Ontario Public Service: Policies That Make Accessibility Work

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A Guide to Accessibility Directives and Policies in the Ontario Public Service

This guide provides a compact summary of the accessibility policies and directives that are currently in place within the Ontario Public Service.

About this Guide

This guide provides a compact summary of the accessibility policies and directives that are currently in place within the Ontario Public Service (OPS).

Whether you are developing OPS policies, programs or services – or simply want to learn more about accessibility standards in the OPS – you will find the information you need in this guide.

We will update the guide as our policies and practices continue to evolve.

You can also learn more by reading The OPS Multi-year Accessibility Plan, “Leading the Way Forward”. This document highlights our achievements so far, and our plans for creating a barrier-free and accessible organization.

Why Accessibility Matters

The OPS endeavors to demonstrate leadership for accessibility in Ontario. Our goal is to ensure accessibility for our employees and the public we serve in our services, products and facilities.

The Ontario Public Service is a professional service organization. Every day, Ontarians count on us to provide high-quality, cost-effective services across the province.

It is vitally important that all Ontarians have access to our services. Likewise, it is important that employees and others who work with the OPS have equitable access to opportunities and an accessible workplace.

That’s why we are committed to creating an accessible organization by removing and preventing barriers for people with disabilities. This commitment applies to employees, third party contractors, service providers and volunteers – everyone involved in developing policies and delivering programs and services – and to those who use our services every day.

Developing barrier-free programs and services will enable the OPS to achieve its vision of becoming an accessible organization by 2025.

Our Accessibility Standards

The Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) is an important piece of legislation that requires the province to develop – and enforce – accessibility standards in Ontario.

This document outlines OPS policies and directives that support three of the areas that are regulated under the AODA:  

  • customer service
  • information and communications
  • employment

Although the AODA also sets out standards for transportation, these standards deal mainly with services at the municipal level, and are not included in this document.

Customer Service

As a service organization, it is vitally important that we provide high-quality, accessible services to Ontarians.

The customer service standards under the AODA apply to all Ontario organizations (public, private and non-profit) that provide goods or services directly to the public or to other groups. The OPS has been required to comply with these standards since January 1, 2010.  

These are the directives and policies that support accessible customer service in the OPS:


  • The OPS has adopted a Service Excellence Directive that describes the service experience a customer can expect when dealing with a government ministry. This directive requires OPS staff to provide a specific level of service to customers and includes accessibility requirements. It usually applies to areas such as communications, access, timeliness and interaction between staff and customers.


  • The Ontario Public Service (OPS) Accessible Customer Service Policy outlines what the OPS must do to comply with the Accessible Standards for Customer Service regulation and what our customers may expect from us. The OPS strives at all times to provide goods and services in a way that respects the dignity and independence of persons with disabilities. Customers with disabilities must receive accessible goods and services with the same quality and timeliness as others.

Information and Communications

Everyone has the right to access public information, goods and services. People who use alternate methods of communication, either with human support or technology, may experience communication barriers. The OPS is proactively removing barriers to ensure information and communication in the OPS is accessible to all employees and clients.

These are the directives and policies that support accessible information and communications in the OPS:


  • The Government Publications Directive outlines mandatory requirements for all government publications, including alternate formats.

In April 2010, the Secretary of the Management Board of Cabinet directed staff to take the following steps when distributing PDF attachments:

When possible, place the information directly in the body of the e-mail and avoid using an attachment. If attachments are necessary, ensure that:

  • the text of the attachment (if short) is also copied into the body of the e-mail and/or 
  • context is provided with a link to an HTML version of the full document


Advances in technology create new opportunities and challenges. The OPS continues to focus on the development, implementation and updating of accessible information technology policies and standards, including standards for website accessibility and alternate formats.

