The one-step ramp conundrum

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AODA: Accessible transportation compliance schedule

Author: Suzanne Cohen Share

Posted on Tuesday, January 17th, 2012

 
 

As you probably know, the Transportation Standards under the Integrated Accessibility Standards of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act will come into force over the next five years. The Ministry of Community and Social Services has released the accessible transportation compliance dates, and you can find them all below. Obligated transportation providers can keep this schedule as a quick reminder of present and future compliance deadlines.

The large sections on technical requirements allow for existing contracts prior to July 1, 2011, to proceed without retrofits. Further, providers need not retrofit existing vehicles in the fleet as of July 1, 2011. Any contracts signed on or after this date must meet technical requirements except in certain cases where an installation might compromise the structural integrity of a vehicle. All vehicles received after January 1, 2013 must meet the technical requirements and there are no exceptions. For compliance requirements dates, this schedule begins on January 1, 2012 although numerous compliance dates are July 1, 2011. Due to the release of this article on January, 2012 all previous compliance dates are included as due as of this date.

Compliance requirements due January 1, 2012

Conventional and Specialized Transportation Service Providers, General

  • Section 34: Availability of information on accessibility equipment
  • Section 35: Non-functioning accessibility equipment
  • Section 37: Emergency preparedness and response policies
  • Section 40: Transition, existing vehicles

Conventional Transportation Service Providers, General

Section 44: General responsibilities

  • Section 46: Fares (subsection 1)
  • Section 47: Transit stops
  • Section 48: Storage of mobility aids, etc.
  • Section 49: Courtesy seating
  • Section 51: Pre-boarding announcements (subsection 1)
  • Section 52: On-board announcements (subsection 1)

Conventional Transportation Service Providers, Technical Requirements

For contracts under this heading to purchase new or used vehicles on or after July 1, 2011, the provider will make sure the vehicles meet requirements of the section now.

  • Section 54: Floors and carpeted surfaces on vehicles manufactured on or after July 1, 2011. Exclusion is vehicles that have two or more allocated mobility spaces and regulated under Regulation 629 of the Revised Regulations of Ontario, 1990 under the Highway Traffic Act (Vehicles for the Transportation of Physically Disabled Passengers).
  • Section 56: Stop-requests and emergency response controls on vehicles purchased on or after July 1, 2011.
  • Section 58: Signage on vehicles purchased on or after July 1, 2011.
  • Section 59: Lifting devices, etc. on vehicles purchased on or after July 1, 2011. Exclusion is vehicles regulated under Regulation 629.
  • Section 60: Steps on vehicles manufactured on or after July 1, 2011. Exclusion is vehicles regulated under Regulation 629.

For the following sections, there is an exception to the requirement for purchases on or after July 1, 2011, if installation impairs the structural integrity of a vehicle. All new or used vehicles acquired on or after January 1, 2013 will comply with all technical requirements and there are no exceptions.

  • Section 53: Requirements re grab bars, etc., on vehicles purchased on or after July 1, 2011. Exclusion is vehicles regulated under Regulation 629.
  • Section 55: Allocated mobility aid spaces on vehicles purchased on or after July 1, 2011. Exclusion is vehicles with two or more mobility aid spaces regulated under Regulation 629.
  • Section 57: Lighting features on vehicles purchased on or after July 1, 2011. Exclusion is vehicles regulated under Regulation 629.
  • Section 61: Indicators and alarms on vehicles purchased on or after July 1, 2011.
  • Section 62: Accessibility, rail cars (subsection 1) compliance due date is July 1, 2011. Subsection 2 on vehicles manufactured on or after January 1, 2013.  On or after July 1, 2011 for providers who entered a contractual obligation and installation does not impair the structural integrity of the vehicle.

