What do we do?
We form deliberate and strategic partnerships with faculty, staff and students in order to create and maintain a culture of accessibility and disability inclusion on campus.
- Ensuring that the University is meeting its compliance obligations under the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA).
- Advising and working collaboratively to create accessible and inclusive programs, services, classrooms and workplaces.
- Providing workshops and training opportunities on accessibility, the duty to accommodate, McMaster University’s Accessibility Policy and the AODA.
- Communicating to the McMaster community about the various roles and responsibilities we individually and collectively must carry out to meet and go beyond AODA compliance requirements.
- Managing the central McMaster Accessibility Hub website.
Contact us when you:
- Are looking for information on accessibility-related promising practices.
- Have questions about the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA).
- Want to understand your rights as a student/employee who identifies as having a disability(ies).
- Need guidance on rights and responsibilities concerning disability-related accommodation.
- Are interested in:
- Attending a workshop to learn more about accessibility; and/or
- Getting connected to disability-related groups and activities on campus
- Want to get involved with supporting AccessMac.
MAC provides a mechanism for planning, reviewing and evaluating the implementation of the AODA Integrated Accessibility Standards Regulation within the University. It is responsible for addressing identified barriers, developing plans for their removal and taking steps to prevent future barriers. MAC will also review work from previous years to determine if all objectives have been met, identify reasons for unaddressed objectives, and specify how these objectives can be re-instituted going forward. MAC reviews its membership on an annual basis to ensure adequate representation from persons with disabilities.
McMaster University introduced its first accessibility plan entitled the McMaster University Accessibility Plan 2012-2025 in compliance with the Ontario Disabilities Act (ODA) in the 2003-2004 academic year. This plan outlines accomplishments that have been achieved over the last few years in terms of the removal and prevention of barriers; however, the list is not exhaustive. McMaster recognizes that individual departments make many efforts to accommodate without necessarily seeking recognition. The university applauds such efforts and encourages continuation of these practices. This document contains a record of known accomplishments as a means of demonstrating its efforts in the removal and prevention of barriers to access for persons with disabilities. The continually expanding McMaster University Accessibility Plan 2012-2025 document is one snapshot in a series of successive plans, and is a model for future accessibility plans. The document retains a progressive plan of activities that forecast full implementation of the AODA standards by 2025. MAC will update this plan annually in order to capture progress made by the University to ensure full compliance with the AODA.
mcmaster accessibility council terms of reference
The McMaster Accessibility Council and its Members are responsible for ensuring the University’s adherence to Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities (AODA) Standards. The Council provides a mechanism for planning, reviewing and evaluating the implementation of the AODA Standards within the University.
The Council will:
1. Guide the development of plans for the implementation of the AODA Standards at the University;
2. Receive plans and reports related to the implementation of AODA Standards from MAC Working Groups;
3. Make recommendations to the University regarding policies and institutional changes required to ensure adherence to the AODA Standards;
4. Monitor the progress of AODA Standards implementation across the University and;
5. Oversee the filing of the required accessibility reports to the Ontario government regarding the University’s compliance with the AODA.
The Council will report to the President through the Provost & Vice- President (Academic) and the Vice-President (Administration). The Council will prepare an annual report of its September 1 to August 31 activities, to be submitted to the Provost & VP Academic and the VP Administration by December 1. The Terms of Reference will be reviewed every five years.
Membership on the Council is made up of senior officers of the University who are accountable for decisions made at the Council. From time to time, members of the Council may send a delegate if they are unable to attend a meeting. Membership of the Council will be reviewed periodically to ensure that all areas of the University are appropriately represented.
Process for Selecting Chair (TBD)
Four senior officers (or designates who have been given authority) are required to vote on a motion to bind the University. Where there is a vote binding another department, the Council member of that particular department must be present at the meeting.
Associate Vice-President (Equity and Inclusion) – Ex-Officio
Associate University Librarian (current Chair)
Associate Vice-President, Research
Associate Vice-President (Students & Learning) and Dean of Students
Associate Vice-Provost, Faculty
Assistant Vice-President & Chief Facilities Officer
Assistant Vice-President & Chief Human Resources Officer
Assistant Vice-President & Chief Technology Officer
Assistant Vice-President (Administration) & Chief Financial Officer
Assistant Vice-President, Faculty of Health Sciences
Accessibility Program Manager (Equity & Inclusion Office)
Employment Equity Specialist (Human Resource Services)
Director, Student Accessibility & Case Management
Vice-President (Education), McMaster Students Union
The Council, through the Accessibility Program Manager and the Vice-President (Education, McMaster Student Union), will facilitate regular consultation with existing networks of employees and students with disabilities, e.g. the Employee Accessibility Network, MSU Maccess, and the Disability Inclusion, Madness, Accessibility, and NeuroDiversity (DIMAND) Working group under PACBIC, to ensure stakeholder feedback is considered in the exercise of its responsibilities.
