Accessibility Policy

Approved By: City Council 
Category: General Administration
Approval Date: April 11, 2012
Effective Date: April 11, 2012

Policy Statement

The City of Ottawa is committed to providing equal treatment to people with disabilities with respect to the use and benefit of City services, programs, goods and facilities in a manner that respects their dignity and that is equitable in relation to the broader public. This commitment extends to residents, visitors and employees with visible or non-visible disabilities


This policy is intended to provide the overarching framework to guide the review and development of other City of Ottawa policies, standards, procedures, By-laws and guidelines to comply with the standards developed under the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act 2005, S.O. 2005, c. 11. (the AODA).


This Policy applies to all City employees (including Ottawa Public Health) volunteers, and to any individual or organization that provides goods, services or facilities to the public or other third parties on behalf of the City, in accordance with the legislation.

Transit Services, such as OC Transpo, Para Transpo and Light Rail Services, are federally regulated and therefore the AODA (a provincial statute) is not applicable. However, the City's Transit Services Department and Rail Implementation Office are committed to meeting the spirit and intent of the AODA.

The Ottawa Public Library reports to a separate board and as such follows their own respective policy.


 City services, programs, goods, and facilities, are to be available to people with disabilities in a manner that:

  • Is free from discrimination;
  • Accessible Formats and Communication Supports
  • Seeks to provide integrated services;
  • Provides an opportunity equitable to others to obtain, use and benefit from the goods or services, and;
  • Takes into consideration a person's disability

Policy  Requirements 

General Standards

 The City of Ottawa is a designated public sector organization under the AODA and is committed to meeting the accessibility needs of people with disabilities.

Accessibility Advisory Committee

The City of Ottawa has established an advisory committee with a majority of individuals whom are persons with disabilities. The committee shall advise Council about the requirements and implementation of AODA accessibility standards, preparation of accessibility reports, including access for persons with disabilities to a building or premises, and other matters for which Council may seek advice. 

 Establishment of Accessibility Plans and Policies

The City shall produce a multi-year Accessibility Plan. The plan will be posted on the City's website and shall be made available in an accessible format and with communication supports, upon request. Progress on the plan will be provided annually in the City of Ottawa's Municipal Accessibility Plan (COMAP) update report to Council. The Accessibility Plan shall be reviewed and, if necessary, updated at least once every five (5) years.

The City of Ottawa maintains policies governing how the City shall meet its requirements under the AODA, and the City will provide policies in an accessible format, upon request.

Accessible Formats and Communication Supports

Except as otherwise provided by the AODA, the City of Ottawa shall, upon request, and in consultation with the person making the request, provide or make arrangements to provide accessible formats and communication supports for persons with disabilities. Accessible formats and communication supports shall be provided in a timely manner, taking into account the person's accessibility needs and at a cost that is no more than the regular cost charged to other persons, in accordance with the Accessible Formats and Communication Supports Procedures.(see appendix A

This does not apply to products and product labels, unconvertible information or communications and information that the City does not control directly or indirectly through a contractual relationship. If it is determined that information or communications are unconvertible, the department shall provide the person requesting the information or communication with:

  1. an explanation as to why the information or communications are unconvertable;
  2. a summary of the unconveritble information or communications

Procurement of Goods, Services, Facilities and Kiosks

When  procuring goods, services, self-service kiosks or facilities, the City shall incorporate accessibility criteria and features, unless it is not feasible (practicable). If not practicable, the City shall provide an explanation, upon request.


All City employees, volunteers and third parties providing goods and services to members of the public on the City's behalf, as well as those who develop the policies, practices and procedures governing the provision of goods or services to members of the public or other third parties will receive accessibility training.

This training shall include:

  • A review of the purposes of the AODA and the requirements of the Accessibility Standards for Customer Service (Ontario Regulation 429/07) and instruction about the following matters:
    • How to interact and communicate with persons with various types of disability;
    • How to interact with persons with disabilities who use an assistive device or require the assistance of a guide dog or other service animal or the assistance of a support person;
    • How to use equipment or devices available on the provider's premises or otherwise provided by the provider that may help with the provision of goods or services to a person with a disability;
    • What to do if a person with a particular type of disability is having difficulty accessing the provider's goods or services; and,
  • A review of the requirements of the accessibility standards referred to in the AODA Integrated Accessibility Standards (Ontario Regulation 191/11) and on the Human Rights Code as it pertains to persons with disabilities.

The training provided shall be appropriate to the duties of the employee, volunteer or third party. Training shall take place as soon as is practicable and upon completion, the City shall keep a record of the training provided including the dates on which accessibility training took place.


