Small organizations: new accessibility standards apply to you starting 2017

May 31st, 2016 by Katie Douglas

The Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (the AODA) removes barriers to participation in society for people with disabilities by requiring organizations to follow various “Accessibility Standards.” Currently, small organizations –organizations with 1 to 49 employees – must meet two Accessibility Standards. The first, Information and Communications Standards, require that, if requested, organizations provide or arrange for communication supports (e.g.. sign language interpreters) and information in accessible formats (e.g. large type brochures) for people with disabilities. Further, small organizations that provide goods or services to members of the public (e.g. a food co‑operative) must meet the Customer Service Standards which require that they provide their goods and services in a way that is accessible to people with disabilities, including accommodating service animals.

Beginning January 1, 2017, small organizations must also comply with AODA’s Employment Standards. These standards require employers to implement various policies and practices to ensure the workplace is accessible to people with disabilities. Obligations include such things as providing accommodations to job applicants in the recruitment process; informing all employees of the employer’s policies and practices on accessibility in the workplace; and taking into account a person’s disability when doing performance reviews and implementing career advancement practices such as job promotions.

These requirements are over and above small organizations’ obligations under the Ontario Human Rights Code to provide accommodation to employees with disabilities to the point of undue hardship.

Organizations should not delay in creating Employment Standards policies before January, 2017. We can help.

Filed in: Human Rights

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