Executive summary

Under the Ontarians with Disabilities Act, 2001 (ODA), ministries are required to produce, and make available to the public, annual plans that identify how ministries will identify and remove barriers to accessibility.

Like all ministries, the Ministry of Government and Consumer Services (MGCS) complies with the Accessibility Standards for Customer Service (ASCS) and the Integrated Accessibility Standards Regulation (IASR). These regulations establish phased-in requirements in the following accessibility standards:

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.

The Ministry of Government and Consumer Services’ 2015 ODA Plan celebrates the tenth anniversary of the ODA and demonstrates how the measures taken in 2015 and proposed for 2016 support the key outcomes and deliverables of the OPS MYAP as we continue on our path to an accessible Ontario in 2025.

The Ministry of Government and Consumer Services (MGCS) was realigned in June, 2014. With the exception of ServiceOntario, the former ministries – Ministry of Government Services (MGS) and Ministry of Consumer Services (MCS) – closed off ODA reporting and did not include proposed commitments for 2015.

Section one provides measures taken by ServiceOntario only in 2015.

To access other ministry Accessibility Plans, visit Ontario.ca.

Section one: ServiceOntario 2015 report on measures taken

Introduction

ServiceOntario is committed to ensuring that its services and facilities are accessible and responsive to the needs of persons with disabilities.

As a best practice, ServiceOntario undertakes a comprehensive process to review and confirm accessibility compliance at our centres each year. This includes:

  • workplace accessibility training, as well as other training, online tools and resources offered through ServiceOntario;
  • conducting annual internal compliance audits under the AODA Customer Service Standard. This involves a spot check of public and private ServiceOntario centres on required documents and accessibility training questions for appropriate interactions with customers with disabilities;
  • using customer feedback to identify gaps and areas for improvement;
  • improving customer experience by meeting service standards and ensuring that the customer’s voice, including concerns related to accessibility is central to all service delivery improvement; and
  • reviewing public and private centres to assess physical, visual and auditory barriers to accessibility and make managers more aware of the OPS barrier-free requirements.

In spring 2015, Ontario transitioned from issuing paper-based short form birth certificates to a new high-security Polymer Birth Certificate format. The design standard of the Polymer Birth Certificate shared across all Canadian jurisdictions (with the exception of Quebec) has several features that make it acceptable from an accessibility perspective, including:

  • the presence of a tactile feature of the maple leaves;
  • light coloured background providing good colour contrast with the printed personalized information;
  • unique size and material, differentiating it from other products;
  • in the customization of the design for Ontario, an effort was made to make text accessible given the required design and size constraints; and
  • all personalized information is printed in an accessible font type and size.

ServiceOntario hosted a stakeholder consultation on accessible services in November 2015. This consultation provided an opportunity for stakeholders to provide their insights about the accessibility practices of online, in person, and telephone services. Feedback from the consultation was used to develop proposed commitments for 2016 and will continue to inform future plans to ensure accessibility for everyone.

Customer service

OPS Multi-year Accessibility Plan (MYAP) key outcome

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

Measures taken by ServiceOntario in 2015

  • Explore accessibility features in the procurement of any technology for ServiceOntario centres.
Measures taken

Accessibility was incorporated in the technology of new point-of-sale devices. Where point-of-sale devices are available, accessibility features include appropriate colour contrast for text and background, audible option in order to listen to instructions, sufficient time provided for each question to ensure that screen does not time out, lengthened tethers to ensure that device can be extended to a person using a mobility device, larger keys, etc.

  • Continue to conduct annual internal audits at ServiceOntario centres to ensure compliance with the Accessibility Standard for Customer Service under the AODA. A random sample of retail offices will be spot-checked on the availability of required information and staff awareness on the appropriate practices and protocols in place for serving customers with disabilities.
Measures taken

Each year, the Inclusion Unit establishes a process for a random sample of centres to assess their compliance with the Accessibility Standards for Customer Service as defined under the AODA. This year, 15 per cent of public and private offices were assessed to ensure compliance. All participating centres were reported as being in full compliance with the regulation.

  • Continue using customer feedback to identify gaps and identify opportunities to improve staff training initiatives and overall service delivery.
Measures taken

Customer feedback reports including issues relating to accessibility and inclusion were analyzed on a quarterly basis to identify gaps and areas of improvement. The Active Offer Protocol is used by ServiceOntario centre staff to address gaps in serving customers with disabilities. The protocol guides staff in providing an additional offer of assistance where it is apparent that a customer has a disability or appears to require help. The protocol also allows the opportunity for staff to inform customers of the various ways our services can be made more accessible.

