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Nova Scotia Is the Third Canadian Province to Pass an Accessibility Law

When Will Ontario Live Up to Its Own Accessibility Law’s Potential?

Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance Update United for a Barrier-Free Ontario for All People with Disabilities http://www.aodaalliance.org aodafeedback@gmail.com Twitter: @aodaalliance

April 28, 2017

SUMMARY

On Thursday, April 27, 2017, the Nova Scotia Legislature passed a new accessibility law, the Accessibility Act, following the lead of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act. Nova Scotia becomes the third Canadian province to enact a comprehensive accessibility law. The Nova Scotia law has the goal of Nova Scotia reaching full accessibility by 2030.

Ontario passed the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act in 2005. Manitoba passed the Accessibility for Manitobans Act in 2013. The Federal Government is working on its promised national accessibility law, expected to be introduced in Parliament for debate by the end of 2017. Barrier-Free BC is pressing candidates to promise a BC Disabilities Act in the current BC provincial evidence.

Our congratulations go to the bill 59 Alliance, the ad hoc great team of grassroots disability advocates in Nova Scotia who came together last fall, when the Nova Scotia Government first introduced a weak bill. They collaborated effectively to advocate for improvements to the bill.

When the Nova Scotia bill was first introduced into the Nova Scotia Legislature last fall, the AODA Alliance quickly released our analysis of that bill. We pointed out important reforms needed to strengthen that bill. To see the AODA Alliance’s November 6, 2016 analysis of the original Nova Scotia accessibility bill, visit http://www.aodaalliance.org/strong-effective-aoda/11072016.asp

Over the past four months, AODA Alliance Chair David Lepofsky was honoured to be able to offer some tips on the AODA Alliance’s behalf, from Ontario’s experience, to the Bill 59 Alliance. The Bill 59 Alliance came up with their own made-in-Nova-Scotia strategy and did a great job of uniting many behind their campaign. They achieved this with just a few weeks to get it all done.

We have not had a chance to ourselves analyze the amendments that they won. However, the Nova Scotia disability advocates have voiced a real sense of progress.

One item that is worthy of note. The Nova Scotia legislation mandates the development of a series of accessibility standards, including an Education Accessibility Standard. For Ontario’s part, there have now been a long 144 days since Premier Wynne agreed to create an Education Accessibility Standard for Ontario. Yet, the Wynne Government has still not posted an advertisement to invite members of the public to apply to sit on the Education Standards Development Committee that the Government must appoint. The Ontario Education Standards Development Committee will make recommendations to the Ontario Government on what the promised Education Accessibility Standard should include.

The longer that the Wynne Government delays before it posts that ad, the more delay there will be before the Education Standards Development Committee can get to work. Ontario is already well behind schedule for reaching full accessibility by 2025, as the AODA requires. We cannot afford this ongoing foot-dragging in the important area of education for students with disabilities in Ontario.

Below we set out:

* a Nova Scotia Government news release on the new Nova Scotia legislation.

* text of the Third Reading debate on this bill that took place on April 27, 2017, in the Nova Scotia Legislature.

* Text of Bill 59, the Nova Scotia Accessibility Act, in its final form that the Nova Scotia Legislature passed.

You can always send your feedback to us on any AODA and accessibility issue at aodafeedback@gmail.com

Have you taken part in our Picture Our Barriers campaign? If not, please join in! You can get all the information you need about our Picture Our Barriers campaign by visiting www.aodaalliance.org/2016

To sign up for, or unsubscribe from AODA Alliance e-mail updates, write to: aodafeedback@gmail.com

We encourage you to use the Governments 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.

Please pass on our email Updates to your family and friends.

Why not subscribe to the AODA Alliances YouTube channel, so you can get immediate alerts when we post new videos on our accessibility campaign. https://www.youtube.com/user/aodaalliance

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Learn all about our campaign for a fully accessible Ontario by visiting http://www.aodaalliance.org

MORE DETAILS

Text of the April 27, 2017 Nova Scotia Government’s News Release on the Passage of Bill 59, the Accessibility Act

Government of Nova Scotia, Canada

Accessibility Act to Make Province More Accessible

Department of Justice

Originally posted at https://novascotia.ca/news/release/?id=20170427007

April 27, 2017 5:48 PM

Nova Scotia has set a goal to be accessible by 2030 under the Accessibility Act, passed today, April 27.

Nova Scotia is only the third province in Canada to pass accessibility legislation. The passage of Bill 59 will start the process of removing barriers for persons with disabilities.

We are proud to have worked with people with disabilities and business to take this historic step toward an accessible Nova Scotia, said Justice Minister Diana Whalen. This act commits us to a timeline to make the province an accessible place to live, work, learn and play.

Under the act, government will work with persons with disabilities, and the public and private sectors to create six standards for an accessible Nova Scotia. The standards will be in the areas of goods and services, information and communication, public transportation and transportation infrastructure, employment, education, and the built environment which includes buildings, rights-of-way and outdoor spaces.

The legislation puts in place a new Accessibility Advisory Board. The majority of the boards members will be persons with disabilities. A new accessibility directorate will be responsible for supporting accessibility initiatives and advancing broader disability-related issues.

While public awareness and support will be essential in encouraging compliance with the standards the act allows for penalties and, for the most serious cases, fines up to $250,000.

We’re very pleased with the Nova Scotia Accessibility Act and commend the government for its leadership, said Gerry Post, from the Bill 59 Alliance. The collaborative approach taken in drafting the act has established a wonderful climate for communal partnerships, including the business community, to implement the legislation. We also thank the opposition parties for giving the government the space to engage key stakeholders and for supporting this act.

Bill 59 was amended after witnesses appeared at the law amendments committee and staff consulted with representatives of persons with disabilities.

Government also invested $1.8 million in the 2017-18 budget to increase provincial ACCESS-Ability grants for community buildings and to launch a new grant program for small businesses to become more accessible.

A copy of the Accessibility Act can be found at nslegislature.ca/index.php/proceedings/bills/bill_59_-_accessibility_act. Accessible versions of government information related to disability in Nova Scotia are available at novascotia.ca/coms/accessibility.

FOR BROADCAST USE:

Nova Scotia has set a goal to be accessible by 2030 under the Accessibility Act, passed today, April 27th.

Nova Scotia is only the third province in Canada to pass accessibility legislation.

Under the act government will work with persons with disabilities and the public and private sectors to create six standards for a Nova Scotia where everyone can live, work, learn and play.

The legislation puts in place a new Accessibility Advisory Board. A new accessibility directorate will be responsible for supporting accessibility initiatives and advancing broader disability-related issues.

Government also invested one-point-eight million dollars in this years budget to increase provincial ACCESS-Ability grants for community buildings and to launch a new grant program for small businesses to become more accessible.

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Media Contact: Sarah Gillis
Cell: 902-266-8554
Email: sarah.gillis@novascotia.ca

Text of the April 27, 2017 Debates in the Nova Scotia Legislature on Third Reading of bill 59, the Nova Scotia Accessibility Act

PUBLIC BILLS FOR THIRD READING
Bill No. 59 an Act Respecting Accessibility in Nova Scotia (pages 2628-40)

