ACCESSIBILITY FOR ONTARIANS WITH DISABILITIES ACT ALLIANCE UPDATE
The Wynne Government Gives the Public up to March 14, 2016 to Comment on the Text of Proposed Regulations that Would Revise Ontario Accessibility Standards – The Wynne Government Barrels Ahead with Plans to Break Kathleen Wynne’s Promise Not to Weaken Accessibility Protections
February 5, 2016
We need your help, and soon!
On January 29, 2016, the Wynne Government posted online for public comment a draft of a regulation it proposes to enact under the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act. This regulation, if passed, would amend the 2007 Customer Service Accessibility Standard and the 2011 Integrated Accessibility Standards Regulation. The Government gives the public up to March 14, 2016 to email it feedback on these draft amendments.
We are preparing a brief to submit to the Government. As always, we welcome and need your feedback. As soon as you can, please send us some very specific ideas. Keep reading to quickly learn what we need.
Please email us concrete examples of the kinds of barriers we need the Customer Service Accessibility Standard to list and address, for Customer Service in Ontario to become fully accessible to customers with any kind of disabilities. This includes Customer Service in stores, restaurants, government offices, and any other places where goods are services are provided to the public.
We don’t need or ask you to name a specific company or place. We just want a short description of the kinds of barriers you have faced or know about. These can be physical barriers, technological barriers, communication barriers, information barriers, or any other kind of disability accessibility barriers.
We especially want ideas of accessibility improvements that can be readily made, and that will help an organization achieve its goals, whether that includes making a profit or simply good public service.
Here are a couple of examples. They give you a sense of what we are after:
* In a store, restaurant, government office or other place where goods or services are offered, any public bathroom should have a sign in Braille, as well as in raised letters and large print, so customers with vision loss can know that it is a bathroom, and whether it is for men or women.
* If the organization has one or two steps at the front door, the organization should get a low-cost portable or temporary ramp to assist entry by customers with mobility disabilities.
* Width of aisles in a store should be set to ensure that shelves are accessible to people with disabilities.
* If the organization has a point-of-sale device, like a debit card reader, it should be within reach of a person using a mobility device, so they can easily read and operate it.
* Any place where customer service is offered (other than perhaps a small mom and pop establishment) should designate one of its existing staff as the disability accessibility and accommodation point-person. Of course, all the organization’s staff should be able to assist customers with disabilities, especially in a larger organization. However it is helpful to designate one of the existing staff as the go-to person for accessible Customer Service help, when needed.
Send your ideas to us by February 22, 2016. Email ideas to email@example.com
To read the Wynne Government’s November 9, 2015 summary of that regulation (which only gives minimal details), and to read the AODA Alliance’s December 3, 2015 submission to the Government (which shows why it is so deficient).
Later in this Update we give you:
* A summary of the AODA Alliance’s December 3, 2015 submission to the Wynne Government on its November 9, 2015 summary of proposed changes to Ontario accessibility standards;
* Our Backgrounder on the Government’s proposed amendments. It highlights how this latest development shows a Government mired in wrong-headed action on accessibility;
* The Government’s January 29, 2016 email to disability sector stakeholders about the posting of this draft regulation for public comment;
* the AODA Alliance’s February 3, 2016 email to the Government asking what changes there are between this draft regulation and the summary of it that the Government posted for comment on November 9, 2015;
* The Government’s January 29, 2016 web posting, announcing its public consultation on this proposed regulation; and
* Links to other key background information on this topic.
You can always send your feedback to us on any AODA and accessibility issue at firstname.lastname@example.org
To sign up for, or unsubscribe from AODA Alliance e-mail updates, write to: email@example.com
We encourage you to use the Government’s toll-free number for reporting AODA violations. We fought long and hard to get the Government to promise this, and later to deliver on that promise. If you encounter any accessibility problems at any large retail establishments, it will be especially important to report them to the Government via that toll-free number. Call 1-866-515-2025.
