ATSSC Accessibility Plan

PDF   ATSSC Accessibility Plan (PDF)

December 2022

Table of Contents

Message from the Chief Administrator and Accessibility Champion

We are pleased to share our first ATSSC Accessibility Plan. This document, which was created in consultation with ATSSC employees with and without disabilities, stakeholders and subject matter experts, summarizes our strategy for identifying, eliminating, and preventing accessibility-related barriers at the ATSSC.

As an organization that is dedicated to access to justice, we must strive to ensure that people do not face obstacles to exercising their rights. To respect this principle, we must also remove obstacles to an employee’s full participation in the workforce.

Some of our previous initiatives have created a strong foundation for making the ATSSC an environment that is welcoming to all. Our Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Committee has provided valuable input on various initiatives to ensure a positive, safe and inclusive workspace. The Diversity Accreditation Program has helped employees integrate important principles into their daily work activities. The Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Strategy and 2022-2025 Action Plan has created a pathway to challenging numerous systemic barriers.

But there is still more work to be done, particularly with regards to accessibility. This plan outlines how we will bring our internal and external forms and websites in line with accessibility standards, create a framework for helping managers easily equip their employees with the accommodations they need and provide recruitment, development and promotion opportunities to persons with disabilities at every level of the ATSSC workforce. This plan also identifies ways to support parties who access justice through the tribunals to easily obtain information on accommodation measures available to them.

These are just a few examples of the issues addressed in our Accessibility Plan. Each of the actions found within represent concrete steps to improving accessibility at the ATSSC. Fulfilling them will help us contribute to a barrier-free Canada.

Orlando Da Silva, LSM
Chief Administrator

Anab Ahmed
Executive Director, Social Security Tribunal Secretariat and ATSSC Champion for Accessibility, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion


About the Accessible Canada Act

The Accessible Canada Act (the Act) came into force on July 11, 2019, to help “realize a Canada without barriers especially for people with disabilities.” The overarching goal of the Act is to bring about a barrier-free Canada by 2040.

The Act defines disability as any impairment or functional limitation that interferes with a person’s full and equal participation in society. It applies to visible and invisible health challenges, whether temporary (such as a broken arm) or permanent (such as a chronic illness). Impairments can be physical, mental, intellectual, cognitive, learning, communication or sensory.

Barriers that hinder a person’s full and equal participation in society can be anything. They can be physical, architectural, technological, or attitudinal. They can be based on information, communications or anything that is the result of a policy or a practice. The Act applies to Parliament, Government of Canada departments and agencies, Crown corporations, and private sector businesses that fall under federal jurisdiction, such as banking, telecommunications, and transportation. This Plan focuses on the ATSSC’s environment, employees, and the operations and services under its control. The Act creates the new position of Chief Accessibility Officer who serves as a special advisor to the Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Disability Inclusion. This individual will provide advice on wide-ranging accessibility issues and will monitor and report on progress made under the Accessible Canada Act.

The Act requires federally regulated entities to:

About the ATSSC


The Administrative Tribunals Support Service of Canada (ATSSC) provides support services and facilities to 12 federal administrative tribunals by way of a single, integrated organization.

These services include the specialized services required by each tribunal (for example, registry, research and analysis, legal and other mandate or case activities specific to each tribunal), as well as internal services (for example, human resources, financial services, information management and technology, accommodations, security, planning and communications). Through these specialized services, the ATSSC supports improving access to justice for Canadians.

2022-2025 Strategic Pillars

Collaborating with tribunal leadership and one another

The ATSSC will collaborate with tribunals and across secretariats and business lines to align accountabilities to address overall business needs—ensuring that decisions and investments are made collectively in support of the ATSSC’s mandate.

Delivering business excellence through innovation at work

The ATSSC recognizes that access to justice and the business of government are changing in foundational ways. In response, it will be a model of administrative support to the tribunal sector by adapting its current practices to embrace the changing realities that affect the workplace. The ATSSC will transform and shape the future of the ATSSC’s work by securely creating, sharing, and managing our work using modern tools, and by contributing to public service-wide transformation efforts.

Supporting our people

The ATSSC will ensure that it is a place where people feel valued and respected—where they can grow and evolve—by inspiring personal and professional fulfillment.

Recognizing that people are its greatest resource, the ATSSC will implement programs that strengthen diversity, emphasize the importance of mental health and that contribute to leadership competencies, mentorship, and career development.

