ACCESSIBILITY FOR ONTARIANS WITH DISABILITIES ACT ALLIANCE UPDATE

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UNITED FOR A BARRIER-FREE ONTARIO

SEND US FEEDBACK ON OUR DRAFT BRIEF TO THE MCGUINTY GOVERNMENT ON ITS AUGUST 15, 2012 DRAFT ACCESSIBILITY REGULATION TO ADDRESS BARRIERS IN THE BUILT ENVIRONMENT OF PUBLIC SPACES

September 20, 2012

SUMMARY

We have just released a draft brief to the McGuinty Government. It provides our input into the draft regulation that the Government is proposing to enact under the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act. That draft regulation addresses built environment barriers in public spaces. It also proposes some amendments to the Integrated Accessibility Regulation that the McGuinty Government enacted in 2011 to address barriers in employment, transportation, and information and communication.

We are very eager to get your feedback on our draft brief. We will use your feedback to help us finalize this draft brief. You can download our September 20, 2012 draft brief on the proposed Public Spaces Accessibility Regulation.

You can see the Government's August 15, 2012 draft accessibility regulation on built environment in public spaces, past proposals for the Built Environment Accessibility Standard, and our activities in this area.

Please email us your feedback as soon as possible and no later than Friday, September 28, 2012, if at all possible. We regret these tight time lines. However, the Government has required us and the public generally to submit its feedback on the draft regulation by October 1, 2012.

Please give us any ideas you have on how to strengthen the draft regulation. We are eager for you to send us recommendations that are as specific as possible. If you feel that we have not addressed the needs of some disabilities, let us know how we should address them.

Send us your feedback by emailing us at
aodafeedback@gmail.com

Please also remember to give the Government your feedback on this draft regulation by October 1, 2012.

Once we finalize our brief, we will send it to the Government and will make it public. At that time, we will encourage one and all to write the Government to endorse our final brief.

Our draft brief includes a total of 53 recommendations. They are spread out throughout the brief, and also gathered in one list at the end of the brief, in Appendix 3.

The brief gives this summary of its contents, of our conclusions and of our recommendations:

"We summarize our feedback in this brief as follows:

1.         The draft regulation identifies a helpful but incomplete range of recurring accessibility barriers that impede persons with disabilities in the built environment of important public spaces in Ontario. The draft regulation needs to be revised, to effectively address a number of recurring barriers that it does not now address.

2.         The draft regulation wrongly excludes all small private sector organizations from having to comply with many if not most of its requirements, regardless of whether a small private sector organization (defined solely by the number of its employees) has the resources, revenues and capacity to meet more or all of the draft regulation's requirements. The draft regulation needs to be revised, to extend these requirements to small private sector organizations that have the capacity to comply with them.

3.         In a number of places, the draft regulation provides helpful technical standards. However, in a number of other important areas the standard provides only vague requirements that are hard to enforce, or only a nebulous duty to consult with persons with disabilities, but with no actual standards to meet. The draft regulation needs to be revised to incorporate more specific technical accessibility standards.

4.         In a number of places, the draft regulation creates exemptions from or exceptions for its accessibility requirements that are too broad, and that are inconsistent with the "undue hardship" requirements of the Ontario Human Rights Code and, in the case of public sector organizations, the Charter of Rights. The draft regulation needs to be revised, to narrow these exemptions and exceptions, to make them consistent with the narrower "undue hardship" test.

5.         The time lines in the standard are far too long. The draft regulation needs to be revised to shorten several time lines.

6.         We are deeply concerned that this draft regulation only addresses new developments, or substantial redevelopments. Otherwise it leaves the many, many existing barriers in the built environment of public spaces in place to continue to impede persons with disabilities. The draft regulation should be revised, where possible, to extend its requirements to removing existing barriers, where no redevelopment is underway, with time lines that are appropriate for those activities.

7.         Even if this draft regulation were fully and faithfully complied with, Ontario would not reach fully accessible public spaces by 2025, even in terms of new developments and redevelopments. As such, the draft regulation needs to be substantially strengthened.

8.         We are very concerned about the draft regulation's proposed amendments to the 2011 Integrated Accessibility Regulation that have nothing to do with the built environment. The Government did not comply with the requirements in the AODA that must be followed before it can revise an existing accessibility standard enacted under the AODA.

In the rest of this brief, we offer a series of detailed and specific recommendations to address these concerns. These are divided into three groups. First, we offer recommendations concerning the draft regulation's existing provisions governing the built environment in public spaces. Second, we offer recommendations about aspects of the built environment in public spaces that the draft regulation now does not address. Third, we offer recommendations concerning sundry provisions in the draft regulation that do not pertain to the built environment in public spaces.

After all our recommendations, the brief includes two appendices setting out important supporting documents that the brief mentions. Appendix 3, at the end of this brief, gathers together in one place all the recommendations that we offer."

We want to thank all those who have shared their ideas with us so far on this draft regulation. We have done our best to incorporate as wide a range of ideas as possible in this draft brief. Please remember that this is only a draft brief. It has not been verified. It is not yet the official final position of the AODA Alliance.

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