EQAO Multi-Year Accessibility Plan, 2019–2024


The Education Quality and Accountability Office (EQAO) was established in 1996 based on the recommendation of Ontario’s Royal Commission on Learning and in response to feedback from parents and taxpayers, who were seeking a more independent gauge of quality and accountability in the publicly funded education system. To fulfill its mandate and help improve student learning, EQAO administers large-scale assessments grounded in The Ontario Curriculum, coordinates Ontario’s participation in national and international assessments, contributes to education research and assists the education community in understanding, analyzing and appropriately using EQAO data.

EQAO is working hard to remove and prevent barriers to accessibility for its employees and for Ontario’s students, parents and guardians, schools and school boards. The agency has always advocated for the participation of all students, as appropriate, in the assessments at all levels and has always provided assessments in alternative formats or with accommodations. As an operational service agency, EQAO will continue to provide accessible services to its stakeholders, aligning itself with the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA), the Integrated Accessibility Standards Regulation (IASR), and the Ontario Human Rights Code.

About EQAO’s Multi-Year Accessibility Plan

In 2005, the Government of Ontario passed the AODA, which requires that Ontario be an accessible province by 2025. To help public, private and non-profit organizations identify, prevent and remove barriers to accessibility, the Government of Ontario developed the IASR. The following components of the IASR apply to EQAO:

  • General Requirements,
  • Information and Communications Standards,
  • Employment Standards and
  • Customer Service Standards.

Ontario’s Accessibility Standards for Customer Service Regulation came into force in 2008. These standards foster the understanding that people with disabilities may have different needs. Further standards (e.g., for information, communications and employment), which build on the 2008 customer service standards, were combined under one regulation—the IASR. The IASR was passed into law in 2011. In 2016, the Ontario government issued a new version of the IASR that included Ontario’s Accessibility Standards for Customer Service Regulation.

Under the AODA, the Education Quality and Accountability Office classifies as a large designated public sector organization with more than 50 employees. As such, EQAO must create a multi-year accessibility plan and accessibility policies and must satisfy a number of other requirements.

The EQAO Multi-Year Accessibility Plan sets out the work that EQAO has already done to ensure that it offers accessible services and work environments. The plan also describes the work the agency will continue to do to transform itself into an accessible organization according to the legislated requirements. This accessibility plan outlines EQAO’s policies and actions aimed to improve opportunities for people with disabilities.

Statement of Commitment

EQAO is committed to treating all people in a way that allows them to maintain their dignity and independence and guarantees integration and equal opportunity. The agency is committed to meeting the needs of people with disabilities in a timely manner and will do so by preventing and removing barriers to accessibility and meeting the AODA and IASR.

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Integrated Accessibility Standards Regulation (IASR)

Part I: General Requirements

Requirement: Accessibility policy

EQAO is committed to ensuring that all of its goods and services allow persons with disabilities to engage with the agency in a manner that respects their dignity and independence and guarantees integration and equal opportunity.

Actions Taken
EQAO has

  • revised its Accessibility Policy outlining the agency’s accessibility principles and commitments according to AODA and IASR requirements.
  • made sure that the revised policy fulfills EQAO’s policy principles with respect to accessibility.

Actions Planned
EQAO will continue to

  • look for updates to the AODA/IASR regulations at least every year.
  • review all EQAO policies, procedures and guidelines with an accessibility lens to, at a minimum, fulfill AODA/IASR requirements.
  • make the AODA/IASR regulations available in an accessible format upon request.

Requirement: Multi-year accessibility plan

EQAO is committed to developing and implementing a multi-year accessibility plan to meet the requirements of AODA and IASR as well as the needs of the public and other EQAO stakeholders with disabilities.

Actions Taken
EQAO has

  • developed and updated the Multi-Year Accessibility Plan.
  • established the agency’s Accessibility Committee to help the agency not only fulfill but also exceed AODA and IASR requirements.

Actions Planned
EQAO will

  • prepare annual status updates on the accessibility plan;
  • post the updates on its website;
  • make the updates available to the public in an accessible format upon request;
  • review the Multi-Year Accessibility Plan every five years;
  • post the updated plan on its website; and
  • provide a copy of the plan in an accessible format upon request.

Requirement: Procurement of goods, services or facilities

EQAO has applied an accessibility lens to its procurement processes and practices.

Actions Taken
EQAO has

  • included an accessibility lens for procuring or acquiring goods, services or facilities in EQAO’s Accessibility Policy.
    • In the context of EQAO, facilities may relate only to event space and hotel services (e.g., meeting room rentals and guest room rentals).
  • followed accessibility requirements according to AODA in all its procurement processes and practices, as required.