  • Staff at ServiceOntario centres will continue to actively offer assistance to customers who appear to have a need, and will ensure that customers with accessibility needs know what accommodations are available to them.
Measures taken

ServiceOntario centres offer additional assistance when it is apparent that a customer has a disability by taking the time to listen to the customer’s needs, using the proper etiquette when interacting with persons with disabilities and advising customers of the options that are available to them.

  • Develop a spot check method to assess accessibility compliance at ServiceOntario call centres.
Measures taken

A checklist was developed to provide best practices for contact centre agents to effectively communicate with individuals who encounter barriers when using ServiceOntario’s telephone channel. The information provides assistance in accommodating persons with speech and language disabilities and takes into account a person’s disability as required under the Accessibility Standards for Customer Service.

  • Accessibility will be integrated into the service design approach, which is a key element of the Strategic Plan Refresh for ServiceOntario. This project will develop a framework to establish service design guidelines, principles and other resources that will embed customer-centricity. This will ensure that accessibility is considered from the customer’s perspective at the onset and will continue throughout the design process.
Measures taken

ServiceOntario customer-centric service design approach to provide more government services online has integrated accessibility into its strategy by including a Service Design Principle - Design to be inclusive, it benefits everyone. This principle, in addition to 9 others, embeds accessibility into the service design process and models ServiceOntario’s service development practices and tools.

  • Online services will be designed to guide and enhance usability to improve access to government services for persons with disabilities.
Measures taken

A Digital Assist framework has been developed to support customers who require assistance when using online services. This plan identifies digital alternatives that include customers who have accessibility needs, limited access to the internet or beginner level experience in using a computer.

  • Continue to ensure that employees complete mandatory and recommended training related to accessibility.
Measures taken

New ServiceOntario staff were required to complete mandatory accessibility training offered through the Learning Management System (LMS). All directors confirmed that their staff had completed these courses through the 2015 Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) attestation process. Course completion was recorded by the LMS.

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 ServiceOntario in 2015

  • Continue to promote the awareness and importance of accessibility to all OPS employees and to demonstrate social responsibility by providing accessible information and services.
Measures taken

A number of blogs, articles and resources were shared with OPS employees from various levels of the organization to raise awareness on accessibility and help staff understand the benefits of providing accessible information and services.

  • Increase customer satisfaction through accessibility-related projects, as stakeholders will receive improved service through accessibility-compliant applications that meet the needs of Ontarians and align with the government’s agenda and priorities.
Measures taken

All ServiceOntario enquiries are acknowledged by the Customer Experience Office (CEO) or the appropriate program area in two business days of receipt and answered within 15 business days. Customer feedback reports are also compiled and analyzed by the Inclusion Unit to identify areas for improvement and emerging trends. Applicable areas within the organization are made aware of how to work towards continuous improvement of our services.

  • The existing front-end component of ServiceOntario Publications website will be retrofitted to ensure compliance with WCAG 2.0, Level AA.
Measures taken

The front-end component of ServiceOntario website was made compliant with WCAG 2.0, Level AA in November 2015.

  • Retrofit existing applications to become compliant with WCAG 2.0, Level AA:
    • Service Location Finder mobile
    • Vision: Status Inquiry website
    • Newborn Registration website and
    • Integrated Address Change website
Measures taken

Application included in the list above were retrofitted, tested and confirmed as being in compliance with WCAG 2.0 Level AA.

  • Pending Service Ontario’s IT assessment and capacity, the Service Guarantee Refund and Rate Our Service websites will be retrofitted, if possible, to comply with WCAG 2.0, Level AA.
Measures taken

The Service Guarantee Refund website was made compliant with the WCAG 2.0, Level AA. The online survey, Rate Our Service, was migrated to a new survey platform to ensure compliance accessibility guidelines and mobile capabilities.

Employment

MYAP key outcome

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

Measures taken by ServiceOntario in 2015

  • Ensure recruitment process is barrier-free and supports the principles of inclusion, diversity, equity and accessibility.
Measures taken

Launched the second phase of the fair hiring strategy with a focus on the post-competition feedback process. This process provides unsuccessful candidates with an opportunity to better understand why they were not selected and how they can improve their interview skills. The resources that were developed include a video demonstration and tip sheet to help managers improve the quality of post-competition feedback and a tip sheet to assist employees in seeking and applying post-competition feedback.

