What is the AODA?
AODA stands for, The Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act.
If you are not familiar with AODA, it’s comprised of a series of rules and regulations designed to make Ontario fully accessible within the next decade (with a goal of 2025). The rules are being implemented in phases, in order to give both small and large workplaces time to acclimatize to the changes and adjust both their physical spaces, as well as their policies. Ontario is the first Canadian Province to pass a law to improve accessibility in the areas that impact the daily lives of people with disabilities.
Did you know?
- About 1.7 million people in Ontario (that’s 14% of the population) have a disability.
- Over 6 million in Canada (that’s 17.5% of the population)
- 75% of people with disabilities in Canada, Europe and the United States are physically and financially able to travel.
- Nearly 40% of people over the age of 65 have disabilities. Seniors and people with disabilities will represent 20-25% of the Canadian marketplaces in the next ten years and beyond.
You can complete online training for free through the Access Forward Program.
Are You Missing Potential Customers?
Predictions are that the number of people with disabilities will continue to grow as our population ages. Don’t lose this major market group to your competitors!
You want to do business with this growing population of people with disabilities because they:
- live with, work with, and influence the rest of our population – on average, 5 or 6 other people, such as colleagues, family members, business owners and other service providers.
- are loyal customers and consumers – they’ll recommend your quality product or service. As business owners and service providers, you have a common goal.
- You want happy, satisfied customers whose needs are met. You want customers to feel comfortable and welcome to come back time and time again. And, if you do your job well, you can expect these customers to refer their friends, co-workers and family members.
- Loyal customers and their families and relatives are the best customers you can have and the ones you want to keep. As our population ages, think about the fact that more of your existing loyal customers and potential new customers will be people with disabilities, their families, their friends and their caregivers.
Take the Accessibility Test
Ok, so you’re curious and want to know how to be more accessible. We’ve put together a short test for you. Just answer the questions below, and be honest. If you need any help after, just send us an email and we can get you the support you need.
- Our customer service policy makes sure that customers with disabilities receive the same service as all our other customers.
- Our employees are comfortable serving customers with disabilities.
- We can provide our services in different ways – we ask customers how we may help them.
- Our premises have automatic doors and level access to the entrance.
- Our parking lot has spaces reserved for people with disabilities.
- Hallways and aisles are clutter-free and washrooms are accessible.
- If services are on different floors, there’s an elevator.
- Our signs are easy-to-read in large type.
- Our website is designed to be user friendly and accessible to customers with disabilities.
- We have a TTY (a telecommunication device for people who are deaf or hard of hearing) number.
- Our reports, advertisements and other written materials use respectful language
- Our advertising represents the whole community without negative stereotypes.
- Our marketing strategy reaches potential customers with disabilities.
- Our new products and services are designed to be accessible to all our customers, including those with sensory or mobility disabilities.
- Our staff is comfortable serving customers with disabilities.
- Our services can be provided in different ways. We ask customers how we may help them.
- When we use an e-recruitment website, we ask if it’s accessible to people with disabilities or if it features alternative advertising methods.
- We’re prepared to interview a job applicant who may need accommodation.
- Our job training can be delivered in alternate formats.
- Our working conditions are flexible and we can accommodate workers with different needs.
- Managers demonstrate a commitment to serving customers with disabilities.
- We have a job accommodation policy.
- We have anti-discrimination and anti-harassment policies that protect employees with disabilities.
- When planning new initiatives, we consider the needs of people with disabilities.
Count up the number of times you answered “yes”.
1 – 10 need work
11 – 15 you’re trying
16 – 20 great work
Businesses will recognize the need for accessibility and make sure that consumers who shop, work or do business with them are satisfied. They will ensure that the barriers that may prevent customers from enjoying access to products, services and employment are eliminated and removed.
In the United States, which is has implemented a similar standards under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the hospitality industry has increased annual revenue by over 10%. People with disabilities also represent a wealth of untapped employment potential. Stradea.ca can tell you all about that.
The changes to AODA’s requirements are based on the number of ’employees’ within a business. For small businesses with anywhere between 1 and 19 employees, employers are tasked with making their public spaces accessible. These can include parking lots, recreational trails or beach access routes, waiting areas with fixed seating, service counters, or fixed queuing guides.
The 5 standards of the AODA include:
- Customer Service Standard
- Information and Communication Standard
- Employment Standard
- Transportation Standard
- Design of Public Spaces Standard
Accessibility rules for businesses and non-profits
The rules and deadlines businesses and non-profits must follow to meet accessibility standards in Ontario. You can review additional information at the link provided below:
Please note: If your business has more than 50 workers, the AODA has additional requirements.