Actions Planned
EQAO will

  • incorporate accessibility design, criteria and features into its procurement practices so that goods, services and facilities are accessible to people with disabilities, unless it is not practical to do so.
  • include an accessibility lens on its procurement policy and procedure.
  • include, where applicable, in procurement documents specific details about the desired accessibility criteria to be met and provide guidelines for the evaluation of proposals with respect to those criteria.
  • verify that any good or service procured for the agency fulfills accessibility regulations requirements (in cases where the procured good or service has accessibility requirements).
    • Note: It is the providers’ responsibility to ensure that the accessibility specifications and standards are met.
  • incorporate accessibility criteria and features into the procurement or redesign of any space to be owned or leased by the organization, where applicable.
  • provide an explanation as to why it did not incorporate accessibility design, criteria and features (when requested and in cases where it was not feasible).
  • use the Government of Ontario online tool “Accessibility Rules for Procurement” to better guide procurement processes and practices.

Requirement: Training

Actions Taken
EQAO has ensured that

  • its employees and other staff members have fulfilled training requirements on Ontario accessibility laws and on the Ontario Human Rights Code as it relates to people with disabilities. Training was conducted in a way that best suited the duties of employees and other staff members.
  • staff members completed training as required by the Customer Service Standards included in the IASR. This training included
    • a review of
      • the purposes of the AODA and
      • the requirements of the IASR.
    • instructions on
      • the EQAO policies, procedures, guidelines and practices pertaining to the provision of goods and services to people with disabilities;
      • how to interact and communicate appropriately with people with various types of disabilities;
      • what to do if a person with a disability is having difficulty accessing EQAO’s goods or services; and
      • how to interact with people with disabilities who use assistive devices or who require the assistance of a support person or service animal.
    • information about the equipment or devices available on EQAO’s premises that may help with the provision of goods or services to people with disabilities.

Actions Planned
EQAO will continue to

  • provide training to new employees as a part of their orientation.
  • offer training sessions to all staff if there is a change to the agency’s procedures and practices governing the provision of goods or services to people with disabilities.

Part II: Information and Communications Standards

Requirement: Accessible formats and communication supports

EQAO is committed to meeting the communication requirements of all its stakeholders, including those with accessibility needs. The information EQAO provides and the ways it is communicated are at the heart of EQAO’s mission. With this in mind, EQAO

  • incorporates the accessibility specifications under the IASR’s Information and Communications Standard into its communications processes and platforms.
  • consults with persons requesting information and, upon request, provides or arranges for the provision of accessible formats and/or communication supports in a timely manner and at a cost that is no more than the regular cost charged to other persons.
    • There are situations where EQAO may not be able to provide accessible formats and communication supports. For example, when
      • the information was not produced by the agency (e.g., it comes from another entity or it is found on products [labelled or unlabelled] acquired by the agency).
      • an accessible format may not be technically available (e.g. communication impossible to convert to an accessible format).
        • If EQAO determines that the information or communications are unconvertible, the agency will provide the person requesting the information or communication with
          • an explanation as to why the information or communication is not convertible into an accessible format.
          • a summary of the content in the information or communication.

Actions Taken
EQAO has

  • provided public notice regarding the availability of documentation to people with disabilities, as required by the IASR.
  • complied with AODA/IASR requirements through the redevelopment and maintenance of its website.

Actions Planned
EQAO will continue to

  • make available upon request, subject to the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act, all documents required by the Customer Service Standards in the IASR, including the EQAO Accessibility Policy, notices of temporary disruptions, training records and written feedback process.
  • provide documents or the information in them to people with disabilities in a format they can use. The preparation of an alternative format may result in delays in providing the requested information.

Requirement: Feedback on accessibility

EQAO is eager to ensure that all accessibility-related feedback is received and acted upon in a timely manner, as appropriate, so that people with disabilities are served with dignity and equal opportunity and in a manner that respects independence and integration.

Actions Taken
EQAO has

  • opened different channels for people to provide feedback about the delivery of goods and services to people with disabilities. Feedback can be provided by telephone, in person, in writing and in an electronic format.
  • outlined in its accessibility policy a way to process accessibility-related feedback. The associated procedure includes logging, investigating, reporting and responding to accessibility-related feedback received.

Actions Planned

EQAO will continue to

  • receive feedback through a range of channels, including e-mail, telephone and regular mail.
  • log, investigate and report any accessibility-related feedback.
  • respond immediately to all queries relating to accessibility concerns.

Requirement: Accessible websites and web content

Actions Taken
EQAO has

  • redesigned its website according to Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 Level A.
  • trained employees on how the agency can provide key documents and publications in accessible formats.

Actions Planned
EQAO will

  • meet Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 Level AA, other than criteria 1.2.4 (live captions) and 1.2.5 (pre-recorded audio descriptions), by January 1, 2021, as per compliance with the Government of Ontario’s “How to make websites accessible” guidelines.
    • Web-based applications: Except when not practicable, meeting WCAG 2.0 Level AA applies to websites and web content, including web-based applications, that an organization controls directly or through a contractual relationship that allows for modification of the product and to web content published on a website after January 1, 2012.
      • Content: means any information that may be found on a web page or web application, including text, images, forms and sounds.
  • continue to
    • work to meet all legislated requirements and timelines pertaining to accessibility on its website.
    • explore ways to
      • make all aspects of its work accessible.
      • make meetings more accessible to those who identify their accessibility needs to the human resources department.
    • ensure that staff members with disabilities have an accessible workstation and the necessary tools and software required for their job.

