Recognizing the International Day of Persons with Disabilities (IDPD) 2023

The University of Toronto recognizes the International Day of Persons with Disabilities (IDPD) on December 3. IDPD aims to promote an understanding of disability issues and mobilize support for the dignity, rights, and well-being of persons with disabilities, both evident and non-evident. The United Nations established IDPD in 1992, following the International Year of the Disabled Person in 1981 and the UN Decade of Disabled Persons, 1983–1992.

At the University of Toronto, the International Day of Persons with Disabilities is an excellent opportunity to reflect on progress made to support the success of students, faculty, librarians, and staff who identify as having evident and non-evident disabilities and to determine where—and how—we can improve.

Recognizing that intentional design is an important aspect of creating accessible spaces, the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) Office recently expanded its employee trainings with the course “Universal Design 101” and released a Universal Design Inclusive Employer Guide. Together, these resources encourage staff in all roles to consider how to make their activities, projects, environments, and processes usable by all members of our community, to the greatest extent possible, without the need for adaptation or specialized design. Strategies may include providing agendas to participants several days prior to meetings; creating website content that considers how a broad range of users could access and perceive it; and designing events that affirm different modes of participation by offering hybrid formats, live captioning, and technology to amplify sound.

Another important aspect of Universal Design is accessible communication. The new Alt Text Guide, created by the PSEC communications team in collaboration with the AODA Office, offers practical guidance on how to ensure the University’s communications are as accessible as possible to everyone in our community.

Meanwhile, the University of Toronto Scarborough is preparing to launch a resource that encapsulates the insights generated during last year’s National Dialogues and Action for Inclusive Higher Education and Communities: Addressing Ableism, Disability, and Accessibility in Canadian Higher Education—a national conversation that drew more than 1,000 participants from across the public and private sector. The publication will provide support and direction to post-secondary institutions across Canada in making critical changes across the full range of their activities.

These resources, enriched by the many and wide-ranging efforts of Faculties, Divisions, and campuses captured in the 2022 AODA Report, are valuable and necessary. Yet they require our whole community to use them and engage with them, to provide feedback on their efficacy, and to suggest how to improve them. As we approach the International Day of Persons with Disabilities, I encourage you to approach accessibility and inclusion as a necessary mindset and a responsibility that we share with each other.

Suggested Services & Resources

Services

Institutional Accessibility Office

Tri-campus Accessibility Offices

U of T Campus Safety App

The U of T Campus Safety App is a critical resource to support the safety and well-being of our community. It is available for free download at Google Play and the Apple App Store. It integrates with U of T’s safety and security systems to help students, faculty, staff, and librarians move more safely on and off-campus.

  • The Live Chat with Campus Safety feature immediately connects users with U of T Campus Safety staff, who are available on all three campuses 24 hours/7 days a week.
  • The Mobile Bluelight feature sends the user’s location on one of U of T’s campuses to Campus Safety in case of crisis.
  • The Virtual TravelSafer feature allows Campus Safety to monitor a user’s route by user request when coming to or leaving one of U of T’s campuses until reaching a destination.

Resources

  • Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Report

    This annual report outlines the progress of the University with respect to accessibility on all three campuses; speaks to initiatives for the coming year; and demonstrates U of T’s goals and commitments to accessibility to all members working, studying or visiting the University. Read the 2022 AODA Report.

  • AODA Training Module (Required for All U of T Employees)

    Under the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA), the University is required to provide training to all employees on accessibility as per the regulations under the Act.

    This training is delivered through a 30-minute online module and is intended for all U of T employees, existing and new. This training covers all training requirements under the Customer Services Standards as well as those of the general requirements of the Integrated Accessibility Standards Regulation, which includes information on the Ontario Human Rights Code as it relates to disability.

  • AODA + Universal Design Calendar

    Browse the calendar to learn about (and register for) upcoming training and events offered by the AODA Office.

  • Materials for accessible communication

    As of January 1, 2021, under the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA), all public sector organizations must ensure their Internet websites and web content adhere to Level AA standard as defined by the World Wide Web Consortium Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0.

  • Training & Consultation

    U of T’s AODA Office provides the community with a range of trainings as well as consultation on website accessibility. Training topics include accessibility and procurement, accessibility and language, and accessibility and social media.

  • Commitments and Accessibility Standards

    Read about employment accommodations, accommodations for students, emergency procedures, U of T’s service animals guideline, and more.

  • NEW! Universal Design Inclusive Employer Guide

    The Universal Design in the Workplace inclusive employer guide defines Universal Design, and shares practical ways in which it can be applied to make our learning and work spaces more accessible and inclusive.

  • NEW! Alt Text Guide

    The Alternative (Alt) Text Best Practices Guide is a helpful overview for staff creating digital documents containing images, providing clear guidance on the purpose of alt text, and when and how to use it.