The Election Accessibility Plan provides an overview of election initiatives aimed at improving accessibility for voters and candidates for the 2018 election. It was developed in consultation with persons with disabilities and community organizations and builds on recommendations from the 2014 Election Accessibility Report.

View the 2014 Election Accessibility Report

One of the most important mandates of the City Clerk’s Office is to ensure that elections are accessible to all. We continue to learn and adapt our methods of anticipating and removing barriers for voters with disabilities in Toronto’s municipal elections. The Election Accessibility Plan is a summary of our efforts and will continue to be updated to reflect ongoing improvements as new opportunities and information become available.

The main objective of the Plan is to identify and eliminate barriers for persons with disabilities to ensure that elections are accessible to all voters and candidates. The Plan outlines how the City Clerk’s Office aims to meet this objective, organized into the following six key areas:

  1. Consultation
  2. Communication and Information
  3. Voting Places
  4. Voting Options and Accommodations
  5. Assistance to Candidates
  6. Accessible Customer Service

  • Policies and procedures must be consistent with the principles of the Municipal Elections Act, and must respect the dignity and independence of persons with disabilities.
  • Access to voting services must be integrated and equitable.
  • Initiatives should address and take into account a wide range of abilities.
  • The guidelines established in the City Clerk’s Office’s Customer Service Policy for Providing Services to People with Disabilities must be followed throughout.

The City Clerk is responsible for conducting municipal elections and establishing policies and procedures to ensure that all electors have the opportunity to fully participate in the 2018 City of Toronto municipal election.

More specifically, the Municipal Elections Act states the following:

12.1 (1) A clerk who is responsible for conducting an election shall have regard to the needs of electors and candidates with disabilities.

12 (2) The clerk shall prepare a plan regarding the identification, removal and prevention of barriers that affect electors and candidates with disabilities and shall make the plan available to the public before voting day in a regular election. 2016, c. 15, s. 11.

12 (3) Within 90 days after voting day in a regular election, the clerk shall prepare a report about the identification, removal and prevention of barriers that affect electors and candidates with disabilities and shall make the report available to the public. 2016, c. 15, s. 11.

41 (3) The clerk shall make such changes to some or all of the ballots as he or she considers necessary or desirable to allow electors with visual impairments to vote without the assistance referred to in paragraph 4 of subsection 52 (1). 1996, c. 32, Sched., s. 41 (3); 2001, c. 32, s. 30 (1).

45 (2) In establishing the locations of voting places, the clerk shall ensure that each voting place is accessible to electors with disabilities.

Definition of Disability

The Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, 2005 defines “disability” as follows:

  1. any degree of physical disability, infirmity, malformation or disfigurement that is caused by bodily injury, birth defect or illness and, without limiting the generality of the foregoing, includes diabetes mellitus, epilepsy, a brain injury, any degree of paralysis, amputation, lack of physical co-ordination, blindness or visual impediment, deafness or hearing impediment, muteness or speech impediment, or physical reliance on a guide dog or other animal or on a wheelchair or other remedial appliance or device;
  2. a condition of mental impairment or a developmental disability;
  3. a learning disability, or a dysfunction in one or more of the processes involved in understanding or using symbols or spoken language;
  4. a mental disorder; or
  5. an injury or disability for which benefits were claimed or received under the insurance plan established under the Workplace Safety and Insurance Act, 1997.

Consult with persons with disabilities, advocates and service providers to identify barriers in the voting process and provide input on the solutions outlined in The Plan by:

  • Consulting with members of the Election Accessibility Outreach Network on matters such as accessible customer service, assistive devices, and voting options.
  • Collaborating with the Election Accessibility Outreach Network Work Groups to advance the objectives in the Plan.
  • Presenting the 2018 Election Accessibility Plan to the Toronto Accessibility Advisory Committee, one of City Council’s advisory committees.
  • Posting the 2018 Election Accessibility Plan online for public review and input.
  • Conducting special consultations as needed, such as the review of the accessibility of the ballot design; the accessible customer service handbook; and voting locations.

Provide election information through various channels and in alternate formats by:

  • Attending meetings, events and fairs to showcase accessible voting technology and raise awareness about the municipal election and accommodations available to voters.
  • Working with persons with disabilities, community advocates, and disability service providers to disseminate election information to persons with disabilities across Toronto.
  • Actively promoting employment opportunities to persons with disabilities and disability-serving organizations.
  • Producing material with election information that includes accessibility information and mailing it out to every residence in Toronto.
  • Producing a How to Vote booklet in English and additional languages, as well as make the booklet available at all voting places in both print format and Braille.
  • Communicating information about new legislative requirements for third party advertising across varied platforms, including: website updates, a dedicated email and phone line, documents available in accessible formats and information sessions hosted in accessible venues with accommodations available upon request (for example, ASL interpreters).

Provide an informative and accessible election website by:

  • Ensuring election information is available online in clear and simple language.
  • Continuously updating election information on the election website to reflect the most recent developments and information.
  • Ensuring all web pages are W3C Consortium WCAG 2.0 Level AA Compliant.
  • Adding an Accommodations for Voters section to the main page of the Election website.
  • Producing a ‘How to Vote’ video that includes American Sign Language interpretation and captioning, and posting it on the election website.
  • Enhancing the MyVote web application to include accessibility information about voting places.

Provide information to support accessible campaigning by:

  • Providing candidates with resources such as the ‘Accessible Campaign Information and Communication’ produced by the Province of Ontario and the ‘Candidates’ Guide to Accessible Elections’ produced by AMCTO.
  • Incorporating accessibility information and messaging into Candidate Information Sessions.

