Accessibility in Ontario
Article by: Sandra Linton | Bio
Updated: June 16, 2014
This article is provided for information purposes only and is not legal advice. For assistance in interpreting the legislation or related regulations, contact a legal advisor.
The number of people with disabilities is increasing
According to the Ontario government’s Ministry of Economic Development, Trade and Employment web site, one in seven people in Ontario have a disability. With Ontario’s aging population, that number will grow in the next 15 to 20 years. Those with no or low vision, hearing impairments, cognitive disabilities, motor impairments as well as other types of disabilities will need to be able to access web sites, digital documents, buildings, and transportation and receive appropriate customer service.
Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA)
With the passing of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA), Ontario has committed to moving towards an accessible and inclusive society by 2025. The legislation encompasses accessibility in key areas including Customer Service, Information and Communications, Employment, Built Environment and Transportation.
For private or non-profit organizations with 20 or more employees, an accessibility report was required to be submitted by December 31, 2012 indicating that the organization has met the Customer Service Standard.
Accessible customer service
Beginning January 1, 2012, accessible customer service requirements came into effect for all Ontario businesses and organizations with one or more employee. Businesses and organizations are required to create an accessibility plan and to train their staff.
The Ministry of Economic Development, Trade and Employment has published a useful Getting Started Guide for Accessible Customer Service on the Ministry web site.
Free accessible customer service training
An on-line, accessible customer service training course called Serve-Ability is available on the Ministry of Community and Social Services web site at no charge. It takes approximately 45 minutes to complete.
Accessibility plans for private and non-profit organizations
As of January 1, 2014, private and non-profit organizations with 50+ employees in Ontario must have a multi-year plan to meet accessibility requirements and have policies in place to help achieve accessibility goals. Communicating plans and goals to employees and customers is an important part of this process.
The Integrated Accessibility Standards Regulation (IASR) requires organizations to prepare an accessibility plan. Compliance dates began in 2012 (for the Government of Ontario), Public Sector Organizations in 2013 and 2014 (depending on size) and private sector and non-profit organizations of 50+ employees in 2014 (source: Ministry of Economic Development, Trade and Employment). The plans will need to be reviewed and updated every five years.
As of January 1, 2014, all businesses and non-profits with 50+ employees must now make new websites accessible, where a web site has a new address, not just new pages. This can include a web site that is going through a significant refresh. These web sites must meet the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 Level A, a set of guidelines referenced in accessibility legislation around the world.
Businesses of all sizes will eventually be subject to the legislation and knowledge about accessibility and requirements of the legislation and related regulations will be essential.
Copyright 2014 Avantix Learning Inc.
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