Accessibility legislation and
Frequently Asked Questions
People with disabilities should have access to the same opportunities as everyone else. They should be able to do all the things most others take for granted; going out to work, school, appointments or shopping, to the theatre, or to a restaurant. To accomplish this goal, the Government of Ontario has adopted accessibility legislation. There are two Acts: The Ontarians with Disabilities Act and the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act. Business and organizations that provide goods and services to people in Ontario are affected by the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act. They now have an obligation to meet requirements set out in the Act in the areas of:
- Customer service (policies and procedures);
- Transportation (taxis, trains, buses, etc.);
- Information and communications (alternate formats such as Braille, audio); and
- Employment (accommodating employees with disabilities, recruitment and selection practices).
There is also going to be requirements for the "built environment" which means buildings and outdoor spaces, but the built environment standards are still pending as of March 2012.
All business and organizations that have at least one employee and provide services to people in Ontario are required to make their operations accessible. Read the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act by clicking here to find out what your obligations are.
There are three Regulations under the umbrella of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act. They are:
Standard for Customer Service, click here to read
Integrated Standard for Employment, Transportation and Information/Communications, click here to read
Exemptions from Reporting Requirements, click here to read
The original Ontarians with Disabilities Act is still in place but does not apply to the private sector.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is an advisory committee?
An advisory committee is appointed for the purpose of providing advice and recommendations. In the case of GRAAC, the committee members are appointed to provide advice on the accessibility of municipal programs and services. The advice and recommendations provided at a GRAAC meeting are then communicated through the appropriate organization ( e.g. Mayor, Regional Chair, council members, staff). Recommendations may or may not be used, depending on the situation and associated costs.
I think that my local community centre needs a more accessible pedestrian walkway and curb cuts. Could I refer this to GRAAC?
The Grand River Accessibility Advisory Committee can hear concerns from the public through the delegation process. Before taking issues and concerns to GRAAC, though, it is important to address these concerns initially with municipal staff to see if it can be resolved at that level. GRAAC staff contacts can help you get in touch with the correct municipal staff person and guide you through the delegation process. Please contact us, and we will be happy to send you a delegation guide.
I would like to approach the committee as a delegation. How should I do this?
Please contact us, and we will send you a delegation guide which will explain the process for delegations. You may send an email to GRAAC co-chairs or contact the staff representative for your municipality. See the "Contact us" section by clicking here to be redirected.
The grocery store needs to be more accessible to shoppers with disabilities. Could GRAAC help me with this?
GRAAC is responsible for advising participating municipalities on the identification, prevention and removal of barriers for persons with a disability who are accessing municipal services. GRAAC does not provide advice to privately-owned buildings such as grocery stores. The private sector is required to comply with accessibility legislation, and concerns regarding these types of issues should be brought forward to the property owner or manager.
There is always a pile of snow at my bus stop and I have a complaint about sidewalk snow removal. Could I approach GRAAC for help?
Snow clearance at bus stops is carried out by the area municipality in which the stop is situated, and is an item budgeted by the Region of Waterloo. Sidewalk snow removal on municipal properties and rights-of-way are carried out by each municipality. On private property, sidewalk clearance is usually the responsibility of the property owner. GRAAC can help you find the correct staff member to talk to (such as bylaw enforcement), and can offer information on snow clearance policies and practices. Please see the "Contact Us" section by clicking here to be rerouted.
The municipality in which I live is renovating its community centre and pool. How can GRAAC help make sure it is accessible to everyone?
Provincial legislation requires municipalities to consult with an advisory committee comprising a majority of persons with a disability when building and renovating municipal buildings. GRAAC's Built Environment Committee reviews site plans for the participating municipalities. Members of the public are able to attend and observe these meetings. If they wish to speak, however, they must register as a delegation. "Built Environment" is defined as:
designed and built man-made structures and environments, and/or
access to, from and within buildings and outdoor spaces and could include counter heights, aisle/door widths, parking and signs as well as pedestrian access routes and signal systems.
The Province is developing Built Environment standards which may result in a different definition.
I would like to be a member of GRAAC. How should I apply?
The appointment process for GRAAC members is a bit lengthy. GRAAC serves 6 areas municipalities, therefore, the appointment of members requires the coordination of approval from six councils. Therefore, recruitment is limited to the fall campaign to avoid numerous requests to the councils throughout the year. GRAAC members are appointed for a three-year term and may serve a maximum of two terms. As a result of rotating terms, the committee generally requires 2-4 new committee members each year.
Members are recruited through advertisements in local newspapers and by direct mailing of notices to local agencies that support people with disabilities.
Could I attend meetings of GRAAC, even if I am not a member? What if I need accommodations (such as an ASL interpreter) to attend?
All GRAAC meetings are open to the public and are held in an accessible location. Anyone may attend the meetings. However if you wish to speak at the meeting you must be registered as a delegation. Due to the current demand for ASL interpreters, we require at least three weeks notice if you are in need of these services. For more information, please contact the Kitchener-Waterloo municipal staff representative at 519-741-2226.