Williams HR Law LLP

Upcoming Deadlines for Ontario Employers to Meet Accessibility Requirements: Compliance Reports and Enhanced Website Accessibility Standards

December 9, 2020

The Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, 2005 (“AODA”) establishes accessibility standards that Ontario workplaces must follow to become more accessible and inclusive for persons with disabilities.

Employers must meet certain deadlines for compliance, which vary based on the size of their work force and/or the sector in which they operate. We have summarized upcoming requirements and deadlines below.

Accessibility Compliance Reports

The AODA requires private-sector employers and non-profit organizations with 20 or more employees, as well as designated public-sector organizations, to periodically self-assess their compliance with the accessibility requirements under the AODA and file Accessibility Compliance Reports regarding their compliance.

The deadline for private-sector employers and non-profit organizations with 20 or more employees to file Accessibility Compliance Reports has been extended to June 30, 2021. The deadline was previously December 31, 2020.

Website Accessibility

All employers with 50 or more employees and designated public-sector organizations are required by the AODA to ensure that their websites and web content are accessible.

In particular, such employers must ensure that their public websites and web content adhere to the World Wide Web Consortium’s Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (“WCAG”) 2.0 Level AA guidelines by January 1, 2021. These guidelines impose more stringent standards than the previously required Level A guidelines.

Notably, this deadline is not applicable to internal websites (intranets). In addition, the AODA does not require private sector employers and designated public sector organizations to comply with the WCAG 2.0 Level AA criteria relating to live captions and pre-recorded audio descriptions.

Takeaways for Employers

As the most immediate deadline relates to website accessibility, impacted employers should review their public websites and web content with experienced web developers to ensure that they comply with the enhanced WCAG guidelines by the end of the year, if they have not done so already.

In addition, employers with at least 20 employees should take advantage of the extended deadline for Accessibility Compliance Reports to review the reporting form, identify areas requiring improvement, and ensure that they are on track to achieve full compliance by the June deadline.

This blog is provided as an information service and summary of workplace legal issues.

This information is not intended as legal advice.