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London Not Following Accessibility Rules, Removes All Archived Council Debate Videos

Patrick Maloney
By Patrick Maloney, The London Free Press
Wednesday, February 1, 2017 4:04:35 EST PM

A city councillor is ripping staff over an “unacceptable” oversight that led city hall to strip its website and YouTube channel of all video records of political debates.

Coun. Mo Salih says city council was told late Tuesday that all city videos a valuable visual account of council meetings are in “non-compliance” with accessibility rules due to a “lack of closed-captioning for (the) hearing impaired.”

Salih also takes city staff to task, saying they knew this was an issue for two years. Such matters fall under the human resources department, which oversees the Accessibility for Ontarians With Disabilities Act (AODA).

“Unacceptable,” Salih wrote on social media.

He added: “It’s against the law, so we have to correct it.”

One source tells The Free Press correcting the videos could cost upwards of $800,000, though that number hasn’t yet been confirmed.

So, as of Wednesday morning, all videos of council and committee meetings archived online since 2011 are gone from and the city’s YouTube channel. That means there’s no way to watch, say, Tuesday’s council meeting where the video issue itself was debated.

It’s unclear how long it will take to update the videos with closed-captioning. Officials in the city clerk’s office are preparing a report on the matter for politicians.

While he thanked Salih for forcing the AODA-video issue into the open, Coun. Jesse Helmer struck a different note than his council colleague.

“I take personal responsibility for allowing our website (videos) to be out of compliance with AODA,” Helmer wrote on social media. “We need to fix (it) ASAP.”

Another city councillor, Tanya Park, voted against yanking the videos, saying it makes it harder for Londoners to access city council information.

“To be an open and accountable level of government, we have to be open and accountable with information,” she said Wednesday. “These videos give (citizens) the context behind the (meeting) minutes.”

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