Accessibility for Ontarians with Disability Act (AODA)
By Mark S. Anshan
In June 2005, the Ontario Legislature adopted the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA), which established standards for people with disabilities to receive goods and services from companies and organizations. The Act and its regulations apply to all businesses – private and non profit – that have at least one employee. Accordingly, non profit organizations that have either full or part time employees or on contract are subject to the Act.
Although many large businesses, non profits and charities have complied with or are in the process of complying with the Act, many have not yet complied.
There are several requirements for complying with the Act and those that are relevant for non profits and charities are:
- Adopting a policy that includes practices and procedures setting out how goods and services will be provided to people with disabilities.
- Individuals accessing an organizations services and purchasing goods must be permitted to use personal assistive/medical devices.
- Communications with persons with a disabilities must be undertaken in a way that is responsive to the disability so that the person is able to understand and receive information about the goods and services.
- All staff must be trained on how to provide accessible customer service. Volunteers and contractors may need training as well if they will be interacting with persons with disabilities.
- Allow people with disabilities to bring a guide dog or service animal with them to your premises, unless otherwise prohibited by law.
- Permit people with disabilities who require a support person to bring that person with them. An organization may decide to waive or lower the fee for the support person, if necessary.
Organizations and businesses with twenty or more employees are also required to prepare written policies, practices and procedures. Smaller organizations and businesses need to develop such policies, practices and procedures and communicate them to all employees, but don’t have to have them written down. Organizations and businesses with twenty or more employees also need to file regular compliance reports.
There are professional consultants who assist organizations to comply with the Act. A first step, of course, is to understand the details of what is required and undertake the steps necessary to comply.
For further information on the Act and its requirements and what it means for your organization or for referral to professional consultants to assist with completing the requirements or filing the reports to the government, please contact Mark S. Anshan firstname.lastname@example.org 416-900-5572 x15 or any member of our firm.