Accessibility Standard for Customer Service Policy

Policy Statement
The Council of Canadians shall use reasonable efforts to provide services in a manner that respects the dignity, independence, integration and equal opportunity of persons with disabilities. The Council will use alternate methods when possible to ensure that people with disabilities have access to the same services as others, in the same place and in a similar manner. The Council will consider individual needs when providing services and will communicate where possible in a manner that takes into account the person’s disability.

Purpose
The purpose of this policy is to fulfill the requirements of the Accessibility Standards for Customer Service, Ontario Regulation 429/07 under the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, designed to make Ontario more accessible by identifying, removing and preventing barriers for persons with disabilities

To establish this policy The Council has consulted the following legislation:

  • Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act – Customer Service Standard
  • Human Rights Code  

Scope
This Policy applies to all employees, volunteers and interns of the Council who work in Ontario.

Definitions
Disability; means:

  1. any degree of physical disability, infirmity, malformation or disfigurement that is caused by bodily injury, birth defect or illness and, without limiting the generality of the foregoing, includes diabetes mellitus, epilepsy, a brain injury, any degree of paralysis, amputation, lack of physical co-ordination, blindness or visual impediment, deafness or hearing impediment, muteness or speech impediment, or physical reliance on a guide dog or other animal or on a wheelchair or other remedial appliance or device,
  2. a condition of mental impairment or a developmental disability,
  3. a learning disability, or a dysfunction in one or more of the processes involved in understanding or using symbols or spoken language,
  4. a mental disorder, or
  5. an injury or disability for which benefits were claimed or received under the insurance plan established under the Workplace Safety and Insurance Act, 1997

Assistive Devices; an auxiliary aid such as communication aids, cognition aids, personal mobility aids and medical aids (i.e. canes, crutches, wheelchairs, personal oxygen tank, or hearing aids).

Persons with Disabilities; individuals who are afflicted with a disability as defined under the Ontario Human Rights Code.

Support Person; any person who accompanies a person with a disability in order to help with communications, personal care or medical needs or with access to goods and services.

Service Animals; any animal individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of a person with a disability.

Application
Providing services to people with disabilities

  1. Access to Offices
    Our offices are accessible to persons with physical disabilities through an automatic door and elevator. Standard telephone responses are changed when offices are closed.

  2. Communicating with us
    We can be reached via 1-800 387-7177 or TTY line 613-233-3744 (available from January 2013) from 9:00 to 17:00 hours Eastern Time, Monday to Friday. Persons who respond to telephone calls are trained in responding on the phone to persons with disabilities. Those who cannot communicate to us via telephone may communicate via inquiries@canadians.org.

  3. Written Material
    On request, we provide written material in large-print, via e-mail or in other ways that assist persons with visual impairments. We are unable to provide our documents in Braille. Our website will be screen-reader friendly as of April 1st, 2013.

  4. Support Persons
    Support persons are welcome on our premises and at our meetings. In situations where confidential information might be discussed in the presence of a support person, consent will be obtained from the person with the disability, prior to any conversation occurring.

  5. Service Animals
    Service animals are welcome on our premises and at our meetings. Care and control of the service animal is the responsibility of the person who is being accompanied.

  6. Assistive Devices
    We are committed to serving people with disabilities who use assistive devices to obtain, use or benefit from our services. We will ensure that our staff in Ontario is trained and is familiar with various assistive devices that may be used by customers with disabilities while accessing our services. In cases where the assistive device presents a safety concern or where accessibility might be an issue, other reasonable measures will be used to ensure access.

  7. AGM and Conference
    Our conferences and AGM are held in accessible meeting spaces, and we prepare our staff to assist individuals who have identified special needs. Our AGM registration form will ask people to identify any special needs that they may have and we then will take all reasonable efforts to accommodate them. Examples include waiving fees in whole or part for a support person, providing paper documents in larger font on request, signs are printed on off-white paper to make them more visible, etc.

  8. Notice of temporary disruption
    In the event of a planned or unexpected disruption to services or facilities we will post notices at our offices and change telephone messages. In the unlikely event of an extended disruption in services we will also post a notice on our website.

Training
Staff that interacts with members and the public will be trained in providing service to persons with disabilities. All Directors and employees who participate in the development of policies, practices and procedures will also receive this training. New staff will receive this training as part of their orientation process. Employees, volunteers and interns who interact with the public in Ontario are informed about their responsibilities under the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act and provided with the link to on-line training provided by the Government of Ontario.

Training will include:

  • An overview of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, 2005 and the requirements of the customer service standard.
  • How to interact and communicate with people with various types of disabilities.
  • How to interact with people with disabilities who use an assistive device or require the assistance of a service animal or a support person.
  • What to do if a person with a disability is having difficulty in accessing information or materials.
  • Provision of a copy of The Council’s Accessibility Standard for Customer Service.
  • Staff will be trained in how to use equipment or devices that are available on our premises that may help with the provision of services to a person with disability.
  • Staff will receive further training if changes are made to our accessible customer service policy.

Feedback Process
Feedback regarding the way The Council provides materials, information and services to people with disabilities can be made orally (in person or by telephone), or in writing (in person, via Canada Post, courier or inquiries@canadians.org). 

All feedback will be directed to the Executive Director. Persons with concerns can usually expect to hear back from the organization within one week, in a manner which takes their disability into account.

Changes in Practice or Policy
If further modifications to policies or practices become necessary as a result of feedback from persons with disabilities, The Council is committed to making such a modification as promptly as possible.

Implementation
The implementation steps will include:

  1. The policy will be distributed to all those to whom the policy applies.
  2. Human Resources will provide a copy of the policy to all new employees during their orientation and provide them with an overview of the policy.  
  3. The policy will be added to the Staff Manual and posted on our website.
  4. Members of the Board of Directors will be provided with a copy of the policy.