A schedule of meetings will be developed based on an annual planning cycle of issues/topics for the agenda.
The Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) was passed in 2005 with the goal of creating an accessible Ontario by 2025. This legislation is unique because it:
- Applies to both public and private organizations
- Requires obliged organizations to be proactive in identifying, preventing and removing barriers to accessibility
- Shifts the focus from the individual who requires an accommodation to the obligation of organizations to remove barriers
The Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act 2005, S.O. 2005, c.11. is implemented on an ongoing basis through Accessibility Standards that have been developed to designate areas, create rules, and provide timelines around enhancing accessibility for persons with disabilities in Ontario. The five Standards under the AODA are the Customer Service Standard and the Integrated Accessibility Standard Regulation (IASR), which is comprised of four integrated Standards. These include:
- Information & Communications Standard
- Employment Standard
- Transportation Standard
- Design of Public Spaces (Built Environment) Standard
The AODA requires that the Province review the standards every five years. The aim of this review is to determine if the standards need to be updated.
McMaster University is obligated to keep a public record of its plans for complying with the AODA. Learn more about the University’s Multi-Year Accessibility Plan.
Integrated Accessibility Standards Regulation
The General section of the Integrated Accessibility Standards sets the tone and layout of the subsequent Standards. This section also governs several areas of accessibility compliance for Ontario institutions, businesses, and organizations, including:
- Establishment of accessibility policies
- Accessibility plans
- Procuring or acquiring goods, services or facilities
- Self service kiosks and
The Customer Service Regulation into came into effect on January 1, 2010 for public sector organizations such as McMaster University. It currently makes up 1 of 6 standards in the Integrated Accessibility Standard Regulation under the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act 2005, S.O. 2005, c.11.
In order to comply with this standard, McMaster established policies, practices and procedures that outline the provision of its goods and services to persons with disabilities. These policies, practices and procedures are consistent with the four core principles:
- Independence – Recognizing when a person is able to do things on their own without unnecessary help or interference from others.
- Dignity – Providing service in a way that allows the individual to maintain self-respect and the respect of other persons.
- Integration – Providing service in a way that allows the individual to benefit from the same services, in the same place, and in the same or similar way as other students, employees, visitors, unless an alternate measure is necessary.
- Equality of Opportunity – Providing service to individuals in such a way that they have an opportunity to access goods or services equal to that given to others.
Areas covered within this Standard include:
- The establishment of accessibility policies
- The use of Service Animals and Support Persons
- Notice of temporary disruptions
- AODA training for staff
- Feedback processes and
- Format of documents
The Information and Communication Standard is a part of the Integrated Accessibility Standard Regulation. This Standard contains the terminology, processes and guidelines that institutions, organizations and businesses in Ontario must follow in order to create, provide, and receive communication and information that is accessible to all people in Ontario, and in particular, persons with disabilities.
This Standard is comprehensive and encompasses areas of:
- Accessible formats and communication supports
- Emergency procedures, plans or public safety
- Accessible websites and web content
- Educational and training resources and materials
- Training to educators
- Producers of educational or training material
- Libraries of educational and training institutions
- Public libraries
The Employment Standard exists within the Integrated Accessibility Standard Regulation to provide employers of Ontario institutions, businesses and organizations terminology, processes and guidelines around accessible employee recruitment and communication, interviewing, hiring and employment practices.
Areas within the Employment Standard include:
- Recruitment, assessment or selection processes
- Notice to successful applicants
- Informing employees of supports
- Accessible formats and communication supports for employees
- Workplace emergency response information
- Documented individual accommodation plans
- Return to work process
- Performance management
- Career development and advancement and
The Transportation Standard is a comprehensive Standard within the Integrated Accessibility Standard Regulation that covers the accessible provision of conventional and specialized transportation services, as well as the duties of municipalities and taxicabs. For the purposes of McMaster University, areas that are especially applicable include:
- School transportation and;
- Public sector organizations
The Accessibility Standard for the Built Environment will help remove barriers in buildings and outdoor spaces for people with disabilities. The Standard will apply only to new construction and extensive renovation and covers areas of outdoor recreation / use, including:
- Recreational trails
- Beach access routes
- Audible pedestrian signals
- Intersections from a pedestrian perspective
- Playground equipment for children and youth
- The maintenance of these spaces
Please visit the Integrated Accessibility Standard Regulation for the most recent updates to the Design of Public Spaces Standard.
