If the ROI of Accessibility in your Workplace Does Not Convince you, the Penalties Should

Integrated Accessibility Standards – The Next Step in AODA Compliance for Private Companies in Ontario.
If the ROI doesn’t Convince you, the Penalties for Non-Compliance Should.

The compliance deadlines for the Accessibility Standard for Customer Service was the first of 5 Standards under the Accessibility for Ontarians’ with Disabilities Act (AODA), have past. Private organizations in Ontario should be well under way in the planning stages for meeting the next IASR (Integrated Accessibility Standards) which is the next phase of requirements under Ontario’s Accessibility legislation. These Integrated Accessibility Standards came into effect on January, 2012 for Private Organizations and are also accompanied by the mandatory requirement to ensure public outdoor spaces include accessible design elements. The IASR significantly impacts most organizations in Ontario with respect to their human resources practices, procurement and day-to-day business practices.

The Integrated Accessibility Standards address accessibility in three areas: Information and Communications; Employment; and Transportation. The IASR is much more complex than the Customer Service Standard in its application as compliance with each section is not consistent for all organizations. Most of the compliance deadlines are phased in between January 1, 2012 and January 1, 2017 (many extend beyond 2017). The deadlines within each standard vary making it critical that organizations know which parts of which standards apply, how and by what dates.

Who do the Integrated Accessibility Standards Apply to?

The IASR applies to the Ontario Government & Legislative Assembly, every designated public sector organization AND every person or organization that provides goods, services or facilities to the public or to third parties and has at least one employee in Ontario.

The 2 classifications of private organization under the IASR with targeted compliance include.

1. Large private and not-for-profit organizations (50+ employees)

2. Small private and not-for-profit organizations (between 1–50 employees)

* All organizations with the exception of small private and not-for-profit organizations (less than 50 employees) are required to report compliance to the government at designated timelines.

Outline of Basic Steps required in each Standard?

Following is a summary of categories and the primary requirements associated with each. The requirements under the IASR are extensive & as such this does not represent a complete complete list. Our AODA Policy experts and Built Environment Experts can assist in reviewing and planning for the more in-depth Integrated Accessibility Standards. contact us at AODA@optimalperformance.ca to arrange an initial consult.

General Requirements

The IAS Regulation has a set of General Requirements:

· Accessibility Policies and Plans

Organizations are required to develop, implement and maintain policies on how they will achieve accessibility requirements and commit to removing barriers to inclusion. Organizations will be required to establish, implement, maintain and document a Multi-Year Accessibility Plan which outlines the organization’s accessibility strategy to meet the requirements of the Integrated Standard. The plan must be posted on the organization’s website, provided in an accessible format and be reviewed at least once every five years.

· Mandatory Training

Organizations must train all employees on the IASR requirements which include the Communication and Information, Employment and Transportation standards as well as the Human Rights Code for Ontario. The requirements are numerous and training should be specific to the duties/nature of each job. This means employee & manager training requirements will differ in length and content.

Other groups which must also be trained include persons who develop policies (i.e. board members) and anyone who provide goods, services or facilities on behalf of the organization

Other General Requirements include the procurement of goods, services or facilities and self-service kiosks.

Information and Communications Standard including:

· Accessible Formats and Communication Supports

Organizations must, upon request, provide accessible formats and communication supports. Examples may include enlarged print, braille, accessible electronic formats, captioning, sign language interpreters and reading documents aloud. Accessible formats and communication supports must be provided or arranged for in a timely manner and at a cost not exceeding the regular cost charged to other persons.

· Accessible Websites

Organizations will be required to make their internet websites and web content conform to the World Wide Web Consortium Web Content Accessibility Guidelines called WCAG 2.0. These guidelines define the requirements for an accessible website. These guidelines include four principles of web accessibility:

perceivable
operable
understandable
robust

Adherence to these guidelines will increase readability and allow persons with different disabilities to use assistive devices such as screen readers, magnifiers, & alternate navigation methods within the web.

· Feedback Processes

By now Organizations should have processes for receiving and responding to feedback related to the Customer Service Standard. There is now a requirement to ensure Feedback regarding the CSS and the IASR are accessible to persons with disabilities by providing accessible formats and communication supports, upon request.

Information and Communications requirements also include emergency procedures and educational and training resources and materials.

Employment Standard

The Employment standard is specific to Employers as it relates to the employment of paid employees. This Standard establishes obligations for employers regarding recruitment, accessible training and testing information, employee accommodation, return to work, performance management, career development and re-deployment. This will entail training managers on their responsibilities and training employees on their rights under the AODA.

