Accessible Heritage

Accessible facilities, programs, exhibits and services for people with disabilities.

Making Ontario’s Heritage Accessible for Persons with Disabilities

Heritage organizations play a valuable role in preserving, celebrating and sharing Ontario’s history and heritage for the benefit of everyone. The legacy of the past is kept alive at heritage properties, local historic sites, community museums and like-minded organizations across the province. It is important to make sure this legacy is accessible to all – including people with disabilities.

In 2005, Ontario passed the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA). The purpose of the act is 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, by developing, implementing and enforcing accessibility standards. The Act provides for the involvement of people with disabilities, representatives of sectors of the economy and the Government of Ontario in the development of accessibility standards. The AODA applies to every person or organization in the public and private sectors of Ontario.

Heritage organizations have asked for guidance and advice about how to make their premises, programs, services and policies accessible. Each one of these organizations has distinct strengths and needs. Some organizations already have accessibility improvement projects well underway; others are wondering how to get started.

In 2008, The Ontario Historical Society, in partnership with the Accessibility Directorate of Ontario, published Accessible Heritage – An Accessibility Tool Kit For Ontario’s Heritage Organizations and Institutions to provide Ontario’s heritage, culture and tourism sectors with help in creating accessible facilities, programs, exhibits and services for people with disabilities.

The Tool Kit is designed to help your organization chart its own path to accessibility, whatever its scope and resources, and whether it is a newcomer or old hand at the process. It is designed in a loose-leaf binder format to allow for the addition of new material and the updating or revision of existing material. Each of its eight modules covers an important aspect of achieving accessibility throughout your organization.

In addition, the OHS has conducted customer service standard educational workshops across Ontario to launch and promote the Accessible Heritage Tool Kit. In 2008-2009, the OHS visited Ottawa, Blind River, Stouffville, Fort Francis, Sioux Lookout and Barrie.

The Ontario Historical Society acknowledges the support of the Government of Ontario through the EnAbling Change Program, delivered through the Accessibility Directorate of Ontario, Ministry of Community and Social Services.

A Message from the Accessibility Directorate of Ontario

Disability impacts the lives of many Ontarians, and the number of people with disabilities is increasing.

In the next 20 years, an aging population and people with disabilities will represent 40% of total income in Ontario – that’s $536 billion. Making sure all Ontarians have accessible customer service is not only the right thing to do, it makes good business sense.

Ontario’s new Accessibility Standard for Customer Service can help you meet the needs of this growing community. Starting January 1, 2012, the standard will come into effect for all businesses and organizations with one or more employees.

Accessible customer service is as simple as making some small changes and training your staff to serve customers of all abilities, such as:

  • Accommodating a customer’s service dog.
  • Writing down the answer to a question for someone who is Deaf.
  • Using plain language and speaking in short sentences when helping someone with a developmental disability.
  • Providing accessible customer service is easy and we’re here to help.

Visit to learn which changes apply to your organization and to find free tools to help you.


Alfred Spencer
Director, Outreach and Compliance
Accessibility Directorate of Ontario