The Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, also called AODA, sets an ambitious goal of creating an accessible Ontario by the year 2025. As with all long-term goals, some of the most important steps involve planning and tracking progress along the way.
In the case of AODA, this means preparing multi-year accessibility plans and submitting periodic accessibility compliance reports to the Accessibility Directorate of Ontario.
All public-sector organizations and all private-sector organizations with 50 or more employees are required to prepare and maintain multi-year accessibility plans outlining the organization’s strategies to prevent and remove barriers for people with disabilities and to plan for meeting AODA accessibility requirements. The plans must be posted on the organization’s website and must be made available in accessible formats upon request.
Organizations are required to review and update their accessibility plans at least every five years. Although there is no fixed schedule for when organizations need to update their accessibility plans, large public-sector organizations (50+ employees) were required to prepare their initial plans by January 1, 2013, and small public-sector organizations and private-sector organizations had to prepare their plans by January 1, 2014.
Because of this, many organizations are quickly approaching the fifth anniversary of their initial accessibility plans, and so will need to begin the process of reviewing and updating them as soon as possible.
Public-sector organizations also face additional requirements with regard to accessibility plans. AODA requires public-sector organizations to consult with persons with disabilities when preparing, reviewing, or updating accessibility plans. Public-sector organizations must also prepare annual status reports on their progress toward implementing the accessibility plans. As with the plans themselves, these annual reports must also be posted on the organization’s website and be made available in accessible formats upon request.
Accessibility Compliance Reports
AODA also requires all public-sector organizations and all private-sector organizations with 20 or more employees to file regular accessibility compliance reports with the Accessibility Directorate. These reports certify that the organization is in compliance with AODA.
Public-sector organizations are required to file reports by December 31 of odd-numbered years. The next round of accessibility compliance reports is due by December 31, 2017.
Private-sector organizations, on the other hand, must file reports by December 31 of every third year, with the next round of reports also due on December 31, 2017.
Private-sector organizations with 20 to 49 employees are required to file reports, but may submit a shorter report limited to AODA’s Customer Service Standards.
The Accessibility Directorate takes failure to file an accessibility compliance report very seriously, and has brought a number of cases to enforce compliance. Although fines have thus far been fairly low (in the $250 to $2,000 range), penalties can increase if there are repeated violations or if an investigation unveils other AODA violations.
Want to know more about AODA and its requirements?
Download our Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act whitepaper to learn more!