Executive summary

Like all ministries, Ministry of Advanced Education and Skills Development (MAESD) complies with the Integrated Accessibility Standards Regulation (IASR). This regulation established phased-in requirements in the following accessibility standards:

  • customer service
  • information and communications
  • employment
  • transportation
  • design of public spaces

The general requirements are:

  • procurement
  • training

In 2012, the Ontario Public Service (OPS) released its first multi-year accessibility plan (MYAP) entitled Accessibility in the Ontario Public Service: Leading the Way Forward.

Beyond the legal obligations set out in the Ontarians with Disabilities Act (ODA), Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA), Integrated Accessibility Standards Regulation (IASR) as well as the Ontario Human Rights Code and other laws, the MYAP directed all ministries to assume an obligation as an employer, policy maker and service provider, and to lead by example and show the way for other organizations in Ontario.

The 2015-2016 MAESD Accessibility Plan was developed to align with the key MYAP goals as well as the requirements of the individual accessibility standards. Key priorities were also developed based on feedback from a wide range of employees across the ministry (e.g., senior leaders, Ministry Divisional and Branch Accessibility Leads, Ministry Disability Advisory Council members, etc.) and the results of the 2014 Employee Survey.

Throughout 2016, MAESD focused on three priority goals:

  1. Developing  Staff Capacity  – ensuring all staff and managers have the knowledge and tools to meet accessibility requirements, actions included:
  • refreshed the ministry’s intranet to include an expanded user-friendly accessibility section. The focus was on providing simpler and clearer practical information, including:
    • plain language guides to all standards
    • staff and manager to-do lists under each standard
    • links to resources on accessibility issues including training materials, guides  for creating accessible documents
    • key contact information, including ministry and key enterprise contacts with responsibility for accessibility issues in procurement, human resources, legal services, facilities, etc.
    • calendar of accessibility-related events, such as conferences and workshops
  • promoted the Learning Ministries’ (Ministry of Education and MAESD) accessibility community of practice which shared best practices and increased staff and management awareness of accessibility legislation requirements
  • explored online methods and options for delivering regional training
  • provided managers and staff with opportunities to expand their knowledge of accessibility issues and solutions by participating in accessibility-related events
  1. Strengthening Accountability – ensuring that the ministry is meeting all accessibility requirements and that there is a comprehensive and consistent approach and plan in place, actions included:
  • developed and implemented a ministry-wide accessibility tracking report and process for all AODA requirements
  1. Building relationships and partnerships with staff to promote joint responsibility for accessibility obligations, actions included:
  • held focus groups with staff and managers to get input and feedback on ministry accessibility issues and progress, and ideas for improvement.
  • consulted  with the chair of the OPS Disability Advisory Council on how best to implement feedback mechanisms for clients and staff with disabilities
  • consulted with ministry Disability Advisory Council representatives to gather feedback  on ministry accessibility issues and progress, and ideas for improvement.

MAESD’s 2016 Accessibility Report demonstrates how the measures taken in 2016 support the key outcomes and deliverables of the 2012-2016 OPS MYAP.

Section one: report on measures taken by the ministry in 2016

Customer service

MYAP key outcome

People with disabilities who are OPS customers receive quality goods and services in a timely manner.

Measures taken by MAESD in 2016

The ministry continued to demonstrate leadership in accessible customer service throughout 2016. Specific measures included:

  • monitoring public feedback on accessibility issues, including online and in-person, to collect information and data for use in accessibility planning and improvements to customer service
  • ensuring ministry communications materials provided an “active offer” of accommodation as per the OPS Accessible Customer Service Policy
  • exploring new ways of supporting participation of staff and clients with disabilities in all ministry programs and events
  • ensuring all events and meetings hosted by the ministry were accessible by:
    • using accessible venues
    • using American Sign Language (ASL) interpreters
    • providing closed captioning for videos
    • ensuring transcripts were available upon request
    • providing active offer of accommodation in the meeting invitation
    • ensuring accessibility services were available upon request, including wheelchair access, ASL interpreters, and costs for personal support persons if required

Staff awareness of customer service obligations under accessibility legislation, and general awareness of accessibility issues continued to be a priority for the ministry. Specific measures included:

  • sending regular notices to all staff from the Chief Administrative Officer to remind staff to complete mandatory accessibility training
  • tracking staff completion of mandatory training as part of the new ministry accessibility tracking process
  • promoting opportunities for staff training on accessibility obligations, including an assistive devices and technology and how to create accessible communications materials
  • developing the ministry’s Speakers Series on accessibility to foster staff understanding of the lived reality of people with disabilities working or accessing services in government and how to support a culture of accessibility and inclusion both within the government ministry and our home communities, the event was attended by over 300 staff
  • promoting information about accessibility related conferences, events and news by regularly posting to the Ministry Intranet “Inside Scoop” page; including information about World Mental Health Day, Guelph Accessibility Conference, join Conference, Accessibility Innovation Showcase
  • promoting “meet-ups” for Accessible Web Applications Developers.
  • all Employment and Training Division offices in the Northern and Central Regions that have assistive devices on site provided training to their staff of how to use these devices and how they should address someone using an assistive device

Information and communications

MYAP key outcome

Information and communications are available in accessible formats or with necessary supports to all OPS staff and customers.