HON. DIANA WHALEN: It seems like a sudden changing of gears, doesn’t it? We’re here today –
let me just begin with the proper sentence – Mr. Speaker, I move that Bill No. 59, an Act Respecting Accessibility in Nova Scotia, be now read a third time and pass. (Applause)
With that, Mr. Speaker, that really sets out our goal for today. We had our Committee of the Whole House on Tuesday, an opportunity for us to review the many amendments that had come through from the consultation with community advocates, with the Disabled Persons Commission, with our staff, and so many others, who brought us to this very historic day, so that we are here today to be looking at the bill in its amended form, and as I said in our Committee of the Whole, it’s a very historic point to be here today to be looking at this bill, and to be celebrating the many changes that were worked out because of good work together.
There are many people I would like to acknowledge by name, if I could, as we get going. I know a few are with us in the gallery and I know many are watching at home. This has been a long process, and we heard that from the Minister of Community Services, when she got to say a few words a few days ago about this Act. This was a commitment from 2013. I know that for many people who have worked in the community, who don’t think just in electoral cycles, this has been the culmination of work for many years, maybe decades.
I think, Mr. Speaker, in your own life, before politics, you worked on this for many years yourself, with others, with people in the community. So many people have had a hand in bringing us to the point where our province is finally adopting a framework and a way forward to make our province more accessible. There are so many standards and changes that are needed. We do need to settle this framework that will allow us to get to work on the heavy lifting of individual standards that are going to improve the work life and the livability of our cities, our towns and our province for people with disabilities.
Among the people I’d like to recognize first and foremost is the Minister of Community Services, because she and her staff began this work on behalf of our government to see this bill brought forward most recently. They began that work three and a half years ago. They worked closely with the Disabled Persons Commission, and we owe a word of thanks to Brian Tapper, and the other members of the commission. It would be very nice to acknowledge that they have done such great work. (Applause)
Brian is with us today, with other members of the commission, in the gallery. They have worked diligently to see this happen. This has been very important to them, as well, to be advocates and spokesmen for the need for change, to challenge government and to encourage us. They have done a significant piece of work in setting government in the right direction to see this historic legislation today.
The commission played an integral part in developing the minister’s advisory panel which, as you know, we needed to consult widely. We believe that you have to go out and listen and talk and learn from the people who know best. You can’t just sit in an ivory tower and come up with the answers that we think might be best. So there was a minister’s advisory panel formed and led, in large part, with the leadership of the Disabled Persons Commission to take us around the province and ensure that we were able to do the good work that was necessary and learn. It provided the basis for the work before us today.
The minister’s advisory panel was co-chaired by Joe Rudderham and by Anne MacRae. Again, they provided excellent advice, which you can see in today’s bill before us. I think that relates back to the credibility of the process, that you can actually see the recommendations that came back through the minister’s advisory panel.
As we know, there was a lot of work done after the bill was introduced as well. Several things happened. Of course, we know that the bill changed from the Department of Community Services to the Department of Justice, which was an acknowledgement of the nature of this bill, which relates more to human rights and to the rights of people to have these accessibility standards addressed and have a liveable environment and an environment that can be accessible in all ways. That is a tall order. It may be an ambitious project, but we’re under way today, and we’re proud of it.
From my own department, I would like to thank Katherine Berliner, who came in to help lead this and has developed such a great relationship – she and Adriana Meloni, our legal adviser, have really worked so hard to develop a rapport and understanding, and to listen to the concerns and great suggestions that came from the community first at Law Amendments Committee in November and then through a process that I think we should all admire.
We should be giving kudos to the Bill 59 Alliance because they did something that’s seldom seen in our province. One of the other ministers that I spoke to on our side said what a terrific process. We haven’t seen that. You don’t always see that happen, because what you need is leadership in the community that brings together different voices, different interests and concerns, but overall a concern to see this bill be the best it could be and to be passed.
The Bill 59 Alliance have asked us to get going and pass this bill because it is the start of the work getting under way. Without it, we can’t start to work on those standards. It’s giving us the framework to do that work. We really owe them a great debt for coming together and working out some of their differences because there are 35 organizations there and a lot of different viewpoints. It isn’t always easy to hammer out that cohesiveness. They did that and they allowed government and our staff – Katherine Berliner and Adriana Meloni – to meet regularly with them to hear their ideas and to work out wherever possible where we could come together and reflect their concerns in this bill.
As I think was mentioned the other day, we were told by Gerry Post at Law Amendments Committee on behalf of the group that we got about a B-plus, I think for this Act. I think that’s good because politics is the art of compromise. It’s the art of creating something where there’s a lot of division.
With that, I think we did a really good job to bring it up from what was seen as being inadequate to a bill that covered it all. It wasn’t so much that I felt there was anything missing before. I think the intent was always to do what we’re setting out to do now, to create that framework to allow the work to get under way, to be ambitious and set timelines. What was missing was, we didn’t spell them out.
I’ve been in Opposition myself. I see Opposition members are watching and listening. That’s great. I know you sometimes want to see it spelled out too. I always felt some concern when things were left sort of up in the air, and it was just said, we’ll get to that don’t worry – it’s going to be in the regulations. Or you’ll see it soon.
I appreciate that, and I think members of the public, too, want to see things clearly spelled out so that there is no question that not only our government but also future governments for as long as this bill is in place will all be held to the same high standard. The dates are laid out, and we know that we’re going to get there.
I was speaking about the Bill 59 Alliance, and I would like to mention a few of them who have been so helpful all along. Gerry Post has been a spokesman for them. Claredon Robichaud is known to many of us from the League of Equal Opportunities, Barb LeGay, Will Brewer, Linda Campbell, Amy Parsons, Barry Abbott and Steve Estey and there were others and they were not alone. Five members were chosen to meet regularly with our staff, the two members I mentioned who were drafting the bill. They would meet weekly. I think they met four times since we had Law Amendments Committee, which was in March, so that’s pretty much weekly getting together. Then the larger group would meet so they could hear where we were at, what changes we’d made.
You can understand that it is a pretty exhaustive process and yet everybody was happy to be part of it. We’re supportive of our staff and everybody was finding it to be a very positive process.
We learned a lot, Mr. Speaker, and that is exactly what this is about. The Bill 59 Alliance were able to share everything along the way and often it’s communication that is so important. They kept the broader group of 35 and others very much in the loop so that there was no misunderstanding about where we were at, what changes were being accepted, what changes we had some concerns with or felt weren’t necessary.
We spoke about a few things the other day where there was a concern about duplication, that we don’t want to create new obligations or bureaucracies within government if we feel that things are already covered.
Mr. Speaker, that really gives an idea of the process which I think has been something that all of us in government should be very proud of to see the community and giving credit to the community to come together and work with government so they can get their concerns addressed through legislation.
As well, I would like to again thank members of the Opposition. I believe that along the way you’ve also received some briefings or kept abreast of what came up at Law Amendments Committee and certainly in the more recent bill briefing that you received. What we’ve all learned and I think that every member of the House has learned as well is a greater appreciation for the difficulties and the obstacles that are in not only our built environment but in other ways.
At Law Amendments Committee, we heard from so many people. We heard about different kinds of disabilities, we heard about the kinds of daily challenges that people experience. I think I could speak for all of us in saying it was a great lesson to us about having a greater understanding. Really, that brings us to why the understanding is that we need to take action today and we need to work together to do the best we possibly can.
Again, I think it would be worthwhile to mention the great strides that were made at Law Amendments Committee. That is something we’ve never seen before at the Law Amendments Committee and that was the help we received to make our committee more accessible and the Legislature more accessible to people with disabilities.
In anticipation, as those of you will remember, when we brought the bill in in November, we did not do anything different. As we normally do, we moved straight from second reading here to the Law Amendments Committee stage. We didn’t make even a realization that people might depend on Access-A-Bus and need two weeks to make an appointment and be able to attend. That just hadn’t been considered.
We’ve worked with our Clerks and Legislative Counsel and others here at Province House to make sure that was addressed, so the next time we scheduled Law Amendments Committee we allowed over two weeks so there was time. We arranged for American Sign Language to be available.
Before I can go into everything, I must say we took some direction from the book that was put together by the Disabled Persons Commission to help us in what was needed – how could we make the Legislature better? That was a very great resource which I know we’ll continue to rely on and try to open up more of our meetings, our committee meetings and so on, to be accessible in the fullest way.
I mentioned that we had American Sign Language, we also had transcription so everything that was being said was being transcribed and put on the screen. We allowed for people to go to other sites in the province, if they chose, so they could speak to the committee via video conferencing. We also have done live streaming of the meeting so people could follow along that way.
I think we’ve set a new standard. I know it will be difficult in every case but I think we’ve set a standard that should be our goal, that we continue to open this Legislature and be aware of all of these issues and we do really need to thank our staff here for understanding and learning with us. This has broken new ground and is something that we can all be proud of.
During the time – I mentioned a lot about the Bill No. 59 Alliance and our meetings. I personally met with the Disabled Persons Commission just a couple of weeks ago when they had their meeting here in Halifax. I had the opportunity to thank them and to work with them and to assure them that we’ve learned and we will continue to learn from their work, and that I’m sure they will be helping to guide us as we put in place the new structure that is outlined in this bill.
The new structure is the development of an accessibility directorate that would be staffed and would be doing a lot of this work, as well as an accessibility advisory board. The board will be people that are appointed to help advise the minister and work on this as well. So there is a bit of a parallel. It’s a new organization, but it will benefit by the work of the Disabled Persons Commission in the past and the advice that we receive going forward.
At the same time, in addition to these many advocates and advisers that I’ve been pleased to have the benefit of listening to, we have also reached out and our staff have reached out to the business community because you’ll remember in the beginning there was some concern about the balance that we would create in this Act. As much as we want it to be the best that it can possibly be, and it will be, we need to be cognizant of other players who are going to have to help us enact these changes. Government is one of them. We have many buildings and we’re responsible for the delivery of services. We have websites that could be more accessible. We have means of interacting with government that could be improved, not only in the built environment, but through communications. So government has to be very aware and willing to change and so does the business community and so we all need to be partners as we come to the table.
In the interim time between the Law Amendments Committee and now, we’ve also reached out – we’ve spoken to the Retail Council of Canada, to the Restaurants Association, Canadian Federation of Independent Business and our Internal Office of Regulatory Affairs just to make sure that communication is good all the way around and there are no surprises. I think that’s the most important thing, that people are aware and kept in the loop and understand their role because that’s what it is about. It’s all of us playing a role.
I wanted to just go very quickly through some of the highlights of the changes because I know there are a couple of speakers and we will hear from members of the Opposition on this bill. There are a few things I wanted to highlight. One of them, as I said earlier, was that we have to remember that the bill is about creating a framework. It’s for developing and implementing standards to prevent and remove barriers that are preventing people in a range of ways from getting the services they need and living their lives fully, from having opportunities to work and shop and enjoy life in our province.
With that in mind, we are looking at the Act and standards that will be needed to change. This is creating the framework and the governance to do that. We’ve made some pretty significant changes, as I said, in trying to fill in the gaps and being explicit rather than implicit in the wording that we used.
One of the things that we’ve done right off the bat, and I’m pleased about, is that we have set out the timeline. We have said in this bill – and this has been added – the goal of achieving an accessible Nova Scotia by 2030. That is only, believe it or not, just 13 years away, so we’re not far away from that. Ontario allowed themselves 20 years when they introduced their bill. I think Manitoba set 10 as a goal. So we think 13 is still ambitious and it’s going to keep us busy. We’re very pleased to have been able to articulate that as our goal of achieving an accessible Nova Scotia.
In order to assure people that we will get going on this and we’ll be setting out the work plan, the minister of the day will be sure to make public a work plan, which is really a strategy for implementation in the first year. That’s very important that we lay that out. Within one year it will be made public and that means that work has to begin right away so that we know that.
Once we know what the work plan is, that’s really good because it has taken up to two years per standard in Ontario. They have 10 years now of experience with this. We want to make sure that we use every month, every week, to move forward and not delay, so that we can do better than every two years for standards. We’ll lay out the work plan, and we’ll have people in place to do the consultation and work required.
On some of the changes, we improved language to make it stronger. For example, we’re using “achieve accessibility” rather than “improve accessibility,” because we want to achieve the goals, not just approach them. We’ve used that stronger word “achieve,” rather than the aspirational “improve.
Some of the other standards – we’ve added more flexibility. Well, we actually name six of the standards that we want to go and work on. Manitoba and Ontario had five. We already added education to make it six, and there’s a seventh one on the list if you’re looking at the bill, that says other prescribed activities, which means there’s still room for the accessibility directorate, the minister, or the board that’s advising us to add more in the future.
We also moved all of the Act to the Department of Justice, which we think is a good move to recognize the link to human rights.
We are also changing the makeup of the accessibility board. This was an important one. If members remember, at the Law Amendments Committee, there was a concern that there should be a majority of people on the board who have disabilities – because it is an accessibility board – that their voice might be lost if they didn’t have that majority. We have made that change. The bill now says the majority of the members will be persons with disabilities. I think that is a good compromise to say that they are right. I think that we need to have that voice be the predominant voice that we hear. I trust that people are always going to use their roles very responsibly, but we need to ensure that we never lose sight of what this bill is about.
We’ve added a lot more transparency. There will be a lot of documents and reports made on a regular basis. I think another important change, maybe the last one I’ll highlight, is the added part on compliance and enforcement. It was felt that there wasn’t a system that was articulated in the bill about how we would be seeking compliance and where people could go with complaints. We’ve added that in as well.
We should all be aware that one in five Nova Scotians has some form of disability. That is the highest rate in Canada. Knowing that means we want to be leaders, and we should be leaders in responding. We know as well that by 2030, which is our deadline for achieving our goal, we will have one in four Nova Scotians over the age of 65 at that time. That also means that there are more people who need to be recognized. We know that as we get older, we have mobility issues and other issues that become important (Interruption)
There’s one thing I would like to mention because the budget was read today. There were two budget items today relating to accessibility, and I think this is the time to mention it. In today’s budget, we saw a commitment of $1.8 million dollars to increase accessibility grants for community buildings. We have added a new program of grants for small business to make them more accessible. I think that’s very important. We also increased the budget for the accessibility directorate to $896,000, an increase of $424,000. That’s close to double the amount that was there before.
So I’m looking forward today to hearing Opposition members speak on this. I think that you will agree with me that the Bill 59 Alliance has reached out strongly to all of us. They’ve asked us to recognize this as a widespread need for all of our constituents. None of this Act is about partisan politics. It will serve the people throughout our province, in every community. I hope you will agree with me that this is the right way to go, and we should get the work under way.

