AODA and Small business: Severe penalties for lack of accessibility for the disabled
AODA stands for the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act. Many business owners are unaware of the law that requires the filing of a compliance report. They are also unaware of the onerous penalty for non-compliance.
By: Rona Birenbaum Special to The Star, Published on Wed May 15 2013
The AODA’s deadline for providers of goods and services with 20 or more employees to file a Customer Service Accessibility Compliance Report was December 31, 2012.
AODA stands for the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act. Many business owners are unaware of the law that requires the filing of a compliance report. They are also unaware of the onerous penalty for non-compliance.
Employment lawyer Doug MacLeod tells the story of a client of his that received a non-compliance letter from the Ontario government. Her organization was given 15 business days to comply with AODA. Thereafter, the organization would be subject to a fine of $50,000 for each day the organization did not comply with AODA.
“The government has provided fairly user friendly tools to assist employers fulfill their obligations under the act” MacLeod says. There is a detailed package that provides directions on compliance reporting. MacLeod suggests not waiting until you receive a letter from the government to develop an accessibility policy and file the compliance report. “It appears that employers are being given very short deadlines for compliance. It is prudent to file the report now, even though the deadline has passed.”
Businesses with fewer than 20 employees don’t need to file the compliance report, but they are still have obligations under the Customer Standard of AODA. Such obligations include: establishing policies, practices and procedures on providing goods or services to people with disabilities; providing people with disabilities with notice of a temporary disruption in facilities or services; and providing training to certain persons about the provision of its goods or services to persons with disabilities.
The Ontario government provides a range of online resources to help business owners fulfill their obligations under the Act.
• For every provider of goods and services (except sole proprietors) there is a an accessible customer service policy template .
• For every provider of goods and services (except sole proprietors) there is a 45-minute online training course for employees.
• For every provider of goods and services with 20 or more employees there aredirections on compliance reporting.
These resources, along with advice from your employment lawyer, are all that you need to become compliant with the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act.
Rona Birenbaum has worked in financial services for over 20 years within the Credit Union, full-service brokerage and independent Financial Planning industries. She is an Honours graduate of York University's Business School, a Certified Financial Planner (CFP), and fully licensed Insurance and Investment Advisor.
Linked In: www.linkedin.com/in/ronabirenbaum
If your business needs help achieving AODA compliance, contact Shane Holten, President of SPH Planning & Consulting Ltd. by email at sholten@sph-planning-consulting or by phone at 647-931-4021 extension 1.
Getting regular aerobic exercise, such as walking, may be one of the best ways to stave off dementia, a finding recently reconfirmed by yet another study.
But older Americans are the most at risk for being killed when they go out on foot in their communities, according to the latest data from the Centers for Disease Control.
It’s just another illustration of the inherently ridiculous situation faced by a huge proportion of the American public. Even as we recognize that regular exercise is good for people of all ages – including and especially kids and senior citizens – we continue to build communities that make it especially hazardous for those very same people to go for a simple walk to the store.
As a result, too many Americans don’t get the moderate exercise that could improve their health in the course of their daily lives. The alternative is for them to drive (or be driven) to the gym, where they can pace on treadmills while looking at walls, or sit on exercise bicycles and pedal to nowhere while watching TV.
It would be funny if the consequences weren't so grave, and if we didn't have the resources and knowledge to do things differently.
Take the recent findings about exercise and dementia.
As summarized in a recent story on NPR mentioning the research of neuroscientist Art Kramer, who directs the Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology at the University of Illinois, aerobic exercise has proven effective in increasing the brain health of older adults:
Kramer did a study in which he scanned the brains of 120 older adults, half of whom started a program of moderate aerobic exercise — just 45 minutes, three days a week, mostly walking. After a year, the MRI scans showed that for the aerobic group, the volume of their brains actually increased.
What's more, individuals in the control group lost about 1.5 percent of their brain volume, adding up to a 3.5 percent difference between individuals who took part in aerobic exercise and those who did not. Further tests showed that increased brain volume translated into better memory.