Measures taken by MAESD in 2016

The ministry continued to ensure all communications materials, documents, websites, and technology solutions employed accessibility best practices. Specific measures included:

  • redeveloping the ministry’s intranet content to make the Accessibility section more user-friendly and simpler to navigate
  • linking to the OPS Information and Information Technology (I&IT) Accessibility Centre of Excellence training videos and guides
  • providing plain language versions of the accessibility legislation and staff obligations under each standard
  • developing accessibility-related “To Do” lists for staff and managers under each accessibility standard
  • posting training information, resources and tools for staff on creating accessible documents
  • promoting staff training on how to create accessible communications materials through a variety of networks, including the Applied Research Community of Practice, OPS I&IT Accessibility Centre of Excellence and Treasury Board Secretariat, over 400 staff took this training in 2016
  • promoting corporately-developed tip sheets and guides, as well as in-person training delivered by Treasury Board Secretariat on how to create accessible documents
  • promoting a “Creating Accessible Documents” guide developed in partnership with other ministries and the ministry’s communications branch as the new ministry-wide standard
  • developing and promoting a placemat listing all OPS Training and Resource Options for Learning How to Create Accessible Documents
  • developing a series of articles to raise staff awareness about the importance of accessible communications and tips on how to create accessible documents
  • ensuring all communications materials posted on the ministry website are accessible and met the Web Content Accessibility Guideline (WCAG) 2.0 Level AA Standard
  • ensuring ministry communications materials provided an “active offer” of the availability of accessible formats upon request
  • ensuring all new video productions and digital resources were closed captioned, and contained descriptive captioning for pictures in videos and presentations
  • including American Sign Language (ASL) video translations of web content for people who are hearing impaired
  • the Employment and Training Division undertook the following measures:
    • Finance, Analysis and Systems Support Branch continued to work with regional staff to assess ongoing supports for the Ontario Literacy and Basic Skills deaf Stream Program
    • Program Delivery Support Branch worked collaboratively with the Ontario College of Trades to implement a pilot project to provide access to Kurzweil text-to-speech/reader software as an option for certification candidate examinees who were approved for exam accommodation
    • Employment Ontario Information System – Case Management System (EOIS-CAMS) training sessions were provided for Literacy and Basic Skills (LBS) e-channel service providers in English, French, and American Sign Language (ASL)
    • Apprenticeship Apply Online (AOL) was launched in January 2016 – to provide clients with an accessible alternative to submitting a paper application
    • wallet cards issued to apprentices after registration were replaced by accessible Apprentice Identification Letters
    • apprenticeship forms made available on public websites, including documents posted to the Employment Ontario Partner’s Gateway (EOPG) website, and Calls for Proposals, were made accessible
    • Organizational and Business Excellence Branch (OBEB) ensured all documents made accessible, including materials for Syrian Newcomer Outreach pilot project with Service Canada
    • Employment Ontario Call Centre (EOCC) revised their internal SharePoint website to ensure accessibility
  • The Community Services I&IT Cluster undertook the following measures:
    • AODA Task Force Committee held eight meetings in 2016 to discuss accessibility-related issues
    • collaborated with I&IT Accessibility Centre of Excellence, Corporate Accessibility Team, OPS Web Coordinators Committee to identify best practices for accessibility
  • The Postsecondary Education Division undertook the following measures:
    • Postsecondary Accountability Branch refreshed all publically posted Binding Policy Directives and Operating Procedures into accessible formats to the Postsecondary Education Partner’s Gateway
    • Reviewed over 3,000 web pages and documents posted on the ministry’s website to ensure accessibility.


MYAP key outcome

OPS employees with disabilities participate fully and meaningfully in their employment.

