The Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, 2005 (AODA) became law on June 13, 2005. Under this landmark legislation, the government of Ontario has developed mandatory accessibility standards that identifies, removes and prevents barriers for people with disabilities.
The AODA applies to all levels of government, private sector businesses, as well as nonprofits and charity organizations across Ontario who have one or more staff.
The AODA give government authority to set monetary penalties to enforce compliance with accessibility standards. The proposed amounts range from $200 to $15,000 depending on the size and type of organization, their compliance history and the impact of the violation. The License Appeal Tribunal will hear appeals from organizations that have been issued an order to comply or a monetary penalty that they wish to dispute.
The AODA is made up of five parts, or Standards, each covering an aspect of daily living. Deadlines for compliance range from January 1, 2010 into 2021. The Accessible Customer Service Standard is the first standard to come into effect and all of Ontario’s nonprofits and businesses must be compliant as of January 1, 2012. For more information on the compliance deadlines for the other standards, Accessibility Ontario has put together a summary: IASR Compliance Timelines Summary (Accessibility Ontario)
Disability impacts the lives of many Ontarians, and the numbers of people with disabilities is increasing. Today, 15.5% of Ontario’s population has a disability and this number will continue to grow as the population ages.
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.
Types of Disabilities
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.
The Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, 2005 (AODA) uses the same definition of “disability” as the Ontario Human Rights Code, which includes both visible and non-visible disabilities.
Building on the Past
The AODA builds on progress made under earlier legislation. The Ontarians with Disabilities Act, 2001 (ODA) requires the Ontario government and broader public sector, which includes municipalities, public transportation organizations, colleges and universities, hospitals and school boards, to develop annual accessibility plans. These obligations under the ODA remain in effect as accessibility standards are developed under the AODA.
Overview of the Five Accessibility Standards
The Accessible Customer Service standard was the first standard developed to become law and it came into force on January 1, 2008. The standard addresses business practices and training needed to provide better customer service to people with disabilities. Public sector organizations were required to comply by January 1, 2010. Nonprofits and businesses are required to comply by January 1, 2012.
The government has now released the next set of standards – the Integrated Accessibility Standards Regulation. The new set of standards include: Information and Communications; Employment; and Transportation.
Nonprofits and businesses, large and small, have a number of requirements under these new legislations and proactive planning will save your organization money and stress.
Accessible Information and Communications standards to address the removal of barriers in access to information. The standards could include information being provided in person, through print, a website or other means.
Employment Accessibility standards to address paid employment practices relating to employee-employer relationships, which could include recruitment, hiring, and retention policies and practices.
Accessible Transportation standards have been identified as crucial for people with disabilities. Access to transportation is needed for going to work or school, shopping and other aspects of daily life. This standard is to address aspects of accessible public transportation.
Accessible Built Environment standards address barriers in public spaces and buildings. The standards for public spaces will only apply to new construction and planned redevelopment.
The Built Environment Standard has not been legislated but when it is it will only apply to new construction and extensive renovation.
Would you like to know what your requirements are and how much time you have to meet them? We have put together a document that provides a timeline of IASR compliance requirements and dates.