Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Enforcement of AODA began in January

Enforcement of AODA’s First Standards
began Jan. 1st, 2013
Beginning January 1, 2013 (for the private sector), Ontario’s own Accessibility Act enforcement initiatives will begin. Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) is Ontario’s own proactive approach to make all of Ontario completely accessible for people with disabilities by 2025. This vision will be achieved through five compliance standards that all businesses with one or more employees in Ontario will have to implement; these are the customer service standard, the transportation standard, employment standard, information and communications standard, and the built environment standard. Ontario will implement these standards beginning with the customer service standard and employment standard – emergency management.
All businesses in Ontario with one or more employees (both private and non-profit sectors) that provide goods or services to the public or third parties must comply.  The Customer Service Standard enforces certain legal requirements for businesses that include setting up a plan of action for how your business will provide goods or services for people with disabilities through assessment and gap analysis, developing applicable policies and procedures (ex. a policy on providing goods and services, a policy about the use of assistive devices, etc.) providing training for staff on how to serve people with disabilities, and finally creating and making available a process to receive and respond to any feedback.
Businesses that employ 20 or more employees have additional requirements to comply with: focus on communicating and making available all information about the company’s practices, taking into consideration all disabilities and Accessibility reporting to inform the Ontario Government that you meet the compliance standard. Deadline for submission to the government is December 31, 2012.
The Employment Standard, Transportation Standard and the Information and Communications Standard were rolled out in 2011 as the Integrated Standard. These standards were passed with implementation dates varying from 2011 through to 2025 dependent on the size of the organization and whether the organization is public or private sector. The first steps to compliance with the integrated standards fall under Transportation – dependent on the size of the organization, deadlines range from 2011 and 2017, General Requirements – Emergency and Public Safety Information and Employment Standard – Worker Specific Emergency Information must be complied with in 2012.
Typically when thinking of disabilities and barriers to accessibility, only those that are visible come to mind. It is essential to remember that disabilities include those that are invisible such as mental health and learning disabilities. By ensuring companies understand where their gaps and requirements lie, compliance can be made easier.
Lynne Bard, BA (Honours), C.H.R.P., CES
Human Resources, Safety & Risk Management Experts
Taking the Complexity out of Compliance
Beyond Rewards Inc.
Phone: 519-821-7440
Cell: 519-830-7480

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