Employer Tools > Training > Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA)

Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA)

Are You an Ontario Employer? Make Sure You’re Compliant!

The Government of Ontario has established accessibility rules for businesses and non-profits to ensure that people of all abilities have the opportunity to participate fully in everyday life.

Why is the AODA and EnAbling Change important?

Nearly 1 in 7 Ontarians are persons with disabilities, and according to Ontario’s Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities, make up 8.8% of post-secondary students in 2015.

Yet, despite persons with disabilities representing a strategically valuable talent pool, only 7.6% of bio-economy companies had persons with disabilities on staff, a figure well below other industries according to BioTalent Canada’s labour market report, Sequencing the Data.

A 2007 Conference Board of Canada report indicated that job vacancies in Ontario are rising, and could reach 190,000 by 2020, meaning Ontario will be increasingly dependent on untapped talent pools, such as persons with disabilities.

Implementing accessibility standards helps to foster the flexibility, agility and innovation required by biotech companies to compete for business globally.

Resources:

Working Together
A video about how the Ontario Human Rights Code relates to people with disabilities.

Who do we benefit when we make Ontario accessible?
A video commemorating the 10th anniversary of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act; when we work together to make Ontario accessible, who do we benefit?

Making Accessibility Happen 
A handbook for municipal Accessibility Advisory Committees and a useful resource for municipalities to learn more about accessibility in Ontario.

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What is the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act?

Enacted in 2005, the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) was set to establish a process for developing and enforcing accessibility standards to ensure that people of all abilities have the opportunity to participate fully in everyday life, with a goal of making Ontario more accessible by 2025.

In 2017, businesses and non-profits with 20 or more employees, and public sector organizations must file an accessibility compliance report with the Government of Ontario.

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How do I know if my company needs to be compliant?

AODA accessibility compliance standards apply to all companies that:

  • Are in the public, non-profit and private sectors
  • Have at least one (1) employee** in Ontario
  • Are provincially regulated

**The Ontario Government considers an employee to be all full-time, part-time, seasonal and contract workers. With most employees, you:

  • pay wages or a salary
  • have control over the work assigned
  • have a right to control the details of the work

Do not count employees outside Ontario. Do not count volunteers or independent contractors, but you are responsible for ensuring that the services they provide on your behalf follow the rules of Ontario’s accessibility standards. You may need to ensure these individuals are trained to meet the requirements.

Resources:

AccessForward
Modules in multiple formats to help organizations train their employees and volunteers on the accessibility requirements that apply to their job duties and their organization.

Accessible customer service policy template
A template to help organizations develop policies, practices and procedures on providing accessible customer service for people with disabilities.

How to create accessibility policies
A template for private and non-profit organizations with 1 to 49 employees on how to create accessibility policies.

How to create an accessibility plan and policy
A guide and template on how to prepare accessibility policies and a multi-year plan. This is for private and non-profit organizations with 50 or more employees and for public sector organizations.

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What can I do to make sure I’m AODA compliant?

BioTalent Canada, funded in part by the Government of Ontario’s EnAbling Change Program, will promote and distribute tools and resources to help organizations within Ontario comply with accessibility standards, as well as work with provincial industry associations to host events across the province to educate and train employers.

Resources:

The Path to 2025: Ontario’s Accessibility Action Plan
Ontario’s plan to ensure the province remains on track to creating an accessible province in the decade ahead.

Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Annual Report 2014
The Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Annual Report looks at the progress being made towards an accessible Ontario by 2025.

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When do I have to have to file an Accessibility Compliance Report?

The reporting deadline of December 31, 2017, is the same for all sectors.

The following links provide full timelines for accessibility standards compliance:

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What is the penalty on an organization for being non-compliant or not filing reports?

Organizations that fail to submit an accessibility report, that do not complete the filing process, or answer “no” to some or all of the report questions will be subject to a review of their files by the Government of Ontario.

If an organization is found to be non-compliant with one or more of the requirements during an audit, the Government of Ontario will negotiate a “Return to Compliance Plan” and offer support to help the organization fully comply.

This plan sets a deadline. If an organization does not meet the deadline, they could face enforcement action. This could include:

  • A “Notice of Proposed Order” that tells an organization why they are not in compliance with the law and what they must do – within 30 days – to comply and avoid penalty.
  • An inspection of the organization.
  • A “Director’s Order” stating that an organization or individual must comply by submitting a report or providing other information as requested. This may include an administrative monetary penalty ranging from $200 to $15,000.
  • An organization has the right to request a review of a Director’s Order within 30 days or they can appeal directly to the License Appeal Tribunal (LAT) within 15 days.
  • If an organization fails to respond to a Director’s Order in any way within 30 days, they may be faced with fines and prosecution involving court intervention.
  • Fines can be levied by a provincial court up to $50,000 per day for an individual and $100,000 per day for a corporation.