· Individualized Workplace Emergency Response Information

Organizations must provide and document individualized workplace emergency plans for employees with a disability. Employees are not required to disclose a disability however organizations must request that an employee inform them if the existing emergency response plan does not meet their needs and how the Plan can meet their individual needs.

*This requirement was to be met on January 1, 2012.

· Recruitment Practices

Employers must ensure that all matters related to the recruitment process are accessible to persons with all disability types. This includes jobs being posted in accessible formats and locations; consulting with applicants to provide or arrange suitable accommodation in a manner that takes into account the applicant’s disability; and providing communication supports and information in an accessible format.

· Employee Accommodation

Upon request, employers must meet an employee’s need for accessible formats and communication supports for information that is needed in order to perform the job and to access information that is generally available to employees in the workplace.

Transportation Standard

The Transportation standard applies to organizations that provide public or specialized transportation services. The details of the Transportation standard are numerous & technical in nature. Organizations should carefully review this standard to determine whether or not it applies to them.

Enforcement and Penalties

Failure to comply with the AODA requirements can lead to administrative monetary penalties and prosecutions. The Accessibility Directorate of Ontario has the power to conduct inspections, assign monetary penalties and prosecute through the courts. Penalties for non-compliance range from $200 to $2,000 for individuals and unincorporated organizations; $500 to $15,000 for corporations.
In the case of an offense under the AODA, penalties can reach a daily maximum of $50,000 for individuals or unincorporated organizations and $100,000 daily for corporations.

There are numerous excellent studies and evidence about the ROI of incorporated Accessibility Programs and Policies as well as Built Environments in the UK, US and Australia. Evidence is starting to emerge in Canada as well primarily in the Province of Ontario. If the ROI and Businesses cases are not motivation enough to embrace accessible, inclusive organizations, then the possibility of corporate penalties of $100,000 per DIEM, brand damage & negative shareholder perceptions may well motivate organizations to comply and do so on the timelines outlined by the Directorate.

To learn the details as to compliance requirements and deadlines for reporting please contact one of our AODA Policy experts.
To learn more about the Accessible Public Space Design requirements which were quietly passed in December 2012 or the new Ontario Build Code Accessible Built Environment (ABES) which passed December 27th 2013 contact one of OPC’s Built Environment Experts.
Contact us at AODA@OptimalPerformance.ca to set up an initial meeting with our experts. Continue reading

Posted in AODA, AODA Act, compliance, IASR, Ontario Build Code, Penalties | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Tribunal fines Employers for Contraventions of the AODA reports Optimal Performance’s AODA experts; Employers Beware!

Tribunal fines Employers for Contraventions of the AODA; Attention BOMA Members, IFMA, FAMOS & OPC Clients


September 30, 2014

JESleeth

Over the Summer 2014, the License Appeal Tribunal, which has jurisdiction over the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, 2005 (the “AODA”) in Ontario, released its first decisions regarding AODA compliance. When the first compliance deadlines under the AODA arrived in 2011 & 2012 there was minimal enforcement activity for private companies. Over the past two years however, the Provincial government has increased enforcement measures. OPC Inc feels our clients should be aware of the AODA obligations particularly as it relates to the Ontario Build Code passed December 27 2013 and coming into full force January 1 2015.  With this along with the IASR (Integrated Accessibility Standards) there are upcoming deadlines with associated noncompliance penalties.

Fines will become larger over time with inaccessible design

Private employers in Ontario have had to be compliant with the Customer Service Standard of the AODA since at least January 1, 2012. Compliance included a requirement to file an Accessibility Report (we hope our readers have the CSS well in hand & have reported to the Ministry).

The four recent AODA decisions released by the License Appeal Tribunal included administrative penalties levied against organizations that failed to file their Accessibility Reports with Service Ontario.

In all four cases, the Tribunal reduced the fine imposed by the Director of the Accessibility Directorate of Ontario (the “Director”). The Directorate had imposed a fine of $2,000 on each of the organizations for failure to file an Accessibility Report. Under the AODA regulations, there is a schedule to assist the Director in determining the appropriate penalty. When imposing an administrative penalty, the Director takes into account the impact of the contravention and the history of contravention on the part of the employer. For corporations, the administrative penalties range from $500 to $15,000.

serviceOntarioELaws_EN

The Director imposed a penalty of $2,000 on each of these corporations, on the basis that the failure to file an Accessibility Report was a major contravention, since the AODA relies on self-reporting to monitor compliance. The Tribunal disagreed with the Director, finding that failing to file an Accessibility Report was a minor contravention. Since this was the first AODA reporting cycle, there was no contravention history so this factor had no comparison. With respect to the impact of the contravention, under the AODA a contravention is considered to have a major impact where, for examle, it may pose a health and safety risk to persons with disabilities (PwD). In this case, the Tribunal found that the contravention did not meet this level. In three of the decisions, the Tribunal reduced the fine to $500. 

