Archived—Project Summaries 2006-2007 - ARCH Disability Law Centre

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1. The Regulatory Context for Assistive Technologies and Accessible Products in Canada


Many people with disabilities rely upon assistive technologies and on accessible goods and products in their day-to-day living. They also rely upon dealers and mechanics to service their assistive devices on an on-going basis. Assistive technologies and inclusive design hold the promise of removing many of the barriers people with disabilities continually face. Countless Canadians also rely upon medical devices. With the fast-paced advancements of technology, there is a burgeoning industry that is responding to these needs in Canada and elsewhere.

ARCH has identified the need to conduct a comprehensive review and analysis of how products and related services are currently regulated in Canada. There are two key reasons for this: the first is to provide persons with disabilities and their organizations with an understanding of the regulatory framework so that they can effectively participate in the development of public policy; the second is to be able to inform consumers of how regulation is carried out and what agency or government has responsibility for solving problems.

The project will utilize three major approaches: consultation, investigation and analysis. Early on in this project there will be consultation with key individuals with disabilities and representatives of disability organizations and designers to identify key issues. ARCH will also review their summary advice line database to identify issues callers have raised with them.

Legal research will be conducted in order to map the constitutional, statutory and regulatory context affecting the development of rules regarding accessibility of products and related services. Research will examine whether or not accessibility concerns are integrated into the rule-making framework, in international trade negotiations, in examining models in other jurisdictions, and will examine issues that are identified during the pre-research consultation. Standard legal research techniques will be utilized. An external legal advisor, likely a law academic, will advise regarding methodology.

The information that is gathered will be analysed and a Report written which outlines the legal context in a comprehensive way. It will identify potential issues related to barrier removal and full inclusion of person with disabilities. It will not attempt to promote one best approach to their regulatory framework. Rather, its goal is to inform others so they can formulate their views and make realistic and workable submissions to the policy debate. As noted, a second goal will be achieved as it will inform individuals with disabilities and their advisors about the regulatory context in which their problems arise.

ARCH will seek the support of legal experts to review for accuracy as well as review from disability leaders and designers.