MR. ALLAN MACMASTER: Thank you for the opportunity to speak on the third reading on An Act Respecting Accessibility in Nova Scotia. When this bill first came forward here in the Legislature, we spoke up because the community that this legislation supports asked us to speak up. The bill was changed. Now the community has asked us to be silent. We will.
We support greater accessibility for all Nova Scotians, and we do hope that this bill will help. Thank you.
HON. DAVID WILSON: mr. Speaker, in my new capacity as Justice Critic – as I mentioned in the Committee of the Whole after the retirement of my colleague, Marian Mancini from Dartmouth South, who I might add has put a lot of time, energy, and expertise in working with not only government, the ministers, and the organizations that have gotten us to this point – I want to thank her for that work. It’s taken a lot of work to get to this point, and to get this bill on the floor today. The commitment of the accessibility committee to see this bill through to the very end is an example for everyone who wants to make a difference here in our province and in Province House. I want to thank all the members of the accessibility community for their hard work and dedication in making Nova Scotia a more accessible place to live and work.
I know the first version of this bill highlighted the differences of opinion between the government and the accessibility community about the purpose of this bill. Clearly, the government was looking to provide enabling legislation, leaving many of the details to be ironed out at a later date. However, the community was looking for something more, something that while being somewhat aspirational also laid out a clear target for where we needed to be. Unfortunately, after conducting consultation, the government isolated itself from the accessibility community. The government drafted this piece of legislation on their own terms, and it showed in the resulting bill. Luckily, the accessibility community was persistent in ensuring that their concerns about Bill No. 59 were heard.
We are very fortunate to have the Law Amendments Committee and that process here in Nova Scotia. Not all provinces have the opportunity for the community and their residents to have input on government policy and legislation. The community came to Law Amendments Committee and made it known that the original bill simply missed the mark. To be fair, the government recognized that they had missed the mark and committed to improving the bill. I think including the accessibility community in the restructuring of the bill after the first attempt was one of the main reasons that this bill is here today.
Our caucus is truly happy about the improvement to the accessibility law that will result from the passing of this bill. That being said, we know that this bill could be improved. I know our caucus, along with the Progressive Conservatives, supported a number of amendments during the Committee of the Whole that were suggested by the Bill 59 Community Alliance.
One amendment would have committed the government to developing standards that cope with the critical need for better access to assistive technologies and accessibility services – such as interpreters in courts. Throughout this process we have seen how valuable accessibility services are in helping people with disabilities be fully engaged with the world around them. As I said in Committee of the Whole – we are joined by some of those professional interpreters who are here providing care in our gallery, which is not something I’ve seen in the past – it shows where we can go and where we should go in the future.
This amendment would have also committed the government to preventing and removing barriers associated with housing options. We all know how important it is to have choices regarding where we live. Choices can often be limited for those with disabilities. I think working to break down barriers associated with housing options is a worthwhile goal.
The second amendment would have allowed people other than those directly affected by the Director of Compliance’s decision to appeal it. A person with a disability may be overwhelmed by the appeal process. By making this change, others would be able to help bring that appeal forward. It can be a daunting task. I have to say that even as an MLA trying to guide people through appeal processes is not a simple task. The government decided, though, to reject those amendments and I respect that. I understand there is a lot of give and take with regard to this bill and I respect the decision of the government not to move on these amendments.
That being said, I think theses amendments would have strengthened the bill. Mr. Speaker, we know there are other changes that could be made to improve the bill, and hopefully the Accessibility Advisory Board that will be made will now be made up of a majority of people with disabilities and will find a way to overcome any shortcomings in this bill as we move forward. Furthermore, any future government may revisit this bill to see where improvements can be made and I hope that can happen.
Again, I want to thank the government for recognizing that they did miss the mark on the first attempt on this bill. Hopefully they’ve learned that drafting legislation in isolation is simply not the answer.
Finally, I want to thank and congratulate the accessibility community for their efforts in this process – truly, Mr. Speaker, an example for all of us. The year 2023 is not as far off as people may think and there’s a lot of work to be done to achieve an accessible Nova Scotia by that year. However, I know the accessibility community will be there every step of the way to help us, as legislators in the province, encourage and adapt to the new way that we really should be providing support for people with disabilities in our province.
Again, thank you for those who have been involved, our caucus supports and the Bill 59 Community Alliance. We’ll continue to make sure that we hold not only this government but any future government to account, to ensure that we can improve those situations that we can, through legislation like Bill No. 59.
HON. JOANNE BERNARD: I won’t take much time because this is an historic day. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, this is historic legislation. I thank both Opposition Parties for not being political or partisan on this because it’s simply the right thing to do. I said that the other day.
One thing that I would like to reiterate, there’s lots of advocates in the gallery today and they’ve worked hard and they’ve waited a long time and it has been a strong push and we’re here today. I would be remiss, and I mentioned it the other day, Mr. Speaker, but you weren’t in your Chair, the work that you have led in bringing the political will into the Province of Nova Scotia in making sure that this happens. (Applause)
I know that you have been a strong advocate in a field of many strong advocates and you really brought it to the political agenda. There are many people in this province who owe you a debt of gratitude for that, so I’ll just take my place. Thank you.
HON. MICHEL SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, I will be brief as well but I want to take the opportunity certainly to extend my thanks to primarily the Opposition House Leaders for the Progressive Conservative Party and for the NDP who are my primary contacts when it comes to trying to see the smooth operation of this Legislature, which some may describe at times it may not have been that smooth, but this bill really changed that.
I think it sent a message to Nova Scotians and it really is the accessibility community that allowed us the opportunity to show to Nova Scotians that our democracy does work, our legislative process does work. There are opportunities where we can set aside differences in order to be able to put together the best type of legislation to help the lives of Nova Scotians, and I think this was an example.
I look back at the fact that it was this bill that allowed us, for the first time, to have the type of accessible Law Amendments Committee that took place at the Red Room just across from our Chamber here. In my 19 years of being in office this had never been seen and it took the accessibility community to show us what it is that needs to be done in a modern Legislature when dealing with this type of legislation. Obviously, Mr. Speaker, we’ll have to have further discussions as to what changes we make. Looking in the gallery behind me and seeing that there is sign interpretation that’s taking place as we speak, again, it’s the first time in my 19 years that we’ve seen this take place. Bill No. 59 has had a big impact on all of us. Seeing the smooth passage of this bill is something that I think everyone deserves credit for, all members of the House.
Seeing how bills get drafted, the work that goes into them, I certainly want to extend my thanks as Government House Leader and on behalf of our entire caucus to staff both at Community Services and the Department of Justice who worked so hard on these bills. Bill No. 59 certainly came with challenges, and they are the ones behind the scenes who were doing all the work to find the right language, to find the right changes, to be able to address the concerns that were being brought forward to us as the elected officials. Many times, they are people we don’t see here in the Legislature, but they are in the departments, and they are the ones who are doing the work to have that legislation in front of us to debate. I know there’s at least a few of them who are here in the gallery. I’m sure they’re anxiously waiting for all of us to stop talking and to see the vote just in case something else might happen. I certainly want to recognize all of them for what they’ve done.
The Bill 59 Alliance as well did a lot of work behind the scenes with all caucuses trying to improve this legislation and see its passage. For us to be able to get this done so quickly during the session is certainly a testament of how seriously we all took this matter, that it wasn’t a political debate. Everyone had the right intentions of seeing the best possible legislation.
My primary contact was Parker Donham, who I know is a very passionate advocate and gives a lot of his time to support the accessibility community. I certainly want to thank him for staying in touch and for strongly encouraging us to make the changes and to get this bill passed and get it into law as quickly as possible. That is what is going to happen.
I want to take the opportunity, on behalf of our entire caucus as well, to recognize the Minister of Community Services, who came with such a passion for having this legislation brought forward to start off with. It certainly took her leadership at the Cabinet Table to have this bill come forward as strong as it is today. Her fingerprints are all over this bill, and I certainly want to recognize her for her passion on this issue. (Applause)
Our Minister of Justice was tasked with taking over this piece of legislation and responsibility for it at a difficult time and was able to take this with her staff and work with all interested parties to make this the best bill possible. Again, this is certainly a great legacy piece for her in the extraordinary career that she’s had here in the Legislature. I want to recognize our Minister of Justice for everything she has done. (Applause)
I would be remiss if I didn’t add that the budget we were able to table today was because of many of the difficult decisions, the support, and the guidance that the Minister of Justice provided to us in the first couple of years of our mandate. They weren’t always easy decisions, but they were being done to get us to where we’re at today fiscally. I certainly want to commend her for all the work that she did on behalf of our government to make this a reality.
Again, Mr. Speaker, I want to extend my thanks to all members of the Opposition, certainly the Leader of the Official Opposition and the Leader in the House of the New Democratic Party, who were also part of making this a reality today, seeing this legislation passed. It is proof, for those who say that our Legislature is not working or that our democracy is not as strong as it should be. Bill No. 59 is a great example of how we can work past our differences, we can see what the end goal is, and we can pass legislation as strong as Bill No. 59. I think it’s something for all of us, that we can all look at our political careers and be able to say that on this day we did the right thing. Merci. (Applause)

HON. DIANA WHALEN: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker, and I understand why you’d be anxious to get to this vote.
I would just like to thank everybody again for their comments in speaking about this bill, and to particularly acknowledge our Opposition members, who have followed the debate closely and been involved in the amendments. I thank you for your support. This is very important. (Applause)
The process has made me proud. Being part of the two ministers and the two departments and the many community members who have brought it to today has been a really gratifying and important part of my work. I’m very pleased that it is something I could see through to this final vote today. I think it reflects the best in all of us.
I think our Government House Leader, the Minister of Energy, has said that as well – that this is an example of how we can work together. Ultimately, all of our jobs are to make Nova Scotia better for the people we serve, and this is a perfect example of something we’ve done that will do just that.
I want to thank you for that, Mr. Speaker. I want to particularly acknowledge your work and how much you’ve inspired us to get at this work. Your commitment and your determination to see change is refreshing and helpful to all of us, and I thank you because today is a very important day.
With that, Mr. Speaker, I would move that we close debate on Bill No. 59. Thank you.
MR. SPEAKER: The motion is for third reading of Bill No. 59. Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay. The motion is carried. (Applause)
Ordered that this bill do pass. Ordered that the title be as read by the Clerk. Ordered that the bill be engrossed.

^Text of Bill 59, the Nova Scotia Accessibility act, Passed on Third Reading

BILL NO. 59
Government Bill
3rd Session, 62nd General Assembly
Nova Scotia
65 Elizabeth II, 2016
An Act Respecting
Accessibility in Nova Scotia
REPRINTED WITH CHANGES AS RECOMMENDED
TO THE HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY
BY THE LAW AMENDMENTS COMMITTEE
The Honourable Joanne Bernard
Minister of Community Services
Halifax, Nova Scotia
Printed by Authority of the Speaker of the House of Assembly

An Act Respecting
Accessibility in Nova Scotia
WHEREAS barriers to accessibility are a reality for many Nova Scotians with disabilities;
AND WHEREAS, under the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Dis
abilities, member states undertakeCanada agrees to take appropriate measures to ensureachieve accessibility and to develop and monitor minimum accessibility standards;
AND WHEREAS the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms grants equality rights to all persons without discrimination on the basis of a disability;
AND WHEREAS the Human Rights Act recognizes that the Government, public agencies and all persons have a responsibility to ensure equal opportunity for every individual to enjoy a full and productive life;
AND WHEREAS persons with disabilities disproportionately live in conditions of poverty; AND WHEREAS there is diversity among persons with disabilities;
AND WHEREAS persons with disabilities continue to face attitudinal and environmental barriers that prevent them from achieving their full and equal participation in society;
AND WHEREAS persons with disabilities who are subject to multiple forms of discrimina-tion face additional barriers;
AND WHEREAS achieving accessibility will improve the independence and well-being of persons with disabilities;
AND WHEREAS, under the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Dis abilities, member states undertake to take appropriate measures to ensure accessibility and to develop and monitor minimum accessibility standards;
AND WHEREAS the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms grants equality rights to all persons without discrimination on the basis of a disability;
AND WHEREAS the Human Rights Act recognizes that the Government, public agencies and all persons have a responsibility to ensure equal opportunity for every individual to enjoy a full and productive life;
AND WHEREAS the number of Nova Scotians with disabilities is likely to rise due to the demographic changes associated with an aging population;
AND WHEREAS an accessible Nova Scotia will improve the health, well being and inde pendence of persons with disabilities;

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AND WHEREAS public consultation provides an opportunity for Nova Scotians to be actively involved in the development of a process for identifying, reducing, removing and pre venting barriers;
AND WHEREAS the Government is committed to establishing progressive timelines for developing and implementing accessibility standards while taking into account the resources required to comply with such standards;
AND WHEREAS the Government acknowledges it must take a leadership role in the pro¬cess of achieving an accessible Nova Scotia; THEREFORE be it enacted by the Governor and Assembly as follows: 1 This Act may be cited as the Accessibility Act.
2 The purpose of this Act is to
(a) ensure that issues related to persons with disabilities are conveyed to and addressed by public sector bodies;
(b) ensure that existing measures, policies, practices and other requirements are reviewed with a view to making suggestions to improve accessibility;
(c) provide the framework and authority to create accessibility standards; and
(d) facilitate the implementation and monitoring of and compliance with accessibil ity standards.
(a) achieve accessibility by preventing and removing barriers that disable people with respect to
(i) the delivery and receipt of goods and services,
(ii) information and communication,
(iii) public transportation and transportation infrastructure, (iv) employment,
(v) the built environment,
(vi) education, and
(vii) a prescribed activity or undertaking;
(b) provide for the involvement of persons with disabilities, the public sector and other stakeholders in the development of accessibility standards;
(c) facilitate the timely implementation of accessibility standards with a goal of achieving an accessible Nova Scotia by 2030;
(d) monitor, review and enforce compliance with accessibility standards; and
(e) establish an Accessibility Directorate that is responsible for supporting accessi bility initiatives and advancing broader disability-related issues.

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3 (1) In this Act,
(a) accessibility plan means a plan to address the identification, reduction,
removal and prevention of barriers in the policies, programs, practices and services of a public sector body;
(b) accessibility standard means an accessibility standard established under this Act;
(c) barrier means anything that hinders or challenges the full and effective
participation in society of persons with disabilities including a physical barrier, an architectural barrier, an information or communications barrier, an attitudinal barrier, a technological barrier, a policy or a practice; (d) Board means the Accessibility Advisory Board established under this Act;
(e) built environment means a building, a structure or premisesthe human
made space in which people live, work, learn and play and includes buildings, rights-of-way and outdoor spaces; (f) committee means a committee established under this Act; (g) Court means the Supreme Court of Nova Scotia;
(h) Director means the Director of Compliance and Enforcement appointed pursuant to Section 45;
(h)(i) disability meansincludes a physical, mental, intellectual, learning or sensory impairment, including an episodic disability, that, in the interaction with a barrier, hinders an individuals full and effective participation in society; (i) government entity means any department, board, commission, founda
tion, agency, association or other body of persons, whether incorporated or unincor porated, all the members of which or all the members of the board of management or board of directors of which
(i) are appointed by an Act of the Legislature or by order of the Gover nor in Council, or
(ii) where not so appointed, in discharge of their duties are public officers or servants of Her Majesty in right of the Province or for the proper dis charge of their duties are, directly or indirectly, responsible to Her Majesty in right of the Province; (j) Government means Her Majesty in right of the Province; (j)(k) inspector means an inspector appointed under this Act; (k)(l) Minister means the Minister of Community ServicesJustice;
(l)(m)organization includes a government entity, the Government, a sole pro-prietorship, corporation, society, association, partnership and limited liability partner-ship, any association of individuals and any similar body;
(m)(n)order means an order made under this Act; (n)(o)prescribed means prescribed by the regulations;

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(o)(p)public sector body means
(i) a government entity the Government,
(ii) a prescribed municipality, and
(iii) a prescribed organization.university, and
(iv) a prescribed organization.
(2) A document or information is publicly available if it is posted on a website or made available in a prescribed manner.
4 (1) Nothing in this Act or the regulations diminishes the rights and protections offered to persons with disabilities under the Human Rights Act.
(2) Where a provision of this Act or the regulations conflicts with a provision of
another enactment, the provision of this Act or the regulations prevails unless the other enactment provides a higher level of accessibility for persons with disabilities. 5 This Act binds Her Majesty in right of the Province.
6 The Minister is responsible for the general supervision and management of this Act and the regulations.
7 (1) The mandate of the Minister shallis to achieve accessibility for persons disabled by barriers by
(a) raiseraising awareness of how persons with disabilities are disabled by barriers;
(b) promotepromoting and encourageencouraging the prevention, reduction and removal of barriers;
(c) overseeoverseeing the development and implementation of accessibility standards necessary to attain the purpose of this Act;
(d) assistassisting in the integration of applicable accessibility standards into the activities of all persons in the Province; and
(e) ensureensuring persons in the Province are consulted in the development of accessibility standards and informed about their duties and responsibilities under the standards once created.
(2) Within one year of the coming into force of this Act the Minister shall adopt,
and make publicly available, an implementation strategy setting out how the Minister plans to achieve the goal of an accessible Nova Scotia by 2030.
8 (1) The Minister shall annually prepare a report of the actions the Minister has
undertaken pursuant to Section 7 during the preceding fiscal year and make that report publicly available.

