Most organizations are now familiar with the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (“AODA”) and especially the Accessibility Standards for Customer Service, which became effective for most providers of goods and services on January 1, 2012. The requirements under the AODA are being gradually phased in with full compliance targeted for 2025. As of January 1, 2014, there are additional obligations that private sector organizations with 50 or more employees must meet under the Integrated Accessibility Standards of the AODA.
Establishment of Accessibility Policies
Organizations with 50 or more employees must develop, implement and maintain policies governing how the organization achieves or will achieve compliance with the obligations under the AODA. The policy must include a statement of organizational commitment to meet the accessibility needs of persons with disabilities in a timely manner. Organizations must prepare one or more written documents describing the policy, must make the documents publically available, and must provide them in an accessible format upon request.
Organizations with 50 or more employees must establish, implement, maintain and document a multi-year accessibility plan that outlines the organization’s strategy to prevent and remove barriers and meet its obligations under the AODA. The accessibility plan must be posted on the organization’s website, provided in an accessible format upon request and must be reviewed and updated at least once every five years.
Organizations with 50 or more employees are now required to have regard to the accessibility for persons with disabilities when designing, procuring or acquiring self-service kiosks.
Accessible Websites and Web Content
Organizations with 50 or employees are now required to make their internet websites and web content conform with the World Wide Web Consortium Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 at Level A. Unless it is not practicable, this requirement applies to websites and web content (including web-based applications) that an organization controls directly or through a contractual relationship that allows for modification of the product, as well as to web content published on the website after January 1, 2012.
The requirement to file an online accessibility report regarding compliance with the AODA by the end of each calendar year continues to be required for organizations with 50 or more employees.