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Ontario Business Faces Accessibility Laws

Legislation aside, it’s simply good business for all organizations to commit to full accessibility.

Melissa Magder · Feb. 18, 2011 | Last Updated: Feb. 25, 2011 12:14 PM ET

While other provinces are in the process of examining accessibility laws, Ontario is so far the only province that has legislated the removal of all barriers to access in the public and private sectors.

The Accessibilities for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA), passed in 2005, includes the Customer Service Standard, which requires private sectors businesses to make themselves accessible to people with disabilities by Jan. 1, 2012. In the case of an offence under the AODA, businesses may be fined up to $100,000 a day.

But legislation aside, it’s simply good business for all organizations to commit to full accessibility, which means ensuring that there are no barriers
to full participation for the disabled, whether created by technological, structural, attitudinal or communications factors.

Today, 15.5% of Canadians are considered to have some form of disability. This number is predicted to rise to 20% over the next two decades, in part due
to the aging of the population. It’s a mistake for any business to ignore the needs of up to one fifth of its potential market, and this market segment
has a spending power of around $25-billion per year in Canada. The benefits of universal Accessibility for Ontario’s tourism industry could boost revenues
by 2% – 7%.

Committing to accessibility bolsters a company’s image as a good corporate citizen. Canadians with disabilities appreciate being treated as valued customers, and share this satisfaction with their friends and family. As communities become more sensitive to the needs of people of all abilities, accessibility will only increase in importance.

Taking accessibility seriously will also help us to catch up with our American neighbours. The landmark 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act has had a substantial impact on how businesses accommodate all clients, and two decades later Canada still has no comparable legislation.

Melissa Magder is director of diversity, human resources and intercultural training at proLearning innovations, a training solutions provider for Ontario businesses.

About Pro Learning Innovations

proLearning innovations is a leading human resources organization with a particular expertise in AODA compliance.

In partnership with the Human Resources Professionals Association (HRPA), proLearning innovations has been offering workshops designed specifically for those responsible for AODA compliance within their organizations. To date, almost 300 organizations have attended this highly interactive and practical day-long workshop, all to rave reviews!

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