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(2) The Minister shall table the report in the House of Assembly within 15 days
after it is completed or, where the Assembly is not then sitting, file it with the Clerk of the Assem-bly.
9 (1) The Minister may, in writing, delegate any power or duty conferred or imposed on the Minister under this Act to
(a) an employee of a government entity the Government;
(b) an employee of a municipality; or
(c) another person,
who, in the Ministers opinion, has the requisite qualifications and experience.
(2) Where the Minister delegates a power or duty under subsection (1), the Minister may
(a) specify how the power or duty is to be exercised or performed and impose any requirement in relation to or restrictions on the exercise or performance of the power or duty that the Minister considers appropriate; and
(b) provide that the delegate be paid for, or reimbursed for the cost of, exer-cising or performing the delegated power or duty.
(3) Before making a delegation to a person under clause (1)(a) or (b), the Minister shall consult with and obtain the consent of the employer of the person.
(4) Before making a delegation to a person under clause (1)(c), the Minister shall obtain the consent of the person. (5) The Minister may revoke a delegation made under subsection (1). ACCESSIBILITY DIRECTORATE
10 (1) There shall be anThe Accessibility Directorate is hereby established. (2) The role of the Accessibility Directorate is to
(a) support the implementation and administration of this Act and the regula-tions;
(b) address broader disability-related initiatives by acting as a central govern-ment mechanism to ensure that the concerns of persons with disabilities respecting policy, program development and delivery are advanced and considered by the Gov-ernment.
11 (1) The Minister shall appoint an Executive Director and the staff of the Accessibil ity Directorate.
(2) The Executive Director shall lead the Accessibility Directorate and liaise with

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(3) The staff appointed toof the Accessibility Directorate are deemed toshall be appointed to the Civil Service pursuant to the Civil Service Act. 12 The Accessibility Directorate shall
(a) provide policy, programming, communication and administrative support on all aspects of this Act and the regulations;
(b) conduct research and develop and implement programs of public education and awareness on the purpose of this Act;
(c) examine and review measures, policies, practices and other requirements to improve opportunities for persons with disabilities; and
(d) identify and study issues of concern to persons with disabilities and recommend action where appropriate. ACCESSIBILITY ADVISORY BOARD
13 (1) There shall be an Accessibility Advisory Board consisting of (a)12 members appointed by the Governor in Council on the recommendation of the Minister; and. (b) four non voting members.
(2) In making recommendations to the Governor in Council for the purpose of sub section (1), the Minister shall take into consideration
(a) the skills and assets the Minister considers necessary to ensure an effec-tive and optimally functioning Board; and
(b) representation by stakeholder groups that will be subject to the accessibil-ity standards.
(3) At least one halfThe majority of the members of the Board must be persons with disabilities.
(4) The following persons are non voting members of the Board whose presence at or absence from a meeting does not affect quorum:
(a) the Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal or that Minis ters designate; (b) the Minister of Business or that Ministers designate;
(c) the Minister of Regulatory Affairs and Service Effectiveness or that Min isters designate; and (d) the Minister of Municipal Affairs or that Ministers designate.
14 (1) A person appointed to the Board pursuant to clause 13(1)(a) holds office for a term of three years.
(2) No person may be appointed to the Board pursuant to clause 13(1)(a) for more than two consecutive terms.

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15 (1) The Governor in Council, on the recommendation of the Minister, may desig
nate members of the Board appointed pursuant to clause 13(1)(a) as the Chair and the Vice-chair of the Board.
(2) The Vice-chair shall act as Chair if the Chair is absent or unable to act or when authorized to act by the Chair.
16 (1) The Board shall hold at least four regular meetings in each year and meet with the Minister at least once every 12 months.
(2) The Board shall prepare a summary report after each regular meeting and make the report publicly available.
(3) The Board shall annually prepare a report of its activities and operations during the preceding fiscal year and, file it with the Minister and make the report publicly available.
17 The Board shall advise and make recommendations to the Minister about accessibility and, in particular, shall
(a) suggest measures, policies, practices and requirements that may be imple¬mented by the Government to improveachieve accessibility;
(b) assess whether existing measures, policies, practices and requirements are con-sistent with the purpose of this Act;
(c) set priorities for the establishment and content of accessibility standards and the timelines for their implementation;
(d) set long-term accessibility objectives for furthering the purpose of this Act; and (e) respond to requests for accessibility advice from the Minister.
18 (1) The Minister may, in consultation with the BoardBoard shall, with the approval
of the Minister, (a)establish standard development committees to assist the Board with making recommendations to the Minister on the content and implementation of accessibility standards;.
(2) The Board shall prepare terms of reference for each standard development com
mittee that include deadlines for each stage of the standard development process. (b) specify a committees mandate;
(c) provide guidelines for a committees functions and operations; and
(3) The Board may, with the approval of the Minister, (d)establish a subcommittee
of technical experts and other individuals familiar with issues specific to the standard being devel-oped.
19 (1) A standard development committee established under Section 18 must have (a) one half of its membership consist of persons with disabilities or repre sentatives from organizations representing persons with disabilities; 8
(b) representatives of organizations and classes of organizations likely to be affected by the standard being developed; and
(c) representatives from departments of the Government that have responsi-bilities related to the standard being developed.
(2) A person does not need to be a member of the Board to be a member of a com mittee or subcommittee.
20 (1) CommitteeThe Board, committee and subcommittee members not employed in
the public service of the Province shall be paid such remuneration as is determined by the Minis¬ter.
(2) CommitteeThe Board, committee and subcommittee members shall be reim¬bursed for their reasonable expenses incurred in the performance of their duties. ACCESSIBILITY STANDARDS
21 (1) Where the Minister determines that there is an accessibility issue, the Minister
shall prepare terms of reference for an accessibility standard to address the issue. (2) The terms of reference prepared under subsection (1) must (a) specify the accessibility issue;
(b) specify the individual, organization or class that may be subject to the standard; (c) establish a timeline for a response by the Board; and
(d) suggest individuals, organizations and public sector bodies to be con sulted.
(3) The Minister shall give the terms of reference to the Board and make them pub licly available.
22 (1)21 Upon receipt of the terms of reference forWhen making a recommendation to
the Minister on a proposed accessibility standard, the Board shall consider and make any recom mendations to the Minister respecting
(a) the accessibility objectives for the activity or undertaking, the class, the aspect of the built environment or the individuals or organizations to which the stand-ard relates; and
(b) the measures, policies, practices and other requirements that the Board believes should be implemented, including (i) how and by whom they should be implemented, and
(ii) the period for implementing them.
(2) An accessibility standard must include
(a) an economic impact assessment for the standard;
9
(b) an assessment of how the standard will increase accessibility in the Prov ince; and
(c) a progressive timeline which takes into account the resources required to comply.
(3)22 When recommending time periods for implementing an accessibility standard, the Board shall consider
(a) the nature of the barriers that the measures, policies, practices and other requirements are intended to identify, reduce, remove or prevent;
(b) any technical and economic considerations that may be associated with implementing the standard; and
(c) any other matter referred to in the terms of referencerequested by the Minister.
23 When preparing recommendations under Sections 2821 and 22, the Board shall con sultensure that the following persons have been consulted with: (a) persons with disabilities or;
(b) representatives from organizations representing persons with disabilities;
(b)(c)representatives of those engaged in the activity or undertaking, or the individu¬als or organizations, or representatives of the class that may be made subject to the proposed accessibility standard;
(c)(d)representatives of government entities that have responsibilities relating to the activity, undertaking or class that may be made subject to the proposed accessibility stand-ard; and
(d)(e)other individuals or organizations that the Minister considers advisable, includ ing a standard development committee.
24 The Board shall attempt to achieve a consensus among its members on its recommen
dations but, where there is no consensus, the majority may make recommendations and one or more members may submit separate recommendationsone or more members may submit recom-mendations if a consensus is not achieved.
25 (1) The recommendations must be submitted to the Minister in the form and within the period specified by the Minister.
(2) The Minister shall make the recommendations publicly available.
26 Upon receipt of the recommendations, the Minister may prepare a proposed accessi
bility standard adopting the recommendations in whole, in part or with any modifications the Minister considers appropriate. 27 An accessibility standard may
(a) specify the individuals or organizations that are subject to the standard;

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(b) set out measures, policies, practices and other requirements for (i) identifying, reducing and removing barriers, and
(ii) preventing barriers from being established; and
(c) require the individuals or organizations that are subject to the standard to imple
ment those measures, policies, practices and other requirements within the period specified in the standard.
28 An accessibility standard may be general or specific in its application and may be lim ited as to time and place.
29 Accessibility standards may apply to individuals or organizations that (a) employ others;
(b) offer accommodation;
(c) own, operate, maintain or control an aspect of the built environment other than a private residence with three or fewer dwelling units; (d) provide goods, services or information to the public; or
(e) engage in a prescribed activity or undertaking or meet other prescribed require-ments.
30 An accessibility standard may apply to different classes of individuals or organiza
tions or aspects of the built environment and, without limiting the generality of the foregoing, may apply to classes with respect to any attribute, quality or characteristic, or any combination of those things, including
(a) the number of persons employed by an individual or organization or its annual revenue;
(b) the type of activity or undertaking in which an individual or organization is engaged or the sector of the economy of which an individual or organization is a part; or
(c) a particular characteristic of an aspect of the built environment, such as the type of infrastructure or the size of a building, a structure or premises, that is owned, operated, maintained or controlled by an individual or organization.
31 An accessibility standard may define a class to include or exclude an individual or
organization, or an aspect of the built environment, having the same or different attributes, quali¬ties or characteristics.
32 An individual or organization may be subject to more than one accessibility standard.
33 The Minister shall make a proposed accessibility standard and the recommendations publicly available.
34 Within 60 days after a proposed accessibility standard is made publicly available, or
within any other longer period specified by the Minister, an individual or organization may submit comments about the proposed standard to the Minister.

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35 After consulting with the Board with respect to any comments received and, if the
Minister considers it appropriate, revising the proposed accessibility standard if the Minister con siders it appropriate, the Minister mayshall recommend the standard to the Governor in Council for approval as a regulation.
36 The Minister may, by giving written notice to the Board, withdraw the terms of refer
ence for an accessibility standard that has been given to the Board and, where the Minister does so, the Board shall cease its activities in respect of that standard.
3736 An individual or organization that is subject to an accessibility standard shall (a) prepare and keep records in accordance with the regulations; and
(b) make the records available for inspection and examination under this Act and the regulations.
3837 An individual or organization that is subject to an accessibility standard shall comply with it within the period specified in the standard.
38 Where the Minister believes it is in the public interest to do so, the Minister may rec
ommend that the Governor in Council prescribe incentive-based measures to encourage and assist an individual or organization, or a class of individuals or organizations, to meet or exceed an accessibility standard.
39 (1) Every public sector body shall prepare and make publicly available an accessi bility plan within one year of the coming into force of this Act.
(2) A municipality, university or organization shall prepare and make publicly available an accessibility plan within one year of being prescribed as a public sector body. 40 An accessibility plan must include
(a) a report on measures the public sector body has taken and intends to take to identify, reduce, remove and prevent barriers;
(b) information on procedures the public sector body has in place to assess the fol lowing for their effect on accessibility for persons with disabilities: (i) any of its proposed policies, programs, practices and services, and (ii) any proposed enactments or by-laws it will be administering; and (c) any other prescribed information.
41 A public sector body shall consult with seek input from persons with disabilities orand representatives of organizations representing persons with disabilities when preparing an accessibility plan.
42 A public sector body shall update its accessibility plan every three years and make it

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43 Two or more prescribed municipalitiespublic sector bodies may agree to have a joint accessibility plan.
44 (1) The council of every municipality having a population of 10,000 or moreEvery
public sector body shall establish an accessibility advisory committee or continue any such com-mittee that was established before the coming into force of this Act.
(2) At least one half of the members of an accessibility advisory committee must be
persons with disabilities or representatives from organizations representing persons with disabili-ties. COMPLIANCE AND ENFORCEMENT
45 (1) The Minister shall appoint a Director of Compliance and Enforcement. (2) The Director shall
(a) carry out the powers and duties assigned to the Director under this Act;
(b) advise the Minister with respect to compliance and enforcement matters; and (c) perform such duties as are assigned by the Minister.
(3) The Director may delegate the exercise of any of the Directors duties, powers or functions, other than the power to review an order or decision.
4546 (1) Inspectors and other persons required to administer compliance with and enforcement of this Act and the regulations shall be appointed by the Minister in accordance with the Civil Service Act.
(2) Notwithstanding subsection (1), the Minister may engage, upon such terms and
conditions as the Minister considers necessary, the services of such persons as the Minister requires for administering compliance with and enforcement of this Act and the regulations.
4647 (1) An inspector carrying out an inspection under this Act shall produce, on request, an identification card provided by the Minister for that purpose.
(2) A copy of an identification card purporting to be signed by the Minister is proof in any court of law that an individual is an inspector.
4748 (1) An inspector may carry out an inspection in response to a complaint or in rela¬tion to an activity as directed by the Director. (1)(2)An inspector may carry out any inspection, examination or test reasonably required to
(a) determine compliance with this Act and the regulations;
(b) verify the accuracy or completeness of a record or of other information required to be prepared under this Act and the regulations; or

