Ontario Economic Growth Strategy

Global Trends For A More Inclusive Society

Governments around the world are legislating Digital Accessibility Laws, but more importantly consumers are demanding a better user experience. Do not risk your business success by ignoring societal trends. Technology is changing the way we interact, and smarter consumers will favour those organizations that adopt a user centred design strategy. Users desire flexibility that allows a wide diversity of user devices, and a responsive interface that customizes the style and format for their environment. This trend increasingly exposes organizations to the threat and cost of litigation, public relations issues, and loss of government contracts. Several private companies have been sued for not having accessible Web sites and have been forced to pay hefty fines and agree to re-design their sites to make them more accessible. As of May 2016, DOJ has entered into 167 accessibility settlement agreements, and offers insight, rules, and guidance for proactive compliance.

Recognizing the history of discrimination against persons with disabilities, the province of Ontario has taken a global leadership role in setting legislative Accessibility Standards for an inclusive society. The purpose of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) is to benefit all Ontarians by developing, implementing and enforcing accessibility standards in order to achieve accessibility for Ontarians with disabilities with respect to goods, services, facilities, accommodation, employment, buildings, structures and premises on or before January 1, 2025. The AODA legislation consists of five Standards:

  1. Ontario Built Environment Standard: Ontario's Building Code has been amended to include enhancements to accessibility in buildings. As of January 1, 2015, new construction and renovations will be subject to updated accessibility requirements. The Accessibility Standards for the Built Environment focus on removing barriers in both public spaces and buildings.
  2. Ontario Customer Service Standard: Accessible customer service is not about ramps or automatic door openers. It's about understanding that people with disabilities may have different needs. It can be as easy as asking "How can I help?" and making small changes to how you serve customers with disabilities.
  3. Ontario Employment Standard: The Accessibility Standard for Employment will help Ontario businesses and organizations make accessibility a regular part of finding, hiring and supporting employees with disabilities.
  4. Ontario Information and Communications Standard: The Accessibility Standard for Information and Communications will help Ontario businesses and organizations make their information accessible for people with disabilities.
  5. Ontario Transportation Standard: The Accessibility Standard for Transportation will make it easier for everyone to travel in Ontario.

Ontario Business Strategy

The Ontario's Accessibility Standards Advisory Council (ASAC) advises government on improving accessibility for people with disabilities, and has the power to Review Ontario's existing accessibility standards, and develop new standards. The ASAC reports to the Minister of Economic Development, Employment and Infrastructure. The Ministry of Economic Development, Employment and Infrastructure supports a strong, innovative economy that can provide jobs, opportunities and prosperity for all Ontarians.

The 2010 Martin Prosperity Institute study, Releasing Constraints, examines the potential economic impacts of increased accessibility in Ontario. the report finds that improving inclusivity and accessibility in Ontario provides both economic opportunity and benefits. Projected economic impacts of Increased Accessibility in Ontario, a more accessible Ontario, will accelerate the growth of prosperity in the province, by increased efficiency, productivity, and creation of new intellectual property enhancing the province's global competitiveness. some of the benefits include up to $9.6 billion in retail spending and $1.5 billion in new tourism spending. Accessibility in the Ontario Public Service: Leading the Way Forward

The Canadians in Context, Indicators of Well-being in Canada report, conducted by the Government Of Canada, provides indicators of Well-being in Canada. This national survey gathers information about adults and children whose daily activities are limited by a physical, mental, or other health-related condition or problem. The reports in this series document disability rates, demographic distribution, type and severity of the activity limitation, specialized equipment or aids, support required to complete everyday tasks, barriers and accommodation to employment, education, housing, transportation, leisure and impact of activity limitations on children and their families. This report shows that about 4.4 million Canadians (14.3%) report having a disability. The percentage of Canadians with disabilities increased with age, ranging from 3.7% for children 14 years and under to 56.3% for those 75 years and over.

In the past two decades, and even more so in recent years, there has been an important paradigm shift affecting the development of new legislation and policies concerning persons with disabilities (PWD), from segregation to integration, from institutionalization to mainstreaming, from the medical model of disability being viewed as a condition to be treated, to the social model of disability focusing on the removal of disabling barriers in the environment that hinder full participation in society. A Literature Review Recruitment of Persons with Disabilities Prepared by Equity and Diversity Directorate, Policy Branch May 2011, attempts to show what the main barriers are to the recruitment of PWD in both the public and private sectors, in Canada and abroad; to determine what strategies, best practices, tools and resources have been developed to reach this talented labour pool and to discuss what actions for improvement can be drawn from this review. Studies, surveys, focus groups and other means have been used to identify challenges faced by employers and persons with disabilities (PWD) in the job market, in Canada and abroad, in both the private and public sectors. There are several barriers and issues that have been consistently brought up through the years such as myths and stereotypes and there are some new obstacles that have emerged recently, such as new communication vehicles and inaccessible Web sites. Some of the main job search and recruitment barriers faced by both job-seekers and employers were identified in the literature review. The findings from this review indicate that PWD face similar recruitment challenges in Canada, the US, the UK and Australia. The key conclusions from this literature review include a need for attitudinal change and awareness for both managers and employees, development of a strong business case used to promote the employment of PWD, greater access to relevant job skills and workplace-based training for PWD, and better information and coordination of services for recruiting and retaining PWD.

Learn About The AODA History

Learn all about the history, strategies, goals, gains, and future priorities of Ontario's vibrant and tenacious grassroots disability accessibility movement, from the Late 1970s to Early 2014. In January and early February 2014, David Lepofsky, chair of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance, served as a visiting Roy McMurtry Clinical Fellow at the Osgoode Hall Law School at Toronto's York University. As part of this Fellowship, he delivered a series of 12 lectures in different classes at the Law School and elsewhere around the University, on a full range of different topics concerning the long campaign up to early 2014, to make Ontario fully accessible to all persons with disabilities.

From 1994 to 2005, David Lepofsky chaired the Ontarians with Disabilities Act Committee. The ODA Committee led the non-partisan province-wide campaign in Ontario from 1994 to 2005 to win the enactment of new accessibility legislation. From 2009 to the present, he has chaired the successor Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance. The AODA Alliance is the non-partisan community coalition that campaigns to get the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act effectively implemented and enforced. For many of these lectures, the audience was comprised of law students. However the lectures' content is designed to be easily and readily enjoyed and used by anyone, whether or not you are in Ontario or Canada, whether or not you have studied law, and whether or not you know anything about disability accessibility issues.