The Accessibility for Ontarians with Disability Act, 2005, SO 2005, c 11 (the “AODA”), is an Act aimed at developing, implementing and enforcing standards that promote accessibility for people with disabilities in Ontario. The AODA covers accessibility with respect to goods, services, facilities, accommodation, employment, buildings, structures and premises. The AODA aims to achieve this goal by January 1, 2025, allowing businesses to implement the accessibility standards in stages. In this article, we thought it would be helpful to provide a snapshot of what the Integrated Accessibility Standards (the “AIS”) Regulation required by January 1, 2015.
With respect to the AIS, compliance deadlines vary depending on the nature of the organization as well as the organization’s number of employees. A small organization is defined as an organization with fewer than 50 employees in Ontario. A large organization is defined as an organization with 50 or more employees in Ontario. This article does not provide an exhaustive list of the AODA requirements but rather focuses on a number of key requirements that small and large private sector organizations must have complied with by January 1, 2015.
1. Accessibility Policies
By January 1, 2015, small organizations must have developed, implemented and maintained policies governing how the organization achieves or will achieve accessibility for persons with disabilities. Large organizations should have been in compliance and have had policies and accessibility plans in place by January 1, 2014.
2. Self-Service Kiosks
Businesses that use self-service kiosks are required to have regard to accessibility issues when designing, procuring or acquiring self-service kiosks. Large and small organizations should already be in compliance with this requirement.
Businesses must ensure that training is provided on both the requirements of the Integrated Accessibility Standards as well as the Human Rights Code as it pertains to persons with disabilities. The training should be provided to all employees and volunteers as well as people who play a role in developing the organization’s policies and people who provide goods, services or facilities on behalf of the organization. The training should be appropriate to the duties of the person being trained.
Large organizations ought to have complied with the training requirement by January 1, 2015. In addition to providing training, large organizations must also keep a record of the training, including the dates that the training was provided and the number of individuals that were trained.
Small organizations have until January 1, 2016 to comply.
Organizations that have a feedback process in place must ensure that the feedback process is accessible to persons with disabilities. Businesses can comply with the feedback accessibility requirements by providing accessible formats and communication supports, upon request, and by notifying the public of their availability. Accessible formats include large print, recorded audio, electronic formats, braille and other formats usable by persons with disabilities.
Large organizations must have complied with the feedback requirements by January 1, 2015. Small organizations have until January 1, 2016.
The above list is not exhaustive of all requirements under the AODA. Failure to comply with the AODA can lead to significant penalties. Please contact us for more information or if you require assistance complying with your obligations under the AODA.