Accessibility at citizenship ceremonies

This section contains policy, procedures and guidance used by IRCC staff. It is posted on the department’s website as a courtesy to stakeholders.

Citizenship staff should help any person who requires assistance or has special needs. Subsection 5 (3.1) of the Citizenship Act explains that citizenship staff are to take into consideration reasonable measures to accommodate the needs of a person who requires assistance. The following information provides examples of reasonable accommodation measures for persons who require assistance at citizenship ceremonies.

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General best practices

If a candidate has indicated on their citizenship application that they require accommodation (service dog, sign language interpreter, etc.), citizenship staff can contact the candidate (by email or phone) to obtain more information about the accommodation requirements.

Allow candidates with special needs to be accompanied by

  • a service dog
  • their own sign language interpreter
  • other persons to help them during the ceremony

Seat candidates with special needs in the first row, and have the presenter take their certificates to them. A seat next to the candidate can be reserved for their interpreter or care provider.

Provide help reading forms to candidates who have literacy issues, but staff should be sure that the candidate understands what is being read to them before the candidate signs or marks the form.

Candidates with a visual impairment

Explain to visually impaired candidates that the Discover Canada study guide contains the oath of citizenship and that a braille version (alternate format) of the guide can be ordered by emailing Publications. The candidate’s full name, address and phone number must be included in the request. Refer to Publications and manuals – Order a publication for more information.

Provide visually impaired candidates with the audio versions of the oath of citizenship prior to the ceremony, so that the candidate can hear and practise saying the oath.

Provide visually impaired candidates with the oath of citizenship in large print format.

Provide help (reading forms, explaining where to sign the forms) to visually impaired candidates if they do not have any care attendants to assist them. However, the candidate is responsible for signing or marking the form.

Candidates with a hearing impairment

Help candidates (who do not have access to a sign language interpreter) by making arrangements to provide a sign language interpreter for the ceremony.

Sign language interpreter

  • For the oath taking, the interpreter will stand at the front of the room and repeat the oath after the presiding official, in the appropriate sign language, to the candidate, who will repeat the oath in the same language. The candidate will nod to indicate their understanding of the contents of the oath. The interpreter does not need to repeat out loud what the candidate says.
  • The Accompanying Person Declaration and Interpreter’s Oath [CIT 0117] form should be completed if a citizenship officer needs to conduct an interview or questioning that is not part of the standard ceremony. If the same interpreter was used at a previous interaction and the form is on file, then a new form does not need to be completed.
  • The signature of the oath form must take place with the interpreter present to ensure that the candidate has accepted and is bound by the contents of the oath. The interpreter reads the oath form and translates the contents of the oath form in sign language to the candidate. The above procedure has to be explained to the candidate and to the interpreter prior to the ceremony. The sign language interpreter will not only translate the oath, but also all procedures related to the ceremony.

Candidates with a writing impairment

Some candidates are unable to sign the oath form due to a physical impairment (medical condition, injury, etc.), but they are capable of saying the oath and understanding the meaning of the oath. For these cases, explain to the candidate that they can sign with an “X” in the signature box if they are able. If they are not able to sign with an “X”, citizenship staff should include the following note in the Global Case Management System (GCMS) and on the oath form: “Applicant unable to sign form due to medical condition, but took the oath.” The Case Processing Centre in Sydney will include this note as part of the archived version of the file.

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