very weak. It only became enforceable against public sector organizations in 2010. It does not become enforceable against private sector organizations until 2012.

Over the past three years, the Government had Standards Development Committees also working on recommendations for accessibility standards in the areas of transportation, information and communication, and employment. Each of these Standards Development Committees submitted final proposals for accessibility standards . Over the past many months, the Government has been reviewing these proposed accessibility standards , and gathering input from the public, including the disability community. On September 2, 2010, the Government released a summary of what it proposes to include in a single integrated accessibility standard to ensure the identification, removal and prevention of barriers in the areas of transportation, information and communication, and employment.

3. How We Assessed the Government’s Summary of Its Proposed Integrated Accessibility Standard

To effectively assess the summary of the proposed integrated accessibility standard, one must compare it to the recommendations that the three Standards Development Committees proposed to the Government, and to the feedback that we gave the Government on those proposals. Unfortunately, the Government has inexplicably taken down from its website the final proposals of those three Standards Development Committees. They are, however, preserved on the AODA Alliance’s website.

There are several important questions we ask ourselves when reviewing this proposed integrated accessibility standard:

1. Will the Government’s proposed integrated accessibility standard ensure that by 2025, persons with disabilities will have barrier-free full accessibility in employment, information and communication, and transportation? The AODA requires that Ontario become fully accessible by 2025. These accessibility standards are the key means for getting us there.

2. Does the summary of the proposed integrated accessibility standard cover all the barriers that persons with disabilities face in these three areas? Does it ensure their effective removal and prevention?

3. Does the summary of the proposed integrated accessibility standard include reasonable time lines?

4. Is the proposed integrated accessibility standard effectively enforceable?

5. Does the proposed integrated accessibility standard at least include all the entitlements for persons with disabilities that were included in the proposals submitted to the Government by the three Standards Development Committees, the ones that addressed transportation, information and communication, and employment? The Government has inexplicably removed those earlier proposals from its website. That would prevent you from comparing them to what the Government is now offering persons with disabilities. We, however, have left them on our website.

6. Does the Government’s summary of its proposed integrated accessibility standard incorporate the feedback we gave the Government in the areas of accessibility of transportation, information And communication, and employment?

4. Where to Find Key Documents that We Quote in this Brief

The Transportation Standards Development Committee’s final proposed Transportation Accessibility Standard is available at:
http://www.aodaalliance.org/strong-effective-aoda/03172009.asp

Our brief on the final proposed Transportation Accessibility Standard is available at:
http://www.aodaalliance.org/strong-effective-aoda/04082009.asp

The Information and Communication Standards Development Committee’s final proposed Information and Communication Accessibility Standard is available at:
http://www.aodaalliance.org/strong-effective-aoda/default.asp

Our brief to the Government on the final proposed Information and Communication Accessibility Standard is available at: http://www.aodaalliance.org/strong-effective-aoda/06222010.asp

The Employment Standards Development Committee’s final proposed Employment Accessibility Standard is available at: http://www.aodaalliance.org/strong-effective-aoda/03032010.asp

Our brief to the Government on the final proposed Employment Accessibility Standard is available at: http://www.aodaalliance.org/strong-effective-aoda/06182010.asp

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