Overview of the ATSSC’s equity, diversity and inclusion achievements

The ATSSC is committed to working with persons with disabilities and the disability community to help bring about an accessible Canada.

The ATSSC has already put into place several initiatives to become barrier-free, including:

Contact information

Members of the public are encouraged to provide feedback on this Accessibility Plan and/or to contact the ATSSC to request alternate formats of this Accessibility Plan or progress reports.

The ATSSC can be contacted through its website, email, phone or by ground mail.

The ATSSC’s Accessibility Plan is available in the following formats:

The ATSSC must provide its Accessibility Plan in alternate formats, upon request.

Areas described under Section 5 of the Accessible Canada Act

Over the next three years, the ATSSC will focus on actions under the following six pillars:

  1. Employment
  2. Making the built environment accessible
  3. Information and Communication Technologies (ICT)
  4. Accessible communications other than ICT
  5. Accessible procurement of goods, services and facilities
  6. Design and delivery of barrier-free programs and services

Pillar 1: Employment

Employment refers to processes, practices, and services that the ATSSC follows across every stage of an employee’s employment journey. It includes recruitment through to hiring, onboarding, accommodations, career and talent development, performance management and job exit.

The ATSSC is committed to creating, promoting, and maintaining an equitable, diverse, inclusive, and accessible workplace. It plans to increase the number of persons with disabilities within the ATSSC workforce. As of March 31, 2022, 6.4% of ATSSC employees self-identify as having a disability. This percentage is based on current self-identification definitions provided by the Treasury Board of Canada (TBS), which is narrower than the one used for the Statistics Canada Census and on which the representation targets are based. In February 2023, TBS will be launching its new self-identification questionnaire. This will give the organization a better measure of the representation of people with disabilities. Nonetheless, the ATSSC aims to go beyond representation numbers by ensuring that all its employment systems are barrier-free.

In July 2022, the ATSSC launched its Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (EDI) Strategy and 2022-2025 Action Plan. The strategy was co-developed by the EDI Committee and the human resources team following extensive consultations with employees and managers. The main areas of focus are leadership, representation, a safe work environment, training and awareness, service to the public, and accessibility.

Furthermore, in November 2022, the ATSSC endorsed and launched a Talent Acquisition Strategy. Throughout the objectives of the three-year action plan, there is a strong focus on increasing representation at all levels of the organization, removing barriers from all employment systems, and building accessible tools.

Summary of key barriers

Recruitment, onboarding and retention
Inaccessible software
Awareness and representation


In response to identified barriers, the ATSSC has established the following actions:

Action 1: Contribute to meeting the Government of Canada’s commitment to hiring at least 5,000 people with disabilities by 2025

To help achieve the Government of Canada’s goal, the ATSSC will:

Action 2: Raise organizational awareness to the culture and reality of equity-seeking groups
Action 3: Ensure that all ATSSC staff and tribunal members have access to the tools, devices, and support measures required to succeed
Action 4: Work in collaboration with equity, diversity, and inclusion (EDI) committees, employees and their managers, and other stakeholders to complete a gap analysis of current accommodations process for new and existing employees
Action 5: Ensure information on available workplace accommodations is accessible to all existing employees

Pillar 2: Making the built environment accessible

The built environment refers to all structures and objects that make up ATSSC’s workspaces. This includes entrances, elevators, meeting rooms, hearing and mediation rooms, offices, and lighting.

In 2019, in collaboration with design consultants and Public Services and Procurement Canada (PSPC) project managers, the ATSSC completed a significant space optimization project. This project ensured accessibility standards were respected. During the assessment phase, it was noted that more than two-thirds of the ATSSC’s workforce benefitted from an office environment and ergonomic furnishings that met the PSPC’s accessibility standards. All new workstations purchased for this project were height adjustable and wheel-chair accessible. Employees working in older office spaces that did not meet the PSPC accessibility standards received access to ergonomic office equipment and furnishings upon request (after an ergonomic assessment, if needed). The ATSSC has remained flexible in adapting its existing workspaces as needed to adapt to other mobility needs.

Given PSPC’s built-environment standards are already in place, individuals attending a hearing or mediation benefit from fully accessible premises. For example, interpretation booths and services are available in ATSSC hearing rooms to support individuals with hearing limitations. The ATSSC occasionally holds hearings and mediations outside of its facilities in locations across Canada. In remote areas of Canada, the ATSSC’s ability to use accessible buildings is sometimes limited.

