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AODA deadlines approaching quickly

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With Halloween behind us, it’s time to look ahead to another big date looming on the calendar. Yes, that’s right, another AODA deadline is fast approaching.

Unlike under the AODA Customer Service Standard, an organization has a variety of deadlines to meet under the Integrated Accessibility Standard (“IAS”) depending on the nature of the requirements. For large, private sector organizations (50 or more employees), two significant deadlines are fast approaching.

By January 1, 2014, such organizations are expected to:

  • Create accessibility policies that show a commitment to increasing accessibility within the organization and a multi-year accessibility plan that details the specific steps that your organization will take to remove and prevent accessibility barriers. A good accessibility plan will clarify when actions will be taken, what resources will be needed and who will be responsible for each step. Accessibility policies must be available to the public upon request, while the accessibility plan should be posted somewhere such as a website or bulletin board.
  • Ensure that any new website, or any significant refresh of an existing website, conforms to the World Wide Web Consortium Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0, Level A. As noted in a previous blog, organizations may want to consider whether making existing content retroactively accessible is a best practice they wish to implement. To meet this requirement, it is important that an organization consult with someone who is an expert in web design, whether that is someone within an internal IT department or an external consultant.

Other less onerous requirements of the IAS are already effective now, or will also kick in for large organizations on January 1, 2014, so a review of the IAS and its requirements in the very near future is advised.

Lastly, for organizations that like to take a longer term approach to AODA planning, remember that by January 1, 2015, large organizations will be expected to provide training on all the IAS requirements that apply to the organization’s business, as well as the requirements of the Ontario Human Rights Code related to disabilities. Unlike the training requirements under the Customer Service Standard, this training must be provided to:

  • all employees and volunteers, including paid and unpaid positions
  • anyone who is involved in developing organizational policies
  • any third party who provides goods, services or facilities on your behalf

Cory Boyd