Deaf and hard of hearing workers in Canada have the same rights as those employees who are hearing. The Canadian Human Rights Act, The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, Accessible Canada Act, Supreme Court of Canada rulings, Ontario Human Rights Code, Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) and AODA Employment Standards mandate the legal responsibility for an organization, business or facility to be accessible.
Ontario Human Rights Code
The Ontario Human Rights Code explicitly states that “The duty to accommodate” is the legal obligation that employers, unions, landlords, and service providers have under the Code to meet the needs of persons with disabilities.
Sign language interpreting, including the use of Deaf interpreters, and Realtime Captioning (CART) are recognized accommodations under the Code thereby making the provision of sign language interpreting or captioning services a legal obligation. Failing to provide or cover the costs of qualified interpreters or captioners constitutes a violation of a Deaf or hard of hearing individual’s human rights.
Discrimination in employment may happen when a person experiences negative treatment or impact because of their disability. Discrimination does not have to be intentional, and a person’s disability needs to be only one factor in the treatment they received for discrimination to have taken place. The Code provides that organizations (e.g. employers, service providers, and vocational associations, including unions) have a duty to accommodate disability, and other grounds, short of undue hardship based on cost, health and safety.
Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA), (2005)
The AODA aims to identify, remove and prevent barriers for Ontarians with disabilities. The AODA became law and applies to all levels of government, non-profit organizations and private sector businesses in Ontario that have one or more employees.
The AODA has five standards which are included in the Integrated Accessibility Standards (ISAR). These include the Customer Service Standard; Employment Standard; Information and Communication Standard; Design of Public Spaces Standard; and Transportation Standard.
Compliance with the AODA does not necessarily mean compliance with the Ontario Human Rights Code. Employers and service providers must follow both the AODA and the Ontario Human Rights Code.
Creating an accessible workplace is more than just meeting the demands of human rights – it’s also about good business. As an employer, you provide employees with the tools to do a job well.