13
(c) perform any other duty or function that the inspector considers necessary
or advisable in the administration or enforcement of this Act and the regulations. (2)(3)When carrying out an inspection under this Section, an inspector may
(a) require the production of any document or record for inspection and cop-ying; and (b) inspect the physical premises and equipment.
4849 An inspector has all the powers, privileges and immunities of a commissioner appointed under the Public Inquiries Act, with the exception of the powers of contempt, arrest and imprisonment.
4950 (1) Subject to subsection (2), an inspector may, at any reasonable time, enter
(a) any land or any building, structure, premises or place that is subject to this Act or the regulations; or
(b) any other premises or place where the inspector has reasonable grounds to believe that records or things relevant to the administration or enforcement of this Act or the regulations are kept, for the purpose of administering and enforcing this Act or the regulations.
(2) An inspector may not enter a private dwelling place or any part of a place that is
designed to be used and is being used as a permanent or temporary private dwelling place except (a) with the consent of the occupant of the place; or
(b) under an order granted under Section 5051.
5051 (1) Where a justice is satisfied on evidence under oath by an inspector that
(a) there are reasonable grounds to believe that it is appropriate for the administration of this Act for the inspector to do anything set out in Section 4748; and
(b) the inspector may not be able to carry out duties under this Act effectively without an order under this Section because
(i) no person is present to grant access to premises that are locked or otherwise inaccessible,
(ii) a person has denied the inspector access to premises or there are reasonable grounds for believing that a person may deny the inspector access to premises,
(iii) a person has prevented the inspector from doing one or more things set out in Section 4748 or denied the inspector access to something, as a result of which the inspector is unable to do one or more things set out in Section 4748,
(iv) there are reasonable grounds to believe that a person may prevent an inspector from doing one or more things set out in Section 4748, or may deny the inspector access to something as a result of which the inspector may be unable to do one or more things set out in Section 4748,

14
(v) it is unpractical, because of the remoteness of the premises to be inspected or because of any other reason, for the inspector to obtain an order under this Section without delay if access is denied, or
(vi) there are reasonable grounds to believe that an attempt by the inspector to do anything set out in Section 4748 without the order might defeat the purpose of that Section or cause an adverse effect,
the justice may issue an order authorizing the inspector to do anything set out in Section 4748 that is specified in the order for the period set out in the order.
(2) The period referred to in subsection (1) may not extend beyond 30 days after the date on which the order is made, but the order may be renewed for any reason set out in sub¬section (1) for one or more periods, each of which may not be more than 30 days.
(3) An application for an extension under subsection (2) may be made before or after the expiry of the period.
(4) An order under this Section may be issued or renewed on application without notice.
5152 (1) An inspector who finds that this Act or the regulations are being or have been contravened may issue an order, in the form prescribed, requiring the individual or organization responsible for the contravention to remedy it.
(2) Where an inspector carries out an inspection and finds that this Act or the regu
lations are not being or have not been contravened the inspector shall document the finding and any relevant information leading to the finding.
53 The Director may, on the Directors own motion, review any decision of an inspector
that does not result in the issuance of an order and may confirm the inspectors decision or direct the inspector to issue an order under subsection 52(1).
5254 (1) An individual or organization named in an order made under Section 51subsec-tion 52(1) may request the MinisterDirector to review the order.
(2) A request must be made in writing and must include the individuals or organi-zations name and address, the reasons for requesting the review and any additional information that the individual or organization wants to be considered by the MinisterDirector.
(3) The MinisterDirector is not required to hold a hearing when a request for review is made.
(4) A request for review operates as a stay of the inspectors order pending the out-come of the review by the MinisterDirector. (5) The MinisterDirector may confirm, revoke or vary the order.

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(6) The MinisterDirector shall, within 60 days of the request for review being made, provide the individual or organization who requested the review with (a) a copy of the MinisterDirectors decision, with written reasons; and
(b) notification of the right to appeal the decision to the Court under Sec¬tion 5860.
(7) Where a request for review of an inspectors order is not received by the Minis
terDirector within 30 days after the order is served, the inspectors order is final.
5355 (1) Subject to Section 5456, where the MinisterDirector is of the opinion that an individual or organization has failed to comply with an inspectors order within the period speci-fied in the order, the MinisterDirector may issue a written notice requiring the individual or organ-ization to pay an administrative penalty in the amount prescribed.
(2) Notice of an administrative penalty may only be issued after the period for appealing an order has expired or, where an appeal has been filed, after a decision has been made on the appeal.
(3) The notice of administrative penalty must be served on the individual or organ-ization required to pay the penalty.
5456 No penalty may be issued by the MinisterDirector more than three years after the act or omission that renders the individual or organization liable to a penalty first came to the knowl¬edge of the MinisterDirector.
5557 (1) The MinisterDirector may file a certificate inwith the Supreme Court signed by the MinisterDirector and setting out (a) the amount of the administrative penalty issued; and (b) the individual or organization against whom the penalty is issued.
(2) A certificate filed under this Section has the same force and effect as if it were a
judgment obtained in the Court for the recovery of a debt in the amount set out in the certificate and may be enforced in the same manner as a judgment of thatthe Court.
5658 An individual or organization who pays an administrative penalty for an incident of non-compliance may not be charged with an offence with respect to that non-compliance unless the non-compliance continues after the penalty is paid.
5759 Administrative penalties paid under this Act must be used for the purpose of accessi-bility initiatives, including public education and awareness.
5860 (1) Any individual or organization who is directly affected by a decision of the MinisterDirector made under (a) Section 5254 with respect to an order; or
(b) Section 5355 with respect to an administrative penalty,

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may appeal the decision by filing a notice of appeal with the Court and serving a copy on the Min isterDirector and any other person who the Court orders to be served. (2) An appeal may be made on the following grounds:
(a) in the case of a decision under Section 5254, that the finding of a contra-vention of this Act or the regulations was incorrect; or (b) in the case of an administrative penalty, that
(i) the amount of the penalty was not determined in accordance with the regulations, or (ii) the amount of the penalty is not justified in the public interest. (3) An appeal may not be commenced more than 30 days after the individual or organization receives a decision of the MinisterDirector.
(4) An appellant shall serve a notice of appeal on any other person who the Court orders to be served.
5961 On receipt of the notice of appeal under subsection 5860(1), the MinisterDirector shall file with the Court true copies of
(a) all documents and materials that were before the MinisterDirector when the MinisterDirector made the decision; (b) the MinisterDirectors decision; and
(c) the MinisterDirectors written reasons for the decision.
6062 (1) On hearing an appeal under Section 5860, the Court may confirm, vary or dis¬miss the decision or refer the matter back to the MinisterDirector.
(2) The Court may make any order as to costs on an appeal that the Court considers appropriate.
6163 The commencement of an appeal under Section 5860 operates as a stay of the deci¬sion pending the outcome of the appeal.
64 (1) The Director shall maintain a database of all complaints of non-compliance,
inspector visits, orders issued, Director reviews, notices of administrative penalties and appeals and shall provide the Minister with a summary report annually or at any more frequent interval as requested by the Minister.
(2) The Minister shall share the report prepared pursuant to subsection (1) with the Accessibility Directorate and the Accessibility Advisory Board.
62 (3) The Minister may issue public reports disclosing details of orders and decisions
made and administrative penalties issued under this Act which may include personal information as defined in the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act.

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6365 The following documents must be provided in an accessible format and at no charge to a person within a reasonable period after the person requests it from the Minister or a public sector body: (a) in the case of the Minister,
(i) the terms of reference for a proposed accessibility standard, (ii)(i) the recommendations of the Board,
(iii)(ii)a proposed accessibility standard,
(iv)(iii)a review conducted under Section 6466,
(v)(iv)any educational and awareness tools made publicly available, (vi)(v)a summary report prepared by the Board,
(vii)(vi)an accessibility plan; and
(b) in the case of a public sector body, its accessibility plan.
6466 (1) Within four years after the coming into force of this Act, and at least every five years thereafter, the Governor in Council shall appoint a person to undertake a comprehensive review of the effectiveness of the Act and the accessibility standards and report on the persons findings to the Minister. (2) The person undertaking the review under this Section shall consult with (a) persons with disabilities;
(b) representatives from organizations representing persons with disabilities; and
(c) representatives from organizations affected by the implementation of the accessibility standards. (3) Within 30 days of receiving the report, the Minister shall (a) make the report publicly available.; and
(b) table the report in the House of Assembly if the Assembly is then sitting or, where the Assembly is not then sitting, file it with the Clerk of the Assembly.
6567 No action lies against the Minister, the Accessibility Directorate, the Board, the Director, an inspector or any other person acting under the authority of this Act for anything done, or omitted to be done, in good faith, in the exercise or intended exercise of a power or duty under this Act or the regulations. 6668 An individual or organization who
(a) repeatedly fails to
(i) prepare and keep records in accordance with the regulations, (ii) make the records available for inspection and examination, or (iii) comply with an accessibility standard as required under Section 3837;

18
(b) knowingly makes a false or misleading statement to the Minister or an inspector acting under the authority of this Act;
(c) knowingly makes a false or misleading statement in a record or report given or required under this Act;
(d) hinders, obstructs or interferes with, or attempts to hinder, obstruct or interfere with, the Minister or an inspector acting under the authority of this Act; or
(e) continues to fail to comply with an inspectors order after having been issued an administrative penalty, regardless of whether the penalty is paid,
is guilty of an offence and liable on summary conviction to a fine of not more than $25,000 250,000.
6769 In a prosecution of an offence under this Act, it is sufficient proof of the offence to establish that it was committed by an employee or agent of the accused whether or not the employee or agent is identified or has been prosecuted for the offence, unless the accused estab¬lishes that the offence was committed without the knowledge or consent of the accused.
6870 Where an organization commits an offence, a director, officer or agent of the organi-zation who authorized, permitted or acquiesced in the offence is also guilty of the offence and lia-ble on summary conviction to the penalty set out in Section 6668, whether or not the organization has been prosecuted or convicted. 6971 (1) The Governor in Council may make regulations
(a) prescribing municipalities, universities and organizations in the public sector as public sector bodies;
(b) prescribing the manner in which a reportdocument must be made publicly available;
(c) prescribing an activity, undertaking or other requirements for the purpose of clause 23(1)(e)29(e); (d) establishing accessibility standards;
(e) exempting an individual or organization or a class of individuals or organizations, or an aspect of the built environment, from the application of any pro-vision of this Act or the regulations and prescribing terms and conditions for the exemption;
(f) respecting record-keeping and reporting requirements for individuals and organizations that are subject to an accessibility standard;
(p)(g)respecting incentive-based measures to encourage and assist an individual or organization, or a class of individuals or organizations, to meet or exceed an acces-sibility standard;
(g)(h)respecting accessibility plans, including the content, timing and prepara¬tion of such plans; (h) prescribing municipalities that may have a joint accessibility plan;
(i) respecting the offices, positions, territorial jurisdiction and duties of inspectors generally or specifically;

19
(j) establishing rules governing the qualifications, office, position, duties, conduct and discipline of inspectors;
(k) respecting the form of the order an inspector may make, including the content of the order and the method of its service;
(l) prescribing the form an inspector must use when making an order under Section 51;
(m) prescribing the form an inspector must use to document a finding that the Act or the regulations has not been contravened;
(m)(n)for the purpose of Section 5355, respecting administrative penalties for contraventions of this Act, including regulations
(i) prescribing the form and content of the notice of administrative penalty,
(ii) respecting the determination of amounts of administrative penal¬ties, which may vary according to the nature or frequency of the contravention and whether it is an individual or organization in non-compliance, and
(iii) respecting any other matter necessary for the administration of the system of administrative penalties provided for under this Act;
(n)(o)respecting the specific use to be made of any funds collected through the imposition of administrative penalties;
(o)(p)respecting the manner in which any order, notice or other document under this Act may be served, given or provided to any individual or organization; (q) defining any word or expression used but not defined in this Act;
(r) respecting any matter or thing the Governor in Council considers neces¬sary or advisable to effectively carry out the intent and purpose of this Act.
(2) The exercise by the Governor in Council of the authority contained in subsec tion (1) is a regulation within the meaning of the Regulations Act.
7072 Chapter 130 of the Acts of 1989, the Disabled Persons Commission Act, is repealed.
7173 This Act comes into force on such day as the Governor in Council orders and declares by proclamation.

Accessibility Act to Make Province More Accessible

Department of Justice
April 27, 2017

Nova Scotia has set a goal to be accessible by 2030 under the Accessibility Act, passed today, April 27.

Nova Scotia is only the third province in Canada to pass accessibility legislation. The passage of Bill 59 will start the process of removing barriers for persons with disabilities.

“We are proud to have worked with people with disabilities and business to take this historic step toward an accessible Nova Scotia,” said Justice Minister Diana Whalen. “This act commits us to a timeline to make the province an accessible place to live, work, learn and play.”

Under the act, government will work with persons with disabilities, and the public and private sectors to create six standards for an accessible Nova Scotia. The standards will be in the areas of goods and services, information and communication, public transportation and transportation infrastructure, employment, education, and the built environment which includes buildings, rights-of-way and outdoor spaces.

