Ontario Public Service: Policies That Make Accessibility Work
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.
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About this Guide
This guide provides a summary of the accessibility-related directives and policies 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. It highlights our achievements and our plans for creating a barrier-free and accessible organization.
Why Accessibility Matters
The OPS is an accessibility leader in Ontario. Our goal is to ensure accessibility for our employees and the public as we provide services, products and facilities.
Every day, Ontarians count on us to provide high-quality, cost-effective services across the province. It is essential that all Ontarians have access to our services. It is also important that employees and others, who work in the OPS have equitable access to opportunities and an accessible workplace.
We are committed to creating an accessible organization – one that removes and prevents barriers to access for all.
Developing barrier-free programs and services will enable the OPS to achieve its vision of becoming a fully 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, implement and enforce accessibility standards in Ontario.
This guide outlines OPS policies and directives that support the areas regulated under theAODA:
- Customer Service
- Information and Communications
- Design of Public Spaces
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.
As a public service organization, it is imperative 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 Service Directive describes the experience a customer can expect when dealing with a government ministry. It 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 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. Updated in January 2014, the policy also reflects information and communication obligations under the Integrated Accessibility Standards Regulation (IASR) that impact customer service. The OPS strives 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.
- The OPS Common Service Standards establish minimum levels of service that customers can expect when accessing government services through various channels. They were updated in April 2013 to reflect evolving client needs and expectations. The standards specify the need for all ministries to provide a consistent quality service experience for all customers, and to adhere to accessibility legislative requirements.
As a large public sector organization, the OPS has a visible presence in the business world. We aim to lead and shape accessible procurement practices and conduct barrier-free business. We want to ensure taxpayers get good value for their dollar..
The OPS is responsible for ensuring that procurement activities and processes are fair and accessible to vendors, and that they incorporate accessibility requirements into their bids.
The following directives support accessible procurement in the OPS:
- OPS Procurement Directive outlines mandatory requirements for the procurement of goods and services. Accessibility must be considered when purchasing goods, services and facilities.
- Procurement Directive on Advertising, Public, and Media Relations requires ministries to incorporate accessibility considerations and criteria in procurement planning and documents, where applicable.
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. We are proactively removing barriers to ensure information and communication offered by the OPS is accessible to all employees and those who use government programs and services.
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, with the aim of making them more accessible to the public. It requires that alternative formats be provided upon request.
Advances in technology create new opportunities and challenges. The OPS continues to focus on developing, implementing and updating accessible information technology policies and standards, including standards for website accessibility and alternative formats.
- The OPS I&IT organization has established the Government of Ontario IT Standard (GO-ITS) 23: Government of Ontario Web Standard to ensure a consistent and positive web experience that is accessible to all Ontarians. The standard ensures that all Ontario government web sites are compliant with WCAG 2.0, Level AA according to the timelines set out by the Integrated Accessibility Standards Regulation.
Alternate Formats and Accessible Communications
- The The OPS Accessible Customer Service Policy contains direction to OPS staff on providing accessible information and services to the public including communicating with people with disabilities and providing accessible formats and communication supports.
The OPS is committed to fostering and sustaining an inclusive and accessible workplace that allows all employees to fully participate. OPS policies promote the recruitment, retention and development of talented employees through equitable and barrier-free 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 a workplace that is respectful and inclusive of individual needs and differences.
The following directives and policies support these objectives 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.
- Policy on Preventing Barriers in Employment establishes a set of principles and requirements for identifying, removing, mitigating or preventing systemic Human Rights Code employment barriers. The policy applies to human resource management directives and policies, as well as practices relating to how these are carried out. This includes, recruitment and selection; appointment, assignment and transfer; employment accommodation, performance management; learning and development; redeployment; and suspension and termination.
- Disability Accommodation Policy addresses ways in which employment accommodation can respond to employees’ unique circumstances, enabling people with disabilities to participate equally in the workplace. The policy emphasizes the need to consider disability-related employment accommodation throughout all aspects of employment.
- OPS Employment Policy establishes principles and requirements for managing public service employment relating to the following activities: recruitment and selection, appointment, assignment and transfer, workforce adjustment, and suspension and termination. The policy stipulates that employment practices must apply the principles of merit, inclusion, and accessibility. It requires that employment accommodations be offered and provided where necessary in accordance with relevant accessibility and human rights legislation, and OPS policies.
- Workplace Discrimination and Harassment Prevention (WDHP) Policy addresses the prevention, reporting, and resolution of workplace discrimination and/or harassment. It also provides a means of restoring workplaces affected by incidents or allegations of discrimination and /or harassment. It supports an inclusive, diverse, equitable, accessible and respectful work environment, free of discrimination and harassment.
Design of Public Spaces
The Guidelines for the Barrier-free Design of Ontario Government Facilities outlines obligations to meet or exceed barrier-free design requirements under the Ontario Building Code. It refers users to the Design of Public Spaces requirements to ensure that OPS staff and those doing work on our behalf meet these requirements. It is currently being used by OPS staff and Infrastructure Ontario to develop new capital and infrastructure projects, and undertake extensive renovations of government facilities.
How to contact us
Ministry of Government and Consumer 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
Resources Supporting Accessibility
- Ontario Public Service Accessible Customer Service Policy
- Government of Ontario IT Standard (GO-ITS) 23: Government of Ontario Web Standard
- Making Ontario Accessible, Accessibility Directorate of Ontario
Relevant Legislation and Covenants
- Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms (1982)
- UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities
(Canada signed the Convention in 2007 and it was ratified in 2010)
- Human Rights Code, R.S.O. 1990, c. H.19
- 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
- Ontarians with Disabilities Act, 2001, S.O. 2001, c.32
- Making Ontario Accessible, Accessibility Directorate of Ontario