A GTA Roundtable Discussion
AODA Compliance Discussion
EMC roundtables are led by Manufacturing Consortium Managers (MCMs), bringing together members in each region to exchange best practices, seek guidance, and collectively navigate predetermined focus topics. In a recent roundtable meeting facilitated by Leah Nacua, EMC's Manufacturing Consortium Manager for the GTA, the focus was on Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) compliance.
The AODA is intended to reduce and remove barriers for people with disabilities so that Ontario can become more accessible and inclusive for everyone. Ontario businesses and non-profits with 20 or more employees and public sector organizations must complete their AODA compliance reporting by December 31, 2023. The AODA compliance form can be found here, along with a number of resources to help guide business owners through the requirements: https://www.ontario.ca/page/completing-your-accessibility-compliance-report.
Key takeaways from the AODA roundtable discussion:
Customers and AODA Compliance
- AODA compliance extends beyond product consumers to encompass anyone entering your facility.
- Requirements include having accessibility policies, staff training, documented policies, and adherence to accessibility laws.
- Non-compliance results in the potential loss of customers and initiates coaching efforts from the Ministry for Seniors and Accessibility, but persistent non-compliance may result in fines.
- Adhering to the latest Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) is crucial for website compliance.
- Resources like https://accessibe.com/ and https://userway.org/widget/ aid in assessing and enhancing website accessibility.
Building and Parking Compliance
- The Design of Public Spaces standard of the AODA applies to new spaces and buildings and existing spaces undergoing major renovations. However, existing spaces that do not need major reconstruction do not need to comply.
- Organizations building or reconstructing on-street or off-street parking spaces must make those spaces accessible to visitors with disabilities who hold accessible parking permits. Some valuable resources to determine if you’re meeting the parking compliance requirements include:
- To comply with AODA, it is essential to consider work accommodation plans for employees with disabilities and establish return-to-work policies for those rejoining the workforce after a disability-related absence.
- Internal training systems, AODA onboarding training, the review of quarterly topics, and annual AODA training contribute to a well-rounded compliance strategy.
- Emergency response plans should account for the diverse needs of individuals, including considerations for those using wheelchairs to exit buildings, individuals with heart conditions navigating stairs, and ensuring the safe exit of those with hearing impairments, among other factors.
General AODA Reporting Tips
- Creation and maintenance of accessibility policies may suffice for organizations with less than 50 employees, whereas a multi-year accessibility plan is mandatory for larger companies.
- Downloading the AODA form isn’t straightforward. You need to download the form, then right-click and ‘save the link as’ or instruct it to open with Acrobat Reader.
Join the discussion at your next regional EMC roundtable meeting to explore topics like this and stay informed on the latest industry insights. Click here to view upcoming GTA events.