Ontario employers should be becoming more familiar with the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (the “AODA”), which sets accessibility standards and requires “employers to make their workplace practices accessible to potential or current employees with disabilities.” Overall, the AODA is mandated to assist and require organizations to recognize, prevent, or remove disability barriers. The AODA standards apply to all organizations (public, private, and not-for-profit) with one or more employees in Ontario. The specific requirements under the AODA do differ based on the organization type and size. The AODA has set out its purpose to “develop, implement, and enforce standards for accessibility related to good, services, facilities, employment, accommodation, and buildings” by 2025.
Due to the expansive nature and implementation of the AODA standards, the AODA has embedded deadlines for compliance. The compliance deadline dates vary depending on the size of the organization and the industry sector. The upcoming AODA compliance deadlines are as follows:
AODA Compliance Report: Under the AODA, public organizations, not-for-profit organizations, and private businesses must complete an AODA compliance report. The AODA compliance report is a self-assessment of an organization’s status in terms of compliance with their provincial accessibility requirements. Further details regarding how to complete and access this report can be found here.
- December 31, 2019 – The designated public sector organizations under the AODA must file an Accessibility Compliance Report.
- December 31, 2020 – Private sector organizations with 20+ employees and not-for-profit organizations with 20+ employees must file an Accessibility Compliance Report.
Accessible Websites: Under the AODA, large (50+ employees) private and not-for profit organizations, and all public sector organizations are required to make their websites accessible. WCAG 2.0 is an internationally accepted standard for web accessibility developed by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), which the Ontario government has posted guidelines to assist Ontario employers with providing accessible websites. The guidelines can be found here.
- January 1, 2021 – Private sector and not-for-profit organization with 50+ employees or a public sector organization must ensure all public websites and web content posted after January 1, 2012 meets the WCAG 2.0 Level AA standard, other than live captions and pre-recorded audio descriptions (criterial 1.2.4 and 1.2.5).
Employers are encouraged to confirm their compliance with the AODA standards by the required dates.