Accessibility in Ontario
In Ontario, the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (the “AODA”) develops, implements and enforces accessibility standards. All levels of government, businesses, non-profits and public sector organizations must comply with the AODA’s accessibility standards. Ontario’s accessibility standards help businesses and organizations to identify and remove barriers to improve accessibility for persons with disabilities in five areas:
- customer service
- access to information
- public transportation
- outdoor public spaces
While AODA requirements differ depending on the size and type of organization, there are several upcoming AODA compliance deadlines that may apply to your organization.
AODA Compliance Reports
Private businesses and not-for-profit organizations with 20 or more employees are required to complete and file an accessibility compliance report by 30 June 2021. Designated public sector organizations must submit an accessibility compliance report by 31 December 2020.
The AODA compliance report is a self-assessment of an organization’s status in terms of compliance with all provincial accessibility requirements. Detailed guidelines for completing the compliance report can be found here.
Accessible Website Requirement
By 1 January 2021, private or non-profit organizations with 50+ employees and designated public sector organizations must take steps to ensure that their websites and web content is accessible. This means ensuring that their public websites and web content posted after January 1, 2012 comply with the World Wide Web Consortium’s WCAG 2.0 Level AA standard, which is an internationally accepted standard for web accessibility. Note that live captions and pre-recorded audio descriptions are excluded.
The Government of Ontario has published detailed guidelines to assist employers in complying with the website accessibility standards. These guidelines can be found here.
Takeaways for Employers
It is important to ensure that your organization is compliant with the AODA. Failure to do so can result in significant penalties. Every individual who is guilty of an offence under the AODA may be liable to a fine of up to $50,000 for each day on which the offence occurs. Corporations may be liable to a fine of up to $100,000 for each day on which an offence under the AODA occurs.
For the most up-to-date information, please check our website. We would like to thank Emily La Mantia for contributing this article. For more information on these articles or any other issues involving labour and employment matters in Canada, please contact Robert Bayne (Partner) of Filion Wakely Thorup Angeletti at email@example.com or visit www.filion.on.ca.