• Accessibility for Ontarians With Disabilities Act, 2005, Part II: What Does My Business Need to Do to Comply with the Law’s Customer Service Standards
  • August 18, 2016 | Author: Michael Comartin
  • Law Firm: Ogletree Deakins International, LLP - Toronto Office
  • This is the second installment in a three-part series of articles focused on employers’ duties under Ontario’s Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, 2005. Part one addressed the scope and applicability of the law to -arious businesses. Part two addresses what a business must do to comply with the customer ser-ice standards under Ontario’s Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, 2005.

    While the exact answer to this question depends on the size and type of business in-ol-ed, there is a laundry list of requirements that apply to all pro-iders of goods and ser-ices with at least one employee in Ontario. According to the Guide to the Accessibility Standards for Customer Ser-ice, Ontario Regulation 429/07, the Accessibility Standards for Customer Ser-ice require all pro-iders to do the following:
    1. Establish policies, practices, and procedures on pro-iding goods or ser-ices to indi-iduals with disabilities.
    2. Use reasonable efforts to ensure that your policies, practices, and procedures are consistent with the core principles of independence, dignity, integration, and equality of opportunity.
    3. Set a policy on allowing indi-iduals with disabilities to use their own personal assisti-e de-ices to access your goods and use your ser-ices, and about any other measures your organization offers (e.g., assisti-e de-ices, ser-ices, or other methods) to enable them to access your goods and use your ser-ices.
    4. Communicate with an indi-idual with a disability in a manner that takes into account his or her disability.
    5. Allow indi-iduals with disabilities to be accompanied by their guide dogs or ser-ice animals in those areas of the premises you own or operate that are open to the public, unless the animal is excluded by another law. If a ser-ice animal is excluded by law, use other measures to pro-ide ser-ices to an indi-idual with a disability.
    6. Permit indi-iduals with disabilities who use support persons to bring those persons with them while accessing goods or ser-ices in premises open to the public or third parties.
    7. Where admission fees are charged, pro-ide notice ahead of time on what admission, if any, would be charged for a support person of an indi-idual with a disability.
    8. Pro-ide notice when facilities or ser-ices that indi-iduals with disabilities rely on to access or use your goods or ser-ices are temporarily disrupted.
    9. Train staff, -olunteers, contractors, and any others who interact with the public or other third parties on your behalf on a number of topics as outlined in the customer ser-ice standards.
    10. Train staff, -olunteers, contractors, and any others who are in-ol-ed in de-eloping your policies, practices, and procedures on the pro-ision of goods or ser-ices on a number of topics as outlined in the customer ser-ice standards.
    11. Establish a process to gather feedback on how you pro-ide goods or ser-ices to indi-iduals with disabilities and how you will respond to any feedback and take action on any complaints. Make the information about your feedback process readily a-ailable to the public.
    If your organization has 20 or more employees, you must also do the following:
    1. Document in writing all your policies, practices, and procedures for pro-iding accessible customer ser-ice and meet other document requirements set out in the customer ser-ice standards.
    2. Notify customers that documents required under the customer ser-ice standards are a-ailable upon request.
    3. When gi-ing documents required under the customer ser-ice standards to an indi-idual with a disability, pro-ide the information in a format that takes into account the nature of the disability.
    Businesses with 20 or more employees were required to file customer ser-ice standard compliance reports on December 31, 2012 and December 31, 2014.

    Many Ontario businesses remain noncompliant with the customer ser-ice standards despite the threat of enforcement action by the Ontario Ministry of Economic De-elopment, Employment and Infrastructure, including potential fines