The Information and Communications Standard is one of five standards that form the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA). Every five years, a Standards Development Committee examines the wording of the standard and provides recommendations to the government on changes that need to be made.
The Information and Communications Standards Development Committee, made up of people with disabilities, community organizations and industry experts have recently published their recommendations on the Government of Ontario's website.
Some highlights included in the 30 recommendations made by the committee are:
- Obligated organizations (as named under the Act) must consult and come to an agreement with the person with a disability who is requesting an accessible format on what is an appropriate accessible format for them, and what they consider a "timely manner" for the information to be provided to them. Under the current wording, the organization makes the final decision, not the person with a disability. The committee has also recommended that a mechanism be set up to resolve disputes that arise relating to accessible format requests.
- Digital accessibility regulations should be applied to mobile applications as well as websites, and the exemption for public-facing websites that require a log-in be removed. In addition, regardless of whether a site is an intranet, extranet or otherwise, it should be made accessible.
- Close the loophole for obligated organizations who claim that because their servers are hosted outside of Ontario, their website should be exempt from complying with accessibility regulations and furthermore remove exemptions to making pre-2012 content accessible if it is still in active use and not archived.
- Embedding disability and accessibility awareness education into the K-12 system and professional courses such as provincially-related professions.
For the full list of recommendations, please visit: ontario.ca/page/review-information-and-communications-standards-2019-initial-recommendations-report
During the review process, the Standards Development Committee also identified a need for a new regulatory approach and a new way of organizing the standards within the regulation. They have proposed a new model called the "Accessibility Ecosystem model", which would approach accessibility in a very different way to the current AODA framework.
The model would include three main players; the Laws, the Trusted Authority, and the Community Platform. One area in particular that the Committee would like public feedback on is how can we improve compliance of organizations under the new model. We strongly encourage our community members to read through the Accessibility Ecosystem model proposal and provide their feedback on this unique opportunity to change and improve the regulatory framework.
- Read the committee’s initial recommendations. If you need the initial recommendations in an alternate format or if you have any questions, call the government toll-free: 1-866-515-2025 or toll-free TTY: 1-800-268-7095, Monday to Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Submit your feedback through our online surveys:
- Or send your feedback by email to email@example.com or by mail to: Attention: Rich Donovan, Chair, Information and Communications Standards Review Feedback. Ministry for Seniors and Accessibility. 777 Bay Street, 6th Floor, Suite 601A. Toronto, Ontario. M7A 2J4.
You can submit your feedback through the government’s online surveys until September 27, 2019.
CNIB is also submitting an official response on behalf of the organization.
The Information and Communications Standards Development Committee will review all feedback before it submits its final report and recommendations to the Minister for Seniors and Accessibility for consideration.
Read more articles from the September 2019 issue of Equalize:
- Call for National Elections Advocates/ Elections Accessibility
- Bill C-81 Royal Assent
- Tips for Accessible Airline Travel
- Know Your Rights
- Educate to Advocate – Empowering Advocacy Across Ontario
- CNIB Foundation releases The ABCs of iOS manual
- Tales of a Guide Dog Handler
- Deafblind Community Services etiquette session at the London Community Hub
- Ambassador spotlight: Guy Carriere meets his hero
- Become a Guide Dog Champion!