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The Duty to Accommodate in the Workplace: How Costly is Undue Hardship?

According to the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act  “In most cases, accommodations are quite inexpensive, and cost less than five hundred dollars.”

What Does Accessibility Look Like?

Accessibility simply means giving people of all abilities the opportunity to participate fully in everyday life. In the workplace, this means giving all workers — those with and without disabilities — opportunities to perform the job duties that they were hired to fulfill. People with disabilities require different forms of accommodation to remove barriers that keep them from participating fully in their workplace or community.

What three factors are considered when determining the point of undue hardship?

Outside sources of funding
Health and safety requirements, if any

Undue hardship: As defined by the Ontario Human Rights Code, organizations are required to accommodate someone with a disability to the point of undue hardship. There are only three factors to consider in assessing undue hardship:

What are Accommodations in the Workplace?

Workers with disabilities are frequently excluded by many kinds of physical, attitudinal, and organizational barriers.

Accommodating the individual needs of people with disabilities is a legal duty under Human Rights legislation. This allows people with disabilities to take part fully in the workplace with dignity.

The accommodation process is a shared responsibility between the worker, the employer, and unions, if appropriate. In fact, it is everyone’s responsibility to accommodate.

The most appropriate accommodation is the one that best meets the individual needs of the person with a disability. There is no set formula for accommodation. Some accommodations can benefit many people as well!

Examples of Accommodations in the Workplace

Physical Accommodation:

  • Headphones to reduce noise
  • Lamp at workstation instead of fluorescent light (which causes flickering)
  • Allowing tape recorder for meetings or when being given instructions
  • Voice input or voice recognition aids
  • Voice synthesizer
  • TTY phone service
  • Computer screen magnifiers
  • Quiet workspaces
  • Specialized equipment ex. Braille Keyboard


Work Style Accommodation:

  • Larger tasks divided into smaller tasks
  • Flexible hours or work from home arrangements
  • Modified or individualized training
  • Modified job duties or job sharing
  • Written instructions
  • Self-paced workload
  • Frequent breaks
  • Alternate methods of communication (phone, tape recorder, email, verbal etc.)


Some accommodations such as specialized equipment, are often covered in whole or in part from federal, provincial, or municipal assistance programs.

If, after a good-faith exploration of the various possible accommodations, it is determined that it would be an undue hardship on the employer to provide the accommodation, the employer is not obliged to provide it. Such instances will likely be quite rare.

It all comes back to the importance of creating an accessible organization. Accessibility benefits everyone! By planning ahead and making accessibility a part of how your organization conducts day-to-day business allows for opportunities to attract more customers, build customer loyalty and improve services which benefit all.

Have a specific accommodation request you would like to discuss? Do you want to provide AODA related training to managers and employees?

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