The legislation puts in place a new Accessibility Advisory Board. The majority of the board’s members will be persons with disabilities. A new accessibility directorate will be responsible for supporting accessibility initiatives and advancing broader disability-related issues.

While public awareness and support will be essential in encouraging compliance with the standards the act allows for penalties and, for the most serious cases, fines up to $250,000.

“We’re very pleased with the Nova Scotia Accessibility Act and commend the government for its leadership,” said Gerry Post, from the Bill 59 Alliance. “The collaborative approach taken in drafting the act has established a wonderful climate for communal partnerships, including the business community, to implement the legislation. We also thank the opposition parties for giving the government the space to engage key stakeholders and for supporting this act.”

Bill 59 was amended after witnesses appeared at the law amendments committee and staff consulted with representatives of persons with disabilities.

Government also invested $1.8 million in the 2017-18 budget to increase provincial ACCESS-Ability grants for community buildings and to launch a new grant program for small businesses to become more accessible.

A copy of the Accessibility Act can be found at http://nslegislature.ca/index.php/proceedings/bills/bill_59_-_accessibility_act . Accessible versions of government information related to disability in Nova Scotia are available at https://novascotia.ca/coms/accessibility/ .

Media Contact: Sarah Gillis
Cell: 902-266-8554
Email: sarah.gillis@novascotia.ca

Original at https://novascotia.ca/news/release/?id=20170427007

Payton/Dann & Manning Law Firms File Federal Suit Alleging McDonald’s Website & App Violate ADA, Unruh Civil Rights Act

Lawsuit claims restaurant chain’s website and mobile app are not fully accessible to and independently usable by the blind or visually-impaired. CHICAGO, ILLINOIS, UNITED STATES, April 25, 2017
EINPresswire.com

The Manning Law Firm of Newport Beach California has joined with former Ohio Attorney General Marc Dann of Chicago’s PaytonDann Law Firm to file suit in federal court alleging that the McDonald’s restaurant chain is in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and California’s Unruh Civil Rights Act (UCRA).

The suit was filed because the company’s website and mobile app are not fully accessible to or independently usable by people who are blind or visually impaired. The action was filed on behalf of Sean Gorecki, a legally blind California resident who, despite numerous attempts, has been unable to access goods and services regularly offered on McDonald’s website and/or mobile app that are readily available to the non-visually impaired.

The Case, Sean Gorecki vs. McDonald’s Corporation, Case No. 1:17-cv-03036, was filed in The United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois Eastern Division because McDonald’s is headquartered in Oak Brook, Illinois. Among other remedies, the suit seeks a permanent injunction ordering McDonald’s to make its website and mobile app readily accessible to and usable by blind and visually-impaired individuals.

“McDonald’s could easily make the legally-required accommodations called for in the suit,” Atty. Dann said. “Every day thousands of blind and visually impaired people, including Mr. Gorecki, use screen reader software programs like Job Access With Speech (JAWS) for Windows devices or Apple’s VoiceOver to access websites and apps. But in order to function properly, the information on a website or app must be formatted so the screen reader can render it into meaningful text. Numerous companies have built that capability into their sites and apps. McDonald’s has chosen not to do so. That’s an unfortunate business decision and, we contend, a clear violation of the ADA and the UCRA.”

“The Department of Justice and case law, including National Federation of the Blind v Target Corp., establish that websites and apps belonging to private companies fall within the ADA’s accessibility requirements,” Atty. Manning noted. “The NFB v Target case is compelling because after denying wrongdoing, Target began working with the NFB to ensure that blind and visually impaired consumers had equal access to products and information on Target.com. As a result, the case was settled, Target received Gold Level NFB-NVA Certification and the company is now recognized as a leader in web accessibility.”

“The settlement was a win for the blind and visually impaired and for Target,” Manning commented. “Mr. Gorecki, I, and the other members of his legal team believe we can achieve a similar outcome in our case.”

The numerous problems Mr. Gorecki encountered when attempting to access McDonalds.com and the company’s mobile app to purchase goods and services include:

a)The home page has graphics, links, and buttons that are not labeled or are incorrectly labeled, or lack alternative text (“Alt-text”).

b)The Nutrition Calculator does not add items to the meal when a screen-reader user selects “add”, and the values for the Nutrition Calculator are not clear.

c)There are several links throughout the website that say “void (0).”

d)The menus and sub-menus have redundant coding that causes screen-readers to repeatedly state “menu sub-menu.”

e)Finding a location is not fully accessible due to the structure of the headings and the constant pop-up to urge the screen-reader user to enter e-mail and zip code to sign up for the mailing list.

f)The website is structured in a confusing manner for screen-readers.

“McDonald’s knows these deficiencies exist, but they’ve elected not to address them so Mr. Gorecki was left with no other recourse than to assert his rights under the ADA and the UCRA,” Dann said.

In order to address the issues and bring the company into compliance with the law, the suit asks the court to order McDonald’s to make its website and app accessible to the blind and visually impaired, regularly check the performance of both platforms, conduct end-user accessibility tests, and develop an accessibility policy as well as a process for reporting and resolving accessibility-related issues.

A copy of the complaint is available upon request. Attorneys Manning and Dann will be available for interviews and Mr. Gorecki may also be available to speak with the media on a limited basis.

Marc Dann
The Dann Law Firm
216-452-1026

Original at http://www.einnews.com/pr_news/377835806/payton-dann-manning-law-firms-file-federal-suit-alleging-mcdonald-s-website-app-violate-ada-unruh-civil-rights-act

New Stanford Course Tackles Designing for People With Disabilities

A new course teaches undergraduates how to design for people with physical disabilities. Each week, students learn about a different disability, then brainstorm design ideas to address issues and present their work to the class.

By Sarah Derouin

Students in a new undergraduate course have this question to ponder: How would it feel to be a bright person with big goals and ideas, but live in a world that’s not designed for you?

The new course, called Dare to Care: Compassionate Design, spurs students to consider how to engage and address the needs of a diverse community of people with physical disabilities, and it’s not just for the engineering-minded freshmen and sophomores from all majors can apply for one of the 16 slots.

The idea for the course has been brewing for some time. John Moalli, a lecturer in chemical engineering, teaches a course called Masters of Disaster, in which student teams analyze disasters and design new products with lessons learned in mind. Last fall, he assigned his class to modify a wheelchair, and the project was a hit. “Students said it was overwhelmingly their favorite project,” Moalli said. “I think they liked the notion that they were helping somebody they really saw a purpose.”

The wheelchair project was inspired by Moalli’s volunteer work as a high school STEM teacher in his home state of Washington. One of his students, 17-year-old Zach Crighton, has cerebral palsy. Crighton has trouble moving and speaking. “I started to work with him and came to realize that he was super bright, but had no means of self-expression,” Moalli said. “I realized that this boy wasn’t much different from the students I teach at Stanford. How would they feel if they had all the capacity they had but were constrained in Zach’s body?”

A personal connection

At the end of the Masters of Disaster class, Moalli approached his teaching assistant, Danielle Lucas, about creating a design class that addressed disabilities like Crighton’s. Lucas immediately jumped on board, helping brainstorm ideas for the new course. Lucas, a senior majoring in behavior design, plans to teach children with disabilities in Thailand after graduation. Beyond her career goals, she has a personal reason for her involvement with the course: Her brother Justin is disabled.

“My relationship with my brother Justin is hands down one of the most special relationships in my life,” Lucas said. “Justin has taught me more about compassion and understanding than anyone, and growing up with him has inspired me deeply.” She said she hopes that the Dare to Care course will expose students to the disabled community and give them an opportunity to consider ways they can help.

Krishna Teja Gorrepati, a freshman computer science major, wanted to take this class to get a fresh perspective on CS. He noticed some people couldn’t use the technologies he was creating and wanted to address this gap. “This class puts that focus where there hasn’t been much focus in recent times,” Gorrepati said. “I like getting that other perspective at Stanford and making sure that I can help not just my peers and friends, but all sorts of people.”

Firsthand experience

Dare to Care focuses on physical disabilities, including mobility, sight, speech and hearing. Each topic covered in the course includes a guest who will talk specifically about their disability and the issues they face. Having a disabled guest attend class was important to Moalli and Lucas. “For me, it’s hard to teach about a disability without being disabled myself,” Lucas said. She said that inviting people to tell their story also helps give them a voice.

Students in the Compassionate Design class taught by John Moalli take photos of the wheelchair used by Zach Crighton, a 17-year-old high school student with cerebral palsy. The students are hoping they can make improvements to his wheelchair and communications tools.
Students take photos of Zach Crighton in his wheelchair. They hope to make desired modifications including better head support. (Image credit: L.A. Cicero)

Crighton, the high school student with cerebral palsy, was the first guest visitor to the Dare to Care class. He, his mom and his paraeducator met the inaugural students and outlined some mobility issues he struggles with. Two of the class projects are directly related to issues Crighton faces every day: better head support on his wheelchair, and ideas for improved machine-assisted standing.

Moalli and Lucas’ plan to include guests during class time turned out to be a good one; being able to talk to a disabled person and ask questions resonated with Gorrepati. “When you see an actual person with these problems who can give you feedback about how he feels, it’s a much different experience than having just a bunch of slides that say, ‘These are some of the problems that these people face,'” Gorrepati said. He noted that the in-person interaction and perspective was just as powerful as the ability to learn how to solve these problems.

Moalli sees this course as a spark that will grow over time. He wants Stanford students to think about opportunities to work in this field, to address issues facing people with disabilities. “There’s a great sense of entrepreneurship at Stanford,” he said. “I want to see students go out and start companies and develop technology.”

For students like Gorrepati, the spark has already ignited. He’s already thinking about making future technologies more accessible from the start. “Many of those things cannot be done as an afterthought they have to be implemented at the beginning.”

As Moalli likes to say, “Which student here will change the world?”

Media Contacts

Amy Adams, Stanford News Service: (650) 796-3695, amyadams@stanford.edu
Original at http://news.stanford.edu/2017/04/21/new-course-tackles-designing-people-disabilities/

Creating New Barriers

Posted by David Best on 22 April 2017

The OHRC, in the Ontario Regulatory Registry Proposal: 10-CSS002, October 15, 2010 raised a number of concerns about the proposed AODA Integrated Accessibility Regulation (IAR), but seven years later in 2017, we again need to echo those same concerns.

Section 9 (2) of the AODA requires the standards development process to determine the long-term accessibility objectives, but seems to have failed in Dealing with existing barriers, and stopping the creation of new barriers, which is an immediate legal duty and therefore should be a short-term objective. If we are to meet the Ontario goal of a barrier-free society by 2025, the AODA standards must prohibit the creation of any new barriers immediately.

According to the OHRC report the proposed IAR fails to identify basic human rights principles to guide its overall interpretation that include:

  • Designing inclusively,
  • Refraining from creating new barriers,
  • Identifying and removing existing barriers,
  • Favouring integration over segregation,
  • Considering and accommodating individual requests short of undue hardship, and
  • Involving persons with disabilities in exploring solutions through a cooperative process.

The standards should follow the key human rights principle of not permitting organizations to create new barriers, and existing barriers must be addressed now, not later. The OHRC policy and human rights case law is clear: avoidance of new barriers is an immediate obligation. As organizations strive, through the AODA standards, to meet the challenge of Ontario’s barrier free for persons with disabilities goal by 2025, we look to government for leadership in guidance.

The Four Core Accessibility Principles of the AODA provide this guidance:

1.Dignity – Each person is able to maintain privacy, self-respect and the respect of others and is provided with the same service, quality and convenience as others.
2.Equity of Outcome – Each person has the same chances, options, benefits and results as others.
3.Independence – Each person is able to do things on their own without unnecessary help or interference from others.
4.Integration – Each person is able to participate in the activities of the organization in the same or similar way as others.

Kathleen Wynne, Premier of Ontario, September 2016 Digital Government Mandate letter of instructions to The Honourable Deborah Matthews, Minister Responsible for Digital Government, does not mention the importance of accessible digital communications for blind Ontarians. With a focus on implementing the Ontario economic growth plan, the goal is to forge partnerships with all Ontarians to make a genuine, positive difference in people’s lives. The mandate letter states that collaboration and active listening remain at the heart of the work, which includes values that ensure a common purpose, stimulate positive change and help achieve desired outcomes. However, those persons who can benefit the most from accessible digital communications have been excluded from the Ontario Digital Government Initiative action plan.

Activities: Digital Government Action Plan

1. Change In Action

The province of Ontario 2016 Budget announced the Ontario digital government initiative and committed to developing a Digital Government Action Plan. The Plan contains priorities identifying the high-impact digital projects and services that are to be transformed into easy to use online digital services and replacing the traditional methods of service delivery. A new digital government startup team was established to drive transformation, organization-wide. This work will include bringing in-demand digital talent into government and working with ministries to re-engineer current business practices and processes to improve online interactions for users. However, it appears the digital team has no Accessibility core skills, no disability representation, and no digital accessibility communication strategy. The transformation action plan, from the outset, violates the key human rights principles; Dignity, Equity, Independence, and Integration.

