The Built Environment & Accessibility

The Accessibility Standards for the Built Environment in Ontario focus on removing barriers in two areas:

  1. public spaces;
  2. buildings.

Enhancements to accessibility in buildings will happen in January 2014 through Ontario’s Building Code, which governs new construction and renovations in buildings. Specifically this is the ABES or Accessible Built Environment Standard.

Accessibility Standard for the Design of Public Spaces

The standard for the design of public spaces applies to new construction and major changes to existing features.

Here are the highlights of what the standard covers which Facility Managers, Building Owners, Building Managers must know about this year:

    • Recreational trails routes Example
    • Outdoor public eating areas like picnic tables around your buildings
    • Outdoor paths of travel, like sidewalks, ramps, stairs, curb ramps, rest areas and accessible pedestrian signals Example Meet minimum requirements for sidewalks (i.e. clear width), install accessible pedestrian signals at intersections
    • Accessible parking (on and off street) Example
    • Service-related elements like service counters, fixed queuing lines and waiting areas, signage & wayfinding
    • Maintenance and restoration of public spaces Example

These mandatory design items were quietly released just before Christmas last year. Employers in Ontario are nevertheless responsible to ensure these are in place in and around your buildings where there is public access and use. The AODA is law in Ontario. Many businesses are not aware of this fact, however it is critical to move along with this as human rights complaints can be very damaging for your company’s brand, reputation and shareholder confidence.  Speak to an AODA expert today at

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