Bottom Line

The deadline for businesses and non-profit organizations with 20 or more employees to file an accessibility compliance report has been extended to June 30, 2021.

Accessibility in Ontario

In Ontario, the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (the "AODA") develops, implements and enforces accessibility standards. All levels of government, businesses, non-profits and public sector organizations must comply with the AODA's accessibility standards. Ontario's accessibility standards help businesses and organizations to identify and remove barriers to improve accessibility for persons with disabilities in five areas:

  • customer service
  • access to information
  • public transportation
  • employment
  • outdoor public spaces

While AODA requirements differ depending on the size and type of organization, there are several upcoming AODA compliance deadlines that may apply to your organization.

AODA Compliance Reports

Private businesses and not-for-profit organizations with 20 or more employees are required to complete and file an accessibility compliance report by June 30, 2021. Designated public sector organizations must submit an accessibility compliance report by December 31, 2021.

The AODA compliance report is a self-assessment of an organization's status in terms of compliance with all provincial accessibility requirements. Detailed guidelines for completing the compliance report can be found here.

Accessible Website Requirement

By January 1, 2021, private or non-profit organizations with 50+ employees and designated public sector organizations must take steps to ensure that their websites and web content is accessible. This means ensuring that their public websites and web content posted after January 1, 2012 comply with the World Wide Web Consortium's WCAG 2.0 Level AA standard, which is an internationally accepted standard for web accessibility. Note that live captions and pre-recorded audio descriptions are excluded.

The Government of Ontario has published detailed guidelines to assist employers in complying with the website accessibility standards. These guidelines can be found here.

Takeaways for Employers

It is important to ensure that your organization is compliant with the AODA. Failure to do so can result in significant penalties. Every individual who is guilty of an offence under the AODA may be liable to a fine of up to $50,000 for each day on which the offence occurs. Corporations may be liable to a fine of up to $100,000 for each day on which an offence under the AODA occurs.

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.