The Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) was enacted in 2005, with the overarching goal of making Ontario accessible for people with disabilities by the year 2025. Under this legislation, an accessible Ontario is to be achieved through the development, implementation and enforcement of accessibility standards in five key areas:
- Customer Service
- Information and Communications
- Design of Public Spaces (Built Environment)
The Accessibility Standard for Customer Service was the first accessibility standard under the AODA and came into force January 1, 2008. The next four accessibility standards — Information and Communications, Employment, Transportation and the Design of Public Spaces — have been combined under one regulation, the Integrated Accessibility Standards Regulation (IASR).
As part of the Integrated Accessibility Standards Regulation (the Regulation), the Accessibility Standard for the Design of Public Spaces strives to ensure that new and redeveloped public spaces appropriately serve the needs of all users, including children, seniors, parents with strollers, and people with a wide variety of disabilities.
Accessibility features in the exterior environment will be regulated primarily through the Integrated Accessibility Standards Regulation. It should be noted that there are a few areas of the exterior public realm currently regulated by Ontario’s Building Code or the National Building Code, such as routes within a site to barrier-free entrances, passenger loading zones and parking lots with barrier-free parking.
Accessibility of buildings will continue to be regulated through Ontario’s Building Code. Ontario’s Building Code was updated in 2013 to provide new requirements for accessibility elements within buildings. It should be noted that the Integrated Accessibility Standards Regulation regulates some building elements associated with providing public access to service, such as service counters, fixed queuing lines and seating in waiting areas, whether these elements are indoors or outdoors.