Did you know that courthouses in Ontario can provide services for counsel, litigants and members of the public who require various forms of accommodation? Ontario's courthouses are aiming to be fully accessible to all users by 2025. Please bookmark this page for future reference.
Available Accessibility Services
The following are examples of accessibility services which may be available at courthouses across Ontario. Counsel are encouraged to contact the Court’s Accessibility Coordinator in advance of a court attendance to determine availability of a particular service:
- Assistive Listening Devices ("ALD"): portable ALDs are available in all courthouses for use in counter services, meetings or in court proceedings; some courthouses also have permanent assistive listening systems built into the courtroom
- Augmentative or Alternative Communication Aids: to assist those with speech or communication disabilities
- Braille Embosser: printer that produces a hard copy of a text document in braille
- Communication Access Real-time Translation ("CART") / Real-time Captioning
- Communication Intermediary Services: professional speech language pathologists trained by Communication Disabilities Access Canada to facilitate communication
- Interpreters and Intervenors: including American Sign Language ("ASL") interpreters, interprètes visuels langue des signes québecoise, deaf interpreters for those with limited use of ASL, intervenor services for people who are deafblind
- Notetakers (including braille notetakers)
- Personal Support Workers
- Quiet meeting room spaces
- Screen Magnification (Large Print) Systems
- Speech Output Systems
- Speech Recognition Technology
- Teletypewriter (TTY)
- Video Magnification System or Close Circuit Television ("CCTV")
Request accessibility services.
The Ontario Courts Accessibility Committee
The Ontario Courts Accessibility Committee ("OCAC") meets quarterly and acts as an advisory committee. The OCAC is co-chaired by a Justice of the Court of Appeal for Ontario and the Assistant Deputy Attorney General for the Court Services Division, Ministry of the Attorney General. The membership of the OCAC includes representatives from all levels of court, the Law Society of Ontario, Legal Aid Ontario, Ontario Law Deans, the Ontario bar (via bar associations), senior government management, and advocacy organizations for persons with disabilities. The Advocates’ Society's representative on the OCAC is Orna Raubfogel.
The OCAC regularly reviews matters such as:
- Physical spaces: The Ministry is looking at all aspects of physical accessibility related to the courthouse experience, both inside the courtroom (e.g. witness and jury boxes, adjustable lawyers' podiums, judges' diases) and inside and outside the courthouse generally (e.g. access to the outside of the courthouse, travel within the courthouse, restrooms and facilities, service and filing counters, judges’ corridors, holding cells, client interview rooms, and other public and private spaces). The Ministry has reported to the OCAC regarding planned construction and retrofitting of physical spaces in provincially-run courthouses and development of universal design standards, among other issues. Members of the OCAC have attended at several courthouses to assess accessibility and provide feedback to the Ministry.
- Accessibility Aids: There are a number of types of assistive devices and services that may be available to accommodate persons accessing court services and facilities (see the section entitled "Available Accessibility Services" above).
- Communications to the Public regarding how to make accessibility-related requests: Each provincially-run courthouse has an Accessibility Coordinator who can be contacted in order to make requests related to accessibility.
Requesting Accommodation in Ontario Courts
Accessibility in the Ontario Superior Court of Justice
Report: "Making Ontario’s Courts Fully Accessible to Persons with Disabilities"
Feedback and Suggestions
The Advocates' Society participates in regular meetings of the Ontario Courts Accessibility Committee. We welcome your feedback and suggestions on current services and ideas to help make Ontario’s courts more accessible to all. Please send your comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.