Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) Policy

Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) Policy

 

WHAT IS THE ACCESSIBILITY FOR ONTARIANS WITH DISABILITIES ACT (AODA)?

The Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, 2005 (AODA) is a law in Ontario that allows the government to develop specific standards of accessibility and to enforce them. Recognizing the history of discrimination against persons with disabilities in Ontario, the purpose of this Act is to benefit all Ontarians by:

a) Developing, implementing and enforcing accessibility standards in order to achieve accessibility for Ontarians with disabilities with respect to goods, services, facilities, accommodation, employment, buildings, structures and premises on or before January 1, 2025; and

b) Providing for the involvement of persons with disabilities, the Government of Ontario and of representatives of industries and various sectors of the economy in the development of accessibility standards.

The standards require organizations to identify, remove and prevent barriers for people with disabilities in key areas of daily living. Barriers keep people with disabilities from fully participating in activities that most of us take for granted. The client service standard is the first standard to come into effect under the AODA.

The Government of Ontario is working with different standards development committees to develop other standards in the areas of transportation, information and communications, the built environment and employment. These committees include people with disabilities or their representatives, business owners, government representatives and members of the public.

The standards development committees propose standards for government consideration and the government may adopt them by regulation. Once adopted by regulation, the standards will impose requirements to make these areas more accessible to people with disabilities. They may apply to private and public sector organizations across Ontario.

WHO ARE PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES?

When we think of disabilities, we tend to think of people who use wheelchairs and who have physical disabilities that are visible and obvious. But disabilities can also be invisible. We cannot always tell who has a disability. The AODA uses the same definition of “disability” as the Ontario Human Rights Code. “Disability” means,

a) Any degree of physical disability, infirmity, malformation or disfigurement that is caused by bodily injury, birth defect or illness and, without limiting the generality of the foregoing, includes diabetes mellitus, epilepsy, a brain injury, any degree of paralysis, amputation, lack of physical coordination, blindness or visual impediment, deafness or hearing impediment, muteness or speech impediment, or physical reliance on a guide dog or other animal or on a wheelchair or other remedial appliance or device,

b) A condition of mental impairment or a developmental disability,

c) A learning disability, or a dysfunction in one or more of the processes involved in understanding or using symbols or spoken language,

d) A mental disorder, or

e) An injury or disability for which benefits were claimed or received under the insurance plan established under the workplace safety and insurance act, 1997.

WHAT ARE BARRIERS?

When you think about accessibility, it is important to be aware of both visible and invisible barriers. A barrier is anything that keeps someone with a disability from fully participating in all aspects of society because of their disability.

a. Attitude is perhaps the most difficult barrier to overcome because it’s hard to change the way people think or behave. Some people don’t know how to communicate with those who have visible or invisible disabilities – for example, assuming someone with a speech problem has intellectual limitations and speaking to them in a manner that would be used with a child; or forming ideas about the person because of stereotypes or a lack of understanding. Some people may feel that they could offend the individual with a disability by offering help, or they ignore or avoid people with disabilities altogether. Remember, attitude is a major barrier that’s within our power to change.

b. Architectural or structural barriers may result from design elements of a building such as stairs, doorways, the width of hallways and even room layout.

c. Information and communication barriers can make it difficult for people to receive or convey information. For example, a person who is Deaf cannot communicate via standard telephone. Things like small print size, low colour contrast between text and background, confusing design of printed materials and the use of language that isn’t clear or easy to understand can all cause difficulty.

d. Technology, or lack of it, can prevent people from accessing information. Everyday tools like computers, telephones and other aids can all present barriers if they are not set up or designed with accessibility in mind.

e. Systemic barriers can result from an organization’s policies, practices and procedures if they restrict people with disabilities, often unintentionally – for example, a clothing store with a “no refund” policy and no way for someone in a scooter to enter the change room.

PURPOSE

Pythian strives to meet the needs of its employees and customers with disabilities and is working hard to remove and prevent barriers to accessibility.

Our Organization/business is committed to fulfilling our requirements under the Accessibility of Ontarians with Disabilities Act.  This accessibility plan outlines the steps Pythian is taking to meet those requirements and to improve opportunities for people with disabilities

Our plan shows how Pythian will play its role in making Ontario an accessible province for all Ontarians

The purpose of this Statement of Policy and Procedure is to create a statement of commitment that provides a framework within which accessibility plans and initiatives are to be created in order to move Pythian towards the goal of improved accessibility for people with disabilities, as prescribed in the AODA.

The commitments in this policy are intended to ensure that accessibility remains a priority in Pythian decision-making process and will serve to assist in ensuring that decisions improve accessibility and do not inadvertently create barriers.

SCOPE OF THE POLICY

This policy applies to employees, contractors, consultants, temporaries, and other workers at Pythian, including all personnel affiliated with third parties. This policy applies to all equipment that is owned or leased by Pythian.

STATEMENT OF COMMITMENT

Pythian is committed to treating all people in a way that allows them to maintain their dignity and independence. We believe in integration and equal opportunity. We are committed to meeting the needs of people with disabilities in a timely manner and will do so by preventing and removing barriers to accessibility and meeting accessibility requirements under the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act.

Training

Pythian is committed to training employees on Ontario’s accessibility laws and on the Human Rights Code as it relates to people with disabilities. Training will be provided in a way that best suits the duties of employees.

Information and Communications

Pythian is committed to meeting the communication needs of persons with disabilities in accordance with the Integrated Accessibility Standards and will notify the public about the availability of accessible formats and communications supports as required.

Upon request, Pythian will provide or arrange for the provision of accessible formats and communication supports for persons with disabilities in a timely manner and at a cost that is no more than the regular cost charged to other persons. Pythian will consult with people with disabilities to determine their information and communication needs.

We will ensure existing feedback processes are accessible to people with disabilities upon request.

Pythian is committed to making its internet website and web content conform to the World Wide Web Consortium Web Content Accessibility Guideline (WCAG 2.0) as required by the Integrated Accessibility Standard.

Pythian will maintain its accessibility policies in a written format.  They will be available to the public and will be provided in an accessible format if it is requested.

Employment

Pythian is committed to fair and accessible employment practices. We will notify the public and staff that, when requested, Pythian will accommodate people with disabilities during the recruitment and assessment processes and when people are hired.

Pythian, if needed, will develop and put in place a process for developing individual accommodation plans and return-to-work policies for employees that have been absent due to a disability.

We will ensure the accessibility needs of employees with disabilities are taken into account when Pythian is using performance management, career development and redeployment.

Accessible Website

We are committed to working towards an accessible website and website content that will comply with the World Wide Web Consortium Web Content Accessibility Guidelines initially at Level A and moving towards Level AA standards.

NOTICE OF TEMPORARY DISRUPTION

In the event of a planned or unexpected disruption to services or facilities for Employees or customers with disabilities, Pythian will notify everyone promptly through email and posted signage. This clearly posted notice will include information about the reason for the disruption and its anticipated length of time.

FOR MORE INFORMATION

For more information on this policy, accessibility plan, or want to provide feedback, please reach out to Human Resources at [email protected]