What is the Ontario Human Rights Code?


Under the Integrated Accessibility Standards Regulation (IASR), organizations must comply with the standards of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA). In addition, they must also follow requirements under the Ontario Human Rights Code (the Code). In other words, the AODA and the Code work together to promote accessibility and reduce discrimination in Ontario.

What is the Ontario Human Rights Code?

The Ontario Human Rights Code protects people from discrimination in five sectors of society. One of these sectors is employment. For instance, the Code protects people from discrimination in:

  • Full-time work
  • Part-time work
  • Short-term or contract work
  • Work probation
  • Volunteer work
  • Student internships
  • Special employment programs

Similarly, the Code protects people’s right to freedom from discrimination when renting housing, including:

  • Private rental housing
  • Cooperative housing
  • Social housing
  • Supportive or assisted housing

Likewise, the Code requires freedom from discrimination when people access goods, services, and facilities in the public or private sector, including:

  • Insurance
  • Schools
  • Restaurants
  • Transportation
  • Police
  • Healthcare
  • Social services
  • Shopping

Furthermore, people have the right not to experience discrimination during membership in unions, professional associations, or trade unions, including:

  • Joining
  • Terms and conditions of membership

Finally, people have the right to contract with others free from discrimination, including:

  • Offers of entering into contracts
  • Accepting contracts
  • Prices
  • Rejecting contracts

In short, the Code protects people from discrimination in employment, housing, business dealings, and other services. Therefore, under the Code, organizations must prevent discrimination in all these areas. Moreover, they must also respond to discrimination when it happens.

Grounds of Discrimination

Under the Code, people and organizations cannot discriminate on the basis of:

  • Age
  • Ancestry, colour, or race
  • Citizenship
  • Ethnic origin
  • Place of origin
  • Religion
  • Disability
  • Family status
  • Marital status
  • Gender identity, or gender expression
  • Receiving government assistance (for housing)
  • Record of offences (in employment)
  • Sex
  • Sexual orientation

Consequently, when people experience discrimination at work, in housing, or in the other areas that the code covers, they can claim discrimination before the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario (HRTO). Moreover, according to the HRTO, most human rights claims are made on the grounds of disability.

In addition, the Ontario Human Rights Commission (OHRC) is an organization that promotes, protects, and advances human rights throughout the province. For instance, the OHRC writes policies to help people understand what types of discrimination are, and how to prevent and respond to them. Furthermore, these policies include guidelines, best practices, and examples to show organizations how to create spaces and services that respect the rights of all people.

In our next series of articles, we will explore how the Ontario Human Rights Code protects people from discrimination on the basis of disability. We will outline how the Code’s mandates support people with disabilities and their loved ones to live, work, and be part of their communities.




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Accessibility Law Reviews Across Canada


Many separate accessibility standards development processes exist in Canada. Ontario, Manitoba, and Nova Scotia all have laws that mandate creation of provincial accessibility standards. In addition, the Accessible Canada Act mandates accessibility standards that apply to organizations under federal jurisdiction. However, the government of Canada intends to coordinate federal and provincial accessibility laws. Moreover, the third review of the AODA recommends that the Ontario government should support this aim by aligning its accessibility law, the AODA, with the laws of other provinces and the country. If the governments work together to make these laws more similar, the AODA standards development process may change to align with laws in other places across the country. In this article, we explore accessibility law reviews across Canada.

Accessibility Law Reviews Across Canada

Ontario

Every four (4) years, the Lieutenant Governor of Ontario appoints someone to review the AODA. This reviewer spends time meeting with the public, especially people with disabilities, discussing possible improvements the AODA might need. Based on this public feedback, the reviewer writes a report about how effective the AODA and its mandates are. In addition, the reviewer recommends steps the government can take to improve the Act. The reviewer then submits this report to the Minister in charge of the AODA.

