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Citizens With Disabilities - Ontario



Note: This letter was sent to the Toronto Star as a "Letter to the Editor".

On Wednesday Andre Marin, Ontario Ombudsman, delivered a scathing report on the sorry state at the provincial government level in achieving accessibility for all Ontarians. Government departments are "over-promising and under-delivering", said Ombudsman Marin.

Unfortunately the Ministers as titular heads of their respective ministries are held accountable by the public for this shabby situation, but they are generally not responsible. Each Minister must rely on the bureaucracy within their Ministry, the professionals who administer the government, and are therefore subject to misinformation and manipulation by these mandarins.

Putting through standard accessibility testing such as 'Bobby' and the W3C Validator shows that the website is a shoddy piece of work, failing the most basic minimum standards for web accessibility.

Accessibility issues on the website include improperly labeled buttons, invalid codes, alt text missing for images and no semantic mark-up. Disregarding accessibility issues, the site is very difficult to use with navigation links that do nothing.

Regardless of the Ministry examined this travesty, the abusive disregard for doing the job properly, is readily evident. The most glaring example is the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care where popular new hip replacement programs are offered and funded by reducing services to frail seniors and persons requiring chronic care.

Andre Marin, the Ontario Ombudsman is the most recent example of a politician being cuckolded by the bureaucracy. Witness the Ontario Ombudsman's website, inaccessible to the point where is receives a failing grade when reviewed in light of emerging international standards. At the time of its recent launch it was heralded as a new, more accessible website for all Ontarians. Nonsense!

So the Ontario Ombudsman has been pillored by his own troops, but the new Ontario website extolling the virtues of accessibility is only marginally better.

It is time the interests of the people of Ontario are put before the narrow self-serving interests of the Ontario bureaucracy.

Jerry Ford, C.A.
Coordinator, Citizens With Disabilities - Ontario

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