Canadian Association for Supported Employment

Orientation & Onboarding

Please Note

Employers: before implementing any policies, please read our Introduction and Key Considerations.

Inclusive Orientation & Onboarding: What does it mean?

  • Ensuring inclusive orientation and onboarding processes does not have to be a complex. All workplaces have their own processes for orienting new employees and, often, no significant changes are necessary for a person experiencing disability. Generally, orientation is the same as for employees without disabilities while taking into consideration “accessibility” at each stage of the process.

  • Sometimes small changes or accommodations will need to be made to the existing process for the most effective orientation. For example, the employee may need equipment or tools for their role or simply some extra time to get familiar with the workplace.

  • Provide the employee with lists of materials on the typical orientation topics covered, so they can access them as needed. Ideally, the information should be available in multiple formats, depending on the individual’s needs.

  • Ensure that supervisors are aware of any employee-specific needs related to orientation to fully support participation in the onboarding process. As with all employees, the inclusion of a person experiencing disability is much easier in a positive and welcoming environment.

Why is it important?

  • Providing a comfortable and supportive introduction is key to ensuring successful onboarding for all employees. Treating any new hire in an unusual manner can impact relationships with co-workers and the ease with which they step into their new role.

  • Properly orienting employees in an inclusive way increases their job performance.

  • Many jurisdictions have legislatively mandated accessibility orientation requirements, and failing to meet these obligations may lead to legal liability.

Sample Orientation & Onboarding Policy

The following policy sample should be part of a larger training and orientation policy. This larger policy should also address any legislatively mandated orientation requirements in your jurisdiction, the purpose of the policy, the scope of the policy’s application, who is responsible for administering which parts of the policy, and the procedures that must be followed under the policy.

[Name of Organization] will make every effort to provide a respectful welcome to all new employees. All employees will be informed of their duties and responsibilities through a clear orientation and onboarding process and through clear expectations.

[Name of Organization] is committed to ensuring that all emergency procedures, plans and safety information are in accessible formats and that all employees have the opportunity to develop an individualized emergency plan based on the needs of their disability.

Putting It into Practice

  • Ensure that the person knows his or her duties and responsibilities as soon as possible.

  • An employee experiencing disability might need help in an emergency, so it’s important to have an individualized workplace emergency response plan if the employee’s accommodation plan requires it.

  • Use Hire for Talents’s suggestions for successful orientation and onboarding of new employees.

  • Employers should provide their employees with accurate information regarding working hours, information about the organization, security, health, safety, and rules and procedures that apply in the event of absences, delays and emergencies. It’s also important for the employer to provide the employee access to the materials on these topics, so they can be viewed as needed. Ideally, the information would be available in multiple formats, depending on the individual’s needs.

  • Mentoring is a strategy that works well with the orientation of any employee. Mentoring allows for relationships to be built and gives the new employee an opportunity to better integrate into their new workplace, both physically and socially.

Additional Considerations

(Provincial differences and unionized workplace considerations)

  • Workers’ representatives should be consulted about any substantial adjustments made or planned to take account of specific needs of an employee experiencing disability.


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