How Ontario Employers Create an Accessible Workforce for All Employees

Ryan Wozniak

September 05 2019

A healthy workplace should be a space of equal opportunity; with an infrastructure and policies accommodating all employees. Accessible workforces ensure all individuals–including those with disabilities–can positively impact Ontario’s economy and society.

Ontario employers are held responsible for creating a workplace of equal accessibility by the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA). To ensure compliance with the law, the Integrated Accessibility Standards Regulation (IASR) was created to guide Ontario employers on achieving accessible workforces.


What Conditions Are Considered a Disability?


The term disability describes both visible and invisible conditions. They can be present from birth, the result of an accident or developed over time. Examples of disabilities are:

  • Speech impairment
  • Learning disabilities
  • Intellectual disabilities
  • Mental health challenges
  • Physical disabilities, including:
    • Amputation
    • Paralysis
    • Difficulty with coordination or balancing
  • Blindness or visual impairment
  • Deafness or hearing disabilities


What Does an Accessible Workforce Look Like?


Accessibility does not start after being hired; but should be incorporated into the recruitment and hiring process. As an employer, obligations in creating an accessible workplace will depend on the size of the company.

Businesses with 1–49 employees are responsible for complying with the following four requirements under the Accessible Employment Standard:

  • Hiring
  • Workplace information
  • Talent and performance management
  • Communicate accessibility policies


If your business has 50 or more employees, as an employer, you are responsible for fulfilling six requirements of the Accessible Employment Standard:

  • Hiring
  • Workplace information
  • Talent and performance management
  • Communicate accessibility policies
  • Accommodation plans
  • Return to work process


The aim of the above requirements is to make sure employees and job applicants are receiving accessible employment practices.


How to Approach Accommodating Employees with Disabilities


The IASR, is comprised of five standards in the following areas:


  1. Information and Communication Standard: This standard summarizes an organizations responsibility to create, provide and receive information and communications that are accessible for people with disabilities.



  1. Employment Standard: Outlines an employer’s responsibility to make their workplace and employment practices accessible to potential or current employees with disabilities.



  1. Transportation Standard: Describes the expectation for transportation service providers. Specifically, this standard discusses the features and equipment on vehicles, routes and how all services offered must be accessible to people with disabilities.



  1. Design of Public Spaces Standard: Highlights a need for newly constructed or redeveloped public spaces to be accessible for individuals with disabilities.



  1. Customer Service Standard: Explains how to remove barriers so individuals with disabilities can access good, services and/or facilities.


These standards lay the foundation for how employers should approach accessibility in the workforce. It is also essential that company’s have a thorough accessibility policy in place.


Still have questions on building an accessible workplace?


For more information on accessibility in the workplace, contact our HR experts. We will give expert advice, specific to your unique situation. For assistance, call us today at 1 (833) 247-3652

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