We’ve all heard the saying, “Adapt or die”. But when it comes to Ontario businesses adapting to AODA legislation, it takes on a whole new meaning. We’re not talking about changing product lines to suit the whims of fickle customers; AODA adaptations are about removing the barriers that make private businesses and public spaces inaccessible to persons with disabilities. Failure to adapt your business by the 2025 deadline – which at this writing is just eight and a half years away – can result in crippling fines that would indeed be the death of many a small business in Toronto.
So what’s the scoop on AODA (Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act), and what do business owners need to know in order to make their spaces compliant?
AODA is already the law, and it sets out mandatory accessibility standards that you can read about/download here – but for the most part, it only affects companies with more than 20 employees. Should smaller businesses therefore disregard the legislation? Not quite. Some action is still required on the part of micro-businesses (for example, websites should be made compliant for the visually impaired), and truth be told, it’s just good business practice to remove barriers that can cause a negative public perception of your business, lead to fines and lawsuits, and negatively impact sales.
Some of the AODA requirements for businesses include:
- Creating a plan to serve disabled people who have service animals and/or assistive devices like wheelchairs, walkers and canes
- Training staff on how to serve people with a disability
- Offering alternate service strategies, such as home delivery
AODA compliance audits are set to triple in the next few years as businesses scramble to beat the AODA deadline. Penalties for unincorporated businesses are up to $50,000, and for corporations, that figure leaps to $100,000 for non-compliance.
Making sure your business is compliant
Whether you like it or not, AODA is coming…but even if it wasn’t, most Ontario business owners can only benefit from taking a good look at their businesses and identifying any accessibility gaps. Ontario has an aging population and a significant percentage of people with disabilities, making this a demographic worth hundreds of billions of dollars in spending power – dollars that must be spent somewhere. That can definitely make accessibility upgrades worthwhile. To find out what you can do to become AODA-ready, organizations such as March of Dimes provide comprehensive interior/exterior accessibility audits. So, where does Pro Locksmiths come in?
Lately we’ve been fielding a number of calls from business owners looking to adapt their facilities with automatic (handicap) doors. These new entranceways allow for more foot traffic and are easier to use for many customers, not just those with disabilities. They are also energy efficient, which allows you to recoup some of the investment over time.
To find out whether automatic doors could make your building more accessible, give Pro Locksmiths a call to schedule a no-cost onsite evaluation. Our professional report will address all areas accessed by visitors, customers or vendors and provide recommendations for how barriers can be removed. We’ll also provide you with a free estimate that includes installation of the automatic doors by our dependable installation technicians. The AODA clock is ticking…call today!