Welcome to our Accessibility Resource Hub!
The Accessibility Resource Hub at YRDSB is a centralized web space where you can find new and updated resources, guidelines and checklists on accessibility. From general core skills to specific accessibility guidelines, the Accessibility Resource Hub offers a range of user-friendly resources to educate and support the system about how to make our learning and working environments more accessible for everyone.
Everyone benefits from digital accessibility
Most of our resources support digital or web accessibility because digital technology has become a regular part of learning and working environments. Computers, laptops, tablets and even smartphones are all forms of digital technology we use to create and share content online. This content has to be accessible to people with and without disabilities.
What about printed information?
For print (or hard copy) accessibility, we recommend reviewing the CNIB Foundation's Clear Print Accessibility Guidelines (PDF) as a best practice resource.
What is accessible content?
When content and information is more accessible, everyone benefits. Accessible content is information and communication that can be read, scanned and/or listened to by people with and without disabilities. Visual and non-visual users (such as people who use screen reader software) must be able to access content in a meaningful way. This requires an attitudinal shift since we are used to creating content with only visual users in mind.
This is all new to me. Where should I start?
A good place to start is the seven core skills for creating accessible content. You may already be familiar with some of the core skills, while others may offer some new learning. These seven core skills will help you make content and information that is more accessible to everyone, including people with disabilities.
YRDSB Accessibility Resources
Documents include any word processor software such as Google Docs, Microsoft Word or Apple Notes. The Accessible Document Guidelines provides considerations and best practices for creating documents that people with and without disabilities can access and read in a meaningful way.
A quick reference version of these guidelines are available as an Accessible Document Checklist.
A “slide deck” is the general term for any presentation software such as Google Slides, Microsoft PowerPoint or Apple Keynote. The Accessible Slide Deck Guidelines provides considerations and best practices for creating slide decks that people with and without disabilities can access in a meaningful way.
A quick reference version of these guidelines are available as an Accessible Slide Deck Checklist.
All Board educators and employees who are hosting online, remote or virtual video conferencing tool or meeting platform must ensure the virtual environment is accessible. The Accessible Video Conferencing Guidelines offer some best practices so that people with different disabilities can access video conferencing in a meaningful way.
A quick reference version of these guidelines are available as an Accessible Video Conferencing Checklist.
All Board educators and employees who are planning in-person school board events or meetings must ensure the environment is accessible to everyone, including people with disabilities. School board events and meetings include:
- field trips,
- family-teacher interviews,
- information sessions,
- school councils,
- sports/teams/clubs, and
- other events that include YRDSB students and/or staff.
The Accessible Event and Meeting Guidelines (PDF version) offer accessibility considerations and best practices so that people with and without disabilities can access school board events and meetings in a meaningful way.
A quick reference version of these guidelines are available as an Accessible Event and Meeting Checklist (PDF version).
External Accessibility Resources
The following accessibility resources have been gathered from professional sources beyond YRDSB and grouped into various areas of accessibility:
Accessibility Guidelines for Sensory Loss
DeafBlind Ontario Services, 2015
The Accessibility Guidelines for Sensory Loss is intended to help design spaces that promote independence, functionality and safety for individuals who are deafblind or with sensory loss. The five key elements of design for individuals who are deafblind are: 1) layout, 2) lighting, 3) colour contrast, 4) texture, and 5) acoustics.
Many of these design elements support Universal Design principles and may be considered for use in the wider context of the built environment when designing accessible spaces for individuals of all abilities.
Illustrated Technical Guide to the Accessibility Standard for the Design of Public Spaces
Global Alliance on Accessible Technologies and Environments
The Global Alliance on Accessible Technologies and Environments (GAATES) is a not-for-profit organization that brings together individuals and organizations dedicated to promoting accessibility in electronic communication technologies and the built environment.
This Illustrated Guide will help design professionals develop public spaces that are open and welcoming to everyone, including people with diverse abilities in meeting the requirements of the AODA's Design of Public Spaces standards. This Illustrated Guide provides background information, better practice tips and case studies to make compliance with the accessibility standards more easy to understand.
Pathways to Recreation: Learning About Ontario's Accessibility Standard for the Design of Public Spaces
Parks and Recreation Ontario, 2014
Parks and Recreation Ontario created a guidebook in 2014 addressing the Design of Public Spaces standards under the AODA. The guidebook offers a clear and better understanding of the requirements for making outdoor recreation facilities and amenities accessible, and provides examples of best practices (referred to as "promising practices") that can support successful implementation.