Feedback on how services were delivered to people with disabilities shall be invited, forwarded to the appropriate personnel, responded to, documented and tracked. Feedback shall be collected by phone at 3-1-1 and Next Talk TTY (Teletypewriter), by e-mail to the accessibility office and in person at any of the City's service locations. Feedback shall be accepted in accessible formats and with other communication supports as required. 


Documentation that describes this Policy and each of its requirements shall be maintained on the City's website and provided to individuals, upon request, in the appropriate format or communication support.

Customer Service Standards

Assistive devices

City employees, volunteers and third party contractors shall accommodate the use of personal assistive devices including but not limited to, wheelchairs, canes, walkers, scooters and Braille display boards. Assistive devices including, but not limited to, Assistive Listening Devices and FM Loop systems that are available for access to specific services and programs shall be kept in good working order and the public shall be informed of their availability.

Service animals

City employees volunteers and third party contractors shall accommodate the use of service animals by people with disabilities who are accessing City services or goods unless the animal is otherwise excluded by law, such as food preparation areas as prohibited by Food Premises, R.R.O. 1990, Reg. 562 under the Health Protection and Promotion Act, R.S.O. 1990, c. H.7. See Definitions for a detailed description of Service Animals

Support persons

Where a person with a disability accessing City goods or services is accompanied by a support person, City employees, volunteers and third party contractors shall ensure that both persons are permitted to enter the premises together and shall ensure that the person with a disability can access the support person while on the premises. See Definitions for a detailed description of Support Persons.

Admission fees

If the City charges an admission fee in connection with a support person's presence at an event or function, the City shall ensure that notice is given in advance about the amount, if any, that is payable in respect of the support person accompanying a person with a disability.

Notice of service disruption

In the event that there is a temporary service disruption in the availability of facilities, services or goods used by persons with disabilities (e.g., temporary loss of elevator service), the City shall give notice to the public of the reason for the disruption, the date(s) of disruption, its anticipated duration and a description of alternative facilities or services, if any, that are available. Such notice may be provided by a variety of methods, depending on the circumstances, and may include postings in conspicuous places at the affected premises, other City facilities, and the City's website (, as well as by other means such as a website that will ensure that the notice reaches those persons potentially affected by the temporary disruption.

Information and Communication Support Standards


When communicating with a person with a disability, City employees, volunteers and third party contractors shall do so in a manner that takes into account the person's disability. Guidelines for communicating with people who have various types of disabilities are provided in appendix B of the Accessible Formats and Communication Supports Procedures.


When referring to people with disabilities, City employees, volunteers and third party contractors shall use terminology that adheres to guidelines provided in the City of Ottawa's Accessibility Training for Customer Service - Reference Guide (2009) (see Appendix B).  

Accessible Websites and Web Content

Internet websites and web content controlled directly by the City of Ottawa or through a contractual relationship that allows for modification of the product shall conform to the World Wide Web Consortium Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0, at Level A and AA in accordance with the schedule set out in the AODA Integrated Accessibility Standards.  

Emergency Procedures, Plans and Information

The City shall provide all existing public emergency procedures, plans and public safety information, upon request in an accessible format or with appropriate communication supports in a timely manner.

Employment Standards


The City of Ottawa  shall post information about the availability of accommodations for applicants with disabilities in its recruitment process. Job applicants who are individually selected for an interview and/or testing shall be notified that accommodations for material to be used in the process are available, upon request. The City shall consult with any applicant who requests an accommodation in a manner that takes into account the applicant's disability. Successful applicants shall be notified about the City's policies for accommodating employees with disabilities as part of their offer of employment

Employee Supports 

The City will inform employees of the policies used to support employees with disabilities, including policies on the provision of job accommodations that take into account an employee's accessibility needs due to disability. The City will provide this information to new employees as soon as practicable after they begin their employment and provide updated information to all employees whenever there is a change to existing policies on the provision of job accommodations that take into account an employee's accessibility needs due to disability.(see policy)

Accessible Formats and Communication Supports for Employee

Upon an employee's request, the City shall consult with the employee to provide or arrange for the provision of accessible formats and communication supports for:

  1. information that is needed in order to perform the employee's job; and
  2. information that is generally available to employees in the workplace.

The  City will consult with the employee making the request in determining the suitability of an accessible format or communication support. See Accessible Formats and Communications Supports Procedure.

Workplace Emergency Response Information

 If an employee's disability is such that workplace emergency response information is necessary and the City is aware of the need for accommodation, this information shall be provided to employees. In addition, this information shall be provided, with the employee's consent, to the person designated to provide assistance. The information shall undergo review when the employee moves to a different location, when the employee's overall accommodation needs or plans are reviewed and when the City reviews its general emergency response plan. (See IWERIP)

Documented Individual Accommodation Plans

A written process for the development and maintenance of documented individual accommodation plans shall be developed for employees with disabilities If requested, these plans shall include information regarding accessible formats and communications supports. If requested, the plans shall include individualized workplace emergency response information.  

