Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA)
Governments around the world are legislating Digital Accessibility Laws, but more importantly consumers are demanding a better user experience. Do not risk your business success by ignoring societal trends. Technology is changing the way we interact, and smarter consumers will favour those organizations that adopt a user centred design strategy. Users desire flexibility that allows a wide diversity of user devices, and a responsive interface that customizes the style and format for their environment. This trend increasingly exposes organizations to the threat and cost of litigation, public relations issues, and loss of government contracts. Several private companies have been sued for not having accessible Web sites and have been forced to pay hefty fines and agree to re-design their sites to make them more accessible. To learn more read the Internet use by persons with disabilities: Moving Forward, Internet Society Paper, November 2012.
Recognizing the history of discrimination against persons with disabilities, the province of Ontario has taken a global leadership role in setting legislative Accessibility Standards for an inclusive society. The purpose of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) is to benefit all Ontarians by developing, implementing and enforcing accessibility standards in order to achieve accessibility for Ontarians with disabilities with respect to goods, services, facilities, accommodation, employment, buildings, structures and premises on or before January 1, 2025. The AODA legislation consists of five Standards.
- Ontario Built Environment Standard: Ontario’s Building Code has been amended to include enhancements to accessibility in buildings. As of January 1, 2015, new construction and renovations will be subject to updated accessibility requirements. The Accessibility Standards for the Built Environment focus on removing barriers in both public spaces and buildings.
- Ontario Customer Service Standard: Accessible customer service is not about ramps or automatic door openers. It is about understanding that people with disabilities may have different needs. It can be as easy as asking
How can I help?and making small changes to how you serve customers with disabilities.
- Ontario Employment Standard: The Accessibility Standard for Employment will help Ontario businesses and organizations make accessibility a regular part of finding, hiring and supporting employees with disabilities.
- Ontario Information and Communications Standard: The Accessibility Standard for Information and Communications will help Ontario businesses and organizations make their information accessible for people with disabilities.
- Ontario Transportation Standard: The Accessibility Standard for Transportation will make it easier for everyone to travel in Ontario.
AODA Compliance And Enforcement
The Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) is an act created by the Ontario government with the goal of removing barriers for activities and opportunities for disabled individuals by 2025. AODA compliance will help you better serve Ontarians with a disability and will reflect positively on your business. The core principles of the AODA (independence, dignity, integration, and equality of opportunity for people with disabilities) are aligned with the core values of Non-profit organizations.
All organizations with 1 or more employees in Ontario must comply with the AODA. The AODA applies to all municipalities in the province, as well as ministries and agencies of the Ontario government, non-profits, and businesses. The AODA includes mandatory requirements and deadlines which began as of January 1, 2010. Businesses and non-profits with 20 or more employees and public sector organizations must complete an Accessibility Compliance Report. The AODA allows for enforcement of the standards through inspections, compliance orders and administrative penalties. These are being done on a regular basis. The Accessibility Directorate of Ontario is responsible for the enforcement of the Act and uses all of the provisions available to enforce the Act. The AODA allows for monetary penalties for any violation to the Act. The maximum penalties under the AODA include:
- A person and unincorporated organizations that are guilty of a major offence under this Act can be fined up to $50,000 dollars for each day the violation continues.
- A corporation that is guilty can be fined up to $100,000 per day.
- Directors and officers of a corporation with fiduciary responsibility who are guilty are liable to a fine of up to $50,000 a day.
The Ontario Business Strategy
The Ontario’s Accessibility Standards Advisory Council (ASAC) advises government on improving accessibility for people with disabilities, and has the power to Review Ontario’s existing accessibility standards, and develop new standards. The ASAC reports to the Minister of Economic Development, Employment and Infrastructure. The Ministry of Economic Development, Employment and Infrastructure supports a strong, innovative economy that can provide jobs, opportunities and prosperity for all Ontarians.
The Martin Prosperity Institute report
Releasing Constraints: Projecting the Economic Impacts of Increased Accessibility in Ontario,
examines the potential economic impacts of increased accessibility in Ontario. the report finds that improving inclusivity and accessibility in Ontario provides both economic opportunity and benefits. Projected economic impacts of Increased Accessibility in Ontario, a more accessible Ontario, will accelerate the growth of prosperity in the province, by increased efficiency, productivity, and creation of new intellectual property enhancing the province’s global competitiveness. some of the benefits include up to $9.6 billion in retail spending and $1.5 billion in new tourism spending.
Accessibility in the Ontario Public Service: Leading the Way Forward
Bill C-81: The Accessible Canada Act
Accessibility in Canada is about creating communities, workplaces and services that enable everyone to participate fully in society without barriers:
Making an accessible Canada for people with disabilities, Employment and Social Development Canada.
