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Your Business and Accessibility. What Should You Do? Part 2

One of the most popular blogs published at Aim Lock & Safe was Your Business and Accessibility, What Should You Do?

Because of your positive feedback and engagement, the team decided to revisit this topic and provide even more information.

A (very quick) refresher on AODA

In 2005, the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) was passed which mandates that by the year 2025, all businesses in the province must:

  • Improve accessibility for people with physical and mental disabilities.
  • Eliminate any barriers which may prevent people from attending and participating in business or public activities.

Complying with AODA goes beyond installing accessibility ramps and handicap door operators throughout public establishments.

It also means training and educating employees on how to properly and respectfully interact with people and their disabilities.

Fire safety and accessibility

Just as important as making it easy for disabled persons to enter business establishments is making them easy to exit; especially during a fire emergency.

Some of your fire code responsibilities when it comes to doors and entryways and accessibility include:

  • CREATING “AREAS OF REFUGE”: An area inside your company building where people can wait while help arrives. It should accommodate two wheelchairs.
  • VISUAL AND AUDITORY COMMUNICATION: Smoke alarms should be easily heard (to assist those with low eyesight) and seen (to help individuals who are hard-of-hearing).
  • ACCESSIBLE FIRE SAFETY PLANS: Fire escape routes must also account for people who require special assistance and cannot either understand or execute the fire exit plan.
  • PROPER SIGNAGE: Large letters and easy-to-understand visual signs must be placed in high-traffic area. Signs should also be tactile and in braille for blind persons to utilize.

Doors should accommodate 95% of wheeled mobility devices

While the average wheelchair is approximately 24” in width, there are wheelchairs which are 36” or wider.

Meanwhile, mobility scooters can be narrow (20” in width) or extremely wide (30” in width).

Since they come in all shapes and sizes, it’s recommended that commercial doors and frames allow easy access for 95% of wheeled mobility devices.

That means they should be at least 915 mm (3’) in width.

Another important aspect of mobility devices is their turning radius, especially when maneuvering in tight quarters like a bathroom.

Because of this, bathrooms should allow for a 1500 mm (4’ 10”) turning circle without coming into contact with any obstruction whatsoever.

Who needs AODA training?

If you (or someone else) in your organization does not deal with the general public at large, AODA training may not be required.

However, it is absolutely mandatory if your responsibilities include:

  • Paid work.
  • Volunteerism.
  • Starting a new job or a new position at your existing place of employment.
  • Policy or workplace behavior development.
  • Making changes to your company’s current accessibility standards.

In addition, all training records must be kept and available for inspection. This includes information such as:

  • Employee name.
  • Training date.
  • Training topics covered.

Training is required by law in order to be code compliant with the AODA.

But it also gives you and your organization the confidence and skills needed to interact with people with disabilities.

Playgrounds need to be accessible for kids and adults

Although this may not apply to your business, it’s worth noting that the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act also includes park playgrounds.

That means improving or installing elements like:

  • Accessible swings.
  • Ramps.
  • Sensory features like touch walls.
  • Accessible slides.
  • Ground cover or fill that’s wheelchair friendly.
  • Transfer benches where people can go from a wheelchair into a slide, for example.
  • Elevated sandboxes.
  • Easy access benches and resting areas.

These inclusive play spaces have tremendous value.

Firstly, it encourages equal participation between disabled and able-bodied children. Kids that can play on the same equipment will also play together.

Secondly, it ensures disabled children and adults get the physical activity needed to live a healthy and active lifestyle.

Why wait until 2025 to make your business accessible? Start now with Aim Lock & Safe

As of this writing (2018), 13 years have passed since AODA was given Royal Assent (meaning it was enacted into law).

And 7 years remain before all public establishments must be compliant.

Perhaps your business needs minor changes. Perhaps it needs more extensive commercial locksmith upgrades.

Whatever the case may be, Aim Lock & Safe can ensure your business meets all the criteria laid out in the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act.

Contact our locksmith professionals with your questions or comments. They’ll get back with the answers and info you need.

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