The Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act
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.
Who is Affected?
The AODA applies to all levels of government, nonprofits, and private sector businesses across Ontario who have one or more staff.
The AODA give government authority to set monetary penalties to enforce compliance with accessibility standards. The maximum penalties under the AODA include:
- A person and unincorporated organizations that are guilty of a major offence under this Act can be fined up to $50,000 dollars for each day the violation continues
- A corporation that is guilty can be fined up to $100,000 per day
- Directors and officers of a corporation with fiduciary responsibility who are guilty are liable to a fine of up to $50,000 a day
What Do I Need to Do?
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 was the first standard to come into effect and all of Ontario’s nonprofits and businesses were to be compliant as of January 1, 2012. For more information on the compliance deadlines of the five AODA Standards, Accessibility Ontario has put together a summary: At A Glance: AODA Deadlines (PDF).
Why Does Ontario Needs 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.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.
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.
Compliance Reporting Requirements
In 2017, organizations with 20+ employees will need to file a second report with the government confirming their continued compliance with the Customer Service Standard. And as of January 1st, 2014, organizations with 50+ employees must be compliant with the requirements below by and report their compliance by December 31, 2017.
- Create a multi-year plan to meet your accessibility requirements.
- Establish policies to meet your AODA requirements and tell your employees and customers about them.
- Consider accessibility when purchasing or designing electronic kiosks.
- Make your new websites, and content on those websites, accessible.
- File an accessibility report (due no later than December 31, 2017)