During the COVID-19 pandemic and lockdowns, the ATSSC offered virtual hearings. These increased peoples’ access to administrative tribunals by reducing the need to travel to ATSSC offices or other locations across Canada, and by enabling individuals to connect to the organization using their personal IT equipment.

Summary of key barriers


In response to identified barriers, the ATSSC has established the following actions:

Action 1: Ensure that all refit and modernization projects under the control of the ATSSC respect PSPC built-environment accessibility standards

Pillar 3: Information and communication technologies (ICT)

Information and communication technologies (ICT) refers to the ways users share and access information. It can include emails, meetings, visual communications, and documents. It also includes how content is written and presented on websites like or on tribunal websites. The ATSSC currently supports twelve tribunal websites, the ATSSC website on and an intranet site.

The ATSSC is committed to using plain language in its communications with Canadians. It is also exploring alternate ways to communicate information through graphics, audio, video and infographics. It works to have jargon-free and easy-to-understand communication items such as e-mails, letters, forms, and guides.

The ATSSC’s Information Services and Solutions Team (ISST) and Occupational Health and Safety units provide software and hardware for any employee with specific accessibility requirements.

Summary of key barriers


In response to identified barriers, the ATSSC has established the following actions:

Action 1: All ATSSC internal and external webpages (including those of the administrative tribunals it supports) are compliant with Treasury Board Secretariat (TBS) Guidelines on Making Communication Products and Activities Accessible (WCAG 2.1 AA Standards)
Action 2: Ensure all internal and external forms, templates, and guides used by employees, tribunal members and those accessing justice are accessible
Action 3: All newly procured hardware and software will be accessible and meet EN 301 549 standards
Action 4: Review requirements regarding the prevention and blocking of assistive or adaptive technologies, software or equipment

Pillar 4: Accessible communications other than ICT

Communications other than ICT includes all the ways in which the ATSSC communicates such as letters, e-mails, forms, templates, procedures, instructions, verbal communications, and images, among other methods.

The ATSSC’s Communications division plays a fundamental role in accessibility, overseeing internal corporate messaging to all staff, and external messaging to other stakeholders who operate outside of the federal public service. The Communications division has begun a gap analysis into all products under its responsibility to assess accessibility shortcomings.

ATSSC employees outside of the Communications team play a crucial role in everyday communications with Canadians and other parties accessing justice. They communicate complex ideas and information in clear and direct ways to those accessing justice.

Summary of key barriers


In response to identified barriers, the ATSSC has established the following actions:

Action 1: Ensure that the content of all documents, forms, templates, messages (internal and external), hyperlinks, images, and web content are accessible and meet TBS Guidelines on Making Communications Products and Activities Accessible
Action 2: Explore alternative ways of communicating information

Pillar 5: The accessible procurement of goods, services, and facilities

Accessibility in procurement means meeting the broadest set of user needs possible from the start of a procurement process. ATSSC procurement staff are responsible for ensuring that accessibility requirements and considerations are included in the procurement and decision-making processes.

In July 2021, the ATSSC’s Procurement division completed training to better describe any applicable accessibility requirements that may become mandated across the federal public service. They also provided ATSSC employees with an accessibility information placement, Accessible Procurement: Inclusive by Design, Accessible by Default, to assist employees make the best procurement decisions with accessibility in mind.

Comprehensive measures have been taken by the ATSSC Procurement division to discuss accessibility for every procurement requirement with the requester, and help with incorporating accessibility elements, when appropriate. Overall, the ATSSC has increased accessibility in procurement by roughly 30% since 2021.

Summary of key barriers


In response to identified barriers, the ATSSC has established the following actions:

Action: Ensure that all procurement-related decisions are made with accessibility considerations in mind

Pillar 6: The design and delivery of barrier-free programs and services

The ATSSC’s design and delivery of programs and services is rooted in its operational mandate of providing core support services to federal administrative tribunals. The scope of its programs and services is limited to the proper functioning of the day-to-day operations of the tribunals it supports as well as internal services.

The ATSSC provides services in several areas, of which registry services are most commonly used by those accessing justice. Registry services include:

These services are provided by ATSSC employees including registry and case file experts.

