At Queen's University, everyone has the right to request accommodation if he or she is being denied access to services or employment based on a disability. The right to be accommodated and the corresponding duty of the University to respond quickly and appropriately to requests for accommodation are now well established.
According to the Ontario Human Rights Code “disability” is defined as:
- 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,
- a condition of mental impairment or a developmental disability,
- a learning disability, or a dysfunction in one or more of the processes involved in understanding or using symbols or spoken language,
- a mental disorder, or
- an injury or disability for which benefits were claimed or received under the insurance plan established under the Workplace Safety and Insurance Act, 1997; (“handicap”)
The Queen’s University Harassment/Discrimination Complaint Policy and Procedure protects persons with disabilities from discrimination and harassment in areas of employment, services, and living accommodation offered by the University.
Discrimination based on a disability is an action leading to a distinction, intentional or not, based on a person’s real or perceived disability that has the effect of imposing burdens, disadvantages, and limiting access to opportunities. Disability covers a broad range and degree of conditions, some visible and some not visible. A disability may have been present from birth, caused by an accident, or developed over time.
Harassment consists of conduct or comment that is known, or ought reasonably to be known to be unwelcome. Harassment toward persons with disabilities might include, but is not limited to: fellow employees making unwelcome remarks about the re-bundling of duties of a co-worker with a disability, questioning the validity of an invisible disability, or making jokes about someone’s chemical sensitivities.
The Ontario Human Rights Code (the Code) provides for equal rights and opportunities, and freedom from discrimination. The Code recognizes the dignity and worth of every person in Ontario. It applies to the areas of employment, housing, facilities and services, contracts, and membership in unions, trade or professional associations.
At work, employees with disabilities are entitled to the same opportunities and benefits as people without disabilities. In some cases, they may need special arrangements or “accommodations” so they can do their job duties. Customers, clients and tenants with disabilities also have the right to equal treatment and equal access to facilities and services. Examples of facilities and services are restaurants, shops, hotels and movie theatres, as well as apartment buildings, transit and other public places. Public and private education providers must also make sure their facilities and services are accessible, and that students with disabilities are accommodated. In class educators must make sure they are sensitive and proactive to the potential needs of their students including having arrangements to present class materials in alternative formats.
Accommodation for disability Under the Ontario Human Rights Code, everyone has the right to request accommodation if he or she is being denied access to services or employment based on a disability. The right to be accommodated and the corresponding duty of the University to respond quickly and appropriately to requests for accommodation are now well established.
The Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, 2005, also known as the AODA became law on June 13, 2005. The purpose of the AODA is to develop, implement and enforce mandatory accessibility standards in key areas of daily living related to goods, services, facilities, employment, accommodation and buildings. The accessibility standards will apply to private and public sector organizations across Ontario. The target date for reaching this goal is January 1, 2025.
The goal of the AODA is to identify, eliminate and prevent barriers to accessibility. We need to actively think about accessibility and inclusion. In the future, accessibility and inclusion will be part of our regular business planning and decision making process. Also important is ensuring that new barriers are not created.
The Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act defines a barrier as anything that stops a person with a disability from fully taking part in society because of that disability, including: a physical barrier, an architectural barrier, an information or communications barrier, an attitudinal barrier, a technological barrier, a policy or a practice. Persons with disabilities face many kinds of barriers every day. These can be physical, attitudinal or systemic. It is best to identify and remove barriers voluntarily instead of waiting to answer individual accommodation requests or complaints. Identifying and removing barriers also makes good business sense. As well as meeting the needs of customers or employees with disabilities, removing barriers can also help other people, such as older persons and families with young children access services.
You may consult the many publications as well as other policies, guidelines, reports and submissions that address disability issues in the areas of education, restaurants, the Building Code, public transit and older persons. These are all available on the OHRC’s website.