Have you received this letter yet?
Companies all across Ontario are getting a big wake-up call from the Ministry of Economic Development, Trade and Employment when it comes to AODA compliance. The realization that this isn’t something that can just be dismissed is beginning to sink in.
Upon receiving this letter from the Accessibility Directorate of Ontario, companies must file their accessibility report within 20 business days. Failure to do so may result in enforcement action being taken against the organization, which can include inspections, Director’s Orders, and administrative monetary penalties.
Before filing the report, it’s important that the organization fully understands the purpose of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) and what it means to comply with the requirements of the Accessibility Standard for Customer Service.
What is the AODA?
AODA legislation aims to make the province of Ontario fully accessible for people with disabilities by 2025. Passed in 2005, the AODA is being implemented in five pieces known as standards. Each standard has different time frames and requirements for business owners:
- Customer Service Standard
- Transportation Standard
- Employment Standard
- Communication & Information Standard
- Built Environment Standard
Customer Service Standard
The Customer Service Standard is the first of the five standards—and perhaps the least onerous for business. It requires that Ontario businesses provide their goods and services in a way that is accessible to all Ontarians. There are 11 specific requirements employers must fulfill under the customer service standard. To comply to the customer service standard, all obligated businesses and organizations must:
- Establish policies, practices and procedures on providing goods or services to people with disabilities.
- Make reasonable efforts to ensure that policies, practices and procedures are consistent with the principles of independence, dignity, integration and equality of opportunity.
- Have a policy dealing with people’s use of their own assistive devices to access goods or services or any other measures the organization offers to enable an individual access the goods or services.
- Communicate with a person with a disability in a manner that takes into account their disability.
- Let people with disabilities bring their service animals onto the parts of the premises open to the public or other third parties, except where the animal is otherwise excluded by law from the premises.
- Let people with disabilities be accompanied by their support persons while on the parts of the provider’s premises open to the public or other third parties.
- If a provider charges admission, let people know ahead of time what, if any, admission will be charged for a support person.
- Provide notice when facilities or services that people with disabilities usually use to access goods or services are temporarily disrupted.
- Train anyone who interacts with the public or other third parties on the provider’s behalf on topics outlined in the customer service standard.
- Train anyone who is involved in developing the provider’s customer service policies, practices and procedures on topics outlined in the customer service standard.
- Establish a process for receiving and responding to feedback about the way the organization provides goods or services to people with disabilities, including the actions to be taken if a complaint is received, and make information about the process readily available to the public.
In addition, designated public sector organizations and organizations with 20 or more employees must:
- Document in writing all their policies, practices and procedures for providing accessible customer service and meet other document requirements set out in the standard.
- Notify customers that the documents required under the customer service standard are available upon request .
- When giving documents required under the customer service standard to a person with a disability, provide the information in a format that takes into account the person’s disability.
Have you met the standard?
If you have 20 or more employees, an organization was required to file their Customer Service Accessibility Compliance Report back in December 2012 to inform the Ministry that the requirements of the Customer Service Standard were met. The Ministry of Economic Development, Trade and Employment has now started to crack down on organizations that failed to get this done. Are you one of those employers? It’s time to step up!
It’s time to file that report!
The purpose of the Accessibility Compliance Report is to demonstrate that you have met the requirements of the Customer Service Standard listed above. These include establishing policies, practices, and procedures on providing goods or services to people with disabilities and training your staff on providing accessible customer service.
Need help with the online reporting process? Refer to this step-by-step guide provided by the Ministry.
Clear Path Employer Services
HR Consultants and Disability Management Experts
Accessibility Standards PolicyPro
The PolicyPro is the only one of its kind offering all the resources you need to deal with the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) standards. The manual goes beyond covering what is required by law. It provides practical advice, tools and resources to help you meet your compliance requirements on time and with confidence.
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