Specialized Transportation Service Providers

  • Section 68: Origin to destination services
  • Section 74: Companions and children

Other Transportation Services

  • Section 75: School transportation (subsection 2)
  • Section 76: Public sector organizations. Exclusion is campus security services provided by a public sector organization see Schedule 1.
  • Section 77: Ferries (subsection 2, Integrated Standards Sections 34, 37, 44, 46, 48)

Duties of Municipalities and Taxicabs

  • Section 80: Duties of municipalities, taxicabs

Compliance requirements due as of January 1, 2013:

Conventional and Specialized Transportation Service Providers, Accessibility Plans

  • Section 41: Accessibility plans, conventional transportation services (specific)
  • Section 42: Accessibility plans, specialized transportation services (specific)
  • Section 43: Accessibility plans, conventional and specialized transportation services

Conventional Transportation Service Providers, General

  • Section 45: Alternative accessible method of transportation
  • Section 46: Fares (subsection 2)

Conventional Transportation Service Providers, Technical Requirements

  • Section 53: Requirements re grab bars, etc. on vehicles manufactured on or after January 1, 2013. Exclusion is vehicles regulated under Regulation 629.
  • Section 54: Floors and carpeted surfaces on vehicles manufactured on or after January 1, 2013. Exclusion is vehicles regulated under Regulation 629. Any contracts to purchase new or used vehicles on or after July 1, 2011 the provider will make sure the vehicles meet requirements of this section.
  • Section 55: Allocated mobility aid spaces on vehicles manufactured on or after January 1, 2013.
  • Section 56: Stop-requests and emergency response controls on vehicles manufactured on or after January 1, 2013.
  • Section 57: Lighting features on vehicles manufactured on or after January 1, 2013. Exclusion is vehicles regulated under Regulation 629.
  • Section 58: Signage on vehicles manufactured on or after January 1, 2013.
  • Section 59: Lifting devices, etc. on vehicles manufactured on or after January 1, 2013.
  • Section 60: Steps on vehicles manufactured on or after January 1, 2013. Exclusion is vehicles regulated under Regulation 629.
  • Section 61: Indicators and alarms on vehicles manufactured on or after January 1, 2013. Exclusion is vehicles regulated under Regulation 629.
  • Section 62: Accessibility, rail cars manufactured on or after January 1, 2013 (subsection 2).

Specialized and Conventional Transportation Service Providers who provide both services

  • Section 66: Fare parity for providers of both conventional and specialized transportation services
  • Section 70: Hours of service (subsection 2)

Specialized Transportation Service Providers

  • Section 67: Visitors
  • Section 69: Co-ordinated service
  • Section 73: Service delays

Duties of Municipalities and Taxicabs

  • Section 78: Duties of municipalities, general
  • Section 79: Duties of municipalities, accessible taxicabs

Compliance requirements due as of July 1, 2013

Conventional Transportation Service Providers, General

  • Section 50: Service disruptions

Other Transportation Services

  • Section 77: Ferries (subsection 3, Integrated Standards Section 50)

Compliance requirements due as of January 1, 2014

Conventional and Specialized Transportation Service Providers, General

  • Section 36: Accessibility Training
  • Section 38: Fares, support persons

Specialized Transportation Service Providers

  • Section 64: Eligibility application process
  • Section 65: Emergency or compassionate grounds
  • Section 71: Booking
  • Section 72: Trip restrictions

Other Transportation Services

  • Section 75: School transportation (subsection 3)
  • Section 77: Ferries (Integrated Standards Section 36, 38)

Compliance requirements due as of January 1, 2017

Conventional Transportation Service Providers, General

  • Section 51: Pre-boarding announcements subsection 2
  • Section 52: On-board announcements subsections 2 & 3

Specialized Transportation Service Providers

  • Section 63: Categories of eligibility
  • Section 66: Fare parity (subsection 1)
  • Section 70: Hours of service (subsection 1)

The clear message is that, as of July 1, 2011, obligated transportation providers must consider accessibility technical requirements when signing purchasing contracts for new vehicles. Any vehicles manufactured on or after January 1, 2013 must meet all technical requirements.

Remember: the Accessibility Standards for Customer Service also include transportation requirements and demand specific actions be complete in 2012. A couple of these transportation regulations allow cover topics in the main Transportation Standards (discussed above), for example, service disruptions and service delays. Providers and customers may find these different compliance dates confusing if they expect these obligations to be in compliance as of this year.

Is everything you need to do clear now? No? Well, at least you have a calendar to remind you of compliance dates. Feel free to ask questions about with industry specific concerns. If you ask a question, other organizations may also find the answer helpful—and vice versa.

