The deadline to meet the accessibility standards required
by the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, 2005 is soon approaching. Part of what this statute requires is that all
organizations (public, private and non-profit), that provide goods or services
either directly to the public or to other organizations in Ontario and that
have one or more employees in Ontario, have accessible customer service. These
requirements are detailed in the Regulation Accessibility Standards for
Customer Service, which have been previously summarized in Charity Law
Bulletin No. 235 (November 30, 2010).
B. REQUIREMENTS UNDER THE ACT
The requirement that providers of goods and services establish
policies, practices and procedures governing the provision of goods and
services to persons with disabilities is provided in section 3 of the
Regulation. Specific matters that must be addressed by the policies are:
¨ The use of assistive devices by persons with
disabilities to obtain, use or benefit from the provider’s goods or services,
or the availability of other measures which enable them to do so (Section
¨ The access and use of guide dogs or other service
animals (Section 4);
¨ The access of support persons to assist persons
with disabilities in accessing goods and services (Section 4);
¨ The training of all persons who deal with the
public on behalf of the organization about the provision of goods and services
to persons with disabilities, including a summary of the contents of the
training and details of when the training is to be provided (Section 6);
¨ The process for receiving and responding to
feedback about the manner in which the organization provides goods or services
to persons with disabilities (Section 7(1)).
In order to assist in compliance, the Ontario Ministry of
Community and Social Services has made a staff (employee, agent, volunteer or person
who otherwise represents the organization) training resource available on its
website, which consists of twelve training units. This resource is available
online at http://www.mcss.gov.on.ca/en/mcss/programs/accessibility/customerService/trainingResourcesAODA/about.aspx.
Organizations that employ 20 or more people are required to have their
policies, practices and procedures set out in writing and available upon
request to any person. Therefore, such organizations need to be proactive in
developing these in order to meet the January 1, 2012 effective date of the Regulation.
Charities and non-profit organizations in
Ontario need to either begin or finalize preparations so that they will be in
compliance with the Accessibility Standards for Customer Service. The
government of Ontario has published a number of helpful guidance documents on
the Ministry of Community and Social Services website to assist organizations
in their preparations for compliance, which can be consulted at http://www.mcss.gov.on.ca/en/mcss/programs/accessibility/customerService/.
Charities and non-profits should also seek legal advice, both in developing and
in reviewing their policies, in order to ensure compliance.