The purpose of the Access for Ontarians With Disabilities Act (AODA) is to “create a Province where everybody who lives or visits can participate fully.” The five standards of the Act are being phased in over a number of years, beginning in January, 2012, and will impact all employers in the province to some degree.
TheCustomer Service Standard required that, by December 31, 2012, all employers were to have created an accessible customer service plan, and to have trained their employees on how to assist customers with disabilities. In addition, employers with twenty or more employees are to keep a written copy of the plan, let customers know it is available, keep a training log, and file a compliance report by December 31, 2012.
The Employment Standard required all employers to provide individualized workplace emergency response information to employees, where necessary, by January 1, 2012. Other requirements are to be phased in for private and non-profit organizations beginning in 2016 and 2017, and will apply to hiring and human resources practices.
The Information and Communications Standard required that all employers make their emergency procedures or public safety information accessible to people with disabilities on request, as of January 1, 2012. Further requirements, such as making feedback processes and information accessible will be phased in beginning in 2015.
The Transportation Standard applies to organizations providing public transportation services. Requirements are being phased in between 2011 and 2017
The Built Environment Standard will require companies with fifty or more employees, when building or renovating outdoor eating areas, play spaces, trails, etc., to make them accessible beginning in 2017.
While the Act may sound daunting, it doesn’t have to be: especially for small employers. Making printed information available for customers with a visual impairment may be as simple as reading it to them, and the Ministry has provided an e-learning site that will help you to train your employees.
The Ministry also provides guides, templates, and other information on its website.
Ontario Ministry for Seniors and Accessibility: https://www.ontario.ca/page/ministry-seniors-accessibility
Ontario AODA Site: http://www.aoda.ca/