The Accessibilities for Ontarians with Disabilities Act brought changes into effect on January 1, 2014. These AODA obligations are reviewed below.
Obligation to Prepare and Post a Multi-Year Accessibility Plan
As of January 1, 2014, most private sector employer organizations with 50 or more employees in Ontario (a “large organization”) had additional AODA obligations. They were required to:
- establish, implement, maintain and document a multi-year accessibility plan. This plan should outline the organization’s strategy to prevent and remove barriers and meet its requirements under Integrated Accessibility Standards, O. Reg. 191/11 (the Regulation);
- post the accessibility plan on its website, if any, and provide the plan in an accessible format upon request. “Accessible formats” may include large print, recorded audio and electronic formats, braille and other formats usable by persons with disabilities; and
- review and update the accessibility plan at least once every five years.
The Regulation does not prescribe a process for establishing an accessibility plan. Here is a 3-step process to consider:
1. Assemble a team.
2. Assess barriers. Here are types of barriers that can exist:
- Attitudinal barriers are those that discriminate against people with disabilities;
- Information or communications barriers happen when a person can’t easily understand information;
- Technology barriers occur when a technology can’t be modified to support various assistive devices;
- Organizational barriers are an organization’s policies, practices or procedures that discriminate against people with disabilities;
- Architectural and physical barriers are features of buildings or spaces that cause problems for people with disabilities.
3. Develop accessibility policies and an accessibility plan. For more information on the policies that should have been prepared by January 1, 2012, click here.
Obligation to make Websites Accessible
In addition, as of January 1, 2014, the AODA obligations for websites changed. A large organization’s new internet websites and web content on those sites must now conform with the World Wide Web Consortium Recommendation, dated December 2008, entitled “Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0”.
An “internet website” means a collection of related web pages, images, videos or other digital assets that are addressed relative to a common Uniform Resource Identifier and is accessible to the public. A “new internet website” means either a website with a new domain name or a website with an existing domain name undergoing a significant refresh.
1. A private sector employer with 50 or more employees should have prepared and posted a multi-year accessibility plan on its website by now. An employer can be fined $100,000 a day for not complying with this law. Directors can be fined up to $50,000 per day.
2. If the employer has not posted an accessibility plan then someone within the organization should immediately be assigned the task of preparing the accessibility plan.
3. The employer should speak with its IT consultant (or IT department) to make sure that its web content and any significant refresh of the website complies with WCAG 2.0 Level A.
If you have any questions about your organization’s AODA obligations, please contact Doug MacLeod at 416 317-9894 or at [email protected] at your convenience.
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