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New Accessibility Ontario Requirements

That government!  At it again to make things more difficult to run a business in Ontario!

Actually, not really…  If you look through the new Accessibility Requirements for businesses in Ontario there are some great improvements on the horizon that will cost businesses very little to nothing to comply with!  And better yet, the changes can make for happier clients and staff – so what’s not to love?

Below you will find a summary of the new requirements for Ontario businesses with 1 to 20 employees and some requirements from businesses with 1-49 employees, links on how you can get your business in compliance, and the deadlines for the changes.  If you have any questions, drop me a line! I would be happy to walk through the changes with you or even send you a questionnaire so I can complete the paperwork portion for you and give you strategies on training your staff, getting the word out to clients that may be affected by the changes, etc!

(See all those red titles?  Those are overdue…)

(by Jan 2015) Customer Service Standard
Must meet all requirements under the Customer Service Standard
1.  Create Your Plan
2.  Train Your Staff
3.  Put it on Paper
Keep a written copy of the plan on accessible customer service that you created in Step 1 and let your customers know that it’s available. If they ask, provide it in an accessible format like large print.
Also, keep a training log of the training you provided in Step 2. Keep track of who you trained, on what and when.
4.  “Let us know how you’re doing” (fill out report)
(by Jan 2015) Employment Standard
1.  Workplace emergency response information
a.  Review you emergency information
b.  Determine who needs help
c.  Prepare and provide emergency information
d.  Follow up

(by Jan 2015) General Requirements
1.  Accessibility Policies
2.  Self-Service Kiosks

(by Jan 2016)  New General Requirements
1.  Training
You must provide training on:
a.  the IASR requirements that apply to your organization’s business, and
b. what you have to do under the Ontario Human Rights Code (related to disabilities)
You must provide the training to:
a.  all employees and volunteers, including paid and unpaid positions
b. anyone who is involved in developing your organization’s policies, including managers, senior leaders, directors and owners, and
c.  anyone who provides goods, services or facilities on your behalf, such as facilities management and contact centres.

(by Jan 2016) Information and Communication Standard
1.  Feedback
a. When asked, you must be able to receive and respond to feedback from your customers, your employees and members of the public who have a disability.
b. Under the Accessibility Standard for Customer Service, most organizations in Ontario are already required to set up a way for the public to give feedback about customer service. You can apply lessons you learned from doing this to making other types of feedback accessible. If you don’t receive and respond to feedback about other topics, you are not required to start doing so.

(By Jan 2017) Employment Standard
1.  Recruitment

Let job applicants know that you will accommodate disabilities during the selection process. You can do this in many ways:
a.  post the information on your website or include it in the job postings
b.  call applicants directly or speak to them in person, and
c.  write them a letter or send an email.

2.  If a job applicant requests accommodation, consult with them and make adjustments that best suit their needs.
a.  For example, if a job applicant who is Deaf asks for accommodation for a telephone interview, you could offer to conduct the interview via email or through a TTY line.
b.  The applicant may also suggest an interview format that best works for them.

3.  Notify successful applicants of your policies for accommodating employees with disabilities. You can do this in many ways:
a.  include the information in the offer letter or in a separate email
b.  call applicants directly or speak to them in person.

(due by Jan 2017)  Information for Employees

You need to let your staff know about your organization’s policies for supporting employees with disabilities. You have the flexibility to do this in a way that best suits your organization’s culture and business practices, such as by using:
a.  newsletters
b.  emails
c.  memos
d.  your website
e.  bulletin boards
f.  staff meetings, and
g.  one-on-one conversations.

(due by Jan 2017) Process to Accommodate Employees

1.  You can make performance management accessible in many ways. For example, you can:
a.  review your employees’ accommodation plans to understand their needs and see whether you need to make adjustments to help them succeed
b.  make performance management documents, such as performance plans, available in accessible formats, such as large print, when asked, and
c.  provide feedback and coach your employees in a way that is accessible to them, such as using plain language for an employee who has a learning disability.

2.  When you provide career development opportunities, consider what accommodations your employees with disabilities may need to:
a.  learn new skills, or
b.  take on more responsibilities in their current position.

3.  Also, think about what you could do to help your employees with disabilities succeed in other positions in your organization when they change jobs.

(due Jan 2017) Information and Communication Standard

1.  Accessible formats and communication supports
a.  Let the public know that you will make information accessible upon request. Then, if a person with a disability asks for it, work with them to figure out how to meet their needs, as soon as possible.
b.  You don’t have to have accessible formats on hand or make information that comes from another organization accessible, and this requirement doesn’t apply to products or product labels.

2.  Assess your information
a.  Think about how you provide information to the public – for example, your website, email, brochures, menus, videos or presentations – is there anything that would make it hard for someone with a disability to read, see, hear or understand?

3.  Make it accessible upon request
a.  When someone asks for accessible information, work with them to try to meet their needs.
b.  The law is flexible, because what you provide will depend on your resources, the type of information, its current format and the person’s needs.
c.  You can make a document accessible by recreating it in a different format; for example, printing it in large print for someone with vision loss.
d.  But you can also make information accessible by helping someone to use the original document or resource; for example, by reading it aloud.

4.  Provide it as soon as possible
a.  In some cases, you may be able to make the information accessible instantly.
b.  In other cases, it may take longer – it depends on the individual’s needs, the format and your organization’s resources

5.  Let the public know
a.  Tell your customers that you will make information accessible upon request.
b.  You could include a note on your website or promotional materials, create a sign or post a notice on a bulletin board. The law is flexible. Use an approach that works for you.


Well, that’s it!  Need help?  Let me know, I’m just an email away!



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