Accessible Formats and Communication Supports procedures


Approved By: City Manager


Approval Date:

Effective Date:

Revision Approved By:

Revision Date:

Review Date:



This procedure applies to City employees, volunteers and other persons or organizations that provide goods, services or facilities to the public or other third parties on behalf of the City, in  accordance with the Integrated Accessibility Regulation developed under the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA), 2005, S.O.2005, c.11. and in support of the City of Ottawa Accessibility Policy.


The procedures apply to all materials and communications produced by the City of Ottawa for release to the public whether produced in house or on behalf of the City (i.e. consultant reports).  It does not apply to unconvertible information and information that the City does not control directly or indirectly through a contractual relationship.


Each publication should be produced in such a way as to reduce barriers in the original document. Adaptation to another format can be accommodated easily and quickly when accessibility is considered during the development. 


Procedure Description



The City will advise the public of the availability of accessible formats and communications supports.


The City will include:

·         A link on all City websites to the Accessible Formats and Communication Supports request form;

·         Signage at every public service counter advising of the availability of Accessible formats and Communication Supports;

·         The line “Accessible formats and communication supports are available, upon request,” is placed at the bottom front page of:

·         all council and committee agenda indexes;

·         large-scale documents for city-wide public consultation (such as the Budget Overview or the Official Plan);

·         all documentation available for city-wide public consultation, including Council and committee agenda report; and,

·         anywhere else the City determines that notification is reasonable.


Processing Requests

Requests for an accessible format or communication support can be received by staff in person, by phone/TTY or by electronic formats such as emails or service requests. Upon receipt of a request, staff will complete the Online Request Form (Appendix A) which is forwarded to the Accessibility Office for record keeping purposes. The request is to be responded to by the appropriate operational staff. A direct link to this form is provided on the accessibility page of


All City staff shall, upon request, and in consultation with the person making the request, provide or make arrangements to provide accessible formats and communication supports for persons with disabilities.  Accessible formats and communication supports shall be provided in a timely manner, taking into account the person’s accessibility needs and at a cost that is no more than the regular cost charged to other persons.



The timeframe for the conversion process of a document into an accessible format, or the provision of a communication support, can vary depending on the media chosen, the size, complexity, quality of source documents, and the number of documents to be converted. Documents shall be returned in a timely manner depending on the factors previously noted.


If the document being requested is the subject of a public consultation or has a set timeframe for public comment, the timeframe for document conversion and distribution must be taken into consideration.


Cost of Conversion

When a member of the public requests a City document in an accessible format or information with a communication support, the department of origin is responsible for the cost of conversion, materials and distribution of information. If the materials are directly related to the work of an Advisory Committee, costs will be the responsibility of City Clerks.


Once the appropriate format or support is determined with the requestor, staff shall provide or arrange for the provision of the accessible formats and/or communication support for persons with disabilities.


If a staff member determines that information is unconvertible, they shall, in consultation with their manager, provide the person requesting the information or communication with:

(a)  a written explanation as to why the information or communications are unconvertible; and,

(b) a summary of the unconvertible information or communication.


The Accessibility Office is available for consultation to help determine if information can be converted. 



Supervisors and managers shall monitor current practices to ensure compliance.

Failure to comply with the AODA regulations can result in Provincial  administrative penalties and failure to comply with this procedure may result in disciplinary action, up to and including dismissal.



City of Ottawa Accessibility Policy

City of Ottawa Communications Policy (currently pending)

Equity and Diversity Policy


Legislative and Administrative Authorities

Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, 2005, S.O. 2005, c. 11
Accessibility Standards for Customer Service, O. Reg. 429/07
Integrated Accessibility Standards, O. Reg. 191/11

Human Rights Code, R.S.O. 1990, c. H.19



Accessibility Office is responsible for:

·      Collecting information about requests from departments;

·      Monitoring compliance with this procedure on an annual basis.


Directors are responsible for:

·         Creating and maintaining service free from discrimination toward persons with disabilities;

·         Budgeting for the costs associated with accessible formats and communication supports of materials originating from their departments;

·         Monitoring situations where requests for accessible formats and communication supports have not been provided and determine ways to make the information more convertible in the future.


Managers and Supervisors are responsible for:

·         Creating and maintaining service free from discrimination toward persons with disabilities;

·         Ensuring employees are aware of this procedure and are logging  requests that are received by their departments, through the online form; 

·         Tracking costs associated with requests;

·         Ensuring employees are providing residents with the requested accessible format and communication support;

·         Ensuring that staff provide residents with an explanation as to why information or communications are unconvertible; and,

·         Overseeing the provision of a summary of the unconvertible information or communication support to the resident.




Accessible formats - may include, but are not limited to, large print, recorded audio and electronic formats, Braille and other formats usable by persons with disabilities.


Common accessible formats

Some of the most common accessible formats are (but not limited to):

·         HTML or electronic text version on line that meet the WCAG 2.0 level A or AA;

·         Text saved as a Word document;

·         Large Text;

·         Plain language versions;

·         Braille.


