Last Friday, the Ontario government passed the Integrated Disability Regulation under the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA). The Regulation includes a number of requirements for employers to remove barriers and ensure accessibility for employees. The Regulation contains three standards for organizations to meet, including an Employment Standard at Part III.
A good summary of the Regulation can be found on the First Reference blog. Further details can be found on the Ontario government website, including a toolkit that will be available in the fall of 2011.
Workplace Emergency Response Information by January 1, 2012
By January 1, 2012, all employers must provide individualized workplace emergency response information to employees who have a disability, if the disability is such that individualized information is necessary and the employer is aware of the need for accommodation due to the employee’s disability.
In general, employers will be required to address accessibility of employees, including:
- develop policies on how the organization will achieve accessibility;
- establish a multi-year accessibility plan outlining the organization’s strategy to prevent and remove barriers; and
- ensure that training is provided on the requirements of the accessibility standards.
Depending on the size of your organization, the various requirements of the Regulation must be implemented between 2014 and 2021.
Accessibility of the Internet
An interesting requirement that too few of us put our mind to is the accessibility of the internet. For many people with a disability, viewing information that is often critical to one’s employment is either very difficult or not possible. The Regulation includes a number of standards that organizations will have to introduce over the next few years to ensure that all employees have access to the company’s intranet and to computer systems in general.
This includes ensuring compliance with the WCAG 2.0 Level AA standards, an initiative by the World Wide Web Consortium to improve accessibility of the internet for people with disabilities.
Donna Seale has written a helpful post on her Human Rights in the Workplace blog explaining how to improve internet accessibility.
This will be a challenging but positive process for employers. I’d love to hear from you if you have any tips on how to smoothly implement accessible technology in the workplace.