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 four (4) 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 the sector of politics and elections. These standards would allow more citizens with disabilities to vote, run for office, or take part in political campaigns.
AODA Standards in Politics and Elections
AODA standards in politics and elections could mandate guidelines for the physical accessibility of polling stations. For example, standards could include technical requirements to ensure that all polling stations have features that make them accessible for voters with disabilities. Some of these features include accessible:
- Outdoor and indoor paths of travel
- Line areas and service counters
Likewise, standards could require polling stations to have accessible formats, communication supports, and technology allowing confidential voting for all citizens. In addition, standards could mandate improved AODA training for polling station workers and other election officials. This training could help officials recognize and meet the needs of voters with a variety of disabilities.
Furthermore, standards should include requirements to make information and communications accessible for voters with disabilities. For instance, events during political campaigns should include accessible formats and communication supports. Moreover, locations hosting these events should be physically accessible. Similarly, campaign offices, central party offices, and constituency riding association offices should also provide physical and informational accessibility.
Finally, standards should mandate more accessibility for political candidates with disabilities. Anyone running for office or participating on a political campaign should access accommodations easily. To that end, politicians should be more aware of the barriers that potential colleagues with disabilities face.
AODA standards in politics and elections would give more citizens with disabilities the chance to participate in politics, as voters or within political campaigns.