Kramer's research echoes numerous other studies. Neuroscientist Peter Snyder, a researcher at Brown University's Alpert Medical School and Rhode Island Hospital, told NPR the evidence is mounting that moderate aerobic exercise — walking — could be the best thing older adults can do to maintain mental sharpness.
"What we're finding is that of all of these noninvasive ways of intervening, it is exercise that seems to have the most efficacy at this point — more so than nutritional supplements, vitamins and cognitive interventions," says Snyder, who studies what we can do to maintain memory as our brains age.... "The literature on exercise is just tremendous," he says. "What we find is that with exercise — with aerobic exercise, a moderate amount on a regular basis — there are chemical changes that occur in the brain that promote the growth of new neurons in [the hippocampus]."
And yet the streets of many American communities are designed in such a way that taking a simple walk can be a life-threatening proposition, especially for older people, who might move more slowly and have limited vision or other disabilities. The CDC figures show thatpedestrians over the age of 75 are twice as likely to be killed while walking as members of the general population. Yet key lawmakers continue to block funding for better pedestrian and bicycle infrastructure, ensuring that more roads and bridges get built without accommodations for people outside of motor vehicles.
And so our society's mixed messages continue. You should get up and go for a walk! The Surgeon General says it’s good for you in every way!
But wait a second – you know you’d be crazy to go for a walk on that busy street near your house, right? You can’t move fast enough to cross that road, which is being used by important people who are commuting long distances to their jobs. Oh, and since older drivers are less safe as well, driving to the gym might not be such a great idea for you after all. Public transportation? We don’t have the money for that. Times are hard, after all.
The simple ability to walk near one's home should be a human right. But even if you don't believe that, it is a public health issue that costs our rapidly aging nation country big money in increased health care costs.
The more insidious toll it takes on the bodies, minds, and spirits of older people who stay inside their homes, looking out, is harder to measure. But it is no less real.
Top image: David W. Leindecker/Shutterstock.com
Sarah Goodyear has written about cities for a variety of publications, including Grist andStreetsblog. She lives in Brooklyn.
Baby boomers are retiring in droves in an unprecedented American demographic shift. The last Baby Boomer turns 65 in 2030, so we still have two decades of an aging chunk of the public. A growing body of research points to the importance of designing or retrofitting communities forwalkability to accommodate senior citizens and allow them to maintain a healthy, active lifestyle upon retirement. Walkable neighborhoods help seniors remain active, healthy, social and free to move around. How?
1. Quality of Life While Aging in Place
Many retirees choose to age in place—to avoid moving and remain in their homes as long as possible. But since baby boomers were the generation that built suburbia, many will want to maintain a quality of life in unwalkable neighborhoods.
Older adults socialize more when living in walkable neighborhoods. According to the EPA, in an age-friendly walkable neighborhood or town, regular social interaction is possible, convenient and more frequent. The American Journal of Public Health published a study published a study that reveals older people living in walkable, mixed-use neighborhoods have higher levels of social interaction compared with those residing in car-dependent burbs. Living in walkable neighborhoods means you are more likely to know your neighbors, participate in politics, engage socially and even trust people.
2. Transportation + Mobility to Leave the House
Independence builds self-worth and being able to move around your neighborhood is freeing. “More than 20 percent of Americans age 65 or older do not drive. Of those, more than half — about 3.6 million people — stay home on any given day because they have no transportation, AARP says,” from a Washington Post article. Men outlive their “drive-ability” by 7 years, women by 10 years. Public transit becomes key for allowing seniors to remain independent. “A 2002 study by the National Institute on Aging found that about 600,000 people who are 70 or older stop driving every year and become dependent on other forms of transportation.”
A 2003 Brookings Institution study found that 79% of seniors age 65 and older live in car-dependent suburban and rural communities. But older adults increased their use of public transit by 40% between 2001 and 2009. About 15% of those over age 65 use public transit at least once time per month and more than half of them need specialized transportation, according to Placemaking article.
AARP’s report Advancing Mobility Options states, “One of the keys to economic and health security for adults age 50+ is their continued access to a range of viable mobility options within the community. Lack of such options can have a profound impact on how ‘livable’ communities are and have a negative impact on the quality of life enjoyed by older adults in those communities.” Public transportation boosts mobility of seniors. The Street used Walk Score to determine 10 cities where you can retire without having to use a car—around the country from Seattle to Miami.
