Accessibility Requirements for All Organizations
A number of employment requirements are set forth under the Integrated Accessibility Standards (“IAS”) under the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (“AODA”). The following are in force and required for all businesses in Ontario regardless of their size.
Accessible Customer Service
- Create a Customer Service Policy. The policy is intended to outline what actions the employer taking to comply with the AODA and what Ontario customers can expect from the employer regarding accessibility.
- Create an Accessibility Plan so that employees, volunteers and customers know what to expect.
- Except in the case of a small employers with less than 20 employees, a notice that the policy and plan are available to the public must be posted on the employer’s website or in such a place as reasonable.
- Except in the case of a small employers with less than 20 employees, a notice that the policy and plan are
available to the public must be posted on the employer’s website or in such a place as reasonable.
Emergency Response Information
- The employer needs to make available to the public, upon request, emergency and safety information in accessible formats .The employer must also provide accessible emergency information to staff.
File Accessibility Compliance Reports
- An Accessibility Compliance Report must be filed every 3 years (except for employers with less than 20
employees) and must confirm that the employer has met the requirements under the AODA as they apply
to them at the time. The employer must fill out and file the form to comply, available here.
Multi-Year Plan and Accessibility Policy
- The employer must create a multi-year accessibility plan and accessibility policies. The accessibility policies demonstrate the employer’s commitment to become more accessible and the multi-year accessibility plan outlines what you will do to remove and prevent accessibility barriers . The plan must be posted on the employer’s website, if any, and provided in an accessible format upon request.
- Training on the AODA and Human Rights Code must be provided to all employees, including volunteers
and anyone who provides services on the employer’s behalf, such as facilities management personnel.
- When requested, the employer must be able to receive and respond to feedback from customers, employees and members of the public who have a disability. This can be in writing, by telephone, email or online correspondence. It may also require accessible formats such as large print for an employee who is visually impaired, or exchanging notes or online correspondence for a customer who is hearing impaired.
Public Information Accessible
- Upon request, the employer must make public information accessible in collaboration with the individual
requesting accessible public information.
Accessible Employment Practices
- The employer must notify staff about policies for employees with disabilities and make workplace information accessible on request. The employer must also to create an accommodation plan for employees with disabilities.
- Support return to work for disabled employees and practice accessible performance management.
Additional Requirements: Design of Accessible Public Spaces and Websites
Design of Public Spaces
Accessible design of public spaces requirements are effective January 1st 2018 for employers and are already required for large employers with 50 or more employees.
Accessible public spaces include specific features that make it easier for everyone to use public spaces. “Public spaces” refers to the physical surroundings around the employer’s premises, and any areas within the building which may be accessed by the public. Under the Design of Public Spaces Standard the organization that must comply with the AODA
requirements is the one that has authority or approval to build on or make planned significant alterations to the public space, but not necessarily an organization that may
have approved the construction or otherwise have an interest in the property. Therefore, lease-holder may be the entity required to comply with the AODA.
This requirement is in effect and applies to large employers with 50 or more employees. Beginning on January 1, 2014, if the employer launches a new public website or the employer’s existing site undergoes a significant refresh, the site and any of its web content published after January 1, 2012 must conform to the World Wide Web Consortium Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0, Level A. Beginning January 1, 2021, all public websites and all web content on those sites published after January 1, 2012 must conform with WCAG 2.0 Level AA, other than providing captions on live videos or audio descriptions for pre- recorded videos. This does not apply to content posted before 2012 and the employer does not have to make its internal website accessible. If asked, the employer will need to work with individuals to make the content accessible to them in some way, like large print or Braille. If the employer does not have control of the website, then website compliance. with the AODA is not required.
Why Does Ontario Need this Act?
When we think of disabilities, we tend to think of people in wheelchairs and physical disabilities – disabilities that are visible and apparent. But disabilities can also be non-visible. We can’t always tell who has a disability. The broad range of disabilities also includes vision disabilities, deafness or being hard of hearing, intellectual or developmental, learning, and mental health disabilities.
Accessibility is Good for Business
Improving accessibility is the right thing to do. It’s also the smart thing to do. According to the Royal Bank of Canada, people with disabilities have an estimated spending power of about $25 billion annually across Canada. People with disabilities also represent a large pool of untapped employment potential. When we make Ontario accessible to people with disabilities everyone benefits. ONN is committed to keeping your personal information accurate, confidential, secure and private. When you visit our website, contact us, participate in one of our programs or attend an event, or support our activities, we are committed to protecting your privacy rights and your personal information.