Our Campaign for Strong, Effective Implementation of the AODA

ACCESSIBILITY FOR ONTARIANS WITH DISABILITIES ACT ALLIANCE UPDATE

ONTARIO GOVERNMENT EXTENDS TIME FOR GIVING FEEDBACK ON WEAK PROPOSED TRANSPORTATION ACCESSIBILITY STANDARD AS COMMUNITY CRITICISM OF THAT PROPOSED STANDARD MOUNTS

August 28, 2007

SUMMARY

Let us update you on recent developments on the Ontario Governmentís weak proposed Transportation Accessibility Standard.

* Good news! The Ontario Government has announced that it is extending the time for the public to give feedback on the weak proposed Transportation Accessibility Standard to September 28, 2007.

The AODA Alliance led the communityís call for this time period to be extended. Previously, the period for public feedback ended on August 31, 2007. It coincided with the summer holiday period when many individuals and community groups canít take full part in a public consultation. We are delighted that our efforts paid off, and that others joined in our call for this extension.

* We are also delighted that an increasing number of voices from around Ontario have joined with the AODA Alliance to point out that the Governmentís proposed Transportation Accessibility Standard is weak, ineffective and unacceptable. A growing number of individuals and community organizations have told the Ontario Government that they support the AODA Allianceís brief. Our brief points out in detail the problems with the proposed standard, and recommends constructive action for its improvement. You can see our brief at:

http://www.aodaalliance.org/strong-effective-aoda/08132007- Support-BriefOnProposedTransportationAccessibilityStandard.asp

Add your voice to our campaign! Itís quick and easy. We again urge you to email the Ontario Government to endorse our brief. If you donít have much time to do this, you just need to send a one-line email to:

Accessibility.css@ontario.ca

Feel free to just send in a single sentence, saying if you support the AODA Alliance brief on the proposed Transportation Accessibility Standard. If you have more time, we encourage you to say more in your email. Add your own suggestions, recommendations and concerns.

Urge others to do the same. Both individuals and community organizations can really help our campaign in this way. Circulate this email far and wide.

* An AODA Alliance delegation had a meeting via conference call two weeks ago with the Ontario Governmentís Minister responsible for implementing the AODA, Ms. Madeleine Meilleur. We appreciated her taking the time to meet with us. Our delegation presented the key points in our brief. We explained that the proposed Transportation Accessibility Standard was far too weak. Its time lines for action are far too long. We told her the Governmentís process for developing this standard was lop-sided and unfairly weighted against the disability community, and needs to be reformed. We also expressed concerns that the Governmentís process for consulting on the proposed standard was flawed.

We offered specific constructive recommendations for how to fix these problems. It was during this call that we made initial progress towards extending the time lines for you to give the Government your input.

* On Tuesday, August 21, 2007, the AODA Alliance took part in an Ontario Government focus group on the proposed Transportation Accessibility Standard. We have advised the Minister that such focus groups shouldnít be closed and invitation-only. The McGuinty Liberals were highly critical of the previous Harris Government when it held closed, invitation-only consultations on disability accessibility issues.

Interested individuals and organizations who would like to take part in such focus groups donít necessarily know about these sessions. The sessions were held in August when many are on holidays.

At the Toronto focus group we attended (and at another Toronto focus group about which we heard), the attendees were substantially lop-sided in favour of the transit providers and the various levels of Government. They substantially out-numbered attendees from the disability community. This appears to be comparable to the experience of the disability community representatives on the Transportation Standards Development Committee. Many transit representatives at the meeting seemed to have limited knowledge about the AODA and about the contents of the proposed accessibility standard. Both disability and transit representatives expressed a shared concern that the proposed standard is far too vague.

At the focus group, the facilitator asked attendees to suggest specific changes to the wording of the proposed standard. Generally, both disability and transit sector representatives said they couldnít do this on the spot. The AODA Alliance said the proposed Transportation Accessibility Standard was so flawed that it couldnít be tweaked with minor wording changes. We urged the Government to release an options paper, setting out issues and concrete options e.g. from other countriesí accessibility standards, on which we could all comment.

Now that the Ontario Government has extended the time period for public input, we have again urged the Government to hold open focus groups, not closed, invitation-only ones, on the proposed transportation standard.

* Join the AODA Allianceís email update list. If you want to get regular email updates, send a request to be added to our distribution list to:

aodafeedback@rogers.com

We wonít add a person unless the request comes directly from the person asking to be added to our distribution list. Also, we are not able to respond to inquiries sent to that email address. Because we are volunteers, our time is unfortunately limited.