Accessibility News December 30,2023 Update

Follow us on Twitter at https://twitter.com/acnewsca

The AODA Clock is Ticking

There is 1 year, 0 weeks, 2 days until a fully Accessible Ontario! Will you be compliant?

In this Issue

*Opinion: I Live With Cerebral Palsy; The Canada Disability Benefit Would Be a Lifeline for All People With Disabilities
*Q&A: Ontario Failed to See Crisis, Says Accessibility Reviewer
*Manitoba Fails to Gain Ground on Accessibility: Report
*Blind Leader Wins $2 Million Settlement Over Inaccessible California Parks Website
*Transportation Agency Penalizes Air Canada for Violating Disabilities Regulations

ARTICLES:

Opinion: I Live With Cerebral Palsy; The Canada Disability Benefit Would Be a Lifeline for All People With Disabilities

I live with cerebral palsy and experience a physical battle daily. But the financial burdens that affect me and my loved ones create even more barriers. This is the reality for many Canadians with disabilities across the country.

Read more at
https://www.accessibilitynewsinternational.com/opinion-i-live-with-cerebral-palsy-the-canada-disability-benefit-would-be-a-lifeline-for-all-people-with-disabilities/

Q&A: Ontario Failed to See Crisis, Says Accessibility Reviewer
The author of a mandated report on the province’s progress on implementing the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act speaks out about the lack of political will for making Ontario accessible

Read more at
https://www.accessibilitynews.ca/qa-ontario-failed-to-see-crisis-says-accessibility-reviewer/

Manitoba Fails to Gain Ground on Accessibility: Report

Ten years after Manitoba adopted accessibility laws meant to enhance disability rights in government organizations and workplaces, the province has yet to achieve the “significant progress” envisioned by lawmakers.

Read more at
https://www.accessibilitynewsinternational.com/manitoba-fails-to-gain-ground-on-accessibility-report/

Blind Leader Wins $2 Million Settlement Over Inaccessible California Parks Website

Settlement ranks as one of the largest resolutions of web access litigation in the U.S.

Read more at
https://www.accessibilitynewsinternational.com/blind-leader-wins-2-million-settlement-over-inaccessible-california-parks-website/

Transportation Agency Penalizes Air Canada for Violating Disabilities Regulations

The penalty of $97,500 is for several violations of the regulations.

Read more at
https://www.accessibilitynewsinternational.com/transportation-agency-penalizes-air-canada-for-violating-disabilities-regulations/

Past Newsletters

View past issues of the Newsletter at http://www.accessibilitynews.ca/category/accessibility-news-weekly-newsletter/

Inclusive Media and Design Inc is a proud supporter of Accessibility News.

Inclusive is ready to caption and video describe all your video for web, DVD, and computer desktop. They can also assist you in understanding and implementing Ontario’s AODA Integrated Standards’ media requirements. Consider having them check that any of your new web site content is compliant with an Accessibility Audit.

Visit http://www.inclusivemedia.ca to find out more.

Want to advertise in this spot or make an Announcement? Email info@accessibilitynews.ca for more info

To unsubscribe from this Newsletter, send an email to info@accessibilitynews.ca or just reply to this Update and state your intentions.

The views and opinions expressed throughout Accessibility News do not represent those of the various organizations or associated individuals and are exclusively those of the contributor and/or author of the specific article or commentary.

Accessibility News, since November 8, 2006

Opinion: I Live With Cerebral Palsy; The Canada Disability Benefit Would Be a Lifeline for All People With Disabilities

I live with cerebral palsy and experience a physical battle daily. But the financial burdens that affect me and my loved ones create even more barriers. This is the reality for many Canadians with disabilities across the country.

Read more at
https://www.accessibilitynewsinternational.com/opinion-i-live-with-cerebral-palsy-the-canada-disability-benefit-would-be-a-lifeline-for-all-people-with-disabilities/

Q&A: Ontario Failed to See Crisis, Says Accessibility Reviewer

The author of a mandated report on the province’s progress on implementing the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act speaks out about the lack of political will for making Ontario accessible Jessica Smith Cross
Dec. 25, 2023

Rich Donovan was tasked with writing the fourth review of the province’s progress on implementing the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) by its 2025 deadline.

