Under the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA), you must have an accessibility policy and accessibility plan in place. Creating an accessibility policy and plan may be challenging since legislation only provides an outline of what needs to be included. Every workplace’s policy and plan will differ. The policy and plan must be tailored to your business environment and the goods and services you offer. Below we provide suggestions on how to start creating an accessibility policy and plan. Furthermore, we provide a checklist to ensure that you have all of your bases covered.
Creating an Accessibility Policy and Plan
It can be difficult to figure out where you should start and how to create an accessibility policy and plan. As a result of these challenges, we created a step-by-step process that will help you get started.
Gather a team
Firstly, gather a team that has individuals from different departments. Recruit members who are willing to help with integrating accessibility compliance. Individuals could be managers or workers. Team members should have a good grasp of your business. They should also know your policies, programs, and services. In addition to including workplace members, you can also hire an AODA consultant to assist with ensuring compliance.
Determine what you must do
Secondly, determine your plan of action to incorporate accessibility compliance in your workplace. Furthermore, take the time to familiarize yourself with the AODA and Integrated Accessibility Standards Regulation (IASR).
Identify and assess barriers
Next, have your team identify and assess the accessibility barriers in your workplace. For instance, some barriers may include:
- Not having accessible doors
- A website that does not support screen-reading software
- Parking spaces that are too narrow for a person who uses a wheelchair or another assistive device
- Telephones that are not equipped with teletypewriter (TTY) technology or the ability to amplify sounds
Organize the barriers based on which ones need to be dealt with right away and which ones can be held off to a later time.
Creating an Accessibility Plan
You have now gathered your team and have identified and assessed the barriers in your workplace. You are finally ready to create an accessibility policy and plan. Below is a step-by-step process to build your accessibility plan:
- Ask for help from others who are knowledgeable on accessibility compliance or hire an AODA consultant, if needed.
- After assessing your barriers according to priority, create an action plan to eliminate the barriers.
- After you have created your action plan, you must document it. You must also make it available to the public.
- Depending on your business (for example, private, public, non-profit), you may need to file every two to three years. You must submit an online accessibility report to the government in relation to your compliance with AODA, if you are a:
- Business with 20 or more employees
- Non-profit with 20 or more employees
- Designated public sector organization
- Evaluate your accessibility plan at least once every six to 12 months. This will help check your progress and measure the level of success. Additionally, you will need to update the plan if necessary. However, it is mandatory that you review and update your accessibility plan once every five years.
Policies and Procedures Checklist
Finally, to ensure that you have included everything that pertains to your work environment and operations in your policy and plan, use the checklist below.
Have you included how you will:
- Provide goods and services to people with disabilities in an appropriate way?
- Receive and respond to feedback regarding the reception of goods and services to people with disabilities?
- Use any assistive equipment in a place of business?
- Allow service animals, and support workers in your workplace?
- Provide accessibility training to all of your workers?
- Provide accessible communication?
- Give documentation in an accessible format?
- Recruit workers and provide accommodation?
- Accommodate an employee in the return to work process?
- Respond to an emergency?
- Create protocol for temporary service issues?
- Conduct annual reviews?
Finally, after you have completed creating an accessibility policy and plan, you must train all of your workers and volunteers on it. If you are unsure whether your business needs an accessibility policy and plan, click here to learn which businesses do. Remember, though, these are general guidelines in creating an accessibility policy and plan. Each business differs in what its plan actually requires. In summary, the more specific you are with your policy, the better prepared your workers will be.