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Join Our Call for Strong New Accessibility Standards – and Distribute Our New Leaflet!

November 27, 2010

SUMMARY

Please add your voice to our call for the McGuinty government to enact strong and effective new accessibility standards, to be enacted under the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act.

The McGuinty Government is now working on finalizing an accessibility standard it will enact in 2011. This standard is supposed to remove and prevent barriers that impede Ontarians with disabilities from equal access to public transportation, to employment, and to information and communication.

So far, the Government has proposed a very weak accessibility standard. We are calling for it to be substantially strengthened, and have offered constructive suggestions.

We need you to make your views known to the Government, the media and the public, whether you speak up as an individual, or on behalf of an organization. This update gives you practical tips on what you can do. Helping us only takes a few minutes. You can make a real difference for Ontarians with disabilities. We give you everything you need to know in this update.

MORE DETAILS – HOW YOU CAN HELP

Everyone can help. We offer three easy-to-do suggestions on what you can do.

1. Circulate our New Leaflet

First, please circulate our new leaflet. Print up hard copies or paste it into an email to friends. It is set out below or you can download it in accessible PDF at AODA Alliance Leaflet (PDF document, 100 kb). Give it to friends and family. Post it on your Facebook page.

Post it in public places. Spread the word! Keep a pile of them at your home and work, to give to others. Encourage others to distribute it.

If you want us to email our pamphlet to you in MS Word format, set up to nicely fit on one page, email us at: aodafeedback@gmail.com

We believe the vast majority of Ontarians support accessibility for persons with disabilities. However, there are some isolated pockets of ill-informed resistance and backlash. It is important to ensure that those few uninformed voices don’t drown out ours.

2. Call, Write or Email your MPP

Second, please contact your local Member of the Ontario Legislature. Urge him or her to tell Premier Dalton McGuinty and Community and Social Services Minister Madeleine Meilleur that their forthcoming accessibility standard should be strong and effective. It should not be weak, as they currently plan.

It would be great if you could offer the Government some improvements. Here are some of our priorities:

1. Time lines for organizations to remove and prevent barriers in the proposed standard are far too long, and exemptions are far too broad. These should be dramatically reduced.

For example, the proposed standard would give the Ontario Government all the way to 2018 to start posting fully accessible information on its websites, in full accordance with 2008 international standards. It should start posting fully accessible information on its websites now.

2. Many people with disabilities now need para-transit services like Toronto’s Wheeltrans, because conventional public transit isn’t fully accessible. They should be guaranteed a ride if they call the same day within a designated lead time. They should be guaranteed that they need not sit on hold for more than 10 minutes to book a ride.

The Government proposes a same day ride guarantee only “to the extent that service is available.” That is no guarantee at all. It puts no cap on how long people must wait on hold. In contrast, passengers on regular buses and subways get a ride within minutes, and don’t have to call to book it.

3. Public transit services should be required to retrofit existing transit stations, stops and vehicles, if not accessible, along reasonable time lines, unless these are going out of service in the next 5 years. The Government doesn’t propose to require any retrofit of any existing transit stations, stops or vehicles.

4. Effective measures should be implemented to significantly increase the number of accessible taxis on the road. For example, municipalities could be required to guarantee a new taxi licence to anyone who commits to use a new accessible cab.

The Government only proposes collecting data for five years on the need for accessible cabs (which is easy to collect right now) and asking municipalities to think about what number of accessible cabs they need. The Government’s plan won’t ensure that any new accessible cabs ever appear on the road.

5. Public sector employers and larger private sector employers should be required to identify the barriers in their workplace against persons with disabilities, and plan for their removal. The Government doesn’t propose requiring employers to do anything pro-actively to seek out, remove or prevent any workplace barriers.

6. Increasingly, organizations are setting up electronic self-serve kiosks for customers, like public transit passengers, to make transactions. Too often, these aren’t accessible to customers with disabilities.

The standard should require that any electronic self-serve kiosks for use by the public be fully accessible to persons with disabilities. The Government proposes to only require that an organization, implementing one of these electronic kiosks, consider accessibility. It doesn’t require any organization to ever make these kiosks accessible.

7. Too often, the Ontario Government and other public sector organizations use our tax dollars to create new barriers against persons with disabilities or to perpetuate existing ones. The standard should require that no public sector organizations spend any public money on any procurement, project or infrastructure that creates, perpetuates or exacerbates any barriers against persons with disabilities. The Government only proposes to require public sector organizations to have a policy on how they will consider accessibility. That policy may be toothless, and may be ignored. Under the Government’s proposal, public sector organizations can keep spending our money creating new barriers or perpetuating old ones, without violating that requirement.