It’s going so well that he recommended the government declare a crisis.

Instead, the government sat on his report for six months and released it quietly at the end of the legislative sitting.

Donovan’s report said the province will fail to meet the goal it set 20 years ago of making Ontario accessible for people with disabilities by 2025.

Beyond declaring a crisis, he recommended the government create a crisis committee chaired by the premier himself, as well as an agency to elevate AODA delivery above the politics of the legislature and co-ordinate a whole-of-government approach. He urged better data collection with input from Ontarians with disabilities. And, in part because of the province’s lack of progress over the last two decades, he recommended the government pass responsibility for the most costly challenge – making built environments in private-sector buildings accessible – to the federal government.

In response to the report, a spokesperson for the Ministry of Seniors and Accessibility said the government is planning to update building evacuation plans for all government-owned and leased buildings to ensure the safe evacuation of persons with disabilities. It’s also planning to move on two other recommendations of the report: establishing a volunteer group of everyday people with disabilities to provide their direct experience and feedback on accessibility issues and ensuring all government procurement through Supply Ontario incorporates accessibility standards.

Addressing the delay in releasing the report, the ministry spokesperson said, “Given the complexity and expansive scope required when addressing issues around accessibility, we believe Mr. Donovan’s report warranted time spent on a thoughtful analysis and response to his recommendations and that is what we have done.”

Here’s The Trillium’s conversation with Donovan about his report and the response to it at Queen’s Park, lightly edited and condensed for readability.

Q: There’s already some news coverage of the report itself, but I wanted to hear from you specifically about the government’s response to what you said in the report. Can we start there?

A: I noticed there was one word missing from the response, and that’s “crisis.” So, it’s pretty obvious to me that the government does not agree with my assessment of a crisis, otherwise they would have used that word.

Q: I understand you submitted this report to the government six months ago.

A: That’s right. June 6.

Q: And what do you make of them taking six months to table it in the legislature, thereby making it public?

A: Ha, well, it only took a year to write, so it took half of that period to release it. It’s rather ironic that I gave them six months to solve the crisis and it took them six months to release the report. I think, fundamentally, it goes back to leadership. There’s a reason why I didn’t assign the Ministry of Accessibility with ownership of this file – because they haven’t been able to deliver results over the last 17 years. What I want, and what I’ve asked for, is accountability directly from the premier and directly from the secretary of cabinet and I see no evidence of that to date.

Q: One of the biggest things recommended in the report is the jurisdictional change, where the federal government would be responsible for private-sector accessibility compliance. Do you think it’s feasible? Do you think that the federal government is ready to take ownership of this?

A: Anything is feasible. To be fair, this isn’t that difficult. I don’t have a mandate to give recommendations to the federal government, but when we did our analysis, we found one of the big problems was how do you regulate 400,000 small businesses? The provincial government doesn’t have the bodies to regulate that many companies. (Donovan noted in his report that the Compliance and Enforcement Branch of the AODA has approximately 25 staff.) The only entity we could think of that touches every one of these companies is the CRA. So what we envisioned is using the tax-collection process to first collect data to understand what companies are doing – because that data doesn’t exist today, in any form. So, the first three to five years, simply getting data together, understanding the lay of the land, and auditing those statements by businesses, as the CRA does all the time. Then, once we get a good understanding of where companies are, we develop a set of policies to help those businesses change their behaviour.

By the way, we note this in the report a couple of times: Canada is the only country in the world that doesn’t put this at the national level.

Q: In your report, you separate accessibility of the built environment from everything else. What’s the most pressing need when it comes to the built environment?

A: Cash. We’re talking physical assets that either need to be remediated or, frankly, in some cases, torn down. That takes cash. In my world of finance (Donovan is CEO of The Return on Disability Group and a former portfolio manager at Merrill Lynch), that means there’s a ton of risk associated with that. Who owns that risk? The building owners, or is that something the government wants to take on and say, ‘If we’re going to change this, we have to take the risk away from you.’ And there are ways to do that.