Information Box Group
This policy is currently under review. When completed, it will articulate McMaster University’s commitment to accessibility and legislative compliance in adherence with the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA).
This policy describes the scope, principles and accountability mechanisms that support compliance with providing workplace accommodation to employees who may require them based on a ground protected by the Ontario Human Rights Code.
The University has developed the McMaster University Guide and Procedures on Workplace Accommodation (the “Accommodation Guide”) that provides information with respect to the application of the Workplace Accommodation Policy.
This Policy provides comprehensive information regarding the provision of academic accommodations for McMaster University students with disabilities.
McMaster University is committed to fostering a respectful and inclusive organizational culture in which all members of the campus community are able to work, study, and live free of discrimination and harassment.
RISO provides students with information about how to request academic accommodations for their religious, Indigenous and spiritual observances.
McMaster University strives to embody the values of respect, collaboration and diversity in order to build and inclusive community.
The Policy on accessible education for students with disabilities, 2018 will help education providers recognize and fulfil their obligations under the Code, design their facilities, policies and procedures more inclusively, respond appropriately and in a timely way to accommodation requests, and effectively address complaints related to disability.
McMaster University is committed to the inclusion and reasonable accommodation of students with disabilities. This includes the presence of Service Animals (as defined by the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disability Act, 2005) within aspects of University life, including Residences.
McMaster University works to ensure that workers, students and visitors are provided with an environment free of animal allergens and risk of injury to the animal/pet, a member of the University community or visitors, to maintain sanitation and to define the conditions under which it is acceptable for animals to be present in the workplace, and to enable pet owners to have access to the campus for casual use under certain conditions of behaviour and control.
Information Box Group
[Ableism] may be defined as a belief system, analogous to racism, sexism or ageism, that sees persons with disabilities as being less worthy of respect and consideration, less able to contribute and participate, or of less inherent value than others. Ableism may be conscious or unconscious, and may be embedded in institutions, systems or the broader culture of a society. It can limit the opportunities of persons with disabilities and reduce their inclusion in the life of their communities (OHRC, 2017).
Fore more on Ableism, see the Policy on ableism and discrimination based on disability authored by the Ontario Human Rights Commission.
According to Accessibility Services Canada, accessibility refers to the design of products, devices, services, or environments for people who experience disabilities. Ontario has laws to improve accessibility for people with disabilities, including the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA), the Ontario Human Rights Code, and the Ontario Building Code. Accessibility is the opportunity to access programs, services, devices and the environment at the time they are needed without encountering barriers. It is “the proactive identification and mediation of barriers to anticipate and welcome members of our diverse community and increase accessibility for all” (Forward with FLEXibility, 2017).
For a detailed look at accessibility and how it specifically applies to the teaching and learning environment, please visit McMaster’s Accessible Education resource, Forward with FLEXibility: A Teaching and Learning Resource on Accessibility and Inclusion. This resource, while specific to Accessible Education, offers a principled approach to the adoption of an accessibility lens that can be adapted to a number of environments where the proactive identification and mediation of barriers need to be considered, including:
- Tutorials and Labs
- Events and event planning
- Conferences and conference planning
- Volunteer, staff and faculty training
Please visit the FLEXForward resource e-book to learn more about the exciting and endless possibilities of integrating accessibility into your life as a student, staff member or faculty member at McMaster University.
Accommodation is a means of preventing and removing barriers that impede full participation and access based on the prohibited grounds of discrimination. Accommodation is a reactive process that is triggered when an individual identifies their need to be accommodated, for example, a religious or a disability-related accommodation.
Assistive devices and technologies, such as wheelchairs, prostheses, mobility aides, hearing aids, visual aids, and specialized computer software and hardware increase mobility, hearing, vision and communication capacities. With the aid of these technologies, people with disabilities are able to enhance their abilities, and are hence better able to live independently and participate in their communities. (Definition adapted from the World Health Organization (WHO) website).
Alternate formats are other ways of publishing information besides regular print. Some of these formats can be used by everyone while others are designed to address the specific needs of a user (Definition taken from http://www.accesson.ca/).
Examples of alternative formats include: audio and video files, accessible PDFs, Words Documents that correctly use Heading Styles, e-text and Braille. For quick and easy conversion of documents into a variety of accessible formats, visit McMaster’s document conversion tool SensusAccess.
The Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (2005) or AODA is Ontario law that sets forward the obligation that public, private and not-for-profit organizations with one (1) employee or more must comply with to ensure a barrier-free Ontario for persons with disabilities.