Manitoba and Nova Scotia

Manitoba and Nova Scotia’s accessibility acts include similar review processes. However, these reviews take place every five (5) years, instead of every four (4) years. Moreover, while Ontario’s review process includes consultation with people who have disabilities, the other provinces’ review processes mandate more consultation. For instance, the reviewer of the Accessibility for Manitobans Act must consult with:

  • People with disabilities
  • Members of organizations that represent people with disabilities

In addition, reviewers of the Nova Scotia Accessibility Act must consult people representing the sectors of the economy that accessibility standards impact.

Accessible Canada Act

Likewise, committees from the Canadian House of Commons or the Senate must review how effective the Accessible Canada Act is. While preparing their review, committee members must consult with:

  • People with disabilities
  • Members of organizations that represent people with disabilities
  • People representing the sectors of the economy that accessibility standards impact

The second review of the Act must take place five (5) years after the first. However, the Act only mandates later reviews every ten (10) years.

Requirements under all these accessibility laws ensure that, from time to time, one or more people analyze how effective standards are. Moreover, accessibility law reviews ensure that the provincial and federal governments know whether or not standards are working well. In addition, the governments also receive reviewers’ suggestions about ways to improve the standards. If governments choose to implement any recommendations in the reviews of these laws, structures and services may gradually become accessible to people of all abilities.

However, none of these accessibility laws require the governments to implement any of the recommendations that reviewers make. As a result, these valuable suggestions for making Canada a more accessible country may never become reality.




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Accessibility Compliance Appeals Across Canada


Many separate accessibility standards development processes exist in Canada. Ontario, Manitoba, and Nova Scotia all have laws that mandate creation of provincial accessibility standards. In addition, the Accessible Canada Act mandates accessibility standards that apply to organizations under federal jurisdiction. However, the government of Canada intends to coordinate federal and provincial accessibility laws. Moreover, the third review of the AODA recommends that the Ontario government should support this aim by aligning its accessibility law, the AODA, with the laws of other provinces and the country. If the governments work together to make these laws more similar, the AODA standards development process may change to align with laws in other places across the country. In this article, we explore accessibility compliance appeals across Canada.

Accessibility Compliance Appeals Across Canada

Ontario

In Ontario, tribunals judge appeals that organizations make after they have received orders to comply with AODA standards. The Lieutenant Governor appoints AODA tribunals and specifies the types of appeals each tribunal can judge. In addition, the Lieutenant Governor can give tribunals other tasks or duties.

Organizations have fifteen (15) days after receiving an order to file an appeal. However, the tribunal can extend this time limit to accommodate someone with a disability, or for any other reason. Organizations must pay a filing fee.

During the appeal process, organizations are not required to comply with the order they are appealing.

People or organizations involved in an appeal to a tribunal include:

  • The organization appealing an order
  • The director who gave the order being appealed
  • Any other person or organization the Tribunal believes necessary for the appeal hearing

Moreover, appeal hearings most often take place in writing. Nonetheless, organizations can request to make their appeals in person. In some cases, the full tribunal hears appeals. In others, the chair of a tribunal can appoint a panel to oversee a hearing.

Orders of Tribunals

After a hearing, a tribunal makes a decision about whether the organization must obey the director’s order. For instance, the tribunal may:

  • Confirm the director’s order
  • Rescind the director’s order
  • Vary the director’s order

In other words, the tribunal may require the organization to comply with the director’s order. In contrast, the tribunal may remove the order. Alternatively, the tribunal may make changes to the order and require the organization to comply with the revised version.

Mediation

AODA tribunals may try to settle part or all of an appeal through mediation. The organization and director involved in the appeal must agree to the mediation. In addition, the tribunal must believe that mediation would be in the public interest. However, the AODA gives no further details about the mediation process, such as how tribunals proceed if mediation does not resolve an appeal.

Manitoba and Nova Scotia

In Manitoba and Nova Scotia, organizations also have the option of appealing directors’ orders. However, organizations appeal directly to a court, instead of to a tribunal. Nonetheless, many of the same rules of Ontario tribunal appeals also apply under other provincial accessibility laws. For example, the organization and director both take part in appeals. Likewise, organizations are not required to comply with orders that they are in the process of appealing. In addition, provincial courts can confirm, rescind, or vary orders.

