I attended phase 1 of the Certified for Access roundtable discussion session on Wednesday, November 25th held at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre. This consultation process independently led by Deloitte on behalf of the Ontario Government. The session brought together disability advocates to discuss the barriers, challenges, and opportunities in introducing a (made in Ontario) accessibility certification model for business in Ontario.
I arrived late and was a little discouraged as the venue had no automatic doors to enter the meeting room so I had to hunt someone down to open the door. Ok, well, this just affirms there is much to be done. Once inside I was given a seat at the table with a microphone, a name placard and introduced to my attendant (whom I requested). At the table sat a group representing a broad spectrum of people with disabilities from various communities across Ontario, many I did not know of. The few I did were Luke Anderson of StopGap Foundation and AccessNow founder Maayan Ziv. The mediated discussion hit on many strong points with the general consensus being that there is so much that needs to be done around the subject of disability and doing business in Ontario, from customers being able to physically access a business to employing persons with special needs. One profound point that struck me was when an employer hires a staff member with a disability, are they doing so because it meets their bottom line or because it is good PR? Which, let’s face it, is just ableism. There was a second session (phase 2) to be held on November 27th that was meant to present the findings of this day’s discussion with business leaders. While phase 3 takes place on Thursday, December 10th from 10am-3 pm at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre.
For those of you that haven’t attended the in-person sessions, there is also the option to provide input and share your stories online.