What is the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA)? If you don’t know about it, you’re not the only one who doesn’t. Although it’s been around since 2005 many people in this province still don’t know about the act. And often the people who do know about it aren’t even sure how — or if — it applies to them. However, at the end of the day it’s simple.

In this article we’ll cover the basics of what the AODA is and what it means for your business. In brief, we’ll also talk about who it protects and who must comply with each of its standards. By the end we will have achieved a general overview of the act and what it means.

What Is the AODA?

Firstly, the AODA is a set of laws that applies to most organizations that exist in Ontario. It is most likely that it applies to yours. This includes all businesses as well as all non-profits in the province. To begin with, these standards will make organizations more accessible to people with disabilities. Not only brick and mortar organizations, but also digital organizations must comply with it. This encompasses all government, non-profit, and private sector organizations in the province. The provincial goal is for all of them to be fully accessible by 2025.

Secondly, AODA is based off the 2001 Ontarians with Disabilities Act. The Ontario government wrote and passed the expanded AODA in 2005. Ontario is the first province in the country to create universal accessibility standards like this.

Accessibility Policy And Plan

One requirement of the act is that all organizations must have an accessibility policy in place. This helps organizations to set real goals and enact a plan to become more accessible. In other words, all organization members must work together to assess what the barriers for disabled people are and where they are. Afterward, step two is to work to remove those barriers.

Accessibility For Ontarians With Disabilities Act Updates  

The AODA is always going through changes to keep up with the times. This helps to keep the Act up to date. Also it makes sure that people with disabilities get the best help that they can. Therefore, starting January 1, 2021 both public and private organizations with 50+ employees must comply with the WCAG 2.0 AA by law in Ontario. This new standard is not widely known, but will be coming into effect very soon.

What is the WCAG? It stands for the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0. Level AA means that websites will need to comply with the second tier of standards and not only the first. It was developed by a group of web accessibility experts. These guidelines are accepted worldwide when it comes to . They are meant to make web content more accessible to disabled people.

The 5 Standards Of the Accessibility For Ontarians With Disabilities Act

AODA has five standards that we need to know. In 2016 these standards were combined under the Integrated Accessibility Standards Regulation (IASR). The five standards in question are:

1. Customer service

2. Employment

3. Design of public space

4. Transportation

5. Information and Communications

What It All Means

The goal of the AODA is to have an accessible province for all Ontarians. These standards give all people in the province equal footing. Above all, the act gives everyone an equal chance to succeed in life. This is because accessible employment makes it so that disabled people can contribute to society and the economy just like other people. Furthermore accessible customer service will make it easy for disabled people to have spending power, which will help the economy grow. If we make it easy for disabled people to access the same things as others, then we all reap the rewards.

And finally having accessible transportation will make sure that disabled people are able to move around freely in their communities, to get to and from work, and fulfill their basic needs just the same as others can do. It helps them to be a part of their communities. In the end, the same idea applies to public spaces. We must have public spaces that disabled people can use and access as freely as anyone else.

The standards of the AODA will be great for both the community and the economy. On the web, the same should apply as in the real world. Disabled people should be able to use a website just like anyone else, whether they are using a screen reader or a standard device. That is why the law asks us to comply with WCAG 2.0 standards. In conclusion, equal footing can allow all people to use their talents to benefit their communities and their province.

Talk to us about making your site AODA compliant today.