I want to make changes to my tribunal hearing. What can I do?

This information applies to tribunals and boards that are part of Tribunals Ontario. It does not apply to Immigration and Refugee Board hearings.

Tribunals Ontario is responsible for many boards and tribunals in Ontario, including the:

Hearings at these boards and tribunals are now mostly virtual, using Zoom. A virtual hearing means that you participate using video or the phone. Your hearing may also be in writing or in-person.

If you can't do a virtual hearing because you don't have access to a telephone, computer, or internet, there are programs that can help you. Or, if a virtual hearing would make the hearing unfair to you, you can ask for an in-person hearing or changes to your virtual hearing.

You need to fill out an accommodation request to ask for a program, changes to your virtual hearing, or an in-person hearing. An accommodation is a change to the usual hearing format or process that lets you participate fully and fairly in your hearing.

Send your request to the board or tribunal your hearing is with. You can send the request by email or mail. The contact information for each board and tribunal is at the bottom of the accommodation request form and on your of hearing.

The tribunal or board does not accept every accommodation request. You must convince them that there is a good reason you need accommodation. You can ask a community legal clinic to help you fill out the form.

Access terminals

If you don't have a quiet private place to attend your hearing or if you don't have access to a computer or internet, you might be able to use an access terminal. An access terminal is a place where Tribunals Ontario has set up a computer and internet for people to attend their hearings.

There is a person at the terminal to help you with the technology. You can also bring up to 2 people to support you.

There are 5 access terminals in Ontario:

If you aren't close to an access terminal, Tribunals Ontario can set up another public place with a computer and internet for you to use. This is called a mobile access terminal.  Someone will also be at the mobile access terminal to help you with the technology. And you can bring 1 or 2 people to support you. Both mobile and regular access terminals are free.

You should make an accommodation request as soon as you get your Notice of Hearing if you want to use an access terminal or mobile access terminal. A Notice of Hearing is a letter or email from the board or tribunal that tells you when and how to attend your hearing.

When you're filling out your accommodation request, you should include as much detail as possible. Describe your challenges with technology and why you need to use an access terminal. For example, if you can't afford a computer and there is no one you can ask to borrow one.

If you need a mobile access terminal, describe why you can't use a regular access terminal and what area the mobile access terminal should be in. For example, you live in a rural area and don't have a car, you can ask for a mobile access terminal that you can get to by walking or transit.

There is no guarantee that Tribunals Ontario will be able to set up a mobile access terminal for you. You might have to attend your hearing on the phone or have the hearing in writing.

Phone program

If your hearing is going to be on the phone but you don't have a phone or you don't have enough minutes on your plan, there is a phone program that could help you.

You can ask Tribunals Ontario to send you:

  • a basic cell phone to use for your hearing, or
  • a voucher so you can buy more minutes for your phone plan.

In your accommodation request, explain why you need the phone or voucher to participate in your hearing. For example, explain that you do not have internet and you need a phone to participate. But you can't afford a phone and no one will lend one to you.

In-person hearings

To get an in-person hearing, you need to convince the tribunal or board that:

  • you need an in-person hearing because of a or other human rights code reason, or
  • a virtual or written hearing would make the hearing unfair to you.

You can't just say that you are uncomfortable with technology. You need to explain your situation and how it affects your ability to participate in a virtual hearing. For example, you:

  • have a physical disability, like tremors or visual impairment, that makes using technology difficult or impossible
  • need help reading and navigating documents, and you can't get that help virtually
  • have an injury or disability that makes it hard to process information or pay attention and video or phone communication makes it worse
  • can't look at a screen for long periods of time because of a disability or injury
  • have trauma or psychological barriers that make it hard for you to communicate virtually

If you have medical information that supports your request, you should include that information with your accommodation request. Don't wait until you have all the documents. Send your request as soon as possible. If you need time to get medical documents, you can write “further medical information will follow” on your form and send the documents later.

Changes to the virtual hearing

You might like a virtual hearing, but need changes made so you can participate fully. You can ask for these changes on the accommodation request form.

Tribunals and boards provide many different types of accommodations. For example, these services are available for free to anyone who needs them:

  • interpreters for French, langue des signes québécoise (LSQ), and American Sign Language (ASL)
  • deaf-blind interveners
  • real-time captioning (CART)

Tribunals and boards also provide free interpreters for other languages if you're financially eligible.

If you don't speak English or French, or use LSQ or ASL, you might have to get an interpreter on your own. You can go to a community agency that offers services to people who use a sign language or speak your language. Or, if you have a friend or family member who speaks both English and your language, ask them if they can come with you to the hearing.

If you speak French, you can ask for your hearing or to be in French. To do this, send the LTB a Request for French Language Services form as soon as possible. You might have the right to get other services from the LTB in French.

How they decide

Virtual hearings are faster and easier for tribunals and boards. The tribunal or board will look at many factors before they decide to change the hearing format, including:

  • how difficult it would be for you to have a virtual hearing or a written hearing
  • if having an in-person hearing would make things difficult for the tribunal or other people involved in the hearing
  • the number of witness and amount of
  • how long it will take to schedule an in-person hearing

The tribunal or board will also look at whether changing the hearing type would be unfair to the other people involved in the hearing. They might ask the other people for their opinion and share your accommodation request with them. This includes any medical records you send in.

If you are concerned about your privacy, you can tell the tribunal or board that you do not want them to share some or all of the documents you send with your accommodation request. You can also contact a community legal clinic. The clinic might be able to help you keep your records private or refer to someone else who can help.

In most cases, the tribunal or board should make a decision about your accommodation request in 2 to 5 weeks.

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