The AODA has different requirements for different kinds of workplaces, depending on whether they are public or private and how many workers they have. Here we outline the AODA requirements for private and non-profit businesses with 50 or more workers.
How to Count Workers
First, to find out which set of rules your private or non-profit business needs to comply with, you need to know how to count your workers. You must count every worker who is:
Do not count:
- Workers from outside Ontario
- Independent contractors
Although you should not count these workers, you must still ensure that their work complies with AODA standards.
AODA Requirements for Private and Non-Profit Businesses with 50 or More Workers
Below we outline the AODA requirements for private and non-profit businesses with 50 or more workers.
Since January 1st, 2012, businesses have been required to provide accessible customer service. For instance, this involves:
- Training all staff and volunteers to serve customers with a variety of disabilities
- Keeping a written record of who has been trained and when
- Welcoming service animals and support persons
- Providing accessible ways for customers to offer feedback
- Creating an accessibility policy and putting it into place
Since January 1st, 2014, businesses have been required to create accessibility policies and multi-year plans. An accessibility policy outlines what an organization’s accessibility goals are and its commitment to achieving those goals. An accessibility plan lists the steps the business intends to take to reach its goals.
Policies and plans have to be in writing. They must be available to the public on the business’s website in accessible formats and updated at least every five years. Employers must inform staff about the content of policies and plans so that workers can implement them.
Businesses must also consider how accessible self-service kiosks are when they are buying or designing new ones. This includes interactive electronic terminals where customers can:
- Purchase groceries
- Pay parking fees
- Validate tickets
- Renew licences
Since January 1st, 2015, all workers and volunteers must be trained on all accessibility laws that affect their work. In addition, there must be processes in place so that people with disabilities can provide feedback in accessible formats.
Accessible Information and Communication
Since January 1st, 2012, businesses must make emergency and public safety information, such as brochures or evacuation plans, available in accessible formats upon request. In addition, businesses must provide individualized emergency evacuation plans for all workers who require them.
Businesses must also make their websites accessible. You can start to do so by ensuring that your website complies with WCAG 2.0 guidelines. This rule applies to:
- New websites
- Old websites that are being updated significantly
- New web content
Businesses must comply with Level A guidelines by January 1st, 2014, and with Level AA guidelines by January 1st, 2021.
Since December 31st, 2014, businesses have needed to file accessibility compliance reports confirming that they have fulfilled all accessibility requirements under the AODA. This process consists of filling out and submitting a government form. Businesses and non-profits must complete the report every three years. The next compliance report date will be December 31, 2020.
Since January 1st, 2016, all information available to the public must be offered in an accessible format whenever someone asks. Businesses should consult with the person making the request to find out how to provide the information in a way the person can access.
Since January 1st, 2016, employment practices, such as hiring, retaining workers, and career development, must be accessible. Businesses must have written records of how they intend to create plans for accommodating workers with disabilities, including how workers who have needed leaves of absence will return to work.
Accessible Design of Public Spaces
Since January 1st, 2017, all new or significantly renovated public spaces must be accessible. Public spaces include:
- Recreational trails and beach access routes
- Outdoor public eating areas
- Outdoor play spaces
- Accessible parking
- Outdoor paths of travel
- Service-related elements like service counters, fixed queuing lines and waiting areas
The above are AODA requirements for private and non-profit businesses with 50 or more workers. You must follow these requirements in order to comply. These standards affect your physical workspace, your workers, and customers or clients. If you implement these standards, you will be obeying the law. You will also open your business to a growing market of workers and customers with disabilities.