Round 1 was the implementation of the Customer Service Standard piece of the 5 key areas of the Act and companies were expected to file compliance reports in regards to their Accessibility Standards for Customer Service on or before December 31, 2012.
The IAS (Integrated Accessibility Standards) is the next step and refers to the remaining 4 key areas as laid out in the AODA as well as certain general obligations regarding accessibility policies and plans and further employee training. Large private sector employers (over 50 employees) will need to comply by January 1, 2014 and smaller companies of up to 49 employees will need to comply by January 1, 2015.
The 4 key areas are:
The standard has several requirements that apply to conventional and specialized transportation service providers. For example, both:
- Must make information on accessibility equipment and features of their vehicles, routes and services available to the public.
- Cannot charge a fare to a support person when the person with a disability requires a support person to accompany them on the conventional or specialized transportation service.
For conventional transportation services:
- Providing clearly marked courtesy seating for people with disabilities.
- Not charging people with disabilities a higher fare than people without disabilities, and not charging for storing mobility aids or mobility assistive devices, such as wheelchairs or walkers.
- Technical requirements for lifting devices, steps, grab bars/handrails, floor surfaces, lighting, signage, etc.
- Providing verbal and visual announcements of routes and stops on vehicles.
For specialized transportation services:
- Developing an eligibility application process including an independent appeal process.
- Charging fares that are no higher than the fares charged for conventional transit where they are both operated by the same service provider.
- Providing the same hours and days of service as those offered by conventional transit where they are both operated by the same service provider.
The above are only a few of the requirements for the Transportation Standard.
2. Information and Communication
Organizations will have to:
- Make their websites and web content accessible according to the World Wide Web Consortium’s Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0.(Note: Organizations with less than 50 employees are exempt from this requirement.)
- Provide accessible formats and communications supports as quickly as possible and at no additional cost when a person with a disability asks for them.
- Make feedback processes accessible by providing accessible formats and communications supports when requested.
- Make public emergency information accessible when requested.
Educational and training institutions must:
- Provide educational and training resources and materials in accessible formats upon request.
- Provide educators with accessibility awareness training related to accessible program or course delivery.
Producers of educational or training materials must:
- Provide educational or training institutions with accessible or conversion ready textbooks and supplementary resources upon request.
- Libraries of education and training institutions must make resources accessible upon request.
- Public libraries must provide access to or arrange access to accessible materials where they exist.
3. Built Environment
The Accessibility Standards for the Built Environment focus on removing barriers in public spaces and public buildings themselves. Enhancements to accessibility in buildings will happen at a later date through Ontario’s Building Code, which governs new construction and renovations in buildings.
Accessibility Standard for the Design of Public Spaces
The standard for the design of public spaces only applies to new construction and major changes to existing features.
Here are the highlights of what the standard covers:
- Recreational trails/beach access routes.
- Outdoor public eating areas like rest stops or picnic areas.
- Outdoor play spaces, like playgrounds in provincial parks and local communities.
- Outdoor paths of travel, like sidewalks, ramps, stairs, curb ramps, rest areas and accessible pedestrian signals.
- Accessible parking (on and off street).
- Service-related elements like service counters, fixed queuing lines and waiting areas.
- Maintenance and restoration of public spaces.
The Accessibility Standard for Employment will help Ontario businesses and organizations make accessibility a regular part of finding, hiring and supporting employees with disabilities.
Organizations will have to:
- Let job applicants know that recruitment and hiring processes will be modified to accommodate their disabilities, if requested.
- Build the accessibility needs of employees into their human resources practices.
- Create a written process (not applicable to small organizations) for developing and documenting individual accommodation plans for employees with disabilities.
- Help employees stay safe in an emergency by providing them with individualized emergency response information when necessary.
These are just a few of the requirements. For a free consultation on how the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act affects you, contact The Payroll Edge.
For more information on AODA compliance visit the Ministry of Community & Social Services