The Ministry of the Attorney General’s Court Services Division has intensified its commitment to providing barrier-free access to courts across the province.

The sweeping review of practices and procedures arose out of one woman’s attempt to participate in the jury selection process. Carol Mehlenbacher arrived to find visual aids unavailable. She was relieved from jury duty. With help from the Human Rights Legal Support Centre, Mehlenbacher and Court Services officials crafted a range of changes to make courts more accessible.

Changes to the process include:

  • A review of the accessibility resources available in Ontario’s courthouses with the Offices of the Chief Justices of Ontario and Regional Senior Justices and the Criminal Law Division and its staff and Crown Attorneys
  • Juror summons now include contact information for disability-related help at the specific court location where one is being summoned for jury
  • People will be directly connected to the local accessibility coordinator
  • The accessibility coordinator will work with the individual to determine how best to meet the person’s individual disability needs when they attend court
  • Necessary equipment will be arranged
  • The court/trial office will be informed of the request and particulars.
  • An updated jury management manual will further clarify staff procedures when disability-related needs are raised
  • Ongoing training of all staff will be provided on appropriate responses to requests for communication supports and accessible document formats
  • An accessibility-focused newsletter will be distributed to staff