Q: The TTC made headlines recently for saying they’re not going to meet their Jan. 1, 2025, AODA deadline of making all of their stations accessible. The response I saw from people online was, “They had 20 years. How could they not?” What do you make of that?

A: They had 20 years, so how could they not? Right? Twenty years ago, somebody decided we’ll take care of it in 15 years, and figure it out later. Nobody’s beating down my door to do it, so I’ll punt it to the next general manager, which is how these things work. These are human beings in these organizations, they’ve got 40,000 priorities, if nobody’s going to hold them accountable to this priority, they’re going to punt it. That’s what they did. That’s what usually gets done with this file because they’re not being held accountable by the media, the opposition, there’s no organized, effective lobby for disabilities.

Q: And what’s the highest priority in the everything else, not the built environment, category?

A: Data. The Ministry of Accessibility had no data on what accessibility looks like in the province. None. Zero. They don’t know what changes need to be made. They don’t know basic things like demographics. They don’t know basic things like what are the drivers of inaccessibility. What they’ve relied on, historically, is activists who sit in a ballroom for a week and tell them what’s going on. I know that because I was one of them. So, what they need to do is start doing proper research and, by the way, volunteering for giving feedback to the government is not proper research. Again, not a great start by making these people volunteers. Proper research pays people for their input. We’re here because we relied on volunteers to tell us what they thought and we didn’t understand what’s going on in the cities and towns and villages in Ontario because we didn’t ask.

Q: So, you’re thinking more like a paid focus group on a large scale?

A: Absolutely. Thousands of qualitative, quantitative conversations to really understand what’s going on. This is not difficult to do, and it’s not costly. We’re talking about 10s of thousands of dollars in budget. This is what we would do for any other population.

Q: Back to the situation at Queen’s Park. The NDP was a bit taken aback by your criticism of the Opposition – they’re not the only opposition party in the province, but they’ve been one for the 17 years you speak of in the report. They certainly see themselves as advocates for people with disabilities. Part of their response to your criticism was that of the 13 times the AODA has been brought up in the legislature this sitting, 12 were from them. I take it you see things differently.

A: Any opposition on this file has been an absolute failure over the past 17 years. I fundamentally reject the NDP’s assertion that they’ve been doing a good job here. They haven’t done their homework – in their response to me, they mentioned ODSP (the Ontario Disability Support Program) and WSIB (the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board), neither of which have anything to do with the AODA. I would politely suggest to them they go back and do their homework before they start being defensive. I don’t see them anywhere on this file, period. I can say that federally and provincially across the country.

Q: What do you think would create that political will that you see is lacking on all sides?

A: This is 27 per cent of the population. Every one of those people has at least one person directly attached to them with a disability. I don’t understand why politicians wouldn’t jump up and down on this issue as a way to emotionally connect with voters. Any good political operative would tell you the best issues are raw emotion – it doesn’t get any more raw emotion than this issue. So, rather than looking at this as a social justice issue or left-right issue, which it’s not, these guys need to find a way to understand what’s actually going on.

If I was a politician, which I’m not, thankfully, I would be spending a lot of my time trying to get this right, trying to understand what’s causing these folks to disconnect from the economy. How can I take advantage of that, politically, to drive up my vote count, which is what politicians care about, right? I don’t see any of that going on. It’s like what I’ve been doing for 20 years with companies in the economy – helping companies realize, oh sh–, this is a big opportunity. Politicians are doing the same thing – they’re just 20 years behind the curve. You’re starting to see that shift federally, where they’re realizing, A, I didn’t realize this population was so big, and B, so economically influential, C, so rich with votes. So I think it’s time the political side wakes up and realizes we’d better get this right.

Q: What else would you like to say?

