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Citizens With Disabilities - Ontario
"TOGETHER WE ARE STRONGER"

         



Open Letter To Minister Meilleur

Dear Minister Meilleur

Accessibility News would like to thank you and your Government for the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) a much needed piece of legislation, given the closed minds of many in this Province regarding the rights of Persons With Disabilities (PWD's).

It is however unfortunate that it will take too long too implement and I will give you an excellent example of how it leaves PWD's waiting, as usual.

In November of 2005 I was adding websites to the Resource center of Accessibility News www.accessibilitynews.ca when I came across the Ombudsman website www.ombudsman.on.ca and being a web accessibility professional, I assessed the sites level of accessibility against the World Wide Web Consortiums (W3C) Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 1.0 (WCAG 1.0 at http://www.w3.org/TR/WAI-WEBCONTENT/) as I do for all sites I visit and found that it wasn't very accessible. I had brought this to the attention of the Accessibility Directorate and was told that it was being redesign and that my concerns would be addressed in the new site as accessibility was very important they said. It wasn't until recently that I went back to the site and was shocked at what I had found. This site is worse than the one I had previously checked and upon reassessing the site I found that it didn't meet even the minimum standards for web accessibility, meaning it will be an accessibility barrier to many PWD's.

This in itself is shocking enough, but what is even more disturbing is the fact that PWD's will have to wait until standards are set under Bill 118 and then this site will be given, 5? 10? More years before it will have to be brought up to Bill 118 standards that without a doubt will adhere to International guidelines that have been around since 1999 and are the cornerstone of Section 508 (http://www.section508.gov/index.cfm?FuseAction=Content&ID=3)of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), UK and Australian legislation as well as our Federal Government's Common Look and Feel Guidelines 2.0 (http://www.tbs-sct.gc.ca/clf2-nsi2/index-eng.asp).

Access to information technology creates opportunity for all, especially persons with disabilities, UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan says in a message for The International Day of Disabled Persons, observed on 3 December under the theme "E-accessibility" (http://www.accessibilitynews.ca/acnews/press/all.php#a22, "Kofi Annan: Make the Internet available to everyone").

Kofi Annan also states that this should be done in a timely manner, So I have to ask Minister Meilleur, given that the Federal Government has the Common, Look and Feel Guidelines, the Americans have their Section 508 and the UK and Australia have theirs, all based on WCAG 1.0, why can this Government not put forth some interim measures that all newly designed sites in Ontario, especially Government should meet a minimum set of standards until such time as Bill 118 guidelines are set.

Accessibility News cannot think of any logical reason, given all of the information pointed out above, why this Government would allow websites to be built in the Province of Ontario that are not built to a minimum set of standards, so that PWD's are not left waiting for years to enjoy the same "Access to Information" that able bodied people are afforded right now.

How long are we expected to wait?

Regards

Geof Collis Accessibility News

This email was sent to all Provincial Politicians in Ontario, see http://www.accessibilitynews.ca/acnews/politicians/ for the email list.

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