If you aren't sure what the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) is, then you need to get up to speed on it quickly. AODA was enacted in Ontario, Canada, in 2005, and is an all-encompassing act that dictates and improves the accessibility standards for Ontarians.
If you are a company that's interested in getting up to code with AODA, now is the time to begin. This act dictates that all public establishments should be fully accessible to anyone with physical or cognitive disabilities by January 1st, 2025. That doesn't give you a whole lot of time.
Read on to see why it's actually in your best interest to get acquainted with AODA and be fully accessible to anyone with disabilities.
1 in 7 Ontarians Has a Disability and That Number Will Increase to 1 in 5 by 2036
If you think that accessibility is something that doesn't affect you, think again. Not only are the numbers of Ontarians with disabilities growing (the numbers come from the Ontario Human Rights Commission).
Also, it is estimated by 2035, people will disabilities will comprise 40% of Ontario's consumer base. That's a huge chunk of people that you would be missing out on if you didn't accommodate them. People with disabilities have a total buying power of $55 billion annually!
Disability support should be a major part of your organizational strategy. Let's see what five standards you need to be compliant with.
AODA Has Five Main Standards to Keep in Mind (as Well as Some General Requirements)
The five standards to keep in mind with AODA are related to key areas of everyday life.
- Customer Service
- Information and Communications
- Built environment
If your organization is not compliant with AODA, then you are subject to penalties of up to $100,000 per day! If you don't have that kind of cash to dole out, it's time to become compliant with AODA and more inclusive to people with disabilities.
Also, if you have an organization with 20 or more employees, you need to file online reports as of 2017 to ensure that you are compliant with AODA and its accompanying standards. Disability support services are becoming mandatory to be in business now.
The General Requirements of AODA to Keep in Mind
In addition to the 5 standards above, there are some general requirements that AODA wants every organization to comply with.
- To provide training to staff and volunteers
- To develop an accessibility policy
- To create a multi-year accessibility plan and update it every 5 years
- To consider accessibility in procurement and when designing or purchasing self-service kiosks
These are pretty self-explanatory, as you can see.
AODA Isn't Only for Compliance Sake - It's Important for Your Organization's Continued Success
Thinking of AODA as a minor inconvenience is the wrong approach. People with Disabilities are a huge chunk of the population and the more you can include them into your planning and strategy process, the better your organization will be.
If you are concerned about becoming compliant in time for the 2025 deadline, then please contact us. We have a wide variety of Accessibility Compliance Services, that will get your organization up to speed fast, and easily.