By working together with provinces and territories and the public, private and not-for-profit sectors, the Government of Canada can work to ensure equality, inclusion and full participation in society for all Canadians. With the Accessible Canada Act, an Act to Ensure a Barrier-free Canada, the Government of Canada is fulfilling its mandate promise to introduce new accessibility legislation. The Government of Canada will continue to work with Canadians with disabilities across the country towards an accessible Canada. The Government of Canada has introducing Bill C-81, the Accessible Canada Act. Bill C-81 will benefit all Canadians, especially Canadians with disabilities, by helping create a barrier-free Canada. Canada scores a 64 overall out of 100, according to the World Accessibility Map.
The Canadian Survey on Disability Reports,
A profile of persons with disabilities among Canadians aged 15 years or older conducted by the Government Of Canada, provides indicators of Well-being in Canada. This national survey gathers information about people whose daily activities are limited by a physical, mental, or other health-related condition or problem. This report shows that about 1 in 5 Canadians, or 6.2 million Canadians, report having a disability. The percentage of Canadians with disabilities increased with age.
The Canadian Human Rights Commission’s 2017 Annual Report to Parliament states that 59% of the complaints received by the CHRC were disability related, and 39% of those were related to mental health issues. As we marked the 40th Anniversary of the Canadian Human Rights Act in 2017, we looked back on some of the individual actions that changed the lives of so many, for the better.
Each organization, each person, each individual, has the power to make a difference in people’s lives and to contribute to making Canada a more inclusive, greater country. Every employee at the Commission is an example of this working together to bring about change. Each of their unique efforts and contributions has helped move human rights forward. I am proud to lead this team of human rights defenders, and I know that the work we are doing now is helping to shape the next 40 years of human rights in Canada, for the better. One story at a time.
Marie-Claude Landry, Chief Commissioner Canadian Human Rights Commission:
In the past two decades, and even more so in recent years, there has been an important paradigm shift affecting the development of new legislation and policies concerning persons with disabilities (PWD), from segregation to integration, from institutionalization to mainstreaming, from the medical model of disability being viewed as a condition to be treated, to the social model of disability focusing on the removal of disabling barriers in the environment that hinder full participation in society.
A Literature Review: Recruitment of Persons with Disabilities Prepared by Equity and Diversity Directorate, Policy Branch, attempts to show what the main barriers are to the recruitment of PWD in both the public and private sectors, in Canada and abroad; to determine what strategies, best practices, tools and resources have been developed to reach this talented labour pool and to discuss what actions for improvement can be drawn from this review.
Studies, surveys, focus groups and other means have been used to identify challenges faced by employers and persons with disabilities (PWD) in the job market, in Canada and abroad, in both the private and public sectors. There are several barriers and issues that have been consistently brought up through the years such as myths and stereotypes and there are some new obstacles that have emerged recently, such as new communication vehicles and inaccessible Web sites. Some of the main job search and recruitment barriers faced by both job-seekers and employers were identified in the literature review. The findings from this review indicate that PWD face similar recruitment challenges in Canada, the US, the UK and Australia. The key conclusions from this literature review include a need for attitudinal change and awareness for both managers and employees, development of a strong business case used to promote the employment of PWD, greater access to relevant job skills and workplace-based training for PWD, and better information and coordination of services for recruiting and retaining PWD.
In 2019 the Ontario government passed the Simpler, Faster, Better Services Act, 2019, S.O. 2019, c. 7, Sched. 56 to improve accessible digital communications. The purpose of this Act is to promote the transformation of government services in Ontario and their delivery in order to allow for:
- (a) access by Ontarians to high-quality digital services from anywhere and at any time;
- (b) digital services that are well designed and operate effectively;
- (c) better access to useful government data by Ontarians; and
- (d) the best use of digital resources and data by broader public sector organizations to develop and implement policies, programs and services.
Learn About The AODA History
Learn all about the history, strategies, goals, gains, and future priorities of Ontario’s vibrant and tenacious grassroots disability accessibility movement, from the Late 1970s to Early 2014. In January and early February 2014, David Lepofsky, chair of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance, served as a visiting Roy McMurtry Clinical Fellow at the Osgoode Hall Law School at Toronto’s York University. As part of this Fellowship, he delivered a series of 12 lectures in different classes at the Law School and elsewhere around the University, on a full range of different topics concerning the long campaign up to early 2014, to make Ontario fully accessible to all persons with disabilities.
From 1994 to 2005, David Lepofsky chaired the Ontarians with Disabilities Act Committee. The ODA Committee led the non-partisan province-wide campaign in Ontario from 1994 to 2005 to win the enactment of new accessibility legislation. From 2009 to the present, he has chaired the successor Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance. The AODA Alliance is the non-partisan community coalition that campaigns to get the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act effectively implemented and enforced. For many of these lectures, the audience was comprised of law students. However the lectures’ content is designed to be easily and readily enjoyed and used by anyone, whether or not you are in Ontario or Canada, whether or not you have studied law, and whether or not you know anything about disability accessibility issues.
Watch David Lepofsky’s On-line Captioned Lecture Series Delivered in Winter 2014
Curb Cuts and the Disability Movement: 99% Invisible, EPISODE 308, May 2018