Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA)

SNOW & Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA)

Accessibility and inclusion are rights to be protected. They are also catalysts for new ideas and innovation that can lead to better curriculum design and enhanced learning opportunities. The Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) is legislation that requires the province of Ontario to develop, implement, and uphold accessibility standards for persons with disabilities in the areas of:

Customer Service

As the first AODA standard to become law in 2010, the Customer Service standard has provided a framework for educational institutions to establishing policies, practices, and procedures for the delivery of goods and services to people with disabilities. These standards address the following:

  • Ways to communicate with persons with disabilities, including those who are accompanied by a support person and/or a service animal
  • Ways to communicate with people who use assistive technology          
  • How to use assistive technology in our teaching and workspaces.
  • What to do if our service provisions are creating barriers for a person with disabilities
  • How to provide information (curriculum, emails, worksheets, media, etc.) in accessible formats
  • Developing accessible feedback mechanisms for people with disabilities to report back on how school boards are performing and how the feedback will be addressed.

Integrated Accessibility Standards Regulation

The aim of the Integrated Accessibility Standards Regulation is to remove accessibility barriers in the following three areas:

  • Transportation - making it possible for persons with disabilities to get to where they need to go, while respecting the core principles of the AODA
  • Employment - expanding Ontario’s labor pool and improving access for persons with disabilities into the workplace, and
  • Information and Communications – focuses on ensuring persons with disabilities have access to information. The Information and Communications standard focuses on ensuring that all information and communication related to teaching and learning is accessible. The definition of information and communication is broad and can include posters, handouts, worksheets, videos, web content and face-to-face interactions. The goal of these standards are to promote the inclusive design of information and communication platforms across Ontario and to illustrate what measures are required to remove barriers for persons with disabilities when creating, conveying and receiving information and communication.

Design of Public Spaces Standard

In 2013, the Integrated Accessibility Standards Regulation was amended to include accessibility requirements for the Design of Public Spaces (Accessibility Standards for the Built Environment).

Beginning in 2016, educational organizations will have to meet accessibility requirements when constructing and maintaining new or redevelopedelements of public spaces including:

  • Recreational trails and beach access routes
  • Outdoor eating areas for public use
  • Outdoor play spaces (such as playgrounds)
  • Exterior paths of travel (such as walkways across parks or between buildings)
  • Accessible on- and off-street parking
  • Service counters and waiting areas

The standard only applies when organizations build new or make major changes to existing elements of public spaces. The Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing (MMAH) is developing potential enhancements to current accessibility requirements in buildings.


Core Principles of AODA

To meet Ontario’s goal of being barrier free for persons with disabilities in 2025, all information and communication (audio, text, Braille, multimedia, sign language, and face to face interaction) must be made accessible to everyone. Based on the AODA Customer Service regulation our communication and information should reflect the following core principles.

Dignity: Educational policies, procedures and practices that respect the autonomy of all, regardless of personal circumstance, emphasizing the value of each individual as a valued person deserving of full service. This requires that no person be treated as an afterthought, forced to accept lesser, quality learning opportunity or experience inconvenience. Those providing education resources need to take into account how persons with disabilities learn and make use of education resources.

Independence:  When individuals – regardless of personal circumstance – are able to assert their own physical autonomy, without unnecessary assistance from others. Independence can also refer to freedom from the control or influence of others. Accommodating a person’s independence in lieu of a disability requires staff to engage with persons in a manner of the person’s choosing: one that allows for different modes of communication to facilitate autonomy.

Integration: The ability to provide policies, practices and procedures in a way that it enables all individuals to benefit from the same service, in the same place, and in a similar way as others. If you are unable to remove accessibility barriers, steps must be taken to consider what else can be done to achieve effective – or alternative access.

Equal Opportunity: The act of providing equal educational services, resources, and benefits to all, regardless of personal circumstance. When providing equal opportunities for persons with disabilities, ensure there are mechanisms in place to facilitate the distribution of services in such a way that no one has to exert significantly more effort than others in order to obtain them.

AODA Symbol on SNOW

Helping You Meet Ontario's AODA Symbol
Figure 1: AODA Symbol located throughout the SNOW website

A "Helping you meet Ontario's AODA" symbol is located throughout the SNOW website. This symbol will direct you to information about how the topic you are reviewing relates to Ontario’s AODA Integrated Accessibility Standards Regulation. 

To learn of ways to innovate, develop and design for accessibility, visit OCAD University's Inclusive Design Research Centre website.