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Nomination deadline is December 3.


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The David C. Onley Award for Leadership in Accessibility recognizes Ontarians who have gone above and beyond in improving accessibility for people with disabilities.

The award recognizes four individuals or organizations each year for outstanding leadership and commitment in supporting awareness of accessibility and disability issues.

Recipients receive a personalized certificate and $5,000, except the Champion Award recipient who receives a personalize certificate and will be placed on the Honour Roll.

The Ontario government is pleased to support this important program to commemorate the Honourable David C. Onley’s term as Ontario's 28th Lieutenant Governor and Ontario’s first Lieutenant Governor with a physical disability.

Inaugural David C. Onley Awards Celebrate Ontario's Accessibility Champions

Back L-R: Jeremy Williams (Mayor of Orangeville), Joanne Jordan (Access Orangeville), Diva Anderson (Access Orangeville), the Honourable Brad Duguid, Minister of Economic Development, Employment and Infrastructure, Michael Gravelle (Access Orangeville), Sarah Murray (Access Orangeville), Sarah Dinsdale, Kathryn Church, Lois Davies. Front L-R: Hubert Peter Roy (Access Orangeville), Gail Campbell (Access Orangeville), Her Honour the Honourable Elizabeth Dowdeswell, Lieutenant Governor of Ontario, the Honourable David C. Onley, Special Advisor to the Minister on Accessibility and Honourary Chair, 10th Anniversary of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, Larry Rankin (Access Orangeville).

Back L-R: Barbara Collier (Communication Disabilities Access Canada), Debby-Lyn Sabo (Durham Region Police Service), Michele Richardson (County of Wellington), Laura McKeen (Cohen Highley LLP), Sean Messenger (Hand Over Hand), Carolyn Payne (Town of Innisfil), Donna McAllister (Durham Region Employment Network), Leo Plue (Abilities Centre).
Front L-R:Maayan Ziv, the Honourable David C. Onley, Special Advisor to the Minister on Accessibility, Her Honour the Honourable Elizabeth Dowdeswell, Lieutenant Governor of Ontario, Linda D. Crabtree. Absent: Mark Wafer.

Who is eligible?

Nominee(s) must be:

  • An Ontario-registered company, organization or individual;
  • A resident of Ontario;
  • A living person or existing institution.

Self-nominations are not accepted. Nominations are not accepted for elected federal, provincial or municipal representatives while they are in office; or for political appointees if the achievements for which they are being nominated are related to their current appointment.


Awards are given out in four categories:

Champion Award (Organization: Honour Roll)

Recognizes outstanding leadership in the integration of people with disabilities into its work force; provides barrier-free working conditions for its employees with disabilities; and is compliant with the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA).

Employee Engagement Award (Individual: $5,000 Award)

Recognizes an employee or volunteer who, through work initiatives, has created opportunities to break down barriers for fellow employees or volunteers with disabilities.

Role Model Award (Individual: $5,000 Award)

Recognizes outstanding support for positive change and significant contributions to the integration, independence and overall improvement of quality of life for people with disabilities. Supports actions and activities that inspire all people through personal example.

Youth Leadership Award (Individual: $5,000 Award)

Recognizes an individual, between the ages of 16-24 years, who has shown leadership and commitment to developing the potential in people with disabilities.

How do I nominate someone?

Submit by post:

  • You will not be able to save any information you type in the submission form.
  • You will be able to type information in the form then print it, or print the form first then complete it by hand.
  • Please include all mandatory documentation with the completed form prior to posting.
  1. Download the latest version of Adobe Reader Adobe Reader free from the Adobe website.
  2. Right-click and save the blank form on your computer desktop.
  3. First open Adobe Reader, then open the form saved on your computer desktop.
  4. Fill out the form according to the instructions.
  5. Print a copy of the completed form for your records.
  6. Submit your completed form and all mandatory supporting documents by post.

When is the deadline?

The deadline is December 3 each year. If December 3 falls on a weekend or holiday, nominations are accepted the following business day.

Nominations may be submitted at any time. Eligible nominations received after the deadline will be considered for the following year.

How are recipients selected?

An independent selection committee reviews the nominations and recommends the candidates. The committee is appointed by the Minister of Economic Development, Employment and Infrastructure who is responsible for the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, 2005.