Ensure accessibility for candidates with disabilities by:

  • Ensuring the candidate’s guide and/or other relevant publications are available in accessible formats.
  • Holding candidate information sessions in accessible locations and adding an accommodation statement in the invitations to ensure attendees are aware that accommodations are available upon request.

Ensure all voting places are accessible to electors with disabilities by:

  • Creating an accessibility checklist for election staff to use when conducting site visits of each voting place ensuring each facility has:
    • barrier free path of travel from the parking lot/sidewalk
    • barrier free parking, where parking was provided
    • door operators or accessible doors
    • adequate lighting
  • Inspecting all voting places to ensure all locations are accessible.
    • Where possible, make modifications to existing voting places to make them accessible, for example by installing temporary ramps.
    • Places that cannot be made accessible will be relocated or merged with other voting places in the vicinity.
    • Conduct an additional accessibility check in August/September to ensure there have been no changes to the locations.
    • Have election staff perform final accessibility checks during the advance vote period and on election day to verify the accessibility of the voting place.
  • Hiring Accessibility Officers to mitigate voting place accessibility issues by doing the following roles when needed:
    • Helping open doors without automated power door openers.
    • Operating elevators.
    • Direct voters to the accessible entrance if it is different from the main entrance.
  • Ensuring all voting place access routes and entrances are clearly identified by:
    • Providing appropriate signage at voting places.
    • Ensuring electors with accessibility needs are directed to the accessible voting entrance by prominent signage.
    • Where possible, make the accessible entrance the same as the main entrance.
  • Ensuring all voting place owners and managers are aware of accessibility requirements by:
    • Notifying all facility owners and managers of the proposed voting places of legislative accessibility requirements in order to prevent last minute changes to voting rooms.
  • Providing an opportunity for the public to provide feedback on the list of proposed voting places by:
    • posting a tentative list of voting places on the election webpage.
    • inviting individuals with disabilities to provide feedback on the tentative list of voting places.
    • using the received feedback to ensure that all voting places are accessible.
  • Setting up a process to facilitate notification of disruptions to service or last minute changes to voting places to ensure that:
    • In the event of disruptions to service or unforeseen circumstances that affect the accessibility of voting places during advance vote or on election day, notices of disruption will be posted in real time:
    • When applicable, a media advisory will be issued

Make accessible voting equipment and voting options available by:

  • Making Voter Assist Terminals (VAT) available during advance vote and on election day.
    • The VAT is a machine that marks paper ballots, allowing voters with disabilities and other special needs to select the candidate(s) of their choice privately and independently. The features include a touch screen, an audio component, a Braille key pad, a Sip/Puff tube device, a Rocker Paddle/Foot Switch and zoom features to adjust font sizes and colour contrast.
  • Welcoming the use of support persons and service animals in voting places:
    • Any person with a disability accompanied by a support person or service animal may enter the City Clerk’s Offices or any voting place with their support person or service animal.
  • Providing assistance to electors with disabilities as required by:
    • Having an election official in the voting place to assist a voter in casting their ballot when requested.
  • Permitting voting by proxy:
    • In cases where a voter is unable to attend a voting place, the voter can appoint another person to act on their behalf.
  • Providing the option of curbside voting:
    • Voters that are physically to go inside the voting place can request that the ballot be brought out to their vehicle or to another location within the voting place.
  • Providing voting opportunities in institutions and retirement homes
    • Establishing voting places at the following facilities in order to allow eligible residents of the facility the opportunity to vote:
      • any institution where 20 or more beds are occupied by persons who are disabled, chronically ill or infirmed
      • a retirement home where 50 or more beds are occupied
    • Having election staff administer bedside voting where required.
  • Introducing an Election Home Visit Pilot Program
    • The Home Visit Pilot Program is an alternative method of voting for people that are unable to attend a voting place without unreasonable difficult due to injury, illness, or disability. As a part of this program, election officials bring a ballot to the voter to allow them to vote from home.
  • Making supplies available at voting locations that can assist voters with disabilities such as:
    • Magnifying sheets (4x) available at all voting places to assist voters with low vision.
    • Note pads and pens available at all voting places to assist communication with voters who are deaf, deafened or hard of hearing.
    • How to Vote booklets in multiple languages, English, Braille and large font

Provide accessible customer service by:

  • Providing all election officials with accessible customer service training.
    • Holding training sessions for election staff on accessibility requirements, serving people with disabilities and on the accommodations and special services available to assist voters.
    • Requiring all staff to receive elections and accessibility training.
  • Developing reference materials for all election officials highlighting how to effectively serve voters with disabilities.
    • Including AODA, customer service standard, and serving people with disabilities messaging in all training materials, classroom training and web based training being provided to all elections staff.
    • Providing every election staff member with an Accessible Customer Service Handbook.
    • Making individual accommodations available upon request to staff during training, for example, ASL interpretation or communication devices.
  • Establishing a dedicated contact centre for anyone who encounters an accessibility issue can contact:

The City Clerk’s Office is committed to making our services accessible to everyone, including persons with disabilities. We comply with the customer service standards of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, 2005.

In fulfilling our mission, the City Clerk’s Office will provide its services in a way that respects the dignity and independence of people with disabilities. We strive to provide people with disabilities the same opportunity to access our services in the same place, and in a similar way as others.

This policy can be found here: Providing Services to People with Disabilities.