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AODA: Common misconceptions about proposed accessible built environment standard

It has been brought to my attention that there are some common misconceptions about the final proposed built environment standard under the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA). This post is dedicated to clarifying a few of these misunderstandings.

Misconception number 1: The final proposed accessible built environment standard is a regulation.

Answer: No, the final proposed accessible built environment standard is not yet a regulation.

Why the misconception? Because numerous organizations concerned with the accessible built environment have copies of the final proposed standard, and they are already using it in their decision making processes. There is nothing wrong in using the proposed standard for informational purposes remembering that current laws prevail until the standard becomes regulation in whole or in part.

Misconception number 2: The proposed standard includes the topic of retrofits.

Answer: No, the final proposed standard does not include the topic of retrofits.

Why the misconception? The word retrofitting is used to mean that existing buildings or structures will be legally forced to become accessible by a specific date. When the initial copy of the proposed accessible built environment standard was released for public review, retrofitting existing structures was a discussion topic. After public review, the provincial government decided the accessible built environment standard at this time would only affect the building of new structures and major renovations to existing buildings.

Misconception number 3: The proposed standard takes effect as of the year 2014.

Answer: No, a date cannot be presumed until the proposed standard becomes a regulation. The date this standard will take effect remains unclear. People can speculate on when they believe the accessible built environment standard will become a regulation but they are merely guesstimates.

Why are people guessing? Some builders, architects, engineers, organizations and accessible built environment consultants are eager to address the topic of accessibility as soon as possible. Again, there is nothing wrong with advance preparation; in fact, I admire those who are already moving toward remedying universal accessibility issues. It is just a mistake to emphatically state that a date is attached to the proposed standard.

So, as we learn about the proposed accessible built environment standard created under the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, it is vital to know when we or our experts are guessing as opposed to what information is confirmed. Until a proposed standard becomes a regulation, what we read is written by esteemed standards committees who provided their expertise. I have read many versions of draft proposed standards. I can attest to the numerous changes in draft standards and final proposed standards after public reviews. The best part of working with proposed standards is they often provide a best practice approach that your organization may decide to consider, regardless of impending laws.

If you have questions related to the proposed accessible built environment standard or any other proposed standard, feel free to ask.

Suzanne Share, M.A. C.E.O.
Access (SCS) Consulting Services

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Suzanne Cohen Share

Accessibility consultant and author at Access (SCS) Consulting Services
Suzanne Cohen Share holds a master’s degree in Health Policy and Critical Disabilities, including disability law. Suzanne is a well-known cross-disability accessibility expert and consultant, a popular lecturer, trainer, researcher and author. She is the author of Accessibility Standards PolicyPro published by First Reference Inc. Suzanne is the proprietor of Access (SCS) Consulting Services. Read more
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3 thoughts on “AODA: Common misconceptions about proposed accessible built environment standard
  • Hello Phil,
    I hope the articles you have read are providing information you are seeking. This particular article has little reference beyond the link you gave that will state the standard is not out yet. I am clarifying some common misconceptions about the built environment standard, and as a standards committee member I provide insight on existing news.
    Thank you,

  • Adam Gorley says:

    Hi Phill,

    I’ll leave it to Suzanne to offer more detail on your request, but so you know we’ve been covering the AODA and its implementation in depth for well over a year now.

    Find more here.

  • Thanks for the information, but can you add some links to where you get your information – perhaps even quoting the reference?

    For example: AODA has 5 standards, each with different scope and dates for implementation.
    * built environment
    * employment
    * information and communications
    * transportation
    * customer service.

    The accessibility standards for Customer Service Regulation is now the law. As of January 1, 2010, Ontario’s hospitals, schools, municipalities and other public sector organizations are now required to comply with the requirements. See