Making Ontario Accessible for Everyone

The Accessibility for Ontarians with Disability Act (AODA) came into legislation in 2005, with the goal of making Ontario accessible to people with disabilities by 2025. Composed of steps for businesses, non-profits, and the public sector to take in complying with the Act, the standards and timelines take into account small, medium, and large private and public sector organizations and government. The standards are rules that businesses and organizations in Ontario must follow to identify, remove and prevent barriers, so that people with disabilities will have more opportunities to participate in everyday life.

Why does Ontario need accessibility standards?

Ontario is an exciting place to be in business. Your business has unique opportunities to impact the lives of many, including persons with disabilities. Today, approximately one in seven people have a disability in Ontario, and that is expected to rise to one in five, over the coming years, as the population ages. According to the Royal Bank of Canada, people with disabilities have an estimated spending power of about $25 billion annually, across Canada. Visitors and tourists, along with their friends and family need to travel, shop, use programs, services, and information, and they will want to easily access buildings, parks and other places.

Accessibility Standard for Customer Service

The Customer Service Standard was the first standard to become law under the AODA in 2012. Accessible customer service will help ensure the customers and clients, vital to successful organizations, have access to the goods and services you provide.

Persons with disabilities may require assistance or accommodation in the way that goods and services are provided to them. The type of accommodation provided may vary depending on the customer’s unique needs. In every case, you need to provide people with disabilities equal opportunities to access goods and services with the respect, dignity, and independence that people without disabilities enjoy.

Accessibility Standard for Information and Communications

In the information age, we all rely on easy access to information. Communication is a process of providing, sending, receiving and understanding information. The Information and Communications Standard outlines how organizations are required to create, provide and receive information and communications in ways that that takes into account a client’s disability. As of January 2014, large organization’s new or refreshed websites needed to conform to the World Wide Web Consortium Web Content Accessibility Guidelines.

Accessibility Standard for Employment

Businesses need to be reflective of the community they serve, and what better way of doing that than including people with various backgrounds and abilities on the workforce? Making employment practices accessible is moving towards compliance in January 2017. With organizations facing a shortage of skilled labour, increasing workforce participation among people with disabilities is a smart move. Partnering with a disability employment agency and including accommodation information in job postings can help organizations find the perfect employee.

Improving accessibility is the right thing to do for our communities and businesses. Not only is it the right thing, moving towards 2025, it is the required thing.

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