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Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA)

What is the AODA?

Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) is a piece of legislation enacted in 2005 by the government of Ontario, Canada. 

The goal of the AODA is to create a barrier-free Ontario by 2025. The Act sets out specific requirements for accessibility in five areas: customer service, transportation, information and communications, employment, and design of public spaces. The AODA requires organizations to establish policies, practices, and procedures for providing accessible goods and services to people with disabilities. It also requires organizations to provide training to their employees on how to interact with people with disabilities and to incorporate accessibility into their design and procurement processes.

What are the differences between AODA and Canadian Human Rights Act (CHRA)?

The Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) and the Canadian Human Rights Act (CHRA) have a shared goal of safeguarding the rights of people with disabilities in Canada. However, there are significant differences between the two laws regarding their scope, enforcement, and accessibility requirements.

The CHRA is a federal law that applies to all Canadians, including public and private organizations, whereas the AODA is a provincial law that applies only to entities operating in Ontario. The CHRA aims to eliminate discrimination in various areas, such as employment, housing, and services, while the AODA specifically targets barriers to accessibility in transportation, customer service, employment, and information and communication.

Moreover, the two laws differ in their enforcement mechanisms. The CHRA is enforced by the Canadian Human Rights Commission, which investigates complaints and brings cases to the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal. In contrast, the Accessibility Directorate of Ontario enforces the AODA and can impose fines for non-compliance.

Regarding accessibility standards, both the CHRA and the AODA reference the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG). However, the AODA mandates compliance with WCAG 2.0 Level AA for all public websites and web content, whereas the CHRA does not have specific technical requirements.

Who is affected by the AODA?

The Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) applies to all individuals, organizations, and businesses in Ontario, including public, private, and non-profit organizations. It applies to all levels of government, including municipalities, universities, and schools.

In terms of specific requirements, the AODA has different compliance deadlines for different types of organizations. Large organizations with 50 or more employees had to comply with the accessibility standards by January 1, 2014, while small organizations with fewer than 50 employees had until January 1, 2017. Public sector organizations, such as hospitals and schools, had to comply with the accessibility standards by January 1, 2016.

The AODA also applies to organizations that provide goods or services to people in Ontario, regardless of where the organization is based. For example, a company based in another province or country that sells products to customers in Ontario would be required to comply with the AODA.

What are the AODA requirements?

The AODA has set specific accessibility standards for different sectors: 

  • The customer service standard requires organizations to provide accessible customer service to people with disabilities. This includes providing alternate formats for information, such as braille, large print, and audio formats. 
  • The transportation standard requires that public transportation be accessible, including buses, subways, and trains. 
  • The employment standard requires that employers provide accessible employment practices, such as accessible recruitment, and accommodation for disabilities.
  • The information and communications standard requires that all public websites and digital content be accessible, according to the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 Level AA. This means that all websites, apps, and digital documents must be designed to be usable by people with disabilities, including those with visual, auditory, and physical disabilities. Organizations must also provide accessible formats for information upon request, such as alternate formats or closed captioning.

What are the costs associated with non-compliance?

Under the AODA, the Accessibility Directorate of Ontario is responsible for enforcing accessibility standards. The Directorate can issue compliance orders, monetary penalties, or prosecute non-compliant organizations. The maximum penalty for non-compliance with the AODA is $100,000 per day for corporations and $50,000 per day for individuals.

How can I make my website AODA compliant?

Book a Demo

How can Clym help?

Clym believes in striking a balance between digital compliance and your business needs, which is why we offer businesses the following:

  • All-in-one platform: One interface combining Privacy and Accessibility compliance with global regulations, at an affordable price;
  • Seamless integration into your website;
  • Adaptability to your users’ location and applicable regulation;
  • Customizable branding;
  • Ready Compliance: Covering 30+ data privacy regulations;
  • Six preconfigured accessibility profiles, as well as 25+ display adjustments that allow visitors to customise their individual experience.

You can convince yourself and see Clym in action by booking a demo or reaching out to us to discuss your specific needs today.

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