Procurement Services: Accessibility

As mandated by the Ontario government on January 1, 2013, accessibility criteria and features must be incorporated into all procurement practices.  It is the responsibility of each staff or faculty member procuring or acquiring goods, services or facilities to consider and apply the appropriate accessibility criteria to their procurement decisions.  If it is not practicable to incorporate accessibility criteria or features, you must be ready to provide an explanation upon request.

Units are responsible for reviewing the points below and implementing procurement practices that meet legislated requirements.

Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA)

Under the AODA Integrated Accessibility Standards, "designated public sector organizations shall incorporate accessibility criteria and features when procuring or acquiring goods, services, or facilities, except where it is not practicable to do so."  The regulation also specifies that self-serve kiosks purchased after January 1, 2013 must incorporate accessibility features.  If it is not practicable to incorporate accessibility criteria and features into the good, service or facility you are purchasing, you are required to provide an examplantion upon request.

Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act

Learn more about Accessibility at Western.

Definitions

Disability:

  • Any degree of physical disability, infirmity, malformation or disfigurement
  • A condition of mental impairment or a developmental disability
  • A learning disability or a dysfunction in one or more of the processes involved in understanding or using symbols or spoken language
  • A mental disorder
  • An injury or disability for which benefits were claimed or received under the insurance plan established under the Workplace Safety & Insurance Act, 1997
The definition includes disabilities of different severity, visible as well as non-visible disabilities, and disabilities the effects of which may come and go.


Accessibility:

A general term used to describe the degree of ease that something (eg. device, service, environment) can be used and enjoyed by persons with a disability. The term implies conscious planning, design and/or effort to ensure it is barrier free to persons with a disability, and by extension, highly usable and practical for the general population as well.

Barrier:

Anything that prevents a person with a disability from fully participating in all aspects of society because of his or her disability, including a physical barrier, an architectural barrier, an information or communications barrier, an attitudinal barrier, a technological barrier, a policy or a practice.
Criteria to Consider

Goods:

  1. Can the good be used by someone:
    1. In a seated position?
    2. Using one hand, with limited upper body strength, or limited fine motor skills?
    3. With vision loss or low vision?
    4. With hearing loss?
  2. Can the product be used to meet a variety of needs?
  3. Are support materials, such as manuals and training or service calls, available in accessible formats at no additional charge?
  4. Does it work with common assistive technologies?

Services:

  1. Does the firm provide accessible customer service, as required under the Customer Service Standard?
  2. Can the service provider accommodate the needs of people of all abilities? For example, if you are hiring someone to conduct research, do their surveys and interviews accommodate people with different types of disabilities?
  3. Will the company use accessible signage, audio and/or print materials? For example, if you are hiring an event coordinator, will they use high contrast signage for the event?

Facilities:

  1. Can someone using a mobility aid, like a wheelchair or walker, get around the facility?
  2. Are signs placed at an accessible height?
  3. Does the facility have emergency procedures to assist people with disabilities?
  4. Can someone with a disability use the facility as quickly and easily as a person without a disability?

Additional Resources:

Frequently Asked Questions:

Do the accessibility obligations apply to the procurement of all goods and services?

Yes. The accessibility obligations apply to the acquisition of all goods, services and facilities regardless of value.

Do I have to apply accessible criteria to goods used by the public?

Yes, it is especially important to apply accessibility criteria and features to goods, services and facilities used by the public as it is very likely that a member of the public who utilizes that good, service or facility will have a disability.  When determining your priorities for purchasing a new item, remember that 1 in 6 Canadians have a disability and that number is expected to grow.  Furthermore, by applying accessibility criteria and features, other customers and members of the public benefit, including people pushing strollers and older adults.  If it is not practicable to incorporate accessibility criteria and features, you must be prepared to provide an explanation.

What do I do if I cannot find information about accessibility criteria related to the product, service or facility that I am purchasing?

If it is not possible to apply the accessibility checklist and you need help finding additional accessibility criteria related to the product or service being procured, contact Procurement Services (procurement@uwo.ca, Ext. 84579).

How do I know I am meeting my accessibility obligation in procurement?

Consider a few key questions:

  • Do the goods, services or facilities you are planning to acquire create barriers to persons with disabilities?
  • Can a person with a disability use the service at all?
  • Can people with disabilities configure the item to meet their specific needs and preferences?

If you are hosting an event or providing a service or facility, consider offering a survey or questionnaire that includes a question about accessibility.  This will give people the opportunity to let you know if you are meeting their accessibility needs.


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