Accessibility - Frequently Asked Questions
Accessible Documents FAQ
- What is an accessible document?
Accessible Parking FAQ
Accessible Document FAQ
The term “accessibility” can be applied to a range of issues and topics; in this context, we are referring to creating accessible documents, which meet the needs of people with different disabilities including those with visual, learning and cognitive disabilities. Some of these individuals will use assistive technology to access information such as devices that magnify text, read the text aloud or allow the person to adapt the appearance of text (i.e. colour and contrast changes). We need to make documents that allow for use of these technologies or other strategies that individuals may use to access information.
Improving accessibility (of documents, facilities, etc.) promotes inclusion, dignity and equal access to opportunities.
In Ontario, we also have a legislated obligation to provide access to information, through the accessible formats provisions of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA). The Information and Communication Standard of the AODA requires us o provide accessible formats and communication supports, upon request. As an educational institution, Trent also has obligations to provide educational material in an accessible format, upon request; this includes accessible formats of student records, program information, and materials used for educational purposes. There are specific obligations for libraries of educational institutions to provide print as well as digital and multimedia resources in an accessible format when requested, with some exceptions. Also, under the AODA Information and Communication Standard are requirements for websites and web content; this includes documents on the web.
The Ontario Human Rights Code also requires that Trent accommodate disability-related needs including those relevant to education, housing and employment.
According to the AODA, as of January 1, 2014, Trent was required to ensure that all new websites and web content including documents posted to the external (public-facing) website met Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 Level A criteria. As of January 1, 2021, all websites and web content that have been posted after January 1, 2012 need to meet WCAG 2.0 Level AA criteria. There are exceptions in the AODA made for captioning of live-streamed content and for audio description of pre-recorded content.
Given that the portal, including Blackboard, is accessed by password protection and is not available to the public, it is considered the internal “intranet” as opposed to “internet.” Public sector organizations such as Trent, are not required under the AODA, to make intranet sites accessible, but are required to provide any content, when requested, in an accessible format. Despite the lack of a legislated requirement, best practice would suggest that we strive to make all content accessible. Visit the Blackboard website for more information on the accessibility features available (URL: https://help.blackboard.com/Accessibility).
Under Section 12 of the Information and Communication Standard of the AODA, Trent, as a public sector organization, is required to provide information in accessible formats, upon request; this could include requests for electronic or hard copy documents.
While this is an acceptable practice, it is often not considered “best practice”. The principle of integration, as it relates to accessibility means that goods and services should be available to persons with disabilities in the same way that they are for everyone else. Think of two lines at a bank. One may have a lowered counter with a chair while the other counters are higher. Although it is permissible to have two lines, one of which offers accessibility, it would be more inclusive if all counters were lowered to make them accessible. Similarly, with documents, it is possible to have two versions, but ideally, your main document is drafted from the start, to be accessible; this is also a less labour intensive approach for the document creator.
The AODA indicates that requests must be met in a “timely manner.” Timelines for meeting the request may vary depending, for example, on the complexity of the format request and the resources available to the organization in meeting the request. For instance, requests for Braille conversion may require more time to produce than creating a large print format.
Student Accessibility Services works with students who request accessible course materials. Most often, for other types of documents, it will be the responsibility of the department/program that receives the request to provide an accessible document and as such, they are required to cover any costs associated with creation or production of the accessible document. Staff members at Trent’s Centre for Human Rights, Equity and Accessibility (CHREA) are available to consult on how to meet a request, but CHREA does not cover costs of producing accessible documents. For more information, please see the Accessible Formats Request Guideline. The cost cannot be passed onto the individual who is making the request.
Yes, the AODA does make provisions for “unconvertible information.” Examples of such information may relate to format such as x-rays or challenges in conveying visually complex information such as scientific diagrams. When information cannot be converted, Trent is required to work with the person making the request to provide both an explanation of why the information cannot be converted to an accessible format and to provide a summary of the requested information in a format that meets the needs of the individual.
Trent’s CHREA offers a range of options for gaining more information on creation of accessible documents, which have included workshops, departmental consultation and drop-in hours. Please contact CHREA at firstname.lastname@example.org or 705-748-1011 extension 6602 to learn about current offerings for accessible document supports.
Trent University’s Marketing and Communications department has a website, which provides information on creating accessible websites and web content (URL: https://www.trentu.ca/marketingandrecruitment/web-resources).
Accessible Parking FAQ
What is accessible parking?
Accessible parking spaces are those allocated for use by individuals who possess a valid accessible parking permit, as issued under the Highway Traffic Act, R.R.O. 1990, Reg. 581 by the Ministry of Transportation in Ontario (MTO). When parking on Trent University property, individuals may also possess a Trent Accessibility Permit, which has been issued through Parking Services.
Who should park in an accessible parking space?
Individuals with disabilities, either permanent or temporary, can apply for an accessible parking permit. A “medical practitioner”, as defined by the Highway Traffic Act, must provide verification that the individual has a disability. At Trent, those who do not have an MTO-issued permit, but provide medical documentation of a temporary disability may be able to receive a Trent Accessibility Permit.Only those with a valid permit should park in designated accessible parking spaces.
How do I obtain an accessible parking permit?
Applications for an MTO permit can be found on the Service Ontario website. The Trent Parking Services webpage has information on the Trent Accessibility Permit. Parking Services can also be reached by telephone at 705-748-1011 extension 7324.
What are the fines at Trent University for parking in an accessible space without a permit?
The Trent University Parking Services regulations webpage has the most current information on parking requirements and related fines.
Is there a fine for using van accessible parking spaces without a van?
No. Organizations may issue notices encouraging those with accessible permits, who do not use a van, to park in Type B spaces thus leaving the van spaces (Type A) for those with vans. However, no penalty monetary or otherwise can be issued for this reason.
Where can I go for more information on Trent University Parking Services?
For more information on parking at Trent please visit the Parking Services webpage or call 705-748-1011 extension 7324. The Parking Services office is open Monday to Friday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Where can I go for more information on accessible parking regulations in Ontario?
For more information on AODA requirements for accessible parking please refer to the Integrated Accessibility Standards Regulation O. Reg. 191/11. The Highway Traffic Act, O. Reg. 419/12, Accessible Parking for Persons with Disabilities also provides regulations for accessible parking in Ontario.
Where can I go for more information on Trent University’s AODA policies?
Trent has an Accessibility Policy which is in place to promote an inclusive and accessible campus as outlined by the AODA. This policy and additional policies relating to accessibility and persons with disabilities can be found in the online Policy Library For more information or specific questions please visit the Centre for Human Rights, Equity and Accessibility or call 705-748-1011 extension 6602.