Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) Util-Assist Policy

January 2019

Purpose

Util-Assist is committed to excellence in serving all customers including persons with disabilities. To support this common goal, we will ensure that we:

  • Comply with applicable, provincial Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) regulations.
  • Educate all employees on the AODA policies so that all staff understand and are implementing the customer service standards in our day to day lives within our company.

 

General

The Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, 2005 (AODA) was passed by the Ontario legislature with the goal of creating a fully accessible Ontario by 2025.
AODA Section 1 :

“Recognizing the history of discrimination against persons with disabilities in Ontario, the purpose of this Act is to benefit all Ontarians by,
(a) developing, implementing and enforcing accessibility standards in order to achieve accessibility for Ontarians with disabilities with respect to goods, services, facilities, accommodation, employment, buildings, structures and premises on or before January 1, 2025; and
(b) providing for the involvement of persons with disabilities, of the Government of Ontario and of representatives of industries and of various sectors of the economy in the development of the accessibility standards.”

One of the five standards developed, and now law, is the Customer Service Standard. This Standard details specific requirements for all organizations with one or more employees. Under the Customer Service Standard, all applicable employees, volunteers, board contractors and family members, must be trained on the following areas:

  1. Established policies, practices and procedures on providing goods or services to people with disabilities.
  2. Use reasonable efforts to ensure that our policies, practices and procedures are consistent with the core principles of independence, dignity, integration and equality of opportunity.
  3. Set a policy on allowing people to use their own, personal assistive devices to access your goods and use your services and about any other measures your organization offers (assistive devices, services, or methods) to enable them to access your goods and use your services.
  4. Communicate with a person with a disability in a manner that takes into account his or her disability.
  5. Allow people with disabilities to be accompanied by their guide dog or service animal 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 service animal is excluded by law, use other measures to provide services to the person with a disability.
  6. Permit people with disabilities who use a support person to bring that person with them while accessing goods or services in premises open to the public or third parties.
  7. Where admission fees are charged, provide notice ahead of time on what admission, if any, would be charged for a support person of a person with a disability.
  8. Provide notice when facilities or services that people with disabilities rely on to access or use your goods or services are temporarily disrupted.
  9. Train staff, volunteers, contractors and any other people who interact with the public or other third parties on your behalf on a number of topics as outlined in the Customer Service Standard.
  10. Train staff, volunteers, contractors and any other people who are involved in developing your policies, practices and procedures on the provision of goods or services on a number of topics as outlined in the customer service standard.
  11. Establish a process for people to provide feedback on how you provide goods or services to people with disabilities and how you will respond to any feedback and take action on any complaints. Make the information about your feedback process readily available to the public.

Util-Assist is committed to excellence in serving all customers including persons with disabilities.

Assistive Devices

Assistive technology is a term used to describe the various forms of devices such as assistive, adaptive, and rehabilitative devices used to assist persons with disabilities. These devices are used to support the needs of the individual person and specific disability by enabling them to perform tasks that they may not have been able to accomplish formerly.

Examples of assistive devices include hearing aids, speech amplification devices, white canes, wheelchairs, screen readers, etc. Ontario Employers are not responsible for providing any assistive devices under the Customer Service Standard, but rather, are responsible ensuring all employees are properly trained.

Util-Assist will ensure that our staff is trained and familiar with various assistive devices that may be used by customers with disabilities while accessing our goods and services.

Communication

Accessible customer service requires employees to overcome and find ways around different barriers that customers may have. Employers need to ensure that their employees are trained on how to successfully communicate with customers with disabilities to ensure accessibility goods and services.

Util-Assist’s employees will communicate with people with disabilities in ways that take into account their disabilities.

Service Animals

Services animals are trained to carry out certain tasks that help people with disabilities. There are three types of assistive animals that have been categorized by the international assistance animal community:

  1. Guide Animals: Used to guide the blind
  2. Hearing Animals: Used to help signal the hearing impaired
  3. Service Animals: Used to do work for persons with disabilities other than blindness or deafness

Under the Customer Service Standard, services animals must be allowed on parts of the organization’s premises; excluding certain areas such as a kitchen. Fines for denying a service animal access in areas for the general public can be up to $3000 in Ontario.

Util-Assist will welcome people with disabilities and their service animals into our workplace. Service animals are allowed on parts of our premises that are open to the public.

Support Persons

Support persons are those that help persons with disabilities perform day to day tasks. Without support, the person may not be able to access your organization. All support persons should be welcomed into the workplace.

A person with a disability who is accompanied by a support person will be allowed to have that person accompany them on our premises. Util-Assist will notify customers of this through a notice posted on our premises.

Notice of Temporary Disruption

Sometimes accessibility features or services require repair or are just temporarily unavailable. The Customer Service Standard requires employers to communicate this to the customers by posting a notice.

In the event of a planned or unexpected disruption to services or facilities for customers with disabilities Util-Assist will notify customers promptly. A clearly posted notice will include information about the reasons for the disruption, its anticipated length of time and a description of alternative facilities or services, if available. The notice will be placed on the door at the main entrance to the building, the website and a message will be left on the main phone line.

Training

Under the Customer Service Standard all employees who work with customers or create customer service plans must be trained. Util-Assist will provide training to employees, volunteers and others who deal with the public or other third parties on our behalf.

Our training will include:

  • An overview of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, 2005
  • The requirements for the Customer Service Standard
  • How to interact with people with various types of disabilities
  • How to interact with people with disabilities who use an assistive device
  • How to interact with people who use the assistance of a service animal
  • How to interact with people who use a support person
  • How to use any equipment or devices available at your workplace to assist with providing goods or services to persons with disabilities
  • What to do if a person with a disability is having difficulty accessing our organization’s goods or services

This training will be provided to staff after being hired and retrained in the event that changes are made to the plan.

Feedback Process

A process must be established for receiving feedback on how companies will provide service to customers with disabilities, and how companies will respond back and take action on any complaints.

Util-Assist’s customers who wish to provide feedback on the way we provide goods and services to people with disabilities can contact reception by email or phone, 905-952-0477 at extension 0 or use our contact form on our website at www.util-assist.com.

Customers can expect to hear back within ten (10) business days. Complaints will be addressed according to Util-Assist’s regular complaint management procedures.

Util-Assist’s feedback process is readily available to the public and can be found posted in reception and available upon request in an accessible format.

Modifications to This or Other Policies:

Any policy of Util-Assist that does not respect and promote the dignity and independence of people with disabilities will be modified or removed.

Accessible Formats:

For an accessible version of this policy please contact your department manager.

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