The purpose of the legislation is:
“(a) developing, implementing and enforcing accessibility standards in order to achieve accessibility for Ontarians with disabilities with respect to goods, services, facilities, accommodation, employment, buildings, structures and premises on or before January 1, 2025; and
(b) providing for the involvement of persons with disabilities, of the Government of Ontario and of representatives of industries and of various sectors of the economy in the development of the accessibility standards. 2005, c. 11, s. 1.”
For more information on the AODA please see: http://www.accesson.ca/
Section 10 (1) of the Code defines “disability” as follows:
…means for the reason that the person has or has had, or is believed to have or have had, any degree of;
- physical disability, infirmity, malformation or disfigurement that is caused by bodily injury, birth defect or illness,
- 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,
- condition of mental impairment or a developmental disability,
- learning disability, or a dysfunction in one or more of the processes involved in understanding or using symbols or spoken language,
- 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
“Disability” should be interpreted in broad terms. It includes both present and past conditions, as well as a subjective component based on perception of disability. Although sections 10(a) to (e) set out various types of conditions, it is clear that they are merely illustrative and not exhaustive. Protection for persons with disabilities under this subsection explicitly includes mental illness, developmental disabilities and learning disabilities.
See more at the Ontario Human Rights Commission website
The Ontario Human Rights Code prohibits discrimination on the following grounds:
- Ancestry, colour, race
- Ethnic origin
- Place of origin
- Family status
- Marital status (including single status)
- Gender identity, gender expression
- Receipt of public assistance (in housing only)
- Record of offences (in employment only)
- Sex (including pregnancy and breastfeeding)
- Sexual orientation
See more in McMaster’s Policy on Discrimination and Harassment: Prevention & Response.
“Disability results from the interaction between persons with impairments, conditions or illnesses and the environmental and attitudinal barriers that hinder full and effective participation in society on an equal basis with others”
Many people impacted by disability and/or disablement have a preference between person-first language like people/person with disabilities or identity-first language like disabled people/persons (Liebowitz, 2015; Kassenbrock, 2015). This language distinction is explained below.
- Person with a disability
- People with disabilities
[Person-first language is] preferred by some because it emphasizes the person first, and the disability second; [it also] highlights how disability is only one aspect of the person.
- Disabled person
- Disabled people
[Identity-first language] focuses on how people become disabled by environmental conditions; it understands “disablement” as a collective experience arising from systematic barriers, not an individual trait (“a disability”) within the person.
While persons with disabilities is the “politically correct” phrase often encouraged and used by public institutions right now, many disabled people prefer identity-first language. We recommend that you ask people their preference and use a variety of terms when you do not know.
(Definition taken from Forward with FLEXibility, 2017, n.p.)
Sanism is a form of ableism and are words used to name both attitudinal and action-oriented discrimination toward and oppression of those labelled or perceived to be ‘mentally ill’.
Sanism is also called “mentalism” and “describes the systematic subjugation of people who have received ‘mental health’ diagnoses or treatment. Like racism, sanism may result in blatant discrimination, but will be most commonly expressed in “multiple, small insults and indignities” known as “microaggressions” (Kalinowski & Risser, 2005, p. Sanist microaggressions will include low expectations and professional judgments that individuals with such diagnoses are “incompetent, not able to do things for themselves, constantly in need of supervision and assistance, unpredictable, violent and irrational” (Chamberlin, 1990, p. 2) (Poole et al., 2012, p. 20-21).
For a through critical look at Sanism, see Sanism, ‘Mental Health’, and Social Work/Education: A Review and Call to Action by Jennifer M. Poole et al.
Service animals are animals that have been trained to perform tasks that assist people with disabilities.
For McMaster’s policy on the use of Service Animals, please visit: http://mcmaster.ca/accessibility/
Service disruptions are an interruption to a regular service or facility.
Visit our section on Service Disruptions for more information, including a downloadable template to create notice of Service Disruptions.
Student Accessibility Services (SAS) at McMaster University supports students who have been diagnosed with a disability or disorder. SAS assists with academic and disability-related needs, including:
- Learning Strategies
- Assistive Technologies
- Accommodation for Courses
- Test and Exam Administration
- SAS Lounge and Events
For more information, please visit the SAS website.
Some people with disabilities rely on support persons for certain services or assistance, such as using the washroom or a person with a speech impairment may use a support person to facilitate communication. A support person may be a paid professional, a volunteer, a family member or friend of the person with a disability.
(Definition taken from Accessibility Standard for Customer Service: Employer Handbook)
For McMaster’s policy on the use of Support Workers, please see the McMaster University Policy on Accessibility