These financial penalties for now are not large however this signals that the Directorate and the Tribunal are actively engaged in AODA enforcement matters. OPC expects to see harsher penalties in the future as we move into the IASR, Emergency Plans, Design of Public Spaces (such as areas surrounding your Buildings) and the Ontario Build Code where health, safety, dignity and independence is impacted.  

Further to this, Administrative penalties are not the only enforcement tool the Director and Tribunal have in place.  Fines for offences under the AODA can reach up to $50,000 for each and every day or part day that an offence happens for individuals (and corporate directors) and up to $100,000 for corporations

On or before December 31, 2014, large private sector employers (50 & >) will need to file another Accessibility Report. Further, commencing January 1, 2014, large private sector employers had to be compliant with some new requirements under the AODA Integrated Accessibility Standard, including the creation of an Accessibility Policy and an Accessibility Plan as well as written Multi-Year Plans due every 5 years.

It is our suggestion at OPC that any new buildings being planned by your businesses in Ontario or for buildings being renovated, commence using parts of the OBC’s ABES Standards this Fall – such as Universal Washrooms, Signage and Wayfinding, Accessible entrance doors and elevator design. It is also our suggestion that as projects move along that IT, Technology, HR, Build Owners & Managers all convene together to ensure the IASR requirements, the Multi-Year Plan documents, Intranet, Websites, Built Environment and ergonomic design are all coordinated. Once coordinated, mandatory compliance reporting can occur well before compliance dates occur.

OPC Inc Clients – The Ontario Tribunal are now ensuring investigation of lack of compliance with the AODA occurs and they are also awarding per diem financial penalties.

The AODA is here to stay and this is being enforced.  OPC Inc’s AODA team is ready to help build your program, provide elearning or video based training and perform Build Code Compliance Audits.

Please contact our team at AODA@optimalperformance.ca to set up an initial meeting to talk about a strategic approach to AODA compliance.  JESleeth Team Leader AODA

Posted in Accessibility in Ontario, AODA, Directorate levies penalties, JESSleeth, OPC, OPC Inc | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Jane Sleeth of Optimal Performance Responds to Linked In IFMA re Wellness & FM’s

In response to a recent IFMA reading recommendation on Linked In

….this is a great thought starter on a topic which has long been ignored in some cases or at least not understood well in other cases with Facility Managers in N America.

Just as machinery or a building requires regular preventive maintenance (RPM) so do employees who represent the most expensive “line item” if you will, in terms of business costs.

A really important read for all IFMA, Build Owners and Managers is the Steelcase 360* Magazine Version “WellBeing; A Bottom Line Issue” ( you can get this on line at Steelcase.com).

At OPC Inc we prefer this concept of WELLBEING versus Wellness. This is more all encompassing than typical wellness or health programs and includes Facilities which create healthy and productive environments (airflow, fresh air intake, light levels & type of lighting, base building accessibility, ergonomic designs of windows, workstations & configurations, shower facilities and ACTIVE by DESIGN elements etc.) as well as the other formal programs such as Ergonomic Design, Accessible Design/Universal, RPM, Human Resources programs and processes.

The more we all start talking about WellBeing in the context of the Built Environment & the Management of Facilities the more active, healthy and measureably productive the workforce will be.

JESleeth Sr Human Centred Design/Ergonomic Consultant Optimal Performance Consultants Inc

Posted in Facility Management, How can Facility Managers ensure employee health, IFMA, Wellbeing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

https://c.ymcdn.com/sites/bomatoronto.site-ym.com/resource/resmgr/News/Ontario_Accessibility_Regula.pdf

BOMA Toronto has been running seminars and Webinars about the AODA with Jane Sleeth OPC Inc for 2 years now

BOMA Toronto has been running seminars and Webinars about the AODA with Jane Sleeth OPC Inc for 2 years now

https://c.ymcdn.com/sites/bomatoronto.site-ym.com/resource/resmgr/News/Ontario_Accessibility_Regula.pdf.

BOMA members who need to learn more about the #OntarioBuildCode #ABES as part of the #AODA can refer to the Seminar presented by JESleeth of Optimal Performance Consultants in previous Webinars & Talks eg. September 16th 2014.

There will be upcoming E Blasts as the OBC and the IASR timelines move along and another seminar February 2015.

