Being able to communicate is something many of us take for granted. Speaking and understanding, reading and writing are skills that most of us use every day. We communicate to express our feelings, thoughts and opinions, to ask questions, and to give information. We do this with lots of people and for many different reasons. For example, we might ask for things we want in a store, discuss our medical concerns with a doctor, order a meal in a restaurant, interact with a bank teller about our finances or call a taxi company to book a ride.
Communication is the foundation of much of our lives and a basic human right.
There are thousands of people in Ontario who have disabilities that affect hearing, speaking, reading, writing, and/or understanding, and who use different ways to communicate than people who do not have these disabilities. They have the same rights to communicate as people who speak. These rights are protected under the Ontario Human Rights Code. In addition, accessibility standards under the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, 2005 (AODA) will set out legal requirements to ensure that Ontario is accessible to people with disabilities.
The basis of good communication includes a respectful attitude and being a good listener. These basic skills are more important than ever for people who have communication disabilities because their disabilities are typically not well understood by the public.
In addition to being a good communicator, you can do a number of practical things to ensure successful interactions when people with communication disabilities use your services.