Accessible Businesses

Did you know that the “duty to accommodate” is the legal obligation that employers, unions, landlords and service providers have under the Human Rights Code to meet the needs of persons with disabilities. As well, accommodation is a shared responsibility. Everyone involved, including the person seeking accommodation, should co-operate in the process, exchange relevant information, and explore accommodation solutions together.

How is society affected by Ableism? Several laws address accessibility and some requirements have existed since the 1980s. Since then, progress on accessibility has been made in some areas and by some organizations. Despite this, accessibility remains limited. People with disabilities still do not have equal access to services, employment, transportation, information or buildings that others enjoy. They cannot count on accessibility being available. Various laws have been passed with the goal of creating standards to improve accessibility for all.

Learn how to have accessible buildings, accessible stores, and accessible businesses.

You may be able to make buildings, spaces, and products accessible using simple or low-cost solutions. The best solutions will follow the rules of universal design. This means designing products and environments that can be used by all people, as much as possible, without having to be modified.

When assessing your premises for physical accessibility, there are a number of things to consider in developing your action plan:
  • Do you own or lease your premises? This may affect how, when and at what cost accessibility changes can be made.
  • Can your building accommodate physical changes?
  • Can any necessary renovation work be done under normal maintenance activities, or regular update work?
  • Do you need to hire an architect or engineer, or can a contractor do the job?
  • What are your priorities based on your assessment?
  • What are the simpler, immediate, lower-cost things you can do to improve accessibility?
  • Remember to make your premises accessible to people with a wide range of disabilities. It might also mean: signage with high contrast lettering; easy-to-find directories; and accessible parking.

The following checklist items may help you develop a plan to make your premises accessible:

  • entrances are accessible to persons using wheelchairs or scooters;
  • canopies or other sheltering devices have adequate headroom;
  • revolving door openings move slowly and safely to accommodate people using mobility aids;
  • if there is no accessible revolving door, an adjacent accessible door opens automatically, has power assisted door operators or can be easily opened with one hand;
  • mats are level with the floor and door thresholds are beveled so they do not create a tripping hazard; and
  • elevator doorways are wide enough and stay open long enough to allow persons using wheelchairs to pass through easily;
  • in accessible elevators, a two-way emergency call system or telephone provided; and
  • accessible pedestrian route(s) or path(s) are wide enough to accommodate wheelchairs, scooters, or other mobility devices;
  • curb cuts or ramps are wide enough for wheelchairs and scooters, have a non-slip finish and are kept clear of snow and ice in winter weather;
  • routes are not obstructed by poles, plants, bicycle racks, etc.;
  • accessible entrances are clearly marked with the International Symbol of Accessibility;
  • building and route signage is provided in large, high contrast lettering;
  • accessible passenger loading zone accommodates taxis, buses, or accessible vehicles;
  • awnings or canopies extending over exterior walkways have clear headroom;
  • on exterior steps, forward edges are highly color contrasted for easy visibility; and
  • on both sides of ramps or exterior stairs, continuous handrails are a bright contrasting color and have horizontal or vertical rails to prevent people from slipping through.
Fire and Life Safety
  • a fire policy and fire safety plan are in place for the evacuation of people with disabilities;
  • main exit routes and exit doors are easily accessed and used by people using mobility aids;
General Layout and Services
  • queuing areas and serving aisles are wide enough for people using mobility aids including electric wheelchairs and scooters;
  • cashier desks, service counters or counters/tables in eating areas are accessible to and usable by patrons using wheelchairs or scooters;
  • public telephones, coat racks or display shelves are accessible to and usable by patrons with various disabilities e.g. wheelchair users, persons with low vision or hearing loss; and
  • floor finishes have non-slip surfaces under wet and dry conditions;
  • there are no protruding objects or tripping hazards in accessible routes, and if so, they are clearly marked with a bright colour, a cane-detectable floor finish, or a guard;
  • where floors are carpeted, the carpet is of firm, dense construction and easy for a wheelchair user to roll over without difficulty; and thresholds are beveled to accommodate different floor materials.
Parking Areas
  • accessible parking spaces are clearly marked with the International Symbol of Accessibility;
  • in accessible underground parking areas, a call bell or two-way communication system is located near parking spaces reserved for persons who may require assistance;
  • there is a safe, clearly marked, accessible pedestrian route from the designated parking area to an accessible building entrance or elevator lobby; and
  • accessible pedestrian route is made of firm, level material.
Public Washrooms
  • an accessible stall is provided for each sex when integrated into regular washrooms or an accessible stand-alone unisex washroom is located nearby;and
  • the following washroom features are accessible to people with a wide range of disabilities: grab bars; coat hooks; flush controls; wash basins; toilet paper dispenser; call button for emergencies; mounted automatic hand-dryers or paper towel holders; and lever-handled faucets or automatic faucet.
Signage and Information Systems
  • show the International Symbol of Accessibility;
  • display universal hearing disability symbols where equipment is available, e.g. TTY;
  • include Braille information;
  • include appropriate pictograms, wherever possible (e.g. on washroom doors);
  • include large high contrast text, clear, light-colored lettering or symbols on a dark background, or dark characters on a light background; and
  • are mounted at a convenient height for both wheelchair users and people with vision disabilities.
Wall Finishes
  • walls in busy areas, corridors, ramps or staircases are finished in smooth, non-glossy, non-abrasive finishes;
  • color of doors or door frames in hallways contrast with surrounding wall colors;
  • fire exit doors are consistently colored throughout the building, so that they are easily distinguishable from other doors;
  • fire hose cabinets and fire extinguishers are in a highly contrasting color;

Source: Human Rights Commission, Ministry of Community and Social Services

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Opening Doors to Dignity

We promote equal access for people with physical disabilities to services, transportation, buildings, businesses, stores, and services.

We advocate that people with physical disabilities should receive the same respect and consideration that able-bodied people receive.

We remove attitudinal and systemic barriers that persons with physical disabilities must handle on a daily basis by educating and talking with able-bodied people.