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Please also join the campaign for a strong and effective Canadians with Disabilities Act, spearheaded by Barrier-Free Canada. The AODA Alliance is the Ontario affiliate of Barrier-Free Canada. Sign up for Barrier-Free Canada updates by emailing info@BarrierFreeCanada.org
1. Key Points in the AODA Alliance’s December 3, 2015 Submission to the Ontario Government on the November 9, 2015 Summary of Its Proposed Revisions to Ontario Accessibility Standards
Here are the key points in our December 3, 2015 submission on the Wynne Government’s November 9, 2015 summary of its intended revisions to Ontario accessibility standards:
1. The Government’s proposed changes to the 2007 Customer Service Accessibility Standard are far too inadequate to meaningfully improve that weak accessibility standard. As well, they include unwarranted cutbacks that are both harmful to people with disabilities, and violate the Government’s promises to people with disabilities.
2. The Government does not even say it aims to strengthen the weak and inadequate 2007 Customer Service Accessibility Standard. Its goals here are far too tepid.
3. The Government’s proposal would break Premier Wynne’s promise never to weaken AODA provisions or protections. This is because some of the Government’s proposed revisions would further weaken an already-weak accessibility standard.
4. The Government wrongly proposes to perpetuate an unlawful provision in the Customer Service Accessibility Standard, a provision which instead should be removed.
5. The Government improperly proposes changes to the 2011 Integrated Accessibility Standards Regulation without following the AODA’s mandatory legal accessibility standard amendment process for which we fought so hard, and won in 2005. It is trying to slip through in 2015 the same amendments it tried in 2012 without following the AODA’s mandatory process for amending an accessibility standard. It wisely backed down in 2012, after we raised this concern. It should not try again in 2015 what it wrongly tried in 2012. The AODA provides a proper and workable way to make the changes the Government wants to consider.
6. The Government proposes a counter-productive backwards step regarding customer feedback on accessibility barriers in an organization’s goods, services or facilities.
7. The Government proposes cosmetic packaging changes that will make no difference for achieving accessibility for people with disabilities, or whose impact is insufficiently clear to be assuredly harmless.
8. The Government proposes some minor improvements that, though helpful, won’t significantly strengthen the Customer Service Accessibility Standard.
9. The Government should reconsider and make needed improvements to the Customer Service Accessibility Standard that it so far has disregarded or rejected.
10. The Government should now launch a short, focused and inclusive consultation with stakeholders from all sectors, meeting together to develop meaningful improvements to the 2007 Customer Service Accessibility Standard.
2. Backgrounder – The Sad Picture Exemplified by the Wynne Government’s Proposed changes to AODA Accessibility Standards
The Wynne Government’s proposed changes to the AODA accessibility standards do extremely little to improve them. If enacted, the Customer Service Accessibility Standard will continue to be extremely weak. Even if fully obeyed, it will never ensure that Customer Service in Ontario will ever become accessible to people with disabilities, much less by 2025.
Less than nine years remain for the Government to lead Ontario to become fully accessible to people with disabilities – a goal that the AODA imposes by law the final report of the Mayo Moran AODA Independent Review showed that the Ontario Government needs to take bold action to speed up progress on accessibility, and to get Ontario back on schedule for full accessibility by 2025. This draft regulation does not reflect the kind of strong and bold leadership for which the final report of the Mayo Moran AODA Independent Review called.
It has been over three years since the Wynne Government enacted a new accessibility standard. That the Government’s only action to make progress on enhancing or expanding accessibility standards under the AODA is so paltry is deeply troubling. This is especially so, after the final report of the Mayo Moran AODA Independent Review last year reported a need for AODA accessibility standards to be improved and expanded.
At every step along the way, the Wynne Government and its appointees responsible for the review of the 2007 Customer Service Accessibility Standard have systematically ignored or rejected virtually everything we have had to say about this standard. This is perhaps the lowest point in the Government’s treatment of our views on the development of accessibility standards since the AODA was enacted in 2005. The Government has never publicly explained why it is acting this way toward us and people with disabilities.
