The Manitoba Customer Service Accessibility Standard (CSAS) under the Accessibility for Manitobans Act (AMA) comes into effect November 1, 2015. The CSAS requires all of Manitoba’s public, private and non-profit organizations with one or more employees that provide goods or services directly to the public or to another organization in Manitoba, to establish and implement measures, policies and practices to remove barriers for access to the goods or services it provides.
The final version of the Customer Service Regulation can be found here.
There are different timelines for organizations to meet the standard:
- The Manitoba government to comply within one year: November 1, 2016
- The public sector to comply within two years: November 1, 2017
- Private and non-profit organizations to comply within three years: November 1, 2018
Accessible customer service standard “is provided when all persons who are reasonably expected to seek to obtain, use or benefit from a good or service have the same opportunity to obtain, use or benefit from the good or service. (source Customer Service Standard Regulations)”
These measures, policies and practices must also meet the requirements and obligations under the Manitoba Human Rights Code.
This means organizations:
- Must review their existing policies, practices and procedures for serving customers and make changes to those that exclude or limit participation and access to their goods and services by persons with disabilities. For the purposes of this standard, customer service refers to practices, processes and interactions that lead to the fulfillment of a transaction, exchange or customer requirement or need.
- Must first understand that people with disabilities may have different needs and making small changes or accommodations to how the organization serves customers with disabilities.
- Will have to consider how best to communicate with persons with disabilities by making reasonable efforts to ensure that, when communicating with a person who is disabled by a barrier, the communication is done in a manner that takes into account the barrier.
- Must recognize that a person who is disabled by a barrier may use assistive devices to remove or reduce the barrier, and put in place measures and practices that must reasonably accommodate the use of those devices.
- Must recognize that a person who is disabled by a barrier may, when seeking to obtain, use or benefit from the organization’s goods or services, be accompanied by a support person. Accommodation must be made to allow the support person to accompany and enter the premises at the same time as the person with a disability. A person with a disability must be able to have access to the support person at all times while on the premises. If a fee is required, notification must be given in advance of the amount.
- Must recognize that a person who is disabled by a barrier may be accompanied by a service animal when he or she seeks to obtain, use or benefit from the organization’s goods or services.
- Must ensure that its measures, policies and practices include a requirement that any aspect of its built environment intended to facilitate barrier-free access to the goods or services it provides are available for use in the intended manner; and (b) if such an aspect is unavailable for use, notice of the following be given: (i) the reasons why the aspect is unavailable and an estimate of when the unavailability will cease, (ii) details of alternate means, if any, available to access the organization’s goods or services. The notice must be prominently displayed on the applicable premises and on the organization’s website, if any, or be given by other means that are reasonable in the circumstances.
- Must make reasonable efforts to ensure that it provides a process for (a) receiving and responding to feedback about the accessibility of its goods or services in a manner that is appropriate in the circumstances and is suitable for persons who are disabled by barriers; and (b) documenting its resulting actions, and making that documentation available on request.
- Must document the measures, policies and practices it establishes and implements and must provide a copy of the documentation on request if they have 20 or more employees. It must also provide notice that the documentation is available on request. The notice must be prominently displayed on the applicable premises and on the organization’s website, if any, or be given by other means that are reasonable in the circumstances.
- Must comply with the measures, policies and practices that it establishes and implements.
- Must ensure that training about accessible customer service is or has been provided to employees, agents and volunteers who provide goods or services directly to the public or to another organization in Manitoba on behalf of the organization. Training must also be provided to a person who participates in the development and implementation of the organization’s measures, policies and practices. The training must include a review of the purposes and principles of the Act and instruction; how to interact and communicate with persons disabled by barriers; how to interact with persons disabled by barriers who use an assistive device or require the assistance of a support person or service animal; how to use any equipment or assistive devices that may be available to assist persons disabled by barriers; and, what to do if a person disabled by a particular barrier is having difficulty accessing a good or service.
- Must ensure that training is provided to a person as soon as reasonably practicable after the person is assigned the applicable duties; and on-going training is provided in connection with changes to the organization’s measures, policies and practices respecting providing barrier-free access to the goods or services it provides.In addition, organizations with 20 employees or more must have the training policy in writing.
Furthermore, an organization that holds a public event must take reasonable measures to ensure that notice of the event is given in a manner that is accessible to persons disabled by barriers; the event is held in a meeting space that is accessible; the physical and communication needs of persons disabled by barriers are met on request; and notice is given that persons disabled by barriers may request that relevant supports be provided.
A “public event” includes a public meeting, a public hearing and a consultation process required under an enactment.