The first review of the AODA’s Information and communications Standards became public in 2020. In this review, the AODA Information and Communications Standards Development Committee outlines improvements to make information and communications accessible for people with disabilities by 2025. The Committee recommends changes to the Information and Communications Standards, to identify, remove, and prevent accessibility barriers in information. In addition, the Committee recommends an alternative system for developing, updating, and enforcing AODA standards. This new system would affect the Information and Communications Standards, as well as other existing and future standards. This article will discuss the Committee’s recommendations for AODA compliance in an ecosystem model for updating AODA standards.
AODA Compliance in an Ecosystem Model for updating AODA Standards
The Committee reports that the current method for creating and reviewing AODA standards will not achieve accessibility by 2025. Therefore, the Committee recommends a new way to create and update AODA standards. The Committee calls this new structure an accessibility ecosystem model. Moreover, the model has three (3) components that work together:
- Accessibility laws
- A community platform to promote broader interest and innovation in accessibility
- A trusted authority to constantly review the laws and oversee the community platform
These three components should encourage responsiveness to change, as well as participation and innovation in accessibility.
The Committee recommends more measures to ensure that organizations comply with AODA standards under the accessibility ecosystem model. For example, the Committee recommends that government departments must work together to establish more measures for AODA compliance. This recommendation is similar to several recommendations in the Third Review of the AODA for greater government commitment to the Act, including recommendations for:
- Renewed government leadership to implement the AODA
- new methods of AODA enforcement, including:
- A complaint system for reporting AODA violations
- A resource centreto help organizations learn how AODA standards apply to their services
- A website providing reliable AODA expertise
In addition, the Committee requests public feedback on possible enforcement measures, including incentives and disincentives. For instance, incentives for organizations to comply with standards could include:
- Tax benefits
- Public recognition
On the other hand, disincentives for organizations that do not comply could include:
- Levies to cover the cost of accessibility
- Naming non-compliant organizations on social media
However, the Committee hopes to focus on rewarding organizations that comply, to act as models for other organizations to emulate. Furthermore, the Committee hopes to emphasize the benefits of compliance, including innovation in new technologies for accessibility.