8. Too often, professionals like architects and lawyers have not been trained on the accessibility needs of persons with disabilities. The standard should require the training of self-governing professions on ensuring accessibility for persons with disabilities in their work.

9. The standard should have effective enforcement, including opportunities for the victims of barriers to file complaints and be heard when decisions are made on compliance with these standards. The Government’s proposed enforcement doesn’t guarantee persons with disabilities any chance to file complaints, to know what is happening with their case, or to have a hearing on their concerns.

Our leaflet, gives you information on how to contact the Premier and the Minister of Community & Social Services. To find out how to contact your local MPP, visit:
http://www.ontla.on.ca/web/go2.jsp?Page=/members/members_main&menuItem=mpps_header&locale=en

We are very gratified that so many community organizations have already endorsed our comprehensive brief on how to strengthen the weak proposed accessibility standard.

3. Spread the Word to Your Local Media

Third, please contact your local media to voice your support. Urge that they cover this issue. Raise this issue on a local call-in radio station. Write a letter to the editor of your local newspaper or send in a guest column. If you know any news reporters in your community, urge them to cover this issue.

If you want to read more about this issue, here are some key resources:
* See what the Government is proposing to include in its integrated accessibility standard by visiting: http://www.aodaalliance.org/strong-effective-aoda/09152010.asp

* See why we think the proposed integrated accessibility standard is so weak and all the 79 recommendations we make for improving it. Read our detailed brief on this, prepared after getting input from the disability community. It is available at: http://www.aodaalliance.org/strong-effective-aoda/10082010.asp

Let us know what action you take to help with our non-partisan campaign. Write us at: aodafeedback@gmail.com

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FOLLOWING IS A ONE PAGE LEAFLET FOR YOU TO PRINT UP OR EMAIL TO OTHERS
ACCESSIBILITY FOR ONTARIANS WITH DISABILITIES ACT ALLIANCE
Sign Up for AODA Alliance Email Updates by writing to aodafeedback@gmail.com
Learn more at: www.aodaalliance.org
UNITED FOR A BARRIER-FREE ONTARIO

TELL PREMIER MCGUINTY IF YOU SUPPORT GOOD ACCESSIBILITY LAWS FOR ONTARIO

* DO YOU THINK THE GOVERNMENT SHOULD NEVER USE OUR TAX DOLLARS TO CREATE OR PERPETUATE BARRIERS AGAINST PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES?
* DO YOU THINK THE ONTARIO GOVERNMENT SHOULD POST INFORMATION ON ITS WEBSITES IN A WAY THAT IS ACCESSIBLE TO ADAPTIVE TECHNOLOGY THAT MANY PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES USE?
* DO YOU THINK ONTARIANS WITH DISABILITIES SHOULD BE ABLE TO USE PUBLIC TRANSIT AND TAXIS JUST LIKE PEOPLE WITHOUT DISABILITIES?

It is good that the McGuinty Government is now proposing to enact a new accessibility standard to tear down barriers facing people with disabilities, but their proposal is weak and toothless. It doesn’t live up to Premier McGuinty’s promise of a fully accessible Ontario by 2025.

Please help our non-partisan campaign for a fully accessible Ontario by 2025. Contact Premier McGuinty, Community & Social Services Minister Madeleine Meilleur, and your own local Member of the Ontario Legislative Assembly. Tell them you want the forthcoming accessibility standard to be substantially strengthened, not weak and toothless (as it is now proposed).

To reach Premier McGuinty you have to go to a website page and enter your email message there: http://www.premier.gov.on.ca/feedback.

The Premier’s other contact information is: Hon. Premier Dalton McGuinty
Room 281, Legislative Building
Queen’s Park
Toronto, Ontario, M7A 1A1
Facsimile: (416) 325-9895
Voice phone: (416) 325-1941

You can reach Community & Social Services Minister,
Madeleine Meilleur at: Hon. Madeleine Meilleur, Minister
Community & Social Services
Hepburn Block
6th Floor, 80 Grosvenor Street
Toronto, Ontario, M7A 1E9
Facsimile: (416) 325-3347
Email: mcssinfo@css.gov.on.ca
Voice phone (toll free): (888) 789-4199

Find out how to contact your own MPP at: http://www.ontla.on.ca/web/go2.jsp?Page=/members/members_main&menuItem=mpps_header&locale=en

Contact

Sign Up for AODA Alliance Email Updates by writing our new email address: aodafeedback@gmail.com
Learn more at: www.aodaalliance.org

UNITED FOR A BARRIER-FREE ONTARIO