Currently, the AODA only has five standards that organizations must follow to become more accessible to Ontarians with disabilities. Committees are in the process of developing more standards to prevent or remove accessibility barriers that current standards do not address. One of the standards that does not exist yet is a healthcare standard. A committee has been created to make recommendations about what a healthcare standard should include. In the meantime, however, there are still AODA requirements for healthcare providers to follow.
AODA Requirements for Healthcare Providers
Requirements in all AODA standards apply to any organization with at least one employee. Most medical providers fit this description. For instance, healthcare facilities with more than one worker include:
• Doctors’ offices
• Walk-in clinics
• Wellness centres
• Health regulatory colleges
Therefore, even though there is not yet a healthcare standard, organizations that provide or regulate healthcare must still obey the AODA. For instance, under the Design of Public Spaces Standards, newly-built or renovated medical facilities must be accessible. For example, patients who use assistive devices must be able to enter and move through hospitals. Moreover, under the Information and Communications Standards, doctors’ offices and hospitals need to communicate with patients in accessible ways. For example, staff at medical facilities need to use accessible formats and communication supports upon request.
Furthermore, under the Customer Service Standards, patients must be able to benefit from medical goods, services, and facilities. For example, hospital staff must have training on how to interact with patients who have disabilities. In addition, under the Transportation Standards, patients and other people with disabilities must be able to travel around hospitals in accessible ways. For example, public hospitals that transport patients between their campuses must make this service accessible. Finally, under the Employment Standards, healthcare providers must make their employment practices accessible. For example, clinics in search of new employees must hire accessibly.
Our next few articles will talk in more detail about AODA requirements for healthcare providers. We will describe how aspects of the standards apply to healthcare providers. We will also consider how situations involving healthcare can suggest ways to make existing AODA standards more helpful for Ontarians.