As employers well know by now, in 2005 the Ontario Government started on a 20-year legislative journey, passing the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, 2005 (“AODA”), with the objective of achieving accessibility for all Ontarians by 2025. The legislation covers five broad areas, establishing accessibility standards related to (1) information and communications; (2) employment; (3) public spaces; (4) customer service; and (5) transportation.
This time last year we reported on the accessibility standards and deadlines that both small and large organizations would be required to meet in 2015. That post can be found here. Following the AODA phased implementation plan, the next set of deadlines are fast approaching. Employers must once again ensure they are prepared to meet the obligations set out in the Accessibility Standards for Customer Service, and the Integrated Accessibility Standards Regulations. The requirements to meet will vary depending on the size of your organization.
The following accessibility requirements take effect January 1, 2016:
Organizations with 49 Employees or Less
- Small businesses and start-ups will be responsible for ensuring that all employees, volunteers and other persons who provide goods, services or facilities on behalf of the organization, are trained on those requirements of the Integrated Accessibility Standards Regulation and the Human Rights Code that are relevant to the duties of their position.
- Under the accessibility area of “information and communications”, employers must ensure that any methods in place for receiving and responding to feedback from the public (polls, surveys, comment cards, etc.), are available in formats or alternatives accessible to persons with disabilities. Additionally, employers will be responsible for making the public aware of such formats, when available.
Organizations with 50 or more Employees
- Organizations will be responsible, in the area of “information and communications,” for ensuring that all information provided to the public, including print documents, and information provided on websites or handheld devices, is made available in an accessible format, upon request. This includes emergency and public safety information. Such information must be provided in a timely manner and at no greater cost than that normally charged. In addition, organizations must notify the public about the availability of such accessible formats of information and communications.
- Large organizations will have to comply with Part III of the Integrated Accessibility Standards regulation on Employment Standards. The requirements set out in this Part apply only to employees and not to volunteers or other non-paid individuals. Every organization must do the following on an ongoing basis:
- notify current and prospective employees that the organization accommodates the needs of persons with disabilities, e.g. in job postings, and internal employee policies;
- make all employment practice information (including information needed for employees to perform their jobs and general information available to all employees) available in accessible formats upon request;
- have a documented process for developing individual accommodation and return-to-work plans for employees, and document the creation of any such individual accommodation plans, when created; and
- take into account accessibility needs of employees with disabilities when implementing performance management, career development, advancement or redeployment processes.In addition to the deadlines falling in January 2016, other accessibility standards will come into effect over the coming years. Organizations should be aware of these additional obligations, as significant penalties can be imposed for non-compliance.
In addition to the deadlines falling in January 2016, other accessibility standards will come into effect over the coming years. Organizations should be aware of these additional obligations, as significant penalties can be imposed for non-compliance.