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Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act: What do sport organizations Need to Know ?

Alison Rae HR Associate, Business Sherpa Group

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nacted in 2005, the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, (AODA) is legislation that sets mandatory accessibility standards that identifies, removes and prevents barriers for persons with disabilities. The AODA comprises 5 standards that each covers an aspect of daily living. The standards are: Customer Service; Information and Communication, Employment and Transportation (also referred to as the Integrated Standards); and Design of Public Spaces. This legislation affects all employers in Ontario, regardless of size.

The Customer Service Standard was the first standard enacted under AODA and is the standard upon which all other standards are built; the Customer Service standard teaches us how to interact with persons with disabilities and ensures that all organizational practices are guided by the principles of independence, dignity, integration and equality of services and opportunity for persons with disabilities. Many organizations mistakenly believe that they are not required to comply by this standard because they do not interact directly with customers. However, the definition of customer, for the purposes of this legislation, is broad and includes any third party with whom representatives of the company interact; this may include customers, vendors, members, service providers and so on. Representatives of the organization may include employees, students, volunteers, members, board members or any other person who acts on behalf

of the organization and interacts with third parties.

Organizations with 20 or more employees are required report to the Ministry of Social Services on their Briefly, the basic elements of the AODA compliance with this standard. standard include: • developing policies, practices and The Integrated Standards includes three procedures on providing goods or subsets: services to people with disabilities; • Information and Communication • allowing people to use their own • Employment personal assistive devices; • Transportation • permitting guide dogs or services animals to accompany a person with The legislation establishes requirements a disability to areas that are open to and compliance dates depending on the public or third parties; the size of the organization; large • providing notices when facilities organizations with 50+ employees or services used by persons with must prepare a multi-year accessibility disabilities are temporarily disrupted; plan that outlines the measures and • providing advance notice when progress the company is making in admission fees are charged, if a meeting the standard, and must file an support person will also be required annual report with the Ministry of Social to pay the fee; and Services. While small organizations (1• establishing a feedback process 49) are not required to prepare a plan to allow persons with disabilities or report to the ministry, all companies to share their experience with the must establish a policy and make it organization in an effort to improve available to the public, and train staff on accessibility. the requirements under the applicable standards. In brief, the Information and Communication Standard establishes that organizations must provide or arrange for the provision of accessible formats and communication supports for persons with disabilities. By 2021,

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