In 2005, the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) introduced the need for an accessibility policy and accessibility plan. Eight years later, public sector organizations that employed more than 50 people developed and implemented the first accessibility policies and plans; thereby becoming the leading sector to comply with AODA.
An in-place accessibility policy will help in identifying an organizations commitment to reaching its accessibility goals. Private and non-profit organizations with more than 50 employees and all public-sector organizations must have an accessibility policy in writing. These sectors must also make their policy available to the public.
An accessibility plan works with the policy. The plan outlines what steps an organization will take to prevent and remove barriers to employment, and when it will do so.
If your organization does not fall under the sectors that had to comply, it is still beneficial to have a policy and an effective plan in place for accessibility. An accessibility policy and plan provides your employees with the knowledge and training on how to provide accessible customer service. By 2025, all organizations in Ontario will be expected to be compliant with AODA.
To be compliant with AODA, your organization must have completed the following three things:
- Develop a statement of commitment to accessibility, and make it publicly available
- Create a written accessibility policy, and make it publicly available
- Create written multi-year accessibility plans, update them at least once every five years, and post them on their website, if your organization has a plan
The policy and plan can be flexible to best fit your organization?s culture and business practices.
Benefits of Having an Accessibility Policy and Plan
Putting an accessibility policy and a plan in place will assist your organization in becoming inclusive and diverse. It will strengthen how you interact and provide goods or services to your customers/clients. Furthermore, your organization will benefit from increased revenue. It is estimated that by 2025 both the aging and disabled population will represent 536 billion dollars in income. Both populations will spend about 9.6 billion dollars on retail and 1.6 billion on tourism. Without accessibility for all Ontarians, it will be impossible for people with disabilities to support inaccessible organizations, resulting in lost revenue potential.