However, directors and ministers in the other provinces have more power to enforce orders and the outcomes of appeals. For instance, in Manitoba, directors can publish reports that list the names of organizations that have received orders or penalties. Similarly, in Nova Scotia, the Minister in charge of the Act has the same power to publicize the names of non-compliant organizations. In the third review of the AODA, the Honourable David Onley recommends that Ontario should follow this example, to better enforce the AODA.

Accessible Canada Act

The Accessible Canada Act outlines a similar appeal process. After reviewing and confirming a compliance order, the Accessibility Commissioner may send a warning to organizations that continue not to comply. These organizations can request another review to appeal the finding of non-compliance or the penalty the Accessibility Commissioner has given them. Alternatively, an organization can enter into a compliance agreement with the Accessibility Commissioner. This agreement, like an incentive agreement, allows the organization to work toward compliance, instead of paying a penalty.

As governments work together to align their accessibility laws, some AODA mandates may change so that law in Ontario corresponds more closely with laws in other provinces, or with the Accessible Canada Act. For instance, AODA appeals could one day take place in court, instead of in front of tribunals. Alternatively, Ontario organizations that violate the AODA could enter into compliance agreements, instead of attempting to settle appeals through mediation.




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Accessibility Compliance Orders Across Canada


Many separate accessibility standards development processes exist in Canada. Ontario, Manitoba, and Nova Scotia all have laws that mandate creation of provincial accessibility standards. In addition, the Accessible Canada Act mandates accessibility standards that apply to organizations under federal jurisdiction. However, the government of Canada intends to coordinate federal and provincial accessibility laws. Moreover, the third review of the AODA recommends that the Ontario government should support this aim by aligning its accessibility law, the AODA, with the laws of other provinces and the country. If the governments work together to make these laws more similar, the AODA standards development process may change to align with laws in other places across the country. In this article, we explore accessibility compliance orders across Canada.

Accessibility Compliance Orders Across Canada

Ontario

In Ontario, directors of the AODA review the accessibility reports that organizations are required to submit. Moreover, directors can ask a person or organization for more details about their compliance. The person or organization must provide the director with this information. When an organization has not submitted a report or information, the director can order the organization to do so. In addition, the order can include a fine. Similarly, a director can order a non-compliant person or organization to obey AODA standards and pay fines. Finally, if organizations do not comply with these orders, directors can fine those organizations using more orders.

All these types of orders must include a description of the AODA rule or previous order that the person or organization has failed to comply with. Furthermore, the order must explain what the organization must do to comply. Finally, the order must include a time limit for organizations to comply. However, the director can extend this time limit to accommodate someone with a disability, or for any other reason.

More Directors’ Orders

A director may also create an order when a non-compliant person or organization claims that they do not need to comply with a standard. For instance, an organization might claim that it does not belong to the industry or sector of the economy that a standard applies to. For example, a rideshare company might claim that it does not need to obey the Transportation Standards. The company might make this claim because it is not a bus, train, ferry, or taxi service. However, a director can order that this organization does belong to an industry that must comply with the standard.

Likewise, a director can order that two organizations be treated as one organization, for the purposes of the AODA. For instance, an employer with a private company of sixty workers might not want to obey AODA rules for companies with fifty or more workers. As a result, this employer might divide their company into two organizations. However, a director can order that these two companies must be treated as one company.

Notice of Orders

Before giving any order, directors must give notice to the non-compliant organizations. This notice tells the organizations what the order is about and what steps they should take to comply with the Act. Moreover, notice allows these organizations to explain any reasons they might have for not complying with the AODA. Furthermore, organizations have thirty days after receiving notice to explain in writing. However, the director can extend this time limit to accommodate someone with a disability, or for any other reason.

In addition, organizations who receive any order can appeal it in front of a tribunal that the Lieutenant Governor appoints.

