Currently, only five (5) sectors of the economy have AODA standards that require accessibility for citizens with disabilities. In addition, committees are developing standards in two (2) more sectors, education and healthcare. However, the AODA’s goal is an accessible Ontario by the year 2025. If only seven (7) sectors of the economy have AODA standards, the province will not be accessible in two (2) years. Therefore, the Third Review of the AODA recommends the creation of new AODA standards. For example, the review states that Ontario needs AODA standards for goods and products.
AODA Standards for Goods and Products
The Customer Service Standards of the AODA now ensure accessibility for people with disabilities buying products. For instance, customer service staff should:
- Have customer service policies
- Welcome customers with:
- Train all workers and volunteers on the AODA
- communicate with customers in ways that take their disabilities into account
- Provide information accessibly
- Notify customers about temporary service disruptions
- Have accessible feedback processes
However, the goods that people buy during these service encounters do not yet need to be accessible. For example, there is no requirement to make prescriptions accessible to patients with print disabilities. AODA standards for goods and products would ensure that people with disabilities can use the products they buy.
Moreover, one method for making goods and products accessible is universal design. This design approach is the basis of universal design for learning (UDL). Two (2) Education Standards Development Committees recommend UDL as an important part of accessibility in the future education standards. For instance, the Kindergarten to Grade 12 (K-12) Education Standards Development Committee recommends curriculum based on UDL and differentiated instruction. Likewise, the Postsecondary Education Standards Development Committee recommends college and university teaching that uses UDL best practices. Similarly, universal design could be an important part of accessibility in AODA standards for goods and products.
There are seven (7) principles of universal design:
- Equitable use
- Flexibility in use
- Simple and intuitive use
- Perceptible information
- Tolerance for error
- Low physical effort
- Size and space for approach and use
Our next series of articles will explore how developers of goods and products can use principles of universal design to make their creations accessible.