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Digital Solutions for Physical Barriers

In the fourth review of the AODA, Rich Donovan states that Ontario will not be fully accessible by 2025. In other words, the provincial government will not meet its own deadline under the AODA. Limited creation, implementation, and enforcement of AODA standards impacts the well-being and safety of Ontarians with disabilities. Therefore, Donovan recommends that the Ontario government should declare this lack of progress on accessibility a crisis. This crisis state should last six (6) months. During this time, the Ontario government should form a crisis committee to implement crucial accessibility improvements in the province. The Premier should act as the chair of this committee, and the Secretary of Cabinet should act as co-chair. Furthermore, Donovan outlines tactical recommendations the province should follow to fulfill its remaining responsibilities in the public sector. One of these tactical recommendations is a pilot project to find digital solutions for physical barriers.

Digital Solutions for Physical Barriers

The review notes that retrofitting buildings is necessary to remove physical accessibility barriers limiting where people work or visit. However, these retrofits will be costly and take time. As a result, people may wait for years to enter, work in, or attend events in many buildings. Therefore, the review recommends interim digital solutions for physical barriers. In other words, people waiting for barrier removal should be able to access workplaces, services, or events remotely.


Therefore, the review recommends that the accessibility agency should research sectors of the economy that can adapt most easily to remote work. Then, the agency should begin a pilot project offering digital solutions to physical barriers in some of these sectors. For example, employers in these sectors can allow people to work remotely, if they choose. Similarly, businesses in these sectors can provide customer service both remotely and in person. Likewise, organizations can host hybrid events that attendees can access in person or virtually.

The review notes that many of these potential digital solutions should be similar to platforms used for remote work and service during the COVID-19 pandemic. In other words, Ontario employers and service providers already have experience providing digital access when physical access is not possible.

In addition, the agency should publish the results of the pilot project so that other organizations can learn from them.