Manitoba, Nova Scotia, and the Accessible Canada Act

In Manitoba and Nova Scotia, inspectors have similar mandates to order organizations to comply with their accessibility laws. Similarly, under the Accessible Canada Act, the Accessibility Commissioner can also order organizations to comply with the Act. Moreover, under all these acts, organizations may need to pay fines, or they can request that a director or Accessibility Commissioner review the order. However, these laws do not mention the possibility that organizations can choose not to comply by claiming that certain standards do not apply to them. As a result, some organizations may choose not to comply, since the law does not state that inspectors or directors can make orders that prevent this loophole.

In contrast, the Nova Scotia Accessibility Act includes a mandate that the other provincial laws do not. Under this act, fines from non-compliant organizations must be used to improve accessibility. For instance, they could fund efforts to raise awareness about why accessibility matters.

As governments align their accessibility laws, the AODA may change to correspond more closely with standards in other provinces, or with the Accessible Canada Act. For instance, AODA fines could fund efforts to raise public awareness of accessibility. In contrast, other accessibility laws could give inspectors and directors more power to remove loopholes and encourage more widespread compliance.




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Accessibility Inspections Across Canada


Many separate accessibility standards development processes exist in Canada. Ontario, Manitoba, and Nova Scotia all have laws that mandate creation of provincial accessibility standards. In addition, the Accessible Canada Act mandates accessibility standards that apply to organizations under federal jurisdiction. However, the government of Canada intends to coordinate federal and provincial accessibility laws. Moreover, the third review of the AODA recommends that the Ontario government should support this aim by aligning its accessibility law, the AODA, with the laws of other provinces and the country. If the governments work together to make these laws more similar, the AODA standards development process may change to align with laws in other places across the country. In this article, we explore accessibility inspections across Canada.

Accessibility Inspections Across Canada

Ontario

AODA Inspections allow the government to find out if businesses are complying with the Act. An inspector can enter a business without a warrant if the inspector believes the place contains relevant documents or things. However, the inspector must enter during the hours the place is open for business. Alternatively, if a place does not have business hours, an inspector must enter during daylight hours.

Moreover, during the inspection, the inspector can ask for any item that is related to the inspection. For instance, the inspector can request a document or record. However, the inspector must make this request in writing. Furthermore, the inspector can use any equipment, such as a computer, to retrieve the items they need to view. In addition, the inspector can borrow these documents, records, or things, to make copies. However, the inspector must give a receipt for the documents, records, or things they borrow. In addition, the inspector must give the owner of the documents or things access to them, if needed. This access must take place at a time convenient for both the inspector and the owner.

Inspectors can bring other people, such as people with expert knowledge, to help with inspections. In addition, the inspector can question any person on the premises about the inspection. People on the premises must give the inspector all the help they can. For instance, they must help the inspector use computers or other devices to retrieve documents, if required.

Inspections with Warrants

If an inspector believes that a business is not complying with the AODA, thee inspector can acquire a search warrant from a justice of the peace. A warrant gives inspectors more power than they have during inspections without warrants. For instance, warrants allow inspectors to:

  • Enter dwellings
  • Search before or after business hours
  • Use force, or ask for assistance from police officers

Inspectors have thirty (30) days, after a warrant has been issued, to conduct a search. However, this time limit can be renewed for another thirty (30) days.

Manitoba and Nova Scotia

In Manitoba and Nova Scotia, inspectors have many of the same duties and guidelines. For instance, inspectors can:

  • Enter any place to inspect it, except a dwelling
  • Enter a dwelling only with a warrant
  • Request and receive copies of documents or other relevant records

As in Ontario, inspectors in Manitoba and Nova Scotia can also require the assistance of people on the premises during the inspection. However, in Manitoba and Nova Scotia, inspectors can only Ask for assistance, or written responses, from people in charge of the premises or its records. In contrast, Ontario inspectors can ask for assistance from any person on the premises. This wider mandate could allow inspectors in Ontario to access more information about how an organization meets the needs of people with disabilities.

