Ontario’s 2016 accessibility requirements: is your charity ready?

Authored by Chris Hall, Manager, Human Resources

Freeimages.com Armin Hanisch

Freeimages.com Armin Hanisch

2016 accessibility requirements for charities with 1-49 employees

Earlier this year, I received my e-newsletter from the Accessibility Directorate of Ontario, reminding me of the upcoming January 1, 2016 requirements.  It states that businesses or not-for-profit organizations with 1-49 employees must:

  • Train your staff on Ontario’s accessibility laws: Train all your employees and volunteers on the accessibility requirements that apply to their job duties and your organization. Free training resources are available at AccessForward.ca.
  • Make it easy for people with disabilities to provide feedback when asked: Make your feedback processes (e.g. surveys or comments cards) accessible on request, and be ready to receive feedback in alternative ways (e.g. over the phone or by email).

Train your staff on Ontario’s accessibility laws

Training to meet this requirement will vary depending on the type of position. For example, a charity leader with involvement in the organization’s hiring process would require training on accessible employment practices, whereas a bookkeeper or administrative assistant may not.

Effective July 1, 2016 all employees and volunteers must be trained on accessible customer service.  AccessForward: Customer Service Standard Module is a free online resource that charities can use to ensure their staff and volunteers receive this important training.

For further details, see How to train your staff on accessibility.

Make it easy for people with disabilities to provide feedback when asked

Making it easy for people with disabilities to provide feedback is about letting your staff and volunteers know that your charity will make written information and other forms of communication accessible upon request.  This requirement applies to 4 types of information:

  • Emergency and public safety information
  • Feedback processes for employees and the public
  • Employee information
  • Other public information

For further details, see How to make information accessible.

2016 accessibility requirements for charities with 50 or more employees and why charities with 1-49 employees should keep reading

Ontario charities with 50 or more employees must meet the following requirements by January 1, 2016[i].

  • Make your public information accessible when asked
  • Make your employment practices accessible

Smaller charities with 1-49 employees must meet these requirements by January 1, 2017.  This will be an important date for smaller charities, especially as it relates to making employment practices accessible, and is one they should begin working towards as soon as possible.

Make your public information accessible when asked

If your charity has received a request to make its written information or other forms of communication accessible to someone with a disability, you will need to work with that person to figure out how to meet their needs.

The requirement to make public information accessible when asked applies to 4 types of information[1]:

  1. Emergency and public safety information
  2. Feedback processes for employees and the public
  3. Employee information
  4. Other public information

See How to make information accessible for further details and examples on how to make each of the above types of information accessible.

Make your employment practices accessible

The Employment Standard has a number of pieces that will require charities to thoughtfully consider how they will make their workplaces accessible for people with disabilities.

It is important to note that the Employment Standard does not apply with respect to volunteers and other unpaid individuals[2].

To comply with this requirement, charities will need to[3]:

  1. Make hiring accessible
  2. Make workplace information accessible
  3. Consider the needs of employees with disabilities
  4. Communicate their accessibility policies
  5. Make an accommodation plan
  6. Help employees with disabilities return to work

Make hiring accessible

Charities will need to inform job applicants that they will accommodate the needs of people with disabilities at 3 different points in their hiring process.  While the way each charity achieves compliance may vary, charitable organizations will need to ensure that they[4]:

  • Notify applicants before they apply (e.g. job postings, website)
  • Notify applicants when scheduling interviews (e.g. verbally over the phone, by email)
  • Notify successful applicant(s) upon making an offer of employment (e.g. in person, in offer letter)

Make workplace information accessible

Making workplace information accessible is about engaging employees that have a disability to find out what would help make information accessible to them.  Workplace information could include[5]:

  • Information needed in order to perform the employee’s job
  • Information that is generally available to employees in the workplace (e.g. policies, procedures)

For further details, see How to make information accessible.

Workplace emergency response information

This is an important point to call attention to as employers are expected to meet the requirements of this section by January 1, 2012[6].

Charities are required to provide individualized workplace emergency response information to employees with disabilities, if the disability is such that individualized information is necessary and the employer is aware of the need[7].  For example, an employee with vision loss will need to know how and when to safely exit the building in the event of a fire.

With the employee’s consent, the employer will need to provide the workplace emergency response information to the person designated by the employer to provide assistance to the employee[8].

