As a business owner, building owner, or tenant in one of the buildings we manage, we thought we’d pass along some important information about upcoming accessibility requirements that all businesses should target to meet. Welcome to The Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA)
The Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) is a law that was established in 2005 by the government of Ontario to develop and enforce accessibility standards for government, businesses, nonprofits, and public sector organizations.
The goal of AODA is for the province of Ontario to be accessible to people with disabilities by 2025. Compliance is being phased in over a number of years, so if you have not done anything to meet these requirements, then you should probably take action sooner than later.
Read all about the Act and its requirements here.
As a brief summary, the Act sets Accessibility Standards that government, businesses, non-profits and public sector organizations must follow to become more accessible. They help organizations identify and remove barriers to improve accessibility for people with disabilities in 5 areas of daily life, namely Customer Service, Information and Communications (including websites), Transportation, Employment, and Design of Public Spaces. In general, the AODA is mandated to assist and require organizations to recognize, prevent, or remove disability barriers. The AODA standards apply to all organizations with one or more employees in Ontario; however the specific requirements under the AODA do differ based on the organization type and size, so you should be aware what criteria your organization needs to meet.
The end of 2020 is one of the compliance deadlines, and you should recognize that the following requirements are fast approaching:
AODA Compliance Report: This 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. For the December 31, 2020 deadline, private sector organizations with 20+ employees and not-for-profit organizations with 20+ employees must file an Accessibility Compliance Report.
Breaking News: For businesses and non-profits with 20 or more employees, the deadline to file an accessibility compliance report has been extended to June 30, 2021. This buys you a little bit of extra time, although your actions should be put in place well before the reporting deadline.
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. For the January 1, 2021 deadline, 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 (criteria 1.2.4 and 1.2.5).
Organizations needing to meet these requirements are encouraged to confirm their compliance with the AODA standards by the required dates.