Heard about the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA)? Did you know you will need to meet accessibility standards for customer service by January 2012?
The Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Actwas enacted in 2005. Under the act, all businesses must meet accessibility standards in the following areas by 2025.
- Customer Service
- Information and Communications
- The Built Environment
The Customer Service Standard is the first standard to become law. In fact, it’s already law but most businesses have until January 2012 to comply. Failure to comply may result in monetary penalties and prosecution through the courts. What you have to do to comply depends on how many employees you have. If you have under 20 employees, (employee count includes all full-time, part-time, seasonal and contract employees), and even if you only have one employee, you need to do two things:
- Create your plan on accessible customer service
- Train your staff
Over the last few months the Province has significantly improved and clarified what needs to be done. The province’s website includes:
- A guide to help you understand what’s expected
- Tips on how to achieve these goals
- A template to help you create your plan
- A checklist to ensure you’ve covered all topics and training resources for your staff
If your business has over 20 employees, you’ve got more work to do:
- In addition to creating your plan and training your staff you must document everything.
- You must keep a written copy of the plan on accessible customer service and let your customers know that it’s available. If asked, you must be able to provide it in an accessible format like large print.
- You also need to keep a training log and you must report your progress to the Ministry of Community and Social Services. They will have an online tool available for reporting. You can sign up on their website and they will notify you when the tool is ready.
Take a look at these terrific videos you can include as part of your training. If you have any questions on compliance or training call Service Ontario – Accessibility for Ontarians 1-866-515-2025.
There is work to be done indeed but there is support for your business. We all know someone with a disability or are living with some type of disability ourselves. As the population ages, the number of people living with a disability will increase. Creating an atmosphere of awareness and a business community where every person who lives or visits can access services makes sense for everyone.
Got any tips to share about how to prepare for compliance with AODA? Share your tip and at the end of the month we’ll submit all entries into a draw for a chance to win a voucher for one of our upcoming seminars (value $25).