The Accessible Canada Act

Similarly, under the Accessible Canada Act, the Accessibility Commissioner can enter any location under federal jurisdiction to verify its compliance with parts of the Act, including:

In addition, inspectors can also examine anything on the premises, including hard-copy or electronic documents. Moreover, inspectors can borrow or make copies of documents, in whole or in part. Furthermore, inspectors have the power to start or stop:

  • Activities that will help or hinder an inspection
  • Movements of conveyances
  • Activities involving any new standards that the Act has mandated

Like Ontario inspectors, the Commissioner can have another person assist in conducting the inspection.

The Act also allows the Commissioner to conduct inspections remotely, as well as in person. These requirements will make it possible for the Commissioner to perform more frequent or thorough inspections. However, inspections under the Act only oversee an organization’s accessibility plans, progress reports, and feedback processes. In contrast, the wider mandates of provincial inspectors may allow them to encounter more organizations and encourage more accessible service.




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Accessibility Incentive Agreements Across Canada


Many separate accessibility standards development processes exist in Canada. Ontario, Manitoba, and Nova Scotia all have laws that mandate creation of provincial accessibility standards. In addition, the Accessible Canada Act mandates accessibility standards that apply to organizations under federal jurisdiction. However, the government of Canada intends to coordinate federal and provincial accessibility laws. Moreover, the third review of the AODA recommends that the Ontario government should support this aim by aligning its accessibility law, the AODA, with the laws of other provinces and the country. If the governments work together to make these laws more similar, the AODA standards development process may change to align with laws in other places across the country. In this article, we explore accessibility incentive agreements across Canada.

Accessibility Incentive Agreements Across Canada

Under the AODA, the minister in charge of the act can make incentive agreements with organizations. Incentive agreements provide support to businesses that choose to become more accessible than the law requires. For instance, customer service providers can offer more extensive AODA training for workers. Similarly, small businesses, not required to document their customer service policies, can do so. Furthermore, businesses can enhance their hiring practices and actively recruit qualified workers with disabilities. Likewise, small private businesses, not required to create processes for writing accommodation plans, can do so.

In addition, businesses can prepare accessible formats and communication supports in advance, instead of waiting until a customer makes a request. Similarly, businesses with older websites can make that web content accessible. Moreover, transportation providers can offer more in-depth AODA training for transportation workers. Likewise, providers with older vehicles can retrofit them for accessibility or buy new vehicles. Finally, businesses can retrofit their spaces to include accessible features, such as parking. Similarly, small businesses, not required to have accessible outdoor eating areas, can install them.

When businesses make agreements with the minister, the two parties decide which requirements the business will exceed. In addition, they will agree on a timeframe, so that the business has a deadline for its goal. Finally, the minister may exempt some businesses from filling in part of their accessibility reports. This exemption may help businesses focus on meeting their new requirements.

Businesses may begin making incentive agreements because they value the incentives they receive. However, they may come to value how their efforts allow new customers, clients, and workers to access their spaces and services.

Exemptions

Nova Scotia is the only other province where the accessibility law references incentive agreements. In contrast, all three provincial accessibility laws, as well as the Accessible Canada Act, mention exemptions. For instance, under the Accessible Canada Act, organizations can receive exemptions from:

These exemptions, like the exemption in the AODA, reduces the paperwork that organizations need to complete. As a result, exempted organizations have more time to focus on concrete accessibility. However, organizations may sometimes receive exemptions that do not require this level of increased accessibility. Instead, there is a chance that organizations could use exemptions to avoid improving their accessibility. On the other hand, under incentive agreements, organizations are required to improve their structures and services to meet the needs of customers and workers with disabilities.

As governments work together to align their accessibility laws, the AODA may change to correspond more closely to laws in other provinces, as well as the Accessible Canada Act. As a result, the AODA may one day no longer include the possibility of incentive agreements. On the other hand, other jurisdictions may decide that incentive agreements offer benefits to the organizations and governments that make them.