Suzanne Cohen Share, M.A., CEO
Access (SCS) Consulting Services

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Ontario disabilities act creates compliance confusion

 

 

shelley white

 

Special to Globe and Mail Update

 

Published Friday, Jan. 06, 2012 6:00AM

 

 

 

For Hans Sturzenbecher, catering to people with disabilities just makes good business sense.

 

His restaurant, Macy’s Diner & Delicatessen in Mississauga, Ont., has been making changes to accommodate people with disabilities for the past eight years, from creating space between tables to make room for wheelchairs and walkers to enlarging the print size on menus.

 

More related to this story

 

 

 

 

REGULATIONS

 

Tips for compliance with customer service accessibility standard

 

 

 

Other Ontario small and medium-sized businesses will have to start making changes of their own to comply with the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, provincial legislation to be phased in over the next 10 years that can carry fines of up to $100,000 a day for non-compliance.

 

As of the start of this year, all businesses in Ontario became required to be in compliance with phase one of the AODA, the Accessibility Standard for Customer Service.

 

But many small and medium-sized businesses may not yet be up to par.

 

Small businesses in the province “are just starting to really get on board” with the new customer service regulation, said Russ Gahan, vice-president of operations for People Access, a non-profit organization charged with helping the Ontario government raise awareness about the AODA.

 

He said there’s been some confusion about what the customer service standard is all about.

 

“It’s not about putting in ramps and automatic doors; that’s the first thing people think. They think mobility when they think of disabilities, and what you need to do to accommodate them physically,” he said.

 

“What this is about is attitude change, empowering your employees to be confident when providing customer service to people with disabilities.”

 

If you’re an Ontario small business, what does that mean in practical terms?

 

The customer service regulation has two major components.

 

First, all companies must create “an accessible customer service plan” that outlines how their business will provide service to people with disabilities. This includes identifying potential barriers and figuring out new ways of dealing with them.

 

“The example I like to give is, let’s say you have a store that has a no-refunds policy and you have change rooms that are not accessible,” said John Milloy, Ontario Minister of Community and Social Services.

 

“Yes, it would be wonderful if someone could invest to make the change rooms accessible, but that may not be practical. What they might do is change their policy and say that if you’re in a wheelchair or can’t access those change rooms, you will be allowed to return those clothes.”

 

Another example, Mr. Gahan said, would be how to deal with customers with hearing loss. “They may be better off not having to negotiate their terms in a noisy office where they can’t hear what you’re saying,” he said.

 

“You start to think of these things, instead of just being oblivious to them.”

 

The second component of the regulation requires employers to train their staff to provide accessible customer service. Training topics must include how to communicate with people with different types of disabilities and how to interact with people who use assistive devices or service animals.

 

In addition, employers with 20 or more staff members must keep a copy of their accessible customer service plan and file reports with the ministry, indicating how and when their employees have been trained. They have until the end of 2012 to do so.

 

There are many businesses to go: According to the Ministry of Community and Social Services, 17 large and small Ontario businesses have filed reports since Jan. 1.

 

Penalties for refusing to comply with the legislation can be serious – organizations can be fined up to $100,000 a day, or individuals can be fined up to $50,000 a day.

 

Mr. Milloy said that although the regulations are primarily about encouraging and educating the business community, the ministry will follow up with businesses that do not file their reports.

 

“We’re obviously going to reach out to those that have not filed to urge them to take the steps necessary, and we’re going to obviously be in touch with the disability community as people bring concerns to our attention,” he said. “We do ultimately have fines in place and that’s the last resort.”

 

To help businesses create their accessible customer service plan and train their staff without spending a lot of money, the ministry offers several free toolkits, including a 78-page employer handbook and a 51-page training resource.

 

There are further resources available. Mr. Gahan said People Access offers both free and paid tools for small businesses.

 

“The paid one includes e-learning,” he said. “If you have 20 employees and you don’t want to figure out how to put together a training program for them, for $149, you can have all the templates, tools, window stickers and 19 e-learning seats.”

 

With e-learning, staff can log in and go through a 25-minute course, reading and answering questions. They can then print a certificate and show their employer they’ve been through the training.

