The Consultation and Reporting Process

The public consultation process will occur in four phases, as illustrated below:

Public Consultation Process phases

Public Consultation and Engagement

The people impacted by an accessibility certification model, including those with first-hand knowledge and expertise, will own its design and development. The Accessibility Directorate of Ontario (the Directorate) has engaged Deloitte to facilitate an open, multi-stakeholder public consultation to catalyze this process. Accessibility advocates, persons with disabilities, businesses, certification experts, non-profit organizations, and the broader public sector will come together through a variety of channels to provide recommendations to the eventual third party certifier (see below) on the objectives, design, feasibility, and implementation of an accessibility certification model.

This process differs from traditional government consultations, which tend to be private, controlled, and shaped by government. This project relies on constant engagement with the public, leveraging social media and an online platform, certifiedforaccess.ca, to maintain a transparent and open-ended process. Whatever model emerges from this process will be driven and built by stakeholders and will base its credibility on public approval.

Ultimately, public consultation and engagement is about trust and openness. As parties explore what kind of accessibility certification model they want, the hope is that they will deepen their understanding of common interests, expand their use of shared language, clarify issues and opportunities, and build new tools, systems, and practices to support collaborative action. This could help foster a culture of collaboration, continuous learning and effective change management. This form of community building manages the communities’ collective interests and highlights opportunities for the community to work together to solve problems going forward.

CertifiedforAccess.ca

The online opportunities for engagement, including discussion questions, private feedback, and targeted surveys, have showcased a number of existing best practices and practical suggestions on how to make Ontario more accessible. While the discussion continues online, we have included some excerpts here:

  • “DeafBlind Ontario Services’ Accessibility Guidelines…emphasize the inclusion of efficient design, space maneuverability, the importance of illumination, and the use of colour, texture and specialized products. Contrary to popular belief, accessible design does not need to be expensive and may esthetically enhance a space.” 
  • “Certification credibility is subjective from any organization, and can only be valued according to the procurement requirements and perceptions of prospective consumers…the quality of certification has two aspects for consideration; first, the organization that delivers the skill training, and second the ability of the certificate holder to demonstrate level of experience and knowledge skills.”
  • “People who are disabled are individuals. As such, we all have varying levels of ability. We also have varying levels of support to help us to live independently in the community. So, when we say a business is accessible, I want to know, in whose eyes?”
  • “Accessibility is still a big word with a variety of areas that need to be identified by businesses, communities and individuals. If we have an accessibility certification program…these individuals could go out to communities or…businesses to assist them with a work plan to achieve the best level of accessibility. That different areas would be covered, or be specialized.”

Reporting

Deloitte will publish reports at each phase for public review and validation on certifiedforaccess.ca. This report summarizes the findings from Phase 1 and will serve as the main tool for this stage of comment and confirmation. The document mirrors the three central objectives from this phase:

  1. To capture key themes and discussion points from Phase 1 through in person sessions, online submissions, and teleconferences.
  2. To encourage comment and input from participants and the public and validate findings.
  3. To set the context and foundations for Phase 2 and Phase 3 discussions.

Phase 1 Report

The findings for the final Phase 1 report have come from three contributing streams:

  1. Three in person roundtable discussions, bringing together over 100 participants from the accessibility, business, and broader public sector communities to discuss the barriers, opportunities, and risks in developing a certification model
  2. Engagement and feedback online via certifiedforaccess.ca, Facebook, and Twitter
  3. Teleconferences with over 30 individuals unable to attend in person sessions, including:
    1. A teleconference with representatives of the Franco-Ontarian business and accessibility communities
    2. A teleconference with the Self-Advocates Council of people with intellectual disabilities

This report is open for review and comment until Friday, February 5, 2016. We welcome your comments, critiques, and thoughts on where the process could go from here. 

Next Steps

Phase 2 (February - March, 2016)

Phase 2 of the certification consultation process will bring together working groups to delve further into the key themes contained in this report. Working group members could be Phase 1 participants, individuals and organizations from their networks, or other accessibility, business, and certification experts that express interest to the Certified For Access team. Members will be chosen and assigned to working groups based on a set of criteria (found on certifiedforaccess.ca). These working groups will meet three to five times and will produce a brief report of their findings, based on the following two objectives:

  1. To provide recommendations on how the assigned focus area will fit in an accessibility certification model.
  2. To identify key considerations and risks associated with the assigned focus area.

The Challenge (February - April, 2016)

The certification model is intended to be independent and voluntary, to be delivered by a non-government third party. One intended outcome of this consultation is to encourage the emergence of leadership from an independent organization, a consortium of organizations and/or a joint venture of individuals to implement the third party certification model. In addition to the above objectives, Phase 2 working groups will consider the criteria for a certifying body or bodies, as associated with their assigned theme. Deloitte, on behalf of the Directorate, will develop a process based on the aggregated criteria to allow interested parties to assess their suitability to lead the certification model.

Deloitte will facilitate an information session for potential certifying bodies near the end of Phase 2, with details to be confirmed over the course of Phase 2. 

Phase 3 (April - May, 2016)

Phase 3 will bring together a 12-15 person panel to create a blueprint for the design and implementation of an accessibility certification model, informed by the Phase 2 working group recommendations. The outcome will be a report outlining the key considerations and risks of implementation, as well as recommended criteria for the certifying body or bodies. 

Note to the Reader

This process is voluntary, in its design, development, and implementation. By nature, it will rely at all phases on the experience, goodwill, and enthusiasm of a varied group of individuals and organizations. We thank everyone who has contributed so far to Phase 1, whether in person, over the phone, or online. With input from over 120 individuals and organizations from a broad range of communities, we look forward to collaborating over the coming months and beyond in order to raise the bar on accessibility.

“We always have to be aspirational…but we do have baselines we can work from. We have touchstones we can go to, get conversation to a certain level, and then talk about how aspirational we want to be.  That doesn't have to be a today conversation, it can be over a longer period of time.  We can continue to be aspirational and also find those milestones along the way.”

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