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Accessibility Compliance Reports Across Canada


Many separate accessibility standards development processes exist in Canada. Ontario, Manitoba, and Nova Scotia all have laws that mandate creation of provincial accessibility standards. In addition, the Accessible Canada Act mandates accessibility standards that apply to organizations under federal jurisdiction. However, the government of Canada intends to coordinate federal and provincial accessibility laws. Moreover, the third review of the AODA recommends that the Ontario government should support this aim by aligning its accessibility law, the AODA, with the laws of other provinces and the country. If the governments work together to make these laws more similar, the AODA standards development process may change to align with laws in other places across the country. In this article, we explore accessibility compliance reports across Canada.

Accessibility Compliance Reports Across Canada

Ontario

Under the AODA, most Ontario organizations must complete accessibility compliance reports. These reports inform the government and the public that organizations are meeting the requirements of AODA standards. Small and Large public sector organizations must complete reports every two years. In contrast, private or non-profit businesses with twenty to forty-nine (20-49) workers, or fifty (50) or more workers, must complete accessibility reports every three years.

Organizations complete their reports by filling in a form on the Ontario government’s website. One senior member of the organization must give their name and contact information. This senior member, called the certifier, will later confirm that the report is complete and accurate. The certifier must have legal authority to make this claim.

Workers must then answer the yes-or-no questions on the form. Once they have answered all questions, organizations submit the form by clicking a button at the bottom. Organizations must also make their accessibility reports available to the public.

Directors of the AODA review the accessibility reports that organizations are required to submit. Moreover, directors can ask a person or organization for more details about their compliance. The person or organization must provide the director with this information. When an organization has not submitted a report or information, the director can order the organization to do so.

Manitoba and Nova Scotia

The Accessibility for Manitobans Act and the Nova Scotia Accessibility Act do not require organizations to submit accessibility reports. However, both these acts require public-sector organizations to create accessibility plans. In these plans, organizations must describe their progress in identifying, removing, and preventing accessibility barriers. Furthermore, the plans must also outline how the organizations intend to continue to notice and remove barriers in future.

These descriptions of barrier removal could benefit organizations far more than the current yes-or-no-question format of reports in Ontario. For instance, workers writing these plans must reflect on how they and their colleagues have changed policies, practices, structures and services. In contrast, yes-or-no questions do not require the same level of thought. In addition, workers responding to these questions could easily claim that they are complying with standards, while continuing not to comply. However, organizations can make false reports less easily when descriptions are required. If the AODA one day changes to align more closely with other provinces, Ontario could follow this example. Conversely, Manitoba and Nova Scotia could require some private sector organizations to have accessibility plans, as Ontario does.

Accessible Canada Act

Under the Accessible Canada Act, organizations must create accessibility plans that outline future barrier identification, removal, and prevention. Although these plans need not include records of removing barriers in the past, organizations must also create progress reports that show how they are implementing these plans. As a result, these progress reports function as a public record of the steps organizations have taken to comply .

However, organizations are only required to develop accessibility plans, and progress reports, if the organization that governs them chooses to enforce the requirement to do so. As a result, some organizations may not develop progress reports.

As governments work together to align their accessibility laws, the AODA may change to correspond more closely to other accessibility laws across the country. For instance, the AODA could require organizations to develop accessibility compliance reports that required organizations to do more than clicking “yes” or “no”. Alternatively, other provincial and federal accessibility legislation could change to align more closely with the AODA. For instance, the Accessible Canada Act could adopt some AODA mandates, such as requiring all organizations to create and implement accessibility plans and progress reports.




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White Cane Week


This week is White Cane Week!

White Cane Week takes place across Canada in the first full week of February every year. The week raises awareness about how blind people travel and make a difference in their communities. In 2021, White Cane Week takes place from Sunday, February 7th to Saturday, February 13th.

