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What is the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA)?

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Written by: C.P. Hoffman

AODA logoThe Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, often referred to as AODA, is a 2005 provincial law designed to improve accessibility for Ontarians to all public establishments by 2025. AODA fills a gap left by prior federal and provincial laws, which did not cover most private-sector organizations.

Unlike many accessibility statutes, AODA applies to all organizations, including provincial and local governments, the broader public sector, and private sector businesses. Although AODA’s specific requirements vary based on the type of organization, all organizations subject to Ontario provincial regulation, regardless of size, need to be aware of AODA’s requirements.

While AODA is primarily focused on making physical spaces accessible, it also sets rules about digital accessibility. AODA’s Information and Communications Standards require organizations to make information available in accessible formats and require websites and web content to comply with WCAG 2.0 standards. AODA also requires specific content, such as accessibility plans, be made available on an organization’s website.

AODA is enforced by the Accessibility Directorate of Ontario, which can bring actions against organizations that fail to meet AODA requirements. Because AODA requirements have gone into effect on a staggered basis, cases brought by the Accessibility Directorate have thus far focused on organizations’ failure to submit periodic accessibility compliance reports. It is very likely, however, that the Accessibility Directorate will act to enforce other AODA requirements in the future.

Unlike the Americans with Disabilities Act, AODA does not provide for a private right of action for individuals to enforce its requirements. Individuals with disabilities do have a private right of action under Ontario Human Rights Code, but the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario has thus far refused to consider AODA requirements in cases alleging Code violations.

Want to know more about AODA and its requirements?

Download our Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act whitepaper to learn more!

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