Common communication supports are (but not limited to):

·         Screen Reader software (ex: BrouseAloud on 

·         Verbal explanation of a written document;

·         Video Captioning, transcripts;

·         Alternative and augmentative communication supports such as an FM loop system or Communication Access Realtime Translation (CART);

·         Sign language interpretation. 

See attached Guidelines for Communicating with People who have Disabilities (Appendix B) for more information.


Communications - means the interaction between two or more persons or entities, or any combination of them, where information is provided, sent or received.


Communication supports - may include, but are not limited to, captioning, alternative and augmentative communication supports, plain language, sign language and other supports that facilitate effective communications.


Conversion ready - means an electronic or digital format that facilitates conversion into an accessible format.


Electronic Text – An electronic text means of presentation of information in order to enable various computer programs to convert the information into a “readable” format. Electronic text where all illustrations or graphical information is explained fully in text.


Information - includes data, facts and knowledge that exists in any format, including text, audio, digital or images, and that conveys meaning. The information and communications standards do not apply to the following:

1. Products and product labels.

2. Unconvertible information or communications.

3. Information that the City does not control directly or indirectly through a contractual relationship.


Unconvertible - it is not technically possible to convert the information or communications; or the technology to convert the information or communications is not available.

Keyword Search

Accessible Formats

Communication supports



For further information regarding this procedure, contact:
Corporate Accessibility Office
City Manager’s Office


Appendix A- Accessible Formats Request Form

Appendix B- Guidelines for Communicating with People who have Disabilities

Appendix C- Resources for Accessible Formats and Communications Supports

 Appendix A


Request for City of Ottawa Documentation in an Accessible Format or with Communication Support

Top of Form


Required fields are marked with an asterisk ( * )

Personal Information

* First Name:

* Last Name:


Street Number:

Street Name:



Postal Code:

* Home Phone:

E-mail address:

Document Information

Name of Document:
Name and Date of Event:

Language Requested

* Please select one

French Accessible format or communication support requested* e.g. Braille, html, text etc. Please indicate any specific technical needs.

* What date do you require this information by?

Personal information on this form is collected under the authority of section 367(1) of the Municipal Act, R.S.O. 1990, c. M.45. It will be used to provide a document or information produced by the City of Ottawa, as requested. Questions about this collection may be directed by mail to the City Clerk, City of Ottawa, 110 Laurier Avenue West, Ottawa, ON, K1P 1J1.

 Bottom of Form

Appendix B


Guidelines for Communicating with People who have Disabilities


The following information is provided by the Ministry of Community and Social Services (Province of Ontario)


Deaf, oral deaf, deafened, and hard of hearing


People who experience hearing loss may be Deaf, oral deaf, deafened, or hard of hearing. People experiencing hearing loss may use assistive devices, like hearing aids, special telephones, sign language interpreters, various amplifiers or a pen and paper. They may also read lips or prefer to communicate through email, texting or a TTY (available through 311 operators).

TTY stands for Teletypewriter, a type of telephone that allows callers to send typed messages to each other across phone lines.

TTY users can directly call other TTY numbers or they can connect with a Relay Service. A standard phone user can also place a call to a TTY user through the Relay operator. You give the operator your name, the name of the person you are calling, and the number you wish to reach. Using the Relay Service locally is free. For long-distance, any standard long-distance charges would apply.

Here are suggested ways to best communicate with a person who has hearing loss:


Vision loss


Did you know that few people who are blind have no vision? According to Canadian National Institute for the Blind (CNIB), nine out of ten people who use their services have some degree of vision.

Three million Canadians have difficulty reading conventional text.

Vision loss can restrict someone's ability to read signs, locate landmarks, or see hazards. Some customers may use a guide dog or white cane; others may not. Some customers simply need to view written materials—like documents, receipts, menus, brochures, instructions or labels—in large print, or with the help of a magnifier. Many also use readers which read information to them from an accessible document or an accessible website. 



A person who is deafblind cannot see or hear to some degree. Many people who are deafblind will be accompanied by an intervenor, a professional who helps with communicating. Intervenors are trained in special sign language that involves touching the hands of the client in a two-hand, manual alphabet or finger spelling.

Keep these suggestions in mind when you serve a customer who is deafblind:


Learning Disabilities


A learning disability refers to a variety of disorders that affect how a person acquires, retains, or takes in information. People with learning disabilities just learn differently. Learning disabilities affect people from all backgrounds and are not caused by culture, language or a lack of motivation.

Learning disabilities are specific impairments that can result in problems with reading and language-based learning (dyslexia), problems with mathematics (dyscalculia), or problems with writing and fine motor skills (dysgraphia).

This disability may become apparent in your customer service interaction when the person has difficulty reading material or taking in and processing the information you are providing.

Some tips:

If you're discussing confidential information, consider giving the notes to you customer or offering to destroy them.


Intellectual/ Developmental Disabilities


Developmental or intellectual disabilities can mildly or profoundly limit a person's ability to learn, communicate, do everyday physical activities and live independently.

You may not be able to know that someone has this disability unless you are told, or you notice the way the person acts, asks questions or uses body language. However, they may understand you more than you realize.

An example of a developmental disability would be Down Syndrome.

