Legislation and accessibility planning
There are currently two pieces of legislation in Ontario that help to ensure accessibility: the Ontarians with Disabilities Act, 2001 (ODA) and the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, 2005 (AODA). The first Act was established for public service organizations to identify, remove and prevent accessibility barriers for persons with disabilities by way of accessibility planning. The purpose of more recent legislation, AODA, is to enforce accessibility standards in both the public and private sectors to allow for persons with disabilities to live independent fulfilling lives in all aspects of daily living.
The Ontarians with Disabilities Act, 2001 (ODA)
Based on the Ontario Human Rights Code, which tells us we cannot discriminate based on a disability, the ODA was proclaimed in 2001. This legislation obligates public sector organizations to institute accessibility planning to address accessibility barriers throughout public facilities. In addition, for municipalities with over 10,000 citizens, an Accessibility Advisory Committee must be formed made up primarily of persons with disabilities.
The Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, 2005 (AODA)
There are currently 1.85 million people in Ontario who are living with a disability. As the population ages, this number is expected to increase to one in five. This is why the Province of Ontario is improving accessibility by 2025 with the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, 2005 (AODA).
This legislation contains five standards, to be implemented in phases. According to the Act, The Regional Municipality of Durham had to comply with the Accessible Customer Service Standard by Jan. 1, 2010. The private sector (or business community) was given a date of January 2012.
In July 2011, an additional three of the five accessibility standards were enacted, which will ensure accessibility in areas of information and communications, employment and transportation. These three standards have been combined under one regulation called the Integrated Accessibility Regulation (IAR). Implementation for standards will involve a harmonized approach to help achieve a fully accessible community by 2025.
The Built Environment Accessibility Standard is the fifth standard under AODA and has not yet been passed into law. This standard will help to ensure full participation for everyone by addressing accessibility for new construction and major renovations. It’s anticipated that where applicable, the Built Environment requirements will be adopted into the Ontario Building Code.
It is important to note that the public sector (such as local governments) often has a different compliance date than the private sector (local businesses, such as stores, salons, etc.). However, both sectors are given compliance dates that they must follow.
For more information, please visit the Ontario Ministry of Community and Social Services website.
The Regional Municipality of Durham, Accessibility Plan
The latest Accessibility Plan is based on information contained in the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, 2005, which aims to remove and prevent barriers for people with disabilities. The Act includes five standards: customer service, information and communications, transportation, employment, and built environment.
View the Region’s most current Accessibility Plan here.
For more information about the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, please visit the Ontario Ministry of Community and Social Services.