 

Another option is to hire a consultant to come in and teach a course in-house. “A physical workshop is the best,” said Suzanne Share, CEO of Access Consulting Services in Toronto. “It can be very difficult to change attitudes. I give people a good idea what it’s like to have dyslexia, to have arthritis, to have temporary disabilities or long-term disabilities.”

 

Once Ontario businesses have met the requirements of the customer service regulation, there will be more to come. The Integrated Accessibility Standards Regulation will be next – wider-ranging legislation requiring that transportation, employment and all forms of communication be accessible to people with disabilities.

 

According to the Ministry of Community and Social Services, these standards will be phased in over time between 2011 and 2025, to “give organizations the time they need to build accessibility into their regular business processes.”

 

Mr. Milloy said employers should look at the AODA regulations as not only important for people with disabilities, but good for business too, particularly in a province where close to two million citizens are identified as having a disability.

 

“I think the message really needs to be that there is an enlightened self-interest there, because people are making decisions. Where do we go for lunch? Well, here’s a place that’s adapting to have a customer service standard that’s very welcoming,” he said.

 

“If I have a business, I want to be able to reach out to them and make them comfortable, because, at the end of the day, it’s going to mean more dollars in my bottom line.”

 

It’s a message that has long resonated with Mr. Sturzenbecher.

 

“The majority of my clients are seniors,” he said. “When we started up, we had lots of space and good daylight, and we realized there’s a niche market in our area, and it’s growing constantly.”

 

He decided to lose a few tables so customers would have extra space to get through with walkers or wheelchairs.

 

When he saw his customers getting out magnifying glasses to read the menu, he tripled the print size. He also offers his menu online in a format that allows visually impaired customers to access it with a screen reader.

 

Customers with guide dogs get a bowl of water for their canine companions. As well, his staff is well-trained in assisting the patrons with disabilities that frequent Macy’s on a regular basis.

 

“The truth is, if you cater to them and they know you cater to them, they become loyal customers,” Mr. Sturzenbecher said.

 

Special to The Globe and Mail

 

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Attention AODA …

Attention AODA organizations: actions to complete by January 1, 2012

Author: Suzanne Cohen Share

Posted on Wednesday, December 14th, 2011 at 09:00

January 1, 2012, is the date to complete all actions required under the Accessibility Standards for Customer Service and emergency preparedness requirements in the Integrated Accessibility Standards. The good news is, if your organization is obligated to report, you do not have to file with the government until December 31, 2012.

Why is this good news? Because many organizations are still making decisions and rushing to train staff. Some organizations are just learning about their obligations now. I am not advocating finishing the work late, but if you are late, there are resources—accessibility experts, e-learning courses, the Accessibility Directorate website and webinars—ready to be of service. Better yet, take the 30-day trial option on Accessibility Standards PolicyPro to provide guidance.

If you are cutting corners now to meet compliance, schedule a proper awareness program about persons with disabilities as soon as possible. Changing attitudes is the most difficult part of this agenda. Most people believe their efforts to remove barriers will burden them financially, when the reality is that historical attitudes have burdened persons with disabilities and placed them in this position to recognize and remove barriers ASAP.

Depending on the size of your organization, a coordinated effort between staff responsible for AODA compliance and experts can rapidly help your organization meet its obligations. By preparing your policies, practices and procedures prior to staff training, you can save time and money when disseminating the necessary information. Combining the generic legal portion of staff training about the customer service standards with your actual policies, practices and procedures provides practical experience for the attendee.

There are concerns about the emergency preparedness requirements under the Integrated Accessibility Standards. I would advise all organizations to comply on time. Since the law will be in effect as of January 1, 2012, one can imagine if a disaster should strike, whether your insurer will use these requirements against you if procedures are not in place.

