OUAC Multi-Year Accessibility Plan

Last updated: December 1, 2018

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This 2011–2021 Accessibility Plan outlines the policies and actions that have been (or will be) put in place by the Ontario Universities’ Application Centre (OUAC) to improve opportunities for persons with disabilities.

Our Statement of Commitment

The OUAC is committed to treating all people in a way that allows them to maintain their dignity and independence. We believe in integration and equal opportunity. We are committed to meeting the needs of persons with disabilities in a timely manner, which we do by preventing and removing barriers to accessibility and meeting accessibility requirements under the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA).

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Accessible Emergencies/Evacuation

We are committed to providing:

  • our customers, clients and stakeholders with publicly available emergency information in an accessible way, upon request.
  • our employees with disabilities with individualized emergency response information, when necessary.

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AODA Standards

Customer Service

We are committed to excellence in serving all customers, including persons with disabilities, and will carry out our functions and responsibilities in the following areas:

  • communication
  • telephone services
  • billing
  • online application systems and websites
  • use of support persons and service animals
  • assistive devices

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Information and Communications

We are committed to meeting the information and communication needs of persons with disabilities by:

  • consulting with persons with disabilities to determine their needs.
  • making all new websites and their content conform with WCAG 2.0, Level AA, by January 1, 2021.
  • ensuring internal feedback processes are accessible to persons with disabilities, upon request.
  • providing all publicly available information in accessible format, upon request.

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Employment

  • We are committed to fair and accessible employment practices.
  • By January 1, 2016, we will determine steps required to:
    • notify employees and members of the public that we will accommodate persons with disabilities during the recruitment and assessment processes and when people are hired, upon request;
    • develop and put in place a process for developing individual accommodation plans and return-to-work policies for employees that have been absent due to a disability;
    • ensure the accessibility needs of employees with disabilities are taken into account if and when using performance management, career development and transfer processes; and
    • prevent and remove other accessibility barriers that are identified.

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Transportation

  • Not applicable to the OUAC.

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Design of Public Spaces (previously “Built Environment”)

  • We will meet the Accessibility Standards for the Design of Public Spaces when building or making major modifications to public spaces.
  • Public spaces include:
    • recreational trails/beach access routes
    • outdoor public eating areas (e.g., rest stops and picnic areas)
    • outdoor play spaces (e.g., playgrounds in provincial parks and local communities)
    • outdoor paths of travel (e.g., sidewalks, ramps, stairs, curb ramps, rest areas and accessible pedestrian signals)
    • accessible off-street parking
    • service-related elements (e.g., service counters, fixed queuing lines and waiting areas)
  • Disruption of Service
    • We have procedures in place to prevent service disruptions to accessible parts of our public spaces.
    • In the event of a service disruption, we will notify the public and provide alternatives available.

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Our Training

  • Training on Ontario’s accessibility laws and the Human Rights Code, as it relates to persons with disabilities, will be provided to employees, in keeping with their responsibilities.
  • We will ensure employees are provided with the training needed to meet Ontario’s accessible laws, including:
    • Customer Service Standard
    • Integrated Accessibility Standards Regulation (IASR)

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Further Information

AODA Compliance

The goal of the AODA (2005) is to make Ontario accessible by 2025 through the development of accessibility standards. The AODA includes the following standards:

  • customer service (compliance date: January 1, 2012)
  • information and communications (various compliance dates: January 1, 2012 through January 1, 2021)
  • employment (large organization compliance date: January 1, 2016)
  • transportation (various compliance dates: July 1, 2011 through January 1, 2017) – not applicable to the OUAC
  • design of public spaces (previously “built environment”) (compliance date: January 1, 2017)

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Legislation

The Accessibility Standards for Customer Service, Ontario Regulation 429/07 (also referred to as the accessible customer service regulation or the “Customer Service Standard”), came into effect January 1, 2008. It is the first accessibility standard created under the authority of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, 2005 (AODA).

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Definitions

Alternative formats: Alternative formats provide information in ways other than how it was originally produced.

Why are alternative formats important for persons with disabilities?

  • Persons with disabilities receive, convey and make use of information in a wide variety of ways.
  • Some persons with disabilities may not be able to read print but can access the information using other formats, such as audio, Braille, enlarged text and screen-reading software.
  • In addition to persons with vision loss needing alternative-to-print formats, many persons with learning disabilities also benefit from having access to information in other formats. For example, some persons with auditory processing difficulties prefer written, rather than spoken, information.
  • Persons with hearing loss use closed captioning, CART (Communication Access Real-time Translation), sign language and text to access information.
  • Some persons with physical disabilities (such as low upper-body strength) may find it easier to access information using audio formats because the effort to hold a book or sheaf of papers can quickly become tiring.

Assistive Device: An auxiliary aid, such as a communication aid, cognition aid, personal mobility or medical aid (e.g., canes, crutches, wheelchairs, hearing aids, etc.).

Barrier: A barrier is anything that keeps someone from fully participating in all aspects of society because of their disability. Barriers can be visible or non-visible. Furthermore, while barriers are often unintentional, they can restrict access to goods and services.

Common barriers:

  • Attitude: This barrier is about what we think and how we interact with persons with disabilities. It is perhaps the most difficult barrier to overcome because our attitudes – based on our beliefs, knowledge, previous experience and education – can be hard to change. For instance, some people don’t know how to communicate with persons with disabilities; they may assume that someone with a speech problem also has an intellectual disability. Some people worry about offending someone by offering help and deal with this by ignoring or avoiding persons with disabilities.
  • Architectural or structural: Architectural or structural barriers may result from a building’s design elements, such as stairs, doorways, the width of hallways and room layout. These barriers may also occur through everyday practices, for example, when we store boxes or other objects in hallways, we may be obstructing accessible pathways.
  • Information or communication: Information or communication barriers – like small print size, low colour contrast between text and background, or not facing a person when speaking – can make it difficult to receive or convey information.
  • Technology: Technology, or the lack of it, can prevent people from accessing information. Common tools like computers, telephones and other aids may all present barriers if they are not set up or designed with accessibility in mind.
  • Organizational: Organizational barriers can result from an organization’s policies, practices or procedures if they restrict persons with disabilities. This is often unintentional.

Disability: A disability, as the AODA defines it, is a physical or mental condition that limits a person’s movements, senses, or activities. The AODA uses the same definition of disability as the Ontario Human Rights Code.

Service Animal: Any animal used by a person with a disability for reasons relating to the disability.

Support Person: Any person, whether a paid professional, volunteer, family member or friend, who accompanies a person with a disability in order to assist with communication, mobility, personal care or medical needs, or with access to services.

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Four Principles: Accessible Customer Service

Under the Customer Service Standard, each workplace must ensure that its policies, practices and procedures address the requirements of the standard, and use reasonable efforts to ensure they are consistent with the following principles:

  1. Dignity: Providing service with dignity means the customer maintains his or her self-respect and the respect of other people. Dignified service means not treating persons with disabilities as an afterthought or forcing them to accept lesser service, quality or convenience.
  2. Independence: Ensuring people are able to do things on their own without unnecessary help, or interference from others.
  3. Integration: Integration means providing service in a way that allows the person with a disability to benefit from the same services, in the same place and in the same or similar way as other customers.
  4. Equal Opportunity: Equal opportunity means having the same chances, options, benefits and results as others. In the case of services, it means that persons with disabilities have the same opportunity as others to benefit from the way you provide goods or services.

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Council of Ontario Universities (COU) Website

The COU’s Accessibility Resources Website provides a wealth of information on accessibility.

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