Part III: Employment Standards


EQAO is an equal opportunity employer and is committed to fair, equitable and accessible employment practices that attract and retain talented employees, including people with disabilities. EQAO acknowledges that addressing employment-related accessibility obstacles benefits potential candidates, employees and the agency.

Actions Taken
EQAO has

  • taken the following steps to notify the public and staff that, when requested, it accommodates people with disabilities during its recruitment, assessment and hiring processes. EQAO
    • follows the Ontario Public Service barrier-free guidelines for all recruitment;
    • asks candidates if they require any accommodations during the recruitment process; and
    • provides accommodations as required to the point of undue hardship.
  • provided employees who have identified themselves as having a disability and who have the required documentation the means to develop individual accommodation plans with the support of the human resources department.
  • supported return-to-work accommodations for employees who have been absent due to a disability, as needed.

Actions Planned

EQAO will continue to fulfill AODA/IASR employment requirements as previously stated.

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Part IV: Customer Service Standards


EQAO strives to offer students, parents and guardians, the public, stakeholders and the agency’s staff services free of barriers and biases. The agency works to ensure that it offers support and resources that reflect the key principles of independence, dignity, respect, integration and equality of opportunity. EQAO’s conduct demonstrates its belief in the strength diversity brings to communities.

EQAO is dedicated to providing exceptional and accessible services to its customers. Services are provided in a manner that takes disabilities into account that respects the dignity and independence of all customers, that provides equal opportunities and that integrates accessibility into the agency’s business practices wherever possible.

Actions Taken
EQAO has

  • used assistive technology to create alternative versions of its assessments at all levels. The formats of the versions allow almost any student to take the primary- and junior-division assessments, the Grade 9 mathematics assessment and the Ontario Secondary School Literacy Test.
  • continued to offer numerous accommodations to students and has striven to keep these in line with the accommodations available in their school classrooms. Accommodations are changes in the way the assessment is administered or the way in which a student with special education needs responds to its components. Accommodations do not alter the content of the assessment or affect validity or reliability. In addition, EQAO allows for scribes or prompters, who are individuals who support the same accommodations the student receives on a regular basis for all forms of assessment.
  • included in the EQAO Accessibility Policy a section that outlines EQAO’s fulfilment of IASR Customer Service Standards.
  • fulfilled all of the requirements of the IASR Customer Service Standards.

Actions Planned
EQAO will continue to

  • use assistive technology in all of its assessments and at all levels, when required and as appropriate.
  • offer accommodations to students with accessibility needs as requested.
  • provide accessible customer service to people with disabilities. This means that the agency will provide goods and services to people with disabilities with the same high quality and timelines as it does for others.
  • monitor provincial legislation and regulations to ensure that it complies with the IASR Customer Service Standards.


EQAO has accomplished much to build the capacity of its employees and establish seamless accessibility practices. The agency will continue to identify and remove barriers at every level in order to create accessible spaces and services that everyone can benefit from.


If you have any questions or feedback about EQAO accessibility practices, we would be pleased to hear from you.

Phone: 1-888-327-7377
Mail: Education Quality and Accountability Office,
Suite 1200, 2 Carlton Street,
Toronto ON M5B 2M9

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Appendix — Ontario Public Service (OPS) Accessibility Principles

EQAO has adapted the guiding principles established by the OPS to reflect the agency’s beliefs regarding accessibility. Overall, EQAO’s leadership, management and staff must use reasonable efforts to ensure that programs, processes, policies, procedures and guidelines guarantee accessible goods and services to people with disabilities within and outside the agency.

The principle of respecting the dignity of people with disabilities means treating them as customers who are valued and deserving of timely service as high quality as that any other customer receives. People with disabilities must not treated as an afterthought or forced to accept lesser service, quality or convenience. The delivery of goods and services must take into account how people with disabilities can access and use them effectively.

In some instances, independence means freedom from control or influence of others—in other words, the freedom to make one’s own choices. It can also mean freedom to do things one’s own way. People who move or speak differently must not be denied the opportunity to participate in a program or service, for example. People with disabilities need to be able to take the time they need, without being rushed or having a task taken away from them.

The provision of goods or services must be integrated so that people with disabilities and those without benefit from the same services, in the same place and in the same or a similar way. Integration means that policies, programs, services, practices and procedures are designed to be accessible to everyone, including people with disabilities.

Equal Opportunity
Equal opportunity means that people with disabilities have the same access as others to obtain, use and benefit from goods or services. People with disabilities should not have to make significantly more effort to access or obtain services, and they should not have to accept lesser quality or more inconvenience than other customers.

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