Let us quickly recap the obligatory actions to complete. Under the customer service standards, if you have one employee or more, your obligations are to:

  • Establish policies, practices and procedures on providing goods or services to people with disabilities
  • Use reasonable efforts to ensure that your policies, practices and procedures are consistent with the core principles of independence, dignity, integration and equal opportunity
  • Set a policy to allow people to use their personal assistive devices on your premises and about any other measures your organization offers (assistive devices, services, methods) to help people to access your goods and services
  • Communicate with persons with a disability in a manner that takes into account the person’s disability
  • Allow people with disabilities to be accompanied by their service animal in those areas of your premises that are open to the public, unless the animal is excluded by another law
  • If the service animal is excluded by law, then have an alternative method to provide services
  • Allow customers with disabilities to be accompanied by a support person in premises open to the public
  • Provide notice ahead of time on what admission, if any, you will charge for the support person of a person with a disability
  • Provide notice when facilities or services on which customers with disabilities rely are temporarily disrupted.
  • Train staff, volunteers, contractors and other third parties who interact with the public on your behalf on topics outlined in the customer service standard
  • Train staff, volunteers, contractors and third parties who are involved in developing your policies, practices and procedures on topics outlined in the customer service standard
  • Establish a process for people to provide feedback on how you provide goods or services to people with disabilities
  • Include in this feedback process how you will respond and take action on complaints
  • The information about your feedback process must be readily available to the public

There are additional requirements for designated public sector organizations or other providers with 20 or more employees. Employers must:

  1. Document policies, practices and procedures for providing accessible customer service, and meet other document requirements in the standard.
  2. Notify customers that required documents are available upon request.
  3. When providing the required documents to a person with a disability, provide the information in a format that takes into account the person’s disability.

Employers with 20 or more employees must include the following in their documentation:

  • General information on policies, practices and procedures
  • Policies, practices and procedures on service animals and support   persons
  • Notice of temporary disruption of services or facilities including the steps to take
  • A training policy
  • A description of the feedback process

With respect to the emergency preparedness provisions of the Integrated Accessibility Standards:

  • Under the information and communication standard, if your organization provides emergency procedures, plans or public safety information that is available to the public, then you will provide the plan in an accessible format upon request
  • Under the employment standard, if the employer is aware that an employee has a disability that requires accommodation in an emergency, the employer must provide the employee with individualized emergency response information in an accessible format; employers must also designate someone to provide assistance during the emergency
  • In the transportation standard, all conventional and specialized service providers will make available to the public information on accessibility equipment, features of their vehicles, routes and services, and provide this information in an accessible format upon request

What is the carrot the province is offering for early filing? Your organization may be showcased in a video so that others can learn from your experience. Free advertising!

I do have one question for the government that will not likely receive a response. Why did you pick New Year’s Day for compliance in action and New Year’s Eve for filing? This is like getting a bill for your driver’s licence on your birthday. Who comes up with these dates? No wonder people complain!

Happy New Year everyone! We will chat again next year. I look forward to hearing about your experiences and any questions.

Suzanne Cohen Share
Access (SCS) Consulting Services

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Accessibility is a Global Mandate – First Reference Talks

Author: Suzanne Cohen Share

Posted on Wednesday, November 16th, 2011

December 3 is the International Day of Persons with Disabilities. On this  December 3, the global celebration has an appropriate theme, “Together for a  better world for all: Including persons with disabilities in development”. Some  people are unaware of a global mandate to achieve accessibility, and may feel  isolated when their specific jurisdiction introduces new laws benefitting people  with disabilities. Understanding we are all moving in the same direction, albeit  using varying methods and timelines, is important when making decisions in your  organization.

First Reference Talks‘ archives include articles exposing  the positive economic projections of an accessible movement. Positive  financial projections are a major motivator, as are the aging population  demographics of many nations, but a great catalyst is to know we are not alone,  and that it is becoming commonplace around the globe to provide a basic level of  accessibility. In order to compete on the international front, our social  environment and culture must scream that our country is accessible and inviting  to all. Otherwise, our Canadian image may be labelled as the Rocky Mountains of  the world, a place to climb, huff and puff our way through the environment.

This year’s theme for December 3 is about remembering to include  accessibility in development, thereby not causing new barriers. To date, Canada  and 105 other countries have signed and ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities  (UNGA-06). The Government of Canada is working with the provinces and  territories to meet goals as set out in this convention. Instead of paraphrasing  specific sections of the convention, reading the original literature may have a  greater impact. First, there are eight guiding principles of the convention that  underlie each of the specific articles.

