Guiding Principles

Based on the discussion to date, certain general and area-specific principles should be true across a range of potentially viable accessibility certification models.

General Principles

  • The model should be simple, understandable, and easy to use for businesses, organizations, and other members of the community
  • The model will include a clear definition of key terms to ensure common understanding, including accessibility and certification
  • The model will be inclusive of persons of all ages and abilities, as well as adaptable to businesses of diverse types and sizes
  • The model will increase awareness among businesses and the general public on inclusive design and user experience best practices
  • The model will support businesses that seriously commit to the process of learning, improvement according to best practices, inclusion, and innovation in accessibility and user experience

Model Design Principles

  • The model will be designed to perform four main functions: education, assessment, accreditation, and recognition
  • The model will be a “hybrid” that combines grassroots, community feedback with an organizational structure that can establish benchmarks, marshal resources, award certification, and monitor the program’s effectiveness
  • The model will evaluate businesses’ performance in serving the needs of the community rather than technical skills
  • The model will feature public facing recognition, on tiered or graduated levels, to be re-evaluated on a periodic basis
  • Any fees for service will be in proportion to the size and capacity of businesses, operating on a tiered system
  • The model will start small by piloting in a community or specific sector and evolve to encompass other areas according to user feedback

Community Participation Principles

  • The standard for performance worthy of recognition will be based in large part on lived experience, using community feedback and outcomes-based research in cooperation with participating businesses and municipalities
  • Community feedback will be gathered and made publicly visible through diverse channels, and will include an prototype for businesses to provide feedback on their own challenges and progress in implementing accessibility
  • Community feedback will be cycled back to businesses, organizations, and the certification leadership to inform, evaluate, and update standards of excellence on a continuous basis
  • The certification program should feature a hub or platform of resources and initiatives to share knowledge, build community, and identify interdependencies
  • The community or sector chosen for the pilot project will be selected based on the diversity of businesses and organizations, with as many types and sizes represented as possible

Legal Principles

  • Certification cannot and should not engage in or replace enforcement or compliance activities; that is the job of government and should remain so
  • Obligated organizations are expected to be compliant with AODA and Ontario’s Human Rights Code as a condition of achieving certification
  • The model and all associated materials will be developed and delivered at the same time in both official languages and alternate accessible formats

Leadership Principles

  • The leadership model should be collaborative and feature more than one organization, with ties to a diverse range of communities and organizations representative of persons of all ages and abilities
  • Leadership and governance of the model will be separate and distinct, with a collaborative, representative, and transparent accountability structure independent of leadership ensuring continuous evaluation of the model
  • The program should engage with coordinating bodies, including chambers of commerce, boards of trade, and professional associations, to organize partnerships and mentorships that augment each organizations’ capacity

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