AODA has been active in Ontario since 2005, however, people might still be wondering: what is the AODA? The Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, 2005 (AODA) is an Ontario law mandating that organizations must follow standards to become more accessible to people with disabilities. The goal for the province is to be fully accessible by 2025. All levels of government, private sectors, and non-profits must comply with this legislation.
What is the AODA?
Based off the 2001 Ontarians with Disabilities Act, the Ontario government decided to further elaborate on this Act. In 2005, the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) came into effect, making Ontario the first province to enact such ground-breaking legislation. This new Act’s purpose is to create accessibility standards that organizations from public, private, and non-profit sectors must follow and to make an accessible province for all Ontarians.
What is a Disability?
The term “disability” covers a range of visible and invisible conditions that may have been present from birth, caused by an accident, or developed over time. For instance, disabilities include:
- Blindness or visual impairment
- Deafness or hearing disabilities
- Speech impairment
- Physical or mobility disabilities, such as:
- Difficulty with balance or coordination
- Brain injury
- Intellectual disabilities
- Learning disabilities
- Mental health challenges
- Reliance on a service dog, such as a guide dog, or on a mobility device, such as a wheelchair, walker, or cane
The purpose of the AODA is to develop, implement, and enforce accessibility standards or rules so that all Ontarians will benefit from accessible services, programs, spaces, and employment. The standards help organizations to prevent or remove barriers that limit the things people with disabilities can do, the places they can go, and the attitudes of service providers toward them.
Accessibility Policies and Plans
When the AODA was created, one of its requirements was that all organizations develop an accessibility policy. An accessibility policy helps organizations set goals to make themselves more accessible. Members of an organization work together to identify barriers that prevent people with disabilities from accessing the organization’s goods, services, or facilities and to determine how those barriers can be prevented or removed.
Private and non-profit organizations with more than 50 employees and all public-sector organizations must also make accessibility plans, which outline the steps the organization will follow to prevent or remove the barriers. These organizations must also have their accessibility policies in writing and available to the public in accessible formats upon request. In addition, organizations must train their workers on best practices when serving people with various disabilities.
In 2013, public sector organizations employing more than 50 people developed and implemented the first accessibility policies and plans, and became the leading sector to comply with AODA.
The Integrated Accessibility Standards Regulation (IASR)
In 2016, the five standards of the AODA were combined under the Integrated Accessibility Standards Regulation (IASR). The five standards are:
• Information and communications
• Design of public spaces
• Customer service
Why do we need the AODA?
Accessibility is good for both the economy and the community. The population of Ontarians with disabilities is steadily growing. Accessible information and employment make it possible for this growing group of people to contribute to the economy and society. Likewise, accessible transportation and public spaces ensure that people can move around their communities. Similarly, accessible customer service allows people to exercise their spending power. Finally, the standards of the AODA give all people an equal footing as they work, play, learn, teach, buy, sell, and use their diverse talents to benefit their communities and their province.