The Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act – What You Need to Know
Ensuring that your workplace is accessible to people with disabilities is not simply the ‘right thing to do’ – it is also the law. In 2005, the government of Ontario passed the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (“AODA”) with the expressed purpose of removing the barriers to participation that people with disabilities face in Ontario. AODA is another legislative step to ensure that people with disabilities can fully and meaningfully participate in all facets of our society. As an Ontario employer, you are legally accountable to your workers (including permanent, casual, full-time and part-time employees and contractors) not only under human rights legislation, but also under AODA.
AODA applies to organizations of all sizes in Ontario’s public and private sectors. The Integrated Accessibility Standard, which is a regulation under AODA, establishes accessibility compliance requirements under five key areas: 1) information and communications; 2) transportation; 3) the design of public spaces; 4) customer service; and 5) employment. AODA has phased-in compliance timelines to give organizations the opportunity to incorporate the accessibility compliance requirements into their operations.
AODA’s Employment Standard requires employers to implement accessible employment strategies and practices in the areas of recruitment and selection, workplace accommodation, performance management, and retention. The compliance dates for the Employment Standard are staggered depending on the size of the workplace and sector: a number of key activity deadlines have passed with still more deadlines in future.