The guidebook is intended to be used in conjunction with the AODA and related legislation as it lists summaries of technical requirements as well as helpful terminology, but does not include the technical specifications for barrier-free design.
Rick Hansen Foundation Accessibility Resources
Rick Hansen Foundation
The Rick Hansen Foundation (RHF) developed a number of Universal Design Recommendations checklists with best practices for improving accessibility in the built environment. Checklists include accessible entrances and automated doors, accessible elevators, accessible ramps, and accessible washrooms.
A more comprehensive Guide to Accessible Play Spaces is also available as a free resource toolkit for designing play spaces that allow children of all abilities to play and enjoy the same activities together. The guide follows Universal Design principles for making playgrounds more accessible and inclusive for all children, including those with disabilities.
Best Practice Design Resource
Access Ability 2: A Practical Handbook on Accessible Graphic Design
Association of Registered Graphic Designers (RGD), 2019
This handbook was produced by the Association of Registered Graphic Designers (RGD) as part of a broader initiative devoted to fostering accessibility across the province of Ontario. The "revised and supersized second edition" of the handbook is meant for anyone involved in designing communication materials.
Best Practice Print Resource
Clear Print Accessibility Guidelines
Canadian National Institute for the Blind (CNIB) Foundation
The CNIB Foundation developed clear print guidelines as an accessible design standard for printed items ranging from magazines to computer screens. The guideline includes 10 standards for making print as clear and readable as possible.
Online Accessibility Tools
Acart Communications, 2017
A free online contrast checker to test the contrast ratios between colours.
Grade Level Readability Test
Perry Marshall, 2021
Score the grade level of your text.
Barrier-Free Education Initiatives Project
Canadian Hearing Society
The Canadian Hearing Society (CHS) developed the Barrier-Free Education Initiatives Project to support the Ontario public school boards in creating more accessible learning environments for students who are Deaf and hard of hearing.
As part of the project, CHS developed a framework based on five building blocks for language accessibility: 1) the built environment, 2) access to information, 3) language access, 4) technology, and 5) education and training.
Ontario150 Children's Books on Accessibility
In 2018, Publications Ontario partnered with the Canadian Council on Rehabilitation and Work to publish a three-book series for children that focus on acceptance and accessibility. Public libraries and school boards in Ontario can order up to five copies of the book series for free. Print, digital, accessible and braille versions are available in English and French upon request.
Policy on Accessible Education for Students with Disabilities
Ontario Human Rights Commission, 2018
The Ontario Human Rights Commission (OHRC) published the Policy on accessible education for students with disabilities in March 2018 to reaffirm the rights and responsibilities of education providers under the Human Rights Code. This OHRC policy replaces the 2004 Guidelines on Accessible Education with updated research evidence, case law and legislation to better inform and support the work of education providers.
This policy document addresses the social model of disability, the various forms of discrimination, as well as on the duty to accommodate and undue hardship. The policy concludes with a comprehensive list of recommendations for the government of Ontario (15), school boards (8) and post-secondary institutions (6).
ReelAbilities Film Festival
The ReelEducation program provides free film kits for educators and administrators to teach students about accessibility, inclusion, universal design, mental health and stereotypes, as well as attitudinal barriers. A variety of grade-appropriate films are available to request with a film kits that includes an accessible format lesson plan and a digital copy of the film with open captions.
Rick Hansen Foundation School Program
Rick Hansen Foundation
The Rick Hansen Foundation School Program offers free educational resources and toolkits to support the diverse learning needs of students (grades K-12) as well as improve accessibility and inclusion within classrooms and school communities. Although located out of British Columbia, the Rick Hansen Foundation have aligned their school program resources and learning materials to curriculum and education priorities in Ontario.
The Rick Hansen Foundation School Program was developed by educators for educators, who are encouraged to explore their toolkits to empower students to become inclusion leaders and accessibility champions.
The TeachAble Project
Ontario Education Services Corporation
The TeachAble Project is designed to help Ontario educators and school board staff build their awareness of accessibility issues, as well as to equip them with the information and materials they need to educate and inspire students. The Ontario Education Services Corporation (OESC) collaborated with a multi-disciplinary team of teachers from across the province in 2011 to develop professional development tools and curriculum resources to support accessibility in teaching and learning.
The TeachAble Project website was relaunched in 2017-2018 schools year and includes informational videos, lesson plans and other resources developed for a range of grade levels and based on Ontario curriculum expectations.
