The Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, 2005 (“AODA”) is designed to achieve complete accessibility throughout Ontario by 2025. Comprehensive changes are being rolled out in waves, adding new obligations on January 1 every year.
By January 1, 2014, most organizations are required to establish new accessibility policies, develop multi-year accessibility plans, and ensure websites and other online content are accessible to persons with disabilities, among other things. Large designated public sector organizations are further required to have additional supports in place for existing and prospective employees with disabilities.
Accessible Websites and Web Content
Designated public sector organizations and large private sector organizations are required, where practicable, to make their websites and web content conform with the World Wide Web Consortium Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0, which are available by clicking here.
Private sector organizations with less than 50 employees are not required to ensure websites and web content conform with the WCAG 2.0 guidelines.
Designated public sector organizations and large private sector organizations are required to develop policies governing how the organization will meet its legal obligations with respect to accessibility. These obligations are broader than those described under the Customer Service Standard (which addresses specific policies for dealing with members of the public or other individuals who may come into contact with the organization), and therefore should consider the other obligations under the AODA and must:
Small private sector organizations are required to develop the same policies, but are not required to put these in writing or make them publicly available.
Multi-Year Accessibility Plans
Designated public sector organizations and large private sector organizations are required to establish a Multi-Year Accessibility Plan which outlines the organization’s strategy to prevent and remove barriers and meets its legal requirements. This Plan must also:
Private sector organizations with less than 50 employees are not required to establish a multi-year accessibility plan.
Employees and Prospective Employees
All employers in both the public and the private sector will eventually be required to have in place a number of additional supports for existing and prospective employees. For example, when recruiting new employees or considering existing employees for advancement or lateral transfers, employers must:
In addition to ensuring that employees are provided, in an accessible format, all information required by the employee to perform his or her job, as well as all information generally available to employees, employers in both the public and private sector must also:
All affected organizations in both the public and the private sector will eventually be required to provide comprehensive training to all employees, volunteers, and anyone else who provides goods, services or facilities on behalf of the organization, as well as all persons who participate in developing the organization’s policies. This training must specifically address the requirements under the various accessibility standards as well as the Human Rights Code, as it relates to persons with disabilities.
If you have any questions about achieving compliance with the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, 2005, or any other questions relating to workplace law, please do not hesitate to contact a Mathews Dinsdale lawyer.
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