October 8, 2008

Serving Customers With Disabilities

Every day, people with disabilities face barriers that prevent them from shopping, traveling and doing other day-to-day activities. Barriers can be visible, such as a building that has steps, but no ramp. Other barriers are invisible, such as believing that someone who is deaf can't communicate.

Under the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, Ontario is working to break down these barriers and make the province accessible to people with disabilities by 2025. Accessibility is being achieved through standards that every business and organization in Ontario will have to follow.

The first standard under the act - for customer service - is now law. More standards will be released in other important areas, including:

  • Transportation
  • Information and communications
  • Employment
  • The built environment, such as buildings and other structures.

Accessible Customer Service

The Accessibility Standards for Customer Service came into force on January 1, 2008. This standard applies to all organizations in Ontario that provide goods or services to the public or to other businesses and who have one or more employees.

The Accessibility Standards for Customer Service sets out rules that businesses and organizations must follow to serve customers with disabilities. These include:

  • Establishing policies, practices and procedures on providing goods and services to people with disabilities
  • Training staff on how to serve people with disabilities
  • Allowing people with disabilities to bring their support person or service animal with them
  • Communicating with a person in a way that respects their disability.

Complying with he Standard

There is a variety of information, videos and tools to help you comply with the Accessibility Standards for Customer Service and make your business accessible, visit www.AccessON.ca.

Public sector organizations will need to comply with the Accessibility Standards for Customer Service by 2010. These include:

  • Provincial ministries and municipal offices
  • Schools, colleges and universities
  • Hospitals.

Private sector organizations, including retail stores and non-profit organizations, will need to comply with the standard by 2012.

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Thomas Chanzy,
Minister's Office,
416 325-5211

Paul Doig,
Communications and Marketing Branch,
416 314-8966

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