Delivering government digital services in Ontario, JUNE 22, 2016: https://www.centreforpublicimpact.org/towards-digital-ontario/

Meet the digital team, Sep 22, 2016: https://medium.com/ontariodigital/meet-the-digital-team-2a03c8cddf74

2. Delivering Digital Team Communications

The Ontario Digital Team partnered with the U.S. based independent company Medium to tell the team story because it has a well-established community of users and global reach. The fact that the Medium.com website fails the Ontario AODA Information and Communication standards, and has no apparent accessibility strategy, did not seem to be a concern for the Digital Team. I was told that the Digital Team do not have access to the Medium.com platform architecture, but have reached out to Medium to request site improvements and are waiting to hear back. In the meantime, the Digital Team can provide a plain text format of the Medium.com blog content upon request. These actions have not only created a new barrier for blind Ontarians, but clearly imply that Accessibility is a low priority and that blind persons are not expected to be a participating partner in the initial phases of Co-creating a more open government. The basic human rights principles identified in the 2010 HRDC report, once again are being ignored by the Ontario government; Designing inclusively, Refraining from creating new barriers, identifying and removing existing barriers, favouring integration over segregation, and involving persons with disabilities in exploring solutions through a cooperative process.

Ontario Digital Medium: https://medium.com/ontariodigital

3. Let’s Get Digital.

On October 17, 2016, the Brookfield Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (BIIE) hosted “Let’s Get Digital”, a public interactive workshop with digital leaders from across industry, community, non-profit organizations, and government. The purpose of the event was to introduce the Ontario Digital Government team, to help shape the Digital Government Action Plan. A series of activities were made available throughout the evening to facilitate conversations about how the Ontario government can deliver services that put citizens first and are user friendly. However, the event activities did not consider the communication needs of those persons with sensory disabilities (low vision, blind, deaf, and deaf-blind). I attended the event, but was marginalized due to the visual requirements of the activities, and felt isolated throughout the event discussion. The final report, which is in a PDF format with no accessibility markup, is a summation of insights and recommendations for the quantitative and qualitative data, derive from each of the activities note taker observations. The report insights provide the Ontario Digital Government team with recommendations on what to consider when crafting the Digital Government Action Plan. The report makes no reference to the importance of digital accessibility needs, inclusion of blind Ontarians, or partnerships that meet AODA compliance. Once again basic human rights principles have been ignored, and the responsibility of accessible communications inclusion has been passed off to a third party partner.

Let’s Get Digital: What We Learned, January 17, 2017: https://medium.com/ontariodigital/lets-get-digital-what-we-learned-feccbca01d2f

Lets Get Digital Insights and Recommendations (pdf): http://brookfieldinstitute.ca/wp-content/uploads/2017/01/Lets-Get-Digital-Insights-and-Recommendations.pdf

4. Code Day: Creating Space For Digital Work

In January 2017, the Ministry of Advanced Education and Skills Development invited the government Digital Team to participate in a Code Day of learning and exploration. Unfortunately, the Digital Team did not take advantage of this opportunity to engage blind developers in this exercise, to help enhance the accessibility understanding for a more inclusive digital action plan. Possibly there are no blind developers working for the Ontario government. Without a Chief Accessibility Officer (CAO) and accessibility core skills, the Digital Team is blind to cross Ministry opportunities that could benefit from the talents of blind professionals. The Digital Team has been given the mandate to transition Ontario government services from the traditional delivery methods to an online digital user friendly service, and yet the Accessibility Directorate of Ontario and the Minister for Disabilities have no role or influence in this important process. This strategy of disability exclusion and AODA no accountability will prevent Ontario from achieving the goal of full inclusion by 2025. As we transition from a labour based economy to a knowledge based economy, advanced education and digital skills training will be critical in securing good employment, and this is one way we can reverse the rising unemployment rate for those living with vision loss.

Code Day: creating space for digital work, Ontario Digital, March 16, 2017: https://medium.com/ontariodigital/creating-space-for-digital-work-697006b6bf5f

5. Code For Canada Partnership

In April the Government of Ontario partnered with the civic tech community to be a founding partner of Code for Canada. Code for Canada connects coders and designers with governments to enhance digital literacy and develop technology-based solutions to improve people’s lives. The federal government, like the province of Ontario, is preparing for a digital future through the budget 2017 new innovation and skills plan. However, like the Ontario Digital Initiative, the Canada innovation action plan is not inclusive. That is, the action plan will invest in innovative solutions that support disability challenges, but does not provide for the active participation of Canadians who are blind. Bridging the gap between government and the tech sector is the fastest way to produce great, user centered digital public services, but technology is only as good as the people who make it. Code For Canada bring policymakers, technologists, designers, public servants and engaged residents together, to learn from one another and make their communities better places to live. However, the Code For Canada website has significant accessibility barriers for screen reader users who want to actively participate in the digital transition process. Again, the Ontario Digital Team has put AODA standards aside, and have chosen to resolve accessibility barriers over time according to the partner strategy.

It’s time for Code for Canada, April 6, 2017: https://medium.com/ontariodigital/its-time-for-code-for-canada-fe5e2a2b78d4

Budget 2017 Plan: Chapter 1, Skills, Innovation and Middle Class Jobs: http://www.budget.gc.ca/2017/docs/plan/chap-01-en.html#Toc477707371

Conclusion: Digital Government Accessibility Plan

In 2005 the Ontario government took a bold step in raising social expectations for greater inclusion, by passing into law the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA). Unfortunately, the AODA implementation action plan has been weak and without leadership guidance. Government leaders have shifted responsibility for digital accessibility to large software providers and policy advisors that plan for the future with little regard for present needs. This has resulted in greater unemployment, marginalization, and isolation for persons living with vision loss. As we transition to a digital economy, communication barriers should disappear, accessible technologies should be mainstreamed, and processes should be more inclusive; But is this the reality for blind Ontarians. Despite good will and best intentions, have we made real progress toward full inclusion?

Access to information and electronic technologies is a civil right and a vital employment issue for individuals with vision loss, and the Ontario Digital Government Initiative action plan mandate for the delivery of all government digital services, should be a key driver for inclusion; But yet digital communication processes continue to be a challenge for blind Ontarians. Building a successful digital team requires diversity and subject matter expertise, and Nurturing a diverse workforce for innovation drives market growth, but accessible infrastructures and service planning is needed to achieve an inclusive workforce. We need leadership, not only with digital communication expertise, but with the understanding and ability to shape an inclusive Ontario. The Accessibility Directorate of Ontario (ADO) focus is on standards development and legislative enforcement, but have not taken any leadership initiative actions to enforce Digital Government inclusion. A new digital service design standard is not just about websites. The Internet of connected things is increasingly changing our personal lives, households and businesses. The barriers we confront today are not due to technology innovation limitations, but rather cultural attitudes of social innovation for disability inclusion. That is, shifting disability from segregation to integration, from institutionalization to mainstreaming, from the medical model viewed as a condition to be treated to the social model of removing disabling barriers in the environment, is a greater challenge than implementing enabling technologies. We must close the gap of leadership understanding between digital accessibility solutions and disability perceptions.

The AODA Integrated Accessibility Regulation has had no impact on the Ontario Digital Government Initiative action plan, in preventing new communication barriers or removing existing barriers for blind Ontarians. The Ontario government actions to date have favoured segregation over integration by not involving blind professionals in the collaborative process of exploring digital solutions. Forging partnerships without an Accessibility strategy, not only violates the spirit of AODA, but delays the removal of communication barriers. A collaborative partnership requires active participation in policy guidelines, procedure engagements, ownership of defined deliverables, and not just consultation and advisory roles. Government digital products and services must consider accessibility from the start, which means partnerships that share in the delivery of the initiative, must comply with expectations. It is no longer acceptable to create inaccessible websites, and offer text formats for online content; Which is like telling a person in a wheelchair to use the back door. We have the technology and the skills to shape an inclusive Ontario today, but sadly Ontario leadership does not recognize talent within the blind community. It is a myth, accepted by most government leaders, that accessibility is a disability design requirement and can be handled by special services as a secondary component to development. However, Accessibility is less about Disability and more about Productivity. That is, Accessibility is a measurement of productivity; Products and services that enable people to be productive and satisfied, with or without a disability.

Action: Digital Transformation Inclusion

Avoidance of new barriers is an immediate obligation, and we should not tolerate government partnerships that promise to work on accessibility solutions without an immediate strategy for existing barriers. The digital revolution is transforming Ontario organizations, and the AODA Standards are setting a new level of social expectations for greater prosperity and inclusion, but we cannot stand by as onlookers waiting for accessibility solutions to be delivered at some future date. The Ontario Digital Initiative Team strategy, to transform digital ideas into plans of action, has failed the first challenge of helping teams across the government to consistently improve the digital experience by ignoring AODA requirements.

The Honourable Deborah Matthews, Minister Responsible for Digital Government: “how might we attract individuals with digital skills to the Ontario Public Service?” and “how might we empower and nurture people with digital skills inside the Ontario Public Service?”

Create a Chief Accessibility Officer position on the Digital Government Initiative team to be responsible for integrating a digital accessibility strategy across ministries. Engage with blind professionals to resolve digital communication barriers within the Ontario Public Service, that will empower blind employees. To date, the expressed attitude of government leaders has been to market disability concerns, but avoid taking direct actions in digital accessibility solutions. The Ontario Public Service, despite a policy of diversity excellence and available accessibility solutions, has continued to minimize digital accessibility barriers confronted by blind employees. To fulfill Ontario’s vision of transforming the way that citizens interact and engage with their government through the power of digital technology and achieve full inclusion by 2025, the Minister for Disabilities must take a proactive approach to involving persons living with vision loss in the digital government transformation process. For the most part, technology enjoyed by mainstream society today, has its roots in research and development in finding a solution for a disability challenge. We need to reverse the current government trend of innovating technologies and then going out to find a problem to solve. Sadly, Ontario has creative innovators but no connection to the disability market, and available usable communication technologies that are not affordable by blind persons, and talented blind persons with no access to digital skills education training. Craft an integrated digital accessibility strategy that will move government beyond showcasing disability issues to implementing real solutions in removing communication barriers.

As an advocate for persons who are blind, have low vision, and are deaf-blind, I encourage the AEBC organization to evaluate the Ontario Digital Government Initiative action plan, and assess the value of achieving the four inclusive pillars; Dignity, Equity, Independence, and Integration. We need to provoke the Ontario government into an open and honest dialog of digital accessibility. We need to be actively involved with the digital transformation process, but if communication barriers prevent us from engaging in the ongoing dialog, then we will continue to be dependent on those who speak for us. Let your voice be heard, as we have the most to gain in a digital economy that will improve our quality of life at home, school, work, and in transit. Mobile and wearable technologies, not just accessible websites, are a reality in other countries, and you have the power to make it a reality in Canada.

David Best, Accessibility Information Technology Specialist
http://www.davidbest.ca

Original at http://www.blindcanadians.ca/participate/blog/2017/04/creating-new-barriers

The Ontario Conservatives Ask the Wynne Government When It Will Appoint the Education Standards Development Committee, But the Wynne Government Doesn’t Give a Direct Answer

Come to the April 22, 2017 AODA Public Forum in Georgina Ontario

Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance Update United for a Barrier-Free Ontario for All People with Disabilities http://www.aodaalliance.org aodafeedback@gmail.com Twitter: @aodaalliance

April 21, 2017

SUMMARY

1. There Have Been 137 Days Since Premier Wynne Promised An Education Accessibility Standard, But Still No Answer On When the Wynne Government Will Post an Ad Inviting the Public To Apply To Serve on the Education Standards Development Committee

Over a third of a million Ontario students with disabilities are still waiting for new Government action to tear down the accessibility barriers they face in Ontario’s education system.

On April 13, 2017, Opposition Conservative MPP Sam Oosterhoff: the MPP for Niagara-West Glanbrook, asked Minister of Accessibility Tracy MacCharles when the Government would appoint the Education Standards Development Committee. That Committee is needed to develop recommendations for the Wynne Government on what the promised Education Accessibility Standard should include. Appointing that Standards Development Committee is the first step under the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act necessary to get the process going toward creating that promised accessibility standard.

Accessibility Minister MacCharles did not give a direct answer to this question. The exchange in Question Period in the Ontario Legislature is set out below. We thank MPP Sam Oosterhoff for raising our concerns in the Legislature.

We encourage one and all to contact your MPP. Urge them to press Premier Wynne to now post an ad that will invite members of the public to apply to serve on the Education Standards Development Committee under the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act. Also, urge your MPP to press Premier Wynne to agree not to try to restrict the kinds of accessibility barriers in Ontario’s education system that the Education Accessibility Standard can consider. That Committee should not be hog-tied when it finally gets appointed and gets to work.

2. Come to the AODA Public Forum Tomorrow, April 22, 2017 in Georgina Ontario

Here is one last reminder to come to the AODA public forum taking place tomorrow, April 22, 2017, in Georgina, Ontario, from 10 a.m. to noon. It is being held at The Link, 20849 Dalton Road, Sutton, ON L0E 1R0.

