As described in previous Blakes Bulletins, the Accessibility
for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, 2005 (AODA) requires
public and private organizations in Ontario to take proactive steps
to eliminate barriers to the participation of individuals with
disabilities in Ontario society. The Integrated Accessibility
Standards Regulation (IASR) enacted under AODA creates obligations
in various areas, including information and communications,
employment, transportation and the design of public spaces. The
IASR also requires organizations to implement various accessibility
policies and plans and to conduct staff training.
The IASR applies to all organizations that provide goods,
services or facilities to the public or other third parties and
have at least one employee in Ontario. The deadlines for private
sector compliance with the IASR requirements are staggered and, in
many instances, depend on whether a company is a small organization
(an organization with at least one but fewer than 50 employees in
Ontario) or a large organization (an organization with 50 or more
employees in Ontario).
Set out below is a reminder of the main IASR requirements coming
into effect for large organizations on January 1, 2015.
Organizations with 20 or more employees must also remember to
submit an online report advising the government that current AODA
requirements have been met by the end of 2014.
The IASR requires large organizations to ensure that all
employees, volunteers and other persons who provide goods, services
or facilities on behalf of the organization (e.g., contractors) and
those who participate in the development of the organization's
policies receive training on the IASR and the Ontario Human
Rights Code as it relates to individuals with disabilities.
Template training materials can be accessed at www.accessforward.ca/ and www.ohrc.on.ca/en/learning/working-together-code-and-aoda.
This training is distinct from the training required under the
Accessibility Standards for Customer Service regulation (Customer
Service Standard) also enacted under AODA.
The required training should make reference to the
organization's accessibility policies and multi-year
accessibility plan (IASR Plan), which were to be completed by large
organizations by January 1, 2014. The IASR Plan outlines the
organization's strategy to prevent and remove barriers to
individuals with disabilities and to meet the requirements of the
IASR over time. Organizations must post the IASR Plan on their
websites and provide the plan in accessible formats upon request. A
template IASR Plan can be accessed here.
As of January 1, 2015, large organizations that have processes
for receiving and responding to feedback must ensure that the
processes are accessible to persons with disabilities by providing
or arranging for the provision of accessible formats and
communications supports, upon request. This requirement is distinct
from the requirement to create a feedback process under the
Customer Service Standard. As a result, it is recommended that
organizations review their existing feedback processes to assess
whether they are accessible to individuals with disabilities.
To the extent a large organization is considering the
development of a new website or the significant refresh of an
existing website in 2015 or thereafter, such website will generally
be required to comply with the technical requirements of the World
Wide Web Consortium Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG)
2.0, Level A. In determining whether an existing website is
significantly refreshed, the organization should consider any
significant changes to the look and feel of the website, how users
navigate the website, and any major updates or changes to the
content of the website. These website requirements under IASR came
into effect for large organizations on January 1, 2014.
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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