A Way with Words and Images: Suggestions for the Portrayal of People with Disabilities
Government of Canada, 2013
Employment and Social Development Canada developed a resource booklet to promote a fair and accurate portrayal of people with disabilities. It recommends current and appropriate technology and images that relates to people with disabilities. The booklet was developed in consultation with over a dozen national disability-related organizations.
Guide to Accessible Public Engagement
Ontario Municipal Social Services Association, 2013
The Ontario Municipal Social Services Association (OMSSA) manages and delivers integrated human services in early learning and childcare, employment, homelessness and housing. The Guide to Accessible Public Engagement uses a five-step process to evaluate and ensure public engagement processes are accessible to people with disabilities. The guide is an accompaniment to OMSSA's Guide to Conducting Accessible Meetings.
Guide to Conducting Accessible Meetings
Ontario Municipal Social Services Association, 2013
All small and large meetings or events can benefit from accessibility considerations throughout the planning (step 1), conducting/hosting (step 2) and evaluation (step 3). These three steps are the framework for this guide which emphasizes the importance of building accessibility into any meeting or event from the outset. All participants, including those with disabilities, should be able to access both the meeting location (physical or virtual) as well as the contents of the meeting in a meaningful way.
Our Doors Are Open: Guide for Accessible Congregations
Inclusive Design Research Centre, 2018
The Inclusive Design Research Centre at OCAD University created the Our Doors Are Open Guide to offer diverse faith communities in Ontario simple and creative ways to increase inclusion and accessibility for people with disabilities during worship services and other faith-related events.
The guide provides a brief training overview of the barriers to accessibility and tips for interacting with people with disabilities, followed by a clear action plan for removing barriers and actively engaging both new and existing members.
Planning Accessible Events: So Everyone Feels Welcome
Accessibility Directorate of Ontario, 2016
This information booklet provides accessibility considerations and tips for planning any type of community event, including an accessible event checklist. Many of the actions described are low-cost or no-cost ways of making events more inclusive and accessible to all attendees and/or participants.
The Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, more commonly known as the AODA, was passed into law by the government of Ontario in 2005. It was the first enforceable and compliance-based accessibility law of its kind in Canada, and set out a goal of making Ontario fully accessibility by 2025.
The purpose of the AODA is to develop, implement and enforce accessibility standards for the identification, removal and prevention of barriers for people with disabilities.
Ontario Regulation 191/11 (O. Reg. 191/11) is the regulation under the AODA that formally establishes, with compliance deadlines, five accessibility standards: 1) customer service, 2) information and communications, 3) design of public spaces, 4) employment, and 5) transportation.
The five standards together with some general requirements (around developing accessibility policies, plans and training) are known as the Integrated Accessibility Standards Regulation (IASR).
The AODA must be reviewed regularly. The Honourable David C. Onley was appointed to conduct the third review of the AODA and conducted public consultations in 2018. Findings from the comprehensive review were presented to the government in 2019 and included 15 detailed recommendations.
The Human Rights Code (the Code) in Ontario provides protection from discrimination in five social areas and based on 17 protected grounds. Disability (originally as the term "handicap") was added to the Code in 1982 as a protected ground. The AODA uses the same definition of disability as defined under the Code.
The Code and the AODA are intended to be complimentary toward promoting accessibility in Ontario. The Code has primacy, which means it supersedes the AODA and any other provincial laws where a conflicting provision arises. Section 38 of the AODA recognizes this by giving primacy to any provision in any other act or regulation that provides a higher level of accessibility.
Section 3.8 of Ontario's Building Code was amended in 2015 to incorporate barrier-free design into new construction and extensive renovations of buildings in Ontario. The accessibility provisions under section 3.8 of the Building Code set out barrier-free designs for mostly indoors spaces (e.g., entrances, elevators and washrooms), whereas the AODA's Design of Public Spaces standards apply to mostly outdoor spaces (e.g., recreational trails, outdoor play spaces and accessible parking).
These specific sections of Ontario's Building Code and the AODA work together to identify and remove physical or architectural barriers within the built environment. The government on Ontario website offers an easy-to-follow overview of Accessibility in Ontario's Building Code.
Any questions related to the Accessibility Resource Hub or any specific resources can be directed to the Board’s Accessibility Officer.
We hope the Accessibility Resource Hub will support more accessible learning and working environments across the Board, and we look forward to posting and sharing new resources soon.