Home > Differently abled, Uncategorized > Has the definition of disability changed with the AODA?

Has the definition of disability changed with the AODA?

The AODA  (Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities) uses the Ontario Human Rights Code definition of “disability” which is currently:

  •  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
  •  a condition of mental impairment or a developmental disability
  •  a learning disability, or a dysfunction in one or more of the processes involved in understanding or using symbols or spoken language
  •  a mental disorder, or
  •  an injury or disability for which benefits were claimed or received under the insurance plan established under the Workplace Safety and Insurance Act, 1997 (“handicap”).


The history of this new act goes back to the 1970’s. Disability was added to the Ontario Human Rights Code when it came into effect in 1982. The new act replaced Ontario’s original human rights law, which took effect in 1962. The new act was the first time that Ontario’s human rights law had been changed. In the late 1970s, the Ontario Human Rights Commission studied human rights in Ontario. Their report showed that there were new human rights issues in Ontario. The new law was based on this study. The Ontario Human Rights Code then gave more power to the Human Rights Commission. It also gave people more rights to freedom from discrimination.
The 1982 Ontario Human Rights Code protected against discrimination “because of handicap”. The law said that “handicap” meant “real or perceived physical , mental retardation or impairment, mental disability or a disorder”.
Since 1982, the Human Rights Code has changed. The word “handicap” has been taken out.
Now the AODA of 2005 says that people cannot be discriminated against because of “disability”. The code and the law thus have a wider definition of disability, and the rights of persons with disabilities are protected in more areas.
How is your organization’s planning for AODA ?
Guide to Accessibility
A summary of Ontario legislation on disability
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