New Human Rights Legislation in Ontario: Is Your Organization Accessible to Individuals with Disabilities?

January 24th, 2012 by Priya Sarin

Recognizing the barriers that individuals with disabilities face in obtaining access to goods, services, facilities, accommodation, employment and buildings or premises, the Ontario legislature enacted the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, 2005 (AODA).

Although AODA has been in force for some time now, its concrete requirements are being slowly phased in through the Act’s underlying regulations, including O.Reg. 429/07 and O.Reg. 191/11.

As of January 1, 2012, private enterprises and non‑profits that provide goods and services to the public are required to comply with the regulations on accessibility to goods and services in Ontario. If you, or your organization, fail to follow the required steps to make your goods and services accessible to those with disabilities, you risk being faced with significant monetary penalties. Directors and Officers, for example, can be fined up to $50,000 per day for non‑compliance.

Some of the key requirements of this legislation are that you must:

  • Establish policies, practices and procedures on providing goods or services to people with disabilities which are aligned with the core principles of independence, dignity, integration and equality;
  • Permit customers to use their own personal assistive devices to access your goods or services;
  • Take into account a person’s disability when communicating with him or her;
  • Train staff and volunteers on how to interact and communicate with people with various disabilities and/or who are using personal assistive devices;
  • Allow people with disabilities to be accompanied by their guide dog or service animal in those areas of the premises you own or operate that are open to the public, unless the animal is excluded by another law;
  • Permit people with disabilities who use a support person to bring that person with them while accessing goods or services in premises open to the public or third parties;
  • Provide notice when facilities or services that people with disabilities rely on to access or use your goods or services are temporarily disrupted;
  • Establish a process for people to provide feedback on how you provide goods or services to people with disabilities and how you will respond to any feedback and take action on any complaints. Make the information about your feedback process readily available to the public in alternative formats upon request.

If you have not yet drafted or implemented a policy on providing services to individuals with disabilities or have not yet provided training to your employees and you are unsure of how to go about it or what exactly is required of you, Iler Campbell would be pleased to assist you. For more information contact Priya Sarin at 416‑598‑0103 Ext 135.

Filed in: Employment Law

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