A London Transit bus on Richmond Street. (File photo by Miranda Chant, Blackburn News)A London Transit bus on Richmond Street. (File photo by Miranda Chant, Blackburn News)
London

Advocates: LTC violating accessibility rules

Londoners who are disabled are being failed by the LTC, according to a group of advocates.

Dr. Jeff Preston from King's University College, Jacqueline Madden, and LEADS Employment Services CEO Wendy Lau have written a letter requesting an audit for the commission's compliance with the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, which includes examples of non-compliance.

They call the LTC's paratransit booking system archaic, underfunded, and understaffed. They also claim the commission hasn't actually fixed any of the problems, which they say have been ongoing for years.

"Despite repeated assurances, year after year, little has changed and disabled riders remain left behind. In fact, we received over forty personal stories from Paratransit riders articulating just how much the current system is failing them," the letter read.

They also cited specific violations in their claims, including the following;

Contrary to Sec 14.2 of the AODA, the Commission has not been sharing their

annual compliance reports publicly. When the most recent report was requested,

we were told it was not possible because they could not save the online

submission;

Contrary to Sec 12.1 of the Integrated Standard, publicly shared PDFs often fail

Adobe’s accessibility checker, including “image”-based PDFs with no readable

text and Word documents without alt-tags. This includes the Support Person

Application [Figure 1] and the Paratransit Application shared on the

“Accessibility” section of their website;

Contrary to Sec 14.4.2 of the Integrated Standard, accessibilitychecker.org

scores the LTC website a 53/100 and achecks.ca identifies 5 known problems

and over 200 potential problems [Figure 2], suggesting it is not compliant with

WGAC 2.0 Level AA;

Contrary to Sec 66.6 of the Integrated Standard, Paratransit riders cannot pay for

rides using single fare Smart Cards, despite implementation of the payment

method on conventional busses in 2019;

Contrary to Sec 70.1 of the Integrated Standard, while “theoretically” possible per

policy, users report it is practically impossible to book same day rides given the

enormous demand for limited spaces;

Contrary to Sec 71.2 of the Integrated Standard, Paratransit riders with limited or

impaired speech struggle to book rides via the telephone and no non-verbal

booking option is available despite a recently announced online booking app for

conventional services to Innovation Park coming in Fall 2023.

Contrary to Sec 80.47.2 and Sec 80.47.3 of the Integrated Standards, Paratransit

riders have reported difficulties bringing their service animals on the bus.

Contrary to Sec 80.50.2, these challenges were reported to the commission and

steps to resolve the issue were not taken until after the press covered the story.

Calls to London Transit Commission General Manager Kelly Paleczny were not returned on Wednesday morning.

"It is for these reasons that we, the undersigned, feel an audit of the organization’s practices and procedures is urgently needed to ensure the LTC finally complies with their obligations under the AODA," the letter concluded. "Our hope is that through this audit, the Commission will have an opportunity to better understand their obligations under the legislation and receive some support in forming a work plan to resolve these discrepancies."

Preston discussed similar issues on a February episode of The Craig Needles Podcast.

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