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Governance and Leadership

Participants discussed who could lead, champion, and implement an accessibility certification model. Phase 2 working groups might consider how to ensure the lead represents a diversity of perspectives and leverages existing networks.

Key discussion points

Ensuring diverse representation at every stage

  • Collaboration and partnership should underpin the design, development, and implementation of a certification model, balancing representation of lived experiences and technical expertise 
    • Persons with disabilities should be present at every step of the process, representing a range of perspectives and lived experience; accessibility is different for everyone and needs to be defined so that no voice is left out
  • Participants were concerned that one organization might have undue influence over the design and implementation of the model
    • Representatives from a broad range of communities and interests should be included in every stage of development and delivery; a network of supports may more effectively encourage uptake than a centralized delivery body
    • The certifying body or bodies and its/their partners would have to have credibility across communities (e.g., French and English, business and advocacy)
  • Businesses should be evaluated based on the experience of accessibility rather than the claims of the organization
    • A certification model could draw on the perspective of individuals with barriers to accessibility, whether by certifying individuals or through advisory committees

Promoting community networks of support and dialogue

  • The model could identify excellence champions or leaders that exhibit a superior achievement in accessibility, incenting other businesses to follow suit, promoting best practice examples, and building avenues for collaboration and community 
  • Established research and advocacy organizations could play a key role in the design and implementation of a certification model, leveraging best practices and expertise in a given field to establish common understanding and to facilitate collaboration
  • The accessibility and business communities should communicate and collaborate; businesses would benefit from knowing clearly “what’s in it for them” and how to take the first steps
  • A universal set of accessibility standards could be integrated into business, computer science, and other educational curricula, pushing new businesses to create unique and competitive accessibility strategies

Establishing mentorship and partnership relationships

  • The model could leverage accessibility champions in various networks, establishing central points of coordination (e.g., Business Improvement Area Associations or Chambers of Commerce) for small and medium enterprises and facilitating mentor and partner relationships
  • Collaboration, whether facilitated by the certifying body or through a central point of coordination, might be between businesses or could involve sharing best practices between educational institutions, large for-profit, or non-profit organizations and smaller businesses
    • Partnerships could leverage the skill sets and experiences of different businesses and existing organizations, creating an approach based around the initiatives and specific needs of each community
    • Mentorships may emerge organically, but would be based upon clearly defined criteria set by a recognized, credible, and accountable certifier that can ensure accountability
    • The certifier or a coordinating body could launch a public registry of available mentors and interested mentees


Points for Further Dialogue

While participants broadly agreed on the above points as foundational considerations, Phase 2 working groups could further discuss and find consensus on the following points: 

  • Would accessibility mentors be other businesses (e.g., early adopters), large organizations (e.g., big banks), individuals with disabilities, or organizations in the non-profit or public sphere?
  • Would mentorships and partnerships be structured or encouraged to develop organically? 
  • Would coordination come from the public sector (e.g., Municipal Advisory Boards, the provincial Partnership Council), the private sector (e.g., Business Improvement Area Associations, Chambers of Commerce), educational institutions, or the non-profit sector?
  • Would one organization or an association of organizations own and implement the model?
    • How centralized or decentralized would the certification model leadership be?
    • Would centralized leadership give too much power to one group or perspective? Would a decentralized model have enough structure to hold businesses accountable?
    • How would local partners or organizations be involved?