Getting Started Guide for Employers: Organizations with 20 or more employees

Becoming accessible

Accessible customer service is not about ramps or automatic door openers.

It?s about understanding that people with disabilities may have different needs.

This guide will help you:

The Accessibility Standard for Customer Service applies to all people or organizations in Ontario that:

It affects these sectors:

To provide accessible customer service, organizations need to:

Step 1: Create and put in place a plan that:

Step 2: Train staff on accessible customer service

Step 3: Put their plan in writing

Step 4: Report their progress online


Step 1: Create an accessible customer service plan

Develop and put in place a plan or policy that outlines how you will provide goods or services to people with disabilities. Put the customer first — and let the principles of independence, dignity, integration and equality of opportunity guide you.

Tips:

Examples

A clothing store might decide to exclude people with disabilities from its no-refund return policy because its fitting rooms are not wheelchair accessible.

A grocery store has a practice of placing rolls of plastic bags for produce on top of the produce shelves. By placing the rolls lower, people who use mobility devices can access the bags without assistance.

Consider a person's disability when communicating with them

Accessible customer service is often about finding ways around barriers faced by your customers. Ensuring staff know what?s expected of them when they communicate with customers with disabilities will help you deliver accessible customer service.

Tips:

Example

A dance studio offers their class schedule in paper format at the front desk. When a customer with low vision asks for the schedule in Braille, the manager explains that it is not available in Braille, but is available in an accessible format on the studio?s website. This works for the customer because she has a screen reader at home that reads what is displayed on the website.

Another customer, who has a learning disability, is having difficulty understanding a particular part of the schedule and simply asks the manager to read that part to him aloud.

Allow assistive devices

An assistive device is any piece of equipment a person with a disability uses to help them with daily living. Some examples include: a wheelchair, screen reader, listening device or cane.

Tips:

Example

Janet can walk short distances and uses a scooter. It is often difficult to find space in a busy restaurant to park her scooter. She finds it helpful when staff suggest parking options and make space by keeping aisles clear.

Allow service animals

Guide dogs are not the only type of service animal. Other kinds of animals can be trained to help people with disabilities too.

Welcome service animals into public areas of your workplace or business. If a service animal is excluded by law, provide another way for the person to access your goods and services.

Tips:

Example

A restaurant allows service animals into its dining room and bar but since other legislation prevents animals from entering the kitchen, staff meet with suppliers or sales reps with service animals in the office upstairs.

Welcome support persons

A support person does not have to be a paid support worker. He or she can be a family member or a friend.

Support persons help someone with a disability perform daily tasks. Often people who have a support person are not able to do things by themselves, such as eat meals, use the washroom or change their clothes. Without support, that person may be unable to access your organization.

Welcome support persons to your workplace or business. If you charge admission, let people know if you charge an additional fee for a support person. This fee needs to be clearly stated in advance.

Tips:

Example

A movie theatre posts a notice on its website and at its ticket window that support persons will be charged 50 per cent of the admission fee when accompanying a person with a disability.

Let customers know when accessible services aren't available

Sometimes accessibility features or services require repair or are just temporarily out of service (e.g. an elevator or accessible washroom). When this happens, let your customers know by posting a notice.

Tips:

Example:

A dry cleaning business must remove the ramp in front of their store for a few weeks. They post a sign outside and leave a message on their phone explaining the situation. Both the sign and the message explain that repairs are being done, give the date when the ramp will be available again, and offer to meet customers outside if they call ahead in order to pick up or drop off garments.

Invite customers to provide feedback

A good way to learn about barriers that exist in your workplace is to collect comments from your customers with disabilities. Invite customers to give feedback on how you provide accessible customer service. Let customers know how to do this.

Tips:

Example:

An inn posts a sign in its lobby, and includes a notice on the receipt that visitors receive when they check out, informing them that they can submit feedback at the front desk, by phone or through the inn?s website. The sign states that details about its feedback/complaints process are available online.


Step 2: Train your staff on accessible customer service

Members of your organization who either work with customers or create plans and procedures related to how you provide goods and services must be trained. It could be housekeeping staff at a hotel or even an organization?s chief policy maker. The most effective training will be customized to the needs of your organization and must include:

Tips:

Example:

A toy store employs three full-time sales associates as well as two seasonal part-time employees who take orders over the phone. The sales associates receive training on accessible customer service, and so do the part-time employees because they interact with customers over the phone.


Step 3: Put your plan in writing

Document your plan for providing accessible customer service.

Keep a written copy of the plan that you created in Step 1. Also, keep a training log of the training you provided in Step 2. Keep track of who you trained, on what and when.

Let customers know how to find your plan

Clearly post a notice on your website or in a high-traffic area of your organization to let customers know they can request all documents related to your accessible customer service plan.

Offer documents in accessible formats, if requested

If a customer with a disability requests your plan, provide it in a format that takes into account the person?s disability.

This does not mean you have to provide documents in Braille. You can work with your customer to find a format that is accessible. For example, you may direct them to your accessible website or read something aloud.


Step 4: Report your progress online

Let us know how your organization is doing.

Visit ontario.ca/AccessON to learn more and file your online report.

* While this guide refers to an accessible customer service plan, the online report asks if you have policies, practices and procedures. They are the same thing.


Questions?

For more detailed information, you can also read the Employer Handbook

Visit ontario.ca/AccessON

Or contact:

Toll-free: 1-866-515-2025

TTY: 416-325-3408 / Toll-free: 1-800-268-7095

Fax: 416-325-3407

This document is available in an alternate format on request.

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