Article 3 – General Principles

  • Respect for inherent dignity, individual autonomy including the freedom to  make one’s own choices, and independence of persons
  • Non-discrimination
  • Full and effective participation and inclusion in society
  • Respect for difference and acceptance of persons with disabilities as part  of human diversity and humanity
  • Equality of opportunity
  • Accessibility
  • Equality between men and women
  • Respect for the evolving capacities of children with disabilities and  respect for the right of children with disabilities to preserve their  identities

Article 9 of the convention clarifies which topics require accessibility to  take into account in order to achieve inclusion of people with disabilities in  society.

Article 9 – Accessibility

1. To enable persons with disabilities to live independently and participate  fully in all aspects of life, States Parties shall take appropriate measures to  ensure to persons with disabilities access, on an equal basis with others, to  the physical environment, to transportation, to information and communications,  including information and communications technologies and systems, and to other  facilities and services open or provided to the public, both in urban and in  rural areas. These measures, which shall include the identification and  elimination of obstacles and barriers to accessibility, shall apply to, inter  alia:

a)     Buildings, roads, transportation and other indoor  and outdoor facilities, including schools, housing, medical facilities and  workplaces;

b)     Information, communications and other services,  including electronic services and emergency services.

2. States Parties shall also take appropriate measures to:

a)     Develop, promulgate and monitor the implementation  of minimum standards and guidelines for the accessibility of facilities and  services open or provided to the public;

b)     Ensure that private entities that offer facilities  and services which are open or provided to the public take into account all  aspects of accessibility for persons with disabilities;

c)     Provide training for stakeholders on accessibility  issues facing persons with disabilities;

d)      Provide in buildings and other facilities  open to the public signage in Braille and in easy to read and understand  forms;

e)     Provide forms of live assistance and  intermediaries, including guides, readers and professional sign language  interpreters, to facilitate accessibility to buildings and other facilities open  to the public;

f)     Promote other appropriate forms of assistance and  support to persons with disabilities to ensure their access to information;

g)      Promote access for persons with disabilities  to new information and communications technologies and systems, including the  Internet;

h)      Promote the design, development, production  and distribution of accessible information and communications technologies and  systems at an early stage, so that these technologies and systems become  accessible at minimum cost.

Many readers are aware that Ontario has been the focus of much attention  because of its Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities  Act (AODA). The goal of the AODA and its associated regulations is to  identify and remove barriers, and to avoid creating new barriers in the future.  The law imagines Ontario as an accessible province by the year 2025. As  Ontarians read and learn the provincial regulations and the UN convention, they  may recognize that the work set out mirrors the goals Canada has agreed to  achieve in the United Nations.

I see this movement as not just the right thing to do, but also a necessary  action to stimulate economic recovery. This stimulus is not to promote  antiquated ideas, but to create an environment everyone will benefit from. Dare  I say that the movements to have an accessible environment for people with  disabilities may be the exact economic stimulus required, placing all of us on  the road to recovery?

Dear politicians, please act proud of this endeavour, do not fear it as an  election loser topic. Get those spin doctors spinning this topic the right way.  Be loud and clear that accessibility is as vital as the air we breathe. Happy  December 3!

Suzanne Share M.A. CEO, Access (SCS) Consulting Services

Read more: http://blog.firstreference.com/2011/11/16/accessibility-is-a-global-mandate/#ixzz1e5fwlusQ

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First Reference Talks Blog: August

AODA administrative monetary penalties scheme – three strikes  you’re out!

Author: Suzanne Cohen Share

Posted on Wednesday, August 24th, 2011 at 09:00

threestrikes-baseball

The Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA)  allows for severe maximum monetary penalties for any violation to the Act. The  maximum penalties under the AODA include:

  • A person and unincorporated organizations that are guilty of a major offence  under this Act can be fined up to $50,000 dollars for each day the violation  continues
  • A corporation that is guilty can be fined up to $100,000 per day
  • Directors and officers of a corporation with fiduciary responsibility who  are guilty are liable to a fine of up to $50,000 a day

This said, to encourage compliance, the government has established an  administrative monetary penalties scheme that determines how and why an  individual or corporation might face a penalty or fine. The scheme was  established under Part V, Compliance, of the Integrated Accessibility Standards Regulation,  which came into force July 1, 2011.

