Ontario Seeking Input on AODA Standards
August 5, 2021
The Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, 2005 (AODA) and its regulations aim to identify, remove and prevent barriers for people with disabilities. The accessibility standards of the AODA apply to every organization in the province with one or more employees. This means that employers in the public, private and non-profit sectors are required to comply with the AODA.
One of the functions of the AODA is to develop new accessibility standards with the help of Standards Development Committees. As part of this process, two committees are currently seeking public input on initial recommendations for the Health Care Accessibility Standards and the Postsecondary Accessibility Standards.
Health Care Accessibility Standards
The role of the Health Care Standards Development Committee is to develop recommendations for the government on reducing and preventing accessibility barriers in health care for people with disabilities, focusing on Ontario’s hospital sector. In May 2021, the committee released its initial recommendation under the AODA.
The committee provided 22 recommendations for incorporating accessibility in health-care planning and removing existing barrier. The recommendations cover seven focus areas:
- initial proposed long-term objective
- accessibility accommodations in hospitals
- education and training
- patient relations and complaints
- enforcement of accessibility requirements
- awareness and outreach
- accessibility in emergency or pandemic situations
The committee is seeking public input by August 11, 2021. Employers and individuals can participate in this process by completing the online survey. In the alternative, written submissions can be emailed to healthSDC@ontario.ca.
Postsecondary Accessibility Standards
On June 25, 2021, the Postsecondary Education Standards Development Committee published its initial recommendations for developing postsecondary accessibility standards under the AODA. The initial report contains 179 recommendations.
The proposed standards for postsecondary education focus on addressing accessibility barriers in publicly funded postsecondary schools. The recommendations can be divided into nine broad themes:
- general overarching barriers
- attitudes, behaviours, perceptions and assumptions
- awareness and training
- assessment, curriculum and instruction
- digital learning and technology
- organizational barriers
- social realms
- physical and architectural barriers
- financial barriers
The Postsecondary Education Standards Development Committee is seeking input from the public by September 29, 2021. Individual and employers can participate by completing the online survey or emailing a written submission to postsecondarySDC@ontario.ca.
After the public feedback period, the committees will review the responses and consider changes to the initial recommendations. The recommendations will then be submitted to the Ontario Government as it moves forward on its work in creating a more accessible Ontario.
While the above recommendations are not yet law, we may see these recommendations reflected in future updates of the AODA.
It is critical that organizations remain in compliance with the current AODA requirements and regularly file compliance reports. For example, business and non-profits with 20 or more employees were required to file an accessibility compliance report with the Ontario Ministry for Seniors and Accessibility by June 30, 2021.