Website Accessibility

  • The OPS I&IT organization has established a Government of Ontario IT Standard (GO-ITS) entitled GO-ITS 23: Government of Ontario Web Standard. The standard ensures that all web sites developed by the I&IT organization are compliant with WCAG 2.0 AA as laid out by the Integrated Accessibility Standards Regulation (IASR). The standard has been in place since September 30, 2010.
  • Cabinet Office has developed the Online Design Program (ODP). The ODP outlines how to achieve a common “look and feel” for all ministry-managed websites. This will help provide a seamless and friendly online experience for the public.

Alternate Formats and Accessible Communications

  • the OPS Accessible Customer Service Policy and Guideline contains advice and resources for OPS staff on a range of accessibility topics including how to provide alternate formats and how to conduct accessible meetings
  • the Ministry of Community and Social Services has developed two resources on creating accessible communications:


HR management policies and practices are intended to build an inclusive and accessible work environment free from discrimination and harassment. Likewise, all people are entitled to a workplace that is accessible and enables them to participate fully. OPS policies are designed to keep the recruitment, retention and development of talent equitable and barrier-free.

The OPS promotes a workplace culture founded on the principles of fair and transparent practices. We uphold the rights of all employees to be treated with dignity, respect and equality.  Every staff member is expected to contribute to creating and sustaining such a workplace.

These directives and policies shape our approach to creating a modern, inclusive and responsive organization.

These are the directives and policies that support accessible employment in the OPS:


  • Human Resources Management Directive (HRMD) sets out the framework for human resources policies. All directives, policies and practices encompass the principles of inclusion and accessibility
  • Emergency Evacuation Planning Directive contains mandatory requirements for the evacuation of government workplaces


  • Equal Opportunity Operating Policy is the framework for fair treatment and equal opportunity in all aspects of employment
  • Employment Accommodation and Return to Work Operating Policy contains employment accommodation requirements


As a large public sector organization, the OPS has a visible presence in the business world. We have a responsibility to not only lead, but to shape equitable procurement practices, and conduct barrier-free business.

These are the directives and policies that support accessible procurement in the OPS:


The Supply Chain Management Division of the Ministry of Government Services is responsible for ensuring that procurement activities and processes are fair, equitable and accessible to vendors. They also help ensure taxpayers get good value for their dollar.

  • Management Board of Cabinet Procurement Directive outlines mandatory requirements for the procurement of goods and services. Accessibility must be considered when purchasing goods, services and facilities
  • Management Board of Cabinet Information and Technology Procurement Directive covers the use, management and wise investment of technology assets and resources

How to contact us

General Inquiry: 416 326-8555
Toll Free: 1 800 268-1142

416 326-8566

Ministry of Government Services
Room 4320, Whitney Block
99 Wellesley Street West
Toronto, ON M7A 1W3


Alternate formats of this document are available at no charge from:

Service Ontario Publications
777 Bay Street
Suite M212, Market Level
Toronto, ON M5G 2C8

Telephone: (416) 326-5300 or toll-free: 1-800-668-9938
TTY Service: 1-800-268-7095
Fax: 613-545-4223
Website: https://www.publications.serviceontario.ca

More Helpful Information

Federal laws and covenants

  • Canadian Human Rights Act (1977)
  • Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms (1982)
  • Canadian Employment Equity Act (1995)
  • UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities
    (Canada signed the Convention in 2007 and it was ratified in 2010)

Legislative and Administrative Authorities

  • Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, 2005, S.O. 2005
  • Accessibility Standards for Customer Service, O. Reg. 429/07
  • Integrated Accessibility Standards Regulation, O. Reg. 191/11
  • Human Rights Code, R.S.O. 1990, c. H.19
  • Ontarians with Disabilities Act, 2001, S.O. 2001, c. 32

Compliance Resources:

  • Accessibility Standards for Customer Service, Ontario Reg. 429/07; Accessibility Directorate of Ontario
  • Integrated Accessibility Standards Regulation, Ontario Reg. 191/11
  • OPS Customer Service Policy
  • Compliance Manual, October 2008
  • Guide to the Accessibility Standards for Customer Service, O. Reg. 429/07, January 2008
  • Training Resource, February 2009

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Updated: July 8, 2014