For the complete article and additional information, please visit the WalkScore Blog:
OTTAWA - March 28, 2013 - The Canadian Transportation Agency today released a new Accessibility Code of Practice and resource tool to improve the accessibility of non-National Airports System (non-NAS) air terminals for persons with disabilities.
The National Airports System (NAS) is comprised of 26 national airports linking Canada from coast to coast. The Agency has a Code of Practice which applies to NAS terminals. However, as there are no current standards to address physical accessibility, communications or services to persons with disabilities for non-NAS terminals, the Agency developed a new code of practice and a resource tool which will apply to over 90 non-NAS terminals that handle more than 10,000 passengers a year.
Compliance assessments have demonstrated that voluntary codes of practice are effective in removing undue obstacles to the mobility of persons with disabilities from the federal transportation system. Voluntary codes are developed in consultation with the Agency's Accessibility Advisory Committee, which has representation from transportation service providers and disability associations, as well as other stakeholders.
In addition to providing the technical specifications for the physical aspects of terminals, the Code covers issues such as disability-related services, personnel training and communication. The Code sets out standards for the industry to follow which are intended to solve systemic problems faced by persons with disabilities.
The Non-NAS Terminals Code is applicable to public facilities located inside or outside the main terminal facility and services operated and maintained by terminal operators which contribute to the successful execution of a trip. This includes parking, passenger drop-off and pick-up areas and baggage claim areas. This also includes work which may be contracted out by terminal operators such as parking services or ground transportation.
“The Code will contribute to making the transportation network more accessible and responsive to the needs of persons with disabilities,” said Geoff Hare, Chair and CEO of the Canadian Transportation Agency. “It presents minimum standards that air passenger terminal operators are expected to meet and are encouraged to exceed wherever possible.”
The Agency will monitor the progress on the implementation of this Code using a variety of means. For example, the Agency may do site visits, have discussions with terminal operators, review websites, or use other methods deemed appropriate to obtain information on compliance by industry.
The Agency has also developed other series of Codes of Practice for transportation service providers. Other resources currently available to provide guidance for those travelling with a disability include Carriage of Mobility Aids On Board Planes, Trains and Ferries and Take Charge of Your Travel: A Guide for Persons with Disabilities.
In Search of 'Eldertopia'
Lisa Selin Davis
Jan 31, 2013
Some 54 million Americans over the age of 55 are hoping to grow old in their own homes, and that population should increase by 50 percent over the next 30 years. Their hope is no easy thing to realize, because most American housing stock wasn’t built grow (or shrink) with us as our needs evolve.
But cutting edge strategies for aging-in-place are coming from an unlikely source: the university classroom.
"We have a responsibility to train the next generation of architects to think about accessibility and housing flexibility," says Georgeen Theodore, associate professor and director of the Infrastructure Planning Program at the New Jersey Institute of Technology. "It shouldn’t just be a niche market for older adults, but part of the larger project of housing."
Theodore's students interviewed senior citizens to understand their needs at different stages of life, then considered the full spectrum of issues related to aging in place: connectivity, transit, density and social interaction among them. Incorporating these notions, her students dreamed up housing types and communities that could shift with the needs of the inhabitants.
One model might look like this: a two-family house in which a young couple could live in one unit early in life, expand into the second unit when they had a family of their own, and then contract again into one unit for the empty nest years. This could work not just because it addresses the social and physical aspects of housing for older adults, but because it comes with a built-in economic angle: a family or individual could finance aging-in-place by renting out that second unit.
"Typically, when architects design a building, they are designing it for its first users," says Theodore. "In the studio, we designed our housing and community infrastructure to accommodate change over the years."
At Harvard’s Graduate School of Design, Professor Dan D’Oca—Theodore’s partner at the planning and design firm Interboro Partners—taught a studio on age-friendly design. "We wanted [the students] to consider, and design for, this massively changing demographic," says D’Oca.
