As previously addressed here, as of January 1, 2014, organizations with 50 or more employees in Ontario must achieve compliance with the first set of requirements under the AODA’s Integrated Accessibility Standard

With respect to the existing Customer Service Standard, those organizations with 20 or more employees in Ontario were required file an Accessibility Compliance Report with the Accessibility Directorate of Ontario by December 31, 2012.  Those organizations that have not yet filed their reports are currently being contacted by the Accessibility Directorate of Ontario.

Integrated Standard Compliance

The general requirements of the Integrated Accessibility Standard dictate that large organizations develop accessibility policies and multi-year accessibility plans and consider accessibility in their self-service kiosks, while the Information and Communication Standard requires that large organizations’ websites and web content meet specific accessibility thresholds. 

Accordingly, by January 1, 2014, organizations with 50 or more employees in Ontario must have achieved the following objectives:

  • develop, implement and maintain a written policy and statement of commitment regarding the requirements of the Integrated Standard;
  • develop, implement and maintain a written multi-year accessibility plan addressing how the requirements of the Integrated Standard will be met;
  • make the plan, statement of commitment and policy available to the public;
  • consider accessibility in the organization’s self-service kiosks (if kiosks are utilized); and
  • ensure that the organization’s new public websites and web content (including content posted after January 1, 2012) meet the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0 Level A specific accessibility thresholds.

For a more fulsome discussion of the objectives listed above, click here.

Customer Service Standard Reporting

The Accessibility Directorate of Ontario has recently begun sending compliance letters to those organizations that, to date, have not filed an Accessibility Compliance Report pursuant to the Customer Service Standard. 

Those organizations with 20 or more employees in Ontario were required to file Accessibility Compliance Reports by December 31, 2012 (with the next filing deadline occurring on December 31, 2014 and every three years thereafter).  The letters from the Accessibility Directorate provide the organization in question with 20 business days to file their report, which for those organizations that are not already compliant with the Customer Standard, is likely an insufficient amount of time to achieve compliance.  Failure to file the report within the 20 business days allotted may result in enforcement action being taken against the organization, which may include inspections, orders and the levying of administrative penalties.

Our Views:

The AODA contains staggered compliance deadlines, and it is important to remain aware of the deadlines applicable to your organization and achieve compliance prior to their expiry.  The letters currently being sent by the Accessibility Directorate of Ontario clearly indicate that a certain level of monitoring and enforcement is underway, and organizations are encouraged to take heed of these signals.