The Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) was implemented in 2005 and since then each part of the act is gradually becoming mandatory for any company that employs over 20 people. The act includes standards for information and communication, employment, transportation and design of public spaces.
Regulations for outdoor public eating areas fall under design of public spaces within the act and apply to tables that are found in public areas such as parks, hospital grounds and on university campuses that are intended for use by the public as a place to eat. The general requirements include the following:
- A minimum of 20% of tables that are provided must be accessible to persons using mobility aids by having knee and toe clearance underneath the table and in no case shall there be fewer than one table in an outdoor public use eating area that meets this requirement.
- The ground surface leading to and under tables that are accessible to persons using mobility aids must be level, firm and stable.
- Tables that are accessible to persons using mobility aids must have clear ground space around them that allows for a forward approach to the tables.
While we can’t assist you with becoming compliant with every requirement within the AODA, we can help you make your outdoor spaces accessible. Not only do we manufacture a variety of tables that meet the requirements of the AODA but we also have the installation crew that can assist with making the area around and under the tables also meet the requirements.
MODC TableThis table was designed and manufactured in partnership with the March of Dimes Canada using the standards set in the Accessible design for the built environment published by the Canadian Standards Association in 2004. With fixed seating on two sides of the table and an open area on two sides with proper knee and toe clearance for wheelchairs, this table is one of the most accessible on the market. Available in the same plastic lumber as our standard picnic tables, the MODC can easily be integrated into existing outdoor eating areas and compliment existing tables.
Part of the park series line of picnic tables the Wheelchair Access table comes in two different styles. The Wheelchair Access 470 is a six foot table that has a two foot table top extension on one end to allow for a wheelchair to wheel up to it with ease. The one side version of the Wheelchair Access table (450) is five feet long with seating on only one side of the table allowing a wheelchair to wheel up to the table on the other side.
Accessible Hex Table
From our standard line of picnic tables the Hex can be modified to meet the accessibility requirements. The standard table has three double seats surrounding the table; to make the table accessible to wheelchairs we replace one of the double seats with a single. Perfect for eating areas where you want to maintain a consistent look.
Although not a requirement within the AODA, with the push to increase accessibility and the possibility of amendments to the act, we have added a number of AODA compliant accessible benches to our existing site furniture line. Available in a variety of styles including heritage, modern and straight styles, these benches have varying accessible and ergonomic features to make them more user friendly to those wanting to transfer out of a wheelchair or someone who has back or knee problems. You can learn more about these benches in our previous blog Increase Accessibility with Accessible Seating.
When we created this line of accessible benches we were looking to the future, and we recommend our customer’s do the same. Currently, 1 in 7 people in Ontario have a disability (that’s 1.85 million Ontarians) and it’s estimated that by 2036 that number will rise to 1 in 5. With this number set to increase it only makes sense to add accessible benches to your public space so it is accessible to everyone, not just a select population. The City of Toronto as well as the City of London are acknowledging this change in the demographic and beginning to add accessible benches alongside their standard benches in their parks and on their city streets.
We advise our clients to not wait for something to become mandatory but to begin gradually making these changes over time. When a bench gets beyond repair, replace it with an accessible model or when planning a new public space add a couple of accessible benches as well. Making these changes over time will not only benefit the users of your public space but will also be much more cost effective than having to make these changes all at once.
Becoming AODA compliant may be a requirement but it’s the benefits of doing so that you should be focusing on. Making your park, commercial or retail property more accessible opens it up to a larger number of consumers which is always a good thing.
For more information on the AODA visit: http://www.mcss.gov.on.ca/en/mcss/programs/accessibility/understanding_accessibility/aoda.aspx