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 public sector organizations with 1-49 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 Public Sector Organizations with 1-49 Workers
Below we outline the AODA requirements for public sector organizations with 1-49 workers.
Since January 1st, 2010, organizations have been required to provide accessible customer service. This involves:
- Training all staff and volunteers to serve customers with a variety of disabilities
- Documenting all training
- Welcoming service animals and support persons
- Providing accessible ways for customers to offer feedback
- Creating an accessibility policy
Since January 1st, 2014, organizations have been required to create accessibility policies and multi-year plans. This process involves identifying barriers that need to be prevented or removed to make an organization fully accessible and listing the steps the organization intends to take to reach this goal. Policies and plans must be documented on the organizations’ websites 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.
In addition, organizations need to ensure that all goods, services, and facilities they purchase have accessible features, designs, and criteria. If your organization’s purchase cannot be accessible, you must explain why.
Organizations 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 to understand 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.
Since July 1st, 2011, organizations providing transportation have been required to make it accessible. This could mean ensuring that conventional public transit is accessible, providing specialized transportation where the service is equal to conventional public transit, or a combination of both options.
Accessible Information and Communication
Since January 1st, 2012, organizations must make emergency and public safety information, such as brochures or evacuation plans, available in accessible formats upon request. In addition, organizations must provide individualized emergency evacuation plans for all workers who require them.
Organizations 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
Organizations must comply with Level A guidelines by January 1st, 2014, and with Level AA guidelines by January 1st, 2021.
Since January 1st, 2016, all information available to the public must be offered in an accessible format whenever someone asks. Organizations 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, 2015, employment practices, such as hiring, retaining workers, and career development, must be accessible. Organizations 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, 2016, 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
- Outdoor paths of travel
- Accessible parking
- Service-related elements like service counters, fixed queuing lines and waiting areas
Since December 31st, 2010, organizations have needed to file accessibility compliance reports confirming that they have fulfilled all accessibility requirements. This process consists of filling out and submitting a government form. Organizations should have completed new reports in 2013 and every two years since. The final report is due on December 31st, 2025, the year of the AODA deadline.
The above outlines the AODA requirements for public sector organizations with 1-49 workers. 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 organization to a growing group of workers and clients with disabilities.