The scheme allows a ministry director or a designate to issue an order  against a person, organization or corporation to pay a penalty amount as a  result of non-compliance with the AODA or any of the accessibility  standards.

These penalties and fines will depend on the severity and history of the  contravention. The director will determine the severity of the contravention by  ranking the contravention as minor, moderate or major.

  • A contravention of an administrative requirement is minor
  • A contravention of a requirement for organizational preparedness is  moderate
  • A contravention is major where it involves a priority requirement that  includes, but is not limited to, a contravention that may pose a health or  safety risk to persons with disabilities

The contravention history of the person or organization will be determined by  ranking it as minor, moderate or major in the following manner:

  • A contravention history is minor where there has been no more than one  previous contravention within the period of the current two reporting  cycles
  • A contravention history is moderate where there have been between two and  five previous contraventions within the current two reporting cycles period
  • A contravention history is major where there have been six or more previous  contraventions within the current two reporting cycles period

A reporting cycle is a 12-month period. The current two reporting cycles  period discussed above begins on the first day the person or organization must  file the accessibility report and ends on the last day before the next report  must be filed.  If a person or organization filed an accessibility report before  July 1, 2011, the two reporting cycles period is calculated from the first day  that the person or organization was required to file an accessibility  report.

For organizations and individuals that are exempt from the reporting  requirement, the two reporting cycles period consists of the 12-month period  that begins at the earliest of the following and ends at the end of each  12-month period:

  • The first day that a director requests reports or information from the  person or organization
  • The first day that an inspector requires a person or organization to produce  a document, record or thing
  • The first day that the person or organization receives or is deemed to have  received a notice of order under Act

So what are these escalating administrative penalties for  non-compliance?

The largest lump sum penalty amount that can be issued to an individual or an  organization that is not a corporation is $2,000 and the maximum for a  corporation is $15,000.  These maximum amounts can be issued per day. The  potential for daily amounts will be reserved for contraventions that fall within  the “major compliance history and major impact” category. Decision will be made  on a case-by-case basis with careful consideration of the circumstances before  an order for a daily amount is issued.

Table 1. Individuals or unincorporated  organizations
Impact of Contravention Major
(priority  requirement)
Moderate
(organizational  preparedness)
Minor
(administrative/  operational)
Major compliance history
(>6 previous  contraventions)
$2,000
(can be issued
per day)
$1,000 $500
Moderate compliance history
(2–5 previous  contraventions)
$1,000 $500 $250
Minor compliance history
(first  contravention)
$500 $250 $200
Table 2. Administrative penalties for  corporations
Impact of Contravention Major
(priority  requirement)
Moderate
(organizational  preparedness)
Minor
(administrative/  operational)
Major compliance history
(>6 previous  contraventions)
$15,000
(can be issued
per day)
$10,000 $5,000
Moderate compliance history
(2–5 previous  contraventions)
$10,000 $5,000 $2,500
Minor compliance history
(first  contravention)
$2,000 $1,000 $500

Thus, to be issued an order with the maximum penalty amount, the person,  organization or corporation must:

  • Have a compliance history that includes six or more previous contraventions;  and
  • The contravention must be a priority requirement of the accessibility  standard, as determined by the ministry

Persons and organizations that are facing a director’s order will receive  notice and will have an opportunity to make written submissions explaining the  non-compliance. The person or organization must submit a response within 30 days  after the order was made. A director’s review of the submission can result in  the decision to reduce or rescind the initial penalty amount. The decision to  reduce or rescind the initial penalty amount will be made on a case-by-case  basis, taking into account the explanation provided by the organization and  other factors such as steps taken to come into compliance and any economic  benefit derived from the contravention.

In the event a person or an organization appeals a fine, the Regulation  designates the Licence Appeal Tribunal to hear and determine the appeal.

If an organization fails to pay an administrative monetary penalty within the  time specified in the order (within 30 days after the order was made, unless the  order specifies a longer period), and makes no submission to the director, or  appeal to the designated tribunal, the order can be filed with a local registrar  of the Superior Court of Justice to be enforced like a civil court order.

Failing to comply with a director’s order is an offence under the AODA that  can be prosecuted.

