Assessing AODA Compliance in Employment

Under the AODA, private or non-profit businesses with twenty to forty-nine (20-49) workers, or fifty (50) or more workers, must complete accessibility reports every three years. The next accessibility reports for private or non-profit businesses were due on December 31st, 2020. However, the Ontario government has extended this deadline. This extended deadline for accessibility reports for private or non-profit businesses is June 30th, 2021. Nonetheless, businesses should use this extra time to assess how compliant they are with AODA standards. Moreover, businesses should also improve their compliance by changing the services they offer so that their businesses are more accessible. In this article, we will outline ways to assess AODA compliance in employment.

Assessing AODA Compliance in Employment

Businesses with fifty (50) or more workers need to report on how accessible their employment practices are. However, both small and large businesses need to comply with AODA requirements governing employment. For instance, they need to:

Furthermore, businesses with fifty (50) or more workers must develop processes for creating:

The extended deadline for AODA compliance reports gives staff of businesses more time to assess how well their companies are fulfilling all these requirements.

How to Assess AODA Compliance in Employment

Companies can start to assess their AODA compliance by requesting anonymous feedback about the accessibility of their employment practices. For instance, companies could request anonymous feedback from anyone with a disability who has:

  • Considered applying for a position but found the process inaccessible
  • Requested accommodations for:
    • Application processes
    • Interviews
    • On-boarding, job training, or employment
    • Performance management
    • Career advancement
    • Redeployment
  • Returned to work with a disability
  • Disclosed a disability while already employed

If people have the option to describe their positive or negative experiences, these stories can help staff recognize what they should or should not do to welcome and support applicants and workers. For example, potential applicants may report that they could not access an online application process. However, these applicants could also describe staff who worked with them to find an alternative way to apply. In contrast, other applicants could state that staff refused to provide accommodations they requested, such as:

  • Accessible interview locations
  • Remote work
  • Changes to scheduling or work stations
  • Accessible information or communications, such as:
    • Company-wide messages and work manuals in accessible digital formats
    • Sign language interpretation or captions for meetings

If much of the feedback is negative, it is likely that the business is not compliant with the AODA. As a result, the business will need to make changes, which could include:

  • Ensuring that their websites comply with Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG)
  • Updating their individual accommodation and return-to-work processes
  • Developing emergency response plans for workers who need them
  • Improving their AODA training, so that staff recognize the requirement to accommodate

Accessibility Consulting

In addition, businesses could enter short-term or on-going contracts to consult with people who have disabilities. Alternatively, companies could request the services of professional organizations that specialize in assessing accessibility. In either case, an accessibility assessor with lived experience of disability could:

  • Observe and give feedback on the quality of AODA training
  • Teach staff about different types of accommodations and how to provide them
  • Comment on the content and accessibility of documents, such as:
    • Statements of willingness to accommodate applicants with disabilities
    • Templates for emergency response plans
    • Accommodation and return-to-work processes

If any of these procedures do not comply with AODA requirements, consultants could offer suggestions or assistance. Moreover, consultants could also help companies find resources to support them in strengthening their policies and services.

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