A reminder that businesses with 20 or more employees in Ontario must file a prescribed Accessibility Compliance Report by June 30, 2021. The Report is intended to determine compliance with the accessibility requirements of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, 2005 (AODA). This Report was originally due on December 31, 2020, but extended to account for business disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Report is a standard, fillable form that primarily requires "yes" or "no" answers to questions regarding compliance with various requirements of the AODA, from website content, customer service, employment to design of public spaces. It is recommended that if any non-compliance is indicated, the organization should use the "comments box" to explain the reason for non-compliance and any remedial steps being taken.
Of particular concern to many organizations is compliance with the AODA's Integrated Accessibility Standards Regulation. Since January 1, 2021, organizations with more than 50 employees in Ontario largely need to make sure that their public-facing websites and content posted after January 1, 2012 comply with the World Wide Web Consortium Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0 (WCAG 2.0) at Level AA (except for the requirements for providing live captions and pre-recorded audio descriptions).
Almost all public website content must be compliant with the WCAG 2.0 Level AA standards. There are very few exceptions, primarily for cases where commercial software or tools are not available to convert the content. This is of particular concern to many organizations in the financial and investment industries, as they typically are required to post a large amount of materials to meet regulatory obligations, and many of those materials were prepared prior to the accessibility standards. It can be very expensive and time-consuming to convert these materials into a compliant format.
The Ministry for Seniors and Accessibility will likely use the Reports as a basis for determining which industries and organizations to target for inspections, so organizations should take care to complete the Report as accurately and effectively as possible.
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.