In mid-August, the Ontario provincial government released proposed amendments to the AODA's Integrated Accessibility Standard for a 45-day
period of public consultation, which closed on October 1, 2012. The
proposed amendments included additional defined terms and minor
wording changes, as well as language to clarify the scope of
certain obligations owed to persons with disabilities by selected
service providers (libraries of educational and training
institutions and transportation providers) and municipalities.
Most notably, the proposed amendments also included a draft of
the Built Environment Standard, which will apply only to public
spaces that are newly built or "redeveloped" (i.e.
subject to significant or substantial changes).
The Built Environment Standard will apply to the Ontario
government, designated public sector organizations, and private and
not-for-profit organizations. It distinguishes between
"large organizations" (those with 50 or more employees in
Ontario) and "small organizations" (those with less than
50 employees in Ontario), and applies only to large organizations
unless otherwise noted.
The Built Environment Standard
The following is a highlight of the requirements of the draft
Built Environment Standard, and is not intended to be a
comprehensive summary. We encourage large and small organizations
to seek further advice or to consult the draft legislation for
As mentioned above, the Built Environment Standard will apply to
public spaces that are newly built or redeveloped after the
compliance deadlines set out therein. Although the term
"public spaces" is not defined in the draft Standard, it
does set out requirements for the following types of areas:
Recreational trails and beach access routes;
Outdoor public use eating areas (consisting of tables that are
found in public areas such as in public parks, on hospital grounds
and on university campuses);
Outdoor play spaces (areas that may contain play equipment or
features designed to provide play opportunities and experiences for
children and caregivers);
Exterior paths of travel, such as:
outdoor sidewalks or walkways designed for pedestrian travel
that serve a functional rather than a recreational purpose
ramps, stairs, curb ramps, and depressed curbs
Parking facilities (both on-street and off-street parking);
Areas where members of the public obtain services (such as
service counters, fixed queuing areas, and waiting areas).
Requirements for exterior paths of travel, parking facilities,
and areas for obtaining services will likely be applicable to
private organizations. Particular requirements that may be of
interest to private sector organizations include:
Firm, stable, slip-resistant surfaces for exterior paths of
travel and ramps;
Width and head room clearance specifications for paths of
Numerous specifications regarding slopes, ramps, and stairs
(such as width requirements, handrails, slope ratios, and rise and
run of steps);
Minimum requirements for accessible parking (although these
requirements are not applicable to areas exclusively used for
employees, buses, delivery vehicles, police and ambulance vehicles,
or impounded vehicles);
Minimum requirements for numbers of accessible service
counters, width of queuing guides, and accessible seating spaces in
The Built Environment Standard also sets requirements regarding
maintenance of accessible elements in public spaces, and reporting
requirements applicable not only to the government (annually) and
designated public sector organizations (every two years), but also
to large organizations (every three years).
We will continue to monitor the review of the Built Environment
Standard, and provide updates as appropriate.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
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