Social Security Tribunal of Canada

Accessibility and accommodation policy

If you need an accommodation to fully participate in an appeal, contact us or fill out the accommodations request form and send us a copy by email, fax, or mail.

Purpose

The Social Security Tribunal of Canada (SST) wants to make sure everyone can participate in appeals on an equal basis. So, we do our best to be accessible and accommodating. An accommodation is an arrangement to remove a barrier opens a new window so you can participate fully in an appeal.

The purpose of this policy is to explain your right to accommodation, how to request an accommodation, and our role and responsibilities.

Application

Any participant can ask for an accommodation. Participants include:

Our commitment to you

The SST’s leadership, staff, and members (decision-makers) are committed to providing an inclusive and accessible appeal process and an environment where everyone can participate fully and equally in appeals.

We’re committed to:

  • helping people access justice through, among other things:
  • treating everyone with dignity and respect
  • taking people’s needs into account and respecting their independence
  • reasonably accommodating needs related to a disability or any of the other grounds of discrimination opens a new window found in section 3 of the Canadian Human Rights Act opens a new window
  • working continuously and proactively to address barriers opens a new window in:
    • the way we communicate
    • the way we use information and communication technologies
    • the way we provide information about our appeal process
    • the environment in which we provide our services (in person, over the phone, or virtually)
  • thinking about the different ways people interact with their environments
  • considering the types of marginalization and discrimination people face and how they overlap
  • consulting with partners and the public when designing and developing our policies, programs, and services to make them as inclusive and accessible as possible
  • meeting our obligations under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms opens a new window, the Canadian Human Rights Act, and the Accessible Canada Act opens a new window
  • training staff on accessibility, equity, diversity, and inclusion
  • monitoring and reporting annually on this policy to see what’s working and what we can do better

Your right to accommodation

The Canadian Human Rights Act says that everyone has the right to be treated equally and without discrimination when accessing services. The Accessible Canada Act requires federal entities to identify, remove, and prevent barriers to the full and equal participation of people with disabilities.

This means that, at the SST, you have a right to accommodation if you need it to participate fully in an appeal and it’s based on a ground of discrimination.

If you need an accommodation

It’s up to you to ask

Tell the SST as soon as possible if you need an accommodation. You can ask for an accommodation at any time during an appeal.

There are 2 ways you can do this:

Your request has to relate to one or more of the following grounds of discrimination opens a new window found in the Canadian Human Rights Act:

  • race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, age, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, marital status, family status, genetic characteristics, disability, and conviction for an offence for which a pardon has been granted or in respect of which a record suspension has been ordered.

We’ll work with you to come up with a reasonable accommodation.

Ways we may accommodate

We’ve listed some examples below of ways we may be able to accommodate you before, during, or after a hearing. This list isn’t exhaustive. If you have needs that aren’t listed here, we’ll do our best to find a reasonable way to meet them.

When Accommodations we may be able to provide
Before the hearing
  • a paper copy of:
    • a document on our website (for example, an appeal form)
    • your appeal file
  • alternative document formats, like large print or electronic
  • flexible options for filing documents
  • flexibility in scheduling/timing, where we can:
    • set timelines with you that take into account days of religious/cultural significance and/or family obligations
    • remind you of important dates
    • agree to a maximum duration for phone calls or hearings
    • adjust the length of a hearing, including adding breaks
    • hold a hearing over multiple days
  • help finding a location close to you with internet access for a videoconference hearing
  • a list of organizations that may be able to offer internet access or in-home assistance
For the hearing
  • communication aids
  • an accessible hearing room (for example, for wheelchairs)
  • allow for any personal support services you use or assistive devices (for example, your support worker who assists with personal care or medical needs, service animals, etc.)
  • verbally describing the layout of the hearing room
  • allowing religious or ceremonial practices (for example, smudging)
  • a private area (for example, to pray, nurse, or take medication)
  • breaking frequently and long enough for your needs (for example, to pray, nurse, or use the washroom)
  • having participants speak loudly or slowly
  • dimmed lighting
  • flexibility in answering questions (for example, giving more time, allowing written answers)
  • a scent- or chemical-free space
After the hearing
  • an accessible format for your decision (for example, Braille)

Our role and responsibilities

Our duty to accommodate

We’re responsible for providing you with a reasonable accommodation so you can participate fully and equally in an appeal. We also have a duty to accommodate your needs related to the grounds of discrimination opens a new window. But that duty only extends to the point of undue hardship. Undue hardship happens, for example, when an accommodation would be too costly or would present health and safety concerns.

What we do when you ask for an accommodation

We’ll contact you to see what we can do to accommodate you. We may ask you for more information to help us better understand your needs.

In most cases, an SST staff member will be the one to help you. This can be a registry officer or a navigator. If you identify a barrier during a hearing, you can tell the member. The member will either work with you to address that barrier or put you in touch with a staff member who can help you.

We won’t tell the other party or parties that you asked for an accommodation. But they might know about any barriers or needs you mentioned in your written arguments or evidence. That’s because parties get to see each other’s written arguments and evidence.

Other ways we support your participation

Interpreters

Any participant can ask for an interpreter at a hearing or a conference.

We provide the following free of charge:

  • spoken language interpretation, if English or French isn’t your first language
  • sign language interpretation for languages like American Sign Language (ASL), langue des signes québécoise (LSQ), and Indigenous sign languages
  • real-time captioning

Learn more about interpreters and translation.

Support persons

We welcome support persons at hearings. A support person helps you, but they don’t represent you. They can attend a hearing and observe it. Learn more about support persons.

Other barriers to full participation

There are other barriers besides those related to the grounds of discrimination opens a new window. For example, we know some people face barriers associated with poverty, digital access, or living in a remote location. We don’t have a legal duty to address these barriers, but our commitment to access to justice means that we’ll try to address these barriers when we can.

If you ask, we can try to do things like:

  • provide a location with the necessary videoconference equipment if you want a virtual hearing but don’t have a phone or computer
  • refer you to a list of organizations that can:
    • help with telephone or digital access
    • help with in-home assistance
    • represent you free of charge
  • photocopy a small number of documents for your hearing
  • give you a hearing reasonably close to your home

Give us your feedback

We’ll review this policy regularly and update it as needed. Hearing from you will help with that.

Contact us if you:

  • encounter a barrier during your appeal
  • want to tell us about your experience at the SST
  • have any questions or comments about this policy and how we can be a more accessible tribunal

This policy applies as of February 2024. It replaces all earlier versions.

Date modified:

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