Demystifying the requirements on the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities
Written by Lucie Lapierre, Imagine Human Resources Consulting Inc.
French text: Alysson Brassard, HR Assistant
With David Berman from David Berman Communications Inc.
Disclaimer: The information provided in this article does not constitute legal advice, nor does it encompass all obligations under the AODA or its regulations. For more information, visit the links provided in this article, or seek professional or legal guidance.
As business owners you most likely have heard in recent news that there is a deadline to report on the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disability Act (AODA) by December 31, 2023? You may be wondering if this requirement applies to your business and if it does what do you need to know and do?
To help demystify the requirements for business owners under the AODA, I met with David Berman, from David Berman Communications Inc. who shares with us in simple language what the requirements might be for your business under the AODA.
David is one of the few hundred people worldwide to hold the highest certification for accessibility professionals, issued by the International Association of Accessibility Professionals. He has helped small to large businesses, including the Canadian government and Fortune 500 companies, meet their legislative requirement under accessibility. We are privileged to have him contribute to the success of businesses under the Ontario legislation.
I asked David 5 questions to help us understand better what the AODA requirements are.
1. If I have less than 20 employees, do I need to comply with the AODA?
David: There are three layers of requirements under the AODA. The first layer is for businesses with less than 20 employees, the second for businesses with between 20 and 49 employees and the third one for businesses with 50 or more employees. What constitute an employee is all full time, part time, seasonal and contract workers. Employees outside Ontario, volunteers and independent contractors are not considered employees.
Regardless of the size of your business, you will interact with humans, and access to the physical space is important for your business and your clients. It is important that your employees are informed and aware on what accessibility is and how they can serve their clients in an accessible way. You may only have one or a few employees, but they may need to have an accessible workplace. For all these reasons…
Accessibility is good for your business, good for your clients and good for the community!
If you have less than 20 employees, yes, you still need to comply with the AODA but you do not need submit a compliance report by the deadline of December 31, 2023.
However, you still must comply with the following requirements from the Ontario Government:
Create accessibility policies – you are not required to document those policies but having them in writing and communicate to your employees and clients is a great way to ensure that you are compliant with AODA requirements.
Train your staff and volunteers - on accessibility and the Ontario Human Rights Code.
Plan for accessible self-service kiosks - if this is a feature that your business is offering.
Provide accessible customer service – your business must provide accessible customer service to people with disabilities to allow them to access your goods, services, or facilities. This includes communication methods, formats, and support, allowing assisted devices in your business, welcoming service animals, and creating accessible ways for people to provide feedback on your business.
Implement accessible employment practices – making your recruitment process accessible, informing your employees of the support that can receive or is provided, consider individual accessibility needs in your workplace emergency response information, and consider the needs of your employees during their performance management, for their career development and progression.
Provide accessible information - you must let the public know what you will provide in terms of accessibility.
If your business is a library, a training or educational organization – you must provide information, training materials and other resources in an accessible format.
Create accessible public spaces – your parking lot, service counters, waiting areas, eating spaces, etc. must meet the baseline level of accessibility defined by the Ontario’s Design of Public Spaces accessibility standards
2. My business has more than 20 employees, what are the main responsibilities to comply?
David: If your business has between 20 and 49 employees, the requirements above applies, and you must file an accessibility compliance report every three (3) years. The next reporting requirements is 31 December 2023.
If your business has 50 or more employees, you must comply with the basic requirements above, file an accessibility compliance report every three (3) years and:
If you have less than 50 employees, your website does not need to be accessibly compliant, however,
when your web site is accessible it benefits everyone. It means more people can buy your products, it is good for public relations and communication perspective, it is easier to use, and people will stay longer on your website.
There are 36 criteria to measure against to declare your website accessible, seeking the help of professionals in the world of accessible web sites is recommended.
3. I do not own the building in which my business is located; how do I comply in that situation?
David: This is an excellent question. Most businesses are renting the space that they operating in. If so, any requirements to comply with for the exterior or shared spaces of the building is the responsibility of the landlord. An accessibility complaint would go to the landlord, and they would be responsible to respond to the complaint. However, if as a business owner you make renovation (fit-up) inside the building where you conduct your business, you become responsible to meet accessibility standards for what you’ve done. For example, if you decide to redesign a bathroom, you must ensure that it meets the accessibility standards.
The code allows for legacy buildings, meaning older buildings, to be exempt from some accessibility requirements, however any time there is a structural change, interior or exterior, it must meet current standards. Seek the assistance of a professional in building code before making any changes to the exterior or interior of a building.
4. What happen if I do not comply?
David: The intention behind the accessibility legislation is to encourage businesses to increase their accessibility for Ontarians. The aim of the government is to help businesses achieve this and not unnecessarily penalize them. There are penalty fines for noncompliance, however, if your business is the subject of a complaint or an inspection by the Ministry, they will typically ask you what you have done to mitigate or respond to the accessibility standards and give you a chance to rectify the situation before applying any fines. They will provide recommendations and, in most cases, allow for an extension to comply. It’s best to act in good faith, make good efforts to be compliant, be open and transparent with the Government.
I recommend to my clients to strive to exceed the standards where they can because it is good for their business, good for the heart, and for the community.
That way if you happen to inadvertently fall short in some area, the Ministry and your customers will likely be more forgiving while you rectify the issue.
5. How can I get help in filing my report or assess compliance?
David: You can visit the Ontario Government web site or contact them at :
For people with hearing disabilities:
You can also reach David Berman (613-728-6777 / firstname.lastname@example.org / davidberman.com) at David Berman Communications to learn more, advise you on how best complete your AODA conformance report, or help you audit your website or physical space.
David Berman Communications Inc. and Imagine Human Resources Consulting Inc. are trusted partners of Loghrin Group. Loghrin Group empowers HR leaders to maximize their success by making it easier to access and manage all their possibilities.