Opening Minds

In several of my blog posts, I have talked about different aspects of my job as the Resource Manager of LDAWE.  One thing that many people don’t know is that I’m also responsible for the LDAWE website.

Last week, an exciting thing happened at LDAWE.  We were finally able to offer online text-to-voice capabilities on our website.  This is something that we wanted to be able to do ever since the first day we had the website up and running.  Why did we want this?  Well… we know that the most common type of learning disability affects a person’s ability to read.  With the text-to-voice capabilities, someone who experiences difficulty with reading can now click on the “Listen” button on our website and the content on that page will be read aloud to them.

This got me to thinking… wouldn’t it be great if every website had a “Listen” button on it?  In general, as a society we’ve been making great strides in “opening doors” (i.e. creating accessibility features for people with physical disabilities).  We seem to be lagging a little bit behind in “opening minds” (i.e. creating accessibility features for people with cognitive disabilities).  However, this is slowly changing with the creation of the AODA.

Have you heard of the AODA?  No??  

How about Accessible Customer Service training?  No???

Well, if you live and work in the province of Ontario, you should have.

The Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) was made law in 2005.  The purpose of the legislation is to make the province of Ontario completely accessible to people with disabilities by 2025.  Since then, the government has been focusing on the areas of:

  • Key to SuccessCustomer Service
  • Employment
  • Information and Communication
  • Transportation
  • Built Environment
  • and more…

The AODA applies to every single business in Ontario.  All employers should have already provided Accessible Customer Service training to all of their employees, contractors, and volunteers who work with the general public.  Other requirements are being phased in over the next couple of years.

This is great news for people with learning disabilities or ADHD.  Over the next couple of years business will have to:

  • let job applicants know that their recruitment and hiring process can be modified to accommodate their disabilities
  • build the accessibility needs of employees into their human resources practices
  • develop individual accommodation plans for employees with disabilities
  • make their website accessible according to WCAG 2.0 guidelines.
  • provide accessible formats and communications supports as quickly as possible and at no additional cost
  • make feedback processes accessible by providing accessible formats and communications supports
  • make public emergency information accessible when requested.

(Source: http://www.mcss.gov.on.ca/en/mcss/programs/accessibility/)

I’m looking forward to living in a province where people with learning disabilities and ADHD have the ability to access the same information, services, and work as people without disabilities.

Until then, please check out the text-to-voice capabilities on our website and send me an email at info@ldawe.ca to let me know what you think!

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