Speakers will include AODA Alliance chair David Lepofsky as well as Ontario’s Housing Minister Chris Ballard, Margaret Quirk, the mayor of Georgina, and the chair of Georgina’s Accessibility Advisory Committee. RSVP is not necessary.

This will be the most recent in a string of AODA public forums in which the AODA Alliance has taken part around Ontario over the past 16 months. Come, and get involved in our grassroots non-partisan accessibility campaign.

You can always send your feedback to us on any AODA and accessibility issue at aodafeedback@gmail.com

Have you taken part in our “Picture Our Barriers campaign? If not, please join in! You can get all the information you need about our “Picture Our Barriers” campaign by visiting www.aodaalliance.org/2016

To sign up for, or unsubscribe from AODA Alliance e-mail updates, write to: aodafeedback@gmail.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.

Please pass on our email Updates to your family and friends.

Why not subscribe to the AODA Alliance’s YouTube channel, so you can get immediate alerts when we post new videos on our accessibility campaign. https://www.youtube.com/user/aodaalliance

Please “like” our Facebook page and share our updates: https://www.facebook.com/Accessibility-for-Ontarians-with-Disabilities-Act-Alliance-106232039438820/

Follow us on Twitter. Get others to follow us. And please re-tweet our tweets!! @AODAAlliance

Learn all about our campaign for a fully accessible Ontario by visiting http://www.aodaalliance.org

MORE DETAILS

Ontario Hansard April 13, 2017

Question Period

Accessibility for the Disabled

Mr. Sam Oosterhoff: My question is to the minister responsible for accessibility. I recently met with the joint accessibility advisory committee of Niagara, as well as hosting my own round table in Grimsby, to learn more about the obstacles faced by 1.85 million Ontarians with a disability.

This allowed me to hear from Aleksandra Stanojevic, a student with hearing challenges who faced great obstacles in high school after being assigned a poorly educated interpreter who failed to interpret the course properly.

The Premier agreed to establish an education accessibility standard last December. However, four months have gone by and an education standards committee still does not exist. How much longer will persons with disabilities like Aleksandra have to wait for this government to take action?

Hon. Tracy MacCharles: First, I want to thank the member so much for hosting that round table. I think it’s fantastic when any members of the Legislature can engage with their communities. We know also that every municipality in Ontario has an accessibility advisory committee. I think it is so important that we listen to what the issues are, listen to what barriers still exist, and bring those forward.

But, Speaker, I’m also very proud of our legislation. In fact, this year, 2017, is the first year where all organizations have to start reporting on their accessibility plans and their progress. We know that the legislation is important, but it’s also about changing attitudes and removing barriers.

I’ll be very happy to speak in the supplementary about the new education standard that we’ll be developing to complement the other standards that already exist.

Mr. Sam Oosterhoff: That answer let down over a third of a million students in elementary, secondary and post-secondary study. These students have been waiting for equal opportunities for 11 years, since the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act was passed in this Legislature. It is letting down students, such as Aleksandra, who have faced unnecessary obstacles in education because of this government’s failure to act. Students are losing hope that educational barriers will be removed through the establishment of standards.

Did you forget about the Premier’s promise, or is this just another one of your government’s stretch goals?
Hon. Tracy MacCharles: It’s an important question, but it’s also important that the member knows that we already do remove barriers in schools, whether it’s elementary or post-secondary education.

We have obligations in place for the education sector, under our standards, that policies be in place, that educators are trained on programs, and that libraries and other services are provided in accessible formats. These all help our students.

But we know that there is more to be done. That’s why the Premier announced the education standard in December of last year. She made that a public commitment.

I am working with my colleague ministers in education, and advanced education and skills development, to get that standard going, to strike an SDCa standards development committeeas we have done recently with health care.

We know that improving and enhancing inclusion and accessibility for students is an important thing, and we’ll continue to work hard on it.

City Criticized on Accessibility Issues

April 20, 2017 |
by canada news

BELLEVILLE The city’s accessibility gaps were brought to the mayor’s attention during his speech to the Belleville and District Chamber of Commerce about the state of the city.

Barbara Schultz told the mayor she has concerns about the focus on accessibility and noted the barriers making it difficult for a person in a wheelchair or using a mobility device to run daily errands or enjoy an evening out with family here.

Mayor Taso Christopher said it’s a work in progress.

“We’re taking baby steps,” he said. “I know we can do a better job. I appreciate that challenge.”

Christopher said the city has led the way with transit, the design of sidewalks and making public buildings fully accessible, such as the main entrance of city hall during a recent remodelling of the foyer and customer service areas.

Schultz told The Intelligencer she’s a part of an aging population which aren’t disabled per se, but depend on accessibility to remain mobile.

She spoke of spouses caring for ailing relatives who need wheelchairs or mobility aids to get around town.

“Seniors with walkers have problems moving up and down stairs,” Schultz said.

Then there are others like the visually impaired.

“There are issues with low sight,” she said. “We don’t colour mark our sidewalks, so they’re tripping hazards. It’s not just about a person in a wheelchair.”

She listened to the mayor talk about expanding the waterfront to boost tourism and said council shouldn’t ignore a segment of the population which is willing to spend but have special needs.
“It makes good sense from a return on investment issue, but it also makes good sense that we’re trying to market ourselves as an accessible tourist location,” she said.
Strides are being made to address palpable gaps, said Garnet Thompson, chairperson of the city’s accessible committee.
“We have some work to do, but we’ve come a long way,” he said. “We have a workshop in June and it will be focusing on what small business owners can do to make their businesses accessible.”

Original at http://www.canadanews.press/2017/04/20/city-criticized-on-accessibility-issues-ontario-news/

Accessibility Advocates Want Ontario’s Wheelchair Symbol Changed

by Michelle da Silva
April 19, 2017

Accessibility advocates in Toronto are putting pressure on the Ontario government to adopt a new, more dynamic accessibility icon. Since last year, the Forward Movement has been plastering the city with stickers of the preferred barriers-free symbol. They’ve also collected signatures for a petition showing community support.

On April 23, they’re organizing a community event and fundraiser to help attract attention of MPPs. The event is free, fully accessible and sales of food, beverages and raffle tickets will help raise money for stickers bearing the preferred symbol which the group plans to distribute free to local businesses.

Jonathan Silver explains: “If businesses get those stickers up, we can speed up informal adoption, which will lead to speeding up formal adoption.”

Silver, a design activist, started the Forward Movement with Dylan Itzikowitz, a graduate student who’s been in and out of a wheelchair after being struck by a drunk driver last year. The two partnered after Silver heard about a new accessibility symbol on the podcast 99% Invisible.

“Afterwards, everywhere I looked, I saw the current symbol and it didn’t make sense,” Silver says. “It seemed out of date and not up to speed with all the progress being made for disability rights,” including AccessTO, a non-profit website providing in-depth reviews of the accessibility of places in Toronto, and AccessNow, a smartphone app that uses crowdsourcing to determine the accessibility status of locations on an interactive map.

Toronto’s StopGap Foundation, which has been building ramps for single-step storefronts since 2011, has also been a driving force in making the city accessible for everyone. The province has lofty goals of being completely barrier-free by 2025.

The current accessibility sign showing a person in a wheelchair was developed in 1969. A few years ago, the Massachusetts-based Accessible Icon Project came up with a new sign with a slightly modified symbol. Its background is still blue, but the person in the wheelchair is leaning forward with their arms up behind them, appearing to be on the move rather than stationary.

“The current image doesn’t focus enough on ability. It portrays a passive picture of the person in the wheelchair,” Silver says.

He adds that adopting the sign change would not only change public perceptions about disabilities, but recognize the understanding people in wheelchairs have about themselves.

“You never know when you or someone you know is going to need barrier-free access,” Silver says. “It’s a question of democracy, to be engaged in issues that don’t affect you now but may affect you down the line.”

The Forward Movement launch party takes place April 23 from 1 to 4 pm at the Centre for Social Innovation Annex (720 Bathurst). See listing for details.

michelled@nowtoronto.com

To view the new symbol visit the link below.

Original at https://nowtoronto.com/news/accessibility-advocates-want-ontario-wheelchair-symbol-changed/

People with Disabilities Sue BART for Discrimination

SAN FRANCISCOA pair of advocacy groups and two people with disabilities filed a lawsuit today against BART alleging that it discriminates against people with mobility disabilities, effectively excluding them from the regional mass transit system.

For people with disabilities, problems that may be familiar annoyances to most riders can create absolute barriers to access. Problems cited in the lawsuit include elevators that are broken, out of service, or so soiled they are unusable, as well as non-functioning escalators and fare gates.

The class action lawsuit was filed by Disability Rights Advocates and Legal Aid at Work, both legal nonprofits, in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California on behalf of Senior and Disability Action; the Independent Living Resource Center of San Francisco; and Ian Smith and Pi Ra, two people with disabilities.

The plaintiffs are asking the court to stop BART from discriminating against people with mobility disabilities and to adopt a plan to remove barriers.

The lawsuit seeks injunctive relief only and no monetary damages.

“We constantly have to cancel or reschedule meetings because the BART elevators that our staff members and clients rely on are out of service,” says Jessie Lorenz, executive director of the Independent Living Resource Center in San Francisco. “When elevators are out, many people with mobility disabilities cannot use BART at all so they’re either stuck or they have to figure out some other way of getting from place to place.”

“I encounter human waste in BART elevators several times a week so frequently that it has become a predictable part of my commute,” says Smith, a BART rider who uses a wheelchair. “My hope is that this lawsuit will finally get BART to address the needs of the disability community.”

Jessica Lehman, executive director of Senior and Disability Action, says many people with disabilities find it so frustrating and difficult to navigate BART’s elevator and escalator outages and other access barriers that they just stay home. “This is exactly the sort of isolation that the Americans with Disabilities Act and other access laws aim to prevent,” says Lehman.

DRA attorney Rebecca Williford says BART is failing to serve a significant segment of its ridership. “Instead of ensuring that riders with disabilities have an experience that is equal to those of their nondisabled peers, BART is perpetuating a discriminatory transportation system, right here in the birthplace of the disability rights movement.”

Jinny Kim, senior attorney with Legal Aid at Work, says, “We hope this lawsuit will drastically improve mass transit for people with disabilities and raise awareness about the duty that public transportation systems have to provide full and equal access under the law.”

A copy of the complaint is available at the link below.

About Disability Rights Advocates

Founded in 1993, Disability Rights Advocates (DRA) is the leading national nonprofit disability rights legal center. Its mission is to advance equal rights and opportunity for people with all types of disabilities nationwide. DRA represents people with the full spectrum of disabilities in complex, system-changing, class action cases. Thanks to DRA’s precedent-setting work, people with disabilities across the country have dramatically improved access to health care, employment, transportation, education, disaster preparedness planning, voting and housing. For more information, visit http://www.dralegal.org.

About Legal Aid at Work:

Legal Aid at Work (formerly Legal Aid Society-Employment Law Center) delivers on the promise of justice for low-income people. We provide free direct services through our clinics and helplines. We offer extensive legal information for free online and in trainings, we litigate individual and class actions, and we advocate for new policies and laws. Details: http://www.legalaidatwork.org.

Contacts

Rebecca Williford, Disability Rights Advocates, 510-665-8644, rwilliford@dralegal.org

Jinny Kim, Legal Aid at Work, 415-864-8848 x 269,
jkim@legalaidatwork.org

Original at http://dralegal.org/press/people-disabilities-sue-bart-discrimination/

Stop Gap Gears Up for Spring Push

Apr 11, 2017
by Ray Martin
Cambridge Times

Proponents of Stop Gap ramps in Cambridge got together with architecture students from the University of Waterloo at the Bridge in downtown Galt to raise awareness for the cause on Saturday, April 8.

Architecture students hosted an art exhibition to show off different designs they had come up with for the ramps, which help people with strollers, walkers and mobility issues gain access to local businesses.

“These ramps are going to open so many doors for us,” said Sherri Roberts, chair of Cambridge’s Accessibility Advisory Committee.

To date, just one ramp has been installed and four others are ordered for area businesses, but Roberts’ group hopes to ramp up the orders and their production in the coming weeks.

Arrangements are being made to have volunteers from the city’s two 50+ centres’ woodworking clubs to build the ramps. Meanwhile, Roberts’ team will be approaching stores in Preston about installing the mobile ramps in front of their shops.

“Putting in a ramp opens up a big world for people,” said Don Patten from Stop Gap Kitchener.

In speaking to the architecture students, Patten said even a two-inch step could bar admittance to people with mobility challenges wanting to enter a store or restaurant. He urged them to start thinking about accessibility issues when designing their projects.

“Its easier to design these things in from the beginning than trying to add them in later,” he suggested.

Both Roberts and Patten said one of the challenges the Stop Gap effort faces is with local bylaws. Although the ramps are temporary structures, some municipal bylaw officials are concerned they pose a potential trip hazards for pedestrians.

That may be, but municipalities are going to have to sort this out as municipalities and businesses are being challenged to improve accessibility in areas that impact the daily lives of people with disabilities under the Ontario Accessibility Act by 2025.

To learn more about Stop Gap go to: www.stopgap.ca.

Original at https://www.cambridgetimes.ca/community-story/7237801-stop-gap-gears-up-for-spring-push/