  • Continue to increase staff awareness of employment accommodation directives, policies, plans and best practices.
Measures taken

Two mandatory manager e-courses regarding disability accommodation and supporting and managing employee attendance were launched and made available to managers and employees on the Learning Management System. In-class manager training and one-hour information sessions for all OPS employees regarding employment accommodation and attendance support and management program were also provided to employees.

The Human Resources Service Delivery Division continues to deliver information sessions as requested by unit and branch management teams. In December 2015, employees were canvassed via an employee wellness survey regarding awareness of, and satisfaction with employment accommodation services and the Employee Assistance Program (EAP).

Built environment

MYAP key outcome

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

Measures taken by ServiceOntario in 2015

  • Continue to participate in the Accessible Move/Renovation Protocol Working Group discussions. This group was established in 2013 by the OPS Diversity Office and consists of managers, end users, facility directors, accessibility leads and other staff seeking guidance in this area.
Measures taken

No meetings were held during this reporting period.

  • Continue to complete inventories of government spaces and increase awareness of legislative requirements (e.g., the Integrated Accessibility Standards Regulation, the Building Code Act, 1992 and OPS barrier-free requirements) throughout the organization.
Measures taken

Infrastructure Ontario (IO) has oversight for inventories of government space. At the ministry level, Facilities staff undertook mandatory training in the new Built Environment Standard.

  • Continue reviewing its current spaces in public and private centres to assess physical, visual and auditory barriers to accessibility and make managers more aware of the OPS barrier-free requirements.
Measures taken

In recognition of the potential to improve accessibility when moves or renovations are planned, a summary of the standard was made available to all managers in MGCS.

  • Share the reviews' findings and provide recommendations to the locations that need improvement.
Measures taken

At the ministry level, this work focused on ServiceOntario centres. See measures taken below.

  • In partnership with appropriate stakeholders, conduct reviews using a barrier-free checklist, including questions on features such as exterior entrances, interior doors and public zone features.
Measures taken

Facilities supported the work of ServiceOntario to develop a list of accessibility features in all centres. A pilot survey identifying the current accessibility features in place as well as accessible alternatives available was conducted across the province in November and December, 2015.

  • Work with retail offices to address physical accessibility barriers brought to its attention by customers and work with Infrastructure Ontario to determine possible solutions.
Measures taken

ServiceOntario continues to monitor customer feedback regarding physical accessibility barriers. We will continue to work closely with our centres to develop options to address barriers as they are identified.

  • Include AODA upgrades in facilities projects throughout the year.
Measures taken

All design solutions undertaken by Facilities take AODA requirements into account.

  • Ensure that staff whose job responsibilities relate to the Built Environment standards complete recommended training.
Measures taken

Communication was sent to staff in April 2015 identifying staff whose job responsibilities were impacted by the Accessibility Standards for the Built Environment. Mandatory completion of the accessible Built Environment training was required for staff within those areas. Attestations are received from business and program area directors on annual basis confirming that staff have completed mandatory training.

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 ServiceOntario in 2015

  • Continue to proactively promote an inclusive workplace through regular communications that provide guidance, inspire action and demonstrate successful practices in accessibility through:
    • inclusion in action
    • Accessibility@Source materials and
    • continue to increase OPS ability to be inclusive, diverse and accessible by being responsive and proactive
Measures taken

Inclusion newsletter was distributed to ServiceOntario staff on a bi-monthly basis and was posted on the intranet site to ensure availability to staff. Accessibility@Source materials were also promoted to staff through the intranet site, newsletters and other communication products.

  • Continue to provide staff with educational resources through our internal Learning Management System (LMS) to build awareness in the area of accessibility. LMS is an online tool that centralizes access to ServiceOntario training and learning events.
Measures taken

All mandatory accessibility related courses are available on the ministry’s online Learning Management System for all staff in multiple formats. All new staff are required to complete these courses within three weeks onboarding.

  • A series of manager modules have been refreshed for distribution as learning tools to increase staff understanding of inclusion and accessibility.
Measures taken

Quarterly teleconferences were held for managers and directors to deepen awareness and understanding of inclusion and to discuss ways in which inclusive leadership can be demonstrated.

  • Develop resources to assist staff in creating accessible documents.
Measures taken

A self-study module - I Can Do It! Making Word 2010 Documents Accessible in 12 Easy Lessons - was developed to assist ServiceOntario staff in learning how to create accessible documents. An accessible documents campaign - Ready. Set. Access! - was launched to raise awareness across the ministry on how to create accessible documents and its importance. Content, tips and checklists remain available to staff on the Ready. Set. Access! internal website.