The Government’s proposed changes directly violate Premier Wynne’s December 3, 2012 written promise to us that she would never reduce any protections or provisions in the AODA or under accessibility standards enacted under it. We have repeatedly warned the Government of this issue. The Government keeps disregarding our warnings.
This draft regulation doesn’t just make changes to the Customer Service Accessibility Standard. It would also make changes to other parts of the Integrated Accessibility Standards Regulation that have nothing to do with the 2007 Customer Service Accessibility Standard. We have repeatedly warned the Government that it cannot do this without first submitting these proposals to a Standards Development Committee appointed under the AODA. This is not some mere formality. It is a protection which we fought to have enshrined in the AODA. How can the Government “lead by example,” as it so often promises to do, when it so openly disregards its own accessibility legislation?
Last fall, the Wynne Government released a short summary of its proposed revisions to AODA accessibility standards. It asked the public for feedback on that summary. It was commendable for the Government to do that. However, the Government was told last fall that the summary was too vague to let you fully comment on it. Despite that, we did our best to give our input, in our December 3, 2015 submission. The Government says to address that problem, it is now posting a draft of the regulation itself that it plans to enact, so that the public can comment on it, and not just on the earlier summary of it. At first, that sounds like a good idea. However, the Government has messed up again.
What’s the problem? If the public can’t understand in specific and plain language all of the changes it makes, then the public cannot provide meaningful feedback on it. Yet anyone reading this draft regulation will find much of it very difficult to decode.
It would be necessary to spend a large chunk of time, cross-referencing a long list of provisions that are amended or repealed against the long, complex Integrated Accessibility Standards Regulation, to decode exactly what this regulation will do. Individuals and organizations that want to comment on the draft regulation should not have to each shoulder that burden, unnecessarily duplicating their effort. This is yet another illustration of the problem which the final report of the Mayo Moran AODA Independent Review made over a year ago, and from which the Government has not learned:
“This Review repeatedly heard that obligated organizations need more guidance and more support. In the absence of such guidance, they are spending far too much time and money trying to determine how to satisfy even the most basic elements of the regime. Moreover, tremendous duplication is currently happening as organizations all attempt to resolve the same or very similar questions. Those resources would be far better spent on more ambitious accessibility goals, rather than trying to ascertain the meaning of basic elements of the AODA. More importantly, the fact that it is so complex to navigate the regime saps enthusiasm for going beyond the strict letter of the AODA and engaging in more ambitious accessibility planning.”
Had the Wynne Government talked to us in advance about this, this all could have been avoided. As a result, we have now asked the Wynne Government to release a detailed, plain language description of all the changes that this draft regulation would make. It needs to be more detailed than the short summary the Government made public on November 9, 2015.
The Government has not yet said if it will do this. Years ago, the Accessibility Directorate of Ontario did a good job of providing those kinds of plain language explanations, as proposed accessibility standards were working their way through the standards development process.
Making this situation worse, it is not clear whether the draft regulation that the Wynne Government made public on January 29, 2016 is entirely the same as the summary that the Government made public back on November 9, 2015. The public should be able to know if the Government has added anything new to its planned accessibility standard revisions.
The January 29, 2016 email to disability stakeholders from Ann Hoy, the Assistant Deputy Minister in charge of the Accessibility Directorate of Ontario, set out below, cryptically says that the January 29, 2016 draft regulation is “largely consistent” with the earlier summary. That suggests that it is not entirely consistent.
On February 3, 2016, we asked the Government to make it clear what changes, if any, the Government made to the draft regulation, that would make it differ from the earlier summary. We set out that email below. The Government has not said whether it will do this.
The Wynne Government should now provide all the clear guidance we here describe. It should then re-start the 45-day period for public comment. Had the Government consulted with us in advance, we would have forewarned it of this problem.
3. Text of the January 29, 2016 Email from Ann Hoy, Assistant Deputy Minister for the Accessibility Directorate of Ontario
Dear Disability Stakeholder Working Group,
I am writing to inform you of the extension of the Regulatory Registry posting for the proposed amendments to the Customer Service standard. Thank you again for your input on this initiative.
