On Friday June 3, 2011, the Ontario government enacted the Integrated Accessibility Regulation under the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act. The Regulation gave force of law to three new standards to address barriers facing persons with disabilities in the areas of transportation, employment and information and communications.
This Regulation comes into force on the later of July 1, 2011 and the day it is filed. Specific requirements under the various standards will be phased in between 2012 and 2025.
Along with the customer service standard, four out of the five accessibility standards are now in place. As summarized by the Ministry of Community and Social Services:
- The accessibility standard for customer service came into effect in 2008. It requires all organizations in Ontario to make their customer service accessible and to train their staff on how to provide accessible service. Public sector organizations in Ontario are already complying with the standard. By January 1, 2012, private sector and non-profit organizations will need to meet the same requirements.
- The accessibility standard for information and communications will help people with disabilities access more sources of information that many of us rely on every day. This includes websites, public libraries, textbooks and public safety information. Organizations will need to provide public safety information in alternative formats such as large print starting January 1, 2012. Other requirements will be phased in over time.
- The accessibility standard for employment will help employers support and keep skilled employees. It will make accessibility a normal part of finding, hiring and communicating with employees, whether they have disabilities or not. Starting January 1, 2012, organizations will need to provide employees with disabilities with emergency response information that is tailored to the employee’s needs, if the disability requires it.
- The accessibility standard for transportation focuses on making transportation services accessible. This includes buses (including public school buses), trains, subways, streetcars, taxis and ferries. Some requirements for this standard come into effect on July 1, 2011, including equal fares for all customers, making verbal pre-boarding and on-board announcements and providing courtesy seating. Other requirements will be phased in over time.
The final approved Regulations are not yet available on e-Law but a Word version is posted on the Ministry of Community and Social Services website. There does not seem to be many changes from the draft Integrated Accessibility Standards Regulation, which was published in February 2011 for public review and commentary, and which, we discussed in previous Slaw posts.
Also, work is continuing on the fifth and final standard, the Built Environment Standard.