Accessibility for All Ontarians

The Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, 2005 (AODA) became law on June 13, 2005. Under this landmark legislation, the Government of Ontario will develop mandatory accessibility standards that will identify, remove and prevent barriers for people with disabilities including those who are deaf or hard of hearing in key areas of daily living. The standards will apply to private and public sector organizations across Ontario, including post-secondary education facilities.

Disability impacts the lives of many Ontarians, and the numbers of people with disabilities is increasing. Today, 15.5% of Ontario's population has a disability and this number will continue to grow as the population ages. The broad range of disabilities includes:

  • vision loss
  • deafness & hearing loss
  • intellectual or developmental
  • learning, and mental health disabilities
  • many other hidden disabilities.

According to the Royal Bank of Canada, people with disabilities have an estimated spending power of about $25 billion annually across Canada. People with disabilities also represent a large pool of untapped employment potential. When all of us make Ontario accessible to people with disabilities, everyone benefits.

The Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, 2005 lays out the goal of an accessible Ontario by 2025. The Accessibility Directorate of Ontario has set out a series of proposed targets for what needs to happen and when, in increments of 5 years or less.

Five key area standards include:

Accessible Customer Service standard

This is the first standard developed to become a regulation. It came into force on January 1, 2008 and is now the law. Public sector organizations will be required to comply by January 1, 2010. Private sector organizations will be required to comply by January 1, 2012. The standard addresses business practices and training needed to provide better customer service to people with disabilities.

Integrated Regulation includes 4 Standards below:

Accessible Information and Communications standards

These standards address the removal of barriers in access to information. The standards could include information being provided in person, through print, a website or other means. This is particularly important to youth who deaf or hard of hearing.

Employment Accessibility standards

These standards address paid employment practices relating to employee-employer relationships, which could include recruitment, hiring, and retention policies and practices.

Accessible Transportation standard

This standard is to address aspects of accessible public transportation. Access to transportation is needed for going to work or school, shopping and other aspects of daily life.

Accessible Built Environment standards

These standards address access into and within buildings and outdoor spaces and are expected to build on Ontario's Building Code. The standards could include things like counter height, aisle and door width, parking, and signs.

All of us need to be aware of accessibility. Raising awareness is an important part of reaching the goal of an accessible Ontario. Under the act, the Accessibility Directorate of Ontario will develop and conduct programs of public education on the purpose of the act and implementation of its requirements, provide tools and other resources to help organizations comply with the standards once they become regulations in law.