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A GUIDE TO THE

ONTARIANS WITH 2001


DISABILITIES ACT
A Guide to the Ontarians with Disabilities Act

Contents
What is this guide?.............................................. 1
What is the Ontarians with Disabilities Act? ............ 2
What do human rights laws say about disability? .... 3
What do other Ontario laws say about disability? .... 4
How does the Government of Ontario define
disability? .......................................................... 7
What are some other definitions in the Ontarians
with Disabilities Act? ........................................... 9
What are the Government of Ontario’s duties? ...... 13
What are other organizations’ duties? .................. 17
Where can I learn more about disability and
accessibility laws in Ontario? .............................. 19

What is this guide?


This guide is an overview of the Ontarians with
Disabilities Act with some additional context. It is
not a legal document. The information in this guide
is current as of November 2018.
The aim of this guide is to help Ontarians with
disabilities understand their rights to accommodation
as described in the Ontarians with Disabilities
Act.
Note: For ease of readability, the names of laws are
written in bold font rather than italics, the serial
comma is used, and all images have alt text
descriptions.

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A Guide to the Ontarians with Disabilities Act

What is the Ontarians with


Disabilities Act?
Purpose
The purpose of the Ontarians with Disabilities Act
is to set accessibility regulations for organizations in
Ontario.
By increasing accessibility, organizations can reduce
and prevent barriers for people with disabilities. This
means that people with disabilities will have better
opportunities to participate fully in the life of the
province.

Background
Ontarians with disabilities face barriers to
participating fully and equally in Ontario society.
The Government of Ontario wants to work with every
sector of society to get rid of these barriers and
improve the lives of people with disabilities.

What the Act covers


The Ontarians with Disabilities Act outlines the
responsibilities of the Government of Ontario and
Ontario organizations to accommodate people with
disabilities.

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A Guide to the Ontarians with Disabilities Act

Updates to the Act


The first version of the Act was created in 2001.
Since then, there have been twelve other versions.
The most recent version of the Act was made in
2017, but some of the updates in this version have
not been made official yet. The Lieutenant Governor
will say when these changes will be enforced.
Before any future changes become law, the
Lieutenant Governor will first need to make sure that
people have the chance to comment on the updates.

Full text
The full text of the Act is on the Ontario Government
Website.

What do Canadian human


rights laws say about
disability?
Canadian Charter of Rights and
Freedoms
• People with disabilities are equal in Canadian
law. This means that people with disabilities
have the right for the national laws to protect
and benefit them equally.
• This charter is national, so it is not specific to
just Ontario. Its rules apply to Ontario as well
as every other province and territory.

Ontario Human Rights Code


• People with disabilities have the right to equal
treatment in Ontario.

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A Guide to the Ontarians with Disabilities Act

What do other Ontario laws say


about disability?
Assessment Act (1990)
• Sometimes, homes need improvements to
accommodate a person with a disability. If
these improvements are made to keep the
person at home instead of an institution, the
Government will allow property tax
exemptions.

Blind Persons’ Rights Act (1990)


• Services, housing, lodging, and facilities cannot
discriminate against blind people using guide
dogs.
• To prevent confusion, people who are not blind
must not use white canes.

Corporations Tax Act (1990)


• If an employer hires a person with a disability,
the employer can get extra tax deductions for
the costs of disability-related accommodations.
• Some accommodations include improving
buildings, buying adaptive equipment, and
giving special training to employees with
disabilities.

Income Tax Act (1990)


• Like the Corporations Tax Act, the aim of the
Income Tax Act is to encourage employers to
hire people with disabilities.
• The Income Tax Act also gives tax
deductions to employers for accommodating
employees with disabilities.
• The Corporations Tax Act applies to
corporate employers, while the Income Tax
Act applies to employers which are not
corporations.

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A Guide to the Ontarians with Disabilities Act

Education Act (1990)


• If students with disabilities have been labelled
“exceptional pupils,” then school boards must
provide them with special education programs
and services.

Building Code Act (1992)


• This Act outlines accessibility standards for
new buildings and structures. The Act also
covers renovations to existing buildings and
structures.

Ontario Disability Support Program


Act (1997)
• This Act created the Ontario Disability Support
Program (ODSP), which gives employment and
financial support to eligible people with
disabilities.
• Eligibility is assessed through financial need
and disability status.
• ODSP removes people with disabilities from the
welfare system and gives them assistance that
meets their unique needs.

