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Assessing and Improving AODA Compliance in Transportation

Under the AODA, public-sector organizations must complete accessibility reports every two (2) years. Similarly, private-sector organizations with twenty to forty-nine (20-49) workers, or fifty (50) or more workers, must complete accessibility reports every three (3) years. The next accessibility reports for organizations in both the public and private sectors are due on December 31st, 2023. Therefore, organizations should have the knowledge they need to complete their reports, this time next year. In the coming year, organizations can gain this knowledge by assessing how compliant they are with AODA standards. Moreover, organizations can use this assessment to improve the accessibility of their services. In this article, we will outline ways of assessing and improving AODA compliance in transportation.

Assessing and Improving AODA Compliance in Transportation

All public-sector transportation providers, and private-sector transportation providers with fifty (50) or more workers, need to report on their compliance with the AODA’s Transportation Standards. However, transportation providers of all sizes need to comply with these standards. For instance, conventional transportation providers need to have:

Moreover, specialized transportation providers need to have:

In addition, both conventional and specialized transportation providers need AODA training for all transportation workers. Furthermore, any transportation provider contracting with a school board needs to have Individualized transportation plans for students with disabilities.

How to Assess AODA Compliance in Transportation

Transportation providers can assess their AODA compliance by requesting anonymous feedback from passengers with disabilities who have needed accessible service. For instance, passengers could explain whether providers of conventional or specialized transit:

  • Publicized information about accessible equipment or features on vehicles, routes, and services
  • Accommodated them when accessible equipment malfunctioned
  • Waived fares for their support persons

Likewise, passengers using conventional transit could explain whether:

  • New or renovated stops or shelters met accessibility requirements
  • Drivers:
    • Deployed lifting devices, upon request
    • Provided time or assistance for them to board, secure themselves, and deboard
    • Stored their assistive device within their reach
    • Ensured that audiovisual announcements were working

Similarly, passengers using specialized transit could explain whether:

  • The application process was timely and accessible
  • They could book trips no more than one (1) day in advance
  • Fares cost the same as, or less than, fares for conventional transit
  • Hours of operation were the same as conventional transit
  • They could travel with their children or companions

Passengers describing their positive or negative experiences can help drivers and other workers recognize what they should or should not do when serving passengers with disabilities. For example, a passenger could describe how a bus stop was not accessible for them. However, the passenger could then explain how their driver worked with them to find the nearest location they could access, and stopped the bus at that location so they could deboard. In contrast, a passenger could describe how a driver discriminated against them by:

A transportation provider receiving mostly negative feedback is likely not compliant with the AODA. As a result, the provider will need to make changes, which could include:

  • Improving AODA training
  • Updating policies

Accessibility Consulting

In addition, transportation providers could enter short-term or on-going contracts to consult with people who have disabilities. Alternatively, transportation providers could request the services of professional organizations that specialize in assessing accessibility. In either case, an accessibility assessor with lived experience of disability could:

  • Observe and give feedback on the quality of AODA training
  • Comment on the content and accessibility of documents, such as:
    • Policies and plans
    • Information about vehicles, routes, and services
    • Application processes for specialized transit providers

Moreover, consultants could also help transportation providers find resources to support them in strengthening their policies and services.

Improving AODA Compliance in Transportation

Even if transportation providers are fully compliant, they can still make changes to their policies and services to enhance accessibility. For instance, The Third Review of the AODA notes many barriers in conventional transit, as well as barriers in specialized transit. While some of these barriers happen because transportation providers do not comply with the standards, other barriers are outside the standards’ current mandates. However, Transportation providers that remove these barriers will gain and retain passengers with disabilities.