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January 2016 accessibility requirements need attention now

If your organization operates in Ontario, you know about the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) and its five broad standards, but are you ready for the new requirements in effect January 1?

In less than eight weeks, small and large organizations in Ontario will face a new set of legal obligations under the AODA’s Employment Standard and Information and Communications Standard.

On January 1, 2016, organizations with 50+ employees must be ready to:

  • Communicate and provide information in accessible formats and with supports, upon request, in a timely manner and at a cost equal to the regular cost charged to others, including emergency and public safety information
  • Provide accessible workplace information to employees with disabilities, as necessary or upon request, including information about emergency workplace procedures
  • Ensure your human resources practices explicitly consider accessibility issues in workplace recruitment, accommodation, performance management, training, career development and return-to-work processes
  • The latter requirement includes developing individualized written accommodation plans for employees with disabilities

Organizations with 1 to 49 employees must be ready to:

  • Ensure all employees have received training relevant to their jobs on the duty to accommodate persons with disabilities under the Human Rights Code and AODA Integrated Accessibility Standards (information, communications, employment, transportation and the design of public spaces)
  • Provide upon request accessible formats and communication supports in all feedback processes
  • Notify the public about the availability of these accessible feedback processes

More accessibility enforcement coming?

While there have been delays in enforcement, the government has committed to increasing its efforts and started its first accessibility blitz of large retailers. We can’t be sure what the government’s enforcement efforts will look like in 2016, but I’d wager we will at the very least see more blitzes and more administrative penalties for failure to file accessibility reports.

Read more about the administrative penalties in Suzanne Cohen Share’s post, “AODA administrative monetary penalties scheme – three strikes you’re out!

Get ready for the upcoming AODA deadlines today

Suzanne is the author of Accessibility Standards PolicyPro® (ASPP), published by First Reference. ASPP has all the policies and resources you need to understand your AODA obligations and meet the deadlines:

  • A step-by-step method to achieve compliance
  • A sample multi-year compliance plan
  • Over 60 sample policies, procedures, plans, forms, checklists and more
  • Easy-to-use software to manage your policies
  • Current accessibility best practices
  • Quarterly updates covering changes to AODA
  • The essential whitepaper, AODA compliance in 2015 and beyond, to guide you through the present and future requirements

You can try Accessibility Standards PolicyPro free for 30 days!

Manage your Ontario AODA accessibility compliance obligations with Accessibility Standards PolicyPro

How are you managing the new accessibility standards?

Have you updated your policies and procedures to incorporate these new requirements? I hope you’re not waiting until the last minute and if you are, well, the last minute is nearly here!

Let us know in the comments what aspect of the new compliance obligations is causing you the most trouble.

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Adam Gorley

Adam Gorley is a copywriter, editor and researcher at First Reference. He contributes regularly to First Reference Talks, Inside Internal Controls and other First Reference publications. He writes about general HR issues, accessibility, privacy, technology in the workplace, accommodation, violence and harassment, internal controls and more. Read more
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