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Accessibility in Professional Training

In the third review of the AODA, the Honourable David Onley recommends needed improvements to the Act. One of these improvements is the need to help professionals, such as architects or interior designers, create more accessible products. During public meetings Onley held while preparing his review, attendees requested that the government mandate more focus on accessibility in professional training.

Accessibility in Professional Training

Onley’s review states that many types of professionals should learn more about accessibility during the courses they take to qualify in their fields. For instance, some of these professionals are:

  • Architects
  • Urban planners
  • Landscapers
  • Interior designers
  • Information or communications professionals
  • Educators
  • Healthcare workers
  • Engineers
  • Marketing professionals

In earlier articles, we have explored how more training could help educators teach students with disabilities, and work with them outside the classroom. Likewise, we have discussed the need for more training of other workers, such as:

Similarly, other professionals should be prepared to serve all people, including people with disabilities. Therefore, the professional schools that qualify them in their fields should include courses or modules on accessible design.

Accessibility Training for Architects

For instance, when architects design buildings or public spaces, anyone should be able to move through them. Some AODA review attendees state that when architects design spaces with physical barriers, they discriminate against people with disabilities. Therefore, architects should know how to design spaces and buildings without barriers. They should learn about design features that create barriers, such as narrow hallways. In addition, they should also learn about design features that improve accessibility, such as contrasting colours and textures. In addition, they could learn about designing with the dignity of all people in mind. For instance, they could understand that an accessible main entrance allows all people to use the front door. In contrast, an accessible back entrance means that some visitors may always need to search for a useable door. Moreover, this set-up sends the message that people without disabilities are more valued than people with disabilities.

Accessibility Training for Information and Communications Professionals

Likewise, communications professionals should also have accessibility training, so that all people can read the information they create. For example, they should be aware of Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0, which ensure that website content and layouts are accessible. They could also learn about the consequences of inaccessible web design on people’s independence. For instance, they could discover that if a website’s check-out process is not accessible, customers have to reveal banking information that should be confidential. With this knowledge, communication professionals can reach and show respect for everyone in their target audiences.

Onley’s review suggests that the government mandate accessibility in professional training by requiring modules or courses about accessible design. In this way, people could only qualify in their fields if they knew how to make their designs or services accessible to everyone. New graduates would know, at the start of their careers, how to serve people of all abilities. Likewise, the review suggests that universities and colleges with professional schools could only receive government funding if their programs included accessibility. Finally, review attendees also suggest required professional development for people in mid-career. These modules or courses would ensure that practicing professionals add accessibility to their existing areas of expertise.