Measures taken by MAESD in 2016

The ministry continued to be committed to providing barrier-free access to all ministry employees. Specific measures included:

  • promoting enterprise-wide communications about the Ontario Public Service requirements under the Employment Standard, including the mandatory e-course on the Employment Standard “IASR - Employment Standards”, sharing with managers and staff through memos from senior management, and by posting information on the ministry intranet
  • expanding training to include specific training for managers and staff in Human Resources (HR) on accessibility issues and employer obligations, such as training on accommodations procedures in the new hrOntario’s comprehensive Disability Support Strategy
  • sharing all hrOntario developed tools, resources and guidelines related to employment obligations under the accessibility legislation through memos from the Chief Administrative Officer
  • ensuring all employee accommodations addressed the accessibility needs of staff
  • advising all candidates of their right to accommodation during the job recruitment process
  • advising managers of their accessibility obligations
  • supporting ministry staff enrolled in the Diversity Mentoring Partnership Program

The ministry continued to promote mental health issues, including:

  • providing mental health information and training, and promoting awareness of the new corporate resources available on the OPS Human Resources intranet

During the 6th year of the Diversity Career Champions Program (formally the Diversity Mentorship Partnership Program), there were 84 participants in total, which includes 34 from MAESD. This program is designed to provide an inclusive environment for reciprocal learning in which mentors and employee partners engage in honest, open and meaningful dialogue about diversity, accessibility, and inclusion.

  • Employment and Training Division’s Central Region management team conducted an analysis to identify potential barriers to employees with disabilities, and recommendations were included in the regional operations plan
  • Employment and Training Division’s Western Region created an Interview Proctoring Page to provide resources to interview proctors to support a barrier-free interview process

Design of public spaces

MYAP key outcome

There is greater accessibility into, out of and around OPS facilities and public spaces.

Measures taken by MAESD in 2016

The ministry continued to be committed to making the built environment accessible and barrier-free. Specific measures included:

  • ministry staff worked with Infrastructure Ontario and facilities staff to improve accessibility and ensure barrier-free design standards on an ongoing basis
  • Employment and Training Division, Western Region, installed automatic door openers in two offices (Kitchener and St. Catharines), and installed eight accessible tables for clients writing exams
  • Apprenticeship Enhancement Fund (AEF) Program provides funding for improvements to physical spaces at Training Delivery Agents (TDAs), including removing barriers through the installation of ramps and door openers.

General outcomes

MYAP key outcome

OPS staff are able to identify barriers to accessibility, in OPS policies, programs, services and facilities, and actively seek solutions to prevent or remove them on a continuing basis throughout the organization.

Measures taken by MAESD in 2016

As part of the ministry’s initiatives to promote compliance with ODA and AODA requirements, the ministry undertook the following measures:


  • ensuring that the ministry’s Deputy Minister had accessibility commitments in his Performance Plan

The ministry continues to work in partnership with OPS partners to advance the accessibility agenda including:

  • working in partnership with OPS Diversity Office and Ministry Accessibility Leads to promote awareness of the accessibility requirements, and to share best practices
  • providing feedback to the OPS IT Accessibility Centre of Excellence on the review of its intranet resources
  • providing feedback to the Accessibility Directorate of Ontario regarding web compliance information
  • becoming a member of the International Association of Accessibility Professionals and sharing relevant information with ministry staff
  • undertaking research to support the work of the Information and Communications Standard Development Committee
  • working in partnership with the Accessibility Directorate of Ontario and the MEDU to develop a new Education Standard under the AODA
  • encouraging staff to complete OPS Inclusion Lens training
  • continuing to promote Alternate Education Resources for Ontario (AERO) online service in order to attract additional American and Canadian publishers to provide high-quality accessible format textbooks to colleges and universities (brochures are posted on the ministry’s website)
  • providing funding to projects under the Mental Health Innovation Fund
  • increasing the ministry’s contribution to Kids Help Phone to operate Good2Talk/ Allo J’Écoute postsecondary mental health helpline
  • providing services and equipment to enable students with disabilities who have financial need to continue to attend postsecondary studies by funding the Ontario Bursary for Students with Disabilities, and the Ontario Out of Country Bursary for deaf Students

Section two: addressing the identification of barriers in legislation and implementation frameworks


In 2005, the government introduced the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, with the goal of making Ontario accessible by 2025. In support of this goal, the government subsequently committed to review Ontario legislation to identify and address accessibility barriers, and undertook a coordinated review of 51 statutes considered to have a high impact on persons with disabilities.

As a result of this review, the government made changes to 11 statutes spread across seven ministries to ensure that Ontario laws better reflect accessibility considerations. The changes to the 11 statutes were included in the government’s 2016 Budget bill, which received Royal Assent on April 19, 2016.

Each ministry continues to be responsible for identifying and addressing barriers in their legislation and the policies and programs through which that legislation is implemented, and for reporting on results through its accessibility report.

Our Ministry remains committed to the goal of ensuring that Ontario legislation and implementation frameworks do not create barriers to persons with disabilities.

Measures in place in 2016

The following measures are in place to assess our ministry’s proposals for new Acts, regulations, policies, programs and services to determine their effect on persons with disabilities:

  • the Legal Services Branch continues to provide advice for the purpose of identifying and avoiding potential barriers to persons with disabilities in proposed statutes and regulations, and whenever amendments are proposed to existing legislation