The government is appearing to use a nurturing approach to ensure compliance.  The AODA has harsh maximum penalties but the Integrated Accessibility Standards  Regulation softens the blow with substantially lower monetary penalties before  the maximum penalties can occur.

I hope everyone is now clear on the approach a director will take to first  encourage compliance and then prepare to give the non-compliant organization  smaller monetary penalties. The initial penalties act as a reminder to  organizations that after two years the higher amounts may be rapidly  enforced.

This is just one of the tools directors may use to enforce compliance.  Directors can also issue general compliance orders.

We all have a lot of work to do to accomplish accessibility, but one thing is  clear: early recognition of the AODA allows organizations time to learn and plan  ways to meet legal obligations. By understanding your obligations now, you can  begin to draft your policies, practices and procedures, as well as your  accessibility plan. Then, you actually have to do what you promise to do in  those policies , practices and procedures and multi-year plans.

There is still a lot to talk about. Don’t forget to tune in for my next  post.

Suzanne Cohen Share
Access (SCS) Consulting Services

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First Reference Talks Blog

AODA: Who let the dogs out? Saying ‘yes’ to all service animals

Author: Suzanne Cohen Share

Posted on Wednesday, September 28th, 2011 at 09:00

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You may have read the recent story about a blind rowing champ who was asked to leave the premises of an Esso gas station store. Victoria Nolan attempted to enter the premises with her guide dog when an employee promptly told her to leave the store. Ms. Nolan is not new to this problem, and she contacted the police who extracted an apology from the employee. An Esso spokesperson stated that the company tells retailers to allow service animals onto their premises. Apparently, there was a communication breakdown when instructing this employee about the topic of service animals.

So who really let the guide dogs out? The problem with this story is that guide dogs have been allowed on public premises via the Blind Person’s Rights Act for some 21 years. The Act also prohibits discrimination in housing and clarifies other issues important to people who are blind.

For 21 years we have had a provincial law that many people are still not aware of. A service dog should not be such an issue when discussing new rights under the Accessibility Standards for Customer Service. What is new in the standards is that all service animals are allowed on public places unless excluded by another law, usually for health and safety reasons.

I remember in 2009, when a cab driver’s license was revoked for refusing Ms. Nolan entry with her guide dog. The driver showed no remorse. Then there was another story of a taxi company that would not commit to a policy allowing guide dogs in their taxicabs. My immediate personal reaction was: what are they thinking? The law is the law, and a driver and business owner were pondering whether they would choose to comply with this law? One might think after the driver lost his license and there was plenty of press covering the story that Ms. Nolan would not encounter the same discrimination again. Wrong; and we are likely to see more confusion on this topic in the new year when all service animals are allowed in places where the public is admitted.

Blind persons already have a legal right to pursue their complaints in court and need not wait for businesses and other organizations to comply under the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA). The fines and penalties for non-compliance under the AODA have been explained here. Ms. Nolan can use this avenue to seek compliance, but one complaint does not trigger financial penalties. The AODA requires three complaints against an organization before specific actions are taken. In the interim, educating non-compliant organization is the primary goal. But people who are not blind and require a service animal that is not a dog are likely to meet discrimination, and can complain using the customer service standard as their avenue to seek justice.

I recall a professor in Greek and Roman history who stated a law only becomes a law when the public is irritated enough by a specific action committed by too many people. In this case, people with disabilities have been bothered for far too long and seniors have similar complaints. With 15.5 percent of the population requiring protections, and the numbers only increasing in the future, they are now a large enough group to insist their rights be enforced.

If you have learned about the rights of people with disabilities to bring their service animals onto your public premises, then please follow the regulation. If you own a pet, do not try to pass it off as a service animal, because this will just cause commotion. Before we know it there might be more laws limiting your personal pet’s right of access to certain public places. We are picking up our pooches’ poop now by a law created because owners allowed their pets to defecate everywhere.

A service animal is a necessity and it trumps how we feel. Personally, I love animals, so I am fine with this regulation. I have seen the calming effect of a guide dog in an office environment. I look forward to people with disabilities feeling more secure in the public domain, and if the animal is necessary due to a disability then I’m happy to say, get out of the house, and meet this kinder, educated public that embraces diversity and your service animals.

Suzanne Cohen Share
Access (SCS) Consulting Services

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