The ideas ranged from the simple and entrepreneurial to the grand and policy-oriented. They included a power scooter-sharing program, modeled after bike shares; multi-generational playgrounds; accessory dwelling units grafted onto existing garden apartments; and a "Belt Bus" that would connect the various NORCs near the Belt Parkway in Brooklyn, whose residents currently have no way to interact.
For the complete article, visit the following link: http://www.theatlanticcities.com/design/2013/01/how-build-eldertopia/4514/
Image Source: Katie Chu
February 5, 2013
President Obama Appoints Michael Graves To US Access Board
Anna Wintour may not have a future as a US ambassador
, but the cause of aesthetics and good design is by no means lost on the government. In January President Obama appointed Michael Graves
to the Architectural and Transportation Barriers Compliance Board, which governs the independent federal agency covering accessible design under the Americans with Disabilities Act, among other laws. Announcing Graves’s new post among a round of appointments, President Obama said, “These fine public servants both bring a depth of experience and tremendous dedication to their new roles. Our nation will be well-served by these individuals, and I look forward to working with them in the months and years to come.” Read more.
The Patriot Home at Fort Belvoir in Virginia, one of the two houses designed by Michael Graves and IDEO’s David Haygood for the Wounded Warrior Home Project. Photo courtesy of the Wounded Warrior Home Project
First Reference Talks
Happy 2014! Well, it will be if you start preparing your multi-year accessibility plan under the AODA now
January 24, 2013
It’s January once again—another new year—2013! So, that means it’s time to think about January 2014! Businesses know as well as people how quickly a new year can arrive—along with the new obligations that go along with it. In this case, I’m talking about the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act and multi-year accessibility plans to meet the requirements of the Integrated Accessibility Standards Regulation. Large organizations—those with 50 or more employees—must comply by 2014.
The regulation says large organizations with 50 or more employees must:
- Establish, implement, maintain and document a multi-year accessibility plan, which outlines the organization’s strategy to prevent and remove barriers and meet its requirements under this regulation;
- Post the accessibility plan on their website, if any, and provide the plan in an accessible format upon request; and
- Review and update the accessibility plan at least once every five years.
Remember, the integrated regulation includes standards on information and communications, employment, transportation and the design of public spaces.
Although an organization with fewer than 50 employees does not have to prepare a multi-year accessibility plan, it is a good practice to develop a multi-year plan so your organization has a clear strategy on how it intends to implement the requirements of the Integrated Regulation.
McGuinty Government Improving Independence for People of all Abilities
January 21, 2013 1:00 pm
Ministry of Community and Social Services
Ontario has appointed a new council to help remove barriers for people with disabilities.
In response to recommendations by Charles Beer's review of Ontario's accessibility law, the government is establishing the Accessibility Standards Advisory Council. This new council will be chaired by Jim Sanders, former president and CEO of CNIB. The immediate mandate of the new council will be to:
- Review Ontario's five existing accessibility standards.
- Develop new accessibility standards based on the advice and feedback we have received to date from stakeholders.
Since the introduction of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act in 2005, Ontario has implemented standards that cover customer service, information and communications, employment, transportation and the design of public spaces. The most recent set of standards, the design of public spaces, became law on Jan. 1, 2013. As part of a phased-in approach, this newest standard will take effect in 2015 for the government, with full implementation by 2018.
Making Ontario more accessible is an important part of the McGuinty government's plan to create opportunities for Ontarians and improve independence for people of all abilities.
For more information, visit the Ministry's website at: http://news.ontario.ca/mcss/en/2013/01/new-council-to-help-make-ontario-even-more-accessible.html
Are you responsible for preparing accessibility policies and plans, or purchasing goods and services at your organization? Did you know that as of January 1, 2013, organizations across Ontario must comply with several additional requirements of the Integrated Accessibility Standards Regulation (IASR) under the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, 2005 (AODA)?
