A landmark ruling occurred in Canada in 1997 when the Supreme Court ruled that Deaf persons are to be provided equal access to public services. Sign language interpretation is to be provided where it is needed for effective communication in the delivery of services. This decision covers all services such as education, training, health care and social services.
A Federal Court of Canada ruling in 2006 declared that where a deaf or hard of hearing person receives services or participates in programs administered by the government of Canada, sign language interpreters are to be provided. In these circumstances, the government of Canada is responsible for the cost of access.
Duty to Accommodate: This refers to a section of the Canadian Human Rights Act which places an obligation on employers to take appropriate steps to eliminate discrimination against employees, prospective employees or clients from any practice that has or can have an adverse effect on individuals with disabilities. The purpose of this Act is to put into effect the principle that every individual should have access to equal opportunities.
The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms makes provision that any person who does not understand or speak the language in which legal proceedings are conducted or who is deaf has the right to the assistance of an interpreter. The Charter makes clear that every individual in Canada is to be considered equal.
Accommodation is not a courtesy — it’s the law.