Contact Robyn Sauret rsauret@bomatoronto.org to learn more and obtain copies of Jane Sleeth’s talks and seminars. AODA@optimalperformance.ca

Posted in accessibility, AODA Act, AODA Consultants;, Build Code | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Ontario_Accessibility_Regula.pdf

Source: c.ymcdn.com

#BOMA members who need to learn more about the #OntarioBuildCode #ABES as part of the #AODA can refer to the Seminar presented by JESleeth of Optimal Performance Consultants in previous Webinars & Talks eg. September 16th 2014. There will be upcoming E Blasts as the OBC and the IASR timelines move along and another seminar February 2015. Contact Robyn Sauret rsauret@bomatoronto.org to learn more and obtain copies of Jane Sleeth’s talks and seminars. AODA@optimalperformance.ca 

See on Scoop.itInclusive

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OPC Keeping our Clients Informed about the AODA; Proposed Revisions to the Customer Service Standard September 15th 2014

Proposed Revisions to the Customer Service Standard | Ministry of Economic Development, Employment and Infrastructure.

 

Update:

The public feedback period on the Accessibility Standards Advisory Council/Standards Development Committee’s initial proposed changes to the Customer Service Standard is now closed.

The committee thanks members of the public who provided feedback and contributed toward improving accessibility in Ontario.

The committee is reviewing the public’s comments to finalize its proposed revisions to the Customer Service Standard. The committee will submit its final recommendations to the Government of Ontario for its consideration. The final proposed changes from the committee will be published online for your information.

Introduction:

The purpose of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, 2005 (AODA) is to achieve an accessible Ontario by 2025 through the development, implementation and enforcement of accessibility standards that apply to the public, private and not-for-profit sectors. Under the AODA, the government of Ontario has developed accessibility standards to identify, remove and prevent barriers in key areas of daily living: customer service; employment; information and communications; transportation; and the design of public spaces. All organizations with one or more employees in Ontario are required by law to comply with the AODA and its accessibility standards.

On January 1, 2008, the Customer Service Standard became the first accessibility standard to be made into regulation under the AODA. The Standard sets out requirements to achieve accessible customer service. Accessible customer service is about understanding that customers with disabilities may have different needs and finding the best way to help them access goods and services.

The Customer Service Standard applies to all organizations (public, private and not-for-profit) that provide goods or services either directly to the public or to other organizations and that have one or more employees in Ontario. Requirements for organizations pertain to topics such as accessible customer service policies, practices and procedures; service animals; support persons; customer feedback; and staff training.

Public sector organizations were required to comply with the Customer Service Standard as of January 1, 2010. Private and not-for-profit sector organizations were required to comply with the Standard as of January 1, 2012.

The AODA requires the review of each accessibility standard five years after it becomes law to determine whether the standard is working as intended and to allow for adjustments to be made as required.

In September 2013, the Accessibility Standards Advisory Council/Standards Development Committee, in its role as the Standards Development Committee, began its review of the Customer Service Standard at the direction of the Minister of Economic Development, Trade and Employment. The committee includes leaders from the disability community and from organizations that must comply with accessibility standards.

Learn more:

Public Involvement:

Based on its review, the Accessibility Standards Advisory Council/Standards Development Committee developed its initial proposed changes to the Customer Service Standard. Members of the public were invited to provide feedback on the committee’s initial recommendations from March 3, 2014 to May 22, 2014.

NOTE : If there is a conflict between a document that describes the Customer Service Standard regulation and the Customer Service Standard regulation itself, the Customer Service Standard regulation prevails. The proposed revised Customer Service Standard is representative of the work of the Accessibility Standards Advisory Council/Standards Development Committee and does not reflect the proposed direction of the Government of Ontario.

Next Steps:

The committee is reviewing the public’s comments to finalize its proposed revisions to the Customer Service Standard. The committee will then submit its final recommendations to the Government of Ontario for its consideration. Public feedback is being reviewed but may not be adopted into regulatory amendments.

To receive regular updates about the AODA and the Ontario Build Code feel free to contact our Policy experts and OBC experts at OPC Inc AODA@OptimalPerformance.ca or j.sleeth@optimalperformance.ca

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Scientific Evidence and Medical Practice-The Drunkard’s Walk. Think GP’s Should be Gatekeepers of DM & RTW?

www.vhpharmsci.com/decisionmaking/Therapeutic_Decision_Making/Fundamentals_files/Scientific Evidence and Medical Practice-The Drunkard’s Walk-ArchIM.pdf.

Scientific Evidence and Medical Practice-The Drunkard’s Walk.

So does your company still think GP’s Should be Gatekeepers of your Disability Management, RTW and Ergonomic Programs? Take the time to read, attend one of our conferences with Federated Press or read Jane Sleeth’s Book Return to Work Compliance Toolkit Carswell.com

An eye opening article and more reasons to ensure MD’s no longer act as gatekeepers of your HR programs.

 

 

Posted in Disability Management, Doctor's notes | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment