Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA)
January 1, 2012 marks the deadline for all Ontario businesses to comply with The Customer Service Standard and select requirements under the Employment Standards and Information and Communication Standards.
Many organizations wrongly assume this legislation does not apply to them. The AODA impacts virtually all organizations across Ontario and across all industry sectors.
Here, we provide some information that may help you decide what you need to do next.
What is the deadline for complying with the AODA’s Customer Service Standard?
By January 1, 2012, all businesses and organizations that provide goods or services to the public or to other third parties in Ontario are legally required to comply with the requirements.
What exactly do I need to do?
- Create specific policies and procedures related to providing accessible customer service to persons with disabilities
- Train your staff on how to identify individuals who may have a disability and how to provide service to these individuals in a manner that takes into account their disability.
Are there penalties for non-compliance?
Businesses will be monitored and are subject to financial penalties of up to $100,000 per day for offences under the Act.
Certain actions or inaction (such as failure to comply with a director’s order) constitute an offence under the AODA. If a person is found guilty of an offence, a fine of up to $50,000 per day may be levied for each day or part of a day that the offence occurs or continues to occur. A corporation may be liable for a fine of up to $100,000 per day for each day or part of a day that the offence occurs or continues to occur.
What is considered an offence under the AODA?
In addition to non-compliance, a person is guilty of an offence who:
- provides false or misleading information in an accessibility report or otherwise provides a director with false or misleading information;
- fails to comply with any order made by a director or the Tribunal under the AODA;
- obstructs an inspector carrying out an inspection or intimidates, coerces, penalizes or discriminates against someone who is seeking to enforce the AODA or a director’s order.
I have just a small office. Does this legislation apply to me?
Yes…all businesses and other organizations with one or more employees that provide goods or services to the public or other third parties must comply with the standard. Although private sector organizations (including non-profit organizations) with fewer than 20 employees are exempt from the reporting requirements, they are still required to comply with the Customer Service Standard.
I don’t deal directly with the public so don’t have customers. Does this legislation apply to me?
Yes...the term “customer” applies to anyone that enters your place of business as well as anyone you speak to outside your organization in order to fulfill the requirements of your job. Whether it is a client, supplier, distributor, buyer, contractor or the general public, all are considered your customers.
How will I be expected to report on what I have done to comply?
Organizations that provide goods or services to the public or to other third parties and that have 20 or more employees must file a report with the government by a date in 2012 that is yet to be specified.
Organizations with less than 20 employees do not have to file a report, but they are still expected to comply. The Act also provides for the appointment of Inspectors. The Act does not eliminate the possibility of inspection; however, nor does it specifically say small companies will be inspected.
Is there anything else I need to do by January 1, 2012?
Yes, there are a couple of regulations under both the Employment Standard and the Information and Communication Standard that must also be complied with by January 1, 2012.
Can I get information about the requirements online?
Yes. The government website at www.accesson.ca has the most current and thorough information. However, most find it a long and laborious task to sift through everything on the website. That is why we have brought in proLearning innovations, a highly reputable organization that specializes in AODA compliance, to assist our members.
Through the workshop you will receive all the information you need to know (no more, no less) in a simple and succinct manner. You will also be provided with templates and best practice examples that will be invaluable as you work on your company’s AODA policies and procedures, which must be completed by January 1, 2012.
How will the Customer Service Standard improve accessibility for people with disabilities?
The standard aims to help businesses and other organizations provide all of their customers with the same level of quality customer service.
Education and training are key components of the standard. Effective customer service for people with disabilities can often be achieved with some simple training for staff on how to serve people with different kinds of disabilities. Training also helps to address attitudinal barriers – one of the most common and complex barriers to address – affecting a broad range of disabilities.
The Insurance Institute Is Here To Help…
Contact your local chapter or prolearning for more information. Workshops are offered throughout the month of December at these locations: