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November 15, 2007

Ontario leads the way with its Accessible Customer Service Legislation

Ontario seems to have figured out that good access means good business. The government and business community in Nova Scotia would rather not have people with disabilities at the lunch counter. Sound familiar? Thanks to CS for this story.
-Gus Reed

Ontario leads the way with its Accessible Customer Service Legislation
coming into effect 1 January, 2008.

- by Beverley Milligan

On August 11, 2007, the Government of Ontario gazetted Ontario Regulation 429/07 and Ontario Regulation 430/07, Accessible Customer Service Standard that will come into force on January 1, 2008. This is the first of five accessibility regulations for Ontario that are being developed for full implementation by 2025 under the Accessibility for Ontarians Disability Act, requiring all private and public sector organizations to provide access to people with disabilities in the areas of Customer Service, Transportation, Information and Communications, Employment, and the Built Environment.

In bringing the Customer Service regulation into effect, the Ontario Government, through the office of the Accessibility Directorate of Ontario, has established Standard Development Committees (SDCs) and undergone extensive public consultations through both a public review process and encouraging all members of the SDC to consult with their constituencies. In doing so, reaction to the regulation has been all over the map, with affected organizations pushing for caution, while disability advocacy organizations argue it has not gone far enough.

Ontario Ministries and public sector organization will be required to comply with the regulation commencing 1 January, 2010, followed by all other organizations with 20 or more employees on 1 January, 2012.

Currently, accessibility laws in Ontario fall under the Ontarians with Disability Act (ODA), which requires public and broader public service organizations and ministries to file and Accessibility plan each year. It is anticipated that the ODA will be rescinded as AODA regulations come into effect.

There are many questions and issues surrounding the development of the regulations over the next five years, for example, what is the relationship with the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal? How can any organization comply with five different regulations? Or, what is the rest of Canada and the world doing in this area? I will address these and other questions in future articles and encourage you to e-mail me your thoughts and questions at bmilligan@mediaaccess.ca . You can also find more information

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