White Cane Week

White Canes

White Cane Week is named after the white cane, a tool many blind and visually impaired people use to travel. While they walk, they move the cane from side to side in front of them. The feel and sound of the cane on the ground or floor gives them information about what is ahead, including:

  • Steps or curbs
  • Obstacles, such as furniture
  • The texture of the ground (pavement, grass, snow, puddles, etc.) or floor (tile, carpet, etc.)

The canes blind and visually impaired people use are white so that they are visible to other travellers. Moreover, they are long and straight. In contrast, some people with physical disabilities use curved canes for support and balance. Some white canes fold up while others do not.

Guide Dogs

Alternatively, other blind people have guide dogs. Guide dogs are specially trained from the time they are puppies. When they are grown, they guide their handlers around obstacles. They also alert their handlers to upcoming features of their surroundings, such as stairs and street corners.

Other Travel Skills

When in their homes or other familiar environments, people do not use their canes or dogs because they know exactly where everything is. However, when they travel outside their homes, people will almost always use their canes or dogs. In addition, they may sometimes ask a sighted person to guide them. The blind person grasps the guide’s arm near the elbow to feel and follow where the guide is going.

Travel Training

Young blind children often start using canes when they are pre-school age. In addition, they receive specialized training, called orientation and mobility (O and M) training, where they learn to navigate their surroundings and use their canes safely and skillfully. People who become blind later in life can also learn to use canes and benefit from O and M training. Likewise, guide-dog handlers go through further extensive training to work with their dogs. Most blind people who have guide dogs are adults, because people need to have strong cane and orientation skills in order to work with a dog. Whether people use canes or dogs, they also use their senses of hearing and touch to gain useful information about where they are and where they are going, such as:

  • Whether they are inside or outside
  • The size of a room they are standing in, and where nearby open doors are
  • Where other people are if they are doing anything that makes noise
  • Where something has landed when it falls
  • What the weather is like outside (if they haven’t checked the weather apps on their phones before going out)
  • How close they are to the street and whether it is safe to cross, based on what direction traffic is moving
  • When the bus arrives and whether it is the bus they need (using the audio announcements on public transit)

Raising Awareness

Since most people rely on their sight when travelling, some sighted people assume that it is hard or impossible to travel without sight. Similarly, people often assume that blindness makes it difficult to do many other things, such as:

  • Read and write
  • use computers
  • play sports
  • watch TV
  • go shopping
  • Cook and clean
  • look after children or pets

When people cannot imagine what it is like to do these things without using their eyes, they come to believe that blind people cannot do ordinary things: have jobs, raise families, have social lives, or keep up with news and current events. As a result, they feel uncomfortable hiring a blind worker. Similarly, they feel uncertain about starting a conversation with someone they meet who is blind. Therefore, many highly qualified blind people are unemployed, and many out-going blind people are socially excluded.

Blind people can do almost everything sighted people do using white canes, guide dogs, information in Braille or other accessible formats, and countless other skills and techniques. White Cane Week is an opportunity to spread this understanding and celebrate all the things blind people can do. Happy White Cane Week to all our readers!




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Accessible Employment in Ontario and Manitoba


Many separate accessibility standards development processes exist in Canada. Ontario, Manitoba, and Nova Scotia all have laws that mandate creation of provincial accessibility standards. In addition, the Accessible Canada Act mandates accessibility standards that apply to organizations under federal jurisdiction. However, the government of Canada intends to coordinate federal and provincial accessibility laws. Moreover, the third review of the AODA recommends that the Ontario government should support this aim by aligning its accessibility law, the AODA, with the laws of other provinces and the country. If the governments work together to make these laws more similar, the AODA standards may change to align with laws in other places across the country. In this article, we will explore accessible employment in Ontario and Manitoba.