Resources:

How to complete your accessibility compliance report: businesses and non-profit organizations
How businesses and non-profits in Ontario must complete an accessibility compliance report.

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What are the accessibility standards that are in place and how do they apply to my organization?

The Ontario Government has identified five areas of daily life and has established accessibility standards to remove barriers within them. The five areas are as follows:

  1. Customer Service
  2. Employment
  3. Information and Communications
  4. *Transportation
  5. *Design of Public Spaces

*Not relevant for the biotechnology sector, for more information, visit The Government of Ontario’s website.

Customer Service

  • As an organization, you will need to develop and put in place a policy that outlines how you will provide goods, services or facilities to people with disabilities.
  • Your policy must ensure that all staff and volunteers are trained on what is expected of them when they communicate with customers with disabilities.
  • The policies must be documented and made available to customers, on request, in an accessible format.

Resources:

Marketing with Accessibility in Mind 
A website featuring pre-recorded webinars, a best-practices guide, and a short video for marketers on the benefits of having accessible websites.

Planning Accessible Events: So Everyone Feels Welcome 
A booklet with many low-cost and no-cost things to do to create more inclusive events.

Serve-Ability 
An online course that will help organizations train their members who work with customers or create policies and procedures on how to interact with people with different disabilities.

A Planning Guide for Accessible Conferences 
A guide with practical information on how to identify, remove and prevent barriers when planning a conference.

Employment

  • Employers must establish processes to ensure that recruitment is accessible.
  • Employers must provide workplace information and communications in accessible formats; individual accommodation plans to accommodate persons with disabilities; and return-to-work processes for employees who have been absent due to a disability.

Resources:

AccessibilityWorks 
A website that features webinars, information sessions and an online toolkit to help small and medium-sized businesses understand accessibility requirements.

EnAbling Nonprofits Ontario 
Resources, webinar recordings, and case studies to help Non-Profit organizations understand how to make their organizations accessible to persons of all ages and abilities.

Handbook for Accessible Employment 
A short guide with checklists, samples and templates to help small organizations implement the accessibility standard for employment.

Employers’ Toolkit 
A comprehensive resource designed to help organizations make their workplaces accessible to people with disabilities.

Harold Jeepers Video Series 
Short videos that follow the adventures of manager, Harold, and HR professional, Sonja, as they make Jiffy Brothers Industries an accessible workplace.

Information and Communications

  • Organizations will have to provide accessible emergency and public safety information upon request.
  • Organizations must provide accessible formats or communications support, upon request.
  • New websites will also be subject to the accessibility requirements.

Resources:

Accessible Campus 
A website with resources and templates to help training institutions and educators meet the requirements of the AODA.

*BIA Handbook on the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) 
A guide that offers tips, best practices and resources to help Ontario’s business improvement areas implement the AODA.
* Business Improvement Association (BIA)

Guide to Accessible Public Engagement 
A guide providing the resources and best practices organizations need to develop and support accessible public engagement.

Guide for web developers 
A guide to help website developers understand how to create accessible websites and web content.

Guide to hiring a web developer 
A guide to help organizations through the process of assessing and hiring a web developer.

Accessible Digital Office Document Project 
A website to help users create accessible office documents and choose accessible office programs that one’s organization can use.

AChecker: Website accessibility checker 
An evaluation tool designed to help developers ensure that their websites and web content can be accessed by everyone.

Professional Web Accessibility Auditing Made Easy 
This free intensive e-course will help web content editors and web developers to quickly build the knowledge, skills, and practical experience needed to support an organization’s web accessibility compliance efforts.

Access-Ability: A practical handbook on accessible graphic design 
A handbook focusing on the principles of accessible graphic design as applied to printed messages, websites and physical environments.

Access-Ability: A practical handbook on accessible web design 
A handbook aimed at educating graphic design and web design professionals to effectively deliver accessible web design solutions that meet AODA requirements.

Enabling Access Through Web Renewal 
A handbook to help public sector organizations with 50+ employees take necessary steps to make their websites accessible.

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Who can I contact if I would like more information or support for AODA compliance?

The Ontario Government encourages you to contact them should you have any questions about AODA compliance. The following is a list of ways to find out about AODA compliance news, information and upcoming deadlines and events:

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