Monday, August 12, 2013

AODA - Customer Service and Integrated Standard

AODA - What is it and why do we have to comply?
AODA = Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act.
AODA Customer Service and the Integrated Communications, Employment & Transportation Standards and the final proposed standard - The Built Standards are legislative requirements that all businesses with one or more employees must comply with over the coming years.  The Ontario Government would like Ontario to be 100% accessible by 2025. 
The government has provided timelines to meet the deadlines for each of the four standards that have passed through the legislature.  The Customer Service Standard - the first to be passed, must be complied with by January 1st, 2012 for private sector and non-profit organizations that have not already done so. 
Customer Service Standards
Under the Accessibility Standards for Customer Service, you must complete specific steps to make sure you are providing accessible customer service to people with various forms of disabilities (physically visible and non-visible disabilities). You must complete the 11 steps to compliance before January 1st, 2012.   
The AODA customer service standard applies to all organizations; both public and private sector that provide goods or services either directly to the public or to other organizations in Ontario (third parties) that have one or more employees in Ontario.
Your organization must comply by having completed the requirements under the legislation by January 1, 2012 including training of your employees, development of the required policies and procedures etc, or face the possibility of fines 
·         up to $50,000 for each and every day or part day that the legislated requirements have not been met; 
  •  for a corporation, up to $100,000 for each and every day or part day that the legislative requirements have not been met.
Integrated Standards
The integrated standard consists of three standards under the AODA that have passed through the legislature – Ontario Regulation 191/11, composing of the Information and Communications Standard, Employment Standard and Transportation Standard.  The deadlines for compliance vary by size of organization, sector and specifics to each standard.
Within the Integrated Standard, not only do policies and procedures and program development need to be addressed but more specifically health and safety and emergency management need to be addressed throughout the integrated standards. 
Emergency Procedures, plans or Public Safety Information must be developed and made available to the public by January 1, 2012 – for Obligated organizations that prepare emergency procedures, plans or public safety information and make the information available to the public shall meet the requirements of this section by January 1, 2012 under the information and communications standard.
Workplace emergency response information is a requirement of every employer by January 1, 2012.  Employers must provide individualized workplace emergency response information to persons who have a disability, if the disability is such that the individualized information is necessary and the employer is aware of the need for accommodation due to the employee’s disability.  The individual plans must be reviewed as necessary as outlined in the Employment Standard.
Further, employers- other than small organizations shall develop and have in place a return to work process for its employees who have been absent from work due to a disability and require disability-related accommodations in order to return to work as part of the Employment Standard. 
The Transportation Standard outlines specific emergency management procedures:
“In addition to any obligations that a conventional transportation service provider or a specialized transportation service provider has under section 13, conventional transportation service providers and specialized transportation service providers,
o   (a) shall establish, implement, maintain and document emergency preparedness and response policies that provide for the safety of persons with disabilities; and
o   (b) shall make those policies available to the public.”

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