The Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (“AODA”) has been around for a while. So what’s the big deal now?
For starters, recent Freedom of Information Act requests have demonstrated that about 70% of Ontario private sector employers with 20 or more employees have not yet complied with required self-reporting requirements to demonstrate that they are compliant with the AODA. Perhaps more importantly, most private sector employers with 20 or more employees don’t even realize that they have certain obligations under the AODA as of January 1, 2014.
While reference should be had to the legislation for particulars as to the imminent requirements, the following should serve as a high level overview of what needs to be done by certain employers.
1. Public sector employers with 20 or more employees are to file a compliance report with the Ontario government by December 31, 2013, confirming that they are currently compliant with the Accessibility Standards for Customer Service. The filing can be done online.
2. By January 1, 2014, those same employers must also develop policies governing how they will meet their requirements under the Integrated Accessibility Standards. In addition, a multi-year accessiblity plan must be developed, posted on the organizations’ websites, and provided in an accessible format upon request.
3. For employers with 50 or more employees in Ontario that are launching a new website or undertaking a significant website refresh after January 1, 2014, the website is required to conform to the World Wide Web Consortium Web Content Accessbility Guidelines 2.0 Level A unless an exception applies or the company can demonstrate that meeting the guidelines is not practical.
Because most Ontario businesses are not compliant with the AODA, the Ontario government has begun issuing notices of non-compliance and has indicated that it intends to pursue businesses which are non-responsive.
For further information, see the Ontario government’s website on AODA requirements: http://www.mcss.gov.on.ca/en/mcss/programs/accessibility/