A: I think the root of this problem is decades of discrimination, starting with eugenics, which was a state-supported approach to eliminate disability in some countries. We can’t forget that reality and that’s what’s at the base of these issues. That, thankfully, is in our past, I hope. Now we need to get serious about rebuilding the infrastructure to make sure that we squeeze every drop of value out of every person in society. We’re nowhere near doing that. In order to do that, it’s going to require a pretty big shift in tweaking some of the things that we’ve built and it appears that the current government isn’t ready to do that yet.

Original at https://www.newmarkettoday.ca/local-news/qa-ontario-failed-to-see-crisis-says-accessibility-reviewer-8008534

Manitoba Fails to Gain Ground on Accessibility: Report

Ten years after Manitoba adopted accessibility laws meant to enhance disability rights in government organizations and workplaces, the province has yet to achieve the “significant progress” envisioned by lawmakers.

Read more at
https://www.accessibilitynewsinternational.com/manitoba-fails-to-gain-ground-on-accessibility-report/

Blind Leader Wins $2 Million Settlement Over Inaccessible California Parks Website

Settlement ranks as one of the largest resolutions of web access litigation in the U.S.

Read more at
https://www.accessibilitynewsinternational.com/blind-leader-wins-2-million-settlement-over-inaccessible-california-parks-website/

Transportation Agency Penalizes Air Canada for Violating Disabilities Regulations

The penalty of $97,500 is for several violations of the regulations.

Read more at
https://www.accessibilitynewsinternational.com/transportation-agency-penalizes-air-canada-for-violating-disabilities-regulations/

Accessibility News December 23,2023 Update

Follow us on Twitter at https://twitter.com/acnewsca

The AODA Clock is Ticking

There is 1 year, 1 week, 2 days until a fully Accessible Ontario! Will you be compliant?

In this Issue

*Why are Canadian Airlines Failing Passengers With Disabilities?
*Critics Caution Against Plan to Expand Medical Assistance in Dying to Those With Mental Illness
*Advocate Says Regina Councillor was Right to Oppose Proposed Accessible Waterslide Budget Cut
*StatCan: Eight Million People, 27 Per Cent of Canadians, have at Least one Disability
*Hamilton Delays End to Free Transit for Blind, Disabled Residents
* AODA Alliance Updates(6)

ARTICLES:

Why are Canadian Airlines Failing Passengers With Disabilities?

Spot checks by the regulator would put the airlines on notice since they could face serious consequences for failure to discharge their obligations.

Read more at
https://www.accessibilitynewsinternational.com/why-are-canadian-airlines-failing-passengers-with-disabilities/

Critics Caution Against Plan to Expand Medical Assistance in Dying to Those With Mental Illness

Hope is what kept Laurel Walker alive as thoughts of suicide overwhelmed her, and that is exactly what she says would be stripped from people battling the same darkness if Canada forges ahead with plans to expand medical assistance in dying to those with a mental disorder.

Read more at
https://www.accessibilitynewsinternational.com/critics-caution-against-plan-to-expand-medical-assistance-in-dying-to-those-with-mental-illness/

Advocate Says Regina Councillor was Right to Oppose Proposed Accessible Waterslide Budget Cut

“You all make me sick,” Nelson said. “How dare you take this away from the disabled community, the community that was so excited to finally go down a god damn waterslide.”

Read more at
https://www.accessibilitynewsinternational.com/advocate-says-regina-councillor-was-right-to-oppose-proposed-accessible-waterslide-budget-cut/

StatCan: Eight Million People, 27 Per Cent of Canadians, have at Least one Disability

The number of Canadians with at least one disability has doubled in ten years, a reality that should push governments to help reduce barriers to accessibility, says the head of a human rights organization.

Read more at
https://www.accessibilitynewsinternational.com/statcan-eight-million-people-27-per-cent-of-canadians-have-at-least-one-disability/

Hamilton Delays End to Free Transit for Blind, Disabled Residents

Council approved the “grace period” Wednesday for riders using the long-standing voluntary pay program, which is being replaced Jan. 1 by a new transit affordability program that will provide discounts to more riders.