Here's some guidance:


Mental Health Disabilities


The important thing to remember when communicating with a person who has a mental health disability is to focus on completing the transaction in a calm, patient way and meeting the customer's needs. Mental health issues can affect a person's ability to think clearly, concentrate or remember. Mental health disability is a broad classification for many disorders that can range in severity. Customers may experience anxiety due to phobias or panic disorders. Hallucinations, mood swings, and a deep lack of motivation may be signs of a mental health disability. A person may have a clinical depression or bipolar disorder.

The major barrier for people with mental health disabilities is the stigma associated with it and the lack of understanding.

Here are some suggestions:

Did you know that one in five people in Ontario will experience a mental health issue at some point in their lives?


Speech or Language Disabilities


Some customers may have problems communicating because of their disability. Cerebral palsy, stuttering, hearing loss or other conditions may make it difficult for the person to pronounce words or may cause slurring or stuttering. A person with this type of disability may use a communication board or other assistive devices.

A few pointers…


Physical Disabilities


Physical disabilities can result from many different situations, for example: Cerebral palsy, Multiple Sclerosis, Arthritis, heart or lung conditions or amputations.

Here are some tips:


 Ways to make information accessible:


Use of Plain Language


Keeping your text as clear and as easy to read as possible is not only beneficial for clients with learning disabilities and low literacy skills, it improves comprehension for all clients and will make adaptation to other formats easier. All technical terms and acronyms should be fully explained.


American Sign Language (ASL) and French sign Language (LSQ): ASL and LSQ uses hand shapes, positions, facial expressions and body movements to convey meaning to people who are Deaf or hard of hearing.


Large Print: the minimum suggested font size is point size 12 however someone with low vision may request up to 48 point font in order to read the information.  


Braille: Braille is a tactile system of raised dots representing letters or a combination of letters. It is used by people who are blind, or deafblind and is produced using Braille transcription software.


Transcriptions: The conversion of speech into a written or electronic text document.


Verbal or Written Descriptions: Verbal or written explanation of a document or picture.


Reading Software for websites (BrouseAloud): BrowseAloud is free software available on that reads web pages out loud. It can help anyone who has difficulty reading online, including people with mild visual impairments, low literacy, English as a second language, or learning disabilities such as dyslexia.


Screen Reader Software: Screen readers use a speech-synthesizer to read text from computer screen or convert it to Braille. For readers to work, the information must be formatted properly (in a structured electronic file) for the screen reader to recognize it.


Captioning: Captioning is the provision of words, in a written format, that accompanies spoken words in a video. They usually appear on the bottom of the screen.


Digital Accessible Information Systems: (DAISY): Daisy is an audio format for people who have trouble with print – including limited vision and learning disabilities like dyslexia. Daisy digital talking books are like audiobooks, but include navigation features to help readers skip forward or back through the material.   


Structured Electronic Files: A structured electronic file includes information about how elements of the document are formatted, like titles, section headings, etc. They can be created using “styles” in most standard word processing programs. Documents created as structured electronic files are easier to convert to accessible formats (including Braille, Daisy an web pages) and allow screen readers to navigate the information effectively.


Tactile Signage: Tactile means “understood through sense of touch”. Characters and pictograms are raised 0.8 to 1.5 mm above the surface, and have Grade 1 Braille located directly below the associated pictograph or large text.


Appendix C


Resources for Accessible Formats and Communications Supports


The following is a list resources used in the provision of accessible formats and communication supports:



Accessible Information and Communication: A Guide for small Business: provides a comprehensive overview of how to provide information in accessible formats at


Accessible Digital Office Documents Project: is a one stop shop for creating accessible digital documents using today’s most popular office applications (Microsoft, Open Office, iwork, Corel, Google Docs, etc.) at


Communication Access Realtime Translation (CART): This service can be used at public events to display spoken words on large screens to help participants with hearing loss to follow speeches. Services can be provided on location or remotely. To book CART services contact the Canadian Hearing Society.   


Sign Language Interpretation/Intervenor: The two most frequently used sign languages in Canada are American Sign Language ASL (English) and Langue Signe du Quebec LSQ (French). To book these services contact the Canadian Hearing Society.


Braille: In order to make a request for a document in Braille you will need to ask the requestor if they require a document  in Grade 1 or Grade 2 Braille and you will need to provide the document in a plain text format. A company that provides print Braille and other accessible formats of documents is T-Base Communications.


Assistive Technology (AT): AT refers to devices which enable persons living with vision loss to perform tasks that would otherwise be more difficult to accomplish. To learn more about how to access these services contact the CNIB .

Assistive Listening Devices (FM Loop system): Is used as a system where the audio source is broadcast wirelessly over an FM frequency. The person who is listening may use a small FM Receiver tuned into the signal, and listen at their preferred volume. FM Loop systems are available in City Hall public meeting rooms and in some Ottawa Public Library locations.


Video Captioning Services/Transcripts: Many video production companies provide video captioning as an additional service. It is important to include this criterion when ordering the development of videos.


For additional information please contact the Corporate Accessibility Office at 613-580-2424 ext.28602 or email: