As mandated by the Ontario government, accessibility criteria and features must be incorporated into all purchasing practices. It is the responsibility of each employee purchasing a good, service, or facility to consider and apply the appropriate accessibility criteria to their purchasing decisions. If it is not practicable to incorporate accessibility criteria or features you must be ready to provide an explanation upon request.
When planning to make a purchase it is important to remember that 1/6 people in Ontario have a disability and that number is expected to grow to 1/5 in the next few years. Procuring accessible goods, services and facilities now is usually more economical than restructuring the goods, services or facilities to meet accessibility criteria afterward.
Under the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) Integrated Accessibility Standards, "designated public sector organizations shall incorporate accessibility criteria and features when procuring or acquiring goods, services, or facilities, except where it is not practicable to do so." The regulation also specifies that self-serve kiosks purchased after January 1, 2013 must incorporate accessibility features.
If it is not practicable to incorporate accessibility criteria and features into the good, service or facility you are purchasing, you are required to provide an explanation upon request. The Integrated Accessibility Standards Regulation in full: http://www.e-laws.gov.on.ca/html/source/regs/english/2011/elaws_src_regs_r11191_e.htm
The definition includes disabilities of different severity, visible as well as non-visible disabilities, and disabilities the effects of which may come and go.
Accessibility (As defined in the Ontario Public Service Diversity and Inclusion Lexicon):
"A general term used to describe the degree of ease that something (e.g. device, service, environment) can be used and enjoyed by persons with a disability. The term implies conscious planning, design and/or effort to ensure it is barrier free to persons with a disability, and by extension, highly usable and practical for the general population as well."
Barrier (As defined in the AODA, 2005):
"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."
- Can the good can be used by someone:
- Can the product be customized to meet a variety of needs?
- Are support materials, such as manuals, training or service calls, available in accessible formats at no additional charge?
- Does it work with common assistive technologies?
- Does the firm provide accessible customer service, as required under the Customer Service Standard?
- Can the service provider accommodate the needs of people of all abilities? For example, if you're hiring someone to conduct research, do their surveys and interviews accommodate people with different types of disabilities?
- Will the company use accessible signage, audio and/or print materials? For example, if you're hiring an event coordinator, will they use high contrast signage for the event?
- Can someone using a mobility aid, like a wheelchair or walker, get around the facility?
- Are signs placed at an accessible height?
- Does the facility have emergency procedures to assist people with disabilities?
- Can someone with a disability use the facility as quickly and easily as a person without a disability?
Do the accessibility obligations apply to the procurement of all goods and services?
Yes. The accessibility obligations apply to the acquisition of all goods, services, and facilities regardless of value.
Do I have to apply accessible criteria to goods used by individual employees?
Yes, unless it is not practicable to do so. It is important to take into consideration the possibility that the employee using the purchased good may acquire a disability, or a person with a disability may later use said good. For example: In purchasing telephones, you might want to assess whether the equipment requires volume controls, clear display screens, and large buttons in order to make the telephones as accessible to as many users as possible. While the original user of the phone may not have a disability, the phone may be used by several different employees over the period of a few years. Please review the Employment Accommodation Policy and Procedure if you are procuring goods or services for use by an employee. Remember: Procuring accessible goods, services and facilities is usually more economical than restructuring the goods, services or facilities to meet accessibility criteria afterward.
Do I have to apply accessible criteria to goods used by the public?
Yes, it is especially important to apply accessibility criteria and features to goods, services and facilities used by the public as it is very likely that a member of the public who utilizes that good, service, or facility will have a disability. When determining your priorities for purchasing a new item remember that 1/6 (15.5%) of Canadians have a disability and that number is expected to grow to 1/5 (20%) over the next few years. Furthermore, by applying accessibility criteria and features other customers and members of the public benefit, including people pushing strollers and older adults. If it is not practicable to incorporate accessibility criteria and features you must be prepared to provide an explanation.
Am I required to document and retain information relating to my compliance with accessibility obligations?
No, however you may be asked to provide an explanation if for any reason you have not incorporated accessibility criteria and features in your procurement.
What do I do if I cannot find information about accessibility criteria related to the product, service, or facility that I am purchasing?
If it is not possible to apply the general criteria checklist and you need help finding additional accessibility criteria related to the product or service being procured, you may contact Strategic Procurement Services for assistance.
How do I know I am meeting my accessibility obligations in procurement?
Consider a few key questions: Do the goods, services or facilities you are planning to acquire create barriers to persons with disabilities? Can a person with a disability use the service at all? Can people with disabilities configure the item to meet their specific needs and preferences?
If you are hosting an event or providing a service or facility, consider offering a survey or questionnaire that includes a question about accessibility. This will give people the opportunity to let you know if you are meeting their accessibility needs.