Return to Work Process

The City shall have in place a documented return to work process for employees returning to work due to disability and requiring disability-related accommodations. This return to work process shall outline the steps that the City shall take to facilitate the return to work. 

Performance Management and Career Development and Redeployment

The  City shall take into account the accessibility needs of its employees with disabilities as well as any individual accommodation plans when providing career development, performance management and when considering redeployment

Transportation Standards


Owner and operators of taxicabs licensed by the City of Ottawa are prohibited from charging additional fares or fees to persons with disabilities than for persons without disabilities and for the storage of mobility aids or mobility assistive devices. The City requires that taxicabs licensed by the City make available vehicle registration and identification information in an accessible format.

Built Environment Standards

The City shall comply with the AODA Design of Public Spaces Standards (Accessibility Standards for The Built Environment) when undertaking new construction and redevelopment of public spaces in the following areas:

  • Recreational trails and beach access routes;
  • Outdoor public use eating areas;
  • Outdoor play spaces;
  • Exterior paths of travel;
  • Accessible Parking;
  • Obtaining Services; and
  • Maintenance of accessible elements.

This policy does not apply to construction that is external to the City for which the City has provided a permit however compliance with the AODA Built Environment Standards should be encouraged.

The City shall ensure that the City's Accessibility Design Standards reflect the AODA Built Environment Standards.


The Corporate Accessibility Office is responsible for reviewing this Policy annually and recommending amendments to ensure on-going compliance with regulated accessibility standards and legislated obligations.

  • The Corporate Accessibility Office shall provide advice and direction on the implementation of this Policy.
  • Supervisors and managers shall ensure that they and their staff are familiar with and comply with this Policy.

Monitoring /Contraventions

The Failure to comply with the AODA regulations can result in administrative penalties.

Supervisors and managers shall monitor current practices to ensure compliance.

Failure to comply with this Policy may result in disciplinary action, up to and including dismissal.


Legislative and Administrative Authorities

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


Accessible Formats - may include, but are not limited to, large print, recorded audio and electronic formats, Braille and other formats usable by persons with disabilities.

Communication Supports - may include, but are not limited to, captioning, alternative and augmentative communication supports, plain language, sign language and other supports that facilitate effective communications

Disabity - is defined, per Section 2 of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, 2005, S.O. 2005, c. 11 and the Human Rights Code, R.S.O. 1990, c. H.19, as follows:

  1. "any degree of physical disability, infirmity, malformation or disfigurement that is caused by bodily injury, birth defect or illness and, without limiting the generality of the foregoing, includes diabetes mellitus, epilepsy, a brain injury, any degree of paralysis, amputation, lack of physical co-ordination, blindness or visual impediment, deafness or hearing impediment, muteness or speech impediment, or physical reliance on a guide dog or other animal or on a wheelchair or other remedial appliance or device, 
  2. a condition of mental impairment or a developmental disability 
  3. a learning disability, or a dysfunction in one or more of the processes involved in understanding or using symbols or spoken language,
  4. a mental disorder, or
  5. an injury or disability for which benefits were claimed or received under the insurance plan established under the Workplace Safety and Insurance Act, 1997."

Kiosk ? an interactive electronic terminal, including a point-of-sale device, intended for public use that allows users to access one or more services or products or both.

Service Animals 
- are defined, per Section 4(9) of the Accessibility Standards for Customer Service, O. Reg. 429/07, as follows:
"an animal is a service animal for a person with a disability: 
(a) if it is readily apparent that the animal is used by the person for reasons relating to his or her disability; or  
(b)if the person provides a letter from a physician or nurse confirming that the person requires the animal for reasons relating to the disability."

Support Person
 - is defined, per Section 4(8) Accessibility Standards for Customer Service, O. Reg. 429/07, as follows:
"a support person means, in relation to a person with a disability, another person who accompanies him or her in order to help with communication, mobility, personal care or medical needs or with access to goods or services."
Unconvertible - information or communications are unconvertible if it is not technically feasible to convert the information or communications or the technology to convert the information or communications is not readily available

  • Accommodations, Disability-related
  • Disability
  • Personal Support Workers
  • Service Animals
  • Support Person


For further information regarding this Policy, contact:
Corporate Accessibility Office
City Manager's Office 


Appendix A: Accessible Formats and Communication Supports Procedure
Appendix B: City of Ottawa, Accessibility Training for Customer Service - Reference Guide 2009 (PDF 370.23KB)

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