Changes to the Accessibility for Ontarians With Disabilities Act take effect today

The Accessibility for Ontarians With Disabilities Act was introduced in 2005 to help remove barriers for people living with disabilities.
The Accessibility for Ontarians With Disabilities Act was introduced in 2005 to help remove barriers for people living with disabilities. (Photo: iStock).

The Accessibility for Ontarians With Disabilities Act was introduced in 2005 to help remove barriers for people living with disabilities by ensuring they have proper access to goods, services, facilities, accommodation, employment, buildings, structures, and premises by 2025.

In order to simplify this process, the government has now made changes to the act.

What are some of the major changes coming into force today?

One major way in which the changes are trying to facilitate accessibility is by combining all accessibility standards into one package, called the Integrated Accessibility Standards Regulation.

This includes the Customer Service Standard which gave people the right to request documents in a way that took their disability into consideration. Now, if the organization has 50 employees or more, it must produce documents in an accessible format or with communication supports upon request, and it must be publically available either by posting it publicly or by posting it on a website.

Another major change deals with training. Previously, only members of an organization who provided customer service or who created policies and procedures had to be trained on accessible customer service, the new requirements demand that all employees, volunteers, policy developers, and any other person that deals with the provision of goods, services and facilities be trained on how to provide accessible customer service.

There are also changes in definition that will have a significant impact on organizations.

For example, under the new rules, a “large organization” is defined as having 50 or more employees in Ontario. Under the old rules, a large organization was defined as only having 20 or more people.

The change is significant because it means that for smaller organizations, the accessible customer service policy no longer applies.

However, organizations that have 20 or more employees are now required to submit an accessibility compliance report by December 31, 2017 to ensure that they have implemented the changes.

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