What Is the AODA?

The Ministry of Community and Social Services enacted the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act in 2005. This act lays the framework for the development of province-wide mandatory accessibility standards in all areas of daily life.

Today’s blog will help you identify which Compliance measures should already be in place in your business.

What Are Accessibility Standards?

Accessibility standards are the rules that businesses and organizations in Ontario will have to follow to identify, remove and prevent barriers to accessibility.  Accessibility standards will apply to five important areas.

Four standards have already been made into law. These standards are:

  • Customer Service Standard
  • Employment Standard*
  • Information and Communications Standard*
  • Transportation Standard*

The fifth standard — Built Environment* — is still being developed and is not yet in place.

The Customer Service Standard is already fully in effect, as of January 2012.  It has a number of requirements.

The *Integrated Accessibility Standard Regulation (IASR) comes into effect in January 2012. 

  • This Regulation combines the Employment, Information and Communications, and Transportation Standards and also contains a General Requirements section.  Eventually the Built Environment Standard will form part of the IASR as well.
  • The Integrated Accessibility Standard Regulation will be phased in such that all compliance must be in place by January 2017.

Compliance Deadlines

Your organization must already be in compliance with some Standards in the AODA.  Other Standards are being phased in over time to allow for cost and other considerations.

As of January 2012

  • All of the Customer Service Standard must be enacted.
  • Integrated Accessibility: Employment Standard re: Workplace Emergency Response Information

As of January 1, 2015:

  • Integrated Accessibility: General Requirements regarding Accessibility policies and Self-Serve Kiosks

As of January 1, 2016

  • Integrated Accessibility: General Requirements regarding Training of Employees
  • Integrated Accessibility: Information and Communication Standard regarding Feedback

As of January 1, 2017

  • Integrated Accessibility: Employment Standards regarding:

Recruitment, Information for Employees and the Process to Accommodate Employees

  • Integrated Accessibility: Information and Communication Standard

Accessible formats and communication supports

So, What Do You Need To Do?

Customer Service Standard

Accessible customer service is not about ramps or automatic door openers – It’s about understanding that people with disabilities may have different needs.

The Accessibility Standard for Customer Service applies to all people or organizations in Ontario that:

  • Provide goods or services, and
  • Have one or more employees.

And, it affects all sectors:

  • Private
  • Non-profit
  • Public

To provide accessible customer service, organizations need to develop and put in place a plan or policy that outlines how you will provide goods or services to people with disabilities.

Put the customer first — and let the principles of independence, dignity, integration and equality of opportunity guide you.

Your plan should:

  • Consider a person’s disability when communicating with them
  • Allow assistive devices such as wheelchairs, walkers and oxygen tanks
  • Allow service animals of all kinds
  • Welcome support persons
  • Let customers know when accessible services aren’t available
  • Invite customers to provide feedback

You then need to:

  • Train your staff on the new Customer Service Standard
  • Put your policy and program on paper**
  • Let the Ministry know how you’re doing**

**These last two apply only to organizations with more than 20 employees

Integrated Accessibility Standards Regulation (IASR)

The IASR is a bit more detailed and complicated.

  • The Integrated Accessibility Standards Regulation establishes accessibility standards and introduces requirements for Information and Communications, Employment and Transportation. The IASR also establishes the compliance framework for obligated organizations.
  • Organizations have current and ongoing obligations under the Ontario Human Rights Code respecting non-discrimination.
  • The Integrated Accessibility Standards Regulation does not replace or affect existing legal obligations under the Ontario Human Rights Code and other laws in respect to accommodation of people with disabilities.
  • Organizations must comply with both pieces of legislation.

This means that the Ontario Human Rights Code or other applicable legislation may require additional accommodation measures that go beyond or are different from the standards established by the regulations of the AODA.

  • The Employment Standard applies to paid employees ONLY. This includes, but is not limited to, full-time, part-time, paid apprenticeships and seasonal employment.
  • As good business practice, employers may apply the Standard to unpaid staff, volunteers and other forms of unpaid work.
  • The Employment Standard is a framework for integrating accessibility into regular workplace processes. Accessibility benefits everyone. Accessible employment processes mean that employers can access an untapped pool of talent.

Current Requirements under the Employment Standard

  • Provide workplace emergency response information**using accessible formats and communication supports

**As of January 1, 2012 Employers are required to provide Individualized Emergency Response information to those employees who have disabilities.

What is individualized emergency response information?

  • A plan to help an employee with a disability during an emergency, or emergency information that is formatted so an employee with a disability can understand it.

As of January 1, 2012, if you know an employee with a disability might need help in an emergency:

  • Give them individualized emergency response information
  • Get their consent, then share this information with anyone designated to help them in an emergency
  • Review the emergency response information when:

–      the employee changes work locations

–      you review the employee’s overall accommodation needs

–      you review your organization’s emergency response policies.

Disabilities can be temporary or permanent, and “employee” includes paid staff, but not volunteers or unpaid staff.

If you would like more information and training on what is required for your  business, to comply with the AODA, please visit the “Events” Page and register for the AODA seminar!