The government is extending the public comment period for an additional 45 days in order to provide further clarity on the proposed regulatory amendments. A draft amending regulation is now being included in addition to the documents currently posted on the Regulatory Registry.
The draft amending regulation provides the proposed wording of the specific changes highlighted in the detailed summary entitled “Detailed Summary – Proposed Amendments to the Customer Service Standard Regulation and the Integrated Accessibility Standards Regulation Made under the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, 2005.”
The draft amending regulation is now posted on the Ontario government’s Regulatory Registry website for public comment for an additional 45 days.
Comments can be made on the Regulatory Registry: http://www.ontariocanada.com/registry/view.do?postingId=20762&language=en
Thank you for your continued interest in accessibility for all Ontarians.
Sent on behalf of Ann Hoy
4. Text of the February 3, 2016 Email from AODA Alliance Chair David Lepofsky to Ann Hoy, Assistant Deputy Minister for the Accessibility Directorate
The Government’s announcement of the posting of a draft regulation for public comment on January 29, 2016 is “largely consistent” with the summary which the Government earlier posted. Can you please advise what changes are made, since “largely consistent” implies that there have been some changes made.
This will make it easier to comment on this.
David Lepofsky CM, O. Ont
Chair Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance
5. Text of the January 29, 2016 Ontario Government Web Posting Regarding a Draft Amendment to the 2007 Customer Service Accessibility Standard and 2011 Integrated Accessibility Standards Regulation
(Note: Embedded links in the original web page are not included here)
Originally posted at: http://www.ontariocanada.com/registry/view.do?postingId=20762&language=en
ServiceOntario - making it easier
Ontario's Regulatory Registry
Regulation - LGIC
Ministry of Economic Development, Employment and Infrastructure proposed changes to accessibility regulations
Regulation Number(s): O. Reg. 429/07- Accessibility Standards for Customer Service
O. Reg. 430/07 – Exemption from Reporting Requirements
O. Reg. 191/11 – Integrated Accessibility Standards
Bill or Act: Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, 2005
Summary of Proposal: The proposed amendments to the Customer Service Standard are being posted for an additional 45 day public comment period. The content of this proposal remains largely consistent with posting 15-MEDIE006.
The Ministry has prepared a draft amending regulation of the proposed changes for public review and comment. The Ministry is proposing that these changes be enacted on July 1, 2016, and take immediate effect.
See links below for more information on this proposal.
Notice to Consultation Participants:
Accessible formats and communications supports will be provided upon request.
All comments and submissions received will become part of the public record. You will not receive a formal response to your comment; however, relevant comments received as part of the public participation process for this proposal will be considered by relevant decision makers.
Personal information provided in response to this consultation is collected under the authority of sections 9 and 10 of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, 2005 and subsection 38(2) of the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act, R.S.O. 1990. F. 31. The personal information collected may be used by the Ministry of Economic Development, Employment and Infrastructure to analyze responses and for consultative purposes and to contact you if we wish to clarify your responses. No personal information or comments that are received will be posted publicly or published.
Further Information: Click to open Posting: 15-MEDIE006
Click to open Draft Amending Regulation - Accessible Word Format (Note: link omitted)
Click to open Draft Amending Regulation - Accessible PDF Format (Download Adobe (Note: link omitted)
Proposal Number: 16-MEDEI001
Posting Date: January 29, 2016
Comments Due Date: March 14, 2016
Contact Address: Accessibility Directorate of Ontario
Ontario Ministry of Economic Development, Employment and Infrastructure
Suite 601A, 777 Bay Street
Toronto, Ontario M7A 2J4
Comment on this proposal via email
6. Links to Key Background Information
The Wynne Government’s November 9, 2015 summary of that regulation (which only gives minimal details), and the AODA Alliance’s December 3, 2015 submission to the Government (which shows why it is so deficient).