Coffee Shop Owner

Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities 

Accessibility means giving people of all abilities opportunities to participate in everyday life. We at ORHMA want to help you understand what they mean and how to build an inclusive workplace culture.

On This Page: 

The Five (5) Accessibility
Standards

How to Complete Your Accessibility Compliance Report

Industry Case
Studies on
Accessibility

Service Animals
in Ontario:
What you need to know

Mental Health and Ontario's Hospitality Industry

Resources, Tools & Downloads for
Industry

Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities 

The words AODA and Accessibility are used frequently and yet, we want to help you understand what they mean and how to build an inclusive workplace culture.

There are four principles of accessibility:

  1. Dignity: Provide service in a way that allows the person with a disability to maintain self-respect and the respect of other people.

  2. Independence: Allow a person with a disability to do things on their own without unnecessary help or interference from others.

  3. Integration: Provide service in a way that allows the person with a disability to access the same products and services in a similar manner, to the extent possible, as other customers.

  4. Equal opportunity: Ensure that customers with disabilities have the same access to your goods, services, or facilities as other customers.

Put simply, accessibility means giving people of all abilities opportunities to participate in everyday life. One in seven people in Ontario has a disability. That is a whopping 1.65 million Ontarians.  By 2036, that number is anticipated to rise to 1 in 5 as Ontario’s population ages. Businesses that are accessible will be able to better reach this massive segment of Ontario’s consumers.  People with disabilities do not comprise a small segment of the population: more than 15% of Ontarians report having a disability.

That is why the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) passed in 2005 aims to identify, remove and prevent barriers for people with disabilities (PWD).

The AODA aims to make Ontario fully accessible by 2025 through five standards:

  1. Customer Service: Focuses on the businesses policies and practices that prevent PWD from obtaining the same level of customer service as their non-disabled counterparts.

  2. Information and Communications: Increases access to information, including that provided in person, through print, phone and online services.

  3. Employment: Addresses practices related to employee/employer relationships, including recruitment, hiring and retention policies and processes.

  4. Transportation: Ensures accessible transportation for PWD, including buses and trains.

  5. Design of Public Spaces: Addresses accessibility within buildings and outdoor spaces, including issues such as counter height, aisle and door width and parking.

The AODA standards will be phased in over a 20-year period. These standards affect every business and organization with one or more employees and require regular compliance reporting. 

For more information visit the Ontario.ca website for Accessibility Rules for Businesses. 

Accessibility Standards 

01 | Customer Service 

This standard helps remove barriers for people with disabilities so they can access goods, services or facilities.  

Customer Service Policy Templates:  

Resources: 

02 | Information & Communications 

This standard helps organizations make their information accessible to people with disabilities.

Resources: 

03 | Employment

This standard helps make hiring and employee support practices more accessible.

Resources: 

04 | Transportation

This standard makes it easier for everyone to travel in the province.

Resources: 

05 | Design of Public Spaces

This standard helps organizations make new and redeveloped outdoor public areas accessible.

Resources: 

 
 

How to Complete Your Accessibility Compliance Report

Industry Case Studies 

ORHMA has developed 9 hospitality industry related case studies that showcase accessible customer service practices.   We spoke to many of our members and appreciate the support of the following establishments who shared with us their stories and acknowledge them as Accessible Ambassadors.   

 
 

Service Animals Ontario: What You Need to Know

Service animals are not pets, they are considered working animals. The customer service standard requires that you ensure that a person is permitted to be accompanied by his or her service animal in the areas of their premises that are open to the public or third parties unless excluded by law, for example, the Health Protection and Promotion Act or the Food Safety and Quality Act.

Under the standard, an animal is a service animal if:

  • it is readily apparent that the animal is used by the person for reasons relating to his or her disability, or

  • the person has a letter from a physician or nurse verifying that the animal is required for reasons relating to his or her disability.


If it is not obvious that the animal is a service animal, a provider is not required to allow the animal on the premises if the person does not have a letter from a physician or nurse, or an identification card from the Ministry of the Attorney General. It is important to note that the person is responsible for the animal and should ensure that it behaves in an appropriate manner.

 

Mental Health 

​We at the Ontario Restaurant Hotel & Motel Association (ORHMA) stand united with you and now ​more than ever we need to stay strong. Times are tough but we are tougher. ​You matter and so does your mental health. 

ORHMA has launched a hospitality mental health portal, Hospitality Stay Strong, to provide our hospitality employees, supervisors, managers a space for resources, free internet therapy, webinars and more. 

Resources, Tools & Downloads

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Accessible Employment

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Adaptive Cooking

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Accessible Meetings

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Planning Accessible Events

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Mental Health 

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Festivals & Outdoor Events