Accessible Employment in Ontario and Manitoba

The Employment Standards under the AODA and the Accessible Employment Standard under the Accessibility for Manitobans Act both require service providers to make their employment practices accessible for workers with disabilities. Moreover, both standards require many of the same processes and practices to ensure accessibility. For instance, both standards require employers in the public and private sectors to:

Differences Between Standards

However, Manitoba’s standard includes additional requirements mandating further accessibility training for workers who are in charge of:

  • Recruiting, hiring, or training new workers
  • Supervising, managing, or coordinating workers
  • Promoting, redeploying, or terminating workers
  • Creating or overseeing employment policies and practices

Training must cover the following topics:

  • How to make employment opportunities accessible to workers with disabilities
  • Communicating with workers who have disabilities
  • Interacting with workers who have:
    • Service animals
    • Support persons
    • Assistive devices
  • Requirements of:
    • The Human Rights Code
    • The Accessibility for Manitobans Act
    • The Accessible Employment Standard

Workers must be trained as soon as possible after they are hired. Furthermore, workers must have training whenever their organizations’ employment accommodation policies are updated. In addition, all public-sector organizations and private sector organizations with fifty or more workers must document every time they train workers. Documentation must include a summary of the training that workers received.

Manitoba’s accessibility training for supervisors has many elements similar to required customer service training in both provinces. Nonetheless, this training could offer guidance about how accessibility applies to the employment context. In contrast, Ontario’s standard does not require additional accessibility training that covers accessible employment. However, the addition of this employment-specific training could help to dispel many harmful myths about workers who have disabilities. In other words, accessibility training that focuses on the workplace could help employers learn that people with disabilities can be not only customers, but workers.

The employment standards in the AODA and the Accessibility for Manitobans Act may change to improve accessibility in both provinces. To do so, the standards can exchange best practices, or learn them from standards that develop in other Canadian regions or jurisdictions.




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Accessible Customer Service in Ontario and Manitoba


Many separate accessibility standards development processes exist in Canada. Ontario, Manitoba, and Nova Scotia all have laws that mandate creation of provincial accessibility standards. In addition, the Accessible Canada Act mandates accessibility standards that apply to organizations under federal jurisdiction. However, the government of Canada intends to coordinate federal and provincial accessibility laws. Moreover, the third review of the AODA recommends that the Ontario government should support this aim by aligning its accessibility law, the AODA, with the laws of other provinces and the country. If the governments work together to make these laws more similar, the AODA standards development process may change to align with laws in other places across the country. In this article, we will explore accessible customer service in Ontario and Manitoba.

Accessible Customer Service in Ontario and Manitoba

The customer service standards under the AODA and the accessible customer service standard under the Accessibility for Manitobans Act both require service providers to make their goods and services accessible for customers with disabilities. Moreover, both standards require many of the same processes and practices to ensure accessibility. For instance, both standards require service providers in the public and private sectors to:

Differences Between Standards

However, Ontario’s standard requires providers to notify customers about disruptions to any accessible service. In contrast, Manitoba’s standard only requires providers to notify customers about disruptions involving the built environment. In other words, customers in Manitoba may not find out about disruptions to services they need, such as:

Moreover, while both standards apply to providers that offer goods and services, Ontario’s standard also applies to providers that operate facilities.

On the other hand, Manitoba’s standard requires providers to comply with the rules in their customer service policies. In contrast, Ontario’s standard requires providers to create policies, but does not directly state that providers must perform the tasks their policies describe.

In addition, Manitoba’s standard also requires providers to ensure the accessibility of public events, such as:

  • Public meetings
  • Public hearings
  • Consultation processes that the law requires

Under the standard, providers planning or hosting these events must:

  • Hold them in physically accessible locations
  • Ensure that notice of the events appears in accessible formats
  • Meet people’s needs for physical and communication accessibility, upon request
  • Notify the public that people can request accessibility support

In contrast, Ontario’s standard does not designate additional accessibility guidelines for public events. However, a higher degree of accessibility for these events could benefit Ontarians, because these events may have a large impact on the lives of the people who attend.

The customer service standards of the AODA and the Accessibility for Manitobans Act may change over time to improve accessibility. To do so, the standards can exchange best practices, or learn them from standards that develop in other Canadian regions or jurisdictions.




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