The purpose of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) is to develop, implement and enforce accessibility standards to achieve accessibility for Ontarians with disabilities, with respect to goods, services, facilities, accommodation, employment, buildings, structures and premises. Businesses, non-profits, government, and public sector organizations must comply with accessibility standards. Requirements and deadlines depend on an organization's type and size.
In this ASAP, we review upcoming deadlines for AODA compliance reports and accessible websites.
AODA Compliance Reports
For businesses and non-profits with 20 or more employees, the deadline to file the Accessibility Compliance Report (ACR) has been extended to June 30, 2021. Prior to the extension of the deadline, ACRs were due to be filed on December 31, 2020.
The ACR confirms current accessibility requirements under the AODA have been met. Failure to complete an ACR can result in enforcement, which can include financial penalties. Guidance for how to complete and file an ACR is available here.
Accessible Website and Web Content
By January 1, 2021, all public websites and web content posted after January 1, 2012 by businesses and non-profits with 50+ employees and public sector organizations must meet WCAG 2.0 Level AA other than criteria 1.2.4 (live captions) and 1.2.5 (pre-recorded audio descriptions). Guidelines for how to comply are available here.
Bottom Line for Employers
The accessibility standards described above are those that are most immediately upcoming. Organizations that operate in Ontario were required to comply with other accessibility standards in the past, and they will be required to comply with additional accessibility standards in the future.
Organizations that operate in Ontario should ensure their compliance with the AODA. Penalties for failure to comply are significant. Individuals and corporations guilty of an offence under the AODA are liable on conviction to a fine of up to $50,000 and $100,000, respectively, for each day on which the offence occurs. Organizations are encouraged to seek independent legal advice in order to ensure they have properly fulfilled these statutory obligations.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.