  • Use the Inclusion Lens in all ServiceOntario projects that are submitted to the Project Management Office to ensure that elements of diversity and inclusion are incorporated in to our services.
Measures taken

The Inclusion Lens was applied to ServiceOntario projects that were submitted through the Project Management Office. Prior to the project closing phase, project leads provided a summary of their analysis and reported back on mitigation strategies put in place for any barriers that were identified.

Section two:  report on measures proposed by the ministry for 2016

Customer service

MYAP key outcome

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

Measures Proposed by MGCS for 2016

ServiceOntario commitments
  • Incorporate accessibility features in the design and technology of ServiceOntario’s queuing systems.
  • Add accessibility information to ServiceOntario’s Service finder, a search feature that allows customers to locate the closest service centre that provides the services they need.
  • Educate ServiceOntario’s Private Service Providers on cost effective accessibility alternatives.
  • Refresh service disruption signage for ServiceOntario centres and distribute to staff.
  • Establish criteria for designating ServiceOntario centres as accessible.
  • Create an inventory of accessibility features in all private ServiceOntario centres.
Ontario Shared Services commitments
  • Ensure staff are educated on AODA requirements and MGCS’s Accessibility Directives.
  • Continue to enhance accessibility to all Integrated Financial Information System (IFIS) training and learning by expanding learning methodologies and approaches and customizing to meet learning needs.
  • When submitting Requests for Services or bids, require that vendors meet the accessibility standards.
  • Staff will demonstrate an OPS Inclusion Lens analysis in developing, refreshing or analyzing programs and services.
  • Continue to provide accessible customer service to both internal and external clients.

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 proposed by MGCS for 2016

ServiceOntario commitments
  • Review findings from ServiceOntario’s first consultation with stakeholders from the disability and seniors communities to identify areas for service improvement. The consultation focused on three of ServiceOntario’s service channels:  in-person, online, and contact centres (telephone and TTY).
  • Continue to ensure that all ServiceOntario websites and content comply with Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 AA.
  • Add accessibility information to ServiceOntario’s Service Finder, a search feature that allows customers to locate the closest service centre that provides the services they need.
  • Explore the feasibility of having a greeter at busier ServiceOntario centres to assess accommodation requests.
Ontario Shared Services commitments
  • Continue to ensure that the following websites and content comply with Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 AA:
    • OPS Careers;
    • Workforce Information Network (WIN);
    • include live captioning and audio description on Doing Business with Ontario Government website; and
    • begin process of transitioning client website to InSite.
    • Apply accessibility standards to all new Pay and Benefits communication and training channels to ensure that content is designed in manner that is accessible.
    • Redesign internal communications vehicles (Payroll Directives, Broadcast Communications, Quick Reference Guides, etc.) in order to ensure that those resources are accessible.
    • Offer a single point of contact for posting documents on intranet and internet sites to support greater quality control of documents and ensure accessibility requirements.
    • Continue to ensure that all documents created in OSS are provided to clients in an accessible format.
    • Ensure that forms created in OSS for client ministries use are updated and meet accessibility standards.
    • Use approval process to ensure documents are accessible.
    • Develop and expand expertise within the MyOPS team in the development of accessible documents and web content.
    • Provide software training related to accessibility (Microsoft Word, Excel and PowerPoint) to all Supply Chain Ontario staff.
    • Ensure all staff are abiding with ministry’s accessibility guidelines when communicating with staff and clients.
Consumer Protection Ontario commitments
  • Working in partnership with the Digital Unit in the Communications Branch, ensure that all Consumer Protection Ontario (CPO) content is accessible and AODA compliant including materials used by consumers to write to businesses, pages to be viewed online and the e-complaint form used to submit complaints to the ministry.
  • Presentation material delivered to external stakeholders verified to be AODA compliant.
  • Ensure that material distributed to businesses through enforcement initiatives are accessible including all Knowledge Management Articles (distributed to consumers and businesses) built into the ministry’s new enforcement IT system, the Integrated Consumer Protection System launching in April 2016.
  • Actively offer accommodations to stakeholders and the public for policy consultations.
Government Services Integration Cluster commitments
  • Review, as part of ServiceOntario’s ongoing improvement/enhancement activities, its Interactive Voice Response (IVR) application to simplify menu options and help customers navigate the system more effectively.
  • Continue to ensure that all channels (e.g., online, retail, forms, letters and contact centre) reflect language style, brand and accessibility/inclusion guidelines to ensure consistent and accessible customer experience at all touch points.
Communications Branch commitments
  • Explore ways to better inform customers about accessible services.
  • Lead by example, ensuring Communications Branch staff are accountable and materials produced meet accessibility requirements.
  • Work with relevant stakeholders to extend our communications reach.
  • Develop targeted communications strategies/tactics for specific audiences.

