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 creation of a research team to gather data on Disability.
Research Team to Gather Data on Disability
The review states that the province has no reliable way to gather data about people with disabilities. As a result, the government has limited understanding about the accessibility barriers people experience. For example, the government does not know how many people experience physical barriers in buildings. Similarly, the government does not know how many people’s searches for employment have been compromised by organizational barriers or attitudinal barriers. This knowledge would help the government quantify the importance of accessibility in a way that is easy for people to understand.
Therefore, the review recommends that the head of the accessibility agency should hire someone to lead a data, analytics and research team. Then, this team leader should hire members for the team. These team members should be research and experience (UX) experts. In other words, team members should know how to gather and analyze data in different ways, including:
- Quantitative, or data involving numbers
- Qualitative, or data about the quality of people’s experiences
As the team members gather their data on disability, they will learn about the needs and experiences of the people they meet.
The crisis committee should ensure that the team has a budget to conduct their research for six (6) years. Moreover, the review states that funding formerly used for awareness campaigns should instead be used to gather data on disability. The team should publish its first research project within one (1) year after all members have been hired. Furthermore, the team should continue to publish new research, or update existing research, every three (3) months. In addition, journalists should have access to this research, to broadcast it in formats easier to access than research reports, such as:
- TV programs
- Radio news stories
- Newspaper articles
In this way, the public continues to be informed about the needs of people with disabilities, even with fewer awareness campaigns. However, the new information will be based on research into the experience of people with disabilities.