The Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) requires organizations (including churches of any size) to comply with the following requirements:
- Adopt an accessibility policy. We have attached a sample policy created by representatives from Classis Hamilton which has been reviewed by an attorney.
- Train staff, all volunteer teachers, ushers, deacons, and all who may interact with those with disabilities and their care-givers.
- Maintain and service all accessibility-related equipment such as elevators, listening devices, and large print material. Allow persons with a disability to use their own devices.
- Notify members if there will be a disruption of the accessibility equipment or services that the church provides.
- Set up a feedback process. Have forms available and encourage people to use them to express their concerns and to upgrade your ministry.
- Keep good records of a) who receives training and when, b) disruptions of accessibility equipment or services and how/when they were resolved, and c) accessibility concerns expressed and how/when they were resolved.
Because this involves provincial law, we encourage churches to create a team who will oversee and assist in fulfilling these areas.
We commend the following resources to you for this work:
- Accessibility requirements for organizations provides requirements and deadlines for organizations to implement the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) including what is required and how to implement it. Applicable to the majority of churches, this list describes all the requirements of the AODA for organizations with 1 to 19 employees.
- Thanks to New Life Christian Reformed Church in Guelph, Ontario, for allowing us to share the attached slides that churches may modify for their own training sessions.
- Christian Horizons has a number of good resources including their Accessibility Resources
- Disability Concerns has assembled a number of websites and forms to assist you in your compliance with the AODA
These standards are consistent with the core principles of dignity, independence, integration and equal opportunity. For us Christians, even more compelling than complying with government standards is that we want to follow the standards that Jesus set long ago. He did not turn his back on people with disabilities, but he reached out to them and included them in his ministry. May we as churches follow his example and wholly include all who have disabilities in the life of our church families.