In Part 1 of this article, we explained why the third review of the AODA recommends stronger AODA enforcement. In Part 2, we outline the review’s suggestions for enforcing AODA compliance.
New Ways of Enforcing AODA Compliance
Review attendees suggest several new ways of enforcing AODA compliance. For instance, they suggest that more AODA inspections should be taking place. In addition, these inspections must become more thorough. Under the current AODA, inspectors must find out whether businesses and other organizations have documents about accessibility. For instance, inspectors find out whether businesses have training documents, as well as accessibility policies and plans. However, inspectors do not find out whether a business is performing the services their documents describe. As a result, a business can create an accessibility policy but not perform the tasks in the policy, such as:
- Welcome customers with service animals
- Make their hiring processes accessible
- Provide accessible formats and communication supports, upon request
- communicate with customers in ways that take their disabilities into account
Likewise, a business can state in their accessibility report that they perform these services, even if they do not.
Improving AODA Inspections
Review attendees suggest ways to increase and improve the AODA inspection process. For instance, officials who inspect other elements of a business could also inspect whether the business is AODA compliant. Moreover, people with disabilities could join inspectors and point out parts of a building or service they cannot access.
In addition, attendees state that fines for non-compliance should be high enough to impact businesses financially. High financial penalties for not serving people in accessible ways would help businesses learn to take accessibility seriously.
Improving Public Awareness
Furthermore, the review mentions other social concerns Ontarians have learned more about, such as distracted driving. Enforcement of laws that prohibit wrong behaviours has helped people realize that they need to start behaving differently. Therefore, Onley’s review suggests that similar methods of enforcement would help businesses provide accessible services.
One way of increasing public awareness and enforcing the AODA could be involving the public in enforcement. For example, attendees describe a program for enforcing accessible parking in the United States. In this program, members of the public alert the police when they see someone parking in an accessible space without a permit. A program like this could increase parking accessibility in Ontario.
Moreover, Onley’s review recommends that the government should publicize details about how it is enforcing AODA compliance. For instance, this public record should include:
- The names of businesses that have not complied with the AODA
- The names of businesses that the Accessibility Directorate of Ontario (ADO) has ordered to comply
- The penalties these businesses must pay for non-compliance
- AODA appeals, and their outcomes
The review recommends that this information should be updated every three months, to show the public that accessibility is important.
Finally, Onley’s review recommends that the ADO should visit businesses to find out how accessible their services are. For instance, the ADO can:
- Test websites for accessibility
- Enter restaurants and observe staff responses to service animals
- Ride city buses to test the accessibility of vehicles and other services, such as:
Moreover, the previous review of the AODA, in 2014, made a similar recommendation. In other words, Ontarians with disabilities have waited at least six years for new ways of enforcing AODA compliance.