Starting Jan. 1, 2012, Ontario employers will need to provide employees with disabilities with emergency response information that is tailored to the employee's needs, if the disability requires it.
That’s one of the requirements of three new accessibility standards put in place in Ontario as part of National Access Awareness Week 2011 (May 29 to June 4). The three — in the areas of employment, information and communications, and transportation — build on the first standard for accessible customer service. They will:
• make it easier for people with disabilities to get to where they need to go
• expand Ontario's labour pool and welcome people with disabilities into more workplaces
• give people with disabilities access to more information.
Ontario's accessibility plan will help businesses tap into the economic power of thousands of customers and visitors with disabilities, and harness a larger and more diverse pool of workers, said the government.
"With these next standards in place, more people with disabilities will be able do the things that many of us take for granted, like playing in a park, dining in a restaurant, catching a bus and applying for a job,” said Madeleine Meilleur, minister of community and social services. “They will level the playing field and make Ontario a model for accessibility — not only here in Canada but around the world."
The Accessibility Standard for Employment will help employers support and keep more skilled employees. It will make accessibility a normal part of finding, hiring and communicating with employees who have disabilities.
The Accessibility Standard for Information and Communications will help people with disabilities access more sources of information, such as websites, public libraries, textbooks and public safety information.
Organizations will need to provide public safety information in alternate formats — such as large print — starting Jan. 1, 2012. Other requirements will be phased in over time. Some parts of the standard apply only to educational or training institutions.
The Accessibility Standard for Transportation focuses on making transportation services accessible. This includes buses (including public school buses), trains, subways, streetcars, taxis and ferries.
Some requirements for this standard come into effect on July 1, 2011, including equal fares for all customers, making verbal pre-boarding and onboard announcements, and providing courtesy seating. Other requirements will be phased in over time.
Ontario launched its Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act six years ago and with four out of five accessibility standards in place, moves closer to its goal to be accessible to all by 2025.
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