While all organizations were required to comply with the AODA Customer Service Standard as well as the emergency information requirements of the IASR by January 1, 2012, starting this year compliance deadlines for additional IASR obligations will vary depending on the type and size of business. These obligations also vary based on each section of the IASR. For example, organization types for the Employment and Information and Communication requirements of the IASR include:
- Ontario Government and Legislative Assembly
- Public organizations with 50+ employees
- Public organizations with 1 – 49 employees
- Private and non-profit organizations with 50+ employees
- Private and non-profit organizations with 1 – 49 employees
The January 1, 2013 compliance deadline primarily affects public organizations with more than 50 employees. A few of the key new obligations for these organizations include:
- Developing, implementing and maintaining policies about what your organization will do to meet the IASR requirements and become more accessible;
- Creating multi-year accessibility plans in consultation with people with disabilities; and
- Incorporating accessibility criteria into the goods, services, and facilities procurement process.
Municipalities and other public transportation service providers will also be required to comply with several new IASR obligations, including those related to fare parity, hours of service and service delays. New accessibility requirements will also apply to any new public transportation vehicles purchased after January 1, 2013, including requirements for grab bars, dedicated mobility-aid spaces, lifting devices or ramps, and steps, among others.
Additional compliance obligations will generally become applicable every January 1 for the next five years and will vary based on your type and size of business. Training on the requirements of the IASR and Ontario Human Rights Code is one of the key obligations, and starts this year for the Ontario Government, next year for public organizations with 50+ employees, and in 2014 for public organizations with fewer than 50 employees as well as private and non-profit organization with 50+ employees. Small businesses with fewer than 50 employees have until 2016 to comply with these training requirements.
The full list of compliance deadlines may seem daunting at first, however, the Government of Ontario has developed an easy to use AODA Compliance Wizard that will tell you in just a few steps exactly what aspects of the IASR your organization must comply with and when the deadline to comply with each obligation is. The AODA Compliance Wizard is available at: https://www.appacats.mcss.gov.on.ca/eadvisor/
For full details on all of the requirements of the IASR, including upcoming compliance obligations and timelines for all sectors, refer to the Guide to the Integrated Accessibility Standards Regulation.
On Monday, April 23 the SPH team had the opportunity to attend the 2012 Complete Streets Forum, the goal of which was to "accelerate the implementation of Complete Streets across Canada." Several speakers from across North America delivered presentations on complete streets and other active transportation issues, while well known architect and urban designer Ken Greenberg chaired the forum and moderated discussions throughout the day.
Many of these presentations touched on important issues for people with disabilities. One of the highlights of the forum was the keynote presentation by noted walkability expert Dan Burden, who discussed best practices learned from his experience leading walkability audits throughout the world. In particular, he noted that when you have wheelchairs on the road, there’s a problem with your sidewalks. Earlier in the day John LaPlante, Vice President and Director of Traffic Engineering at T.Y. Lin International, shared examples of how to design streets to accommodate everyone, including people with various disabilities during his presentation “Laying the Foundation for Complete Streets.”
Other notable speakers included Monica Campbell from Toronto Public Health who discussed their recent report on The Walkable City (PDF), which focuses on the impact that walkability has on health, obesity, and other chronic conditions, as well as a controversial new report released the morning of the Forum titled “Road to Health: A Healthy Toronto by Design.”
A smaller breakout session on "Shared Streets and the Vision Impaired" focused on the City of Toronto’s experiences in planning new shared streets on John Street and Market Street, as well as the implementation of new separated cycling lanes on Sherbourne Street. Representatives from the CNIB were present and provided insight into the challenges faced by people with vision loss as they navigate our streets. A key issue is that shared streets typically remove an important element for people with vision loss: curbs. Without curbs, it can be difficult for people with vision loss to determine if they are still on the sidewalk or in the designated vehicle travel lanes, even if tactile markers are provided along the edge of the travel lanes.
During this session Boyd Hipfner, who is blind and has worked with the CNIB for over 40 years, discussed the challenge of training guide dogs to recognize truncated dome warning systems and other tactile markers. Given that guide dogs are typically trained to stop and wait for further instructions at curbs, it may be difficult to retrain guide dogs to also recognize the tactile warning features of shared streets where no curbs are present. This may be especially challenging for people with vision loss who are infrequent visitors to areas with shared streets, as their guide dogs may not get sufficient exposure to these different tactile warning systems.
Weren't able to attend the Complete Streets Forum this year? Many of the presentations are now available online and can be downloaded at: http://tcat.ca/completestreetsforum2012/presentations