Summary of key barriers


In response to identified barriers, the ATSSC has established the following actions:

Action 1: Ensure any changes to its programs and services, including design and delivery elements, are done with greater accessibility considerations in mind
Action 2: Ensure ATSSC employees have the knowledge and support necessary to include accessibility in the development and delivery of tribunal operations and services to the administrative tribunals and those accessing justice
Action 3: Ensure all parties are aware that accommodations are available to them


Transportation refers to the federally regulated transportation network and only applies to entities that must comply under the Canada Transportation Act (CTA).

This area is not applicable to the ATSSC because it is related to the national transportation network; however, tribunal members and ATSSC employees are required to travel for hearings and mediations. Transportation accommodations and accessibility considerations are typically assessed on a case-by-case basis, and granted where warranted.


In November 2022, the ATSSC held two types of consultations: one for employees and one for external users who interact with our employees, materials, or services.

Tribunal consultations

The ATSSC supports 12 different tribunals. The organization invited their members to provide feedback on the ATSSC’s Accessibility Plan.

Members participated in virtual consultations and in online surveys. Chairpersons and members were also consulted via the Executive Directors responsible for the operations of their respective tribunals.

Members were asked the following questions:

Summary of consultations

The information below is a summary of what was heard at the consultations with tribunal members. It reflects the input and views of persons with disabilities and their allies.


This Accessibility Plan was informed by what was heard during consultations and the barriers that were previously identified during the reviews. The feedback was used to identify barriers and solutions to accessibility elements to ensure that all individuals can fully participate in society.

Employee consultations

The ATSSC held virtual consultations and invited employees to participate and provide feedback on accessibility within the ATSSC. Specifically, employees were asked:

Employees who did not feel comfortable voicing their thoughts in a group setting or who were unable to participate in the virtual consultations were invited to provide their feedback either via one-on-one discussions with the individual leading the file or in writing. Employee privacy was respected, and no names were attributed to comments. Approximately 100 employees participated in the consultations and three employees provided feedback in writing.

Summary of consultations

The information below is a summary of what was heard from the consultations with ATSSC employees. It reflects the input and views of persons with disabilities and their allies.


This Accessibility Plan was informed by what was heard during consultations and the barriers that were previously identified during the reviews. The feedback was used to identify barriers and solutions to accessibility elements to ensure that all individuals can fully participate in society.

Public consultations

The ATSSC posted key questions on its website to get feedback from those who interact with ATSSC employees, services, or materials.

Users were invited to answer questions and provide their feedback on their experience using ATSSC services or materials. Specifically, users were asked:

To maximize the impact of the public consultation, the ATSSC reached out to specific groups representing the interests of persons with disabilities for feedback. These groups were directed to the plan on the ATSSC’s external website and encouraged to share the information with their members and networks. The ATSSC invited the following groups to participate:

The ATSSC chose to invite organizations that represent or are allies for people with disabilities to participate in the consultation because the ATSSC could not contact parties directly. It would violate the privacy of individuals who had appeared before a tribunal or participated in a mediation. Additionally, the contact information of parties was not collected for the purpose of consultations—only for proceedings with tribunals—and it would be inappropriate to use the information for a purpose other than its original intent.

Participants were able to provide their feedback electronically via online form, via e-mail, and by mail.

A total of five individuals submitted feedback to the ATSSC.

Summary of consultations

The information below is a summary of what was heard from the consultations with members of the public, individuals with disabilities and their allies, and stakeholder organizations. It reflects the input and views of persons with disabilities and their allies.

Social Security Tribunal Consultations with Stakeholders

The Social Security Tribunal’s (SST) Fall 2022 stakeholder table meeting with their Employment Insurance Appeals Consultative Committee (EIACC) took place on November 2, 2022. Participants were consulted on the update to the Tribunal’s Accessibility and Accommodation Policy. They sought feedback on what the policy may be missing and how SST can improve accessibility and accommodations for those they serve.

Specially, participants were asked the following questions:

Summary of consultations


This Accessibility Plan was informed by what was heard during consultations and the barriers that were previously identified during the reviews. The feedback was used to identify barriers and solutions to accessibility elements to ensure that all individuals can fully participate in society.


The Accessible Canada Act and the Accessible Canada Regulations established a three-year planning and reporting cycle:

  1. first year: publish an accessibility plan
  2. second year: publish a progress report on the implementation of the accessibility plan, including information on feedback received and on how that feedback has been taken into consideration
  3. third year: publish another progress report
  4. fourth year: publish an updated version of the accessibility plan

This cycle repeats itself, which means that a progress report will be published in years five and six, and an updated accessibility plan is required for year seven, and so on.

Page details

Date modified: