Currently, 1.85 million people in Ontario, or one in seven, have a disability. Over the next twenty years, as our population ages, this ratio will gradually increase to one in five people—meaning that likely either you, or someone you know, will face a “barrier to accessibility.”

Ontario is working to remove all barriers to accessibility.

On June 13, 2005, the provincial government passed the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA). The Act makes Ontario the first jurisdiction in Canada to develop, implement and enforce mandatory accessibility standards.

The goal is to make Ontario fully accessible for people with disabilities by 2025; this, in turn, will yield economic benefits for Canadians.

According to a 2005 study by the Royal Bank of Canada, people with disabilities wield a combined purchasing power of over $25 billion in Canada and represent over 15% of the population.

Accessibility standards are being developed for key areas of everyday life, including:

  • Customer service
  • Information and communications
  • Employment
  • Built environment
  • Transportation

On January 1, 2008, the first accessibility standard, the Accessibility Standards for Customer Service became law. The standard sets out requirements that organizations must follow to ensure accessible customer service for people with disabilities.

It is important for businesses to realize that all organizations, regardless of their level of interaction with the general public, must comply with these standards. The deadline for public sector compliance was January 1, 2010; the private sector must comply by January 1, 2012.

For the more details on this, see the article in this database on Accessibility Standards for Customer Service, review the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, or visit http://www..accesson.ca/en/mcss/programs/accessibility/.