Accessibility at the University of Toronto

Inspiring Inclusive Excellence with Tina Doyle
To achieve Inclusive Excellence, we must continue to remove barriers to ensure that everyone has access to the same opportunities. Read more about our strategic plan:

Accessibility Info for UofT

The University of Toronto strives to be an equitable and inclusive community, and proactively seeks to increase diversity among its community members. Our values regarding equity and diversity are linked with our unwavering commitment to excellence in the pursuit of our academic mission.

For more information on accommodation, the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Office and resources information, parking and navigation support, resolving accessibility concerns go the University of Toronto Accessibility page,

Tri-Campus Facility Accessibility Design Guidelines

U of T Adopts new Facility Accessibility Design Standard

A project was embarked upon to adopt a new, improved Facility Accessibility Design Standard. A tri-campus technical working group was formed comprised of representatives and stakeholders from several faculties, student accessibility services, space planning, capital project design, and the AODA office. In 2022 the committee met bi-weekly to review the design Standard with a critical approach. During this intensive review, the group was able to identify gaps and opportunities to make updates, propose additions and changes, and socialize the new Standard university-wide by working through any potential local barriers to adoption.

Mladen Pejic, Senior Project Manager, Accessibility with Facilities & Services, who participated in the working group and consulted with DesignABLE, said that these meetings led to a stream of excellent feedback and suggestions, many of which were driven by lived experience. “The Standard compiles a lot of the best accessible design practices that currently exist, but our review cycle is every three years. When we go to update it in the future, we will be able to incorporate more of the innovative proposals we heard during our discussions.”

In its current form the Standard primarily focuses on addressing physical and sensory barriers to accessibility, such as barrier-free paths of travel and tactile signage. Tactile Direction Indicators (TDIs) will be required from main entrances to reception desks and elevators, for example. However, the opportunity exists for future revisions to include requirements that create access for neurodiversity and mental wellness, as outlined in the final recommendations to the Ontario government from the Postsecondary Education Standards Development Committee.

Asked about the impact the new design standard will have on U of T’s campuses, AODA Officer Ben Poynton was optimistic. “We hope that this document will support planners and architects to create new and renovated University spaces that are truly barrier-free.”

Indeed, even before the new Standard is formally in place, U of T has made significant accessibility upgrades through recent revitalization projects. University College, for example, recently reopened with ramps with landing-delineated borders, automatic door openers, and a new elevator. The upgrades received praise from Canadian Architect Magazine for their high quality and seamless design. In February meanwhile, the renovated Arbor Room at Hart House received a gold accessibility certification by the Rick Hanson Foundation.

Poynton continued, “The Toronto Pan-Am Sports Centre was built to these standards and it’s an incredibly accessible facility, used by Wheelchair Basketball Canada. That’s a great example of the level of accessibility we can aspire to build going forward.”

While most accessibility accommodations cost very little to implement, investing to integrate accessible design from the beginning of projects will also save the University more money in the future. “We have institutional and legal responsibility to create accessible space,” said Poynton. “If you don’t build that into the design from the beginning, however much it costs, we’re going to have to pay significantly more for it in the future.”

Making the necessary improvements will also help the University attract more students and become a hub for people with disabilities who are widely underserved. For example, at U of T Scarborough, Tina Doyle, Director, AccessAbility Services ensured that one of the new residences was built to the highest level of accessibility, well beyond the Ontario Building Code requirements, to create meaningful access. “Now when the Pan Am athletes with disabilities come to use the Pan Am sports facility, entire teams can stay nearby at that residence because the university rents out the units in the summer, and the inventory of accessible rooms has vastly increased.”, said Doyle.

Attracting more people with lived experience of disability will also help U of T achieve something that lies at the heart of its academic mission: diversity of thought. “There is a politic and a perspective to folks with lived experience of disability that really adds to the ways in which we think about innovation,” added Poynton.

(Excerpt edited from U of T to adopt new facility accessibility design standard)