David C. Onley Award for Leadership in Accessibility: Champion Award Honour Roll

Organization Year City Achievements
Durham Region Employment Network 2016 Oshawa Since 1993, the Durham Region Employment Network (DREN) has been committed to making workplaces and hiring processes accessible to people of all abilities. They have created a network of 35 community organizations that share leads, research best practices, and boost business awareness. DREN's awards programs and conferences inspire local businesses to expand their talent pool and increase inclusion. Their website brings thousands of job seekers together to find opportunities and services tailored to their skills and needs, making employment more accessible and achievable across the region.
County of Wellington 2016 Guelph The County of Wellington's work to promote accessibility has consistently met or exceeded the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act's requirements. Their innovative policies, training, and funding programs have helped make them a model of accessibility in action. The county's Accessibility Fund Incentive Programme has helped local municipalities complete more than 20 projects to improve access for people of all abilities. They are also dedicated to expanding employment opportunities for people with disabilities in the area. Canada's Safest Employer Awards honoured the county in 2014 as the most psychologically safe workplace in the country.
Abilities Centre 2016 Whitby The Abilities Centre opened its doors in 2012 with a commitment to promoting inclusion and enriching the quality of life for people of all ages and abilities. Four years later, it continues to raise the level of discussion, policies and practices on accessibility in Durham region and beyond. Recognized as a Community Hub, the Centre serves local, national and international communities by providing resources and research tools that promote inclusivity and accessibility. Staff have helped members follow their passions, explore their creativity and connect with their community.
Town of Innisfil 2016 Innisfil The Innisfil Accessibility Advisory Committee was created in 2002 to raise awareness of disability issues and educate the public on ways to build a more accessible community. This active group of volunteers has been relentless and creative in pursuit of their goals, painting town curbs yellow, developing an awareness program for elementary schools, building an accessible garden, and consulting regularly with organizations on accessibility requirements. Their wheelchair and sensory obstacle challenge has become a popular part of Innisfil's annual Family Fun Day, highlighting the benefits of accessibility for people of all abilities.
Hand Over Hand 2016 Markham Hand over Hand (HOH) is a not-for-profit dedicated to creating a community where young adults with developmental disabilities can feel safe, accepted and supported. It was formed by a group of high school students in 2005 to address the shortage of services and recreational programs available to those who have completed high school. Their growing team of volunteers have partnered with local businesses and organizations to host social activities, sponsor networking events and share resources with families and individuals. By increasing access to networks and support systems, HOH is helping more youth with developmental disabilities feel connected to their community, while promoting inclusion across York region.
Durham Region Police Service 2016 Oshawa The Durham Region Police Service is dedicated to helping children with disabilities participate in sports, while promoting accessibility in the community. For the last 31 years, they have partnered with the City of Pickering, the Campbell Children's School, the Grandview Children's Centre and now the March of Dimes to host the annual Durham Regional Police Children's Games. This popular event gives local youth with disabilities the chance to discover new inclusive sports, challenge and overcome barriers, and participate as organizing volunteers. By engaging children, their families and the broader community, the Durham Region Police Service -- in collaboration with its partners -- is helping to break down barriers and strengthen connections among people of all abilities.
Cohen Highley LLP 2016 London Cohen Highley LLP is a well-established law firm with offices in London, Kitchener, Sarnia, and Chatham. Their track record of supporting accessibility for more than 25 years comprises inclusive hiring practices, a positive workplace culture and community involvement. Their talented team of nearly 100 employees, consisting of lawyers, paralegals and support staff, include several individuals with a disability. Staff members have helped to raise nearly $400,000 for Community Living London. By advising clients and organizations on Ontario's accessibility standards, Cohen Highley is helping to strengthen inclusion in legal circles and communities in southwestern Ontario.
Communication Disabilities Access Canada 2016 Toronto Communication Disabilities Access Canada (CDAC) has worked for the past 15 years to support the needs of people with speech and language disabilities. Their research, education and outreach have highlighted the barriers these individuals experience when accessing goods, services, health care and justice supports. As a trailblazer in inclusive communication, CDAC published the world's first research project defining what accessibility means for those with speech and language disabilities. Today, their online training module is being used by businesses, hospitals, city services and justice personnel to help break down communication barriers throughout Ontario.

Need more information?

Refer to the nomination form to get more details about program requirements.

Contact Us

Email: ontariohonoursandawards@ontario.ca

Phone: 416-314-7526
Toll-free: 1-877-832-8622
TTY: 416-327-2391

Ontario Honours and Awards Secretariat
Ministry of Citizenship, Immigration and International Trade
400 University Avenue, 4th Floor
Toronto, ON   M7A 2R9