If you haven’t already, it is time to take note of the Accessibility for Ontarian’s with Disabilities Act (the “Act”). The Act’s purpose is to achieve accessibility for Ontarians with disabilities with respect to goods, services, facilities, accommodation, employment, buildings, structures and premises by 2025. To achieve this goal, all organizations in Ontario with one or more employees are required to comply with the Act. The requirements that your organization must meet—and the deadline they must meet them by—will depend on the size and type of your organization.
Why should you be taking note of the Act now? Notably, all private sector and non-profit organizations with 20 or more employees are required to file an “Accessibility Compliance Report” in 2017. The Accessibility Compliance Report will require these organizations to confirm that they have met all of their obligations under the Act. Further, while such organizations with less than 20 employees do not need to file these Accessibility Compliance Reports, they still must comply with the Act. The Accessibility Directorate of Ontario has been conducting spot checks of organizations that are not required to file Accessibility Compliance Reports to confirm that they are, nevertheless, complying with the Act.
In short, if you haven’t done so already, it is time to confirm what your obligations are under the Act and take the steps necessary to comply with them. Some examples of obligations under the Act that apply to most private sector and non-profit organizations with between 1 and 49 employees are as follows:
Accessible Customer Service – By January 1, 2012, organizations were to have been providing accessible customer service.
Accessibility Policies – By January 1, 2015, “accessibility policies” setting out the organization’s practices and procedures with respect to accessibility were to have been created.
Employee Training – By January 1, 2016, all employees and volunteers were to have been trained on the accessibility requirements that apply to their jobs and to the organization. Dependent on the size of the organization, it may be required to keep a record of such training.
Public Information – As of January 1, 2017, organizations must provide their public information in an accessible format when requested.
Employment Practices – As of January 1, 2017, organizations must make their employment hiring, retention and career development opportunities accessible.
Employment Practices – As of January 1, 2018, if you build new or redevelop existing public spaces (such as service counters, waiting areas with fixed seating or parking lots), you must comply with specific accessibility guidelines.
This is only a snapshot of the obligations required under the Act. Other obligations range from making self-serve kiosks accessible to making it easy for people with disabilities to provide feedback when asked. Feeling overwhelmed? To assist you, the Government of Ontario has a comprehensive website that sets out a timeline for your organization to follow. You can access this webpage at www.ontario.ca/page/accessibility-laws.
Stephanie Lalonde is an Associate with Brazeau Seller Law. She practices in the areas of Wills, Estates and Tax Law. Stephanie can be reached at 613-237-4000 Ext. 272 or firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information about Stephanie, please visit www.brazeauseller.com.
Disclaimer and Cautionary Note
The foregoing provides only an overview and does not constitute legal advice or establish a lawyer-client relationship with the authors or Brazeau Seller Law. Readers are cautioned against making any decisions based on this material alone. Rather, specific legal advice should be obtained from a qualified lawyer.