On June 13, 2005, the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, 2005 received Royal Assent and is now law.
The purpose is to benefit all Ontarians by developing, implementing and enforcing accessibility standards in order to achieve accessibility for Ontarians with disabilities by 2025.
Standards will be developed by the Government of Ontario in collaboration with persons with disabilities, representatives of industries and various sectors of the economy.
Both the public and private sectors that provide goods and services to people in Ontario will have to meet certain accessibility standards in five important areas: Customer Service (O.Reg. 429/07), and currently pending Standards for Transportation, Information and Communications, Built Environment and Employment.
Public sector organizations including government ministries, municipalities, hospitals, public transportation organizations, school boards, colleges and universities are required to continue to prepare and make public annual accessibility plans as their legal obligations under the Ontarians with Disabilities Act, 2001 remain in force until such time that the Act is repealed.
Communities are changing throughout the province of Ontario as the population ages. Approximately 20 per cent of Ontarians are likely to have a disability in 20 years.
A mandate to remove barriers by 2025 will allow communities to fully accommodate an aging population and persons with disabilities.
Like in other municipalities in Ontario, an accessibility plan is prepared to address any issues and barriers preventing persons with disabilities from participating fully in the life of the community.
Ultimately, the Accessibility Plan is intended to identify, remove and prevent all barriers that may impede residents and visitors from accessing and using municipal services within the responsibility of the Regional Municipality of Niagara.
Accessibility planning is no longer an afterthought, but instead has become ingrained in the normal operating policies and procedures.
Definitions for "disability" and "barrier" as they appear in the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act and Ontarians with Disabilities Act.
Means anything that prevents a person with a disability from fully participating in all aspects of society because of his or her disability, including a physical barrier, an architectural barrier, an information or communications barrier, an attitudinal barrier, a technological barrier, a policy or a practice ("obstacle").