Read more at
https://www.accessibilitynews.ca/hamilton-delays-end-to-free-transit-for-blind-disabled-residents/

AODA Alliance Updates:

AODA Alliance’s 2023 Year-End Report to Our Many Supporters

Read more at
https://www.accessibilitynews.ca/aoda-alliances-2023-year-end-report-to-our-many-supporters/

As 2023 Comes to an End, What’s Happening with the Accessible Canada Act and the Canada Disability Benefit Act?

Read more at
https://www.accessibilitynews.ca/as-2023-comes-to-an-end-whats-happening-with-the-accessible-canada-act-and-the-canada-disability-benefit-act/

Ontario Accessibility Minister Raymond Cho Finally Breaks Months of Radio Silence and Writes the AODA Alliance, But Tells Us Nothing New and Does Not Agree to Meet

Read more at
https://www.accessibilitynews.ca/ontario-accessibility-minister-raymond-cho-finally-breaks-months-of-radio-silence-and-writes-the-aoda-alliance-but-tells-us-nothing-new-and-does-not-agree-to-meet/

More Media Coverage of the Toronto Bike Path that Endangers Pedestrians with Disabilities

Read more at
https://www.accessibilitynews.ca/more-media-coverage-of-the-toronto-bike-path-that-endangers-pedestrians-with-disabilities/

Good Media Coverage of the Rich Donovan Final Report

Read more at
https://www.accessibilitynews.ca/good-media-coverage-of-the-rich-donovan-final-report/

Ford Government Belatedly Makes Public Blistering Independent Review’s Final Report on Failed Government Implementation of Ontario’s Disabilities Act – Report Declares Disability Inaccessibility a ?Crisis? Needing Urgent Action, Will Premier Ford Take Action?

Read more at
https://www.accessibilitynews.ca/ford-government-belatedly-makes-public-blistering-independent-reviews-final-report-on-failed-government-implementation-of-ontarios-disabilities-act-report-declares-disability-inaccessibility-a/

Past Newsletters

View past issues of the Newsletter at http://www.accessibilitynews.ca/category/accessibility-news-weekly-newsletter/

Inclusive Media and Design Inc is a proud supporter of Accessibility News.

Inclusive is ready to caption and video describe all your video for web, DVD, and computer desktop. They can also assist you in understanding and implementing Ontario’s AODA Integrated Standards’ media requirements. Consider having them check that any of your new web site content is compliant with an Accessibility Audit.

Visit http://www.inclusivemedia.ca to find out more.

Want to advertise in this spot or make an Announcement? Email info@accessibilitynews.ca for more info

To unsubscribe from this Newsletter, send an email to info@accessibilitynews.ca or just reply to this Update and state your intentions.

The views and opinions expressed throughout Accessibility News do not represent those of the various organizations or associated individuals and are exclusively those of the contributor and/or author of the specific article or commentary.

Accessibility News, since November 8, 2006

Why are Canadian Airlines Failing Passengers With Disabilities?

Spot checks by the regulator would put the airlines on notice since they could face serious consequences for failure to discharge their obligations.

Read more at
https://www.accessibilitynewsinternational.com/why-are-canadian-airlines-failing-passengers-with-disabilities/

Critics Caution Against Plan to Expand Medical Assistance in Dying to Those With Mental Illness

Hope is what kept Laurel Walker alive as thoughts of suicide overwhelmed her, and that is exactly what she says would be stripped from people battling the same darkness if Canada forges ahead with plans to expand medical assistance in dying to those with a mental disorder.

Read more at
https://www.accessibilitynewsinternational.com/critics-caution-against-plan-to-expand-medical-assistance-in-dying-to-those-with-mental-illness/

Advocate Says Regina Councillor was Right to Oppose Proposed Accessible Waterslide Budget Cut

“You all make me sick,” Nelson said. “How dare you take this away from the disabled community, the community that was so excited to finally go down a god damn waterslide.”

Read more at
https://www.accessibilitynewsinternational.com/advocate-says-regina-councillor-was-right-to-oppose-proposed-accessible-waterslide-budget-cut/