Also important to note is that employers are required to review the individualized workplace emergency response information[9]:

  • When the employee moves to a different location in the organization;
  • When the employee’s overall accommodation needs or plans are reviewed; and
  • When the employer reviews its general emergency response policies

Charities may also wish to review How to provide accessible emergency information to employees.

Consider the needs of your employees with disabilities

Charities will need to consider the needs of employees with disabilities when it comes to[10]:

  • Using a performance management process
  • Career development and advancement (e.g. promotion to job with greater responsibility)
  • Redeployment (e.g. moving employee into a new job when their home position has been eliminated)

These requirements apply only if the organization currently has such processes in place, and organizations are not required to establish these processes if they don’t exist[11].

Communicate your accessibility policies

Effective July 1, 2016 private sector and non-profit organizations with 20-49 employees no longer need to document policies (does not remove compliance or reporting requirements).  Although this requirement has been removed for charities with 20-49 employees, CCCC still considers it a best practice, and encourages its members to document their policies whenever possible.

Charities will need to communicate their accessibility policies when new employees join the organization and any time accessibility policies are introduced or updated.  There are a number of ways that charities can communicate their accessibility policies, including:

  • staff meetings
  • one on one conversations
  • by email

For further details on how to communicate your accessibility policies to your employees, see How to make your workplace accessible.

Make an accommodation plan

It is important to note that organizations with fewer than 50 employees are excluded from this requirement.

Charities with more 50 or more employees will need to develop and write a process for creating documented accommodation plans for employees with disabilities.

An individual accommodation plan is a formal way to record and review the workplace-related accommodations that will be provided to an employee with a disability [12].

See the government’s website for the full list of what needs to be included in an Accommodation plan for employees with disabilities.

Help employees with disabilities to return to work

This requirement does not apply to charities with fewer than 50 employees and also does not apply if an employee’s injury or illness is covered by the return to work provision under any Ontario law[13].

Charities will need to document a process to create an accommodation plan for employees that have been absent from work due to a disability and require disability-related accommodations to return to work[14].

Must have accessibility resources

Subscribing to Ontario’s Accessibility Newsletter makes it easier to stay up to date on accessibility laws and reporting deadlines.  These communications are a great way to quickly determine what charities need to do next to comply with the legislation.  If you haven’t already, I would encourage you to sign up for this newsletter.

You will also want to bookmark the website landing page for Ontario’s Accessibility Laws as it links readers to the relevant legislation, accessibility and reporting requirements, as well as how to contact the Accessibility Directorate of Ontario.

Another great resource is the Access Forward website, which includes many free training resources including videos and templates for things like training logs and certificates.

Need help?

Smaller charities with 1-49 employees will be required to meet a number of specific requirements by January 1, 2017 and may find the requirement around making employment practices accessible particularly challenging.

To successfully meet these requirements, charities are advised to begin the preparation process now.  The Accessibility Directorate of Ontario actively conducts audits, and failure to comply with accessibility requirements may result in legal action, including inspections, Director’s orders and financial penalties.

Let CCCC help your charity get ready to comply with Ontario’s Accessibility Laws by calling us at 519-669-5137.  CCCC will work with you to ensure that the proper training is conducted, records of training are kept and that your charity has the proper accessibility policies and practices in place. 

 

[1] https://www.ontario.ca/page/how-make-information-accessible

[2] O. Reg. 191/11: Integrated Accessibility Standards, s. 20(1)

[3] https://www.ontario.ca/page/how-make-workplaces-accessible

[4] O. Reg. 191/11: Integrated Accessibility Standards, s. 22-24

[5] O. Reg. 191/11: Integrated Accessibility Standards, s. 26

[6] [6] O. Reg. 191/11: Integrated Accessibility Standards, s. 27(5)

[7] O. Reg. 191/11: Integrated Accessibility Standards, s. 27

[8] O. Reg. 191/11: Integrated Accessibility Standards, s. 27(2)

[9] O. Reg. 191/11: Integrated Accessibility Standards, s. 27(4)

[10] https://www.ontario.ca/page/how-make-workplaces-accessible

[11] O. Reg. 191/11: Integrated Accessibility Standards, s. 30-32

[12] http://www.accessforward.ca/ (see Employment Standards Training module)

[13] https://www.ontario.ca/page/how-make-workplaces-accessible

[14] https://www.ontario.ca/page/how-make-workplaces-accessible

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