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As the end of the year approaches, and with it the deadline for many businesses to file their Accessibility Compliance Report, it seems as good a time as any to review the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (the “AODA”) and confirm your organization’s compliance. More on that in a minute.

Assuming your business is totally up to date on your AODA obligations, don’t forget that two more deadlines are coming up:

  1. By December 31, 2017, all larger organizations (20+ employees) must submit an Accessibility Compliance Report. A downloadable copy of the compliance report form and instructions on how to complete it are available on the Government of Ontario’s website.
  2. By January 1, 2018, all businesses will be required to make new or redevelop their public spaces, including parking lots, service counters, and waiting areas, to be accessible. A guide on how to make these spaces accessible is also available online.

Now back to ensuring compliance to date. While previous deadlines under the AODA varied depending on the size and type of your organization, as of January 2017 the implementation of all of the workplace related requirements became due. This means that to be compliant to date all businesses should be meeting the following obligations:

  • Providing accessible customer service by:
    • Training staff and volunteers to serve customers of all abilities.
    • Welcoming service animals and support persons.
    • Creating accessible ways for people with disabilities to provide feedback when asked (i.e. through comment cards or surveys).
  • Providing accessible emergency and public safety information (i.e. evacuation plans).
  • Providing individualized emergency response information to disabled employees.
  • Having accessibility policies in place.
  • Continuing to consider accessibility when purchasing or designing self-service kiosks.
  • Training all staff on Ontario’s accessibility laws, including the AODA, the Human Rights Code and the customer service standard, and maintaining records of all training completed.
  • Making your public information accessible when asked.
  • Making your employment practices accessible by:
    • Notifying applicants of availability of accommodation during recruitment.
    • Providing accommodation through interviews and testing.
    • Advising successful applicants of availability of accommodation during employment.
    • Providing all materials in accessible formats at all stages.
    • Taking into account accessibility needs and accommodation plans when using performance management, providing career development and advancement plans, and reassigning employees.

So as part of your year-end housekeeping, take a minute to review these obligations and confirm your organization is fully complying with them. If you need a hand making sure you’re compliant or bringing your business up to snuff, we can help.

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