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A Guide to the Ontarians with Disabilities Act

Workplace Safety and Insurance


Act (1997)
• If a person becomes injured or disabled
because of their work, the person may be
eligible for government benefits.
• These benefits include payments for health
care, payments for loss of earnings, and labour
market re-entry benefits.

Accessibility for Ontarians with


Disabilities Act (2005)
• The purpose of the Accessibility for
Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) is
to set and enforce accessibility standards in
Ontario.
• These standards apply to goods, services,
facilities, employment, accommodation, and
buildings across the province.
• The target date for reaching the goal of the
AODA is no later than January 1, 2025.

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A Guide to the Ontarians with Disabilities Act

How does the Government of


Ontario define disability?
The Ontarians with Disabilities Act uses the same
definition of disability as the Ontario Human Rights
Code, which splits up disability into different
categories.

Physical disability
A physical disability is any degree of physical
disability or sickness. A physical disability can be
present at birth or come from bodily injury or illness.
Some examples may include the following:
• diabetes mellitus
• epilepsy
• a brain injury
• any degree of paralysis
• amputation
• lack of physical coordination
• blindness or visual difficulty
• deafness or hearing difficulty
• muteness or speech difficulty
• dependence on a guide dog or other animal
• dependence on a wheelchair or other mobility
device

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A Guide to the Ontarians with Disabilities Act

“Mental impairment” or
developmental disability
The Act calls this category “a condition of mental
impairment or a developmental disability.” This
covers a range of disabilities which may affect
learning, language development, and/or social
behaviours.
Some examples may include the following:
• Down syndrome
• Pervasive developmental disorders
• Intellectual disability

Learning disability or difficulty with


language
A learning disability can affect the way that people
understand and remember information. Some people
may also have trouble specifically with
understanding or using symbols or spoken language.
Some examples may include the following:
• Dyslexia
• Dysgraphia
• Dyscalculia
• Auditory processing disorder

“Mental disorder” or mental health


disability
A mental health disability can cover a range of
symptoms and difficulties that affect a person’s
thoughts and emotions.

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A Guide to the Ontarians with Disabilities Act

Some examples may include the following:


• Mood disorders
• Anxiety disorders
• Schizophrenia
• Eating disorders
• Substance use disorders

Work-related injury or disability


This type of disability may also be called a
“handicap.”
The Act defines it as an injury or disability that a
person has claimed under the special insurance plan
for workplace injuries or disabilities.
This insurance plan is described in the Workplace
Safety and Insurance Act.

What are some other


definitions in the Ontarians
with Disabilities Act?
Barrier
A barrier is anything that creates disability by
preventing a person from fully participating in
society.
As with the definition of disability, the Government of
Ontario says that there can be different types of
barriers:

Physical
A physical barrier is something (or lack of
something) in a person’s physical surroundings
that makes it hard for them to move around in
that space.
Some examples may include the following:
o Stairs
o High curbs

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A Guide to the Ontarians with Disabilities Act

Architectural
An architectural barrier is something (or lack of
something) in a building that makes it difficult
for a person with a disability to access the
building.
Some examples may include the following:
o Lack of elevators, ramps, or automatic
doors inside or outside a building

Information or communication
An information or communication barrier
prevents a person with a disability from fully
understanding information or communication.

Some examples may include the following:


o Small fonts in publications
o Lack of captioning on videos
o Lack of sign language interpretation
Attitudinal
An attitudinal barrier is a problem with a
person’s or organization’s attitude towards
disability and/or people with disabilities.
Some examples may include the following:
o Stigma around disabilities
o Stereotypes about people with disabilities
o Prejudice and discrimination against
people with disabilities

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Technological
A technological barrier is a lack of assistive
technology for people with disabilities.
Some examples may include the following:
o Lack of text-to-speech software
o Lack of speech-to-text software
o Lack of screen magnification software

Policy or practice
A policy or practice barrier is when an
organization fails to consider the needs of
people with disabilities in its policies or
practices.
Some examples may include the following:
o Not giving accommodations to people
with disabilities who need them
o Policies that do not allow assistive
technology
o Policies that do not allow sign language
interpreters

Government of Ontario
This includes a ministry of the Government of
Ontario and the organizations that are part of the
Government of Ontario.

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Ministry
This refers to a ministry of the Government of
Ontario.

Public transportation organization


A public transportation organization is a person or
organization that charges a fare and uses vehicles to
transport members of the public.
The public transportation organization can work in
the following ways:
• By or for the Government of Ontario, a city,
a local board of a city, or transit or
transportation commission or authority
• Under an agreement between the
Government of Ontario (or a city) and a
person, firm, corporation, or transit or
transportation commission or authority
• Under a licence issued by the Government
of Ontario or a city to a person, firm,
corporation, or transit or transportation
commission or authority

This includes special transportation services for


people with disabilities.

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What are the Government of


Ontario’s duties?
Government buildings, structures,
and premises
In consultation with people with disabilities, the
Government of Ontario will develop barrier-free
design guidelines for Government buildings or
structures.
The Government is responsible for the accessibility of
buildings or structures that it owns, rents, builds, or
renovates.
These guidelines apply to full buildings and
structures and to parts of buildings and structures.

Level of accessibility
The guidelines will make sure that accessibility
levels meet or exceed what the Building Code
Act requires.

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A Guide to the Ontarians with Disabilities Act

Different requirements
Because buildings and structures can vary, the
guidelines that apply to them may also need to
change on a case-by-case basis.
The changed guidelines may include the
following:
o Different times for the Government to
meet the requirements
o Different requirements for different
classes of buildings or structures
o If there are no requirements for a certain
type of building or structure, the
Government may need to create rules.

Duty to comply
The Government of Ontario will make sure that
its buildings or structures meet all accessibility
requirements before anybody occupies or uses
the building regularly.

New leases
If the Government is looking at entering a new
lease for a building or space that already
exists, the Government must make sure that
accessibility standards are met before deciding
to lease that place.

Not regulations
These accessibility guideline requirements are
not regulations.

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A Guide to the Ontarians with Disabilities Act

Government employees
The Government of Ontario must follow the Human
Rights Code. This means that the Government must
accommodate the accessibility needs of its current
employees and potential employees.

Job applicants
If a person with a disability applies for a
government job and is invited to the selection
process, the Government of Ontario must meet
the applicant’s accessibility needs during the
selection process.

Training
The Government of Ontario will train managers
and supervisors how to meet the accessibility
needs of employees with disabilities.

Information
The Government will tell its employees about
the rights and duties of the Government and
its employees to accommodate people with
disabilities.

Reimbursement
The Management Board Secretariat will repay a
ministry for accessibility-related costs.

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Government-funded capital
programs
If a government project uses a building that is
controlled by the Building Code Act, the project
coordinators must make sure that the building obeys
all the accessibility guidelines from that Act.
If the building does not meet or exceed the level of
accessibility outlined in the Building Code Act, the
project will not get money from a government-
funded capital program.
Sometimes non-government projects also apply for
money from a government-funded capital program.
In this case, the project may still need to meet
accessibility standards to get funding. It is up to the
Government of Ontario to decide what accessibility
requirements the project must meet for funding.

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What are other organizations’


duties?
Public transportation organizations,
educational institutions, and
hospitals
Every year, each public transportation organization,
educational institution, and hospital in Ontario must
create an accessibility plan describing how it will help
people with disabilities access its services.

In making the plan, the organization must consult


people with disabilities about their needs and
experiences.
The plan must talk about what the organization has
done to identify, remove, and prevent barriers for
people with disabilities. The barriers may be in an
organization’s by-laws, policies, programs, practices,
and/or services.
The accessibility plan must include the following
information:
• A report on what the organization has done to
identify, remove and prevent barriers to people
with disabilities

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• What the organization will do to check that


proposed by-laws, policies, programs,
practices, and services are fair to people with
disabilities
• A list of the by-laws, policies, programs,
practices, and services that the organization
will review in the coming year
• What the organization will do in the coming
year to identify, remove and prevent barriers
to people with disabilities
• All other information that the accessibility
regulations require
The organization must make the accessibility plan
available to the public.

Joint accessibility plans


Two or more ministries, cities, or organizations
that need to make an accessibility plan can
work together on a joint accessibility plan. This
joint plan still needs to be available to the
public.

Joint accessibility advisory


committees
Two or more ministries, cities, or organizations
that need to form an accessibility advisory
committee can work together on a joint
accessibility advisory committee.

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Where can I learn more about


disability and accessibility laws
in Ontario?
The Accessibility for People with Disabilities Act
(AODA) website
The Law Commission of Ontario website
The Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP)
website
The Ontario Human Rights Commission website

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