Employment

MYAP key outcome

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

Measures proposed by MGCS for 2016

Ontario Shared Services commitments
  • Ensure all staff are abiding with ministry’s accessibility guidelines when communicating with clients.
  • Continue to offer and provide timely and effective employment accommodation for persons with disabilities and regularly update evacuation plans.
  • Continue to review and update Human Resources (HR) advisory and recruitment resource documents posted on the HR services website (internal employee facing) to ensure compliance with accessibility requirements.
  • Educate staff on mental health in the workplace.
  • Continue to ensure the hiring process is barrier-free and supports principles of inclusion, diversity, equity and accessibility.
  • Continue to increase staff awareness of employment accommodation directives, plans and best practices.
  • Develop and implement a customized inclusion lens to help identify and remove potential barriers in the non-executive recruitment process.
Corporate Services Division commitment
  • Offer inclusion dialogues for all managers to encourage leaders to become more inclusive.
OPS Diversity Office commitment
  • Continue to enhance and implement employment accommodation and return-to-work practices for employees with disabilities.

Built environment

MYAP key outcome

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

Measures proposed by MGCS for 2016

ServiceOntario commitments
  • Establish criteria for designating ServiceOntario centres as accessible.
  • Create an inventory of accessibility features in all private ServiceOntario centres.
Ontario Shared Services commitments
  • Work with ministry facility representatives to ensure workplaces meet AODA.

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 proposed by MGCS for 2016

ServiceOntario commitment
  • Continue to apply the OPS Inclusion Lens to all ServiceOntario projects that are submitted to the Project Management Office.
Ontario Shared Services commitments
  • Continue to consider accessibility in all Supply Chain Ontario (SCO) procurements including:
    • all staff consider AODA obligations by using the guidelines and checklist available on the division’s intranet site;
    • ensure standardized AODA vendor compliance language is included in procurement document;
    • where applicable, incorporate AODA considerations into the vendor technical evaluation (rated criteria) of a procurement; and
    • management compliance with AODA obligations reflected and documented in management performance plans.
    • Continue to apply the OPS Inclusion Lens to all Pay and Benefits Services Division (PBSD) projects and requests that are submitted through the intake process to ensure that elements of diversity and inclusion are incorporated into our services.
    • Provide educational events during staff meetings.
Consumer Protection Ontario commitment
  • Continue to develop all policy using the OPS Inclusion Lens.
OPS Diversity Office commitments
  • Consider accessibility requirements and space consideration in all OPS Diversity Office activities.
  • As the enterprise office, the OPS Diversity Office will continue to facilitate the OPS to comply with the AODA and coordinate various activities to support compliance and embed inclusion.
  • When required, apply the OPS Inclusion Lens (designed to support OPS staff, including OPS Diversity Office staff, to develop and deliver inclusive, equitable, accessible and responsive initiatives) to program development.
  • Continue to ensure that all OPS Diversity Office staff have committed to accessibility performance and learning objectives within their own Employee Learning and Development Plans.
  • Continue to foster awareness and understanding of Accessibility@Source, an initiative that features topics related to accessibility within the OPS Diversity Office.
Corporate Service Division commitment
  • Host experiential and/or educational events that coincide with significant days.

Section three: addressing the identification of barriers in legislation

Introduction

The ODA establishes that a ministry’s accessibility plan shall include the measures in place to address the identification, removal and prevention of barriers to persons with disabilities in the Acts, regulations, policies, programs and services administered by the ministry.

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 laws that affect persons with disabilities. This review has now been completed.

Our ministry remains committed to the goal of ensuring that Ontario legislation does not create barriers to persons with disabilities. We will continue to report through our accessibility plan, the actions taken to identify and remove barriers in ministry Acts, regulations, policies, programs and services and those to be reviewed in the coming year. The findings of the coordinated review of high impact statutes will inform our ministry’s approach to carry out this work.

Measures currently in place

The ministry is committed to continuing to review legislation to find and remove barriers to accessibility. As well, the ministry will ensure that any of its activities related to drafting, reviewing or amending legislation take into consideration accessibility.

The ministry will continue to review all legislation that is introduced, drafted or relevant to the ministry for accessibility and inclusion. It will use the OPS Inclusion Lens and will ensure these reviews are updated to include lessons learned from the review of the high impact statutes.

Updated: June 24, 2021
Published: February 25, 2016