In the third review of the AODA, the Honourable David Onley recommends needed improvements to the Act. One of these improvements is the need for the government to fully enforce the AODA. This act mandates essential rules that can provide millions of people with disabilities the opportunities non-disabled people take for granted. However, Onley’s review states that many organizations are not complying with the act. Furthermore, when organizations refuse to comply, the government does not force them to do so. In addition, the AODA’s current method of finding out whether organizations comply is through reports they submit about themselves. Onley’s review instead recommends that the Accessibility Directorate of Ontario (ADO) should use more direct methods to find out whether organizations are complying. In short, Onley’s review recommends new ways of enforcing the AODA.
New Ways of Enforcing the AODA
During the public meetings Onley held while preparing his review, attendees stated that the government must do more to enforce the AODA. Likewise, the government must show the public through its actions that the AODA is an important law in Ontario. attendees report that organizations often contain barriers that limit people with disabilities in their efforts to:
When organizations obey the AODA standards, they prevent the barriers that limit people’s lives. Nonetheless, based on statistics in Onley’s review, the legal requirement to prevent barriers is not yet clear to organizations.
For instance, in 2016 and 2017, the ADO found that two thirds of private sector organizations are not:
Similarly, many public sector organizations are also not creating multi-year accessibility plans. Furthermore, in 2017, more than fifty-six thousand (56,000) organizations submitted accessibility reports. However, the ADO only audited three percent (3%) of these organizations. Similarly, the ADO only gave orders to comply to six (6) organizations, and only fined three (3) of them. As a result, many organizations can choose not to comply, because they know that compliance will not be enforced.
According to the review, many businesses and services need better enforcement, including:
- Large or government-funded organizations
- Retail stores
- Specialized transit companies
- Public sector accessibility reports
- Customer service for people with invisible disabilities
- Self-service kiosk accessibility
- Accessible parking
In Part 2 of this article, we will outline the review’s suggestions for enforcing the AODA.